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Katie DePaola on Building Your Brand with a Book

Dec 02, 2020

Katie DePaola on Building Your Brand with a Book

This is an exciting time for the podcast for several reasons, at least one of which is that WE HAVE A NEW NAME! Yes, this has happened before. Oh yes, AfterPartyPod, Recover Girl, Light Hustler, Struggle to Success and some names I'm forgetting were used at some point. But this is the one we're sticking with and I'm not just saying that!

So why this change? Well, in this episode, I explain that since the show was becoming increasingly about how to build your brand with a book, it seemed only right to have a podcast name that reflected it. And now we've got it!

I couldn't have asked for a better guest for this pivot, since she's not only a brand builder extraordinaire but also a friend whose book I feel privileged to be able to publish.

Katie DePaola is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and the founder of Inner Glow Circle, a company dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs find their glow and live purpose-driven lives.

But most relevantly for our show, she is the author of At Least You Look Good: How to Glow Through What You Go Through, the latest release from Launch Pad Publishing. The book is part memoir, part self-help and all love; it's Katie's story about surviving Lyme disease and her brother's death by overdose while building her multi-million dollar business. 

Just because I have a guest this week doesn't mean those Q&A or break-the-expert's-strategy-down episodes are no longer. I'll continue alternating different ways of showing you guys how to build your brand with a book, both on my own and with special guests.

All of which is to say: if you want me to answer your writing question on this show, DM me on Instagram at @annabdavid!


EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Anna David:                  00:01                Katie. This is so fun. I'm having fun already. Are you?

Katie:                           00:05                Of course, I'm having fun. I always have fun with you, Anna.

Anna David:                  00:08                This is our second interview. You may be the very first guest that I've interviewed twice.

Katie:                           00:17                Wow. I feel really honored.

Anna David:                  00:20                Well, the thing is, and it's because you're a podcast listener, you know how many times this podcast has changed focus. So, you're now on for a completely different reason.

Katie:                           00:31                I went back and looked and I really listened to our podcast because it was so good. And it was two titles ago.

Anna David:                  00:39                Yes. Well, yes, you're absolutely right. And it was so good that fans of yours reviewed it on iTunes, which takes a lot. Imagine hearing a guest and liking it so much, that one episode that you would go and review it. That's a very giving, supportive person. All you reviewers we're talking to you. So now what we're talking about is your book launch. It will be out tomorrow. It's the map is confusing for me because we're recording it early, but it's out this week. You guys go grab it. It's called At Least You Look Good, and it is published by none other than Launchpad Publishing. So, so Katie let's talk well, let's talk about your decision to write a book because it has been a long time coming. This one. When did you first decide you wanted to write a book and why?

Katie:                           01:37                I mean, I do feel like I'm one of those people who similar to you, like always wanted to be a writer, almost like writing books when I was like seven or whatever. But I sort of had forgotten about the dream a little bit as I think so many of us do. And then truly, and I talk about this a little bit in my book and certainly in the acknowledgements, but two things happened. One, I met Erica Jong at a women's writing retreat and she like looked me square in the eye and said, you have a book in you. And that was after reading some of my writing out loud to her, which I was in my early twenties. I was like, you know, about to pee my pants, maybe did as that was happening. And I remember I was the youngest person at the retreat and you know, I went home and I like tore through Fear of Flying and like, really, I just felt so connected. And I was like, Oh, I'm, I'm like this woman I'm like these women and yet didn't know exactly how that would play out. And then I had separately, had a psychic tell me a few years later, I remember she said, Oh, honey, you have so many books in you.

                                    02:49                And that sort of reignited it again. And so, there were things that I had written at that retreat. And after that retreat, I feel like we're always writing. And I remember something Erica said to me, she was like, you know, you have these characters inside of you. And your kind of always like hearing them. And then eventually it becomes really clear. And, you know, I think this is really relevant for people who are listening, but like, I'm me. And I also have this like character inside of me. Right. And so, I ended up writing a memoir. That's the book that I'm publishing with your team, Anna, but it's also like a, it's a character, right? Like I started to learn who Katie was and who Katie needed to be to the world in a way to be able to show up as a teacher. So, it's been a long time coming, like you said.

Anna David:                  03:44                So what did you learn about Katie that you didn't know, how did you, how did do writing this book change you also? Sorry, it's kind of separate.

Katie:                           03:55                Well, I think that the book changed me in that writing for me was extremely therapeutic editing was really difficult. Like it was also therapeutic, but it pulled a lot out of me. And I think what I learned the most about myself was and is my resilience and like my capacity to do hard things. So, for those who are listening and don't know my personal story, I lost my brother within a very short span of time. I got diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease that they said I had, you know, to the tune of you have brain damage and damage to your organs. And then I lost my little brother to an accidental overdose. He was 20 years old. He died in my parents' home. It was, you know, obviously we knew he was struggling, but you don't expect that ever I think, and that was, you know, the worst experience of my life. And I hope it will never get worse than that, but it was, you know, it was earth shattering.

                                    05:03                And then I was in a really, really, really bad relationship that I didn't realize how bad it was because I was dealing with all these other traumas, but I ended up sort of dealing with this, this trifecta of trauma. And that ended with my ex who I was engaged to who had given me I guess I won't tell you guys you'll have to read the book, but a blank carat ring and really had shown up as this like Knight in shining Armor, but was the exact opposite that ended with him calling and breaking up with me after committing himself to the psych ward. So, it was a lot, it was a lot. And I knew for me, writing had always been the therapeutic thing. I never felt like people understood me. I never felt like my parents understood me. And so, I would go to my room and I would write, and that's how I dealt with my life, and all the crazy things happening in my brain. So, it was certainly a coping that I think is also a gift.

Anna David:                  06:02                This is so interesting because the book and I should mention the subtitle is How to Glow Through What You Go Through and Katie's company, as you heard in the intro is called Inner Glow. Back when she did come on the podcast two incarnations ago, I think I even had glow in my title, struggle to success something, and we really bonded over glowing. So, this is your journey. How do you, or did you glow through what you went through and how do you tell readers to?

Katie:                           06:38                Yeah, so I talk about this in the book pretty extensively, but you know, glow was a word that had kind of been in my life and in my orbit. And my very first company quote company that I started when I was like, I don't know, 14 with a friend that was never actually, you know, never left my parents' basement, but it was called Live So That You Glow, like too long of a business, but that was like, you know, what we wrote on our business cards. And then when I started my first company, which was a spray tanning business, I called it Whole Glow and, you know, then I added coaching and I was like, okay, there's the outer glow. And then there's the inner glow. I was trying to find a way to tie all these things together, to tie all these parts of me together. And I think when you have a business that is a personal brand or has an aspect of a personal brand.

                                    07:30                You know, you're trying to figure out who you are while you're also figuring out what the business is. And I always say to like our students, like you are your ideal client. Like the thing that you struggle with typically is the thing that your ideal clients will struggle with in some capacity. And so, a lot of the people that we serve are people who, you know, are looking for their glow. And for us, that's defined as greatest level of want. That's what we call it. Greatest level of want as in glow, as an acronym. And I never knew that that was what it meant. But one day I was like on a run and it finally came to me cause, I always felt, you know, maybe it had a deeper meaning. And to me, the greatest happiness in life is finding, getting clear on what you really want and then going after it.

Anna David:                  08:21                Right, right. Now let's talk about the company because what Katie didn't explain is, while all these traumas were going on. She was starting in her Glow. So, talk about that please.

Katie:                           08:36                So what's so crazy is that I started IGC and then exactly 100 days later to the day I got the call that my little brother had died. Like I literally woke up one day. My other brother, I was traveling, my other brother called me and he said, you need to come home now, Bo's dead. And you know, I mean, you never quite recover from, from hearing those words, but I had to keep going. I felt I had to keep going because I had just started this company. And to be completely honest, having a business and having people to show up for, in my case, it was women to show up for my team. And also, people I was serving clients was the thing that kept me alive. Like getting that call and experiencing the death of a sibling for me was completely earth-shattering.

                                    09:39                It also brought up a lot of my own struggles with mental health and took me on a an intense journey that I'm still on of understanding myself in that way. And so, yeah, I mean, it's like, wow, I can't believe I, that was all the same time. And also thank God. It was all the same time because, you know, I don't know what I wouldn't would have done Anna if I didn't have something really positive to throw myself into, because I didn't feel positive at all. I felt like I was deep, deep, deep in the dark trenches.

Anna David:                  10:14                Well, and to speak to your point about you were building what you needed, you know, what you tell your students.

Katie:                           10:21                Yeah. We say create the thing you wish existed. And I think there's a line in the book. I forget exactly what it says, but it's something like create the thing that you wish existed when you were stuck in the dark and create it before you're ready. Like, I think that's so important. We have this whole thing and I don't know if it's like largely women or just people in general. I think it's just people, but we never feel like we're ready. I think this is one of the things I love so much about you, Anna in particular is like, I do feel like you just get an idea.

Anna David:                  10:56                I do it before like, I'm ready. Always. Yes.

Katie:                           10:58                Yeah. Yeah. And I think that, that inspires the people around you too, because you definitely have a high bar, but you also are like, let's just try, let's just try, let's see what happens. And you know, I, a little bit come from that mindset of like, let's, you know, let's throw pasta at the wall and see what sticks, maybe it's the Italian in me, but you don't know sometimes. And I hear this from like super, super successful people all the time. Like sometimes the thing that you really hoped, like musicians say this a lot, like the song that was a hit was like the one that they just kind of like spit out and they were like, nah, but then the one that they're like, Oh, I really think this is going to be a hit, like falls flat. And that's why it's important to create from wherever you are. Like, you know, we want to be in like a really great place, but sometimes our most beautiful creations can come from our shitiest places. So like, I think if you're an artist, meaning a writer or a musician or, you know, a business person, I think business is a form of art, then I think you should be challenging yourself to create from wherever you are.

Anna David:                  12:14                Yeah. That's so interesting. I mean, if I could count the number of things I desperately wanted, that I'm so grateful I didn't get now. And the things that just, you know, when I was building Launchpad, I was desperately trying to make online courses work. And I spent, meanwhile, people are coming to me and saying, Hey, I'd love to pay you a lot of money to write and publish my book. And I'm like, yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm trying to sell these $17 courses to people who think they're too expensive. And it took me, so it took several people coming to me and being like, I need you to do this. And I will tell you to figure out how for me to get it through my skull. That that was the path. It wasn't my idea of what the path was going to be. So, okay. So how does the book play into it all? So it came from just this, like, you know, try older adolescent kind of escaping into a room to write, but how does it play into the business? The brand, all of it?

Katie:                           13:14                Yeah. It's funny. I was telling like my godmother this today, but when I was really young, I mean probably like 14 or something. I remember telling my grandfather who I talk about a lot in the book. He said, what do you want to be when you grow up? And I said, I want to be a writer. And he was like, you can't be a writer. You won't make any money. Right. And that was like, you know, he was kind of like first-generation wealth or some sort of wealth and had started a company. And probably was learning that it was better to live with some money than not with money and wanted his grandkids to learn how to work and be in business. Right. And it's funny cause you know, you always say similar stuff, like the message is delivered differently, but it's funny because you say similar things, Anna, that like it's not building wealth is not about the book necessarily. It's about what opportunities come from it. And so it's interesting because I look back and I'm like, wow, I really did take my grandfather's advice.

                                    14:22                I built a company before I wrote a book, but I was always writing, you know? And I think that's really important. Like the people are always writing in the backgrounds of their lives, the way it played out for me, like very literally is I really spent the last two years not to scare people, but spent the last two years, a lot of nights and weekends writing because I was running my company and, you know, and dealing with everything else that was going on. And so, you know, I think that like the business aspect is so interesting. And like for me, it was about, I wanted to get my business established and settled before I went to publish a book because I didn't fully know who I was yet. I don't think it has to happen one way or another. But I do think that writing a book can very much be and is often tied to having a business. And that like this overarching thing is your brand. You know, who you are, how you serve the world, what your purpose is, what you're here to offer, and all of those things.

                                    15:36                And so I don't know for me, like they go super hand in hand. I know the book is not a lot about my business. It's not, I don't think it's very much about the business. It's about what was happening in the background with my business, but you know, but it's so integral in like who I am. And I know that the book is going to open up so many other doors. I mean, even just like putting it on Amazon, like Amazon is a total search engine in and of itself. Like as a business owner, you're always looking for people to find you. And I know that people are going to find me and I think books have like legs, right. They have this viral sort of ability. And so for me, that's like the most exciting part of it is just seeing, I don't know, but seeing what other doors it could and will open.

Anna David:                  16:28                Oh my God, that's you just said so many things I want to unpack. You know, first of all, I was raised by the same people I was told, you know, no, you can't be a writer. You have to go to law school. Like they were mystified by my desire. And I really, they didn't say it in the nicest way and I was really defiant about it. And so I think that I was so determined to prove them wrong. I mean, my grandmother would send me articles about how no writers make it. And you know, and I always wanted to be from the kind of family that, you know, that says like, you can do it yet. I'll tell you the most successful people I know are from the families who said you can't do it. And the ones who were just told how amazing they are, the sort of gold ribbon society.

Katie:                           17:16                Totally.

Anna David:                  17:17                Yeah. Are just like, don't understand why things are so hard. And so I was so determined to prove them wrong, that I crank out six books in six years for Harper Collins. Like I've made it. And I remember calling my dad and being like, I just sold by six book and he goes, well, you would've made more money as a lawyer. And because the family value was so about money. I think that I really went in the opposite direction. And so I was a broke writer. And then I just sort of woke up and said, there's nothing admirable about being broke, working this hard. And being broke. Writers may be undervalued, but writing skills are highly valued. So how can I take my skill set and do and make money? And then setting up this company was the way I'm able to do that. And I think that that's why I preach it all the time, because a lot of people say, well, I'm going to write a book. I'm going to make all this money. Like, we all think it's going to be different for us, when you go into it without this mindset. And it took me so long to learn it, but I always say you won't make money from a book, but you can make a shitload of money from having a book.

Katie:                           18:37                I love that. It's so true. Yeah. I mean, I don't know yet I'll find out in two weeks or a week, but, you know, I really do hear you with that. And I think it's people it's important for people to know that and to be aware of that, just that they're not like going in with, you know, missed expectations, like, yeah, it's an incredible vehicle, you know, and you know that, and you've seen that. I was sort of the opposite though. Like I went, like build the business route and then my creativity was sort of cut off. Like I said, I was always writing in the background and writing things down and hearing these little threads of things. I mean, truly, there's like certain lines that I wrote probably five or six years ago, just journaling that are made it into the book. And that's really cool for me. Like I loved scrapbooking growing up and like, to me it felt like that. Yeah. So you and I are so kindred.

Anna David:                  19:32                We really are, I was obsessed with scrapbooks, go on.

Katie:                           19:35                Yes. But that's what it felt like to me is like pulling all these pieces together of myself from the past, from the present, even from the future, you know, and I talk about like connecting with your future self in the book, but my creativity had really gone flat and I will say Anna, and I think I said this a little bit in the book, at least in my acknowledgements, and I don't want to get too emotional, but you know, really going through the process of writing this book and you've been such a huge part of that. Like, it really did bring me back to life. I mean, I, my faith, my outlook on the world, like I had lost so much of that vibrancy that I had. And you know, I always said to myself, or really to God more, at least for me is like, if I'm going to go through all of this, like you better make it worth it, both to myself. And, you know, to, to the powers that be, and, you know, there's, I am in no way saying that, like losing my brother or any of those things are worth it because I've now written a book, like no way, no, how, not, what I'm here to preach. But I will say that being able to literally glow through what I go through, but take my pain and make it something that is pretty and funny and touching. And I'm getting so many, like incredible messages from people who have pre-ordered and, you know, like, not that it's worth it, but it makes it like, make a little more sense in my brain.

Anna David:                  21:15                Totally. And I mean, in 12 step that's the whole thing is we go through this in order to be able to help someone else through this. And, you know, cause otherwise it can be really hard to make sense of these things that happen to us and totally you get to help. And that's why books are so important because there's only so much work we can do one-on-one with people, by putting it in a book you're able to help hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. I mean, I've never gotten to that many people, but let's just be optimistic. And I love that it was so healing for you because I think that's another part of it. I don't know of anything more therapeutic than, well therapy and 12 step are quite therapeutic, but the next on the list is writing for me.

Katie:                           22:08                Yeah. And like, you know, like to the level of like my brother gets to live on, you know, and my family had started a foundation in his name and you know, it still exists. We're still working at it and people write and say like, Oh, because of how openly you guys are talking about mental health and addiction. Like, you know, my sister is like doing so much better, just like random stories. And like, I know that Bo is like so proud of himself. Like I talk a lot in the book about building a relationship with someone who's quote unquote on the other side or his past. And I know a lot of people will think that's super weird, but for me it like literally again, like saved my brain because I was like, Oh, there's a whole chapter that's called. He's not dead. And after getting the call, like Bo's dad, you need to come home to write that and to decide to use that as the title was like, so ballsy for me. And also, so like, I'm going to establish what happened here, you know? And my whole family really believes that Bose energy is still available.

                                    23:17                I don't know if this is too out there, but and I shared this on Instagram the other day, but I was doing like a card reading. I don't know if you're like into that kind of stuff at all. So I have this taro deck or this like deck of cards. That's like, I don't know about connecting with dead people. Right. Cause like, that's one of my hobbies. And I literally pulled a card the other day when I was like anxious about the book stuff and blah, blah, blah. And it's their messages from people who have passed, you know, quote unquote and it says I'm not dead. And I'm like, this is after like, you know, I mean, this was wow the other day. And I'm like, Bo you little sucker, you know, it's just funny. Like, and I say too, in the book, my greatest level of want, I thought that it was for my brother to stay alive. But what it really was for my brother to fulfill his purpose and like he's doing that and I'm helping him do that. And so it's like, it's not that it's like, Oh yeah, happy story, the end. But it's like hard story. Let's figure out what ending we'd rather have here. Or I guess we're in the middle of it. But you know, you get to write your life. And for me, writing was part of how I rewrote my life.

Anna David:                  24:29                Yeah. I mean, I always say this, it's like, you get to rewrite the story with you as the hero or heroine. Yeah. It didn't happen to us. It happened for us. And here, let me tell you the story. And like you said, it's the middle of it. We get to retell the stories all the time. So, okay. And so in terms of the brand and the possibilities, like what are your dream possibilities? Sure, more people are going Amazon is the third largest search engine in the world. So people are going to find you, but is it speaking? Like what would you most want this book to do for you?

Katie:                           25:07                Oh my God. I don't know. I mean, I feel like it could be like a movie, like I'm so open and I don't want to like pigeonhole the universe. So like I'm really open and certainly I want to be speaking and you know, I see myself on like big stages whenever we're able to do that again. And I don't know how long it will take me or I don't even know if that's what I'm going to want in three years. I mean, you really don't know, but I would say that my greatest level of want for the book, my highest level intention is for it to be a vehicle of change. Like I think it can save people's lives to be honest. And I, maybe that sounds like a ego, but I don't know. I wrote parts of the book for sure, but like God had a hand in it as well. And I know my brother was guiding me too, so I don't really know if it's like for me to say, but I think it could go a lot of places and I'm super down for that ride. Yeah.

Anna David:                  26:14                Yeah. I love it. And I will say this too, that though it was a struggle to get out. Like once you knew where it was. Well, first of all, I loved how open you were to suggestions because I knew you'd worked really hard and I kept wanting to dig in there and be like, okay, now let's do this. Now let's do this. I even tried to change the title. You would not have it. And it's good. It's good. But it's, I think once we know where we're going, I think a lot of writers get super off track because they're just, they're going to writing workshops and they're getting advice from this person and then they're writing and then they, you know, and that's why I'm always sort of hammering home structure and have a plan because if you try to write a book on your own without help or by Googling editors, like you could be doing this for years, decades.

Katie:                           27:05                Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think like you have so much experience, your team has so much experience. Like I wouldn't, I certainly wouldn't have been able to, I wouldn't have been able to publish this book without you and without our partnerships. So I am extremely grateful.

Anna David:                  27:23                I wasn't trying to get you to say that, but I will say so we met listeners when Katie was on the podcast. This is like the only, you know, I made a list recently of all our clients and how they all came to me. And you were the only one where it's like, we, we, I was just like, who is this girl? It wasn't even over zoom. So I never even saw your face. No, maybe was over zoom. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then I just said, I want to hang out. And you said, well, I happened to be coming to LA next week. Let's have brunch. We have like nine hour brunch where we talked about Lisso and then, and then we just kept chatting. And then I was, I was really surprised actually, when you reached out to me, you were like, I want to talk to you about a book because I knew you already had plans and it had been gone anyway, I was thrilled. And I've been really thrilled with this experience.

Katie:                           28:17                Well, I found myself like really reading all of your emails and then like saving them like a weirdo. And like, I don't do that with a lot of people. I don't like people's emails. My favorite thing is unsubscribing. So like I, and, you know, you had just been like very reliable, like when I had a little question about anything, you know, you were just it's hard to find people that you can like count on, you know? And so I sound like I'm doing commercial now, but really from my heart. I was like, I think I actually called you one day in like a panic and was like, I'm freaking out. And you're like, you just need to have fun. And I was like, what in the world is she talking about? But I was really, look, my book meant a lot to me. It still means a lot to me. Right. So there's like this careful balance between like holding your baby and like, like setting her free. And I just like, you can't do that with anybody. Like I just was nervous and that's okay. Like, and I remember I was like, Katie, just because you're nervous to work with Anna doesn't mean it's wrong just because you're nervous.

Anna David:                  29:25                Cause your just nervous. If it had gone awry, you know, then it, cause we have a personal relationship. I, yeah, I was yeah, it's funny. Cause I remember exactly where I was walking when you called me. And I because we relate so much, I could hear the anxiety in your voice. And I've had, you know, six miserable book releases with Harper Collins and two glorious ones with myself. And I was like, I want you to have a glorious experience. And then we decided to work together.

Katie:                           29:57                I think there was this part of me that had disbelief that it was even possible for me to enjoy the process because let's be real. I've had a lot of crazy . And like, I'm not, I'm not one of those people. That's used to things being easy. I'm used to things being hard. So when you were like, you can enjoy this. This can be fun. We can take a lot of the work off your plate. I was like, I thought there was no way in hell, but now being on the other side, it's been incredible experience. I've gotten to know myself even more. I feel really, really, really great about what I'm putting out into the world. And I'm somebody who 100% once my face or my name and in this case, my face and my name next to something, I feel really proud of. I'm like a total perfectionist. And yeah, like I said, I just feel really grateful.

Anna David:                  30:49                I'm so psyched. I'm and I feel grateful for you. So, so as we wrap up, tell people how they can find your book. And do you want to give like a couple sentence summary?

Katie:                           31:00                Yeah. So you can go to amazon.com and type in, At Least You Look Good or my name, right? I don't know?

Anna David:                  31:08                Yeah. But you also have a site right? For the book.

Katie:                           31:11                Yeah. Go to innerglowcircle.com/book, easy to remember. And the book is about what I've been talking about. It's how I learned to Glow AKA survive through everything I was going through when I got Lyme lost my little brother and was, was trying to leave a toxic, toxic, abusive relationship. And it's about the ups and the downs, my, what I've been hearing. And what I also know from experience is that it's the kind of book that will make you laugh out loud and also cry. So it's funny when people are like texting me and they're like also reading while they're working out or something, or they're like in a public place, which you can't go a ton of public places right now, but they're like, I'm in a coffee shop, reading your book. And you know, I'm crying. And I don't know, it's just cool to have people have that experience. But I think the book is incredibly healing and there are some self-helpy kind of exercises, but you know what someone said to me, she said I've read so many self-help books, but after reading your book, I feel like I've never read a self-help book because yours was actually so helpful. And it's just very authentic. I'm very honest. And I talk about love and loss and how we can use the experience of loss to really get back to love very quickly. It's really a book about resilience.

Anna David:                  32:43                Well, this has been delightful, Katie, thank you so much for being my guest and y'all listeners. Thank you so much for listening. Go grab Katie's book ASAP. You will not regret it and I'll see you next time slash hear you. I won't hear you. You'll hear me.

Katie:                           32:59                Thanks Anna.


LINKS:

At Least You Look Good

At Least You Look Good bonus swag

Inner Glow Circle

Katie on the podcast when it was called Struggle to Success



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