Felena Hanson – Zen Vibes from a Co-Working Pioneer
8 months ago · 1:01
Starting a business can be scary.But what if you and your hot business idea could walk into an office, but it wasn’t like any office you’d ever been to before. The lights are soft. It smells like lavender. You notice a little zen music playing in the background. And someone says, “welcome to Hera Hub”.
This episode’s guest is the creator of that unique world, and her name is Felena Hanson. She was a pioneer in the world of coworking spaces, founding the female-focused Hera Hub in 2011. It not only provides a spa-like space for startups and entrepreneurs, but is a forum for mentoring and incubating ventures.
We caught up with Felena as she spends her days doing what she loves: bringing people together, mentoring and teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs and “opt outers”.
Highlights from Episode 14 with Felena . . .
Giving us an example of the type of people who are part of her co-working space and accelerator, Hera Hub . . . “Another example is Vivian Sayward. She’s been a member for, gosh, pretty much since I launched the business about seven years ago. She came out of biotech. She was working both on the finance and marketing side of biotech and got tired of the industry, opted out, started playing golf actually when she was about 40 years old, got married later in life. Her husband’s a golfer. She was out on the golf course one day complaining about the apparel that was opted to her as a female golfer, and her husband said, “Then go do something about it.” Now she has a thriving company called the Vivacity Sportswear. She sells at golf shops. Her product is manufactured both here in San Diego and just south of the border. She also sells on cruise lines around the world.”
On how she took money out of her retirement account to bet on herself when she bootstrapped the launch of her current business . . .“I should say yes, but, honestly, no. I mean I knew I could figure it out. I didn’t know if it was going to end up being the initial model I had built in my business plan, but I’m scrappy and I’m resourceful. I just knew in some way there was a need and I knew I was going to figure it out. It should’ve been scary for a lot of people. I mean taking a good chunk out of your retirement account, nobody would tell you that’s a good idea.“
How important it is to have peer support as an entrepreneur, and her focus on that in creating Hera Hub . . . “That peer piece of it is important because when you’re in a mastermind paying a ton of money, there’s this feeling of they have all the wisdom and I’m there to learn, but when you’re in a peer situation, you’re much more likely to be vulnerable and say, “You know what? I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I need support. I’m struggling with this.” That’s a really, really important piece of not only in the Hera Hub community but a lot of mastermind groups as well.”
Nate Broughton: 00:00:02 This episode of the Opt Out Life Podcast from the Opt Out Media Network was recorded here in San Diego as the Opt Out Life story of Felena Hanson.
Dana Robinson: 00:00:14 Welcome to the Opt Out Life Podcast, the no BS guide to living a modern good life, hosted by subversive millionaires Dana Robinson and Nate Broughton. The Opt Out Life Podcast explains exactly how creative hustlers are turning side gigs into real income and taking back control of their time. From their studio in sunny San Diego, the Opt Out Life welcomes guests who are solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, travelers, and creatives who are proof that you can choose a lifestyle over money, but still make money, too. If you feel like you’ve been chasing your tail, running the rat rice, or stuck in a system that’s rigged against you, we’d like to offer you an alternative here on the Opt Out Life Podcast.
Nate Broughton: 00:00:56 Starting a business can be scary. Picture this. You have a business idea. It’s been burning in your mind for over a year, but you don’t know where to begin. This idea of yours may even be why you listen to the Opt Out Life. Now what if you and your hot business idea could walk into an office, but it wasn’t like any office you’d ever been to before. The lights are soft, it smells like lavender, it’s quiet. Not too quiet, but peaceful quiet. You notice a little Zen music playing in the background and someone says, “Welcome to Hera Hub.”
Dana Robinson: 00:01:23 Today’s guest is the creator of that unique world, and her name is Felena Hanson. She was a pioneer in the world of coworking spaces, founding the female-focused Hera Hub in 2011. It not only provides a spa-like space for startups and entrepreneurs, but it’s a forum for mentoring and incubating ventures. It’s the kind of place where that business idea of yours can be pushed into reality.
Dana Robinson: 00:01:46 Felena is a published author and has a TEDx Talk and, as you’ll hear, is a born rebel who’s been going against the grain most of her life. She’s the daughter of serial entrepreneurs. Long before Hera Hub, she spent her early years working in marketing for a few venture-backed tech companies. But three successive opportunities resulted in layoffs. A marriage, which also included a business partnership with her then husband, ended in divorce. To top it all off, she was hit by a fire truck and broke 27 bones in her body.
Nate Broughton: 00:02:15 These experiences were the catalyst for a 30-something Felena to opt out of her previous career path to start her own marketing consultancy, which eventually worked with clients from DirecTV to CNN. Now she spends her days doing what she loves: bringing people together, mentoring, and teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs and opters, who range from people still with full-time jobs who are looking to branch out, and serious entrepreneurs who are drawn by the siren song of the spa-like surroundings of one of seven locations of Hera Hub.
Dana Robinson: 00:02:43 Light a candle, grab your robe and slippers. Here’s Felena. Felena Hanson, thank you for being with us today.
Felena Hanson: 00:02:43 Absolutely.
Dana Robinson: 00:02:54 Your story’s been told. You’re probably one of the more conspicuous guests we’ve had in the sense that you’ve had a TED Talk-
Nate Broughton: 00:03:00 A book.
Dana Robinson: 00:03:01 … A book and you’re woman about town when it comes to San Diego, founder of the Hera Hub, which I’ll let you talk about in a minute. But very cool to have you here. Hopefully, we’ll give our listeners a chance to hear some of your stories and maybe be inspired by your experiences and experiences of people around you as well. But let’s start with the reverse biography instead of your whole history. Can you tell us what it’s like to have a day in the life of Felena Hanson?
Felena Hanson: 00:03:27 Absolutely. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 14 years now. As we know as entrepreneurs, everything is different almost every day, and that’s what keeps us coming back. In running these shared workspaces and business accelerator programs, we’re focused on women, but we also serve a handful of men in each of our locations. It’s really, on a day-to-day basis, connecting with my members, helping them, supporting them, finding resources for them in their business so they can grow or launch or connect with others, find education and resources they need.
Felena Hanson: 00:04:05 It’s amazing. I mean there’s nothing more exciting to me than showing up with a room full of ambitious, passionate people who are building incredible things and doing that in community.
Dana Robinson: 00:04:18 That’s amazing. Now I must have met you almost 10 years ago, and I think it was on the verge of this business. I’m not sure if you had started, but I remember being at maybe a cocktail party and talking about what you’re doing. Maybe you were just giving birth to the project. At the time it just sounded like a coworking space, which was really ahead of coworking space as a trend. But as I understand, you’re not just a coworking space.
Felena Hanson: 00:04:46 Yeah, that’s correct. Absolutely. We’re also a business accelerator as well. That comes in a couple of forms. Within the coworking space itself, we have significant programming at the platform level. On a daily basis, members connect with gurus or subject matter experts that donate their time to the community around laws, social media, bookkeeping, pretty much anything a business owner needs, technology, resources. Then we have educational programs that happen several times a week. Some members are learning, they’re growing, they’re connecting with each other at the base level of Hera Hub.
Felena Hanson: 00:05:24 We have several nonprofit entities outside of Hera Hub and the Hera family. For those of you who don’t know your Greek mythology, Hera or Hera was the Greek goddess of women. We have Hera Labs, which is grant-funded through the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department and the Small Business Administration. There are two formal 12-week programs that are specific to both launch stage and growth stage of the business. Then we have a group, another nonprofit, called Hera Angels, which is an educational arm as well, inspiring more women to activate their capital and invest in female-focused products and female founders from an equity position and learn how to become angel investors.
Nate Broughton: 00:06:10 A lot of people who listen to the Opt Out Life, I think, are entrepreneurs, or they would like to be someday, or they’re trying to figure out a way to maybe start a side gig or start a business of their own. That’s really what you help people do. You mentioned how excited you are to engage with the people who are members of the community. Can you tell me a little bit about a couple of the people who are just examples of people that walk in the door at Hera Hub?
Felena Hanson: 00:06:33 Sure, yeah. I mean what’s great is we have folks from pretty much every industry you can imagine, but I do want to say our members are actually primarily non-tech, frankly. I mean there’s so many great programs in San Diego for technology entrepreneurs. We really primarily serve those folks that maybe don’t fit into an EvoNexus model, for example. They’re not building the next tech platform, for example. A couple examples. One, Lauren, she’s actually a relatively new member. She came out of the aerospace industry and is literally a rocket scientist. She’s still there part time as a contractor, but she has been building on the side and is getting ready to launch her beta platform to allow aerospace engineers to work on commercial space flight challenges.
Felena Hanson: 00:07:26 This exists in the medical industry where there are websites where folks can post these medical challenges. Universities, hospitals can post and say, “Hey, we have this challenge. Let’s go to the wisdom of the crowd and come back with a way to solve for this particular disease,” or something like that. She’s doing that in commercial space flight to tap into these amazing aerospace engineers that maybe aren’t as challenged in their day-to-day job and really want to give and contribute to the broader goal of commercial space flight.
Felena Hanson: 00:07:59 Another example is Vivian Sayward. She’s been a member for, gosh, pretty much since I launched the business about seven years ago. She came out of biotech. She was working both on the finance and marketing side of biotech and got tired of the industry, opted out, started playing golf actually when she was about 40 years old, got married later in life. Her husband’s a golfer. She was out on the golf course one day complaining about the apparel that was opted to her as a female golfer, and her husband said, “Then go do something about it.”
Felena Hanson: 00:08:34 Now she has a thriving company called the Vivacity Sportswear. She sells at golf shops. Her product is manufactured both here in San Diego and just south of the border. She also sells on cruise lines around the world.
Nate Broughton: 00:08:46 I love the stories because they’re very human and their common in a way that it’s a great example of someone who is working in an industry and developed an expertise and saw an opportunity. I also like the challenge from the husband that the wife will do something about it. That story, in particular, is a point where some people maybe get hung up because they’re like, “I would like to do something about that. Where do I begin?” Is Hera Hub a place where you can walk in the door and say, “I want to do something about this. Help me,” or is it something that they need to figure out a little bit further before they walk in the door?
Felena Hanson: 00:09:13 Yes. We help folks at all stages, ideation stage, as we call it, all the way to scale stage. We have some core programming out here at Hub that can help somebody flesh out that idea, do some market research, see if it’s viable, or they can enter into the Hera Labs program, which is, again, a structured 12-week program to do that. Absolutely. Then we have that quite a bit in folks who even have half their foot out the door. They’re still like Lauren, they’re still part-time contracting in their JOB, as we like to call it.
Nate Broughton: 00:09:47 I like that.
Felena Hanson: 00:09:47 Then they’re leaning out to start their own business. They’re looking for, obviously, the technical resources, but even more so just the support and camaraderie. Launching and growing a business is challenging, and doing it in isolation makes it 10 times harder. Just having the momentum of other like-minded individuals around you to just cheer you on, frankly. I mean as simple as that. “If you can do it, I’ve been there before. Here’s how I handled this,” is incredibly impactful.
Nate Broughton: 00:10:19 I know that’s something that you experienced as well. You were running your own consultancy, basically, for several years and felt isolated. That was part of the genesis of this whole idea.
Felena Hanson: 00:10:27 Exactly.
Nate Broughton: 00:10:28 Dana, you know Felena better than me. I actually had not really heard of Hera Hub too much, other than in some tech circles here in San Diego. As I started to research, I was surprised at how many locations it has and how many members.
Nate Broughton: 00:10:40 As Felena came in here and as she’s explaining it, she’s a little polished and she’s been on a few podcasts before, so she has given as the expert pitch and rundown, and I don’t want that to turn people off because I think she’s saying a lot of cool shit about entrepreneurship and what Hera Hub is and why she gets so jazzed up about it and how she’s helping people. She’s genuinely helping hundreds, if not thousands, of people at this point. Run with an idea. That was cool how she qualified that people can come in there with just an idea.
Dana Robinson: 00:11:08 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:11:09 That pretty much gets rid of any barriers to entry for anyone who’s looking to start a business, start a side gig, opt out. This is a place of friendship and help for those who want to do it.
Dana Robinson: 00:11:20 Yeah. A lot of people are probably aware of coworking space now. I mean WeWork is huge. They probably, if you have any interest in entrepreneurship or side gigs, either probably shown up in your ad feeds in social media. I see them in Instagram and Facebook. That’s great. There are a lot of resources with any coworking space, but what I think is remarkable about Felena’s project is, from the beginning, it’s been a place that you could just show up and say, “I have an idea. I need help,” and you don’t need to apply into an incubator and accelerator program.
Dana Robinson: 00:11:54 It’s a pretty big demand. I think we have these pretty high-tech accelerated programs and they have specific criterion, there’s a lot of people clamoring to get in there. But for every 10 people that want to get into EvoNexus, there’s probably 100 people that want to figure out how to launch a regular old, run-of-the-mill business, and here you have it. No excuse. You’ve got a program that’s got office and what you want from a place, and a spa-like setting, which it sounds fantastic. But these programs for mentorship and the, say, 12-week program are really amazing.
Nate Broughton: 00:12:32 Yeah. It’s different. It’s a different approach. As we continue to talk to her, yeah, we joke about the spa-inspired thing, and we get to hear what that really is, but she really cares and it’s all a reflection of her, I think. We were mentioning the criteria to get into an EvoNexus. I think the only criteria that we hear that you need for Hera Hub was a willingness to help others with what you do know.
Nate Broughton: 00:12:53 No matter who you are, if your business idea is something way outside of your expertise, you can still walk in the doors here, get help with that, and then just bring in the door whatever it is that you know, willing to help other people out. It sounds like a very strong community and a no BS place, too. She’s the type person that, I think, will provide a lot of help, and that should permeate down through the organization. But I think she’s also one that’s not going to let someone just float around in there.
Nate Broughton: 00:13:18 I’m very intrigued by what she’s telling us and I’m looking forward to hearing more as we talk through it. Before we jump back in, I love that she calls it the JOB, man.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:29 Right. It’s like a dirty word.
Nate Broughton: 00:13:31 Right. We love that at the Opt Out Life.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:34 Let’s talk about your job, the JOB.
Felena Hanson: 00:13:36 My JOB.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:36 Yeah. I mean it’s a little bit of a dirty word around the Opt Out people.
Felena Hanson: 00:13:41 Indeed. I’d say I’m proudly unemployable now.
Dana Robinson: 00:13:44 Right. Yes, many of our guests who’ve got great credentials have somehow found themselves not just unemployed but unemployable at some point. Talk about your exit from the corporate life, maybe a little snapshot of leading up to that.
Felena Hanson: 00:13:59 Sure. I spent my 20s working primarily in the startup space. I was in Los Angeles after I graduated from University of San Diego here and worked for several startups over the course of my 20s. The nut of it was two companies sold, one ran out of money. That’s what happens in the startup space.
Nate Broughton: 00:14:18 It’s pretty good, actually. Two out of three sold. That’s good.
Felena Hanson: 00:14:22 Exactly. By age 30, I find myself with my third layoff. That was actually back here in San Diego for a technology company that sold to AOL back in 2003. That was my time to exit. It was, “Gosh, darn it. I need to control my destiny.”
Felena Hanson: 00:14:40 I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. Both my parents are entrepreneurs. I feel like my father was saying to me, “Gosh, darn it. Why didn’t you do this 10 years ago?” But it took time and I found the right thing and moved forward with it.
Dana Robinson: 00:14:53 What was your first foray into the business?
Felena Hanson: 00:14:56 Yeah. Like a lot of folks, I took what I knew, which was at the time marketing, marketing strategy work. I was director of marketing for this technology company, and took that into a consultancy-based business. It was simple, cheap, easy, out of my home. You get business cards on a website and you’re ready to go, basically, and you do some networking. I love teaching, and so I ended up teaching college for eight years, just on the side, marketing and entrepreneurship.
Felena Hanson: 00:15:26 What really was the impetus towards Hera Hub was I started getting involved, through some networking, with some professional women’s organizations. One was around microfinance and helping women and developing nations launch a business and the other one was called Ladies Who Launch as in launch businesses. I ran the San Diego community of that for three years and helped about 250 women over the course of that time launch their business. It all came together in this concept for Hera Hub.
Dana Robinson: 00:15:57 When you started this, you had the tools, you knew you could basically become a professional mentor, I guess. How did you figure out the office thing? I mean this was, again, like people were just barely talking about coworking space seven to 10 years ago.
Felena Hanson: 00:16:10 Exactly. This was back in 2010. At that time, according to the data, there were only about 250 coworking spaces in the US in total. Yes, it was very early on. It was tough. Again, remember 2010, we’re just coming out of the downturn, if you will, and a lot of commercial real estate folks were pretty gun-shy still, and then here I march in with my business plan and financial projections, saying, “I’m going to start a work space for women,” and they’re like, “Huh? What is a coworking space? What makes you think you can do this?” It took, honestly, about a year to get our first commercial lease.
Dana Robinson: 00:16:52 Wow! The financing, just a practical question because I’m always trying to probe the practical for those that are listening. They might want to figure their business thing out. Did you get some venture capital behind you on this? How did you launch this?
Felena Hanson: 00:17:05 Good question. No VC money. In fact, I talk a lot about this, specifically this is not a venture-backed business. I did get an angel investor about two years into the business, so we can scale. We licensed the business model. Now we’re expanding internationally. But I took my own funds. I took money out of my retirement account, because you know what? If I can’t bet on myself, then how am I going to ask somebody else to bet on me? I invested about $60,000 of my own money and I took a loan from my father, who entrusted me in launching this business. Overall, I invested about $90,000 to get our first business location off the ground.
Nate Broughton: 00:17:46 Was that scary?
Felena Hanson: 00:17:49 I should say yes, but, honestly, no. I mean I knew I could figure it out. I didn’t know if it was going to end up being the initial model I had built in my business plan, but I’m scrappy and I’m resourceful. I just knew in some way there was a need and I knew I was going to figure it out. It should’ve been scary for a lot of people. I mean taking a good chunk out of your retirement account, nobody would tell you that’s a good idea.
Felena Hanson: 00:18:21 Again, going back to the time, everybody lost 40%, 50% of their portfolio after 2008. I thought, “You know what? I might as well freaking manage my money.” I felt almost like when I got laid off. It was like I can trust myself. I’m going to just make this happen.
Dana Robinson: 00:18:39 All right, Nate, let’s break in here. I need to control my destiny. It’s such a great quote. It’s one of those things that’s lurking in the back of so many people’s minds. For many people, it’s why you’re listening to this. It’s this sense of, and sometimes an urgent sense, that you’re not in control of your life, that you’re on this hamster wheel and you’re looking around while your little feet are racing, saying, “Something’s not right about this.” I think it’s cool that her immediate instinct was to say that. It’s really coming from her heart.
Nate Broughton: 00:19:10 Yeah. Life’s thrown some adversity at her. I mean actually it’s a success story that also is paired with adversity that leads her to this. It’s interesting. She was in successful tech companies at a time when that’s hot. Probably got some really cool practical experience in that and it would actually probably look pretty sexy to someone from the outside, but the end result is layoff, layoff, layoff. At the end of it, she’s left with, like, “I’m 30 years old. What do I do now?” The rational and bold feeling is, “I need to control my destiny.”
Nate Broughton: 00:19:41 Then I asked her if it was scary to do that and also as she moves forward and launches Hera Hub at a time when some people are like, “What the hell is coworking? I don’t know what that is. Now you want to do a female-inspired coworking space?” That’s a-
Dana Robinson: 00:19:57 Yeah, in a down economy.
Nate Broughton: 00:19:57 Right. She’s being told she’s crazy. We love that because we’ve heard it so many times. She’s bootstrapping this with her own financing. We love that, too. But, yeah, the, “I need to control my own destiny,” in the face of adversity, not giving up, and also that’s really the appropriate answer and the appropriate action. It’s cool that she’s got the gumption to do it.
Dana Robinson: 00:20:20 Yeah. I think there’s also a really cool how to make your first step out into the business world lesson here. I mean Hera Hub was a cool idea, and you’ve got to be careful with cool ideas because you can make a big mistake, especially if it’s your first venture. One of my pieces of advice for new entrepreneurs is to do what you’re good at if you’re going to step out into business. Then once you’re there, you can maybe experiment and tinker with things that might be a little more risky, unknown, challenging, something that not a lot of people are doing, like Hera Hub.
Dana Robinson: 00:20:50 But if you listen carefully, her first venture to get control of her destiny was to do exactly what she already knew. She basically took her skills and said, ” I’m a consultant now.” We’ve heard this before. [Brian Ron 00:21:03] said the same thing, some of our most successful entrepreneurs, and basically not come up with genius ideas. They just did what they were good at to start with.
Nate Broughton: 00:21:13 Yeah, happenstance, right? I think it too her 10 seconds to describe it. She’s like, “I got some business cards, I tell some people, and I had a business.” That didn’t take much figuring out, it sounds like. That was the next logical step, the next logical action. She didn’t overthink it, but it was the answer to that big question on that big desire. It’s cool that it kicked her off on the right path and it’s cool that it reinforces our story, of course.
Dana Robinson: 00:21:38 Right. Even when she decided she’s going to launch Hera Hub, she had built a network, she knew what she was doing right, she knew she could mentor and incubate ideas. When it came to financing, she didn’t go out and raise a bunch money and come out with a big plan and a giant idea that needed a million dollars. She got a little advance from her dad, who is an entrepreneur and was willing to take some risk with her. The rest of it was hers. She was her biggest investor.
Nate Broughton: 00:22:04 Yeah. I mean she’s got a pretty polished approach and she tells the story pretty nicely, as we’ve said. But I hope people are seriously listening to that. Just go back step-by-step what she did. She started a consultancy based on what she knew. She got some clients, she networked, she taught on the side, she met a lot of people around San Diego, she got involved, and probably in the back of her mind had a Hear Hub style idea as an end goal in some way.
Nate Broughton: 00:22:30 She did all those things that I just described and then that became the next logical step. Still, to take that leap, to take that step she had to deal with financing. She dug in her own pockets and did it. That is how you do it.
Dana Robinson: 00:22:46 I think it’s pretty cool, we talk a lot about social pressures and family pressures, because so many of us as entrepreneurs … I mean my parents were fine with me doing whatever, they didn’t have really high expectations one way or the other, but many of our guests got their degrees, getting their proper set of credentials, and parents and family waiting for them to get a real job. Pretty cool that you’ve got an MBA and a bachelor’s degree and an experience in corporate America and I guess it’s entrepreneurial parents maybe, but did you have other naysayers who were like, “You’re too well-credentialed for this. You need a real job”?
Felena Hanson: 00:23:20 Good question. What’s interesting about my family and background, so neither of my parents graduated from college. They dropped out … Met each other their junior year, dropped out, got married, and, luckily for me, moved from Fresno, California to San Luis Obispo County, so I grew up in a nice place.
Felena Hanson: 00:23:38 To your point, going to college, I mean my dad hated college. He started his first business at age 13 mowing lawns. I mean you’re scrappy, figure it out. That’s the mantra. There was no pressure there. In fact, even at my junior year of high school, he came to me and said, “I’ve saved some money. You have three options. You can start a business, you can go to college, or you can put a down payment on a house. It’s completely up to you.”
Felena Hanson: 00:24:03 Going to college was actually … It was like, “Here’s an option. You can do this.” I was actually a terrible student in high school. I was too busy with boys and tennis and all kinds of other things to focus on it. I ended up going to community college for two years and transferred to USD, got my you know what together, and it was still never an expectation. I have eight brothers and sisters. None of them have graduated from college. I was just a complete anomaly. Social pressure maybe by some of the folks that, like, “Oh, that’s scary. That seems like a big investment.” But that’s why it’s so important as an entrepreneur to surround yourself with the right people, with a community that understands.
Nate Broughton: 00:24:44 I want to ask you about three taglines that I’m pulling from you.
Felena Hanson: 00:24:44 Okay.
Nate Broughton: 00:24:48 The first one I’ve been picking up in the conversation here, you said lean out, people who are trying to lean out. This is the Opt Out. I think that the two might be somewhat similar, but tell me what lean out means.
Felena Hanson: 00:24:57 Yeah. It’s a play on Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. In that book, it’s obviously suck it up, lean in, take your seat at the board table. Mine is, of course, counter to that, like screw it, leave it behind, go do your own thing. It’s a play on Sheryl Sandberg.
Nate Broughton: 00:25:13 Do you guys say it a lot around the Hera Hub? Is it a mantra?
Felena Hanson: 00:25:18 Sometimes. Sometimes.
Nate Broughton: 00:25:18 Okay. The other one I want to ask about is spa-inspired. You probably get this a lot, but it’s like-
Felena Hanson: 00:25:18 I do.
Nate Broughton: 00:25:26 You have a video on your website explaining it, I think, in the case that people ask. But Hera Hub is a spa-inspired place.
Felena Hanson: 00:25:33 Yes.
Nate Broughton: 00:25:33 What does that mean? It sounds nice.
Felena Hanson: 00:25:36 Exactly. That’s exactly it. We wanted to create a space, I wanted to create a space that was beautiful, warm, welcoming, Zen, and productive and for women, since that’s my target market. You just say the words “day spa” to a woman and you watch her relax a little bit. Creating a space with water features and aromatherapy candles and soft music and nice lighting, just taking the elements of a spa and bringing them into a work space. Again and again, our members say, “I’ve never been so Zen and productive at the same time.”
Nate Broughton: 00:26:11 Yeah, I think that would be conducive to a productive action from anyone. Being an entrepreneur, building a business is very emotional, very up and down. Great one hour, terrible the next. I think that the Zen can help with that. I assume it doesn’t really affect the energy of the place. Some people will talk about WeWork or whatever and, “It’s so tight. They’re bringing in beer and tacos and stuff.” It’s like, yeah, that’s cool, too.
Felena Hanson: 00:26:11 Not my target market.
Nate Broughton: 00:26:34 Right, right.
Dana Robinson: 00:26:36 Well, but you’re both doing something that makes people want to go to work.
Felena Hanson: 00:26:40 Exactly.
Dana Robinson: 00:26:40 Call it go to work, but to be drawn into, to be excited to show up and put your productivity in that place.
Felena Hanson: 00:26:47 Exactly.
Dana Robinson: 00:26:48 Certainly, there’s times where our office has a keg. I’m looking at a kegerator out there.
Nate Broughton: 00:26:53 Yeah. That’s true.
Dana Robinson: 00:26:54 I tapped the side of it and it is empty.
Nate Broughton: 00:26:58 It’s a prop.
Dana Robinson: 00:27:00 I know. Felena, no beer today.
Felena Hanson: 00:27:02 Oh, bummer.
Dana Robinson: 00:27:03 Yeah, but more places are doing things that draw people in with the things you want, right?
Felena Hanson: 00:27:03 Yeah.
Dana Robinson: 00:27:08 We have a dog in the office, and that’s cool. Some people have beer at the coffee shop in the office. I love that it’s a spa.
Nate Broughton: 00:27:15 Yeah. It’s your recipe, right?
Felena Hanson: 00:27:15 Exactly.
Nate Broughton: 00:27:16 It stands apart. It’s different. Not just the woman-focused, but the spa-inspired.
Felena Hanson: 00:27:21 Exactly. We have quite a few members in the service segment, folks that do caregiving for seniors, for example, and will bring a client in. Marriage and family therapists, things of that nature. They really appreciate this environment. Again, WeWork has its own thing, which is great. I mean it’s cool and hip, but when you’re bringing a family in, that’s maybe having a big challenge or even in trauma into a space that is that Zen-like environment. Our members appreciate it.
Nate Broughton: 00:27:50 All right. One more tagline. This is from your book. The tagline is Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business. It sounds very Opt Out again.
Felena Hanson: 00:27:50 Exactly, Rebel.
Nate Broughton: 00:28:00 This could be the tagline to Dana’s book.
Felena Hanson: 00:28:02 There you go.
Nate Broughton: 00:28:04 [inaudible 00:28:04].
Felena Hanson: 00:28:04 Yeah. The Rebel comes from my childhood. I had very rebellious parents, so to speak. They didn’t play by the normal rules. They did their own thing. I grew up in that environment, luckily. The layoffs that I experienced and the reinvention through that and also just a personal scenario. When I was 22, I got hit by a fire truck here in San Diego and broke 27 bones in my arms, legs, and face. Certainly, an opportunity to step back and assess why I’m here and what I’m meant to do and reinvent in some ways who I am through that process. Then the dream business piece is what Hera Hub does, helping folks that are launching, growing, and finding their sweet spot.
Dana Robinson: 00:28:47 Nice. I got a tagline actually. It’s not a tagline, but I like it because you use it a lot. I think you even had a talk that was posted about it. Tell me about scrappy.
Felena Hanson: 00:28:57 Scrappy, yes.
Dana Robinson: 00:28:59 It’s a one-word tagline.
Nate Broughton: 00:29:00 [inaudible 00:29:00].
Felena Hanson: 00:29:00 Exactly, exactly. You know what? I think all entrepreneurs need a level of this. I say that because, again, I grew up in an unconventional environment, and you just did what you could with what you had type of thing. We technically call that bootstrapping in this day and age. But it goes back to your question, Dana, about venture capital. A lot of people have this very wrong assumption that they’re going to come up with this great idea and VCs are going to flock to them and give them millions of dollars and they’ll have a fancy office and away they go. No, that’s not the way it works. To be scrappy, you’ve got to figure it out, you’ve got to put every resource together as possible. Ask for favors, whatever it is.
Dana Robinson: 00:29:41 Yeah. I think that’s a great theme. I think scrappy is a word I haven’t really used. We used to use it when I was a kid. My buddy and I always had to fix our cars up. If you wanted to surf, you had to make your car run. If you wanted to drive, you had to make your car run. We didn’t have much privilege, and so where I was talking about doing it the scrappy way. In fact, that often meant trips to the scrapyard-
Felena Hanson: 00:30:04 Exactly.
Dana Robinson: 00:30:04 I still enjoy, even though I don’t really need to go pull parts off cars like I used to. Yeah, the bootstrappiness, the making things happen. I think what’s cool is that your idea of scrappiness is consistent with putting people together, because the greatest free resource you can have as an entrepreneur are other entrepreneurs that have been there. It’s the ability to gain the knowledge really to learn what you don’t know you don’t know. You can’t learn that and take it around other people.
Dana Robinson: 00:30:33 Then you get all these free resources of people that are saying, “Oh, I’ve already done that.” We get this. It was how Nate and I met was a mastermind group of people that were just sharing and caring. You get more out of that meeting than you would if you paid somebody $10,000 probably in terms of just the knowledge, the things you didn’t know in your chair.
Felena Hanson: 00:30:53 Yeah, exactly. That peer piece of it is important because when you’re in a mastermind paying a ton of money, there’s this feeling of they have all the wisdom and I’m there to learn, but when you’re in a peer situation, you’re much more likely to be vulnerable and say, “You know what? I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I need support. I’m struggling with this.” That’s a really, really important piece of not only in the Hera Hub community but a lot of mastermind groups as well.
Nate Broughton: 00:31:18 Dana, we’ve heard more about some of the points we brought up in our last break in, some of Felena’s good taglines, but also reiterating some of these points that you have to be scrappy, you have to dig into your own pockets, you have to bootstrap. People have a strong assumption that you should go on Shark Tank, as we were just joking about before I hit record, or that you are going to come up with a great idea that’s novel and VCs will flock and give you a million dollars. Then you’ll go on your series A and on your series B and on your exit.
Nate Broughton: 00:31:46 That’s not the story that we try to tell with the Opt Out Life because we feel that’s not a real story that people can place themselves in as a character. The real story of us and our network and our friends is very different.
Dana Robinson: 00:31:59 Yeah. Scrappy, scrap, it’s bootstraps, it’s drawing from your own resources. One of those resources, and I’m glad she brought it out, I’m not sure we’ve talked a lot about it, is your network, these people that you hang out with. A lot of people have this very official idea about networking. It’s the networking I hate. I think I did talk about it in one podcast that the last time I went to a trade show, I had to wear a name badge. I was just miserable. I was looking for the one other person that looked dour and just went over and talked shit about how terrible this kind of networking thing was.
Dana Robinson: 00:32:33 But Felena’s not that way. She’s just out and about impacting the community, volunteer for the TED organization, teaching at two different colleges, engaging people because she likes it, and that’s the best kind of networking. Why do you and I network at the things we do?
Nate Broughton: 00:32:48 Because I love hearing people’s stories. They’re the stories that we tell in the Opt Out Life Podcast. They’re the ones that I take something from it, whether it’s inspirational or something specific. I just love hearing people tell me what they’re up to and what they’re doing. I think the delineation is tell me your story, don’t try to sell me something. I think that’s the difference between the name tag and our events, the [SoCalis 00:33:10], right?
Dana Robinson: 00:33:10 Yeah, that’s a way to build a real network, is even if you go to a formal networking event, go and share and just listen and make friends. Don’t sell anyone anything. Ultimately, if you have relationships, people will want what you have. Felena’s done that. She’s a social butterfly. I wouldn’t say that she’s inherently an extrovert, she’s confident and likes what she’s doing, and I think that comes across.
Dana Robinson: 00:33:35 I think it’s same with us. When we started SoCali, which we probably will morph into an Opt Out Life networking event in San Diego as well as other cities, the goal of that is not networking in the official sense, it’s un-networking. It’s just hanging out and making friends and hearing stories and sharing. You find commonality when you do that. Then once you have that network, you’ll find cool shit to do with your business.
Nate Broughton: 00:34:00 Yeah. It comes over time, telling your story, creating friendships. It all adds up over the years, I think. Something comes to you, an opportunity or a need, with your business, and you remember the guy or the gal that you met two years ago at SoCali, who you’ve seen a couple times and had a drink with. They live across town or even somewhere else. You can shoot them a quick email because you guys have hung out at what is effectively a party with no name tags and sponsors and structure and speakers and things like that. That’s the atmosphere that we’ve tried to foster with our events, and it’s been a smashing success, I think.
Nate Broughton: 00:34:36 If you’re curious to get a taste of what our events look like, do me a favor. Go to YouTube and find the Opt Out Life channel and watch episode one of our web series. We’ve got something called WTF is the Opt Out Life? It’s episode one. You’ll hear stories of people from our event. We brought a film crew to our last one. People tell us you can get the feel for the atmosphere and they also give us their little pitches on how they’ve opted out. We think it’s pretty powerful. I think you should head over there and check it out.
Nate Broughton: 00:35:08 How do you curate that and encourage that at Hear Hub, and maybe even a specific example of something that you guys do so I can kind of picture myself maybe being in there having those conversations or getting that support?
Felena Hanson: 00:35:19 Absolutely. We ask, first and foremost, how are you here to give back? This isn’t just a place where you come and take, you’re here to give as well. We set that expectation right from the get-go. We will tell folks when they come in for their mandatory in-person interview. We don’t let somebody just click a button and pay online and join. They have to come and sit down with us, get to know the community and what we do and we get to know them and their business.
Felena Hanson: 00:35:45 The main driving question is you are here to be part of a community. If you just want a place to work, there are a million other places to go. If you want to be part of a community, we ask first how do you want to give and then the expectation, of course, that everybody’s here to do the same thing and be part of that community. We almost demand it.
Nate Broughton: 00:36:05 If people are confused about what they might be able to bring to the table, how do you help them figure that out? Partially, in my mind, I’m thinking a lot of people who want to start a business or want to opt out, or lean out or any of those things, have a skill and an experience that they don’t really realize is valuable. I’m wondering if maybe that can be the answer sometimes in people’s minds. They figure it out as you talk them through, like, “No. Actually, here’s how you could contribute to the community,” even though your brand new and just thinking about starting a business and may not have those skills.” There are other ones that you’re walking in the door with, right?
Felena Hanson: 00:36:37 Absolutely. Things like our weekly business booster, which is a facilitated discussion on a particular business topic. We just had a new member join, Kendra Williams. She has a significant background in digital marketing around consumer packaged goods. Just because she just started her business, she just got laid off, so it was an opportunity to then sit down with her and say, “Hey, just because you’ve just started your business doesn’t mean you don’t have the significant amount of experience.” She’s going to lead a business booster in a couple of weeks on her experience building your online reputation, selling online, specifically on Amazon, which a lot of our members have interest in.
Nate Broughton: 00:37:17 I bet, yeah. Our next guest is an Amazon maestro. Tune in soon, Opt Outers. But the other thing I wanted to ask is what if someone walks in the door there and isn’t quite sure that they want to be the lead on starting a business? Is it a place where they can sync up with other people who have a business that’s in motion or find a potential business partner? Because I think we’re finding through some of our feedback that not everybody is ready to be the top dog, but they still want to lean out, opt out, and be a part of something like that that’s not like their current job.
Felena Hanson: 00:37:48 Yeah, we definitely try to help them make those connections, for folks that are in their industry when they join. We do have a handful of members that still have a JOB and just like the environment and like the sense of energy and community there. We do find oftentimes, sooner than later, that energy is contagious and they’re thinking about leaving and starting their own business. But, yeah, we do everything we can to put people together with the right connections, right resources.
Nate Broughton: 00:38:16 Cool.
Dana Robinson: 00:38:16 Can you give us some advice specifically that you would have for women entrepreneurs?
Felena Hanson: 00:38:23 Yeah. I think the biggest thing, and this goes back to another unofficial tagline of ours, which is go big or go home. Honestly, the frustrating part to me in seeing so many female entrepreneurs launching over the last 14 years is lack of confidence. It sounds so simple, but women maybe haven’t had the same opportunities to build that confidence throughout their career. They might have been one of the only few women in the room in a lot of cases and just felt like an outsider, so to speak, in most of their career, especially in technology and the sciences.
Felena Hanson: 00:39:02 Part of our role is, again, connecting them with other women who have done it. If you can see it, you can be it is the phrase that a lot of folks use. Part of what we’re doing is really helping them build that confidence, frankly. You can do this. This is in you. Again, being in that environment really, really helps.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:23 Yeah. I know as a white man, I’d feel white privilege. In some ways, I guess I’m a great beneficiary of that, obviously, for the whiteness in a society that has certain advantage to that, and I’m apologetic for it. I feel like when I have worked with women, almost all of my bosses throughout my life have been women, and they’ve been fantastic mentors. The best employees I’ve had, including the one who runs my law practice right now, is a woman.
Dana Robinson: 00:39:51 This is a point of discussion is this very subject of confidence. It’s not that men are inherently, say, better salesmen, people who are confident are inherently better salesmen. Confidence is this distinguishing factor and it is a benefit given to us as boys, that we’re told, “You can,” and we’re expected to fall down and hurt ourselves. We’re expected to play sports and get hurt. We’re expected to lump it when things don’t go our way.
Dana Robinson: 00:40:22 Confidence isn’t always warranted. Most men that I know are overconfident and then are more confident that they’re in their capabilities and knowledge than they’re entitled to. I’ve never met a woman that is overconfident, not entitled to the confidence they have. I think that’s a fantastic point of advice.
Dana Robinson: 00:40:42 Now I’m, in some sense, admonishing men jokingly here, that maybe we’re overconfident. Can men do something to help women entrepreneurs, or is it enough to just acknowledge our privilege?
Felena Hanson: 00:40:56 Good question. I think just having open, candid conversations about it is extremely helpful, because most women have never heard a man say that, to be honest. They’re mystified by like, “How is this person so confident?” Just briefly, HP did an internal study for job applications, internal movement within HP. What they found is most men would apply for jobs that they were only 40% qualified for-
Dana Robinson: 00:41:25 Yeah, [crosstalk 00:41:25].
Felena Hanson: 00:41:25 … and most women would not apply for those jobs unless they were over 80% or almost 100% qualified for. Just opening up these conversations that this is the case, and specifically just talking to women about it and saying, “You’ve got this.” This goes back to that scrappy idea. I meet so many inspiring entrepreneurs who will say, “I want to start my business, but I think I’m going to go back and get my MBA first, because I don’t have any business experience.” I’m like, “Okay, that’s bullshit.” Nothing I learned in my MBA made me a good entrepreneur. In fact, it’s almost detrimental. I enjoyed it, but it teaches you how to be a manager, it teaches you how to play by the rules, so to speak.
Felena Hanson: 00:42:13 This idea of just being scrappy and just doing it and it’s not going to be perfect, that’s why I love the mantra of the startup world now. It’s fail fast, it’s failure’s an option. But a lot of women, that’s, to your point, not how we were raised. It was look nice, be polite, be nice to everybody type of thing.
Felena Hanson: 00:42:31 Also, the outward appearance thing. I’ve done some research on this. There are so many studies around boys and girls and at what age do girls start to worry about what the world thinks of us, the external viewpoint, versus boys are taught to just barrel through and don’t worry about the outside world.
Nate Broughton: 00:42:49 Well, Dana, there’s not much I want to add right here other than there’s been some good back and forth on some good topics. I think you and Felena had some nice honest talk about men entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, the importance of confidence. I like that point. But, yeah, I feel like it lives on its own. The only thing I want to talk about right now is a little sound bite from her where she said her MBA was bullshit. Love it.
Dana Robinson: 00:43:13 Love it.
Nate Broughton: 00:43:14 The rebel is coming out.
Dana Robinson: 00:43:15 Yeah, absolutely. In fact, we just recorded a podcast that’s not going to be out for another month, but we had a great guest who’s been wildly successful, is getting the exit that many entrepreneurs hope for. His degrees were engineering. He got to the end of that and said, “I’m never going to use that,” and immediately enrolled in film school and became a film major for his graduate studies. Then got to the end of that and said, “I’m never going to use that.”
Dana Robinson: 00:43:41 Look, degrees, I think are an indication of discipline. Ultimately, I think it’s just about learning something, expanding your knowledge. It teaches you how much you don’t know. What you don’t know is where you find wisdom and where you find life. Degrees are fantastic, meaning that they’re great platforms for learning, but MBAs don’t teach you teach you anything about business in the real world. If you’re going to go work for a corporation maybe, you’re going to go work for a big consultancy group maybe, but I don’t know any of the people that are entrepreneurs in our network that lean on their MBAs.
Nate Broughton: 00:44:19 I have no idea who has them, where they got them if they have them or not. It’s irrelevant. I don’t feel like a lot of them even rely on their networks that would have come from that either. I think some people do go back to business school to develop a bit of a network or find some direction. I haven’t met many people that have really found that, in our world at least. I’m sure in the normal world, the opt-in world, those things do happen [crosstalk 00:44:40].
Dana Robinson: 00:44:40 Right. It’s a master of business administration, the key operative word “administration”. Where do you administer businesses? In very big corporate environments-
Nate Broughton: 00:44:49 That’s true.
Dana Robinson: 00:44:49 … in big corporations. I know people that are very comfortable in those environments. If that’s you, then I’m sorry for offending your MBA. But for those that are out doing entrepreneurship, I know people that feel like, “Well, I started a business and I’m starting to hire people.” They feel inadequate and they think sometimes, “Well, should I go back to school and get an MBA, that E, that executive MBA.” The reality is that the entrepreneurs that we know that are successful are getting it from the school of hard knocks.
Nate Broughton: 00:45:17 Yeah. I think I should even qualify, Felena wasn’t saying that her MBA was bullshit. I don’t want to disparage her alma mater or anything like that, which I think was USD where she got it. You’ve probably got some love for USD. We’re not disparaging them.
Dana Robinson: 00:45:29 Take it easy on my school.
Nate Broughton: 00:45:31 I taught a little thing there, too. I got love for USD. But she was just saying the example of a person saying, “I want to start a business. Before I do that, I feel like I need to go back and get my MBA,” is just a bullshit approach to going out and becoming an entrepreneur. You don’t do that. You need to invest that time and that money and that effort into just starting or surrounding yourself with someone who’s already doing something similar and learning from them.
Dana Robinson: 00:45:56 Well said.
Nate Broughton: 00:45:57 Thank you, sir. Well, you were just on the Today Show. Tell us about that.
Felena Hanson: 00:46:02 Oh, it was so glamorous.
Nate Broughton: 00:46:03 Well, that’s fun.
Felena Hanson: 00:46:05 Yeah. I got a call just a couple of weeks ago from a producer at the Today Show. She said, “Hey, we’re doing this segment on female workspaces,” or what they’ll say women-only spaces. I quickly said we’re not women-only, but, yes, we are female-focused. There is a coworking … They call themselves a coworking space to some extent, but more of a social club.
Felena Hanson: 00:46:26 Think of the university club here in San Diego, but only women. It has a cafe and a blowout bar. It’s very much a social club. They have gained a significant amount of publicity because they have this no men allowed rule. I mean you can’t even enter the building as a man.
Felena Hanson: 00:46:44 In fact, when NBC did this segment, I was talking to the producer here in San Diego. They filmed our segment first and then The Wings. They won’t even allow male cameramen into the space. NBC was required to bring only female camera people. I mean it’s just ridiculous. I’m sorry. Give me a break. How is that healthy? How are we going to move the conversation forward if we just exclude a sex.
Dana Robinson: 00:47:09 Men suck.
Felena Hanson: 00:47:14 No. We love men. Anyhow, the piece turned out to be about some of the legalities, which are valid. You can’t discriminate. You can’t just totally exclude a certain age, sex, gender, color, et cetera. Unfortunately, I was initially excited. I’m like, “The Today Show,” and I’m thinking, “This is our way of getting the word out of how awesome Hera Hub is.” No, no, no, no. It was very focused on the negatives, of course, as the media is going to do. All press is good press, but-
Nate Broughton: 00:47:48 There we go, yeah.
Felena Hanson: 00:47:49 … I watched it and my face was like, “Oh, my God,” because they filmed for three hours and they did interviews with members and just a significant amount of storytelling and then we get in 20 seconds. But whatever.
Dana Robinson: 00:48:03 Yeah.
Felena Hanson: 00:48:04 It’s the way it goes.
Dana Robinson: 00:48:05 All press is good press.
Nate Broughton: 00:48:06 Yes. That’s why you’re on Opt Out Life, Felena. Who knows what could come of this?
Felena Hanson: 00:48:10 Exactly. Well, to your point-
Nate Broughton: 00:48:11 [crosstalk 00:48:11].
Dana Robinson: 00:48:11 How can we [crosstalk 00:48:11] the story?
Nate Broughton: 00:48:11 Yeah. [crosstalk 00:48:14].
Felena Hanson: 00:48:13 No, but to your point, I was on a podcast, gosh, back probably in 2012. This woman out of Sedona, Arizona, Leisa Peterson. It was called the Art of Mindful Finances or something to the tune of that. I was a guest on the podcast, no big deal. Then two years later, this woman, Sophia Renemar, out of Stockholm, Sweden happened to hear this podcast two years later, fell in love with the idea, reached out to me. Now she’s our first international licensee of Hera Hub in Sweden, so you never know.
Dana Robinson: 00:48:48 Yeah. Actually, to that point, let’s just stay with PR because I think this is a good lesson, you do a lot of outreach. I mean you’ve got a calendar. In fact, when we talked about this, we’re old friends, and I’m like, “Hey, let’s get you on the show,” and you sent me a link. You’re, “Yup.” I do a lot of this.
Felena Hanson: 00:48:48 It’s just efficiency.
Dana Robinson: 00:48:48 No, but it’s really-
Felena Hanson: 00:48:48 I’m not trying to be …
Dana Robinson: 00:49:04 It wasn’t impersonal. No, no, no. But I thought it was incredibly efficient, and it showed somebody who is available, responds quickly, says yes, gets on interviews, promotes what you’re doing. I mean advertising costs so much. We know from being in the marketing space, even if you’re just link building and SEO, search marketing, building funnels to drive the most efficient ads as you can, all of the means that you have at your disposal to get people toward your product or service, there’s no better way than what you’re doing right now.
Dana Robinson: 00:49:43 It’s this free, cordial connection with the community and saying, “This is me. Here’s what we do. If you like it, we’re out there.” You do as much of that as possible. I mean that must have a great benefit. I mean there’s a great story right there about your first international Hera Hub, but how many more people probably come in because of that?
Felena Hanson: 00:50:04 Yeah, I mean it definitely … Number one, you have to build something that’s interesting, frankly, that has a story behind it. You have to be vulnerable and open to share that story and also to be open to saying, “You know what? I don’t have all the answers. I’m still figuring it out. This isn’t totally easy all the time.”
Felena Hanson: 00:50:24 I mean I work very hard, as all entrepreneurs do, and it’s not glamorous a lot of times. Swear to God, this weekend, I’m leading a strategic planning workshop and also fixing the handle of the toilet in the women’s restroom. I mean this is like, quite literally … Sometimes I’ll joke somebody comes in, they’re like, “Oh do you work here?” I’m like, “Yeah. I’m sometimes the janitor and sometimes … ”
Nate Broughton: 00:50:46 Can you take a photo of that and send it to us?
Felena Hanson: 00:50:48 Yes, absolutely. Of course.
Nate Broughton: 00:50:50 I’m publishing this because I love that.
Felena Hanson: 00:50:51 But to your point, so first having an interesting story to tell, having a product or service that is different and is engaging in new territories, if you will, and putting a twist on something. Then just being open to saying yes and sharing that story as often as possible.
Felena Hanson: 00:51:09 I mean I was on the EOFire Podcast, John Lee Dumas, about a year and a half ago and got probably 40 other podcast requests just because so many people follow his podcast, and then they said, “Oh, I heard you were on this podcast. Do you want to be a guest as well?” For me, it’s fun just sharing the story, sharing the story of our members, and, hopefully, inspiring more women to lean out and launch their own business.
Dana Robinson: 00:51:36 That’s fantastic.
Nate Broughton: 00:51:37 Yeah. It’s cool hearing about the snowball effect, so to speak, of having it come two years down the line from doing some seemingly obscure podcast and that leading into an international invitation for your business. I love that.
Nate Broughton: 00:51:49 We talk a lot about having the audacity to reach out. We call it, I call it, too … We send cold emails to people. If I was like, “John, I want to be in your podcast, bro.” Sometimes that pays off, but it’s cool to be on the other side, where you say yes to a lot of these opportunities and it eventually pays off. I don’t think you’re trying to keep score tomorrow on how this podcast benefits your business. But if you do it a lot over time, then the story gets heard.
Felena Hanson: 00:52:13 Yeah. Even if you affect one person, if one person hears your story and is inspired to do something different, inspired to challenge themselves, then it’s all worth it, right?
Nate Broughton: 00:52:23 Mm-hmm (affirmative). A lot of people don’t think that way. Trying to fix that.
Dana Robinson: 00:52:28 I’ll ask some personal questions. All right. In my view, entrepreneurship can be incredibly burdensome and can turn into worse than a JOB. I know because I’ve had many businesses all at once and I had to find a way to eliminate those. Our goal with Opt Out is, if you’re already entrepreneurs, to help you find a way to make your entrepreneurship empowering, to let you do what you want to do, how you want to do it, and all that. How about you? You’ve got a successful, flourishing business. Are you slammed doing 12-hour days? Are you doing some things with your life that you want to do with your life?
Felena Hanson: 00:53:05 Yeah. It’s a great question. I think probably every panel event I’ve been on around female entrepreneurship always ask the question of work-life balance. I think work-life balance as an entrepreneur is, frankly, bullshit. There is no such thing as work-life balance, in my opinion. It’s really about work-life integration. If you build a business that you love and you build a business that you’re passionate about and you know that you’re making an impact and you build your life around that, yes, there are days I definitely still work 12-hour days and probably more than I should. But, honestly, unless I am doing bookkeeping or maybe diving into a needy contract, no offensive to the attorneys in the room, but I mean if I’m connecting with people and helping them and supporting them and connecting them with each other, it doesn’t even feel like work.
Felena Hanson: 00:54:02 I only have one business at a time. I’m really focused on our expansion and our licensing and supporting our licensees. I think it does help that I’m razor-focused on one thing. It’s interesting because I do get people ask, “Well, what else do you do besides Hera Hub?” and I’m like, “Do I need to do anything else? Isn’t this enough?” But a lot of people do have multiple things going at the same time.
Felena Hanson: 00:54:26 But, yeah, I work a lot, but I love it. I’ve also been in relationships where I’m very transparent, like, “This is who I am, I will be out three nights a week, if not more, hosting events or networking or going to events. Come along.” I personally don’t have children, this is the choice I’ve made, but I do a ton of mentoring, I do a ton of teaching. I’ve found lots of ways to give back.
Felena Hanson: 00:54:53 Silvia Mah, who runs Hera Labs and Hera Angels, our two nonprofit entities, she has three children, and pretty much every event, her son is videotaping, her daughter is decorating, her other son is helping clean up. I mean she gets her whole family involved. Her husband comes. My advice is just figure out how you can blend it all together into one and not feel this torn between personal and business.
Dana Robinson: 00:55:21 Yeah, absolutely. I think that the idea of entrepreneurship is doing what you want doesn’t mean, well, I’m just going to go wine tasting for a week. Although, Nate and I took some time and did some wine tasting recently.
Nate Broughton: 00:55:34 But we integrated it with work.
Felena Hanson: 00:55:35 Exactly.
Nate Broughton: 00:55:36 It was part of a podcast episode.
Felena Hanson: 00:55:38 Hera Hub has a wine budget, don’t worry.
Dana Robinson: 00:55:41 Right, right. For you, you’re empowered to choose those pieces of the business. When it feels like work, it’s when somebody says, “We’re sorry, but you need to actually read this contract and tell us what you want to do about this.” There’s pieces of the business that are less pleasant that you don’t want to do. But you’re never thinking of your business as work.
Nate Broughton: 00:56:00 Yeah, it’s freedom of choice. We had really a guest who’s spending time in San Diego. He didn’t live here. He’s out from the Midwest for the winter. We’re going on and on, like, “It’s so cool. You get to come to San Diego. Tell us about your day.” It got to the point where he was like, “I actually just really enjoy working, and I miss my employees in Missouri. It’s great to be out here in San Diego for a little bit, but what gets me going is coming into that office and feeling the energy.” Yeah, you can opt out in many different ways, and all it really means is this freedom of choice.
Dana Robinson: 00:56:30 The final couple of minutes we try and ask some-
Nate Broughton: 00:56:33 I want to hear about San Luis Obispo where you grew up.
Dana Robinson: 00:56:34 … Some person questions, yeah.
Nate Broughton: 00:56:36 You grew up there. You’ve told us a little bit about the farm and all that, the tennis team, I guess. But what are some of the hot spots up there today in 2018 in SLO. What should people be checking out when they head that way? Hopefully, it will encourage people to go out there because I think it’s a beautiful place. We go up there every other year and wine-taste and hike. It’s a nice little gem on the central coast. Give us some tips.
Felena Hanson: 00:56:57 It is. It’s beautiful. One thing a lot of folks don’t know is you can take the train all the way from San Diego into San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles. It’s a great way to get up there without having to drive through Los Angeles. As you noted, it’s a beautiful part of the world. It’s great surfing, great hiking, great wineries, Paso Robles. Even now, even into San Luis Obispo and Edna Valley has really great wine tasting.
Nate Broughton: 00:57:24 Which one are your favorites?
Felena Hanson: 00:57:25 Castoro Cellars in Paso, as well as Niner in Paso are two of my favorites.
Nate Broughton: 00:57:33 Okay. I haven’t heard of those, but they’re now on my list.
Felena Hanson: 00:57:33 They’re both very, very good. Just as the acronym goes, a slower pace in life up there. Half my family is still there. My dad and my half-brother and my two stepbrothers, who are actually sheriffs up in San Luis Obispo County, so I’m covered when I go up there and get in trouble. No, I’m just teasing. My dad still has his family business there. It’s a very it’s super exciting technology. Just kidding. It’s a retail floor covering business. He sells carpet, tile, hardwood floors.
Nate Broughton: 00:58:04 Wow! I like that.
Felena Hanson: 00:58:04 My little brother’s taken over that business. It’s really great to see that.
Nate Broughton: 00:58:07 Cool. Will there be a Hera Hub in SLO?
Felena Hanson: 00:58:10 Good question. We’re looking at cities mostly that are a little larger than SLO. If I found the right person and if we could identify the right demographic up there, it’s got potential. We’ve been doing a market assessment up in Bend, Oregon with a licensing candidate there, about population around 97,000, a little even bigger than SLO is. It’s tough to say if that’s going to be the right market. Usually bigger cities is where we’re looking at.
Nate Broughton: 00:58:38 Okay.
Dana Robinson: 00:58:39 Are you reading anything interesting right now?
Felena Hanson: 00:58:41 Yeah. I just took a road trip. I didn’t read, it was an audio book. I listened to the Trevor Noah autobiography, Born A Crime. I thought it was interesting. I really, really enjoyed the book and his story and what it was growing up in apartheid and seeing that fall and how he built his career. That’s the first thing that comes to mind on my long trip to Utah, doing some hiking with a girlfriend.
Nate Broughton: 00:59:07 Nice. Did you pull anything from his story that you are bringing back to Hera Hub or to the entrepreneurial life? I’m always curious because we’ve talked about business books. We’ve had guests in and we’d been sick of business books. They’re not fun, you don’t learn anything, but you can learn through story. We try to tell story on the Opt Out Life with the people that come in. But, yeah, Trevor Noah. He has a career, he has a cool story. Were there any lessons or tidbits you felt that you pulled from that coming back to your day-to-day?
Felena Hanson: 00:59:33 Yeah. You know what? Just incredibly grateful, I have to say. I mean growing up here in the US and growing up to a family that was able to put food on the table and growing up in a place where I looked like most of the rest of the population and had privilege, I just was incredibly grateful to be able to learn about the challenges that happened and continue to happen all over the world. It’s not business advice, but just gratitude.
Nate Broughton: 01:00:02 Anything else?
Dana Robinson: 01:00:02 I think it’s a good finish.
Nate Broughton: 01:00:02 Cool. Thank you.
Dana Robinson: 01:00:02 Thanks for coming on, Felena.
Felena Hanson: 01:00:07 Of course. Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
Dana Robinson: 01:00:08 All right.
Felena Hanson: 01:00:09 I’ll definitely share liberally once you guys get it out.
Nate Broughton: 01:00:13 Our cool video.
Felena Hanson: 01:00:14 Yeah.
Nate Broughton: 01:00:15 Yeah, we’ll see how that [inaudible 01:00:15]? All right, cool. Thank you. Thanks again for listening to the Opt Out Life Podcast. If you like this episode or any of our episodes, we’d love to have you as a subscriber. Click the subscribe button on iTunes or wherever you get your podcast. Then head over to OptOutLife.com. There you can enter your email address to get on our email list, so you’ll be the first to know about new podcasts episodes as they come out, including handpicked highlights, links to resources we mention, and top quotes from each episode.
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