Sept. 23, 2022

Creating Offers that are "on brand"

Creating Offers that are "on brand"

In this episode, our guest Leslie Chasnoff shares the importance of understanding your brand value in order to build  brand loyalty and deliver the brand promise. As the San Antonio Market Director at Notley, she discusses on how to take an organization's vision for its brand and develop programs that align and carry it to success. If you are a changemaker and want to create impact brands, you can get in touch with Leslie here -  leslie@notley.com


Thank you for listening,

Zahra Cruzan

Founder, The Brand Collaborative And Brand Author

The Brand Collaborative      Brand Author

Transcript

Zahra  

Hi, Leslie, how are you today? 

 

Leslie  

I'm great, Zarah, how are you? 

 

Zahra  

I'm doing great. I just wanted to say thank you so much for being a part of today's podcast. We are excited to have you and talk to you about your expertise. So for those of us who haven't met you and don't know you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do. 

 

Leslie  

Sure, my name is Leslie Chasnoff. I am currently the San Antonio market director for an organization called Notley. Notley is a social impact organization based out of Austin, Texas, started by a couple of Dan and Lisa Graham and they've really built this unique model where they take magnetic risk capital. And the earnings that they make from that risk capital fund, their foundation are their nonprofit work, we're all about fueling and unleashing changemakers nationwide, that are really moving the needle forward. And we're doing that by kind of blurring the line between for profit and nonprofit models to hopefully generate outsized impact in the communities that we're in. 

 

Zahra  

I love that. So tell me a little bit about that blurring the line, because I think that that is something that a lot of us thought might be a trend and might shift back but it really hasn't. It's a concept that's really starting to stick so tell me a little bit about what that looks like for Notley, and then how you guys are seeing that unfold over the next few years. 

 

Leslie  

Yeah, absolutely. So I think some great examples of kind of blurring the line between the for profit and nonprofit spaces, especially when it comes to impact is that, you know, well, one, to be impactful and solving a problem that exists in our communities, these big societal issues and systemic problems, there can never just be one person trying one model doing to fix it. All right, it's going to take everyone trying to tackle issues from all different angles and what we really you've seen in some of the magic sauce behind some of what Notley has done over the last, you know, 10 years or so, since Dan and Lisa have really been building a company out is, you know, there's so much similarity and crossover between startups and nonprofits. And you know, things like one of their most successful initiatives has been this program called philanthropists, which is essentially a pitch competition for nonprofits. So you know, getting them up there on the stage Shark Tank style, pitching to a panel of judges, and then the judges deciding who they're going to invest their dollars in, right and the audience gets to vote and that kind of thing to to put their dollars towards the investment. But that training that the finalists go through to for the program is really key so it's a lean nonprofit training, that is teaching them more about business acumen, how to have earned revenue, pieces of their business, you know, building out pro formas, thinking about how to build a more sustainable nonprofit. And so that's something that you would see in like a startup accelerator, right, let's, let's dig into those things and think about your business model. So it's really kind of taking some of these concepts that we put in one silo or another and bringing them together, because there really is overlap. If you found a nonprofit, you are a founder, just like a for profit startup founder, right you're still a founder, you're still running a business, you're still needing to meet certain, you know, benchmarks and milestones. And I do think the same can go when you flip it the other way, just because you have a for profit business, doesn't mean your your business can't be making a huge impact, could be argued that some of the most influential impact entrepreneurs are people you don't even think of as impact entrepreneurs. There's plenty of articles out here out on this, but I would say like one of the more timely ones is Elon Musk, right? So like he made electric cars, sexy, right? All of these people buying up these electric cars that are luxurious and are really more of a software and technology product than they are a vehicle as we really think about like automobiles and cars to begin with. So he has totally changed the way that the auto industry has thought about how cars are built and made as well. And I think that's really interesting, but I don't think you could have from going from like the Prius to the Tesla. Just seeing how like that shift where the Prius was really marketed towards individuals who were definitely the ones that were already out there talking about the climate change crisis and on the really ground floor those like super hyper eco conscious people to now you have like people who would have been driving like these other luxury automobiles not thinking at all about the carbon footprint hungry in line for ordering their specialized Teslas. 

 

Zahra  

It's not necessarily because of that environmental, although that's a piece of it. But it they're now shopping for a Porsche, it's a status symbol as much as it is yet, you know, an environmental statement. 

 

Leslie  

Absolutely. I think that's like, the interesting piece here is that, again, like kind of flipping it around, where, on both sides, you can have healthy organizations and businesses that are making an impact and kind of combining these models of how we traditionally think of business and impact to get there faster. And to also get there usually make a bigger splash, I guess, is the point, you know, if you're a nonprofit that can integrate some more business acumen and business strategies from the for profit world, you're probably going to be a more successful organization that has more capacity, you can scale, you can serve more individuals, you can grow your programming and resources, you know, in a way, that then obviously generates more impact behind the returns that you're trying to get from the impact side. And I think the same like on the business end, if you are actually making these waves of impact through the business you're doing, you're changing consumer habits, you're changing, literally like the way a certain economy works, then that's like just icing on the cake to being an actually that can draw more profits in for you to be a successful company that has capacity and scalability. So I think that they just both play together in a way that people are maybe starting to realize, yeah, there's just not always one way to attack these issues. And that combining these things blurring these lines can benefit you as an organization as a business and also to really make the impact you want to see.

 

Zahra  

Yeah, I think you know, one of the things that's really interesting that you said, by the way, everybody, you're welcome. I thought, don't forget, I found Turner because that's huge and I think that, you know, as people are listening to this, there's some real aha moments happening. Because when you think about it, this is the inevitable, it's not a question anymore, because consumers and there was just a reported marketing report that was put out a couple of months ago, there was a national poll taken and one of the trends for consumerism is informed purchases. And so consumers are more informed than ever before. And a lot of that has to do with like E commerce so it's not like you're going and walking through a target and the information you have about a company is limited to what they're willing to put on the back of the label. Now you're at home, and you've got 70 windows open, and you Google the crap out of whatever it is that you're about to buy all these things and so with the global market, consumers have a lot of choice. And they've taken that power into their own hands are not limited to the 11 options on the shelf and their local retail bricks and mortar. And on top of that they are demanding right now that the consumer, consumers are more informed. They're demanding more accountability within the companies and the organizations that they are both purchasing from and also donating to, we've seen that a lot, we've seen a lot of now, you know, social media that is called you know, people who are calling out certain organizations who they feel or not maybe responsibly using their resources for nonprofit organizations. And so there's a high accountability call on coming from the consumers and people who are recognizing that and understanding that transparency isn't just a really cute mission statement or core value, it's a real thing that you've got to really look at in terms of being integrity to you know, what you're committed to. So being committed to something that having the integrity to follow up on that, because consumers are looking for that, and it's becoming evermore just so easy for people to call you on there, or, you know, pick it out when you're not. And so understanding that a healthy model, both whether you're using nonprofit or in consumer, you know, for profit companies, that if I think I think what's happened over the past few years, as companies are starting to understand that consumers want impact driven brands, they want sustainable brands, they want community commerce brands, they want, you know, all of these things to be in there. And so businesses are saying, Okay, we'll get that badge, we'll get that badge, and we'll do those but it's not a part of who they are or how they breathe or how they work and there's not a high level of integrity with that. And so, they're kind of at a loss well, I did the things I got the organic badge, why isn't it working? Why, you know, why is my brand not taking off and so, there's kind of this you know, that people are stumped. You know, a lot of business owners, or nonprofit organizations are stumped. Do you got a great cause you know, our mission statements great. Yeah, we've got these impact numbers so then why can't we get funding why can't we get sponsorship. And so I think a lot of what you're saying really speaks to the way it used to work isn't necessarily how it's working now and the standard for everybody has kind of leveled up. And so now it's not good enough to just have a great cause if you're a nonprofit, you've also got to have a really smart model that shows that you can effectively and efficiently execute on those values, and what it is you're trying to do and vice versa with the profit, it's great that you've got this, you know, sexy product, but is it also something that people are going to feel good about buying, you know, and that they're contributing to things that they care about in the process. And so that is why brought you here, because you are the master of that so I'll tell you, one of the things that we always talk about when it comes to branding is one of the biggest misconceptions is that the the bread and butter of your brand is the logo, and

 

Leslie  

It kinda is and the mission statement.

 

Zahra  

Those are all really cool pieces. But I always explain it, like if you're talking about a human, that's your style, that's the clothes you're wearing, that's not your makeup. When we talk about brand strategy, it's gotta start with identity, and then brand modeling, and that, you know, how are you putting together the programs? Do you walk the walk or is it just, you know, do you look like a punk rocker or do you really listen to the music do you really know how to jam and so those are kind of the things that we look at in terms of branding, when we do brand audits, and we do brand evaluations, and we look for brand equity. It's like, are you just looking like you're supposed to look and sound like you're supposed to sound or are you also then executing, you know, through the programs that you run, if your nonprofit, through, you know, your customer journeys, in your experience, you know, mapping, if you're for profit, and in that blurry line in between, how are we mapping out those experiences. So, I brought you here, because we want to know, all of the things that you know about the process, one of the things I admire so much about you is that I've seen you work with organizations and take some really ambitious visions and some really ambitious missions, and really work as an editor to say, Okay, if this then this, and to be able to work from that standpoint, and put together programs and, you know, processes and products or offers that are in line with what that vision that mission statement is. And that's a really difficult job to be the translator there, especially when it's not a vision or mission that you've necessarily created just maybe one that you identify with at some level. So talk to us about that, like, what does that process look like for you?

 

Leslie  

Yeah, so I think, you know, in the last couple of years, my prior role was with Geekdom, and San Antonio so the kind of overall target there was to build San Antonio, one startup at a time. And doing that through a collaborative startup community, where we could help these founders and entrepreneurs, grow their ideas, cultivate them, and shape them into viable business models that would scale. So that was kind of all the vision mission, Simon Sinek, and how we communicated everything we did. And I do think that one thing to point to is that without the strong mission, and vision, and 10 year vision, five year, three year with metrics, because all of that was baked into everything, we did it get done, there was a whole thing called a vision traction organizer we had that was through this Entrepreneurial Operating System kind of method for how we ran the company. But all of every decision we made everything we were doing should point to something in that CTO and so I will say that having that was critical and being able to do some of this work. And so when building out programs, because really like beyond having a co working space, which we did, the programming was really this new center point for Geekdom delivering the value. If you're coming there as a lonely entrepreneur, or someone who just has an idea, and work telling you, you can build it here at Geekdom, you're going to be helped to do it. And so, thinking through that vision, traction organizer, this mission, some of the things that I think I always try to keep in mind is you know, if we're saying, like breaking down even building San Antonio, one startup at a time, that's kind of our tagline a few things key there. There's San Antonio, right so clearly we're placed based, we need to be focusing on people who are founders here, living here, working here wanting to build their company here, not just whip it up and then move to Austin. I love you, Austin, but you know me do whatever, you know, people who are really wanting to find a community here, stay here do the things that are from here. So when we looked at, like, what types of founders are we going to serve in our programs and who should we really be targeting and when we only can pick six companies to go through our pre accelerator program, you know, of course, we're going to favor the ones that come from San Antonio versus Austin, and even if they were coming down to do the program, kind of thing. So I think that was helpful and they kind of thinking about, and how do we also, you know, see how we can bring in more of the San Antonio community to support these founders where resources are here, versus always pointing them to resources elsewhere, you know, so just making things very San Antonio centric, at its core, when it came to the pieces of the program mentors that are from here, you know, mentors that are building and doing things here have built great things here and then also the one startup at a time, right, that piece. So to me that speaks to, we're not trying to be a factory stamping out little gay Geekdom logos, they went through between things, we put 100 companies through our programs this year, and yay, you know, high five to us, that metric doesn't matter to us, we'd rather have six go through the program instead of 50, or 100 knowing that, we want to help them in a much more hands on one to one deep dive fashion. When we talk about being a collaborative community, we use the word community so much but it's because that's really what we cultivated through the program. So just the space itself through how we did even like, you know, mixers, and coffees and just how you design the space, like everything about what we tried to do at Geekdom was really trying to build community there. And so, you know, making sure there was plenty of opportunities and programs and things for that collaboration among your peers, peer to peer learning, that mentors and everyone who was assisting that had knowledge was accessible, that it was just a Slack message and email and knock on the door, come up to the table, you're working out a way, you know, like very open very much about we're not hoarding our ideas, and we're not being secretive right, like we're all here to be together and build things together and then all of our voices are important they're, you know, the all of that so I think in building a lot of a lot of the programming there, there was a lot of things that I took into consideration to like, can we just be accessibility to the resources we had, and making sure that everyone always could book time with me ask for the things, you know, and then I think too, you know, community also, at that point, a lot of what we were trying to focus on was making it more equitable and inclusive, as well. And making sure there were different voices that were always there and being heard. So, yeah, that goes into everything from like, how you speak about the program, who you choose to be in your programs. Again, like going back to that process, like, yes, we're going to be San Antonio specific but are we also selecting a different range of types of founders and companies, you know, different things that people are working on different types of people? Yeah, to begin with, speak to that community wanted to build is really important. 

 

Zahra  

I love that. I think though, there's something there's a couple things you said that I wanted to touch back on. So important and then for anybody who hasn't heard of the EOS system, there's a great book, referral traction is a great book, it will give you everything that you need to know about what she's talking about, and the framework of how to build that out. So one of the things that I think was really important, if and I want to make sure everybody caught it, when you said it the first time it was when you talked about the timing, it's all about syntax, you you set your KPIs, what your brand measurements are going to be, right for effective branding in the beginning, and then you measure for effectiveness. And so a lot of times what I see happen when a brand kind of gets in trouble, because they've got you know, their really good vision, amazing mission statement, four to six core values that, you know, are very idyllic like, you know, their persona traits, and all of that. And then in the separate silo, they have their because this is all marketing and CMO work, right and CEO work and then they have the director of operations. And they have, you know, that silo and then they create the offers or the products or the programs or insert, right we we generally refer to them as offers, right whatever irrelevant and that's done in a separate silo. And so, and then at the end of the year, there's a big fancy meeting with a lot of food where we all congratulate ourselves for a job well done, and we will point to certain metrics and use them as proof that we are effectively hitting our mission and value statement. And then we're stumped as to why it doesn't seem to be effective but that's where confirmation bias can really bite you in the you know where. Because if you already feel like you are going to be effective, then you will twist any data that you have, and turn it into some kind of evidence that it supports it. We are transparent, we are community based, we are inclusive, but that may not be consistently how you're presenting throughout the year. So you might take a random, you know, bit of data and say well, this is the evidence but what does that mean? With what degree of consistency and so when we're looking at building that out, I think that was so important that, you know, which is why I love what you do. And you can see what a difference it makes in the result because from the beginning, you've set aside, okay, and we do this practice, when we build out brands will say okay, well, if this is your core value of core value is transparency, right? That's a good one so you know, transparency is your core value so what does transparency mean, to the brand to the leaders, because what transparency means to me might be slightly different than what it means to you. So what, you know, honesty might be a little different to me, versus you, or integrity might be a little different, right? Just depending on and so really defining not just listening, but defining, like, what does that mean to us. And I think that you guys do it, taking the time to do that, and then say, okay, if this is what integrity means to us, then this is how we know if we're doing a good job of it or not, this is our checkbox, this is our list. And this is how we're going to track it to see are we being in integrity 20% of the time, 30% of the time. And so then at the end of the year, or the end of the quarter, however, you know, what your time period is for reviewing all of that you can look back and say, okay, so we are in integrity, but like 30%. So what can we do to increase like, do we like these measurements and what can we do to increase? Like, how often like our or, you know, effective rate or is there a better way we can do it. And I think that like see how you guys have grown, you can kind of see the growth there. And like you're just always buffing and polishing and buffing and polishing, which is really important because as a brand, you do want to evolve, you don't want to be pivoting you don't want to always be well, that didn't work, that's January one, 3d retreat, and like all hit the drawing board again and so I just I love that. So I wanted to highlight that because I think that sometimes, you know, we buy the books, we hear the catchphrases, you know, we coined the terms and then we're not really sure like, what does that look like? Like actually look like and I have that you explained me like, well, we start with those measurements, like we define those first and not after that right there is like a huge difference maker, I think, in a lot of this. So I love that and then the other thing that I wanted to say is as, as a mentor at Geekdom, I've experienced what I think you guys do so well is when you talked about like the one at a time. One thing that you guys do differently than and I mentored speak at a bunch of different places so I see the difference, right? Is that usually it's Hey, will you speak at a speaking engagement, will you you know, like be a one time and that's great, right? It's helpful to get random information, or good, you know, but what I loved about the way you guys did it, and the way you guys use your mentors is that you have them go and use the same mentors. So they see the growth, they get that consistent feedback, there's an increased I think amount of investment, both from the mentee and the mentor, because you know, these are your people that you want to see them fly like you're invested in. Like, what are we gonna do to, you know, take off and you start finding yourself you see terms like we you know, like this is just because you're invested, right? These are friendships now these are bonds that you've made and then you're with them due to, so you're with them when they do their weekend, lightly pitch, and you're with them when they're refining their models, and you're with them when they're going through. They've graduated on to the next program and so you've kind of built this support system. And I think that's a big difference is that having that consistent support system also breeds more accountability to so it's like going to a workout class where it's the same people in the workout class. Thet so know when you don't show up one day versus every week, it's like a new group and who the hell knows, nobody cares if I don't show up. And so I think that those are some of the things that as you build out those programs, and you thought through those things to say, how could we be different. How can we not just be another entrepreneurial let's go get them, like, space, because there's a lot there's, there's a lot of those definitely and I think that you I just saw, I just wanted to say that like, just the way you guys thought that through, like, so deeply about, and you don't have a ton of programs, you've got like three, right it was.

 

Leslie  

Yeah and it's one for kind of each phase of what we call the startup journey, which we just kind of saw as a pattern and what we saw early stage founders and startups go through over the last 10 years at Geekdom. So we made sure that there was a program that fit kind of each stage of the journey. So the startup weekend to kick off the ideas and kind of maybe meet your some co founders learn basics about business modeling, and such and pitching blah, blah. And then the second phase was the incubator so you've got a cool idea, you think it's worth maybe pursuing but now let's actually really dive into that business model and customer discovery and the market and what your MVP should be, how you should be going about testing it, and really kind of building out your first business plan, if you will, even though it'd be small and getting a little bit of traction, right, the preparing you for traction and feeling confident going out there to get it. And then the pre accelerator was that next stage, we saw where you're starting to get your first baby thing out there, you think you're learning a little bit about this is working, this isn't working, getting some of that traction. But at that point, you're definitely going to need capital, you definitely need access to other resources to grow, to serve the people that are starting to buy your product or service or whatever. So that focus more on that kind of what are your next steps then to make this really fly and take it forward. So and then we have the community fund to which was a cool opportunity to pitch for investment and go through the process of what it what it feels like to pitch in a room of potential investors. And whether you end up going out to raise like venture and angel funds or you're going to a bank or like applying for a loan, you still have to cover the same thing. It's useful no matter what, we're bootstrapping, or anything, so to communicate everything you're doing. So we kind of created this holistic journey for the people for the founders and the startups that was based off of experience and I think what I'm excited about with my new role with Notley is we are shaping new programming here in San Antonio, that is all about supporting changemakers. And we kind of define changemakers, as people like leaders who are moving the needle forward on impact issues, whether it's in the for profit or nonprofit space, they're standing out there kind of following some of our core values is not like agility and being integrative, right, again, with our approaches of blurring the lines and kind of trying new things. And I think a lot of what I learned from that deep dive and intentionality behind what I built Geekdom is certainly going to apply in how do we really wrap around these changemakers to provide this individualized support and what are the patterns we've seen on their journeys of where they get hung up. And how can we meet them there with resources that are really specialized and so I think it's still there's a little bit of like a interesting crossover between exactly what I was doing and keeps him and what I'm able to do with Notley now. And I think, too, like, it's something that at Notley, we're always trying to figure out how to, like continue to live out our values as well and I think that's something that the core values piece of this is so important. It is not just a marketing tool on your website. If you aren't doing it if you aren't considering these things, and all of the decisions you're making when you're building out pieces of your company, internally and externally. It's just doesn't work right again, like one of the things for Notley that are being integrative, you know, I think one of the coolest new offerings that we've been able to start bringing out to some nonprofits right now is a really another great example of that, like philanthropy, which is obviously when you're structural earlier, but it's this new program called Rising Tide. And it's an opportunity for nonprofits to basically create an investment and participate in investments with Notley to grow cash that would have just been sitting in the bank earning no money or interest in a checking account, lending it to Notley we invest in that money and they get an automatic 5% return payout. We are going to reinvest that money that we make on the returns from our investments into the community arm so our like philanthropic arm. So it's both like helping nonprofits make passive income essentially, and be growing their asset so that's another sustainable model for nonprofits, as well as generating higher returns to make more impact happen and all the communities we're in. So it's again, kind of that like taking an investment world piece, applying it to what we're doing in Notley in the nonprofit space and get this interesting model, they didn't. All right. So like, but yeah, I think that that's like a really important piece and then in Geekdom too, you know, one of the core values we probably talked about the most was just be helpful. And it was like, hashtag be helpful and that was always like, you could see that in the community at large. And we really made sure we were always going to say yes, and take that extra five minutes with that member, that founder, you know, do the little things around the space or in the programs, it just lifted everyone up to be extra helpful. I think one of my favorite ones there too, is probably we make our members famous because it's just fun but it also was really helpful even in like, programming decisions and stuff. Or when we might have been asked to go speak at an event or something, right? It was never just Charles getting up and speaking, if we could have a founder come and talk, a founder would come and talk, if we got invited to do a thing we were like, well, who could we bring that's doing awesome stuff that Geekdom to speak about, like, yeah, they're doing the great things at Geekdom, they speak about who Geekdom is, and what our community is, and what it's like to be an entrepreneur, they're like, We don't need to do that we should make them famous, we should elevate them instead of us as Geekdom and so I think that was living those things out, like truly, and all your decisions you know, is, is so important, for sure.

 

Zahra  

And there's a lot of alignment there so we like there's a couple of ways that we look at brands who are piecing together, right? A core values and mission and vision, there's the alignment model where everything kind of like locks in and it makes sense together. And then we also have like a summation where we've got one main idea, and then we build on it, like different ways that it's expressed to make that, you know, more powerful. And so you know, rather than just like for random, really good adjectives that you want to be right. Or having them kind of make sense together, because it's got more power in that way and when you look at those to like, be helpful, and then make our members famous, in order to what is that same selfless kind of like, it's not about us. And about, like getting Geekdom all the street cred in the world. Yeah, you know, it's about being helpful, and like continuing that thought process and so it's like the summative, you know, ability to double down and that simplicity of let's keep it simple, we don't need four different things that have nothing to do with each other, that are really hard to track, but like, how can we put something that really makes sense that grows together that and we're really big on that, because if you you know, like, like you said, with a programming, you've got three programs, but you are able to go so deep with those, and you're able to really map out how you do that, how you roll those out how they exist, what you what your pre onboarding is, what your onboarding is, what do you do once they exit the program? How do you keep supporting them bringing them to speaking engagements? Those kind of things, you have the time to really develop out the quality because you don't have 13 programs that you're running, because you've got, you know, 85 grants that all have different metrics that you use to track and that just gets really, in the way of what you're trying to do. And so I love that you guys are that there is that kind of cohesion so take us behind the scenes. Like, all right, day one, I've got my instructions, my map, right, I've got my vision and my core values and then I have the existing system, the existing programs which of these is not like the other right so tell me how you go through that process. I know everybody would love to hear because as we're talking, I think people might be starting to look internally and say, Oh, gosh, maybe I have to look at this. But I've got all these things out in the world already so is it too late? How do I go back? Do I shut everything down and then like, redo it? Do I attack one thing like, how do you go from seeing that maybe there's a misalignment or it's off kilter a little bit into like, how do we get right and then express that? 

 

Leslie  

Yeah, I mean, I think at the end, yeah, I'm trying to think of like how to distill it a simpler fashion but I think one of the main things that is always kind of top of mind for me, and this comes from, I guess, more of the business side, but you know, ultimately, it doesn't matter what your product services, if it's not providing value, customers don't come free. They don't, you know, I didn't buy this amazing smoothie from Revolución because I wanted a pretty pink drink. That was from a cool coffee shop, you know, I get it all the time, because it's delicious, it makes me feel good. I just, I love the product, and it makes me feel great. I feel like I've made a good decision I've made investment in an expensive smoothie was awesome, you know, like, I feel good. And so just kind of always circling back to is what I'm providing to my customer or my user, providing the value, because that's what you have to do that's what people pay for. That's what they sing the praises of that's why you exist is to provide the value. So no, like tying in mission, vision, core values, all these things should ultimately always come down to are we providing that value. And I think that then you just have to kind of do that exercise of like, asking like 10 Why's in a row until you get to know why but why but why, but why, but why. I think it's also a lot of empathy for your customers and users and literally being like, well, if I were to sign up for this program, yeah, what would I expect? What would I want? What would be? What's the value I would think I'm getting out of this? What questions would I have if I went to this website right now and looked at what you were talking about with program like what's unclear what you're like, kind of constantly stepping back, I think is something I had done in all my roles, that outsider as the customer versus the one providing it, right? 

 

Zahra  

That right there is a lot like we all know, provide value but I think what you said right there was like the goal, because it's always about providing value, as it is seen by the customer, and not as a provider, because as the subject matter expert, as the person who really geeks out on whatever it is that you're doing. Right, what you think is valuable, may not be valuable to the customer, what you think makes it so much better, may be completely off their radar. And so like when you look at profitability models, and you look at like what you're putting into things, you know, programs offers products, whatever that might be, you know, and we're kind of stuck, like, you know, it's not a matter of, do they need it? It's do they want it? We all know, I should probably need a gym membership, but like, do I want it? So you won't like it and so I think that when you say you know value, it's like how you describe that I think is, is a big part of it and sometimes we can make a lot of those assumptions.

 

Leslie  

Oh, it's always assumptions and I think that's the other piece of it, too, is like you have to do the work constantly of talking to your customers getting any ounce of feedback you can and in the most genuine, honest way where you really want to know what they are thinking and how their experience was and saying, well, what would you wish would have happened that didn't or you felt that way? So tell me more all the open ended customer discovery questions that you do when you're first figuring out what your product and business is, you have to keep doing it over and over. And especially with people who are going to challenge you too who are the ones that are like ewww you that sucked, I gave you one out of five stars, you know, and I'd love to take your coffee, I'd love to hop on a phone call, whatever it is like I would love to hear more about your experience and why you felt that way. And really being open about that and taking it as a way to build and be better. I think especially in the world of impact, if you're trying to make that impact, you certainly need to have way more boots on the ground and the ears out to your audience of who you're hoping to serve. Because typically impact I mean, it's really hard, this is like where the metric stuff gets messy too. I think when you're looking at some of these things, but you know, saying you served 1000 families in a program doesn't matter if what you serve them was crap. It didn't get any further, it didn't fix the problem. So I think that's the other piece of again, like it goes back to what's the value you're supposed to be providing or that you think you're providing and testing against that testing against your value offer all the time.

 

Zahra  

I think just as specifically with regard to nonprofits, like having your own metrics versus the ones that the grants are giving you because your metrics for success might be different. But I love what you so give us a tip because so one of the things you know we we'd love to say, and you're absolutely right. You know, we asked, we always say, when you're doing surveys when you're doing a focus group is so much more informative than a random services, you know, and the multiple choice kills me, you know.

 

Leslie  

Don't put them in a box. 

 

Zahra  

Last question, the open ended so that they can tell you because that will also oftentimes give you your copy, you know, when you're ready to you know, resend it out. But one of the things, you know, that that we look at is it's really hard. It's really hard to look, you know, it's scary sometimes because we feel like, if what my one star review is saying is true that my business isn't going to make it right. If they're right, then I'm screwed so I don't really want to like open Pandora's box there. So what's the trick that you use to like, study yoursel and like, take action on those hard conversations because I think that's a real thing for a lot of small entrepreneurs who feel like their egos kind of fragile. Please don't question my dream.

 

Leslie  

Yeah, I mean, I think it's like the same lens that you have to think about with good reviews or good feedback and positive feedback, or, you know, kind of all that to is that it's just one voice. It's just one thought. It's just one perspective, and no one is heavier, weighted heavier than another. So that five star review is the same as the one star review when it comes to importance. And so thinking about it in that way and it's interesting, because well, it's also this delicate balance of like, understanding and listening to your customers and your users and the people that you are hoping to serve, while also having that Northstar of where you want to be the impact. You want to have the that tenure vision and kind of lining those up at the same time and making sure that any changes or decisions that might come from those conversations with the customers or users are also kind of tracked back towards what was I originally going for? What was I originally supposed to do here? What did I like, again, testing your assumptions, but also the Northstar that should be guiding you. Because there may be someone who just straight up just doesn't like what you're doing. It's okay, if it's not alignment with that bigger thing that you're actually trying to do. So like, everyone, yeah, and you're also gonna have some people that are gonna rave about you, that's wonderful. But they might have a million ideas about the next thing you should do, or how you could improve too. But same kind of thing like yay, so happy that you're supporting and you're fit into our like, good, happy bucket. But, you know, that's just one and hopefully a million of other perspectives, like everyone's experience is so unique. Everyone comes to you for different reasons, and in different on different days and different moods. And so I think that's the other thing, too, that like to keep in mind is that, you know, when you're when it comes to feedback, and the value delivery, it's that, you know, we all are humans, and it's going to be a mixed bag. So you have to always compare that to your Northstar of why you're doing what you're doing. What your long term like drill down, impact and futures. What do you want that to be.

 

Zahra  

I think, yeah, I love that, that you that you brought that into, you know, light, because a lot of times when we look at data, you know, here's the scary thing about data is that we're the ones collecting it, and we're the ones interpreting it.

 

Leslie  

We're also humans...

 

Zahra  

The data is alive, but our interpretation sure can be created and I think that that's really important. You know what, in our online course, that's one of the things that we talk about is, you know, when we look at customer insights, and we do our own, like internal brand evaluation, and we look at our reviews, and we do these additive pillars, right, and we go and do this deep dive, one of the things we have this big ol icon with a warning and yield signs like Warning. Warning, beware of the market of what yeah, there's always going to be somebody who's got 10,000 ideas of what you should do and there's always gonna be that one guy who hates everything. And that's a market of one now, that's what we look at the data in terms of what percentage does it represent and then if we, you know, us failing on this, does it mean that we're failing in our mission because if it does, we've got a problem. If it doesn't, then they might just not be our ideal customer. So now we know we need to shift our marketing to other peeps and that's okay. But like kind of the...

 

Leslie  

North Star and I will say to like patterns is another one. So patterns and trends within a lot of that feedback in which you're hearing from your customers too. So is it that there was one out of 50 that said the thing or have like 30 out of 50 saying thing and listen to that. So kind of just seeing or is there like a certain cadence to when or who or something tied to the yeses and noes, and then again, that can just help you figure out some of your business basics on your customer profiles and who you're asking who you should be serving, because what you're trying to offer, and the value you're hoping to provide is valuable to this set of people and not them. So go for that set of people and narrow in on that, because that's where you're impactful grow. 

 

Zahra  

And you can do that, like, I think you can do it both to like figure out where you're faltering, but also what you should double down. Maybe if you're at a loss, we'd have this one client, that was a internet, a YouTube have a youtube program. And so we went through, I want to say, like five or 6000 of the comments, and we created a adjective chart. And so we categorize them, and we would look for specific words that were being pulled out repetitively. And so we saw in the category of education, that was huge, right. And so, it wasn't the entertainment value that we thought it was and so looking at that use, I learned so much I love, you know, I love that it was straight information and not biased, I love that it was well cited, I love that it was, you know, like all of these things leading to this educational aspect, which was a surprising piece for both the client and as you know, based on their description of their brand, and what they thought was their most valuable pieces of the company. And when we asked and interviewed based on that, do you feel what is your process? Do you intentionally put this in and they were like, well, yeah, but that's just standard, everybody would do that, like, Well, no, everybody does it but for you, that's a minimum, like that's a no matter what that's like an ethics that's a that's a core value for you. And so, finding those kinds of pieces of information, both good and bad, you know, can be really helpful. If you're struggling, and you're staring at a blank piece of paper, you're like, I don't know who I am. I don't you know, everything I think that sounds so over done or, you know, doesn't really seem to fit, you can sometimes look for inspiration in that data and they will tell you, so I think that's super cool.

 

Leslie  

Yeah, absolutely. There's a great book that I love called Levers. It's written by Amos Schwartzfarb. He's the managing director at Techstars in Austin and a couple other folks who've contributed to that book with him. But what I love it one of the best things like early on, he's talking about customers and really narrowing down it seems like you know, you have to start with narrowing your customer profile, like down so much that you know, you're close 100% of the time. When you do that, you should feel like it would be impossible to penetrate that billion dollar market. How narrowed and you're starting with, but I always loved telling that to founders and like sharing some of that with them because it's so true. Like, if you can nail down like, here's exactly this very specific profile of who our customer is that we know, without a doubt, every time they're gonna say, yes, they're gonna buy the thing, they're gonna do the thing, they're gonna be excited and onboard, then you can start noticing, where other little verticals are just spread from there. Understanding that your value is accepted and loved here with this group. And so it's interesting, like how narrow you can really go but how beneficial that can be.

 

Zahra  

Yeah, I think that that's really, really amazing advice because that allows, especially for startup, like you barely have the budget for one niche market.

 

Leslie  

And for organizations to like, they always want to try. I feel like there's so many times when you see, like all the grants well, all the grants are like, trying to serve this massive swath of a community, where I'm like, Oh, my gosh, like you say, you want to serve all, you know, pre K to sixth grade students or whatever, in San Antonio. And it's like, whoa, whoa, whoa, do you know how many people that is just so I feel like a lot of the times, we always start with these big ambitions, for the impact work to and for the businesses that we want to build, but it's in, it's really hard to rein it in, but understanding how much more effective you can be when you do narrow it in. 

 

Zahra  

I think that when you grow you do have also, you know, like you were saying you have the little other verticals that spin off. And you can see that like as companies grow they they have varying verticals, but they all subscribe to the common core belief system, right? So whether you're a couch potato getting out of the house for the first time, or you're Michael Jordan, right, you all want to believe in the spirit of competition of being your best and doing your best. So maybe you grab those Nikes and they're still sitting on the side of the couch, but it's aspirational but you've got you want to be that person. And you know, and so there's this like level, this unifying belief system being the best in that spirit of competition. And so you'll find that within groups as you grow, but trying to figure it out, you're one with budget one with staff year one is pretty impossible. It's like you're trying to, you know, lasso a ghost, like, there's just, there's so many possibilities you don't even know what you're what you're going to catch. I mean, it's just crazy to try and do it from the beginning. So I think having, you know, we always say like, Nike sold that one shoe that one shoe now, you combined the gym bag and the sweat pants and the T shirts but that's not how they started, because they never got anywhere. Yeah, they kept it focused, that one track shoe for that one track runner and that was it. And then they established, you know, proficiency and then they grew out to, you know, different markets. And I think that that's so cool that you brought that up, because I think that that's really valuable when we look at who are we interviewing, who are we asking?

 

Leslie  

Who we survey yeah.

 

Zahra  

And what does our cross section look like are they all over the gambit, that might be a problem. If we're not getting traction if we're not able to saturate a market or penetrate in any kind of way is itecause we're too far spread.

 

Leslie  

Yeah, yeah and I think that's something that's interesting to like, right now, as I'm coming into this new role with Notley and we're building out this entirely new changemaker grant support program in San Antonio and all the standards into a new market, essentially, you know, we've only been barely around in San Antonio for about a year. But so it's really communicating our message, our mission or vision really well, and then also still figuring out like, what, how do we internally and externally define what a change maker is and who fits Notley's core values or not and like how do we build out that profile of who we like to support and who we like to work with, because it fits what we're trying to do. And so it's still against kind of narrowing and narrowing in and we're, I feel like we're going through that process right now is we're trying to figure out expanding into these new markets of San Antonio, Denver, and Columbus, all of which are very different cities and markets in Austin. So it's that kind of growth time for the organization where it's like, well, here's all the steps that kind of organically happened in Austin over the years, it built up the brand and built up this mission and vision and everything. So how do we now take that out to these new cities? How do we integrate and define, you know, what Notley looks like in these new markets. Who are going to be the first people that are at the table and who should those people be like, that's, again, like that early stage, like, how narrow can we get like, and some of it is also just kind of understanding, experimenting with like, the levers of your business, like what actually drives the impact and the returns and the the profit, if you will, whatever, at the end of the day, because that's the other part of the book and levers that I love, when he breaks down a revenue model, he has this really interesting way of doing it with there's no numbers involved. It's literally like this mini of this thing with this thing, and this thing equals our revenue. And then when you put the numbers of those things together, it actually does fit out, like what your revenue would be, but it's really fascinating because none of it is like what you would see in a spreadsheet that would actually drive your business and make revenue. Like the numbers don't make the revenue, where you're putting the things and how many people are using it or doing it and how many you need where and then like how often they're doing it or buying it, whatever, like all these factors that line up that do not even go in a spreadsheet and lead to what you're going for.

 

Zahra  

Yeah, and it's very similar to like what you do in marketing, right so you take in you say, Okay, well, if I have a 30% conversion rate, and I have it takes me you know, 30,000 impressions to get you 100 signups and 30% of those people will actually buy or 30% of people will show up and 5% of those people will buy and that is what I need to get this revenue and this much of Facebook ads will get me this many impressions you can work back to know exactly what your ad spend should be you can work back exactly, well this will only get me three sales at 500 bucks a pop and I need this many sales. So this either I need to be better at it or this is not a good platform for me I need to find a platform where my ROI is going to be better and that makes sense to do the marketing and I think sometimes people who you kind of feel like brand or marketing is like a luck thing where you just like let me try this is because we're not using a model like that. Like you said it's just kind of plug and play and you can just work it, logic it back you, and the numbers don't lie. And it will give you what you want to end up with, if you just tweak your different pieces and so like, that's really, really interesting. I wanted to ask you were talking a lot about the, the way that you kind of narrow that field. So give us like an exam, if you could give us an example so one of the things that I'm thinking of as you're talking about not Notley, like my brain, just like questions, questions, questions and I'm like, okay, so then how and how do you go through that process of say, of knowing and finding your density points of which are the qualifying and disqualifying categories. So like, when you go through and you say, okay, we're helping profits and nonprofits and then you say, okay, is it who are like, how do you make that determination as far as like, okay, well, are we qualifying or disqualifying based on the type of impact whether it's environmental, or community commerce or female founders? Or are you qualified based on a phase of business that they're in? Or are you qualified so like, how do you decide what your narrowing components and variables are? What does that look like for you? 

 

Leslie  

Well I think some of it actually goes back to some of the core core values, right? So that's, again, like another great way of a Northstar to think through like, are they trying out innovative integrative ways of tackling these issues? Like is what they're doing novel essentially? Are they agile, that's an agility is another one of our core values. So are they people that are pivoting and making like smart decisions and like, have like listening to data and listening to things and like, able to hop from one thing to the next and overcome something I think, a lot of to what what we've seen is this kind of like new wave of leadership qualities, I would say, and some of the changemakers we've supported in Austin, I think that it's more of a mindset and approach to how they're driving their impact in their organizations than it is in the specific qualifier on the, we definitely are cause agnostic. I think that's something that not because we don't narrow in on a specific cause. Because one of our differentiators is that we're following the individual, not the change maker, not the the organization, which is a differentiator, I think.

 

Zahra  

I love that so that like that, that right there for those of you guys who are looking for that specific, like they're taking, you're right there, you're taking your core values, you're taking your mission, and it's the missions for the changemakers , in the qualifying variables and disqualifying variables have to do with the change makers themselves. Yeah, so that's what we're looking at them, not necessarily the company and, and yeah, having the cars agnostic like that. So that's really driving a lot of those decisions how do we decide what's in and what's out, you know, like, Who's, who's out. And when we're looking at customer insights like using that, just like you illustrated, that's a great example of like, how you get from there, like how you meet, because some people feel like, I missed all the niche, we can challenge accepted. Or I don't even know how to niche and I'm afraid to niche because I'm afraid I might exclude the wrong people. And so like, I love that you gave that example of well, if you're following your core values, and you're following your mission statement, then those will tell you what the what the variables that you're looking at should really be.

 

Leslie  

Yeah, again, like you kind of always if you have a Northstar that's driving you from that initial work of where are we going in the next 10 years or where do we want to be what are the impacts and outcomes we're searching for and hoping for? What are some metrics that we can tie to that and, and those metrics don't even have to be like, you know, super hard numbers necessarily, in some cases, you know, and they're definitely not the obvious ones. I think that everyone again, like, I've seen it in both sides, like I was saying earlier, like you can serve 1000 families in your organization but if you're not, then that doesn't mean anything. There's no need to it just like well, we had 20 100 200 new signups in our app, you know, this last week, and it's like, okay, but are they using it? Are they if it's a freemium, or how many of them are actually like buying your product? Are they in it, are they you know, is it helping them? Is it doing what you need to do? So, just also kind of when you're thinking about the metrics and stuff behind it, are they valuable?

 

Zahra  

Yeah, I think so and I think that like you even, you know, some, some people might be wondering, well, what if I don't have like a nonprofit where I acceptable to program or not where I just have my products out there. I just you know, and I know that one thing that we do, like when we have the online course, we use polarizing messaging, for lack of a better term, yeah, to kind of we talked about, like, this is a strategy, this is work. So when you buy this program, you know, that you're going to, like, you're going to know that you're going to be shown how to do some numbers, you're, you know, you're gonna have to put together a competitive analysis, we're gonna show you how to do that, like, yeah, work and because that's not for everybody. And we'd rather we say that in the messaging, and we show that so that they know, like, if this is what you're missing in your business, we're going to show you how to do it. Then there's other branding companies that are very, these like very intuitive messaging, like intuitive branding, and this kind of thing. And more, you know, and that's for some people and so somebody who is more drawn to the creative side of branding and brand development is probably going to be drawn to something without messaging. And they're going to look at this point, we forget that I want to work on my logo, I want to work on colors, I want to learn how to copy, you know, and do beautiful things. And versus somebody who is like, I like, I don't care about the colors, and you don't know how to, like attack this strategy and feel like I have control. And so we use very different messaging and that like will, is a beacon to people who are our people. And it's also like, oh, how about, what is this and so, you know, and there's no wrong or right answer, it's just right for us or wrong for us, right? And then that sets up, you know, a lot of people who are our customers who do come in through that, you know, like, okay, there's an expectation that said that they can now measure upon deliver, they're not going to buy the course and be like, Oh, I thought I was gonna learn how to draw logo, this sucks. They know what they're getting into, you know, based on the messaging and what you're putting out there and so like what you're saying can be done at every level, whether you're a nonprofit or not. 

 

Leslie  

Yeah, I think that's definitely another piece of it, too, that I've always tried  to make sure it's really clear. And that in the messaging of everything I've done with the programs that I've built, all of that is that it's again, like taking that step back as the customer for the first time reading that website page or reading the description, or like going through the application or whatever it is. And thinking all the time, like what are the questions that I would have, you know, what's missing, what's not clear, what's fluff? I think there's also like a big like, some of it can feel very fluffy like, so what yeah, and like, so I do think like clearly communicating the value you're hoping to provide as also what people like clearly setting expectations for what people should be receiving on the other end is really important. You know, I think to like, yeah, so even with Notley, you know, the like setting us apart where we're talking about changemakers and outsize impact and like even with teaching to like we're still sending to you in certain time with this collaborative community like you can hear the fluff in it, even if you believe it so you have to like go back again. I guess that's like, the key to all of my things is go back as the outsider who's judging you  harshly or not and go like, what would someone pick apart here? What are the hardest questions someone would ask me and so I think, like constantly doing that would be helpful.

 

Zahra  

I think it's interesting, too, that we all know this as consumers but as entrepreneurs, we have it so backwards in time, where we feel like the more complicated we make it sound, the more valuable people will think it is, like if I can make this sell real hard and they'll be willing to pay more money for it. But really, as a consumer, we space out like if a job was in three seconds to figure it out.

 

Leslie  

Like, that's just complicated. 

 

Zahra  

Yeah, we value simplicity and we value solutions and that's it. And so it's so funny how sometimes, even though, I mean, all entrepreneurs are consumers of some sort of some and so we get it and we operate in that way. But as entrepreneurs we can sometimes like way overcomplicate, you know what it is we're trying to say and our marketing and it's got to be so fancy and so clever. And so, you know, let's bring on the illiteration get off out, you know, a certain way and really sometimes that is counterintuitive to what we should be doing, is how do we just very clearly.

 

Leslie  

Yeah well and I think that's why like as approach to the work you do, is so great, because the brand is not just the logo and the colors. You know, it literally does trickle down into it should trickle down and out and through everything you're doing. So yeah, you know, down to the messaging and your brand shouldn't be complicated. It should be very clear, and easy to understand and easy to grasp, and should be quick for people to latch on to if it's their thing. And so I think being as clear as possible and friendly as possible in all your messaging is definitely something that has worked really well and has been powerful and shifting expectations for your customers and consumers too.

 

Zahra  

Yeah, and allows you to be more consistent, especially as a new entrepreneur startup, as you know, there's so many different levers and you're doing more than you'd like, or you're outsourcing to contractors, instead of having it all done in house. And so getting the consistency there becomes infinitely more difficult when you've got more variables. So the simpler you can keep it, the more you can consistently produce.  Yeah, and one of the most sticky ways, it doesn't have to be, it would serve you better to give one sticky example than the 13 different things you do. Like yeah, pick the sticky one.

 

Leslie  

Yeah and also, like, understand that a lot of that can still change so you're not married to it ever, because you're going to keep hopefully you are going to keep learning from your the people you're trying to serve and then you can tweak, right, like, you know, and kind of pull again, from patterns and things that actually do point to that Northstar, as you learn. So I think even with Notley like being clear on how we're serving these changemakers, right, well, yes, there's funding opportunities, there's strategic guidance, you know, and then there's wraparound support services through our staff, like things like that, like, how do you bullet point out very clear how you do the thing, the how behind it, it's the more you have to be completely granular, right, like knowing that, but in a way that people scrolling through in a few seconds can understand or in a conversation, if you're pitching to someone about what you do, you can say, this is how we support changemakers, this is how we support founder. We they shouldn't be doing 12 things anyway but. 

 

Zahra  

And I think that sometimes we all have like the what we call the 20 minute elevator pitch.

 

Leslie  

Yeah, it is really hard and I will say to like speaking to all this, like simplicity behind the brand, the messaging your programming, like whatever it is you're doing is so much harder than it looks. And that's why when it's done well, it's so powerful and so like giving yourself grace and these positions, I understand that, again, it's going to take iterations and time and yeah, right away, and it's, you're going to learn.

 

Zahra  

The first two years are always always proof of concept it just is, the people you think you're gonna help may not be the people that you help, the thing you love to do like we started off like every other agency out there, we were gonna work our butts off and get the Coca Cola account. We were gonna be, you know, the next frog agency, right? And then we thought about it, but like, you know, that's where our heart is, where we want to serve, is for that startup, you know, to small, like small medium entrepreneur that wants to scale. And what do they need, they need more support, they don't just need you know,  when you're a fortune 500 company, you have a team of people who are making sure your program your director of operation has their MBA from Harvard, they know how to make sure the program was lined up, they know how to make sure that customer journeys line up your marketing team, it's all done. So the branding that they need is very different but when you look at a startup, and what they need is like, they don't just need the guideline, they don't just need the billboard design. They don't just need that kind of stuff, they really need someone to walk them through how do we integrate a brand model into a business model. Like how do we make that marriage work and that's the extra support they need and this is what we ended up really loving to do. It's one of our favorite parts. And so, you know, it took us a while to get some of, you know, the clients that we wanted, and some of the clients that maybe we didn't want to didn't feel like we were it's valuable to, you know, and to kind of say, hey, maybe we don't want Xbox, like maybe we don't want Coca Cola, you know, they're great, and they're wonderful, and they have all the support they need. What if we focus here and this wasn't a stepping stone to the bigger client, this was just, you know, what we what we did and did well, and so I think that, you know, like you said, there's always , that's the great thing about entrepreneurship is you get to really make those choices. Yes. I love it thank you so much for giving us this wealth of information. I'm still thinking, it's been very hard for me this episode to catch my words. I've been stumbling, editor's gonna have a great time with this because I just there's so many things to think about. And, you know, everything that you've said was just really insightful and I loved it. And if we could talk for five hours, I would keep you here. I know we both have somewhere to be, I won't do it to you. But okay, so this is a part where we have the episode where we do a really quick, lightning round. Are you ready, are you down? All right so we'll keep it short because I know we're way over on this podcast, but alright, favorite brand experience?

 

Leslie  

Oh, shoot, this is a tough one you know, actually, I will say that one of my favorite brands, companies that I'm the biggest advocate for, especially in the recent years has been Thread Up. So Thread Up, it's an online kind of consignment shop, if you will. I've been using it for years, but I've always appreciate like the their messaging that's like bubbly, it speaks to me. And like every detail from years ago since I started using it and since they've scaled tremendously, it's like, even though it's secondhand clothes, like it comes to me in the polka dot box. And it's always wrapped in polka dot tissues and has these like fun kitschy messages on the stickers and like, I don't know, just like they're so consistent and every single touch point with you throughout the whole experience. When you're on the app, and the emails and the newsletters, you get what they call, like their sales and like what the code is, you know, it's always very, like the personality is there. It's fun, it makes like this whole thrifting piece of what they're doing at the end of the day, like really fun and elevated in a way that's not too like, elevated, but not like nose in the air. Like it's for everyone, but it's still elevated. And I also love too that they are really big at always, like encouraging you and like telling you like about you have your own impact score on it of like how many like what you've done by shopping secondhand over this last year in the last month, you know, like so they're always also really clear about the impact of you as as the consumer and not just as the company. So it makes it really like, Oh, yes, by shopping on Thread Up, I did save this many gallons of water this year and I did save, like and so I think just everything about them. I I love and I always telling people to go shop on Thread Up because I shop 90% I love them. 

 

Zahra  

Oh, that's so cool. I love that. What Netflix binge or Hulu or Disney or Insert.

 

Leslie  

Yeah. I'm one of the I guess like newer shows that my husband and I have been watching and it's actually kind of funny because it's, I'm seeing a lot of my new like and growing knowledge of like investing and stuff like come to light in here but it's Industry on HBO. And so like just the whole vibe of it's interesting and it makes me feel really smart when I understand on their investment and banking terminology. Like the drama that goes with it and being able to explain it to my husband because he doesn't get it. It just makes me feel really smart but I'm just done really well. 

 

Zahra  

Okay I gotta check it out. Okay, what book are you reading right now?

 

Leslie  

Well, I just clicked the book I was reading. Just getting a little too much for me, it was called Tender is the Flesh. It was like a dystopian novel. I really like to steal settings, usually, but this one was just a little too dark. It was essentially about like how the premise of it is that there was a disease in animals that like in all animals, and it spread so fast to the point where humans can no longer eat animals and so they turn to cannibalism and it's written really well and it is interesting, but I just kind of it puts me into dark reds yeah, so I gave up so I'm looking for a new book.

 

Zahra  

I have those shows and what did they I get myselt into. 

 

Leslie  

Yeah, it had great reviews. 

 

Zahra  

I feel like they're giving me anxiety. It's like I can't handle it. 

 

Leslie  

Exactly. ,

 

Zahra  

All right is money were no object, where are you booking your next vacation?

 

Leslie  

Oh, I've always wanted to go to Iceland. It's been like the top of my list since probably high school when I watched this documentary about this fancy gurus, because they're from there and they still haven't gone. So yeah, I feel like Iceland still just like, why haven't I been there yet, it probably could be just that I haven't.

 

Zahra  

Love it okay, so for those of us who want to get because I know there's gonna be a lot. How do we get in touch with you, how do we follow up with you. what cool things should we have to look forward to from Notley coming up.

 

Leslie  

Yes, absolutely. So our website is just notley.com and I'm just leslie@notley.com if you want to reach me via email. Cool things coming up so I kind of mentioned it, I guess throughout the podcast here, but we do have this awesome new changemaker grant and support program we're rolling out in San Antonio. So we're going to be selecting our first two changemakers next month in October, that will receive some grant funding from Notley as well as matching them with really wonderful people in the community that can help mentor and support them and kind of welcoming them into our bigger Notley network. And so there's news to come on that we'll get to announce our new changemakers that we're going to support that way. And we also are recruiting our second class of Notley fellows in San Antonio so it's a two year kind of leadership development program. I've actually been a fellow for the last year, which is how I got to know the organization. So while tuned in when interested me in the role, and it opened up to work for them here in San Antonio. So we are taking applications throughout this fall. It was in December, it's a really cool program two years where you dive into different leaders doing really cool, impactful work in the city, you get to kind of spin up a new project with your cohort and team on how to tackle different issues in the city in different way, whether it's nonprofit, or for profit models. And then the second year is really about like, so what do you as an individual want to do to bring in more impact work into your life, whether it's launching your own thing, or finding other organizations that you want to influence and work with here in San Antonio, or even maybe just identifying, like, what the heck you want to focus on. So it's really great, so I'm excited. I've met so many amazing people here in San Antonio through that program. So I'd say those are the two biggest things and yeah, just philanthropitch which will be next year in May. So let's look further out that's another great opportunity to kind of celebrate really amazing organizations and support them with your own boats and dollars to which is fun. Yeah, they're still coming and we're still growing and I'm just excited personally, to keep meeting with all have these very dynamic, wonderful changemakers in our community, there's way more than we can, you know, support with our grant dollars so it's gonna be tough to whittle those down. But again, like we're also open to there's other ways we want to support changemakers we committed to so hopefully be able to bring out some other programming extra ways to support but I'm loving it. It's so much fun. It's also for those of you guys who couldn't catch the email, we're gonna put it all in the show notes page so you'll have email, links, website links, all the good stuff and maybe when the applications roll around, we can throw that on there too. So that way, you guys are interested in the participants that would be great. So thank you so much Leslie, it was great, we had a great time.  Great, thank you Zarah.

 

Zahra  

And we will see you next time.

Leslie Chasnoff Profile Photo

Leslie Chasnoff

San Antonio Market Director

Leslie Chasnoff holds a BFA in Communication Design from Texas State University, is a Winter 2015 Techstars Cloud alumni, and spent several years working at local arts organizations such as the San Antonio Museum of Art, Artist Foundation, and the City of San Antonio Arts & Culture department. She spent two years as the Programs Director at Geekdom where she worked with early stage startups and founders to grow their ideas into viable businesses that are ready to launch and scale. Leslie is currently the San Antonio Market Director for Notley, a social impact organization that aims to solve problems quicker and make the most impact possible by combining non-profit and for-profit models to combat issues. She is the stepmother of two awesome teenage boys, dog mom to two sweet small dogs, cat mom to a black tom cat, and wife to a wonderful husband who is a journalist at the San Antonio Express-News. She's into yoga, mindfulness, the arts, good eats, and getting outside.