In the same spirit, participate in digital summits or online events. Either as speakers, or as sponsors. This is also a great tool to be seen as an expert in their field (whether as a brand or as an individual) proving why they are the go-to for what they do, and if they’re being sponsors, they get instant visibility and can attach their name to innovative or disruptive events that people want to be a part of, again going back to PR.
As part of our series about “How To Use Digital Transformation To Take Your Company To The Next Level”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sabrina Scholkowski at www.sabrinasc.com
Sabrina is a former Fashion & Beauty Social Media/Branding Expert who left the corporate world to pursue entrepreneurship. She is now the host of Pretty Sure Podcast, a show for millennials still figuring life out, a Podcast Coach for entrepreneurs and soon-to-be Podcast Agency Owner. Her passion is to connect with others and be able to share their stories and her own to inspire and impact the most people possible to let go of imposter syndrome & live confidently.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Looking back at my story, it feels a little all over the place! See, I actually started my career in Fashion studying Communication & Marketing which led me to work as a journalist and art director in magazines, to assist in fashion shows & showrooms for big brands like Burberry, Veronica Beard, Azzedine Alaïa, etc. It then took me into the media world and advertising, and I ended my last corporate stint in PR & social media for a beauty brand in a big conglomerate. If you connect the dots, you can see I always loved the story telling and connection aspects of what I did, so naturally some sort of journalism had to be in the picture. Which is how I ended up in Podcasting, even if purely by accident, Podcasting has everything I liked: telling my own story and my guest’s stories, networking and finding guests as well as connecting with them, and getting to interview them and be curious about different topics.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Well I don’t know if it’s the funniest, but it’s surely the one I remember most in my entire journey. I initially was launching a branding agency for sustainable and eco-friendly brands, so I had connected with a French sustainable fashion entrepreneur through LinkedIn, and we set up a meeting so I could ask for some advice or partner to compliment his own services with my business. In the meeting though, it turned completely 180 and he basically tried to convince me to shift my entire idea into something else (focus on the distribution and factory side by helping to brand them instead) saying my original idea was terrible. He had me go to a textile convention where I pretended to be an investor to see if these factories could use some branding help (I was pretty convincing, as I got most of their emails). I ended up realizing it was BS, not something I was interested in, and looking back, I can see he probably was intimidated by my idea and wanted to deter or discourage me from it. The lesson here is, if you think you have a good idea and are passionate about it, don’t let ANYONE convince you otherwise and try before changing course or giving up; you never know people’s motivations behind their advice. In the end it all worked out for the better, but I could have avoided 3h of talking about fabrics and supply chains…
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I can definitely chalk it up to my mom and also my business coach Amy Crumpton. My mom for always lifting me up and believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and called her at (her) 6 in the morning crying because I felt like a failure and completely lost in life without knowing what my purpose was, and her economic support and unwavering belief in my goals and that I’d eventually figure it out. And Amy, for helping me realize my heart wasn’t in branding, but rather podcasting, and also helping me see there was a different way to achieve success and grow a business: MY way.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Powerhouse Women podcast. Lindsey Schwartz, the host, was the biggest influence in me starting a podcast and a business. Her interviews with other successful founders, and businesswomen helped me see that no entrepreneur really starts out as an entrepreneur, we go through career changes or challenges and then decide to start a business. And no matter your background, it’s truly possible for YOU if you believe in yourself and just keep pushing forward no matter what life throws at you.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
I initially had the vision of helping the world see sustainable brands as “sexy” and alluring brands too (in their own way obviously) and to make sustainability mainstream. With the business change, that also shifted, but now with podcasting, I see the reason why I wasn’t as connected to my previous vision, was because it wasn’t deep enough. I now realize me and my company’s purpose, is to make an impact and help people truly connect & step into confidence. I want us to be synonymous with confidence and podcasting.
Are you working on any new, exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
I’m currently working on releasing a podcasting course with a holistic vision to it encompassing PR, branding and podcasting so you create a brand, not just a show. And I’m also launching a podcast agency focusing on creativity, disruptiveness and connection. With the course, I want to help make podcasting the new blogging: mainstream, accessible, and a form of storytelling that’s fun and creative, and help people be more confident and share THEIR unique stories with the world. And with the agency, I want to help entrepreneurs and brands include podcasting into the mix, but bring creative direction into it so they can still be somewhat disruptive and innovative in their own ways and yet be able to connect with their audiences.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion about Digital Transformation. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what exactly Digital Transformation means? On a practical level what does it look like to engage in a Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is quite literally, adding digital technology into businesses and shifting ones mindset to adapt to the times while using these new technologies to innovate in any way. And practically, there are many ways to adopt digital transformation from the way teams work together and workflows are managed (i.e going from using Word, to now using connected apps like ClickUp or Notion), to using AI and automations to work smarter not harder and increase creativity, to organizing virtual summits and participating in digital events or media.
Which companies can most benefit from a Digital Transformation?
Every single company out there can benefit from Digital Transformation. From the mom & pop shops, the solopreneurs to small business and all the way to the big corporations. There’s no size requisite to adopt digital transformation, each level of business can adopt different tools.
We’d love to hear about your experiences helping others with Digital Transformation. In your experience, how has Digital Transformation helped improve operations, processes and customer experiences? We’d love to hear some stories if possible.
Without digital transformation I wouldn’t even have my business, as technology is a part of every single thing I do. Digital Transformation has made working with a team much easier and smoother as people don’t even need to be in the same room, building or country even to work together. I live in Paris, my right-hand lives in Canada as well as my marketing assistant, and the people in charge of editing my podcast live in the Philippines; my production team for my clients live in different cities in the US and Portugal. So the only way we’re able to communicate & follow-up with our work and to-do lists is thanks to apps like Airtable & ClickUp. As for my first client for example, she found me through a Facebook post I did inside a group, she then listened to my podcast, was a guest on an episode which we live streamed to Youtube, and ultimately hired me to help her launch a podcast afterwards. We did coaching through Zoom, screen sharing and kept in touch daily via a voice app called Voxer. Digital Transformation allows us to have so many natural touchpoints in the whole process, that it doesn’t seem forced or excessive, it helps provide support and connection with our clients, guests, or audience.
Has integrating Digital Transformation been a challenging process for some companies? What are the challenges? How do you help resolve them?
Oh for sure! A lot of big companies are particularly resistant to change because of the “that’s the way it’s always been done here” or the fact that some people fear they’ll become obsolete if they implement X or Y thing in their business. Or, are even afraid of adapting and using new media (like podcasts) or social media apps (like clubhouse or previously Tik Tok) because “it’s not been fully tested yet” “it’s unpredictable” and “metrics are unclear”. And while yes, they do have a point, one can’t really be innovative or disruptive if we’re not willing to take some sort of risk and be early adopters of something that may or may not work out. What I’ve encouraged brands and entrepreneurs with particularly when it comes to podcasting, is to explain the benefits and exposure having a podcast or being a guest can bring to your business. It’s not always about the immediate monetary gain, but about the exposure and word of mouth being an early adopter can bring your business. It’s why we currently see 6-figure, 7-figure and beyond entrepreneurs spend time hosting free rooms (like a virtual stage) and giving free advice on Clubhouse and going on Podcasts and giving free advice as well… the ROI (return on investment, in this case of time) is much higher on the long run than that one particular free thing they provided. You resolve the challenge by shifting the perspective.
Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are “Five Ways a Company Can Use Digital Transformation To Take It To The Next Level”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Take advantage of Podcasts both as guests and as hosts.
A podcast can take many shapes, for example if a CEO or C-suite member starts a podcast, it could bring visibility to the brand, and show a different side of this person that allows outsiders to understand the business in a different light, same if they were a guest on someone else’s show. Or, it could be used as an internal tool to spotlight outstanding members of the company, or for employees to hear about what other jobs entail, or even for outsiders that are searching for a job to understand the company culture and thus want to be a part of it and apply for a job. It’s all about word of mouth and free publicity.
- In the same spirit, participate in digital summits or online events. Either as speakers, or as sponsors. This is also a great tool to be seen as an expert in their field (whether as a brand or as an individual) proving why they are the go-to for what they do, and if they’re being sponsors, they get instant visibility and can attach their name to innovative or disruptive events that people want to be a part of, again going back to PR.
- Update their processes and systems to get with the times. When I was working in the media agency back in the day, it was really frustrating because our main form of communication was email, or skype. Many emails would get lost, we’d have to search for hours for a particular message if needed, and people would take ages to respond as well. No one really even knew who did what in the company, so we were forced to ask our colleague to then ask a colleague they knew for someone’s contact or name to search in the database. And don’t get me started on using Office suite to get presentations and documents done… if companies move to systems like notion, clickup or even slack, the potential is limitless! It’s much more efficient as coworkers can be in the loop of what is being done at what time and by whom, to-do lists that can be easily crossed off, and a bigger sense of connection and teamwork would be instilled.
- I feel like this is still relevant as a lot of companies have not implemented it yet (though it’s beginning to be the new norm) but remote work is LIFE-CHANGING! It allows you to find real talent for your brand or business regardless of where they’re at in the world and avoids the hassle of relocating and paying for the entire process as a brand, where the funds could easily go to incentives or better salaries for example. And by implementing these apps mentioned above, teams can be more productive and have a better sense of camaraderie and collaboration.
- This is no secret but: AUTOMATIONS!! Truly it’s a game changer. Using apps like Zapier that connect Zoom to a Google or Excel sheet to a lead capture form, to a website is the reason more things can get done in a day. It allows an employee (or solopreneur or business owner) to have systems that work for them and not work FOR their systems and gain back time that we all so desperately need. Instead of filling out boxes in excel from a lead magnet for potential clients, you can have the apps do it for you, or go a step further and have an app like Dubsado, go through an entire workflow for you that works automatically. It takes a bit of time to implement, but once it’s set, it works like clock-work and you can have things done even while you sleep with no regards of time differences.
In your opinion, how can companies best create a “culture of innovation” in order to create new competitive advantages?
The easiest way is to encourage their employees to think outside of the box and have an open door policy so when someone has an idea or a way to improve a service or process, bosses & decision makers are open to listening to these ideas (or reading via email) and don’t shut them down because the employee is “nobody” in the company. That was one of my personal struggles in corporate, the companies I worked for even though they were supposedly innovative, they were focused more on hierarchy and respecting the old way of working rather than trying the new way and so creativity and innovation wasn’t really supported.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” C.S.Lewis.
I love this quote because it reminds me that everything I’ve gone through in life, has led me to where I am, and it’s my decision where I go from here. Meaning, what’s already done you can’t change, but you can always change your perspective or learn from your mistakes, start over (as a new you) and move forward with these lessons and changes on to the next thing. It’s particularly inspiring because looking back at my first year in business I made so many mistakes starting with doing something I wasn’t passionate about, but I can’t go back and change that, I can only improve and take those lessons with me since I now know better and can be and do things better to change my future rather than stick with the old ways and with what didn’t serve me.
How can our readers further follow your work?
You can go check out my weekly podcast, Pretty Sure on all streaming platforms (https://prettysurepodcast.com/latest), connect with me on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thatigrlsabrina) or visit my website to find out more: https://www.sabrinasc.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!