Why You Don’t Have To Write Your Business Plan – Lida Citroën

“Part of being entrepreneur is that sense of unknowing.” – Lida Citroën

In this week’s episode, we have Lida Citroën. She was in corporate America for 20 years moving from one industry to the next. It’s not that she can’t do one job perfectly, it’s more of accomplishing so much in that one position and then challenging herself to be as successful in another one, in a totally different industry.

Check out her new book is entitled Control The Narrative: An Executive’s Guide to Building, Pivoting, and Repairing your Reputation.

Lida’s website: https://www.lida360.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lida360/

Katie Brinkley 0:02

Hi friends. I’m Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs, realtors and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode.

Welcome back to Rocky Mountain Marketing. Today, my guest is Lida Citroen. Lida is professional keynote speaker at presenter and a popular TEDx speaker. And she also has multiple courses on LinkedIn learning. Lida is also passionate about helping military veterans find post military career success, and has written three books to serve that mission. Lida, thank you so much for joining me on the show today.

Lida Citroen 0:47

Thank you so much, Katie. It’s wonderful to be here.

Katie Brinkley 0:50

Well, and I didn’t even mention this in your introduction. But you’ve also been featured in some major publications like Forbes, I had the opportunity to read your article that you have featured in Forbes in and that was an awesome article, I’m gonna dive right into some of the things you talked about in that and you’re from Hollywood.

Lida Citroen 1:07

Well, I grew up in Los Angeles, and much you can’t, you know, they say swing a cat without hitting the Hollywood, the entertainment industry. And so yeah, I grew up around movie stars and directors and production crews, and all of that it was pretty fun.

Katie Brinkley 1:22

Well, what brought you out here to Colorado then a lifestyle change?

Lida Citroen 1:26

Wanting to start a family in a different environment, and just decided that this was a better place to actually buy a house here. So that was really exciting, and really just wanted a different life than what we had in California at the time.

Katie Brinkley 1:26

Well, and I’m biased. I’m a Denver native, but I mean, I definitely think this is one of the best places to call home. So let’s talk a little bit about, you know, what you do take us through your professional journey a little bit and some of the different stops that you made along the way.

Lida Citroen 1:55

Sure, you know, and it took me a while to be able to understand it enough that I could communicate it to someone else. I spent 20 years in what we call with the air quotes corporate America, right? Working for large corporations, global enterprises, I worked in consumer products, I worked in professional services, which is the legal accounting, finance part of the world. And I really, I kind of bounced around. I mean, every two and a half years, it seemed I changed jobs. And it made no sense to anyone around me, why wouldn’t I stay? It wasn’t that I wasn’t successful. That was actually part of the reason I moved, I would hit these, these crescendos of exceeding goals, exceeding expectations, hitting my all my quotas, and then I just didn’t want to replicate it. So at about the two, two and a half year mark, I tended to be an easy candidate to recruit away. So I moved every two and a half years, again, changing industries on top of just changing jobs. And then 2008 happened. And it happened to me. Like a lot of executives, I was in a, you know, an expensive position for my company. And they downsized, a lot of us, the market was falling apart, everyone I knew was either losing their job or desperately trying to hold on to their job. And it was in that moment, was the first time I really looked back on the 20 years and said, What have I done and what does it mean? And I realized what I love is the building the designing the growing the getting to that crescendo, meeting all that success, but I didn’t want to just repeat it for the same company, or the in the same way. And I couldn’t find a job that was going to give me that opportunity. So I started my own. I started my own company in 2008, in the worst economy, but But I created a platform taking all of the years of experience I had in doing marketing and strategic branding and global positioning. And I thought wouldn’t it be more interesting to work with people rather than products or companies or services. So I launched Lida 360 in 2008, with a focus on helping people position themselves to be competitive in very complicated markets because of where the world and the US was at that time. It was exactly the right thing at the right time. I wish I could say that I was so brilliant that I strategically crafted this, but I think a lot of it was luck and divine intervention. And then I’ve had Lida 360 for the last 13 years growing like crazy. I help business executives, professionals, entrepreneurs around the world find their value proposition and then market that to the audiences that need to find them and see them as relevant. So that’s the short answer.

Katie Brinkley 4:53

I love it. And, you know, I love the fact that you came from corporate. Can you tell us a little bit some of the struggles or maybe some of the learning curves that you had to make from coming from the corporate side of things to being an entrepreneur, because I think that, you know, I came from corporate too. And I was I was a marketing manager, I loved my job. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, looking back at my life as a kid and stuff. Now I’m like, Well, of course, I ended up being an entrepreneur. But that’s another podcast for another day. I think that there’s a lot of different things that we don’t even think about when we decide to go ahead and start our own business. If someone is in the corporate world, and they’re thinking about, maybe someday I want to start my own business, what’s one of the things that you would tell them to make sure that they do as they start their journey.

Lida Citroen 5:37

And a lot of my clients are facing that a lot of my clients have that question front of their mind, and taking the step out of corporate with all of the security that we think we have right? is scary. And I’m like you I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. I wasn’t a risk taker. I like to paycheck every two weeks to borrow deposited into my account. PTO, you know, an office I went to every day and and I had no vision of being my own boss. And once I sort of got my wheels under me, I couldn’t imagine anything else. A lot of people at the beginning asked me, Well, how long are you going to give it right? Because we remember in 2008, a lot of people hung out the shingle and said, Now I’m in business for myself. But meanwhile, they were still sending resumes out. It was never an option. For me, this became the thing I was going to do for the rest of my career. And I’d never thought of that before in corporate what I liked was, like I said, the consistency, the sense of security that I had, sort of understanding where the guardrails were. But once I stepped out of corporate, what I realized is there’s very little consistency. There’s very little security. I mean, here, I had to send it to a managing director role in an organization. I was part of budget decisions. I saw it coming because I knew we had to cut money, but it never occurred to me that I could be vulnerable. And so twinsies I felt the exact same way. I’m sorry. Yeah, exactly. Right. So the sense of security that I hit or miss, you know, misaligned was, was really hard to get my head around. And I learned that I actually kind of am a risk taker, that I take risks, when they’re risks I’m comfortable taking, I’m not going to do skydiving, you’ll never see me post those videos on Facebook, but risks and betting on myself. Well, that was that made sense to me. I didn’t know that what I was coming into the market with was such a valuable offer at the time. So I counted on a lot of people, I would say anyone looking to become an entrepreneur, find the people you can count on early on, that was critical for me. So many of my friends wrote me an email and said, well, thank goodness, we’ve been telling you to have your own business for years, I was never listening. I never heard that. But they rallied around me. And they gave me you know, insight and systems and early steps to be able to take that really got my feet under me. A lot of my clients want to have that first big client in order to leave what they’re doing. And I think that’s awesome. If you can do that. I think it’s awesome if you have a big account or a big client, which gives you the confidence to be able to exit corporate and, and hang out your own shingle. I didn’t. I think the scrappiness the in the grit that I had to learn in those early days was part of what gave me the drive because I like building and designing and creating. Remember, that was the fun part. For me. What was interesting, though, is I did a ton of informational interviews. I don’t know if you did this too. But I teach people the power of informational interviews. And for me informational interviews, was me going to anybody who had ever started a business, whether they were in my network or not reaching out and saying, I just want 15 minutes of your time. I have three questions about to start this business, I would love to ask you three questions. And I stayed to those three questions. Other things would come up. But those three questions always got answered. So one of the things I did and I don’t know, Katie, if you did this when you started your business, but I teach people the power of informational interviews. And what an informational interview is is very specific, very targeted interview where you reach out to people who can provide you with specific advice about an industry about a job or about a company. And in my case, I wanted to learn what did it mean to be an entrepreneur? How do you start a business? I’d never done that before. I had been part of growing businesses and I’d worked with entrepreneurs, but I had never start to finish started a business. So I reached out to people who had started any kind of company. I didn’t care if it was a dry cleaner, cosmetic affiliate network marketing company or a consulting firm. And I asked for 15 minutes to ask them three questions. And during the course of those 15 minutes, sure, other questions would come up. But I made sure that I asked those three questions every time. First question, what was one thing you did? That was key to your success that you’re really glad you did? The second question, what was one thing you wish you hadn’t done? By mistake or regret? And then I would tell them a little bit. The third question, I tell them a little bit about what I was going to do and ask for any advice or guidance. And I did that over probably 25 ish, informational interviews. And what I had was a set of data. And I’m not a huge data spreadsheet person. But this was gold to me, because I looked at what was consistent in what they had done, right? And then what what mistakes they had made. And then I, of course, would evaluate the advice they gave me, I would throw out the extremes. But then I would look at what was consistent. And here’s what really surprised me, consistently, these business owners told me don’t write a business plan. And that made no sense to me. I thought, why wouldn’t you write a business plan, I mean, I’d always done that I’m sure you did that you forecast against a business plan, you strategize against the business plan. But they said, don’t do it yet. Don’t do it until you’re really sure you know what the business gonna look like. Because you will shape the business towards that plan, and forget the organic part. And that’s probably the best advice I was ever given. Because when I started my company, I thought I was going to do marketing services to companies. That’s what I really thought I was going to do. That’s what I’ve done for 20 years, right. But this personal branding conversation emerged, because I didn’t have that business plan, because I let it find me. And that became my passion that became my area of expertise. And what I’ve written five books on the topic of so I would say to an entrepreneur, you know, as much as you want to have structure to replicate that feeling and corporate part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is that sense of unknowing, right and letting things happen organically get comfortable with it, because you’re gonna feel it many, many times during your experience.

Katie Brinkley 12:26

Lida, I feel like a lot of your, your story is very similar to mine. And it’s that advice on that, you know, making a business plan is old, but I think that it’s so true, because I look back at my journey. And I you know, never in a million years would have thought that I would have a couple podcasts that I would be doing, you know, social strategy for a lot of TV personalities and a lot of personal brands. And that’s actually what I want to talk about next is personal brands, because that was something that I don’t know, maybe about five years ago really did not exist unless you were a TV personality. But now you do need to have some sort of branding around your business. Absolutely. You know, if you have, if you’re a small business owner, and you have a shop, you want to focus on the shop, but you still are the person behind the that business, you do need to be showing up in your social and your Instagram stories. And, you know, in the in the reels you need to be showing up. It’s so personal now with how we have to put ourselves out there. So I’d love to talk a little bit about how personal branding is more important today than ever before.

Lida Citroen 13:33

Oh, I mean, obviously I agree. That’s what my whole business is about. And honestly, that’s what my latest book is about called control the narrative. Because I think you’re right, whether it’s been five years, I know it wasn’t 13 years ago, because nobody knew what the term was, as I was using it. The idea that you can create a story, a narrative, a value proposition, to define yourself. That’s important, whether you’re a recent college grad, or you’re an entrepreneur of a multi billion dollar company, whoever you are, wherever you are showing up authentically and with consistency is the point of personal branding. And most people don’t ask themselves the questions that we need to ask ourselves in order to get to that clarity. So it’s really fun to be in that conversation. I work a lot in areas where what they do for a living is so foreign to me. And by that I mean like technology and finance. But the conversation that we get to have is so real and we become human beings talking to human beings. And that’s what’s really fun.

Katie Brinkley 14:39

Yes, for me, it’s called Social Media for a reason. And if you are posting on social media, just a whole bunch of sales pitches, and hey, look at this. Look at that. Look at me, you’re really not doing the other half of the social media thing and listening and answering people and when you show up with your face and you show up to actually enjoy engage in a conversation, it really does make a huge difference for your business’s your brand’s overall sales and presence. What do you think about how social media plays a role into building your personal brand up?

Lida Citroen 15:14

Well, I’m glad you phrased it that way. Because I think social media plays a role. There are other things that play roles too. And oftentimes, I think, to your earlier point, the reason people bristle at the term personal branding is they think it’s only for celebrities, or politicians, or they think it’s just social media, right? So if Lida is gonna come in, that means she’s gonna teach us all how to build our social media. And when I frame it, that it’s one piece of the tools that we use, then all of a sudden, it starts to feel more natural, right that I don’t know many people who don’t need to have some presence. And there are some, there are some people who don’t need to have a presence on social media. But for the 99.9% of us who do it is the consistency of social media. It’s not just the consistency of what you how you show up on Facebook, and how you show up on Instagram, and LinkedIn, but the consistency with who I experience when I meet you in person, how you talk about yourself, how other people talk about you, the value proposition, the key words that you’re building your brand around based on your values. That’s where social media has this amazing ability to market and promote us 24/7 around the world, in ways we never could have done before. But to just rest on it alone is a little risky. I can vouch for the fact that social media has exploded my business, I don’t think I could ever have been found by the clients around the world that find me if it hadn’t been for tools like LinkedIn and YouTube, where they’re experiencing my content, the articles that I write for Entrepreneur Magazine that get posted online that people find in translated into their native language, and then reach out to me, that wouldn’t happen without social media. So it’s absolutely playing a role. But it isn’t the only thing that solves that challenge. For us.

Katie Brinkley 17:11

It’s one piece of the giant online digital marketing puzzle, for sure. And I mean, that’s it’s so true. I mean, whether you decide to go all in on LinkedIn, or YouTube you mentioned, I think that is one of the biggest struggles a lot of businesses struggle with is, what social media do I need to be on or I need, you need to be on all of them. But when you focus in on just one where your ideal client customer is hanging out, go all in on it show up consistently, like you said, Lida, and with your face and giving value. That’s how you’re really going to grow for me. I guess it’s not that surprising. But it was clubhouse, it was because I was able to speak to my knowledge that’s really changed my business completely to is by having that microphone in my hand in front of a new audience, every single day. So find those social media platforms, it is not the end all be all, but find the one where your ideal clients are hanging out on and when you show up consistently for them, it makes a huge difference.

Lida Citroen 18:10

Oh, I completely agree. I would say to that, I go in and I secure my name on every social platform. So did it for my kids to Well, that’s wow, I wouldn’t want my kids to have that easy access. But my kids are no they don’t, they don’t. But I already got their emails and their you know, their URLs just in case, you never know what’s going to happen down the road. So if they’re, if they if they end up being the next big thing, then she’s got her domain already ready to go. But it is important. I mean, I’m playing on clubhouse, I’m on Instagram, and, you know, and all the different platforms, but LinkedIn is the one that works the best. So it’s where I spend the most time. And I think that’s to your point that you know, figure out what works. And it does matter what what you enjoy. But it also matters where you’re where your customers are, right? What do they need to know about you? What do they need to feel about you? And where are they? If they’re all on LinkedIn, but you don’t like LinkedIn, just understand you’re giving up market share. And some some of that takes some experimentation. I mean, I’ve, I’ve played with many, many different platforms, some of them I find really hard to figure out, and my clients aren’t there. So I’ve got my name, I can call that one done. But when I know that all my clients and prospective clients are on LinkedIn, for instance, or YouTube, that’s where I spend more of my time, absolute man, you and I are drinking from the same fountain.

Katie Brinkley 19:33

Well, and I do want to talk just a little bit more about being a business owner and having a personal brand versus a business brand because I think that’s where a lot of business owners struggle, I mean, a real estate agent, yes, absolutely. You need to have your own personal brand. But I mean, you know, let’s just say that it is somebody that owns a I don’t know like a facial or massage type of place. Like why should they or or or auto repair shop. What do you think? They should do, when should they have the personal brand or the business brand? In your opinion.

Lida Citroen 20:05

Always, you might lead more with one than the other. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as hiding behind a company. A lot of my clients are entrepreneurs. And some of them are, you know, more techy, and they can’t imagine that we have to build their brand. It’s not about them. It’s about the company in this applications that they promote. Yeah, because we all want to know where it came from. We all want to know, you know, like, like those Shark Tank moments, right? Where the the investors are talking to an entrepreneur and the valuation falls apart, and the business model falls apart. And the investors whether it’s Mr. Wonderful, or any of them, say, Okay, tell me about you. What’s your story? How did we get here? I think that’s what we do. As consumers, we want to know who created the app, who designed the code who had the vision to take this to market. That may not be what gets us completely to a buying decision. But I think it’s part of the narrative of the business is who started it, who are the leaders who are the teams that are making this happen? So having personal brands, I think, are really important. And when I first started teaching personal branding, and companies, there was some resistance from larger companies. They said, why would we want our employees to have a brand, we want them to support our brand. But I was able to start showing them that if your employees understand who they are and why they show up, then they can understand why they attach so well to the brand values of the company. And today, it’s like seamless companies are bringing personal branding in, because they understand and they recognize that extension of the company brand goes down to their employees, how they talk about where they work, when they’re at a weekend barbecue, how they talk about their employer online, whether they’re part of the recruiting effort, and the retention effort. Personal Branding is not just about helping people find work or position themselves. It’s about growing the organization and enterprise that they’re part of. So I love that question, because I get it quite a bit. Well, and I think that too, I think a lot of people think, Oh, if I have a personal brand, does that mean I want to be an influencer? And and No, no, it doesn’t at all, I think that it all comes down to exactly what you were saying leader. People want to do business with people. And when you show up on the other side of that social media post, and you share, you know what it’s like to be an employee there, or what it’s like to, you know, do business with your business, people feel that connection, instantly. There’s been people that I’ve been social media or Instagram friends with, especially during the pandemic, I made a lot of Instagram friends. And I know that the doors have started opening, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of them in real life. And it was seriously just like, seeing somebody that I hadn’t seen in a couple of weeks. Because we I see all of their stories, I see all of their social media posts, I you know, have talked with them in the DMS. And when you can create those relationships, it makes doing business. So, so easy.

Well, it also gives you an escape hatch. And most people don’t think of this one of the specialties that I actually work in is called reputation repair. It’s very emotional work, very hard work. But you know, let’s face it, people make mistakes, they sometimes get caught or outed and they have to fix it. And if you have relationships, like you’re talking about already established, especially online, it is so much easier to fix that. What we tend to find is, especially people in high profile positions, they don’t think about those relationships, they think about getting to next and getting to next and getting to next and then one, feel free to tweet or you know, misappropriate comment or something, lands them in hot water, and they don’t have that support network to draw upon. And that’s really sad. That’s really hard to undo without that support network. I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, yeah. Mic drop.

Katie Brinkley 24:16

So I would love to just hear a little bit about your new book. Can you talk to us about your newest book, The control the narrative?

Lida Citroen 24:22

Sure, control. The narrative was a book I wanted to write for a long time. It is full of stories. And I think that’s what makes the content so rich, but the full title is control the narrative, how an executives guide to building pivoting and repairing your reputation. As I mentioned, repairing your reputation is a part of the work that I do. But I don’t believe there has really been a comprehensive book on the market that talked about all three building your reputation. You can find an an executive very senior in their career who has never thoughtfully and strategically worked on their personal brand and their reputation. They’ve grown the ranks, they’ve done good work, they’ve hit all the metrics. They’ve done the performance, you know, expectations, and they’ve just continued to grow their career, but they’ve never really thought about how they’re positioned and perceived by the people that they care about. So this book really walks them through that pivoting is a little bit different. So pivoting is where somebody wakes up, perhaps one morning and says what I’ve been doing to this point isn’t fulfilling, or it isn’t what I want to leave as a legacy. What I want to do is something over here, but I’m not sure how to take the reputation assets of what I’ve built, my online followers, my career track record of all of that, and move it to this new focus and effort. So I talked about that. And I share lots of stories of clients I’ve worked with through that process. And then the last one is rare, repairing your reputation, which is why I also included a whole chapter about reputation risk management, how to make sure you don’t end up a client of mine in that category. Because as I said, it’s very hard, very emotional work. And, you know, there are people who make mistakes. But I’ll tell you, Katie, what’s really surprising is people who ended up with reputation challenges and problems, not because they did anything wrong, either a wrong place at the wrong time, whistleblowers or guilt by association, things like that. They didn’t do anything wrong. But all of a sudden, if you Google their name, bad things show up. And so I share examples of all those different types of scenarios. So it’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time, it’s getting amazing reviews. Clients are, you know, reading it exactly like I knew they would I knew people would go exactly to the section that they needed help with. And it’s, it’s personally very fulfilling. I love it.

Katie Brinkley 26:52

Well, Lida, I know you mentioned you know, you’re very active on LinkedIn, I follow you on LinkedIn, and you are always sharing great articles that you write and that other people are writing related to this topic. How can we connect with you further, if people want to learn more about you? And also, how can they buy your book?

Lida Citroen 27:10

Well, the books are all on Amazon, right? All roads lead to Amazon these days. So they’re all on Amazon, Amazon, I have five of them up there. LinkedIn is a great place to connect, as well as my website, which is Lida360.com. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Lida, for coming on the show today.

Well, thank you. And I know we didn’t get a chance to talk about it. But if there are any military veterans out there, who are interested in learning more about how I can help them, please do connect with me, there are a lot of free programs out there. And that’s a big passion of mine to work with the prior military in our country. So I’d love to connect with them as well.

Katie Brinkley 27:49

Absolutely love today’s episode with Lida, she shared so many great ideas about how you can really step into the personal side of your business’s brand. And why that’s important. I know that with a lot of my clients, who are some of those personalities or real estate agents, and people that already have kind of accepted the personal brand side of things have realized how much their business has changed. Once they start stepping in front of the camera, I know that it is really hard to put yourself out there, it can be hard to do an Instagram story or to do an Instagram Live or to show up on video with your face it be like you got to look a certain way or having your makeup done. But you know, it’s so true. Once you start showing up. And being your true authentic self, that is what’s going to help you move the needle in your business. And I loved the tip that Lida gave about not having a business plan. I didn’t have a business plan when I got started. And a lot of the times I was like, Oh man, I really did, I missed the boat on this, I need to get my business plan done. But my business has changed so much over the past five years, that I don’t know if I would have had the same business if I would have sat down and had a business plan. I love that tip. It’s definitely something outside the box. And if you’re thinking about potentially starting your own business, if you’re in the corporate world now and thinking about going down the entrepreneurial path, I have to say there’s no better time than now. I was thrown into the world of entrepreneurship. And I didn’t know if it was right for me. But now looking back, it was great that I just I just did it. I just went out there and tried to find one client and then I got another client. It can be a great cushion to have that one big client and then try to grow. But what if that big client just doesn’t come? Then you’re just delaying what could the possibilities could potentially be for you and your business so scrapped the business plan? I think it is a bold move, but I think that is one that that worked for me as well. And I think that it’s absolutely something that take it and let your business flow. Let the Business below, see what evolves and you can change it and don’t feel as married to it as if you were to sit down and necessarily draw that entire business plan. So huge thanks to Lida to coming onto the show today, be sure to check out her book and absolutely enjoyed this episode with her.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn or check me out on Instagram. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.