It's a Matter of... Strategy
Building Career Resilience with Trae BodgeJuly 20, 2021 BeautyMatter
July 20, 2021
Personal and professional resilience has never been more important. The ability to embrace change and dig deep to find a path forward is intuitive to successful entrepreneurs but resilience is also a skill that can be learned and developed. The ability to adjust to career change as it happens and, by extension, adapt to what the market demands, should be constantly evaluated. The most resilient professionals don’t get stuck in the past - they look forward to the future and view each change as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Kelly talks with Trae Bodge, Smart Shopping Expert and founder of Trae Bodge Media, who has built a resilient career on the foundation of optimism, collaboration, pushing boundaries and always looking for the next opportunity.
Kelly Kovack [00:00:08]: This episode is presented by Eco-Soap Bank, a global humanitarian non-profit that’s working to save, sanitize, and supply recycled soap with hygiene education for the developing world.
Trae Bodge [00:00:28]: Hi, I’m Trae Bodge, Smart Shopping Expert at TrueTrae.com, and to me, it’s a matter of strategy.
Kelly Kovack [00:00:38]: Change can often be disruptive, but it can also be liberating. I’m Kelly Kovack, Founder of BeautyMatter. The difference between disruption and liberation is often a state of mind. Personal and professional resilience has never been more important. The ability to embrace change and dig deep to find a path forward is intuitive to natural and successful entrepreneurs, but resilience is also a skill that can be learned and developed. The ability to adjust to career change as it happens, and by extension, adapt to what the market demands, should constantly be evaluated. The most resilient professionals don’t get stuck in the past. They look forward to the future and view each change as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Trae Bodge, Smart Shopping Expert and founder of Trae Bodge Media has built a resilient career on the foundation of optimism, collaboration, pushing boundaries, and always looking for the next opportunity.
So Trae, thank you so much for joining me today. I know, no one here can see us because it’s a podcast, but it’s nice to see your face after, like, 14 months of pandemic whatever we’re living through.
Trae Bodge [00:02:02]: I know; I’ll take it any way I can get it. I want to see people and if it’s on a screen, that’s the way it’s got to be.
Kelly Kovack [00:02:10]: Exactly. So you know, you’ve had a really interesting career path. Can you share a little bit about your history and how it led to your current role as a lifestyle journalist and TV commentator? Because you started in a very different place.
Trae Bodge [00:02:21]: I did, and I always thought I’d be in the beauty industry, and I did start out that way, but I’ve always written. So I wrote poetry as a kid, and then throughout my various roles in the beauty industry, early in my career I wrote. I did found a beauty company called Three Custom Color Specialists and I wrote a lot of the product descriptions, promotional materials, all of that kind of stuff, press releases. And then the TV piece came into play during that time as well, as I was a spokesperson for the company, I did TV segments, and then eventually QVC. And I left the brand around 2009, 2010, and just kind of felt like I had hit a professional wall. There was a lot more that I wanted to do and I thought that it would be in beauty, but as I was interviewing around with a variety of beauty companies, I started writing about budget living, like “Gifts Under $100 For Moms” and things like that. That led to a bigger freelance gig at RetailMeNot which is a coupon site, they were very new at the time. So I wrote for them for a while, about a year actually, and then I noticed that they started doing media, and I kind of stuck my hand up and said, “Hey, I’m media trained, I’ve done TV, if you need any help,” this is what freelancers always do, of course. And it turned out they were looking for a spokesperson. So I was able to secure that role and I served in that capacity for about three years. So that’s kind of been the trajectory up until now. That was five years ago that I was laid off, and I’ve been doing this on my own ever since.
Kelly Kovack [00:03:54]: Trae, so the media landscape has changed so much, especially, I would say, in the last decade. Interestingly, you’ve been on both sides of the equation: as a brand founder pitching your story and products, and now on the receiving end of those pitches. The rise of digital technology and social media created sort of a paradigm shift, both in sort of, I guess, where the power lies for consumers, it may be a perception. But how should brands be contemplating traditional media like TV and legacy editorial properties versus influencer relationships?
Trae Bodge [00:04:30]: Yeah, so things have changed a lot, obviously, since you and I first started out. And I actually do still sit on both sides of the fence. So I receive pitches from brands and publicists and then I’m also pitching myself as I’m booking TV segments and other interviews. And so it’s interesting to sit on both side because it gives me a more well-rounded perspective. I think when brands look at this equation of PR, influencer work, advertising, it’s all part of the same equation. And so I think as it’s always been, I think it’s really important for brands to understand their identity and know who they are and who they want to reach, who they want to be. But, from what I understand, back in the day, you’d have to reach a consumer maybe three times to get them to pick up the phone and place an order, right? Now, it’s many, many more times than that. Consumers really need to see you out and about in multiple ways. So if it’s a billboard plus a radio commercial plus a podcast plus a TV segment plus an editorial of some kind, if it’s in a magazine or on a website. And so brands really need to blanket in a much bigger way than they used to, but that brand identity throughout each of those elements, to my mind is really important.
Kelly Kovack [00:05:57]: So let’s talk a little bit about influencers because I think sort of in this paradigm shift that we’re talking about, listen, it’s like everyone – you could argue that influencers have always been around, because they have, especially indie brand founders without budgets have always tapped influential people. I think social media kind of made the power of that amplification so much more significant. But essentially, you know, in addition to a journalist and a commentator, I would also consider you to be an influencer, I mean, especially in the current evolution of the influencer landscape where consumers are looking for real experts, not these perfectly constructed Insta-moments. What is your take on the current state of influencers? Because I do think, at least from where I sit, the pandemic, overnight, changed the kind of influencers consumers were gravitating towards. And perhaps that was already in the process, but there were certain influencers, especially in the beauty space, that just overnight seemed so out of touch.
Trae Bodge [00:07:07]: Before the pandemic, I did notice a shift, which I was really happy to see, because I think sort of at the very beginning of the influencer, everything was so perfectly curated and perfectly constructed and flawless, and I would attend conferences and take classes about how to erase unwanted elements in your photos and blur certain things. And I always just thought, there’s something wrong with that because it almost felt to me like more traditional advertising and sort of all the drama about, are those really her lashes, on the model, and has her skin been Photoshopped? It was almost kind of a leftover element of that and an unwanted one. So I think that there was a change that was happening already before the pandemic towards more realistic representation of beauty. But the pandemic really drove that home, I feel like, for the consumer. The appetite changed throughout this last year. Because I think we all realized that life isn’t perfect. It’s a lot less perfect than we thought, even. We were working at home and we have dogs barking and we have kids crying and we’re trying to balance everything. We’d watch MSNBC or CNN and see a kid run behind someone who’s being interviewed and people looking in the wrong direction. That perfection kind of slipped away during the pandemic, and I think that that’s affected what’s happening in the influencer space as well. So, like I said, it was on its way to change anyway, and this just kind of kicked it into high gear, and now I think we’re in a much cooler place where someone like me, who I have, I think, a respectable following, but I don’t have a gazillion followers, and brands want to partner with me because I have authority in my space. And I think that consumers want to see that. They may love that perfect, polished influencer, but they may like to see what I have to say as well because I’m walking the walk in my own way.
Kelly Kovack [00:09:16]: So, you know, let’s talk a little bit about sort of this expertise that you’ve built. So you specialize in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. So first of all, how on earth do you stay on top of such diverse topics? And then also, what connects them in terms of your expertise and approach? Because you are a parent, so that’s obvious, like that’s intuitive, but they seem like these sort of disparate faces of expertise, but there really is sort of a connective tissue that holds it all together.
Trae Bodge [00:09:49]: For me, it was about creating a brand that worked for my life. Parenting as a topic is kind of on the outside of what I typically cover as a core. It is something that I speak to, but it’s always related to what I’m talking about. For instance, in April it’s financial literacy month, and I’ll be doing segments about how to teach your kids about financial literacy. So really the core of what I do is to talk about how people can save money. So they save money on their shopping, they save money for short-term goals, long-term goals, manage their spending, manage their expectations with their kids, teach their kids how to be financially literate.
So it all kind of evolves from one core place, but a lot of that also involves me understanding what’s happening sort of outside of my little core space, like retail for instance. And retail is something that I need to understand at all times, simply because I’ve been fortunate enough to be – I’m on the expert list at NBC news, like they’ll call me, I’m talking to them later today about retail trends. So when they come to me, I need to have a sense of what’s happening. So I read a lot, I take a lot of notes. I use Trello, actually, I don’t know if you use that platform, but I find it really helpful for just dropping nuggets of information under certain categories. So I’m doing a lot of work on the backend, so when an NBC calls me or an Inside Edition calls me, I’m ready to talk to them, or Fox News in New York will call a lot and say, “Hey, Century 21 is going to reopen, what do you think about that?” So I need to be ready to have those conversations.
And so it’s kind of two-fold. So it’s about building my core understanding of saving money and then having a broader understanding of those things that connect to that and retail is one of the big ones. So I do try to create a whole story around what I’m doing and make sure that I really understand what’s happening within those little spaces so that when something comes my way, I can actually answer with some sense of authority. And if I can’t, I am the first person to say, “I can’t answer that with authority,” because there is nothing worse than someone sitting there talking about something that they don’t really understand and pretending that they do.
Kelly Kovack [00:12:13]: So you mentioned a lot of your work is about constantly kind of just absorbing information and I totally relate to that. I mean, I consume hours and hours and hours of content. Your work also requires you to be in tune with consumer behavior because you have to have the ability to also anticipate kind of what they want now, but also what they might want next. And the last 14 months have been disruptive, to say the least, but they’ve also widened the economic disparity in our country. You really sort of approach things from kind of the value mindset, and value is different for everyone, and value is created in a lot of different ways, but can you share, who is your primary audience? And also, can you give some insight into kind of their current state of mind when it comes to, I guess specifically, finance shopping and retail?
Trae Bodge [00:13:12]: Sure. So in the past year, my audience has grown quite a bit and my business has grown quite a bit. Obviously not something I planned for, but when the pandemic hit and so many people were furloughed, so many people were underemployed, unemployed, that value mindset became more attractive to even consumers who may not have understood what it’s like to live with a value mindset, right? So my user base or my followers, they’re just looking for ways to save money, but where I am sort of different from say like a crazy couponer, for instance, I like to live stylishly. I like to wear nice clothes. I like to have nice things. But I also don’t like to spend a lot of money on them. So I’m more of the masstige version of the money saver. So I’m never talking about how to kind of strip away everything and live off of the grid. I’m talking about how to have the things that you want within reason, how to make those smart choices depending on your financial situation, and sometimes I will say hard things like, stop going to the barista three times a day, make that coffee at home. So essentially, to answer your question, my customer or my viewer, my follower, he or she is someone who is looking to have the life they want to have but to have money at the same time and not go overboard to save for their children’s college, save for their retirement, but also have a fun life at the same time.
Kelly Kovack [00:14:51]: So, you know, there’s sort of two narratives happening. I think I’m hearing an awful lot of kind of this resurgence of kind of the roaring ‘20s on one hand, and in the back of my mind, I’m like yes, I can see that happening. Intellectually, I think we will definitely be there, I think we want to be there. But in my mind, I feel like we have an awful long way to getting there. And I think perhaps that disparity has to do with kind of, for a lot of people, this pandemic has been good for business. They’re making a lot of money. They’re better off, as perverse as that sounds. And then there’s a whole other segment, probably a much larger segment, of our society that has been hit really, really hard. So it’s really hard to contemplate a “roaring ‘20s” when the majority of sort of our society is kind of being left behind. So I guess I’m trying to understand, what are you seeing, hearing, about kind of a consumer mindset of kind of the willingness to spend money, to start traveling, in a real world. I think there’s kind of a lot of sugar coating going on, because maybe we need to believe that’s true, but I don’t know, I’m a big fan of operating in reality. Good or bad, I just want to know what I’m dealing with.
Trae Bodge [00:16:21]: Yeah. You know, you bring up a good point. So yes, I’ve been hearing about this sort of roaring ‘20s and revenge shopping and there’s that side of it, but to your point, there’s also such a vast economic disparity in this country. And for me, and with my role in it, I have to be really careful about how I talk about spending, and I will have to be continue to be very, very sensitive to that, simply because there is this vast gap, right? You talked about people who have done really well during the pandemic and those who have not, those who have been waiting every day for those stimulus checks to come and knowing that those stimulus checks aren’t going to cover everything. So, for me, when I try to speak to consumers, I try to speak to everyone, as much as I can, people who are concerned about money and shopping and spending. And so, you know, I feel like interviews that I’ll be having about the trend of revenge shopping and the roaring ‘20s, I’m going to have to be really careful to be sensitive to the consumer who doesn’t have any money to spend, and can I speak to him or her as well? And I think that’s going to be very hard to do for me, and also just for media in general and for brands in general. How do you speak to both of those people? Because I do expect to see a resurgence in spending, like you mentioned travel. I feel like we’re going to see a huge spike in travel in this revenge shopping. People are going to buy the things they couldn’t afford before and they’re going to get a new car and a bigger house and all of those things, but I think my place in it is to advise everyone to just slow down and maybe treat yourself a little bit, if you can, but if not, try to save up, slowly but surely, and then treat yourself. So my approach is always approach with caution and be very mindful about those things that you’re doing, the spending that you’re doing, because you may be itching to get back on a plane or get on a cruise around the world, but can your budget handle that? Yes or no? It’s really important to take that moment and ask yourself that question before you start going crazy and scooping up all of the things that you haven’t been able to buy all year. Does that make sense?
Kelly Kovack [00:18:43]: Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, another kind of – I don’t know that…it’s not necessarily a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic, but there definitely was an additional level of context added to it, and that’s the belief that brands should provide values to consumers beyond the product they’re selling. So we’re talking about, you know, brands that really have missions or values or a commitment to their employees, their community, kind of going back to the way brands were built. I think the pandemic kind of pulled the curtain back on a lot of brands that were checking boxes but maybe not walking the walk. But we’ve also seen the power of capitalism to solve problems that the government simply can’t get out of its own way to solve. So I guess my question is for the audience that you speak to, where they’re very budget-minded, where does that perception of mission or value factor in in their, I suppose, purchasing equation?
Trae Bodge [00:19:52]: Yeah, so I think, you know, you referred to the curtain being pulled back and I agree with that. This trend back towards mission-based branding, or purpose-based branding, was happening before the pandemic, especially with millennials. Statistically, it’s been found that they are much more mission-focused, they want to know how their products are made, how are they shipped, what ingredients are used, are they fair-trade? And I was really excited to see that happen. I mean, I’m a Gen-Xer, and we don’t care about that kind of stuff. So I was really glad to see that coming back and that the millennials were kind of driving that. During the pandemic, I think we saw a lot more of that, especially with the social unrest that our country was experiencing and brands really had to stop and figure out, like, what’s my response to this? Are we contributing to this by not having a diverse board or a diverse C-level executive suite? You know what I mean? So I think brands had to really examine themselves, which I thought was really positive. And some brands have done really well, some brands haven’t. But I do think that brands that are a little bit behind the curve on this need to figure this out because it’s not only millennials who are looking for purpose-driven brands now and brands that are walking the walk. So if you are at a brand of any size and you are not having this conversation internally, you need to have this conversation right now.
Kelly Kovack [00:21:27]: You know, I think another thing, it may have happened in other categories, but because we primarily stay in our lane of beauty and wellness, the shutdown of physical retail, we saw sort of food, drug, and mass, they were the essential retailers. All of the sudden, their beauty sales went through the roof. And I think historically, beauty brands, a part of their brand positioning was always dictated by their channel choice. So if you were a luxury brand, you were going to start at Niemen Marcus, you would never be kind of in Target. And now, all of the sudden, we’re not only seeing – we realize that consumers don’t care where they buy things, it’s about convenience. And so that branding piece of positioning by sort of channel choice is gone. And I find it really compelling that brands now really need to show up to consumers where they are, and where they are is as diverse as a Niemen Marcus, a Target, a Costco, a grocery store. And even sort of like the Dollar Store. And there are some amazing brands that the Dollar Store is launching that are under $5 and they look like they could be sitting on the shelves of Sephora. So it doesn’t even feel like consumers actually are making as big of a tradeoff as they once were.
Trae Bodge [00:22:56]: Yeah, I would agree. And I love to see that because I’m not necessarily a Niemen Marcus shopper, I’m more of a Target shopper. And so I’m really excited to see my favorite kind of higher-end brands being made available to me in those other places, and it’s really nice to see more mass-priced brands being done really well. They look beautiful and they’re also affordable, and I think that that allows a consumer who might not have a lot of spending money to treat him or herself to something that looks or feels special, but getting it at the Dollar Store. So I’m all for sort of the democratization of beauty, if you will.
Kelly Kovack [00:23:40]: So let’s talk a little bit about, you know, in addition to the work you do in front of the camera, you also have a behind-the-camera aspect to your business which provides media coaching and advisory work in developing PR strategies. So can you share a little bit about that side of the work? Because you have a very interesting perspective, having owned a brand, living kind of on both sides of the equation. So how do you work with brands or people looking for that kind of insight?
Trae Bodge [00:24:11]: Sure. So on the brand side, I’ve partnered with brands like this for many years. It usually starts with a brand approaching me for a media kind of project, like a satellite media tour or a longer-term partnership where I’m helping them look for editorial and TV opportunities. So it usually starts there, and then often in our conversations it becomes apparent to them that I can help them with other things. So it’s not something that I come out of the gate with, but it’s helped me create very long-lasting relationships with many of the brands that I work with. I have some brands who have been with me since I was laid off six years ago because I bring an extra value. In addition to being a spokesperson for them, I can also help them with strategy, and that keeps me interested. So I enjoy that piece of it.
And then on the media coaching side, this is something that about a year and a half ago I launched with kind of a competitor of mine on the west coast. She and I are both money saving experts and so we’re often considered for the same jobs, so you’d think that we’d be running away from each other, but instead we thought, let’s help each other. We started kind of sharing information about businesses processes and money and all sorts of kinds of things that we whispered to each other. But then we realized that we have a unique level of experience for media coaching. And there are a lot of media coaches out there, and so it’s a very competitive space. So it’s not certainly something that I put first and foremost and sort of how I divide up my business and my efforts. But what I have found is that people, especially during the pandemic, need help with so many things. They need help with not only getting comfortable on camera if they’re going to be doing TV segments, but also all of these Zoom meetings that we’re having and podcast interviews and radio interviews and how to kind of present yourself in general in this sort of digital world. And because TV interviews are all virtual now, there’s a whole other level of things you have to know in order to have an effective TV segment, especially if you’re doing any kind of tabletop segment, how do you do that from your house? How do you light that? What do you need to set the products up so it looks really good in the shot? So that’s actually been really fun for me to kind of learn on my own, and obviously given all of the TV experience I’ve had in the past, it kind of fed into everything I needed to know here and I had a lot of the equipment I needed already. And so I think that’s why I’ve been so busy this year. But now I’m teaching that to other people, and that’s something that I really, really love to do. And also because so many people get nervous before they speak, before they go on TV. And so I have ways to help people feel more comfortable, some things I can help put into place with them, and then also talk about pitching and consistency and follow-up and all of that good stuff that’s so important, especially for booking TV interviews. And so I kind of teach a broad range of things, it just depends on the client and what they need and what their level of experience is altogether. But it’s at Onetakemedia.biz, that’s our website, so we have a number of different courses that we offer, and they’re all tailored to the client and they’re all one-on-one. So there’s no digital course that you take, it’s me, it’s you, it’s your pain points, your concerns, and that is something that just makes me happy to do.
Kelly Kovack [00:27:47]: I love the fact that you are collaborating with a perceived competitor because – no, it is interesting, because I think there are two kinds of people. I think there are those that are collaborative out of the sense of kind of just good karma, right, and then there are those that have a more transactional mindset, so they’re doing it for a specific reason, and they’re very different approaches. So I find it interesting that you’re collaborating with a competitor because even though someone is a competitor, collectively you can kind of have a bigger impact than you could individually. I love collaborating. But very often, they go wrong because people come to a collaboration with very different intents sometimes, and that never works.
Trae Bodge [00:28:36]: Yeah, that’s interesting. With my parent, Andrea Worch, we’ve had a really lovely collaboration and it’s been fantastic in so many ways. We get jobs for each other. You know, like there have been two clients in the past year who I started with, and they were really excited by the work that we were doing together, and then they came to me and said, “Can you refer us to someone else? We want to broaden our bench of experts,” and they were kind enough to say, “You’re always going to be our favorite, but…” Because I was like, oh, I have to share now? But it’s actually been really nice because I’ve been able to pass those opportunities onto her, and then she, in turn, has given me work as well, that if she had a similar opportunity like that, or maybe a conflict and couldn’t take a specific job. So you have to have a certain level of comfort in your own ability in order to collaborate with a direct competitor that way. But I also collaborate with a lot of other people, and I just find that overall, relationships, to me, are the most important thing in my career. I would say a vast majority of the opportunities I’ve had, especially since I was laid off, have come from relationships. And so I don’t know if it’s karma, putting good energy out there, doing kind things for people, it all comes around. So if you’re coming from sort of a selfish or manipulative mindset, it’s not going to work for you, but I do think putting good energy out into the world, sharing information, being open with other people will only be beneficial to everyone involved. I mean, to your point, there are pitfalls to that, and you can kind of end up in a situation where you’re like, “Oh, I shouldn’t have been so open there.” I’ve helped people and then realized, oh, they’re actually really encroaching on what I do. But then I have to sit back and have that strong sense of self and know that the way that I work is so consistent and if they’re just kind of dipping in just because it looks like, oh, I’m going to talk about saving money too, and I just have to kind of believe that you can do that, and there might be room for that, but this is really a long game, and I just have to trust that that long game is not going to be in their best interest, they’re not going to think that way. So I will remain in my place and they can kind of dip in and dip out as they want.
Kelly Kovack [00:31:05]: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point.
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So because the best learnings sometimes come from mistakes, and you see a lot of pitches, and you’ve refined your pitching ability over the years, what do you think are the most common mistakes brands make when pitching the media or working with influencers?
Trae Bodge [00:32:18]: Yeah, I love this topic, and this is something, you know, I’ve been doing a lot of Clubhouse panels and this comes up a lot. Because PR is different things to different people, and I think that sometimes bigger agencies, especially, fall prey to the “just blast it out to a million people and see what sticks” approach, which you do need to do that in order to get the word out, and maybe you’ll spark an idea in a writer or a producer and they might cover it. But at the end of the day, that kind of blasting the word out is not the most strategic and it’s not going to be the most successful, and I can say that with full confidence, that the times that I’ve worked with a brand and they’ve had an agency and I’ve kind of collaborated with that agency – and I do very targeted, very personalized pitching, and the PR agency is kind of blasting out. If we have a scope of work that we’re both working towards, I always have more hits than they do. Always.
And so to me, if there’s one word of advice I would give to a PR agency, or one piece of advice, I would say targeted pitching is really important and you should allow your publicist to do it, because as a writer, I have hundreds of pitches coming in every week and it’s all just a blur. But the pitches that stand out to me, in a lot of cases, are from someone who I know, and the reason why I know them is because they’ve taken the time to get to know me and get to know my work and follow me on Instagram and comment here and then write me a very personalized, targeted email that’s specific to what I cover. That’s where you can succeed as a brand, big or small, is by doing that targeting pitching. And if you’re just blasting out to everybody to see what sticks, you’re not going to be as successful.
Kelly Kovack [00:34:19]: So I’m curious, you mentioned Clubhouse. What are your thoughts on Clubhouse? So I am fascinated by it. I love audio kind of as a medium. I’ve been watching, I’ve had a lot of conversations, I’ve been on a couple, and it’s interesting because there are different – a lot of people are all in it. I don’t even know how they get work done because it seems like they’re on Clubhouse eight hours a day. But I think beyond the audio platform, there’s kind of an interesting dynamic on Clubhouse. So I’m just curious because you seem to be kind of in it. What are your takes on it?
Trae Bodge [00:34:58]: So for me, I like it for a number of reasons. Because I work from home and I have for many years, but during the pandemic I’m really cut off, and so this allows me to network. I’ve created really interesting and great relationships on Clubhouse in the couple of months that I’ve been doing it. I’ve booked segments based on connections that I’ve made on Clubhouse. I’ve made media coaching connections as well and met new publicists who I didn’t know to kind of add to my roster. So from a networking perspective, it’s been really good. I’ve also spoken on a lot of panels, so it’s been really nice to kind of get to know certain people who maybe I knew who they were from other networking groups on Facebook and things like that, but it’s been really cool to kind of talk to people more. And it’s easier to network on Clubhouse, I find, than say going to a PR event where you see someone across the room and you’re like, “Oh, I know her and I kind of know her work,” and then I have to get up the nerve to walk across the room and introduce myself cold to her. Whereas on Clubhouse, it’s more of a level playing field. So I really like that about Clubhouse. You raised the point of people who spend eight hours a day on Clubhouse. I mean, there’s, to me, a real danger in that. I have to be really careful about how much time I spend on Clubhouse, right, because I have so much work to do. The first couple weeks, I was just buried in Clubhouse and I was like, this is so cool and I want to listen to all the panels and all the things. And that was pretty interesting, but it threw me off my game pretty hard at first. So now I’ve learned okay, I’m going to do one quick panel a day, or four a week, say, and I know that sounds like a lot, but what I’ve found is that if I know I have a Clubhouse panel that I’m speaking on at two, I hustle to get my work done before that, and so it actually creates some structure in my day, which I struggle with because I have a thousand things going on. So having that structure in my day actually helps me work a little harder to create time for Clubhouse. So on the networking side, I think Clubhouse is really good. I do think that people are already gaming Clubhouse and there’s weird stuff that goes on where you look at a room and it’s got hundreds and hundreds of people, and what I’ve been hearing is PR agencies or influencers will game the system where they’ll require – like a PR agency will require their entire staff to attend so it looks much bigger than it is organically, like that kind of stuff is happening. And there are a lot of people on there who are saying, “I can help you make $10,000 a day,” so there’s some scams going on. And then, you know, the people who spend eight hours a day on Clubhouse, I have absolutely no idea how they have careers and they tout themselves as “I’m a multi-six-figure earner and I spend all day on Clubhouse.” I have no idea how that equation works. So I think that Clubhouse has its problems and it will continue to, but from a learning perspective, you can jump on a panel and listen to some very interesting and very accomplished people talk about things that will help you do your job better. Clubhouse can be used in that way because we can’t go to conferences right now, of course. So this kind of swaps that out for me. I don’t necessarily need to go to conferences because I can just hop on a Clubhouse and listen to a bunch of TV producers talk about how they like to be pitched and walk away with, like, five great tips that I can use in my own business. So for education, I think Clubhouse all the way. I think it’s a really good platform, but you have to manage the amount of time you spend on it and figure out how it works for you in your own day.
Kelly Kovack [00:38:34]: So do you think Clubhouse – I mean, it’s obvious why it’s gotten traction now, we’re all craving kind of human interaction outside of the people in our home. Do you think that it will stick after kind of the world goes back to some semblance of normal and we’re doing things in person again?
Trae Bodge [00:38:58]: I do. I think it will change a little bit, especially in our industry, retail, CPG, you know, when events and conferences and things start happening again, it will be interesting to see what happens to Clubhouse at that time, like when we kind of come out of our caves. When people in certain workplaces have to go back to the workplace, will they then still be able to be on Clubhouse a little while every day? Maybe not. So I think that we’ll see some shifts happening. I’ll continue to work from home, if I’ll be attending events in person at that point, will I have less time for Clubhouse? Yes. So I know it’ll shift for me, but I’m sort of fascinated by sort of the whole change that we’re going to see in the coming months as we’re all getting vaccinated and workplaces are opening up again and events. I’m just watching all of it with great interest. I’m curious to see which workplaces are going to open up all the way and require butts in seats or will they have kind of an elective work from home policy? And I think that’s going to play into what happens with Clubhouse, too.
Kelly Kovack [00:40:11]: So I have one last question and it’s kind of, I guess, going back to the beginning. I think you have some valuable insight that you can provide. You know, from makeup artist to indie beauty brand founder to journalist and TV commentator is quite a career pivot. You know, the pandemic has a lot of people reconsidering what they do for a living at a necessity because they lost their jobs, and you were in that place at one point in your journey, or by choice, because the past 14 months have created a lot of introspection and people want to live their lives differently so they’re kind of assessing all aspects of their lives, including kind of their career choices. So you have successfully made a career pivot. Can you share a little bit about – if someone’s in that situation right now, how should you approach it? What should you be doing? What should you be looking for? What does that process look like?
Trae Bodge [00:41:14]: Sure. So, you know, if it’s any kind of forward-facing pivot that they’re planning to make, the most important thing would be to make sure that all, or at least a few, of your social media platforms are buttoned up. I feel like sometimes people have a nine-to-five and then they want to become an influencer or a spokesperson or media personality and they just kind of start going out guns blazing, pitching producers and things like that, but then those producers are going to vet that person. They’re going to want to look at their Instagram or Facebook or what have you, and do they see that that person is who they say they are? I think when social media began the first few years, it was kind of like you could be anybody you wanted to be, but it doesn’t work that way anymore. You really have to have the sauce. You have to really have it. And so if you’re now at a nine-to-five and you’re considering a move like that, now is a good opportunity to start really beefing up those platforms to make sure that you look good across the board. And I would say that for a brand, too. I speak to a lot of small business owners that they wonder why they’re not growing and it’s like well, because you don’t spend any time on really important social media platforms, so when a customer hears about you or reads about you in an article and then they go to your Instagram and you’ve got five posts up and none of them are current, the whole picture has to happen. And I think that that same approach could be applied to so many things, no matter what kind of pivot you’re planning to make. I mean, obviously the majority of your listeners are in the beauty industry. If you work for a brand under the L’Oréal umbrella and you’re looking to start your own brand or go out on your own as a makeup artist, you have to make sure that all of those boxes are checked, and you can take the time to do that while you have your other job, hopefully. I mean, when I was laid off from RetailMeNot, I stayed on on contract for a few months, and that was so essential because I had a little bit of a job, like a part-time job, and then I was able to kind of like put my feelers out and figure out how the whole space worked, and that was a great luxury. Obviously, if you’re laid off or furloughed or unemployed all together, making a pivot is very tricky because you have this financial concern that’s kind of weighing on you. So my advice there would be if you’re not working, to find a part-time job that doesn’t require a lot of you and you can kind of hopefully pay your bills with that and then spend the other time bulking up those things that you need to bulk up, and if you need to take a course or flush out your social media, whatever you need to do to kind of make sure that you’re fully formed before you take that leap.
Kelly Kovack [00:44:08]: I think that’s such good advice. You know, very often people, with social media, kind of craft these perfect narratives. And I know, I mean just because – I don’t even know how long we’ve known each other, but it’s a really long time. So I know what it’s taken from you personally to make the pivot, and it wasn’t smooth, and you just kept plugging along at it. And now, you know, sometimes I’m watching the news and I’m like, “Oh, hey, there’s my friend Trae,” and it’s really cool, but I know it wasn’t an easy path. So I’m so happy for you and so proud of what you’ve accomplished. It’s really amazing, because I know it was not an easy path.
Trae Bodge [00:44:50]: Well, thank you very much. You know, I feel the same way about what you’ve accomplished, and I feel like I’m fortunate enough to know so many people who have done this in some way. But I think you have to have enough confidence in yourself but also be open to criticism. I mean, some people have said some hard things to me. Or when I was interviewing at different beauty brands and I thought I was going to work in product development or marketing and they’re like, “You’re not a back of house person. You’re not going to be in the lab making lipstick,” and I’m like, but that’s what I see for myself. Sometimes – maybe this would be my other word of advice, sometimes you don’t always know. So if several people are telling you you need to look at this other thing, you should get out of your own way and be open enough to following that advice, because if I had followed my own path that I had set for myself after I left my beauty brand, I’d be working in some beauty corporation somewhere and probably really unhappy because I’m not well-suited for that. But everyone I interviewed with said some version of the same thing, like, “We don’t see that. We don’t see you being in the back of house, you’re a front of house person. You need to kind of go out on your own and do this thing,” and eventually it occurred to me, oh, maybe I should listen to these highly accomplished people who are all telling me the same thing, and that’s how I really got rolling. So I’m really glad that I stopped and heard rather than stuck to my own guns on that one.
Kelly Kovack [00:46:22]: I think that’s such good advice. I mean, I spent a couple decades on the brand side as well. If you had told me even five years ago, “Yeah, you’re going to be on the other side of the equation and have a media platform,” I would have literally told you you were absolutely insane, yet here I am. And, you know, I think as one part, kind of being open to ideas and also being open to the people around you who believe in you and are willing to help you get there because I don’t think anyone does it on their own.
Trae Bodge [00:46:55]: Yeah, and I actually have to say one more thing on that. Asking for help, it’s a move of strength, it is not a show of weakness. And you can’t do everything well. So if you’re starting a brand, if you’re going out on your own, whatever it is and you kind of hit a wall and there’s something that you don’t know how to do, ask someone. You probably have a friend who’s a great graphic designer or someone who understands social media. Ask if they can guide you and then offer something in return, and you’ll grow so much for it rather than trying to kind of go along and do it on your own. I just think it’s really good to collaborate, like we talked about before, but in that way. Allow people to help you. That’s why I am a media coach. People come to me and say, “I don’t know how to do this,” or “I get really nervous, I need help.” When I first left RetailMeNot, I hired an actress friend of mine to help me memorize things more efficiently because I wasn’t very good at it. And I’m so glad that I did that and that was money well spent, so I just say ask for help when you’re struggling with something.
Kelly Kovack [00:48:04]: Well, Trae, thank you so much for taking the time today. Everyone is really busy and if you’re not, you’re on Clubhouse, so you could be doing other things. But not only thank you for your time, thank you for the generosity of information. You’ve shared so much of yourself and your path that I think can not only inspire people, but even help them refine where they are today. So thank you for that as well.
Trae Bodge [00:48:30]: Thanks so much for having me, it was great fun.
Kelly Kovack [00:48:39]: For Trae, it’s a matter of strategy. The possibility of an unexpected job loss or an entrepreneurial failure should not be the primary motivator for taking stock of your career. Being tuned in and open to exploring unexpected opportunities creates options and career resilience. After working for beauty brands early in her career and launching Three Custom Color Specialists with two partners and running the business as a team for a decade, Trae decided she needed a change, which led her down a path of reinvention and the building of a toolbox of skills that have helped her navigate the pivots of building a diverse and resilient career. She believes the best opportunities are often created by open dialogue and embracing collaboration over competition. So in the end, it’s a matter of strategy, and that’s what matters. I’m Kelly Kovack.
Trae Bodge [00:49:37]: Hi, it’s Trae. To me, what matters is strategy. It’s super important whether you’re a brand or a subject matter expert, influencer or makeup artist, to approach your work with strategy. Have an idea of what you want to put out there and be consistent and you will win the game.
Kelly Kovack [00:50:17]: It’s A Matter Of is a production of BeautyMatter LLC. You can find more content and insights on www.BeautyMatter.com and follow us on social media @BeautyMatterOfficial.
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