Creating an empire and achieving personal success in your business comes down to one thing–relationships. Strong relationships are the building blocks that catapult you towards your goals–but are you focusing on the right ones in the right way?

In her new book, The Secrets of Dating Your Business, Miriam Steketee reveals the path to fostering the types of relationships that lead to wild success and make you feel good inside. She offers essential advice for building your business that will improve your personal relationships too. If you want more money, a thriving business, and work that brings you and others joy, this book shows you how to get there.

Drew Appelbaum: Hey Listeners, my name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Miriam Steketee, author of The Secrets of Dating Your Business: How Building Relationships Is the Key to Happiness and Wild Success. Miriam, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.

Miriam Steketee: Hi, so happy to be here, thanks.

Drew Appelbaum: Let’s kick this off. Can you give us a rundown of your professional background?

Miriam Steketee: Yes, absolutely. I actually started my career in the dance world in New York City. I was a professional dancer, I had an agent, and I was living the starving artist lifestyle and enjoyed that for a couple of years, I learned so much. Then my husband was going to law school, and so I decided that it was time for me to put my big girl panties on and get a real job. I moved into the real estate industry in New York City where I was pounding the pavement in New York, and then moved into the management side of things and was climbing the corporate ladder at my company.

Life looked good, I had a corner office on Park Avenue, it sounded glamorous, but we were in a ton of debt and after the birth of my first child, I knew that I did not want to sit in that office for the next 30 plus years. When a friend of mine reached out to me and told me about this new industry, network marketing, social selling, how I could be my own boss and do it on my own terms but still be able to have a full-time job, I said, “Sign me up.”

That’s where it started, almost 10 years ago. In that time, I learned so much about the industry, about being an entrepreneur, about becoming a leader and a salesperson and a mentor and a coach and it’s been just the most incredible ride.

I’ve learned so much, I’ve made so many incredible relationships, and I’m so thankful that I stepped outside of the box and took a chance on myself, and have been able to create this incredible organization of men and women on my team. All the things and lessons I learned in the last I would say, probably 20 years have culminated into my tips in this book.

Building a Relationship with Yourself

Drew Appelbaum: Now, why was now the time to share these stories in the book? Did you have something inspiring happen, an “aha moment” or something as simple as you had a bit more time on your hands because of COVID?

Miriam Steketee: I started writing the book pre-COVID and it’s funny you say that, I’ve always had a knack to read. When I joined this industry, when I jumped in and started this business, I realized I knew nothing about it and so I was constantly reading books and buying new books every week. I couldn’t learn enough and so, after I had a lot of setbacks in my business, a lot of successes and failures and successes and failures, I always kind of equated the things I was learning to my relationship with my husband, and the dating that we went through. Even prior to him, I was constantly making analogies in my training about the dating game.

It dawned on me that I have this really fun idea to make this book and to talk not about just how to build a business but why and the steps you need to take. I made it this really nice, fun guide where it’s not just about the end in mind but it’s about building up that relationship with yourself.

The book’s really about relationships and it’s about creating that confidence within yourself to be able to step out and to be the best version of yourself. Then it moves into how to network and build relationships with people all around you every day, that will eventually give you a referral or join you in business.

Then it moves into the leadership aspect, how to build relationships with people so that they trust you, and they like you, and they respect you. It’s this big circle moment of, it’s not about the shiny pennies and it’s not about necessarily helping people find success, but it’s about how you make them feel. When you make other people feel good, it makes you feel good.

To answer your question, it was actually when I broke my leg a few years ago and I was having this downtime. Actually, I had surgery, I broke my ankle, and I was in a really bad place. I was thinking about how this business has really changed my life and the relationships that I made. I really thought about the good and the bad and the ugly and I had that extra time sitting around to really jot these ideas down.

It did take some time for it to all come together and The Secrets of Dating Your Business really came from a conversation I had with my neighbor who is also a writer, and we came up with the title, and it just all fell into place. But it took some time for sure.

Drew Appelbaum: Yeah, when you decided okay, I’m going to write this book, and maybe you had the idea of the book rattling around in your head, maybe even outlined but a lot of times during the writing process and by digging deeper, just some of the subjects you wrote about, there will be some major breakthroughs and learnings. Did you have any of these major breakthroughs or learnings during your writing journey?

Miriam Steketee: Yes, it definitely changed the story of how I thought it was going to go and how I thought the story would be told, it changed in the process. I really like where it went from that, first it was about developing you, and then it was talking about others, and then it was really bringing it back to forming, this relationship with yourself so you can be a confident enough person to lead other people.

It’s not just this book about how to fall in love with your business, right? It’s about how to help other people fall in love with their lives, and how to make other people feel better about themselves and put that onto others. That’s the piece where I love coaching people and I love helping people, especially women step out of their comfort zones and do things they never thought they could do or be things they never thought they could be. That’s the piece of this book and that’s why I wanted to write it. I really wanted to share the stories of all the things I had learned and all the mistakes I have made and all the failures. I talk a lot about the failures, I talk a lot about the do’s and the don’ts.

At the same time, it’s fun to read and I share the stories of my bad dates and funny stories about my family and my husband. So, it’s not just a book about network marketing or building relationships, it went in a lot of fun different directions and that’s why I think so many people are going to enjoy reading it for different reasons. I think everybody and anyone can get something out of this regardless if you are in the network marketing direct sales space or not.

Drew Appelbaum: Now, in your mind, while you were writing the book, who were you writing the book for? Was it for entrepreneurs only, was it for managers, or people of any profession?

Miriam Steketee: That’s exactly right, it is for anyone and everyone. I originally actually started writing it and it was meant to be just for managers, right? How to build relationships and build team culture and build an organization where people joined for the money or they joined for the opportunity, but they stay because they couldn’t imagine a life without it, they couldn’t imagine leaving the community and the people.

Then as I was writing, I realized, it was this journey, it was starting out with yourself and you had to fix yourself first before you can build your business. Because building a business, it’s not easy and there’s going to be a lot of naysayers and haters and there’s going to be a lot of things that are going to be pulling you down and telling you, “You can’t do this, you can’t do it, there’s no way you’re going to succeed.” That happened to me so many times but you have to build up that confidence and that strength and that relationship with yourself first before you can get to that big step.

The book started as this book for managers or team leaders and it’s now evolved into a book for anyone, entrepreneurs, people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, or people who just are stuck in their career and are looking for something else and aren’t sure what that is.

To people who are managers of an organization or maybe they have employees they manage or a team or maybe they’re just a business owner and they have a few employees and aren’t vibing with them and can’t seem to move to that next level, this book is for anybody.

I even think about this book, it doesn’t even have to do with corporate. It could be an organization like a hospital or a school or a team or a coach, anyone that wants to figure out how they can find more joy in the process and then help other people find joy in the process too, that’s who this is for.

Inevitable Mistakes

Drew Appelbaum: I’d love to dig into something you just talked about, there’s a lot of mistakes that go on for first time business owners. Can you talk about some of those mistakes that first time business owners often make, and would you say that you made the same mistakes as well?

Miriam Steketee: Yes, let’s talk about that, there are so many. I think the first one is people tend to jump right in when they start a business and tell everybody they know and they’re like, “My doors are open,” and then when no one comes, they start getting upset, right? “This one’s not supporting me, or I can‘t believe this one didn’t do this,” or, “I can’t believe he didn’t buy it from me,” or, “I can’t believe he didn’t try or she didn’t try it,” or whatever it is.

Sometimes I make this metaphor–imagine your good friend just changed their career and says, “Guess what, I’m going to beauty school, I’m going to cut hair for a living,” and they graduate from their three month training and they say, “I need someone to come in, I want to cut your hair, I need my first client.” I hate to say it, most people would probably say, “I just got my hair cut, sorry,” and would find any excuse to run away from it just because they haven’t had that success yet.

As you’re building your business in the beginning, sometimes it’s not going to be your best family and friends who are going to be your supporters but sometimes, it’s going to be those second, third, fourth level people. That means advertising, cold marketing, those kinds of things are okay to get your feet wet.

The second thing is really sharing your journey with people, right? When you do have a little bit of success telling people about that success rather than waiting until you’re a huge success and then letting everybody know. Bringing people into your journey is really important through social media, through Facebook, and just through having those networking meetings.

I know for me when I was building my business, I would make it a point to say, “I want to talk to one new person every single day.” If I can just connect with one person, get on the phone or have that meeting, share what I’m doing, find out more about them and how we can maybe help one another, that’s the best way to build your business too, sometimes. Seeing how you can help somebody else and maybe they’ll then want to help you. But so many times, new business owners, new entrepreneurs think, “My sign is open, why isn’t anybody coming?” They need to do a little bit of reflection on themselves such as, “What value have I been giving people out there?”

“Have I been educating people on my goods and services? Do they know I’m an expert in what I do?” If you’re not an expert, you have to become one and make sure that people know that you’re the go-to person for whatever it is that you’re doing.

Then the last tip I would say is there’s going to be your lovers and there’s going to be your haters. There are going to be those people who, for whatever reason, think entrepreneurship is crazy and think that people are born to go to college or have that profession, do that profession, collect their pension in retirement and then die.

So, there’s going to be those people when you share with them, “Oh, I just started this new business. I’m so excited, you know my grand opening is next week,” and they’re saying, “Oh god, you are doing one of those where you’re starting a business? There’s no way you’re going to do well.”

You just have to remember to say, “It’s not me, it’s them. Something happened to them, they have a story,” and usually they do. Maybe when they were a kid, their parents owned a business and were never home, and so, they associate business ownership with this memory from their childhood. So, so many times when you start digging deeper, you find that it’s nothing to do with you or your business and once you do add value, share your successes, share your expertise and that person needs what you are offering, they will come around.

Then they’re the ones, when you are successful, who are going to be, “Oh, I knew you’d do big things with this.” It’s just so funny because that definitely happened to me and when I have the conversations now with some of my good friends who really weren’t supportive, they don’t even remember.

Sometimes we take things so to heart when someone was just having a bad day. At the end of the day, my advice is if you are feeling stuck or if you are feeling that someone isn’t supporting or you’re not getting that support when you need it, just be a better friend to that person. Give even more to them and sometimes if they need something more and then they’ll come around to you, and if this person really is a negative person in your life, you will just need to slowly cut them out a little bit, right?

If this was someone in your inner circle and now they’re being negative, you just might not want to hang out with them as much. Maybe they’re not going to be your first or second phone call anymore. Maybe when they call, you just don’t answer because you’re busy building your business becoming an entrepreneur, doing something for yourself and your family, rather than it always being about other people.

It’s just finding that fine line, but I think the hardest part of entrepreneurship is that first beginning, making those mistakes, and just to keep failing forward. You are going to keep making mistakes and learning from your mistakes. Some of the biggest companies out there, you know, Apple, Google made tons of mistakes. Then you learn from your mistakes and then you pivot and sometimes the product you were originally trying to sell in a certain way, maybe that even changes too.

Look at what’s happening now. With the pandemic and so many companies having to move to virtual and to online, I have heard of some companies that are even doing better now than they ever were before, so you just never know.

Celebrating People

Drew Appelbaum: Now, company culture is a big buzzword right now and you actually talk about celebrating people in the book. Can you talk more about your approach to celebrating people at your company?

Miriam Steketee: Yeah, so on our team, always, from day one, I had this big grand division of this team, this place where it doesn’t matter if you are top seller or a top leader or you were just in it as a part-time fun hobby type of money person, that you were treated as an equal. I really wanted to create, once I built a team, a democratic kind of business where people felt like they were a part of it and I wasn’t just, “Hey, you should do this or you should do that.”

I think when it comes to team culture the leader has to be in it with their people, right? A tip I can give you is when you’re talking to your team, when you’re building this business, when you’re creating this culture, instead of using words like–“I think you need to do this and I want to do this,” or, “You need to do more of this.” Try talking to we, “We can all do this better together. If we do X more then Y would happen.”

It takes you off the pedestal and brings you down as an equal and then people feel they are being heard and they are equal to other people. They tend to want to stay and want to do more because it is just so hard to find because most jobs in corporate America, you are stuck at whatever level you are at. You only speak to the boss above you and your team below you. With this business in our industry, I wanted to make it this place where it doesn’t matter where you fall in the organization.

It doesn’t matter how much money you bring in. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to be recognized for the action sometimes over the production, right? Sometimes when I do a sales incentive or some sort of incentive, it’s many times not production-based. Because then I would always be just recognizing and incentivizing the top, top, top–the point one percent. And rather, it’s just, “do one more thing,” or, “host that event,” or, “go and do something out of your comfort zone,” or, “post something like this on social media,” rather than recognizing the production all the time.

It is really important for leaders to create a collaborative community and a culture where people are happy and feel safe. It’s also about shouting out and recognizing someone’s work as opposed to someone’s production.

Drew Appelbaum: I want to go back to the beginning and as you separate the book into three parts, and it follows along as if you’re looking for a forever companion, but in business, and you talk about creating the bonds that live forever. The first thing you have to do is learn about yourself and learn to love yourself. Why is that so important in business?

Miriam Steketee: When it comes to business, sometimes people don’t realize it can be a really lonely road. We all want that big successful organization and it’s lonely at the top. You hear it all the time and it’s so true, so you need to be able to get rid of those past demons inside so that you can be confident, and you can love yourself. Then you can get rid of the bad stuff that maybe happened to you at one time so that you can be the best version of yourself, to lead a team because there are going to be those times where people are coming to you.

Not everyone is always coming to you to say, “You’re doing such a great job.” In fact, most times I am putting out fires as a leader. I am dealing with the day in and day out of bad things that happened, or the one-offs of someone didn’t get their products on time, or something happened, and you need to learn a lot about yourself about how to deal with a lot of different people.

So, if you don’t have that relationship with yourself to know your boundaries, to know your powers of operation, to know when you need to put your phone down or close that email and go for a run or hop on the Peloton or whatever it is and come back to it, that takes time to learn that kind of stuff. Because it is really easy to respond really quickly and that is something that I’ve learned over time is that sometimes you just need to have that idea–whatever happens, kind of marinating in your head–and then decide on an action to take.

You need to have that relationship with you and that confidence that you’ve built over time through personal development, through reading, through podcasts, through exercise, and all of these things. So that you can put your best version of yourself out there because there are going to be a lot of fires to put out and there are going to be negative people and most people aren’t putting in positive reviews, you see the negatives.

So, as you start to build your business, as you become a team leader as I said, it can be lonely at the top. You don’t want to make it lonely so maybe that’s why I always say make sure that you’re in it with your team, and you have those relationships with many different people, so that you can ask for help and you can ask for advice and you can really become that best leader so that your organization is thriving and happy and feels that they’re in a really safe place.

Creating a Safe Place

Drew Appelbaum: In your mind, what do you hope the end goal of the book is for readers? What do you hope they’re really taking away and starting to bring into their own lives after reading the book?

Miriam Steketee: I hope that they take a lot away from this. I really hope that they realize that no one is perfect and that we’re constantly evolving as people. This is a constant–this book is really a guide to growth. I share the anecdotes with dating because, at the end of the day, the end of your dating game is you find the one, right?

Your one is your business, that you fall in love with your business, you marry your business, you marry the people inside of your business, but it takes time to develop relationships. Your relationship with one person might be different from another, and you have to figure out what that relationship looks like with each person. In this book, I share about how to talk to different people and how to create those boundaries with people, and how to put yourself first and love yourself first, and when you love yourself first, you can also love on other people.

Also, you sit down and let other people rise around you. That is such a beautiful thing in leadership, we see so many times so many leaders of organizations who are always in the front. They’re always saying, “This is me, I built this,” but it is not you. To everyone it’s every piece of it that built it. My hope is that somebody reads this book and maybe they’re a mid-level manager or maybe they have a small team and they want to build a bigger team and they haven’t been able to figure out, “Well, what am I doing wrong?”

“I am doing all the things. I’m bringing in the people. I am bringing in the customers, but people just aren’t really sticking.” It’s because they’re not having fun. They are not feeling appreciated enough. They are not feeling recognized enough. For some reason, whatever it is, and sometimes, of course, there’s going to be those people in your organization that just leave because it’s on them, but you want to create a place that people want to stay that they can’t live without it.

It’s like you can’t live without checking your text messages. Why, what is it? It creates something. That phone when it dings, when you get that notification, something inside of you happens, you want to check it. You want people to want to check out what you’re doing, and what your team is doing, and what is happening. You want people feeling like they’re important and in the know, and that they matter. That is your job as a leader is to make other people feel special and important no matter where they are in their cycle.

Drew Appelbaum: Well Miriam, you know we just touched on the surface of the book here but I want to say that writing a book that’s going to help so many folks find themselves and love their business is no small feat, so congratulations on being published.

Miriam Steketee: Thank you so much.

Drew Appelbaum: This has been a pleasure and I am really excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called The Secrets of Dating Your Business, and you can find it on Amazon. Miriam, besides checking out the book, where can people connect with you?

Miriam Steketee: You can connect with me on Instagram @mimistek, on my website at miriamsteketee.com and you can find me on Facebook.

Drew Appelbaum: Miriam, thank you so much for coming on the show, and best of luck with your new book.

Miriam Steketee: Thank you.