Danielle Levy is the CEO and Founder of The Boardroom League and a sought-after executive who has helped six and seven-figure businesses expand with clarity and efficiency. Danielle established The Boardroom League to give other entrepreneurs a little black book of trusted industry professionals to help them implement and scale their businesses. The Boardroom League consists of experts in a variety of fields; including metrics, design, copywriting, strategic pricing, funnels, social media, and more.
Where did the idea for The Boardroom League come from?
I had a very very successful corporate career in advertising and marketing working for well-known brands and at some of the hottest digital agencies. It was wonderful for many years but I ended up completely burnt out. When I accidentally got into the online space, all of my previous success meant nothing. Suddenly I was responsible for things that I didn’t know anything about or how to solve certain problems that were very specific to my clients. Having a trusted group in my network to partner with taught me so much about the industry and allowed me to show up as a trusted partner to my clients. The results were far better than anything that I could have done on my own. I wanted to bring that same experience to other entrepreneurs just starting out who had proven revenue models but didn’t know how to scale profitably or how to handle specific niche areas of their business.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a mom to 2 teenagers so my day is very much structured around a school schedule and their after-school activities (cliche but true). They aren’t little babies anymore but I certainly don’t have total control over my schedule either. I’ve also learned to really listen to my body about when to work. By nature, I have a really hard time turning my brain off and I really love to work. Some people have hobbies like reading, solving puzzles, or a sport, I just love to work! However, I quickly found that for me working late leads to really unproductive mornings, poor eating habits, and a vicious cycle that drains my energy. So I try to be mindful of real deadlines instead of self-imposed deadlines and how much time I’m actually spending on things. To do this I keep a small notepad for things that have to get done on a given day. This is reserved for true must-do items. I’m a people pleaser by nature so keeping a critical shortlist helps me with boundaries. I’ve also realized that I am best at certain kinds of work based on my schedule. For example, I handle, generally, emails and administrative items between conference calls and items that I really need to think through late in the day or over weekends. I really need my head to be quiet and focused to do my best work and also this helps me get my “rocks” done because I could spend endless hours trying to catch up but not actually getting my work done. It is a balance for sure.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I always start with a project plan. It is a template that I developed years ago and isn’t anything fancy. Even though it’s just for my own purposes, it helps me to define what I want to accomplish, put together a reasonable schedule, and helps me to create boundaries for myself, and dissolve unnecessary pressure. It also allows me to think about who else’s support I need so they have time to plan as well. It really helps me to get the idea out of my head and know that it will come to life in a thoughtful and healthy way. It also helps to keep me on track prioritizing my own work and keeping to my client’s work as well.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I think The Great Resignation has really forced companies to examine their values and policies and truly operationalize them. As someone that has worked hard (really too hard if I’m being honest) her entire career, companies being forced into alignment and integrity with what they say they are is super exciting to me. In the end, I think it serves both the company, the team, and the end customer most optimally. As a hiring manager, I’m definitely feeling the pain of the Great Resignation but as an individual, it’s really exciting to me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Acknowledging my own zones of genius and when to outsource. I often work with entrepreneurs that are afraid to outsource and I can never understand the concern of losing control or that someone can’t do something as well as they can. When I hire the right people they always produce end results that are way better than whatever I could do and I am freed up to work on the things that only I can do or really enjoy doing. It also re-energizes me to see what other people can do with the inputs that I give them. For me, outsourcing is definitely the way to go!
What advice would you give your younger self?
It’s ok to set boundaries with my clients and team. Setting boundaries will serve you better in terms of completing more, disappointing less (even if the expectations were completely out of whack), and not burning yourself completely out. I had this idea that if I worked hard enough for long enough it would really matter to some of my clients and the reality is that it only became detrimental to me and set the tone for many unhealthy relationships.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The customer isn’t always right. Great client service is important however not at the expense of the team behind it, other customers, and the long-term profitability of business practices. Further, not all customers are right for the business and are worth keeping. It’s ok to professionally disagree with a customer and to stand up for the company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every day I do one thing that is uncomfortable for me. As an introvert, this can be really hard. Whether it’s physical or emotional, I always try to push the boundaries and my own safe zone. It’s very specific to me and things that other people might not find hard but for whatever reason, I have a blocker. I’ve learned that many things aren’t nearly as hard as I build them up to be in my own head and when I fail it’s never as bad as I thought it would be.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Not saying yes to every client. Over the last several years I’ve really focused on only working with clients that align with my professional and personal values and goals. Every time I’ve strayed from that profile I’ve ended up frustrated and burnt out and my personal life and work quality always suffers. Having the experience to know the circumstances under which I can show up as my best has really given me the confidence to grow my business, show up as a trusted partner, and go after things that I really want.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on in my journey as a service provider, and sometimes a generalist, I’ve tried to be the answer to too many things and often thought of myself more with an employee mindset than as a partner. I’ve since niched in my services, become more forward in my conversations about how to move things forward or prioritize, and have really started calling out inconsistencies and making recommendations on how businesses are run so that they can be addressed. Slowing down and taking control of the conversation, even though it can be intimidating, has served me far better than I could have ever imagined because I know a lot more than I give myself credit for.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Commit to teaching something new about something you are passionate about every month. People are looking for information on what you consider to be mundane. For example, I had a conversation with someone about how they train their cat and another conversation about video editing. Both people said what they did was “easy”. It may be true for them but it was priceless information for me. We all have gifts and sharing information about what we are passionate about is contagious. I don’t think teaching has to be fancy either (in terms of course setups or others). We have so many tools at our disposal. Just go with whatever feels comfortable.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I pay 14.99 for Chrome’s Pro Boomerang extension for my inbox. I love it!! I am able to get through items in my inbox and have them come back when I need them to be there. It takes all of the remembering and list-making away. I love that it comes back and is totally in my face until I deal with whatever the email is and also allows me not to worry about things until I need to.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Ha! See above. I really can’t say enough about Boomerang. I also really love Asana as a project management and organizational tool.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Never lose a customer again” by Joey Coleman. The book applies to every size of business and provides sound, rationale, and examples of how to provide an exceptional customer experience. The book digs into the real emotions and impact of the relationship between customers and business owners and digs into the first 100 days of the customer experience. We’ve all been customers and this book really demonstrates to business owners how to create an amazing experience.
What is your favorite quote?
“Great oaks from little acorns grow”. This reminds me to keep taking small steps because everything great generally comes from humble beginnings. It also reminds me that it also takes several seasons before things end up in the right place. Being small in stature myself, it’s a great visual reminder for me of why I keep going and the impact that I want to make.
- One’s professional journey is a continuous process of learning and growing, hopefully getting every individual closer to something most impactful and meaningful. It really does take time, experience and reflection to step beyond what we think we are supposed to and to start doing what inspires us the most.
- Everyone’s professional success is a very unique blend of how they choose to spend their time, the tools they use, and a process of trial and error to show up to do their best work.
- Understanding and acting in alignment with an employee mindset vs. vendor mindset as a service provider is incredibly difficult but important. Ultimately, greater transparency and boundaries, if done correctly, can lead to a more productive and meaningful work relationship.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.