Caroline Kasay Smith of Smith Optimized Scheduling: “Get their life together”

The first thing that an entrepreneur needs to ride the emotional highs and lows is a plan. It doesn’t matter if you are at the very peak of your performance or if you’re at the very bottom. You need a plan. This plan is something that will ground you and give you direction as you […]

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The first thing that an entrepreneur needs to ride the emotional highs and lows is a plan. It doesn’t matter if you are at the very peak of your performance or if you’re at the very bottom. You need a plan. This plan is something that will ground you and give you direction as you move forward. When I reached that low point when trying to break into a bigger market, what kept me going was the plan I had set for every day I worked. The small strides I started to make every day prepared me for the next client, the next meeting, and the next sale. This is what we do at Smith Optimized Scheduling. We help entrepreneurs and people who need to “get their life together” to make a plan that keeps them advancing whether they are at the very top or at the very bottom. You need a plan.

Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Caroline Kasay Smith.

Caroline takes joy in productivity, optimization, and the smiles on the faces of her clients as they find success working with her. Having completed her master’s degree before turning 23 years old, she has had the pleasure to work with Katy Perry, Disney, The London Symphony Orchestra, Hello Fresh representatives, LifeWay, and various speaking events throughout while running her business. An avid reader, Caroline can be found curled up on the couch with her favorite book, cooking, or spending time with loved ones in her free time.

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?

Sure! I grew up in Charlotte, NC as the oldest daughter of NFL Football Player John Kasay. I knew from a young age that my life’s passion was helping people, but it took me a while to figure exactly how. I considered medical school, speech pathology, teaching, and so many more, but none of them felt right. We traveled a lot not only to watch my dad’s games but also to see and experience other cultures and how people from all over the world live their lives. It was important to my parents that my siblings and I were able to be comfortable in whatever situation we were placed in, whether that was in The White House or in the villages of Liberia. These travels also showed us the varying work ethics of people in different cultures, and it gave us the freedom to adapt our own.

I discovered my love for music and reading when I was in elementary school, so I participated in local theater productions, dance competitions, vocal competitions, and just about any other competition I could get my hands on. The skills that I learned in these competitions allowed me to have confidence and ease during speaking events and in meetings with clients. These competitions eventually led to my scholarship acceptance to Baldwin Wallace Conservatory in Cleveland, OH where I majored in music and minored in entrepreneurship. I worked hard and took on 25 credit-hour semesters while at the conservatory so that I could graduate early and pursue my master’s degree. Once I was accepted at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, I started to realize how I could use my unique set of skills to help people. Once again, I was the youngest person ever accepted into the program, and I worked hard to finish the degree a year before my classmates. It wasn’t long after that when my business idea was born, and it has been the greatest source of joy.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

I was actually sitting in a Sunday night small group through our church that we attended in Nashville, TN when the idea started to form. My husband and I were engaged at the time, and we were in a group with 12 other couples who were newly married or engaged and seeking community. As a part of that community building, once a month we would hold a dinner gathering where all of the couples would bring food that fit within a specific theme. We would spend hours talking, laughing, and sharing crazy stories over the food everyone would provide. Before that first gathering, I told our hosts that I loved making spreadsheets and that I would be happy to formulate one so that people could sign up and input whatever they were bringing to the gathering. I invented a type of spreadsheet when I was in high school that became integral in organizing my schedule in high school, college, graduate school, and in the professional sphere so that I could out-perform everyone else. Well, after using that spreadsheet for our group, everyone raved about the efficiency, clarity, and accessibility of the spreadsheet. They were emailing, texting, calling, and speaking with me in person about how much they loved it. For me, it was a part of my life for a long time, so I didn’t think it was anything special. This group convinced me otherwise. A couple of months after that first spreadsheet for the group, I was making them not only for our gatherings but also for group members who wanted me to “optimize” their schedule. I started to see how much it was positively changing people by improving their personal lives and their careers. I finally found how I wanted to help people.

In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?

I was not a natural-born entrepreneur. I grew up wanting to perform and to please people with every breath I took. Entrepreneurs have to be willing to say no. They have to be willing to disappoint people and to be disappointed themselves. Even worse, sometimes being an entrepreneur isn’t about how well you perform. Sometimes it’s just about being available and being present, and those were not natural qualities of mine.

I developed an aptitude for entrepreneurship while I was in college and I realized the skills that I had could be used in innovative new ways. I created an album production launch plan for a recording artist that implemented global charitable proceeds, racial representation, and collaborated with some of the most unique musical genres. Before, I would let someone else tell me what to do and how to do it because my job was to perform and execute. Suddenly, the script was flipped because this plan was my idea. I had to figure out how to be an entrepreneur. So, I enrolled in my first entrepreneurship class and became a student, not of the subject, but I studied the other students. What made them different? How did they think? What was their mindset when they approached their ideas? I watched as one of my classmates started and became the head of software engineering for Blackboard. Another one of my classmates joined Auntie Anne’s brand and settled the agreement between Auntie Anne’s and Nestle. The boy I sat next to started his own online workout channel that exercises 100,000 people a day. The girl on the other side of me became the new head designer for Kate Spade. For an entrepreneurial-minded person, I learned that they are deciding what happens and when. So, I started to make the decisions instead of waiting for someone else to tell me what to do.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

There were so many people who were essential to the beginning of my business. Obviously, my husband was my primary cheerleader and supporter in all of the low points, and it would’ve died years ago if it wasn’t for him. However, there were two people and two interactions in particular that pushed me to start this journey. The first was a coffee meeting I had with the former COO of Hello Fresh, Collette Whitt, who went on to start her own company called Happy Orchard. I met with her at the Starbucks across the street from where I lived, and I made sure to wear my nice clothes, to get there early, and to have all of my questions prepared. She pulled in, graciously bought my coffee for me, and we sat down outside. Like any meeting, it started with small talk and sharing our life stories. When the moment came for me to tell her about Smith Optimized Scheduling, I was ready. I explained the entire business to her and how I would partner with specialists to give my clients a holistic experience. I told her about how I would organize the aspects of their lives so that they have more time to do what they want. I gave her the entire plan. Then, I asked for her advice on how to proceed. What she said will always stay with me. She said, “Just go do it. Don’t bring in all of those other people when you can do it yourself. Don’t tell yourself you can’t do something until someone else tells you that you aren’t allowed to do it, and even then, don’t listen to that 50% of the time. Don’t expect to make money in your first year. Set a goal for yourself to get 2 clients in the first year, and then surprise yourself.” Then, that was it. She kindly offered to help in whatever way she could, and she has encouraged and referenced me to people over the years, and I still look up to her in so many ways.

The second person who put their faith in my business and took me from zero to one, in the beginning, was a friend of mine from our Sunday night group. He worked for Dave Ramsey in Nashville under his Entreleadership team helping small businesses gain leadership skills. I told him about the idea before I launched it, and he started texting me about it, talking about it when his wife and my husband and I were at dinner together, and brainstorming elements and markets for my business. He even pushed me to charge more money than I wanted to because of how valuable he felt my business was. Once I launched our website and social media pages, he started referring my business to any client he felt would need it, he scoured our content for problems, and he officially dubbed himself the #1 fan. It meant the world to me because the entire purpose of his job was to work with growing businesses every day, and he couldn’t stop talking about mine. He and his wife, who is also unbelievably successful in her career as a radio tour manager, told me how much they believed in me and my business every time they saw me, and that encouragement gave me the courage to keep reaching out to clients. They went above and beyond in helping me, and there were days when their enthusiasm kept me hopeful.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Smith Optimized Scheduling is more than business coaching. It’s more than life coaching. It’s more than a personal trainer, and it’s more than a dietician. What makes Smith Optimized Scheduling so unique is that it implements all of those elements and that the purpose is solely to help the client. It isn’t about me. I don’t “sell” myself and my business to our clients so that my name can get bigger. I place myself on the front lines to advocate for the client and to give them the freedom that they need. Our clients come to us when they need to see positive changes in their life and need more time in their schedules. We give them both.

One of our first clients was going through a long, drawn-out divorce and reached out to us for help. She was working as an executive for a company, flew across the country every other week for work, and needed help managing her crazy schedule as it changed when she was either traveling or taking care of her daughters and working from home. The food in her fridge was always old. She was putting on more weight and getting less sleep with every day that passed.

We started by cleaning up her schedule, showing her where her positive pockets of time were, and we stayed on-call for her when emergencies would arise. After three weeks with us, we considered her daughters and our client as a member of our family. In one of our weekly 10-minute meetings, my client told me that she is “able to sit down at night and get to know [my] daughters. We have movie nights and go on adventures together when I never had the time to do that before. I’ve lost 10 pounds of fat and can lift heavier weights than I did before. When I go on trips, I’m able to be present and get things done while still FaceTiming and supporting my family. How did I do anything before you?” The strides she started making in her business made her the CEO and sole owner of the company she worked for. This past January, she sold the company and now lives a peaceful life with her two daughters.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

In my opinion, the three character traits that were most instrumental to my success were persistence, kindness, and that I never stopped dreaming. Especially in the beginning, I was managing my day job while trying to start this business. There were days when I wanted more than anything to push off my S.O.S. work until the next day. However, when I did that, the next day would come and I wouldn’t do it. When I stayed persistent with myself and with my clients, it allowed me to be available to their needs and to my own. Plus, it created even more growth allowing me to quit my day job.

Kindness is a quality trait that is commonly overlooked in the entrepreneurial atmosphere. Everyone wants to be a go-getter, cut-throat producer, but when my clients complete surveys so that I can improve our services, almost all of them comment on how the kindness of myself and my employees was what drew them to us. People who need what an entrepreneur can provide want to work with someone who will treat them with kindness and respect. One of my first clients was a woman who worked in network marketing, and she had reached the end of her rope. She was days away from quitting because she felt like she was grinding away at her business, running herself ragged, and not seeing the results. When we started working with her, we didn’t give her a laundry list of the things she had to do and then act as her drill sergeant to get her to complete them. Instead, I met with her as often as she needed me to, I became her confidant and cheerleader, and I kindly encouraged her to make small adjustments at a time so that she could master them before making another one. Approaching her situation with kindness gave her the ability to see her potential and grow in her business and in her personal development.

The third characteristic might be the most important. I refused to let myself stop dreaming. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be a dreamer. It might be a dream for a better world, or it might be a dream for a new innovation that will change the marketplace. Most of our entrepreneurial clients have dreams to create a better life for their families. None of these are bad dreams! The dreams that I had for Smith Optimized Scheduling changed so often in the beginning, I started to write them down and forced myself to consider it for at least a week before implementing it. Don’t get me wrong, they were all great ideas, however, it would be entirely too much to implement them all upon the moment of conception. My dream started small, and as my business grew, so did my dreams. In the beginning, I just wanted to make enough money to support my husband and myself while he was completing medical school. After my first three clients came within my first month of the business, I quickly realized that I needed to have bigger dreams because this business I was running was changing people’s lives. The dreams I had of watching S.O.S. open doors for other professions, hiring people who desperately needed jobs, and creating a foundation for other companies to thrive became a beacon of hope for me in the hard days. Once I completed one dream, there was always another one written in that notebook to start. Never stop dreaming.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

I love this question. I was given advice a few months into my business that I regrettably took, and I would give anything to go back and shake my younger self out of it. We had been amassing clients for about 7 months and I was reaching my personal limit in the number of clients I could maintain in a given day. I spoke with a business coach about what I should look into for the next steps, and he suggested I hire someone to take on the extra clients. Now, the good advice he gave me was to “hire slowly, fire quickly.” I took that to heart, and the S.O.S. team is the absolute best. The poor advice he gave that I also, unfortunately, took to heart came when he took a look at my schedule. He told me that I was “too involved” in the day-to-day activities of my business and that I needed to take on a more executive role. I needed to hire a lot of people so that I did less work and they did more. So, we conducted interviews and I hired way too many people to manage the clientele we had at the time. I started to hate my job because I was no longer interacting with my clients, but instead, I was spending all of my time filing paperwork for my employees. I felt like the intern instead of the owner. Plus, we didn’t have enough clients for everyone to have a full load, but we still had to pay all of their salaries. This significantly hurt our business financially that year, and I started losing sleep thinking about acquiring more clients for my employees to manage. I lost sight of the purpose of our company in helping people, and instead, I felt myself gravitating towards being money hungry and seeing our clients as dollar signs instead of people. Finally, my husband sat me down one day and told me I had to make a hard decision. I had to let my employees know that we would be transitioning the number of hours they would be working, and their salaries based on our clientele. It was so hard. I took the advice from the business coach and gave people jobs and hope only to take it away from them a few months later. Thankfully, we recovered from the difficult decision I made, and as the word around our business started to get out, we were able to bring back those employees. Also, I didn’t go to that business coach for advice again. I learned never to let someone tell you how to do your job when you’re the one who invented it.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?

So, this is what we do at Smith Optimized Scheduling. The mindset and habits we encourage our clients to adopt help them to avoid “burnout” and maintain a healthy work culture. Here’s what I would recommend to my colleagues who are running a business and have these goals in mind. Take one day every week to do nothing, and make sure your employees know what day this is. On this one day, don’t answer phone calls, texts, emails, or anything work-related. This is your day to spend time with your family, be present in your relationships, and rest. I have found that some of the best ideas I’ve had come to me on these days off. This “one-day” rule should also extend to your employees. Give them at least one day off every week where they are not expected to do anything work-related. No exceptions.

The second thing I would recommend is to allow your employees to be dreamers too. It’s your business, but your employees have a loyalty to your vision too. Be open to hearing ideas and innovations that your employees think of. If I hadn’t adopted this mentality, we would’ve never worked with Disney or the London Symphony Orchestra because I had our clientele focused in narrow avenues, but one of my employees was a total Disney-nerd. She went there every year and decided she wanted to work with some of their employees and directors with Smith Optimized Scheduling. So, I said, “go for it” and she made it all happen. It made her job more enjoyable, and it dramatically improved the quality of our services. For her, it wasn’t a “work assignment” that she felt she needed to complete by a deadline. It was a passion project that she was really excited about, and that she still gets excited about every day.

What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?

When it comes to building trust, credibility, and authority in your industry, there are two things I would advise business leaders to do. The first is to never stop learning. Nobody has it “all figured out,” and even if you think there’s nothing else to learn, you’re wrong. There is always something more to learn about your industry and the people in it. Make relationships where you share your knowledge and expertise with each other so that you’re always learning about how our world is changing. If you’re always learning, your clients and employees will feel like their involvement with you is moving in a positive direction, and that the value you are bringing is constantly improving. Not to mention, it keeps you humble which is always appropriate.

The second piece of advice I would give is to always treat others with kindness and humility. Whether they’re your competitor, your partner, your employee, your client, or the janitor who works in your building, always be kind and treat them with humility. If a client is sitting in the lobby or overhears you speaking on the phone with someone else and they see that you treat everyone with the same caliber of respect, that builds trust. You present yourself as an empathetic business owner who can understand people at the top, at the bottom, and everywhere in between.

Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?

In today’s business industries, it is becoming more about the assets and less about the people who are sitting in the meetings. With the business and entrepreneurial industries being flooded with people from all over the world vying for the consumer’s attention, if you are always trying to learn the directions your industry is going in, and you approach everyone with kindness and humility, you will stand out above the rest. People don’t want to work with someone who they feel would betray them when given the chance. They want to work with someone who will be loyal and work hard for their cause. Especially with some of the technological advances that are being made every day, a client or an investor is going to have to believe in you more than a piece of technology that could replace you. So, you have to give them what technology can’t, and that is a real, honest, hard-working person.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

The most common mistake I have seen other entrepreneurs, CEOs, and founders make when they are starting a business is going too big, too fast without understanding their market. I have mostly seen this in the technology companies I have watched my colleagues attempt to start. I had the unique opportunity to sit in a “shark-tank-like” investor pitch meeting in Atlanta where a high-end investor was receiving presentations for new business ideas to invest in. Afterward, I spoke with her and asked her which ones were “winners” in her mind. Surprisingly, she said the simplest ones. I was younger and was dazzled by the innovative technology presentations where I didn’t know half of the words coming out of the presenter’s mouth, but it looked cool. The investor explained her reasoning to me, and I watched it play out in businesses for years to come. She told me that when the entrepreneur comes in with a massive idea that is highly complicated and is considered marketable to “everybody,” it’s too broad. When you’re starting a company, you start it like you eat a pizza. You don’t open a pizza box, roll up the pizza into a burrito, and then start chomping away. Instead, you open the pizza box and you can see all of the pieces, but you pick one to start with. Once you’ve finished that piece, you move onto the next one. That is how you start a business. Pick your slice and start working in that area. Then, once you’ve established yourself in that market, start working on another one. Now, as an investor, she doesn’t want to open the box and see only one or two slices of pizza because that’s too small. She also doesn’t want someone to roll up their pizza and shove it into her face. One-piece at a time until you’ve covered the whole pizza and then you have a massively successful company.

Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?

As an entrepreneur, you will always be battling the highs and the lows because you are paving your own path. The joys that come with that include the unlimited potential to succeed and a million directions you can go in. However, the pitfalls of being an entrepreneur can come when you make the wrong decision and you have nothing to fall back on. This path that you’re paving might hit a dead end. You don’t have a boss who is telling you that you’re doing a great job and gives you a raise like someone in a “regular job.” No, you’re the boss and you have to make sure that the business is still making money. Someone with a “regular job” doesn’t have the unlimited potential to succeed because they are stuck within the confines of their position, but they have a reliable salary that is always paid on time. An entrepreneur, however, can take their job and their business wherever they want to, but they have to make sure it’s profitable enough to make as much money as they want. When the pressure is placed on one person in running a business, the highs and the lows are unavoidable. It’s how you manage them that makes all the difference.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

Absolutely! One of the best “highs” I experienced in Smith Optimized Scheduling was one of the first. I was on vacation with my family, my husband and I had been married for about two months, and we were trying to figure out how we were going to make money while he was in medical school. We were moving to Atlanta, and my jobs in Nashville couldn’t come with us. Smith Optimized Scheduling was an idea that had been rolling around in my mind for a few months, and I decided to “just go do it” and see if this big transition in our lives would give me the drive to make a big transition in my career. Well, in the third week of S.O.S. existing, I called a friend of mine who was working to advance in her rankings with a network marketing company. Her mentor was one of the top producers for the company, and she had a large network of advocates underneath her. I asked her to give our little business a chance, and she was crazy enough to say yes. She connected me with her lowest producer, a colleague who would be instrumental in her own advancement, and her mentor for me to trial my business on. The pressure was on me to make big transitions in the business careers of three women who were in three very different stages of success. Oh, and I agreed to trial all of them for free in the hopes that they would love it and sign on with me full time. Well, the time came for me to meet with all of them and to build their schedules so that they could see positive changes in their mental health, time management, and rank advancement. I worked harder than I had ever worked to make these three clients experience the freedom and achievement they could reach while working with S.O.S. I was on-call for them during all hours of the day to make sure they had what they needed. It was a lot of work that I was doing completely for free. At the end of their free month, the lowest producer had made significant strides in her daily routine, my friend’s colleague finally started down the path to reach the point to help my friend, and my friend’s mentor offered to purchase our services for three of her team members. That breakthrough took our business from zero clients to three clients I was helping for free, to six clients who were paying full price to work with us every month. All in a matter of one month. Then, the word got out to two other network marketing companies who asked for me to do the same for their producers. That was the first moment when I knew this would be successful. It was truly high that I will never forget as it allowed us to buy our first home, move to a new city, and pay for medical school.

Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.

I faced a challenging period in my business when I felt unusually low after the first year of S.O.S. existing. We were making strides and hitting our numbers, so we decided to target a new market. In the beginning, we worked almost exclusively with network marketers, but I had dreams to take our services to big personalities and celebrities. We had a few clients who fell outside of our network marketer clientele, but they had their own specialized representative on our team. I pulled all of the strings I could, called everyone I knew, and exhausted my resources to tap into that high-quality market. We learned fairly quickly that we weren’t the only people trying to work with a celebrity. At that time, I spoke with a manager based out in Los Angeles to connect with some of his clients and make his job easier. Immediately, he asked how old I was. I thought it was a strange question, but I answered honestly that I was 24 years old. I proceeded to continue telling him about our packages and what we could offer his clients, and he started laughing at me. I was caught completely off guard. I couldn’t understand what was humorous about what I was saying. Finally, I had enough of his demeaning laughter and asked him what was so funny. He proceeded to tell me that my business was a “pipe-dream” if I thought I could land clients who “weren’t my mom’s friends.” By this time, we had already been working with some representatives with Disney, and none of our clients were family friends of mine. They were all honest, hard-working people who were trying to reach their goals. I tried to explain the professionalism of my business to him, but he kept laughing and told me that I didn’t stand a chance working with big names like his clients. I felt confused, defeated, and laid bare on the phone with this person who could open incredible doors for my business, but he couldn’t stop laughing. Finally, we finished the phone call and I just sat in silence trying to process the conversation. In the days after, I started to believe him. I believed that I couldn’t scale up into another market. It hurt my interactions with my employees and my clients for weeks after that. I couldn’t understand why I felt so vulnerable and exposed when someone who could really use our service considered it insignificant. That was an incredibly low point for me personally.

Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?

As I said earlier in the interview, an entrepreneur has to have qualities that allow them to stand out from the rest. They have to have the confidence to forge their own path and make hard decisions. They have to be able to say no and be disappointed in themselves. Well, I was officially disappointed in myself. I felt as though I had failed at this new venture and it potentially blacklisted my business in this new market. However, being an entrepreneur is also about being available and being present. So, that is what I decided to do. I made myself available to new clients, and I was present with our current clients. It wasn’t a quick bounce back, but it rekindled my love for our clients, and I started to enjoy my job again. About three months after that terrible phone call, one of our clients told me that her son-in-law was a doctor who has created a large following on social media. He was hitting the “big personality” level of his career. She told us that he needed help managing the day-to-day changes and finding ways to stay successful in his business. One month later, he became our first “big personality” client. Did I recruit him? No. Did I call his manager and publicist? No. I stayed present with my current clients and that was how we broke into that next level. His mother-in-law was responsible for my bounce back.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.

The first thing that an entrepreneur needs to ride the emotional highs and lows is a plan. It doesn’t matter if you are at the very peak of your performance or if you’re at the very bottom. You need a plan. This plan is something that will ground you and give you direction as you move forward. When I reached that low point when trying to break into a bigger market, what kept me going was the plan I had set for every day I worked. The small strides I started to make every day prepared me for the next client, the next meeting, and the next sale. This is what we do at Smith Optimized Scheduling. We help entrepreneurs and people who need to “get their life together” to make a plan that keeps them advancing whether they are at the very top or at the very bottom. You need a plan.

The second thing an entrepreneur needs is a community. These are people who believe in you, who believe in your business, and will be honest with you no matter what. They keep you accountable, give you release from the tension that builds in running a business, and provide perspective when you are looking at a situation too closely. It is important that your community comes from outside of your workplace. Your employees and your partners cannot be your community. Don’t get me wrong, they need to be driven people who believe in you and believe in the business, but because you are providing their paycheck, they won’t be fully honest with you in the bad times. My community was one of the first things that I built when starting my business. I have a mentor who worked in the executive circles for 20 years, friends who work in other markets and believe in my business, and young entrepreneurs who bounce ideas off of me and keep me relevant. These are the people I call when we land a new client, when we consider breaking into a new market, and when I need a shoulder to cry on. They give me hope when I don’t have any, and they celebrate with me when great things happen.

The third thing an entrepreneur needs is a “mental workout.” Your self-talk drives most of the decisions you make as an entrepreneur, so if you can learn to manage your mental pathways, then you decide how you perform. I use my mental workout before every phone call I make and before I start work in the morning. If I start to doubt myself, I do my mental workout. When a client brings an insurmountable problem to my desk, I do my mental workout. It pulls me out of my negative line of thought, and it aligns my thoughts truthfully. This skill is something we implement with all of our clients and it has allowed them to break down barriers that they couldn’t touch before. It doesn’t take long, and every time I do it, I feel myself controlling my self-talk with more efficiency.

The fourth thing every entrepreneur needs is a day off. I mentioned this earlier in my interview, but every person should take one day out of the week to do whatever they want to do that is not work-related. Your employees should know what day this is so that they know not to bother you. This day off gives you the release and perspective that you couldn’t get if you worked seven days a week. In Peter Scazzero’s book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality,” he talks about the importance of taking a “sabbath day.” This is the term that means a “day of rest” every week. He tells the story of two groups of settlers who were expanding to the western coast of the United States. They started on the east coast and both set out on the same day. The first group decided that they were going to travel every day until they arrived at their destination, rotate driving the wagons in shifts, and arrive faster than the other group so that they could settle first. The second group decided to travel the same path, but they would take one day off every seven days to rest their animals and for the people to rest. Well, time went on and both groups arrived at the exact same time. How did they arrive together? The first group trudged along at a slower pace and didn’t give their drivers or their animals a break causing them to tire out faster. The second group was able to move more swiftly throughout the week because they had that one day of rest motivating them and giving them time to recuperate before setting out again. More than that, they were rested and ready to start building and settling when they arrived, while the first group had to take a few days to rest before starting building. As an entrepreneur, you will work better, and your business will run more efficiently if you take one day every week to rest. This day of rest will allow you to recover from the lows and enjoy the highs exponentially more.

The fifth thing every entrepreneur has to do to manage the highs and the lows is to take time to celebrate. This business that you have poured your heart into is going to be hard. You knew that before you started. So, when good things happen, celebrate it! I have found that when something positive happens in my business and I steam-roll right through it and take on the next thing, I lose sight of the good things that have happened. It makes the accomplishment seem insignificant compared to the new task I have undergone, and it makes that task even harder. However, when I allow myself and my team to celebrate the goals that we have met, everyone is able to see the fruits of their labor. These celebrations become anchors that my team and myself can refer to when we are in the middle of a, particularly difficult task. It gives us something to look forward to and something to work for. Plus, who doesn’t love being recognized for a good thing they have done? It builds a community of love, respect, hard work, and celebration. Enjoy the good things and celebrate them properly. Pop the champagne!

We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is when no matter what, you give no ground. If that means you stand immovable, crawl, walk, run, or hike forward, resilience is when you refuse to revert backward. Resilient people listen to counsel but decide for themselves whether or not they will take it. Resilient people are willing to take on the hard tasks to reach a better ending. Resilient people are able to see the shoreline when they are in the middle of the ocean. The most resilient people I know are the most hopeful people I know, and they inspire me every day to do the same.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?

When I was a senior in high school, I was training to get accepted into a collegiate dance program. I was balancing school, volleyball, competitive dance, student government, and I was the captain of my school’s dance team. I woke up every morning at 4:30 am to run before school because my afternoons and evenings were filled with practices and homework. My body fat percentage was at an all-time low, my GPA was at an all-time high, I was eating chicken and vegetables for every meal, and I was solely focused on getting into a top-tier collegiate dance program. I went to my try-out for Florida State’s dance program and walked away feeling confident. The following weekend was the state dance competition to qualify my team for nationals. We trained and practiced harder in that week than we ever had before. As the captain, I held myself to a higher standard and expected myself to train more than anyone else. So, I did. On Saturday morning, we made our way onto the practice floor before presenting ourselves before the judges. We ran the routine, made our final touches, and walked out onto the floor in front of the judges and the arena of onlookers. Fifteen seconds into the routine, as I completed a double turn into a split, I felt my knee pop and my left leg caved underneath me. The burning, aching sensation from the inside of my left knee felt like an arrow had been shot clean through it. I stood back up, kept my weight on my right leg, and kept going. Thirty seconds later, it caved again, and I went down. I used my hands to pick myself up, and I felt my breath start to catch as I was heaving in lungful after lungful of air. I didn’t even feel the tears streaming down my face as I kept going. I tried for another turn and felt my tibia twist, but the rest of my leg refused to move. I fell for the third time and crawled to the final position with the rest of my team. My chest was heaving, my leg was completely limp, and a security guard had to walk onto the stage to carry me off. At that moment, I felt my collegiate career crumbling. I tore my ACL that day, and the doctors told me it was a 1-year recovery process before I could dance again. I couldn’t try out at any of the other programs. One of the programs located in Cleveland, OH called me as I was sitting on my couch after surgery. They wanted to scholarship me into their program starting in the fall based on the recruiting camp I did with them the summer before. They didn’t know about my injury. This was my last opportunity. I had six months to learn how to walk again, run again, and then dance again. So, my dad threw me into the pool four days after surgery and told me to swim. Thus, began the longest, hardest six months of my life. I learned how to truly hate my body during the time it took for me to get back on my feet again. That was when I learned true resilience. I went from the best shape of my life to being unable to walk. However, I learned to stand, to crawl, to walk, to run, and then to dance, and I gave no ground. Six months later, I walked onto the stage in Cleveland, OH, and became the only freshman selected to participate in the professional production that year.

In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?

I have always been a glass-half-full person. I believe that in life we have to stay positive while staying realistic, otherwise, how does anyone enjoy anything? When things get difficult, staying positive is part of my mental workout. I anchor myself to the positive truths that I know, and it allows me to overcome those difficult times with a level-minded approach. There are so many good things in our lives to remember, and when we get caught up in the negative, we are actively ignoring the good. That never creates an environment for productivity and change. Only in staying positive and in remaining optimistic can we overcome difficult situations.

Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.

A leader’s positive attitude defines the workspace and the relationship with their team and their clients. As the leader, you are shouldering the brand of your business. Therefore, the way that the leader composes themselves is the guideline for the team. It also creates an environment of trust and safety with the client. When the client feels like their representative is positive about their situation, they have hope that whatever issue they bring will be sorted out. This builds trust. The same principle applies to the team. When a team member is having a bad day or isn’t performing as well as they usually are, if the leader takes a positive approach to the situation, it is dealt with in a more mature and effective manner. We experience this all of the time with our clients. They come to Smith Optimized Scheduling because they feel like their life isn’t looking as successful as they want it to, but they don’t know how to get there. We target the positives in their schedules, the pockets of time that they can use to advance, and the most effective ways to reach their goals. If we become pessimistic and negative about their situation, they would never work with us. We bring a positive approach so that our clients can see positive results.

Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?

My favorite quote that I have posted all over my house is from the Bible. It is in 2 Timothy 1:7 and it says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” It seems so simple, but those three qualities are what pulls me out of my fears every day. I bring a spirit of power, love, and self-control to the interactions I make in my business, my relationships, and in my life. That spirit of power, love, and self-control can only come from God. I remember how this verse became instrumental in one of the first connections that I made with a network marketing company. I was nervous that they would reject me, belittle me, and pick apart my business. While the phone was ringing, I was reciting the verse in my mind. The woman I was calling picked up the phone and said, “Hello,” while I was still mentally running the verse. I responded by saying, “Hi,” and then instead of introducing myself, I accidentally said, “For God gave me a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Immediately, I was mortified. She just paused and said, “Well shoot, I would love some power, love, and self-control. Who might I ask is calling?” I laughed and introduced myself, and she became one of our first connections. Still today she will call me and ask about my “spirit of power, love, and self-control.” She gave us 8 clients that year. Ever since then, that verse has been on repeat in my mind whenever I am facing something new.

How can our readers further follow you online?

You can find us on our website at and we have just launched our own Instagram page also found @soscheduling. You can also follow me personally @Clinekasaysmith to stay updated with my life and Smith Optimized Scheduling. This has been a delight to complete with you guys, and I hope to collaborate again in the future.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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