Frenchie Ferenczi: “You’re what sets your business apart”

You’re what sets your business apart. We’ve all looked at other people and other companies and wished we could be more like them. The problem with that thinking is that it undervalues your unique attributes — those are the most valuable part of your business. Amplify them. The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes […]

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You’re what sets your business apart. We’ve all looked at other people and other companies and wished we could be more like them. The problem with that thinking is that it undervalues your unique attributes — those are the most valuable part of your business. Amplify them.

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.

As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Frenchie Ferenczi.

Frenchie Ferenczi is a business strategy consultant, chef’s wife, and mom to a one-year-old. She runs a business strategy consultancy that helps time-poor, ambition-rich people build and scale profitable businesses. Before this, Frenchie spent over a decade as a strategy and operations leader in high-growth startups such as The Wing and NeueHouse.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

It’s a strange thing, I remember stories and snapshots of growing up, but I don’t really remember my childhood. I was a pretty sad kid, despite having a lot of privilege. I grew up going back and forth between two homes, and there was a feeling of homesickness that followed me everywhere. Despite that, I have so many funny, wonderful memories. There’s a picture of me from when I was eight years old, I was on a trip in Italy with my family, and my siblings and I are standing in front of the tower of Pisa. I have a short pixie cut (because I had lice) and a swollen eye (because a mosquito bit me). Even though I was itchy and uncomfortable, I grinned for the picture because that’s who I am; I always put a smile on. It’s a great picture. I share it with my newsletter subscribers, and it’s everyone’s favorite. (You can sign up here).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Wherever you go, there you are.” I have my therapist to thank for this one. (I have my therapist to thank for a lot). I spent the first 20 years of my life trying to be something else, trying to fit in at school, fit in at my mom’s house, fit in at my dad’s house. There were so many different environments for me to fit into, and I twisted myself up in knots to do so, not because anybody asked, but because that’s what I believed I needed to do. I’ve spent the past ten years undoing that belief system and getting to know who I am. I’m the only person I have to spend 100% of my time with, so I sure as hell better like her.

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?

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This book changed the way I think about myself and the world around me. It gave me the tools to understand how we can actively change our behaviors and actions and change our thought patterns as a result. More than anything, it helped me to understand how our neurobiology functions to create positive feedback loops in our brain. To me, it grounds hard-to-measure ideas, like manifestation, in science, which makes it achievable and replicable for anyone. We can literally rewire our brains to build the habits that allow us to achieve the outcomes we want. How cool is that?!

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?

I spent over a decade leading strategy and operations in high-growth startups and hospitality businesses. I started in restaurants and then transitioned to co-working and membership spaces (with a brief stint in a hotel). Over the years, I opened ten properties, onboarded 10,000+ members, and launched an app. In January 2020, I went back to work after maternity leave, and I was determined to continue collecting achievements and scaling the company that I was at, at the time. I had big professional goals for 2020, and then COVID hit.

What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?

There were a few factors that contributed to the pivot. I never thought I would say this because my career has always been my priority, but after working from home for a while, I realized that I wanted to be a more present, hands-on mom than I had anticipated before he was born. During this time, I fully embraced mom-mode — nursing my son during Zoom calls, sneaking in playtime between meetings, and I kept wondering how I would ever go back to being away from home every day from 9–6. It turns out I wouldn’t. The company I was working for took a hit due to COVID, and I got laid off. The timing was frightening but perfect. I had always wanted to build my own business, so I decided to take the leap when the moment presented itself.

Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?

As I said, I always wanted to work for myself. I just never knew what my business would do. Then COVID came around, and I saw its impact on moms, and how many of them were forced to choose between their families and their careers. It felt like the most unfair double-bind. That’s when I realized that over a decade of building and scaling businesses, I had developed an unbelievably valuable toolkit that I could share with others who were looking to build and scale their own business.

The cool part was that when it clicked, I suddenly felt unstoppable. It no longer feels like this dream I have. It feels like a purpose. People deserve to feel the sense of power that comes with owning a business and scaling it, and I can help them do that.

How are things going with this new initiative?

It’s been exciting and scary. I’m building a business while helping others build theirs. It’s a tremendous amount of responsibility because people’s livelihoods are hinging on it. That’s what’s motivating too. My focus is on helping time-poor, ambition-rich people scale their businesses through effective, achievable strategies. What I saw along the way is that some people are desperate to start but are, like I was for many years, stuck on not knowing what to do. So I created The Starting Strategy, a mini-course that helps people identify their most profitable skill and kick off their business in a day.

I also work directly with those who already have a budding or thriving business to build a personalized strategy to reach their goals and level-up. Whether they want more time, more money, or all of it, I help my clients define how they’ll achieve their dream outcomes in the time they have.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are two people I have to thank for this. First, I’m grateful to Laura Belgray of Talking Shrimp, who is the best, funniest writer ever, but who also opened my eyes to the world of online businesses. She is the reason I had been thinking about working for myself all these years.

The other person is my most recent boss, Ashley Peterson. When I first met her, she talked about her passion for unlocking people’s potential, and I didn’t fully understand what she meant until I worked for her. Thanks to her direction, intelligence, and patience, I am a far smarter, more capable, and more creative individual. I wouldn’t have had the courage or the skills to start this business if it hadn’t been for the experience of working with her.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, but I realized how much I miss having colleagues to brainstorm with as I’ve been working alone. So I decided to put out a call on Instagram to see if any other moms who were also working for themselves would be interested in joining a group to problem solve work challenges, share mom hacks and survival tips, and just have some new people to talk to. It turns out there’s a need. We have participants from NY, LA, Ann Arbor, Erie, and Atlanta, which is SO cool.

The most amazing part was that in our first meeting, it was like we all already knew each other. The conversation flowed naturally, and everyone was contributing just as much as they were gaining. It made me realize that although this year has been so challenging, it is also uniting us. We have more in common than ever before, and when we choose to support each other — magic happens.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

You’re what sets your business apart. We’ve all looked at other people and other companies and wished we could be more like them. The problem with that thinking is that it undervalues your unique attributes — those are the most valuable part of your business. Amplify them.

Imposter syndrome is a bully. Treat it as such. If someone talked to your friend or loved one how your imposter syndrome talks to you, you’d tell them to back off, right? Do the same for yourself. Imposter syndrome isn’t right; it’s not showing or proving you anything, it’s an inner bully, and it needs to back off.

Perfectionism is a roadblock, not a value. There are times where the most valuable thing you can do is just get something done. Let it be good enough; let it feel imperfect, and let people share their feedback. That’s how you’ll get it where it needs to be, not by holding it to your standards but by building it for your customers.

People matter; focus on them. Whether you know it or not, you’re in the business of people. Your team (if you have one) and your customers are your most valuable assets. Listen to them and use their insights to build the business they need you to build — that’s where your profitability is.

Steer clear of the fast track. It’s tempting to game the system and to figure out the quickest way to your goal. It might work, it might not, but remember nothing is more impactful than doing the hard work. If you are building a business for the present and the future, you’ll be glad you focused on strong foundations.

So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?

It’s so overwhelming, and the part that infuriates me is that the news is designed to create that anxiety. That doesn’t seem right. As a first step, I limit my consumption. Since it’s still important to me to be informed and aware of what’s happening in the world, I make sure to bring my critical thinking tools with me when I do sit down to read the news. One of the people who has helped me do this is Emily Oster. Thanks to her, I have more tools to interpret the data I’m seeing, break it down, and understand it. Lastly, I try to get information directly from people I trust, rather than from news sources. My recommendations here are Jessica Malaty Rivera (COVID), Emily In Your Phone (Politics), and Hitha Palepu, who does a daily #5SmartReads, which are always thought-provoking, informative articles.

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?

I want to start the Work to Live movement. I dream of a world in which people focus on being effective rather than being busy so that they can live their lives the way they want. This means that each person has to start by defining what they want in life — and then figure out how their work can support that. We are all conditioned to believe that work has to be the core component of our lives, but what if it was just the thing that unlocked everything else that matters to you? If what matters to you is more work, go for it. If what matters to you is more family time, that can be achievable. If you’re chasing travel, you can work for that. I just want people to stop working for the sake of working and instead start working for the sake of living.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Honestly? My husband, Salvatore Marcello. He is the kindest, most patient, most generous human I know. If more people were like him, the world would be a far better place. I am so proud to be married to him and so grateful that our son has him as a role model. Can you still tag him? That would be so cute!

How can our readers follow you online?

Sign up for my emails; I’ve been told they’re funny, engaging, and the best “brain vacations.” I also share a lot of resources and tools on Instagram @frenchie.ferenczi. Since I believe in adding immediate value, please dive in by downloading my (free) 7 Keys for Growing Your Business guide.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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