Learn how, Shannon Crotty, a successful businesswoman, and speaker stays inspired and motivated to move through fear and anxiety to achieve her dreams. She talks about her new book No One Is Peeing In the Deep End – A survival guide for launching a dream and Polkadot Powerhouse a unique women’s connection group and how she built it from 1 member to over 3,000 across 3 countries and what kept her going.
Shannon Crotty is a wife and mom of three who lives in West Central Wisconsin. She is the Founder and CEO of Polka Dot Powerhouse, a global connection company for women.
Shannon is also the founder and visionary of The Deep End Planner as well as the author of the brand-new book, No One Is Peeing In the Deep End – A survival guide for launching a dream.
Also, as a sought-after speaker, Shannon not only empowers audiences to be more authentic versions of themselves, but she also provides tools for them to rein in their focus to allow them to more easily reach their goals and launch their dreams.
Shannon loves golfing, travel, style, fitness, and the good ice!
Links Mentioned In This Episode
Links & information for show notes:
Podcast episodes, articles, and books mentioned in this episode
What we discussed:
- The strategic (3-month) planner
- The Polkadot Powerhouse Story (300 feet of trust)
- About the Polkadot Powerhouse community
Interview with Shannon Crotty Transcript
*Not ready to give this episode a listen or watch just yet? Below is a rough transcript of today’s episode.*
Hi everyone. I am Audrey Kerchner and this is Inkyma’s Marketing Strategies, and today is very special. One, it is our 100th Episode of the entire podcast. So I’m really excited about that. And Two, I have an amazing guest for you, that I’m going to interview…not really interview. We’re gonna have a conversation. Shannon and I are gonna chat a little bit. So I wanna introduce Shannon Crotty to you, and I’m gonna read her bio.
I know I don’t normally do this, but you need to understand everything about Shannon so that you can really soak in this conversation that we’re gonna have. So, Shannon is a wife and mom of three, and she lives in Western Central Wisconsin. She’s the founder and CEO of
Polka Dot Powerhouse,
a global connection company for women.
And I, I am a Diamond Dot, so I love Polka Dot. She’s also the founder and visionary of the Deep End Planner as well as the author of the brand new book, No One is Peeing in the Deep End:
A Survival Guide for Launching a Dream. All of us entrepreneurs know about launching a dream. And she’s also a sought after speaker.
I love hearing Shannon speak every chance I get. And she not only empowers audiences to be more authentic versions of themselves, but she also provides tools for them to reign in their focus, to allow them to more easily reach their goals and launch those dreams. Shannon I’ve been excited since we scheduled this, to have this conversation with you. Just me and a couple hundred of our intimate entrepreneurial friends out there.
Audrey, I’m so thrilled to be here. I feel so honored that you asked me and yeah, I can’t wait to get to our chat. Yes. Alright, so first thing I wanna chat about is your book and the planner.
Tell me a little bit about… You know, authoring a book is heavy duty work. You’ve done so much in your career, so why the book and what inspired you?
That’s a great question. What inspired me is being this unlikely founder and all of the things that I wish someone had pulled me aside and let me know were normal things to happen in the process of launching a dream.
The normal feelings, the normal reception you get from others, the normal obstacles that come in your path. Not that it would’ve changed our journey or my journey, but just knowing those things are part of the process. Cause I think that we see on social media and stuff, we see the highs, and we see the start, but we don’t see that messy middle area to know that what we’re going to come up against is quite normal for the process.
Absolutely. I love that you call yourself an unlikely founder. I feel the same way. I’ve had my business for 12 years now, so yeah, that messy in the middle. This getting to the hundredth episode, there was a lot that went in between. So… think it’s great that you have something out there with all those tips and ideas, but also letting people know like the journey’s messy.
And gosh, what I wouldn’t give to know, just some of the things that I know now, five years ago, six years ago, Oh, would’ve made it so much easier. So let’s talk about the planner. So what does the planner do? What can you…
So it’s a three month strategic planner and it comes with a 12 month calendar so you can plan ahead, but I’m a visionary with no detail skills or I really, I should say no detail skills, but I have to build systems to make it look like I have these detail skills.
And so what I was a planner junkie, right? I think I’ve tried most of the major planners. And what I would have to do in is I would have to build in like paste or staple pages in things of that nature. Or I’d have to have two or three planners going at one time because not one, none of them had all of the aspects that I needed.
So what would happen over time? Cuz I love a planner. And I’m a believer in setting yourself up for success and the way that a planner can help you accomplish that. And I would talk about planner and someone would say, what do you use? Oh, I use my own. Can I see it? No. No. Oh, no. You can see my planner. That’s my planner.
And I’m not artistic. So my initial planner was very clip arty, off center, you know, word doc that Shannon made. And over time, I believe, when you keep hearing something, when it keeps coming back to you that you’re supposed to pay attention, right? Enough people asked over time that it felt really scary, but I thought, huh! Maybe…maybe I could just have some people beta test it and see if it’s beneficial for other people.
So I put out an application. We got 80 applicants. We dwindled that down to 18 Dot Sisters and they beta tested and they would give us input and we would revise it till we finally thought that we got something that met the objectives that I was out for and also met some of the demands of the general public.
So it’s a strategic planner. It’s all about eliminating distraction, having everything in one book so that, it has social media, it has fitness, it has everything in there. Because for me, every time you would change a book, I would lose momentum. I would get distracted. I would start to hear the itty bitty shitty committee in my head… that’s a Nicole Lewis-Keeber phrase…I would hear that starting to throw in things I didn’t need. So the more that we can eliminate distraction and get down exactly what we want into one system, the more we can create and keep momentum and stay focused on where we’re going. And I did the three months, because here’s the thing, you know this from what you’re doing when you start out.
you think you know what Z’s gonna look like, but guess what? In two or three months now it’s changed direction. So what would happen for me is I would get a year planner. Nothing against those. There’s a place and time for those. I would get a year planner and I would spend all this time and energy getting everything filled out, every plan developed.
But by month three, it was junk! Because…it changed direction and what I’d planned no longer was relevant. So now I’d have to buy a whole nother year planner and put more time and energy into doing that. And guess what? That was only good for three months too. So ours is a three month strategic planner, and then you reevaluate and you fill out, you buy another one and you fill out the next three months because that’s really the most time that I’ve found that you can dedicate that intense focus before that dream starts to change direction on you.
And you’re so right. And especially for brand new business owners that changes week to week. They’re like, oh, I think this is gonna work. And they throw it out there, like, that’s not gonna work. I’ve gotta do this, that, and the other. So it’s this winding path. It was like that for me in the very, very beginning I’m gonna do this.
And I love the three months, because I think the biggest barrier for new business owners is that you ask them to plan out a year, they don’t even know what they’re going to do next week, and you’re asking them to plan so far ahead. So actually in previous podcasts, I’m like, listen, no no no. Go a month, go two months.
Goals, not even just plans, but your goals. What do you wanna accomplish? Don’t try to go so far out. No one knows what that looks like. So I think that’s great. I love that you built it, and not a business coach or someone who’s highly organized because the way it flows is so different, right?
Cause there’s different brain patterns that people have. So I think that’s really, really cool. And it’s funny that you mentioned, you’re like, things would change and you throw it out. I like my planners digital with an Apple pen and an iPad. Like literally I erase whole things and start from scratch,
So that is perfect. That is so perfect. So now, are the two designed to work together or were they just two different project plans in your head that kind of ran in parallel, because I know they both recently launched.
They can be used separately or together. A lot of the principles that are in the book, things that I ran across as a person launching a dream are things that are built into the planner because you have to have a strategy around those things when they show up.
So there’s a lot of intertwining concepts, but you can read the book without having used the planner. You can use the planner without having read the book. So awesome. I had a feeling. If I were gonna do it, I’d read the book, get the Planner, and I would just do everything as I’m inspired by the book. Speaking of which, in the show notes, I’m gonna put links to both the book and the planner directly to your website, the links that I found on your website.
So for everybody listening, if you wanna read the book, get the planner, go to Shannon’s website, everything is in the show notes. So that you can take those in. So now let’s talk about Polka Dots. One of my favorite subjects, actually, I love being a Dot. And it’s funny I’m not a girly girl, right?
I am not a let’s bring all the girls together. I was the one in high school looking at the girly girls going, oh, I don’t like you people. I’m going over here with the jocks. But I realized I got to a certain point in my career, I was like, wow, I’m surrounded by way too many guys. I need at least one girlfriend.
So, I decided to join Polka Dots and I’m really excited because I feel like I found my non girly group of female entrepreneurs, which is awesome. So tell us a little bit about why, how you started Polka Dots and especially how it’s different from other networking organizations. I know how it’s different, but I want people to hear that from you.
Okay, great. So I’m gonna give you the condensed version of how we started, because I know the podcast, the listeners wanna talk about other things too. But I was a transplant. I moved here from Oklahoma to Wisconsin for a man, and I realized when I got here, I didn’t know how to make adult friends. I didn’t know how to make friends.
I was in the same hometown my whole life growing up. And I’d spent the night at someone’s house in second grade, and that’s how you made friends. But once I was away from that security, I realized I didn’t know how. And so when I got up here, long story short I just went through this huge period of disconnection that I know now I needed to have gone through. And then jumping forward, I launched a women’s magazine. I didn’t intend to, that’s a whole nother podcast,that’s a whole nother story. But I launched a women’s magazine that was a lot like Polka Dot: positive, really amazing women. But in print. And over time we started to hear from readers like, this is great, but how do I actually meet women like this?
Like how do I stop reading about them and how do I meet them? And here’s the thing, I’m an ambivert. I’m a cross between an introvert and an extrovert. And my easy button is to watch things from the outside. My easy button is to watch it from a distance. So I really didn’t..I was really thrilled and grateful to have access to people through the magazine, but I didn’t know how to tell people to connect to people in real life because I was struggling with that myself.
In the meantime, my only sibling, Tina, passed. And Tina…you know, I grew up in a house with a lot of secrets and Tina was my safe place. Tina was one of the few relationships that I could breathe in. And when Tina passed, I was just, I was lost. And that was about the same time I had the magazine.
And so I have pop rocks brain. And so that means I have a lot of ideas, 200 tabs open at all time. I have a lot of ideas, but they don’t necessarily go together. And about the time that I was starting to hear from readers, asking how to meet women like this and I didn’t know what to tell them, my sister Tina, who had passed two years prior had sent the name to me.
So I was in the car crying. About something unrelated, and I was praying to my sister Tina, and I said, Tina, I just need your help and I need your guidance. And all of a sudden the name Polka Dot Powerhouse was in my head. So I knew I was supposed to do something. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
So with a very skeptical staff, I announced one day that we were gonna start this group under the magazine. and we had a hundred people. It was gonna be internet launched. We had a hundred people. We plastered the magazine with ads, right? A hundred people say they were gonna join. We get to launch day and only one person joined.
And even for two months after, we only had the one paid member who at the time didn’t know, and hell no, I was not gonna tell her she was only paid member. And the staff’s you gotta call this thing, right? That was a bad idea. I said, I know you’re right. But something in my gut is telling me that we’re not supposed to quit and I’m gonna trust myself.
Maybe I don’t even know if I’d ever said that before. I’m gonna trust myself. At the end of the first year, we had 30 members. We are here now, 10 and a half years after we launched with right at 3000 members across the US, the UK, and Canada, trusting that 300 feet at a time, right? The distance of headlights. When people ask, one of the keystones of success, that’s always one of them is just trust. Being scared outta your mind by just trusting 300 feet, trusting that, okay, I’ve given, I’ve been given this much knowledge and I can move forward. But Polka Dot is about having a army of supporters, push agents, friends, people, mentors.
people to look up to, people to advise women of all ages, races, backgrounds, locations, at all parts of your life. We started, it was mainly merely a business group because it was advertisers of the magazine. Over time, it’s evolved into more about the sisterhood. We still have a kind of a heavy business component. But it’s about, okay, what happens when you sell that business? Also, what happens when you retire? Or maybe you’re just getting into business. Can you not be a member then? No. We need women. We need supporters and friends and all of that in all parts of our life. And so it’s more, it’s again, it has a heavy business component, but I believe what serves you in one area of your life, serves you in all areas of your life.
Sometimes I’ll have someone say, I don’t have a business. Can I join? Let me tell you something. If you are in a household, you own a business. You may not be getting paid what you should. You may not have the title. You own a business. If you get yourself to a job every day, you are your business, right? So can you take what people say in a business sense and apply it to you personally?
Can you take what people say about you? Do you personally, personal speaker, and apply it to your business? You absolutely can. So for me, the community is about being seen, being accepted. and when you are seen and accepted in that way and are able to breathe, it frees up all that stress energy to be in your zone of genius and do what you were brought here to do.
I love that it changes the game. I love. It does. It absolutely changes the game. And what’s interesting for me is that, I don’t go out and just make friends, right? I’m a business owner. I meet other business owners and then decide if I want them to be my friends. And so, most networking organizations aren’t built that way.
But I feel like Polka Dots is . Like, you can be like, okay, I want friends, I want business associates. I want a little bit of both. So that’s, I think the unique quality of it. And then, bringing this back to the entrepreneur part of my brain is I felt what you said. One person to three thousand.
That is a huge journey, right? And that took 10 years. Not everybody realizes that all they, like we talked about in the beginning, all of a sudden they see is oh, I have this channel, and it blew up. It’s I don’t know if they’re any such thing as blowing up. I think it’s grit and determination. So what kept you motivated right when you got from one to thirty to the next milestone? Because for me there’s peaks and valleys in between. It’s oh, this is gonna work. Oh, it’s not gonna work. It’s, all those things. What kept you motivated throughout all of that to get you where you are today with all of us Dots behind you?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think all of us.
Even the people that you’re like, man, that would be the dream to have a business like that. We are all riding that tightrope between sheer terror and total exhilaration every day, all day, and an email, a phone call, anything can throw it in one direction or another. Nobody that’s in a successful position…success does not eliminate that. Success makes that different. It brings it to a different level. But I’ve had people come up to me a conference and say, I can’t wait to be where your business is. So there’s no much, not any stress. And I’m like, what? Good luck with all that. Yeah, it’s just a different level of terror.
Yeah, it’s a different kind of stress. It’s different decisions than you have now, but it’s not going to go away. So that’s the first thing that we need to get rid of. But I also think motivation can sometimes be…we don’t have it. And so we’re looking at that and feeling like a failure. I think it’s more about consistency.
It’s about saying, okay, I have this fear, and I have two options. I can continue to go forward, and trust, or I can crumble and end it all. And sometime, sometimes it’s time to end it, right? Like sometimes that’s the right decision. But most of the time, your brain doesn’t know whether you’re being chased by an alligator or if you’re just afraid of the next move.
And so that feeling is the same, right? And so there’s a lot of people who think, I have this feeling because I’m doing it wrong, or it’s not meant to be. Maybe. Or it may be that you haven’t you learned to use fear as fuel. And so that’s what you need to learn to do. You need to trust, learn to trust yourself enough to understand that we all go through it.
It’s part of the process for the, so for me, it wasn’t about motivation. I very seldom had motivation. I had more fear though, of giving up than I had of moving forward. And so for me it was always about understanding that when we’re given a dream that’s bigger than us. You aren’t given a dream unless you are meant to move it forward.
It doesn’t mean it’s gonna end like you think. It doesn’t mean you won’t need to work with other people, but you can trust that if a dream keeps coming to you, like it won’t leave you alone, there’s a reason. It needs you just like you need it. And there are people, sometimes I think, especially for women, I don’t know about men, but I can only speak for women.
A lot of women I talk to, they don’t wanna…they fill their time with distractions and things they don’t, aren’t supposed to be doing things they don’t wanna do, cuz they don’t wanna disappoint anybody. But the truth of the matter is that if you’re given a dream that’s very impactful.
There’s all these people that are depending on you, that you’re supposed to impact to make the right decisions. And that doesn’t need to be stressful. It needs to be like, look, the more distractions I fill my time with, the less I’m gonna be able to do and impact the way I’m supposed to. So do I have the courage to say no for the people and myself that I’m supposed to impact in the future?
Absolutely. And I think you’re right, we as women entrepreneurs, we start our businesses for different reasons, and it’s usually to help support, bolster others in whatever it is that they’re trying to do. We do a lot of service-based businesses and, and talking through that they all wanna move that needle for people.
Otherwise it’s okay, no, I’m just gonna go and be an employee. And I’ve sat on both sides of that fence. I’ve been the employee and been like, I’m not moving any needle anywhere. I’m just pushing rocks in a garden. So I think that’s an important piece of what I heard you say is that, it’s not about getting this one thing to this level of numbers.
It’s really about who are you impacting and helping. But sometimes it’s hard to see that without saying, oh, I just move, I just moved this a little bit further. You know what I mean? Absolutely. And I think sometimes when that happens, , and maybe it’s just, different people using different words.
For me, motivation is consistency. For me. When I found fear, I would look for evidence that things were working. Right? Some days that’s not very… I love that, right?
For me, when I felt fear, I would look for evidence that it was affecting someone, that there was a path ahead, things of that nature.
When I was overwhelmed, I strategized. It’s what tools can I give myself? Because, here’s the thing, and maybe your viewers are dealing with this. Maybe you’re dealing with this. When you’re at the top, there’s no one with you. There’s no one to vent to, right? Vents go up not down.
So if you’re feeling, and when you’re trying to empower your team, you’re trying to be authentic, but you also don’t wanna let ’em know I’m scared outta my mind, right? . So it’s who do you go to that to. And that’s a whole nother discussion. There’s other CEOs groups, founders leaders that you can go to, but in the meantime, you have to pick your own self up.
And so what tools can you put in place? Understanding yourself, were all different, right? For me, again, fear was gonna stop me if I didn’t find ways to find evidence that it was working, which helped me to trust that 300 feet. For me, when I’m overwhelmed, if I don’t work on strategy I freeze like a deer in the headlights.
So what tools…and your gut always knows, it’s amazing that your gut knows . Your gut knows you and what you need is gonna be very different than what I need. Your gut knows you and what you need and if you ask people, Tony Robbins, you know, such a wonderful speaker. He has a saying.
If I ask you and you say, I don’t know. If you did know, what would the answer be? Cuz guess what? You always know the answer. If you’ll get quiet and listen and trust yourself. The answer to all these dilemmas is sitting inside you waiting for you to hear it.
I love that and it’s so true. I love the evidence piece cuz you know, as a marketer I’m about data, right?
I like numbers. I find some comfort in them, right? When I see the number go up versus down, I get to make a decision. How do I keep getting it go up? How do I stop it from going down? That’s evidence, like as you’re saying this, for other people that evidence is an email, a phone call. It’s that little nagging thing.
Or not nagging, but you ever have that feeling like when you do something, and all of a sudden you’re like, oh, that was it. Like you get that burst of energy. That’s evidence too. So I think, like you said, it depends on your personality. You’ve gotta figure out what your evidence is. But I love that, that when you’re afraid, that’s when you move forward, not backward.
I think that’s great. So for our women entrepreneur out there talk a little bit about the different things that Polka Dot offers, both people thinking about becoming entrepreneurs because we’re in the age of the side hustle, which I think is amazing. People have regular jobs, people are staying at home.
They wanna contribute. They have that need to do something. But a lot of times they don’t know where to start. So I think Polka Dots is a great place to start. Because you can actually find help and people there that’ll be like, oh no, here’s how you start, here’s how you do it. Let’s be buddies, let’s do this together.
So talk about a bunch of the different things that, that we do in Polka Dots that could help these brandy new people out there.
Absolutely. It really depends on where you’re at in the journey, what you’re gonna seek. But what we do is we provide ways for you to find what you’re seeking.
So we have online meetings, we have where we have local chapters, we have in-person meetings, we have annual celebration, we have a member’s Facebook group where members can connect. We have a showcase group where you can talk about if you have a program, an offering, things of that nature. We have a website where you can connect with other members. And so, depending on where your listeners are on the journey, they might need encouragement. You know that old saying that here, a hundred times a day, you are who you surround yourself with. You become who you focus on, and so are you filling your circle with positive people who are moving forward in that trust and then that are looking for evidence?
Or are you filling your circle with people who are constantly doubting you or putting negative thoughts in your mind like that makes a huge difference. That’s a lot about success too. And so Polka Dot is really about having this unlimited source of inspiration, of motivation, of evidence that it’s working for other people.
And by the way, we’re all made of the same blood, skin, whatever. If it’s working for them, I can find a way for it to work for me, or I need a collaboration. I’ll never forget, this was many years ago, but we were in the Facebook group, the members group, and someone was asking, Hey, I wanna learn how…I can’t remember something with editing.
I wanna learn how to edit something. And they said, does anybody have a resource or know anybody? And it was late and I went to bed and the next morning I remembered it and I got curious and I went back to look. And at that point, and this was a newer member, like they’d only been a member a couple of months, and 84 people had commented, I’m gonna connect you with someone.
Here’s a book you read. I’ll reach out to you. I have some experience in this. And at the very end, the person who made the initial post said, I can’t believe this. Why would all of you guys help me? I don’t have anything to offer you, and you barely know me. And someone commented, why wouldn’t we? You know what I mean? Why wouldn’t we? The more success you surround yourself with, the more successful you are. So why wouldn’t we help you, a member of our community be successful? Understanding that those ahead of, you always have people alongside of you who are maybe a few steps ahead or a few steps behind.
We all have things to learn from each other in different parts of that journey. Why would we not help you? And that’s really what the community is about, is it having the same… also the thing, same thing too. You talk about, you’re a Diamond Dot. I love..one of the things about Diamond Dots is, okay, do you need to do a training and, oh, you screwed that one up.
No problem. We’ve all fallen down many times today. It’s having also a safe place to be vulnerable, to get things wrong sometimes, and knowing that it will not affect the way that people feel about you. They understand these are women who are changing the world and they understand what it looks like to do that.
And that involves a lot of scraped knees. So it will not affect them. They will help you. Hey, yeah, I know that’s not the way you wanted to have it done, but here’s some tips on how to get it right the next time. Like we all had to start at some point. Or, I’m getting out of the game. And by the way, now all the people have moved outta my life.
All the people I knew from business or what have you, I’m not gonna have a relationship with anymore. You still have this army, this family of sisters that are like, yeah, you’re still valuable to us. We still see your importance and your value, and we still love you. So it’s just having, for me at least, the less compartments I have to have mentally and to place people in, the better. And I was always..this unlikely business owner, this unlikely founder. You have this people for this and these people for this and over here and over here. Why can’t I just have these people that are with me in all the parts? That’s what Polka Dot’s about.
Yeah, definitely. And I love that story about the Facebook person because she’s gonna remember that and at some point in her career, she’s gonna pay it forward.
She’s gonna do the same thing for someone else. Which is, for me, that’s a lot of what this is all about is like giving back to the community that gave so much to me. Absolutely. You know what, we have been chitchatting for what? I know. It never feels like it. I always get to this part and I’m like, oh my gosh.
We’re almost done here. We’re just about out of time. So I wanna start wrapping things up. Is there anything else you wanna share with the listeners.
So I know your podcast really focuses on marketing, and I just, I’m sure you guys have discussed this before, probably almost every episode, but to me, marketing is really about, is about messaging and it’s a reminder that everything, no pressure here, but all the things that you’re doing isn’t aligned with the message of who you are and what your business is.
Because as if you were, I only have a few seconds of attention. But, you know, I think a lot about marketing and a lot of things that I’ve really found beneficial are really asking me questions about the business, about me, about the vision that I wanna send, and making sure everything falls into alignment with that.
And you know what, Shannon it sounded like I paid you to say that because that’s exactly how I talk about it. It’s how I market my clients. Shannon did not get paid for this, but it is exactly the same message that gets sent out every single week of the podcast. So thank you so much for being on, I enjoyed our chat, our conversation so much.
Thank you Audrey. This has been amazing and thank you for your listeners for listening.
Absolutely. So here at Inkyma, we love to give back to the business community. I provide a 45 minute free consultation to talk about anything you want. Could be about your fear, could be about your website.
That time is for you with me. Just go to the website, Inkyma.com and click on this schedule a marketing evaluation, and we are gonna be on the calendar together. If you have a quick question, you have an idea for a show I love those. Go down to the contact form, fill it out. We respond to all of them.
We also have the Marketing Mastermind’s YouTube channel, where we walk you through step by step how to do things that are practical for your business so that you can keep moving it forward. There is also a newsletter that supports that and we send out like little mini learning modules. So we’ll do a video for Marketing Masterminds, we’ll do a podcast, we’ll do an article all around a specific topic so you can go to the show notes and sign up for that as well.
So I hope you found today’s episode inspiring. That’s what I am. I am inspired after this. If you did, please share it. There are other business owners that need that same inspiration that you do. So thank you so much for listening and watching and have an amazing day.