Tracy: Hello Teresa, thank you taking the time to share some of your wisdom with us today. To start off, could you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
Teresa: Certainly. My company is called Wildfire Workshops, Inc. I’m a writer and business trainer. I help emerging thought leaders learn the influence game. I offer a series of workshops beginning with Mastering Influence and ending with Becoming a Best Selling Author. Along the way, my students learn how to cultivate and nurture influential relationships then how to leverage those relationships to reach their goals.
Tracy: Is this your first entrepreneurial endeavor?
Teresa: No, in the late 1990’s I created an online campground directory. I learned a lot from that and went on to build a non-profit organization dedicated to building schools in Africa which I funded by writing children’s books. Each venture taught me something valuable I would need in the next. Wildfire Workshops is the product of my evolution as an entrepreneur.
Tracy: Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to create your own business?
Teresa: It was more of a specific moment when I knew I wanted to create my own life. I was in the most difficult time of my life, within the space of a year my father passed away, my marriage ended, my company failed and my health was in a spiral. I was doing some DIY renovation on my condo at the time. This particular day, I was sitting on the bathroom floor surrounded by tools and the thought hit me that I was the one who needed renovation. I realized that even before all of this, when I was outwardly at the height of my success, I still hadn’t been truly happy and I wanted that to change.
I made myself into my next project. I started taking every self-help course known to man. I got a lot more serious about my health and I started choosing to build the life I wanted. An important part of that life was having my own business.
I had taken a job to support my family during this time and now that I was a single mother, the thought of stepping away from that to start my own business felt terrifying. Instead, I took a leave of absence so I could have a safety net while I tested the waters. After a few months, I had a positive cash flow and I was hooked on the freedom and empowerment it gave me. I left my job and I’ve never looked back.
Tracy: What was your inspiration for Wildfire Workshops? How did the idea come about?
Teresa: I have always had a knack for forming influential relationships. The biggest shift for me came from running the Charity. I had taken my hobby of writing children’s stories and published three kids books to fund raise. After quickly putting all three on the bestseller seller lists, I learned three things:
- I didn’t like running a non-profit
- I didn’t like being a children’s author
- I had a lot of people wanting to know how I managed to write three best-selling books in eight months
One day, my best friend, Shawne Duperon made a comment about the third one, saying that when a flood a people are asking me about something I love to do, perhaps I should take notice and maybe I should build a business around that.
Just like fish aren’t aware of the water surrounding them, people are often unaware of their greatest gifts until someone else points it out. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, it took colleagues and friends pointing out that I was brilliant at generating influential relationships and that was what I should teach others to do.
Tracy: Your new book Mass Influence just hit the bestseller lists. Why this book? And why now?
Teresa: In my work with entrepreneurs and business leaders I often see really good people get stopped from making positive change because they don’t understand the game of influence. Maybe you have a great idea or a great product that could really help people, but you don’t have the support and influential relationships you need to succeed. You have a certain level of influence already, but you learned a set of rules on fairness in the playground, or an etiquette for networking that don’t serve you when working to grow your influence. Influence is just a skill set. Highly influential people have routine behaviors that you can learn that gets you past these barriers.
Tracy: I imagine there are questions you are asked all the time. What are the top two things people want to know?
Teresa: The first one is how to get past the gate-keeper to make contact with someone who could become an influential relationship. The second one usually has to do with how to drill down and focus on just one thing when people want so many things.
Tracy: Your book tells them how to do those things?
Teresa: Yes, I teach them by showing them how to do it. The book also includes free tuition to one of my programs, the 30-day Influence Challenge, so they can get real-time practice at the habits of influence.
Tracy: It’s easy to see that you have a lot of passion for your work. What do you do to refuel that passion and keep yourself going?
Teresa: One of the things I learned from my deep dive into self-help is the importance of finding and keeping balance. I put a lot of myself into my business, so I make a point of making the time to do things outside of my business as well. I make time for my family and for the things that energize me. I am an avid hiker and I love spending time in the mountains. My daughters and I hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro together and it was a beautiful experience that we will treasure always.
Tracy: Talking with you today has been a real treat, you’re doing a great work and it was enlightening to get a glimpse of it. To end, could you leave us with a bit of advice for people who are just starting out and might be struggling to find their direction?