Zoe Share started Schmooz Media, a social marketing and communications agency in 2014 after completing her Masters in Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program at the the University of Waterloo. Formerly a classroom teacher, Zoe is passionate about the power of starting a conversation to positively impact business outcomes. Zoe and the Schmooz team start their work with a CORE (values, clients and goals) workshop and create content for digital and print use that is in line with a company’s values. Their mission is to help clients attract and retain ideal customers who will align with a company’s core.
Where did the idea for Schmooz Media come from?
When I was completing my Masters in Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, I was applying for traditional jobs, specifically in Corporate Training. That was an area that made sense for me intellectually because of my background in Education (I was a kindergarten teacher before starting my business) and my business training, however it didn’t make sense for me emotionally. I felt like I would be selling out and that I would be unhappy going to the same job day after day. After leaving a career I cared so much about, I didn’t want to be unhappy again. Instead, I fell into my business somewhat organically. I had been helping start-ups (mostly in the education space) with their communication and copywriting, and I simply said to a number of businesses I had been helping with or volunteering with as a student “Who wants me to keep helping you, but now you pay me?” I put together 30 hours a week, and decided that if I wasn’t able to make a full time job of it, I would give up after 6 months. I named the company “Schmooz” because I believe in the power of starting a conversation, came up with a logo with a friend, and built a simple website. It felt like those things, partnered with applying for a legal sole proprietorship, were done out of necessity – I figured that I would figure the rest out as I went…and that’s exactly what I did!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As CEO, my day is organized into quarters. A quarter of my day (early morning and evening) are spent with my daughter and family; a quarter of my day is spent developing business, networking and going to new client meetings; a quarter of my day is spent developing my team, and a quarter of my day (often between meetings) is checking in with existing clients and making sure the overall goals are being met. If a day is not productive, it is because I require a day off to recharge. I value empty days as much as I value full ones.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am fortunate to be a person who has strengths in activation. Once I see the vision, I am very good at inspiring others to implement that idea. I am also very strong at collecting ideas and archiving learning that I tend to pull out when I need them the most. I’m a very curious people, and while my follow up is often my weakest point, I’ve hired a very capable team to help me with that side of things. Getting my team and support systems on board for my vision is very important; couldn’t do it without them.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Working in social marketing, I am fascinated by AI and any automation. I think as business develops, there is so much room for these amazing new technologies, but I will remain critical and curious about them. So much of what I do utilizes technology, but also values tried and true (and slightly old fashioned) business practices. I can’t wait to see what happens in that space, because I do believe there is something humans have got that AI doesn’t (at least for now).
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have 3 important wellness rules for myself. Get to sleep by 10:30 p.m., eat a lot of protein and ask a lot of questions. After years of apologizing for who I am and what I need, I now feel unapologetic about what I need to be successful. I have learned that the more successful (well rested, healthy and filled up with joy and learning) I can be, the more successful those around me can be, which is what I want.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust your inner voice; it is worth listening to.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Something that is true for me that other people may not agree with is: I don’t think all women’s entrepreneurship events are a good thing. I recently went to an event felt like it was separating the “analytical women” and the “intuitive women” from each other. It frustrated me that we were being segmented in this way. To make a good decision, I truly believe it is a combination of data analytics and intuition (among other things) that need to be considered. It was truly bizarre to me and didn’t do female entrepreneurs any favours. I want to push these boundaries forward for women – we are allowed to be many things – moms, daughters, wives, CEOs, analytical, intuitive, angry, sad, happy, joyful, funny, serious.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend you get REALLY curious!
Get curious about your team – what drives them, what do they love about what they are doing with their time, what do they hate? What makes them feel like they are being successful? What makes them angry? How do they self-sabotage? Are they open to talking about it?
Get curious about your clients – what drives them, what do they value, why did they start their business? What do they eat when they celebrate? What makes them angry? How do they self-sabotage? Are they open to talking about it?
Get curious about the world! Learning and being open to discovery and new answers is the most fabulous thing you can do for yourself, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Strategic Interactions! Something I do for myself and my clients as a social marketer is to create a list of ideal customers, based on ideal customer groups and then begin meaningful conversations with them. That doesn’t mean sending them a generalized standard and impersonal LinkedIn message; but instead it means taking the time to add value to their life in a variety of ways. The more personalized (and professional) the interactions, the better quality relationship you can build. This is not about social selling, it is about building and nurturing relationships with people who have the same values as you. In this case, it is not about quantity, but instead about quality. The things that can happen as a result will surprise you!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a time when someone told me that what I was doing wasn’t valuable and I let that really bring me down. When I say down, I mean spiral into a vortex of negative self-talk and feeling frozen. Now, I think of negative feedback (or positive feedback) as an opportunity. I’ve learned to hear the feedback, dig into it, get curious and turn it into learning for my business. Getting back to my roots as an educator, helps me to analyze feedback so I can make something good from it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Whatever business you start, think about the legacy and footprint that it’s going to leave behind in this world. I have always loved the idea of a business that takes discarded objects or products and turns them into something valuable. Think UPCYCLING…or finding value where others cannot see it. I believe there is a great opportunity there.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Payment towards attending an event where I am confident my ideal customers are going to be! It is important to attend a lot of events, figure out the oes where you fit in, the ones where you can add and collect the most value and then attend those ones more exclusively!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Coda: This is a CRM and project management (and more!) tool that has changed the way my business functions due to its highly customizable abilities. It’s cut my costs and has worked better for my unique agency model. Other software solutions designed for marketing agencies don’t tend to work for me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Traction by Gino Wickman: It’s important to get honest with yourself and get clarity on what you’re doing in your business. Traction allows even the most seasoned business leader to step back from their business, be a critical thinker and work through hands on activities to improve the core functions of their business.
What is your favorite quote?
I used to think words could do anything. Magic. Sorcery. Even miracle. But no, only occasionally. – Margaret Laurence, The Diviners
- Be open to the idea that you may not have all the answers right now, but that you’re going to figure it out, especially when you surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
- Treat yourself with kindness so you can be the best version of yourself each day.
- Invest in building and nurturing meaningful relationships with a variety of touchpoints – phone call, email, direct mail, social media, newsletter, etc.
- Always be curious!