Success Beyond Success with Paige Dungan
By Yuresh Shayzer
October 10, 2023
Welcome back to the Aww podcast. Today's guest is not only a dear friend but also someone I had the pleasure of working closely with during the past 100 episodes. She played a pivotal behind-the-scenes role in shaping this podcast. Since then, she has embarked on an exciting journey in her career, specializing in helping authors amplify their brand and utilize their books as effective marketing tools. So, as you listen to Paige Duncan, I encourage you to keep an ear out for nuggets of wisdom that you can apply to your own life.
[3:18] Why should I listen to you?
The first thing is that I'm genuinely curious. When I'm talking to anyone, whether it's you on a park bench or someone else, I don't have any ulterior motives. I simply let my curiosity guide me. I ask questions and start conversations based on what intrigues me or what I find interesting about the person.
[4:10] What would your initial conversation be like when approaching someone who has just released a book and expressed a desire to make a significant impact but is unsure of where to begin?
I believe it's crucial to be transparent when discussing a book or sharing your thoughts. It's essential to let everyone know right from the start that you're not in the league of those best-selling authors or well-known entrepreneurs we admire. These accomplished individuals didn't possess any special knowledge or expertise when they first started. It's important to remember that we all began from a place of not knowing much more than the next person.
[5:11] Could you share some insights into your background and experiences growing up that have shaped you into the person you are today?
I've always had a desire to serve, connect, and create something of my own since I was a child. When I was just six years old, I began selling painted rocks to my neighbors, and looking back, I'm grateful for their support, even though I'm not sure why they bought painted rocks. This was my first foray into entrepreneurship, creating a product that could benefit others. Simultaneously, while selling those painted rocks, I was also writing poems. A few weeks ago, I revisited my parents' home in Arkansas, and they made me take all my childhood belongings with me. In those stacks of journals and poems, I found my early passion for writing. Writing was my way of expressing myself as a child, especially since I was often labeled as emotional and someone with big feelings. Writing became my outlet. Through writing, I developed a love for books during my preteen years. Interestingly, I didn't start with the personal development genre. Instead, I began with the Boxcar Children's series, which many of you may be familiar with. It was a form of escapism, transporting me to different worlds where I could be anyone and do anything, allowing my imagination to run wild. This is where my love for books truly began.
[7:18] Your parents supported your creative endeavors and allowed you to explore your interests freely. How do you think this early support and the freedom to be yourself contributed to your personal and professional development?
It sounds like my parents recognized early on that I was destined for a different path than the rest of my family, and they accepted that. They understood that I wouldn't fit the traditional mold they might have had in mind. For me, it was crucial to find an outlet that served me personally rather than being directed toward a particular sport or activity. Writing and books became my creative outlets. At the time, I don't think my parents fully grasped how much these interests would shape my life. They probably saw it as a nice hobby. Little did they know that more than 20 years later, I would be where I am now. Writing and reading not only became my passions but also boosted my confidence, something I lacked during my youth.
[10:05] What happened in your journey that landed you where you are now?
In high school, I discovered my gift for communication and connecting with people. Despite my lack of self-confidence, I had a deep passion for getting to know others. As I approached college, I considered how to channel this passion into a career. I didn't want to follow the traditional path of becoming a news reporter or pursuing communications. Instead, I enrolled in college with a business degree and minored in communications and religion, as I attended a private school. After college, I ventured into various opportunities that took me away from my true calling. It took me several years to find my way back to my purpose and passion. I had followed the expectations and advice of others for a while before I finally stood up for myself and decided to pursue my path differently.
[11:45] Was there like a specific AWW shift moment or a catalyst moment?
The pivotal "aww" moment for me occurred when we had to close down a business right after I graduated from college. My mom and I had opened a boutique cosmetic store, which was ahead of its time in the market. Unfortunately, it didn't succeed, and we had to shut it down. At that point, I thought I had everything figured out, and this business venture was going to be my journey. This experience forced me to undergo a significant mindset shift. I had to move away from expecting things to go according to plan and shift towards a more adaptive mindset. Instead of assuming that everything would last forever, I began looking at things incrementally and asking myself what skill sets I needed to develop to navigate the path I was on. Rather than going on autopilot, which is what I had been doing, I started to challenge the way I approached opportunities and situations. This period in my life also taught me the concept of "failing forward," although it was a challenging lesson to learn right after college.
[13:52] Can you share more about the transition from Dickey's Barbecue to Success Magazine and how it shaped your career and journey?
I have a story that perfectly illustrates that, Anthony. There was a pivotal moment in my life after the closure of the cosmetic store. I decided to move from Arkansas to Dallas, Texas, to start fresh. I wanted a clean slate. I vividly remember sitting in a hotel room with my mom, tears streaming down my face, and I asked her, "Mom, when will I figure out my path and create something for myself?" I felt utterly crushed at that moment.
During that conversation with my mom, I had a realization that I needed to let go of my ego. I had gone from thinking I knew everything and having my own business to recognizing that I needed to start over. So, I decided to take an entry-level position in the marketing and PR department at Dickey's Barbecue. It was a humbling experience, but I knew I had to learn and build my skillset from the ground up. It took about five years at Dickey's and my second employer before I felt confident and equipped with the necessary tools to succeed and build my career. This journey taught me the value of starting over and continually learning and growing.
[15:20] How did that opportunity come to be?
It's a rather amusing story, Anthony. After returning to Dallas from Austin, I was consulting with Dickey's Barbecue once again. My desire was always to work in the media industry due to my PR background. I came across a rather questionable job posting, not even on LinkedIn, but I thought, "Why not give it a shot?" So, I went to the interview, Anthony, and keep in mind they were building their new headquarters, so they were operating from an office in a warehouse in Denton, a town outside Dallas. During the interview, I received two job offers. One was for a digital marketing role, which they desperately needed but didn't match my skill set or passion. The other was for a position at Success Magazine, which was undergoing a transformation and not the powerhouse it is today. I had to decide, and it perfectly illustrates how your career can go in two directions. One option offered me the world in digital marketing, but it didn't align with my goals. The other was with a struggling magazine but had an excellent boss, Jim McCabe, who I believed would become a mentor and influential figure in my life. This is where my entrepreneurial spirit came into play, Anthony. I wanted to take a leap and build something from scratch. When I started, there wasn't even a defined PR role; I had to create it myself.
[24:55] Do you mind sharing what it is that you've ventured deeply into now?
It's often said that the third time's the charm, and I truly believe it is in my case. I now run an agency called The Front Porch Collective, where we specialize in assisting individuals who want to establish their authority in the media and public relations realm. While our client base predominantly consists of authors, we also work with various talented individuals, which is how our paths aligned. Our main focus lies in helping our clients make their voices heard in today's crowded marketplace. We achieve this through the art of storytelling, promoting authenticity, and fostering genuine connections. It's no secret that building these connections, especially those needed to reach the levels of success one aspires to, isn't something everyone excels at. That's where we step in, providing the expertise and guidance required to help our clients shine and stand out in their respective fields.
[33:03] How do you think people are failing with good books?
The main issue I've observed, even among best-selling authors I've worked with, is the misconception that a book will sell itself. Authors often fail to create a robust marketing and media plan for their book. It's essential to start this plan six to nine months in advance and execute it actively. Many authors expect their books to magically succeed without proper marketing. A book without a strategic plan becomes mere decoration. Authors should understand that publishers won't guarantee a book's success; it's their responsibility to sell it. A well-marketed book can open doors, leading to speaking opportunities and establishing credibility. It serves as an excellent business card, showcasing unique knowledge that only the author can offer. Additionally, a book's content can provide material for years to come, simplifying content creation for social media and other platforms.
[45:15] What promise did God make to the world when he created you?
There would be nobody who felt like they didn't belong, and I would make sure everybody felt that their voice was valuable.
[26:35-26:40] Where I always tell everybody to start is learning what they're writing about and what they're working on and serving them as a cheerleader.
How to connect with Paige Duncan