To succeed, put people first and business second


Photo credit: Tiffany Alanoori

Emily Vavra is a business owner and wellness curator who has led a team of over 150,000 entrepreneurs and shared the stage with some of the biggest business names in the world. Host and founder of itsEmily, a podcast and resource, she regularly shares her trusted business and personal development tips with her community and team.

I had the opportunity to interview Emily recently. Here are some of the highlights of this interview:

Jill Griffin: Can you give my readers an insight into your journey to becoming an entrepreneur and building your brand?

Emily Vavra: It all started almost 11 years ago. I was 23, living in Minnesota and working as a nanny and massage therapist – working all hours of the day. Then one day, while at the gym, I met a woman who seemed to walk with pep in her step, speak with unwavering confidence, and have a different lifestyle than I’m used to. Homework.

I watched it because at the time I was so tired of constantly working and not being able to pay my bills. I contacted her and asked her if she could guide me.

I kept asking myself, what can I do to help him? How can an ordinary girl like me live such an extraordinary life?

But, because I made the decision to take a step towards something new, I am now here 11 years later to help hundreds of thousands of people take that step towards their new life.

Griffin: Let’s talk about the word “networking”. Explain what it is to my readers.

Will: Networking is about connecting with other people. For me, it’s essential to go into every relationship with an open attitude and a mindset about how we can reciprocate that energy. It’s about meeting new people and building new relationships.

A former Yahoo! The executive, Tim Sanders, once said, “Your network is your net worth.” I remember hearing that in my early twenties, and I understood that I had to be a collector of people and not just stay in my little bubble. But, unfortunately, the comfort is consistent, and it’s only when you push yourself out of the comfort zone that you start to see the growth start to show up and happen.

Just like training, you need to exercise your muscles to build relationships. I started exercising the muscle of putting myself in situations where I could meet other people, whether we were doing business today or five years from now. That’s the attitude I’ve had ever since. People first, business second.

Griffin: Let’s talk about developing authentic relationships. What does it look like? How would you define an authentic relationship?

Will: Everyone has their unique energy and if someone has the energy to try to “get, get, get” they are not paying attention to who you really are. It’s obvious to me when someone is being genuine or being dishonest in their listening skills by looking me in the eye while talking. With this you can tell if they are just listening to see when they can start talking or instead actively listening to understand me better.

So being authentic, I believe, is caring about another human being without having the outcome of what that person can do for me. I believe it is an equal exchange of energy as if we were playing ping pong. The game ends quickly if one person serves the ball but the other does not return it.

Griffin: I love the eye contact tip, and it goes back to what we’ve always been taught. Other tips?

Will: I teach these active listening skills in the “ItsEmily Method” program – and what I love to do is learn someone’s name. So when I meet Jill I’ll try to link it to another Jill or a letter J. I’ll put something in my mind so I can remember your name and then in our conversation I’ll try to say your name at least three times.

I apply this to everyone I meet – I did this yesterday in a store. An associate was helping me find a spice I wanted, and I spoke to him by name, “Manny, do you know where that garlic is?” “. It’s the little things that can not only change the course of a conversation, but also a relationship. It also helps to strengthen a genuine connection. Their name tags are there for a reason. Use them.

Griffin: How do you connect with individuals digitally? How to ensure a good connection when in-person events or meetings are not possible.

Will: In the digital world, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, I like to develop a connection that stands out from the rest.

A few tips :

– Engage – Add value to someone’s page, whether it’s a word of encouragement, appreciation, or a quick share. It shows that you are interested in what they are working on. It goes so much further than just hitting the “Like” button.

– Voice Messages – Sending a quick note via direct message can be an easy way to feel more connected to someone. So much more emotion shown than just text.

– Schedule a zoom call – I love Zoom because I can look into the camera and at least develop a relationship with that person and see if there is a way to help each other.

– Find common ground – The best way to do this is to ask open-ended questions. This means avoiding yes/no questions, but ones that allow them to share more of their thoughts and beliefs. You will find a lot of commonalities by asking the right questions.

Griffin: Could you teach our readers the law of abundance?

Will: There are probably a million definitions of this, but I believe there are enough for everyone. When we give, and when we have an attitude of generosity, whether with money, time, energy, or resources, an attitude of generosity allows more to come back to you.

I have to teach this a lot because I talk to people who have the opposite mindset. They might think they have to keep it all to themselves. For example, I spoke to a woman who thinks she missed the mark because she is a well-known speaker.

I told him there were a million opportunities for speakers – event planners will choose which is best for their audience. Whatever industry you are in; there is enough to go around. What is meant to be for you will always be for you.

Griffin: It’s a great mindset and something we should all practice. What did I not ask you that you would like to comment on?

Will: I would love to challenge people, Jill. I want to ask people, if your business isn’t where you want it to be, could networking and being intentional help?

It’s all about intention. If you put more intention into that particular skill or activity, could your business grow? Or even your overall happiness as a person when interacting with new people. Getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people and living your life to the fullest is the key to success. I had little or nothing to offer myself when I started, and if it wasn’t for the networking and trust of others, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now. Remember, to be able to help others, we must first fill our cup so that it overflows into the lives of others.


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