Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There’s no comfort zone in entrepreneurship. Develop adversity resilience, and decide that you will persevere. Entrepreneurial success depends upon the willingness to accept change, failure, and unanticipated. This requires a commitment to personal growth, the development of self-awareness and spiritual muscle, and the ability to remain calm and curious in a storm.
As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Teuscher, founder and president of The Buzz Maker!®, an award-winning public relations, consulting, and branding firm.
Teuscher founded The Buzz Maker! in 2005 as a single mother after successfully serving in public relations leadership roles for an advertising and communications firm, and a national publisher. She is Accredited in public relations and certified in negotiation. Since its founding, The Buzz Maker has served nearly 70 brands, and Teuscher has been recognized with awards of excellence for her work.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been a writer since I was very young and have always loved books. In fourth grade, I had the most whimsical teacher named Mrs. White who saw something in me and encouraged me to start writing poetry, which she praised and proudly posted on her cork board. She inspired me.
I became a published poet in my late 20’s.
In college, I studied psychology, behavioral science, communication, listening, persuasion and conflict resolution which helped prepare me for my chosen career in public relations.
After proving my character and abilities as an account manager for an advertising and communications firm, I was promoted to the role of director of communications and my public relations career was born.
With a desire to become highly proficient in my craft and serve the community while having the flexibility necessary to parent as a single mother, I launched my own boutique firm in 2005, and later became Accredited in public relations through the Public Relations Society of America.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The most interesting story of my 15 years with The Buzz Maker is magically related to bees.
It started when I began brainstorming ideas for innovative creative concepts around the celebration of the firm’s 15th year. I wanted to do something that had never been done, but it had to align with our brand and our mission.
When I learned that 1 in 4 North American bee species are currently facing extinction, I knew that we needed to create a plan to help save them.
Bees pollinate 90 percent of flowering plants, and 70 percent of the world’s most important food crops. Without bees, we lose our biodiversity and our food chain.
I had an audacious idea to create and launch a collaborative of local artists and beekeepers to help raise funds for nonprofits working to save the bees, while raising awareness for the bees and empowering others to help.
I made a divine discovery of artist Thom Glick’s “happy bees” and invited him to be part of our planning team. We started asking the big questions.
How can we start small and support local, but create something that can scale? What if the artisans earmark a portion of every sale for nonprofits, and we put up a matching gift? What would it take to do something at the state level that could have far reaching effects, and potentially be replicated nationally?
We reached out to local artisans and beekeepers an invited them to join us, and the collaborative was formed. We partnered with two nonprofit beneficiaries, The Ohio Environmental Council and The Pollinator Partnership.
Because of the seasonal activity of bees (and humans) in Ohio, we planned for a summer launch, and started working on some compelling storytelling.
Little did we know that 2020 would be the year of several grand-scale, simultaneous and persistent crises that included Coronavirus, the evolution of racial and gender equity, an election year, stunning natural disasters, and the scandal around Ohio’s HB-6.
We prayed, meditated, drank beer and consulted with one another.
Should we reschedule? Should anything be changed? Are we insane to do this right now?
We unanimously decided that our concern for the bees and our excitement about the chance to effect change would fuel our perseverance, and we launched as planned.
What happened next was divine. (As we say in our family, a God thing.)
Through story sharing, we raised awareness for the plight of the bees, as well as that of the economically impacted artists and beekeepers in our collaborative.
The nature of the Coronavirus was pushing people outdoors in droves. Everyone was eager to hear some good news, feel connected, and be empowered. Stories of bees, hive products, bee art, and DIY bee-saving projects resonated.
We started receiving phone calls, texts and emails from passionate supporters eager to contribute. Friends and colleagues texted pictures and videos of bees in their gardens and parks. We began receiving referrals, and started forging new bee-saving relationships.
We faced countless unknowns and communications challenges, but being part of this initiative was one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life. We not only raised funds for nonprofits during an extraordinary year, but we expanded our hearts, minds and our inner circles. We are all better for it, including the bees.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Mistakes are great teachers that keep us humble, creative, and compassionate. I make a lot of them. I like to call mistakes “learning moments.”
Early in my experience as an entrepreneur, I distributed a product release to a national trade media audience, and the name of the product was misspelled in the subject line.
Within minutes of distribution, the client emailed me to alert me to the error. Oh, the horror.
What did I do next? I apologized to the client and started working on a correction request.
But, instead of issuing a dry, corporate-sounding message, I sent a humorous personal note that said something like, “A short time ago, you received a news release about this product, and I’m embarrassed to say that the spelling of the product is incorrect in the subject line. It’s correct in the news item, but not so much in the subject line. Clearly I need a vacation.”
I got a number of funny and kind notes from media pros that assured me that everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes. They told me it was okay, and I was okay, and everyone needs a vacation.
I learned a couple of great lessons from this experience.
– When I’m on deadline, slow down and proofread one last time.
– A little humor goes a long way. I’m going to make mistakes, and sometimes I need to laugh at myself and forgive myself instead of spiraling into shame.
– When I own my mistakes, people can be very compassionate and forgiving.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m currently working on the expansion of our bee-saving collaborative, getting educated about pollinator protection, engaging with new bee-centric organizations, and exploring ways we can make a greater contribution.
Our support of clients like Suntrol is helping to reduce environmental impact in cities by mitigating CO2 emissions from buildings and conserving energy by using high-tech, low-emission window films.
Our work with nonprofits like Kateswell supports efforts to raise funds and awareness to help meet the needs of Ohio cancer patients and their families.
Our collaboration with the American Negotiation Institute is supporting business leaders by helping them manage conflict, and successfully navigate emotionally charged conversations around race, equity, justice, and politics.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There’s no comfort zone in entrepreneurship. Develop adversity resilience, and decide that you will persevere. Entrepreneurial success depends upon the willingness to accept change, failure and unanticipated. This requires a commitment to personal growth, the development of self-awareness and spiritual muscle, and the ability to remain calm and curious in a storm.
Create your support team. At minimum your support team should include 5 talented people: A business advisor that will guide you and hold you accountable, a senior leader in your field that is far more experienced and can give you advice and keep you humble, and a business attorney, a CPA and a financial wealth advisor that care about you.
Know your value and establish boundaries. People with strong boundaries are more respected, live happier and more balanced lives, and earn more. No is a complete sentence. It can be stated respectfully. It does not have to be justified or explained. Become comfortable saying no to the wrong clients, people, work, and opportunities so you can say yes to the right ones.
Commit to self-care. Selfcare is not selfishness. It’s necessary. Men tend to have an easier time with this than women do. This might include making time for rest, play, creativity, hobbies, interests, therapy, exercise, meditation, and doing absolutely nothing. And it’s vital to your wellbeing and success.
Get a therapist. Therapy has become a non-negotiable for me. I’ve not met a human that would not benefit from having a therapist. Rumble with your personal stories and lived experiences including trauma, because self-awareness is one of the keys to being a good leader. There is so much we can learn and heal in therapy. Becoming the best version of ourselves requires a lot of big work, and it can’t be done in a vacuum.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Networking is the art of relationship building and opportunity discovery that can help you develop win-win connections, and an inspirational inner circle.
Whether in person, over the phone, via email, or using great connection landscapes like LinkedIn, be intentional with networking by focusing on how you want to build your personal and professional circle and what your objectives are.
Ask thoughtful, open-ended questions, listen deeply to the answers, and reflect and clarify. Listening is one of the most powerful ways to build trust and rapport. Learning about what another person is passionate about, their role, and what they define as a great customer or referral is a great first step.
Whenever possible, prepare in advance, and be ready to present yourself and your mission in a brief, concise and clear way so people understand what you do, and why they should care.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
The best leads are referrals and recommendations, so I start by asking for them. They are cultivated with mutual trust and personal attention, and supported by testimonials and success stories.
There’s no shortcut to building relationships. It requires time, attention, and responsiveness to develop good leads, and to make connections with decision makers. I like tools like Pipedrive to help me manage the process of lead development.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
As a conscious business leader, I’m always working on becoming a better conscious leader.
There are several books that have helped me including Rising Strong and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, Onward by Howard Schultz, Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia, Customers as Partners by Chip R. Bell, Influence by Robert B. Cialdini, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and pretty much everything by Brian Tracy.
The podcasts I’m listening to right now include Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Darma Talks, and Kwame Christian’s Negotiate Anything.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe that the beautifully complex and inseparable connection between human health and wellbeing and that of the natural world must inform the way we live, work, parent and lead.
I would inspire a movement to help others discover, rediscover and deepen the awareness of our inseparable connection to the natural world. I’d inspire others to be a part of the healing and restoration of the biodiversity of the Holocene, and by doing so ensure the healing and protection of all life.
The most brilliant scientists of our time tell us that we now live in the critical decade. And, that we have, at most, 10 to 20 years within which to make the radical, creative, courageous changes that will permit our breathtaking, magnificent planet to heal.
It is my hope to bring my 20 years of experience as a conscious leader and professional communicator, my certification in negotiation and conflict resolution, and my experience in the field of social work and trauma to contribute to such healing and change.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you very much for the opportunity!