Be respectful of your collaborator’s time and talent. For our design and illustration work, we turn to our art director Michael Glenwood who provides a third perspective and some freaking amazing illustrations and designs. And Mike has a busy illustration business of his own. So I schedule our deadlines around his calendar, and he never misses one. I just step out and let Mike and Max work their magic. Of course, if there is question or issue, I step in and the three of us figure out a solution.
As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Hope Katz Gibbs, publicist, journalist, author and serial entrepreneur. She is the founder of Inkandescent™ Inc. — a PR firm and publishing company bringing distance learning classes to women, wellness and kids.
As the president and founder of Inkandescent™ Inc., a PR and publishing company she founded in 2008, www.InkandescentPR.com, Hope has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs’ supersize their small businesses, and reached thousands more with her book, “PR Rules: The Playbook”.
Hope’s mission is to give voice to women and help people create wellness in their lives. She spreads those messages monthly to millions through her online magazines: www.InkandescentWomen.com and Inkandescent Health & Wellness, www.BeInkandescent.com.
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?
Hope says: I started my career as a beat reporter at The Dominion Post in Morgantown, WV after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986. I covered the Buckwheat Festival, blazing fires, and within months was promoted to bureau chief of the office in the neighboring town of Fairmont, WV.
Soon after, I was recruited by The Miami Herald (it had snowed in April in WV so Miami sounded like a great option!) and spent the next six years writing and learning before becoming the associate editor at New Miami magazine. There, I won several awards for writing and reporting from the Florida Magazine Association.
Of course, life always seems to take you on a journey of its own. And in 1991, days before I was scheduled to marry an artist working at The Herald, he called it off.
From there, I decided it was time to learn something new. I applied to the Educational Leadership Program at The George Washington University, was accepted, and the rest of my life as I know it began. Three months to the day I was left at the altar, I met my husband illustrator www.MichaelGibbs.com at an art opening. We married in 1991, had two kids by 1995 — and then in 2014 another chapter of my life began: www.WhyDivorce.us.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Hope says: Give up? NEVER! Since I was a kid, I had a determination to keep going, come what may. My dad was a bookie, left my mother when I was in college for the hostess at the diner, thought it would be fun if we had kids at the same time — and despite the WTF stories, taught me to always “hold your head up,” “don’t be a doormat, and “be a Mench.”
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Hope says: My first week on the job at the Dominion Post, the owner, Jack Reese took me on a trip to a bookstore to buy me a book on journalism. He said, “you have an instinct for this work, but need some fine-tuning.” I took it with stride as the editor, Michael Ellis, who I worked the night shift with took me under his wing. Within a year, Mike had sent me on the most amazing assignments that helped me cut my cub reporter teeth and edited my articles that became the foundation of my career. He also made me a bureau chief three months into my time at the newspaper. Even better, the gift that Mike gave me kept on giving: He gathered all of those articles we worked on together and put them into one newspaper to be his portfolio sample that landed him a job as the editor of a Gannett paper in Pennsylvania.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Hope says: Inkandescent™ Inc. is a company filled with heart and soul. We are a team of storytellers. We care about our clients, our readers, and our mission. This is what has enabled us to work with hundreds of small business owners who agree that storytelling is the best way to build sales. Show it, share it, don’t sell it — and customers will come.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Hope says: Delegate! For goodness sake — don’t try to do everything yourself. You can’t. You shouldn’t. And honestly, you don’t want to. Find people who love what they do, and collaborate with them, support them, enable them to feel empowered and grow with you. I truly believe a business is soul work — it’s not how much money you make, but the lives you touch as you work toward achieving your goals. That’s a team effort. Our motto: We all stand together. If nothing else, it’s more fun that way.
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?
Hope says: Oh, so many people! Like most entrepreneurs who have built a business, there’s no way you can do it alone. While I have heard this tale many times from others, and as a reporter encourage the CEO to take credit (otherwise, who do I feature in the story — surely not the entire team) I understand why they don’t. So I’ll name a few:
- I thank my art director (and now x-husband) Michael Gibbs for his vision, wisdom, and brilliance in creating the look of all of my websites, books, marketing martials, work for our clients, and for truly being the support system that has taught me, encouraged me, and loved me since the day we met on Nov. 11, 1991.
- I thank Kathleen McCarthy, my copyeditor and confidant for a decade. She sat next to me as we wrote, “PR Rules: The Playbook,” struggled through the challenges of doing PR for small business owners, and always had only smart, kind wisdom to share. She is one of the smartest, kindest people I have had the privilege to know.
- Nelson Benavides has been my video editor since 2014. I met him as he was graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, and since then has crafted more than 100 videos for our YouTube channel, www.Inkandescent.tv. To say that Nelson has seen the good, bad and ugly of people when they are on camera and under pressure to perform is an understatement.
- JP Faber, my editor at New Miami magazine, taught me how to truly write a story in 1989. I sat in the chair next to him as he edited my articles for two months. I attribute being able to launch my freelance career in 1993 to him.
- Cynthia de Lorenzi, founder of www.SuccessInTheCity.org is a woman who is not just my collaborator, but I think of her as my fairy godmother. She not only encouraged me to move to Las Cruces, NM in July 2020, she has been a guide and support system that I cannot be grateful enough for. We all need our girlfriends!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?
Hope says: As I said in the question above — no one can do everything well. Not only is it impossible to master the art of web design and development, videography and video editing, writing and copyediting, not to mention proofreading, podcasting, and bookkeeping — why would you want to? Having collaborators makes the work more fun, more interesting, and much more captivating and useful for clients.
In fact, one of the books that I’m collaborating on right now is entitled, “Collabor8,” with my Cynthia de Lorenzi, who I mentioned earlier. As the founder of the international networking group Success in the City, we know that Collaboration is Key.
Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?
Hope says: Ah yes — I know this drama all too well. It’s not because I have experienced it myself, but because so many small business owners have confided in me as their publicist (or the reason they won’t hire a publicist): “I do it all by myself.” It was the battle cry of my kids when they were toddlers, and it doesn’t seem to go away when we become adults.
Indeed, many people launch their own company because they want the pride of ownership. They want to make their mark. And, they don’t want to spend any money. This always amazes me because the way to make money is to spend your time wisely. That means paying for things you don’t need to do (bookkeeping, web development, design, etc.) But it also takes having tremendous balls-to-the-wall faith in yourself and confidence in your idea. It often takes a few years trying to do it all, however, to realize that.
In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?
Hope says: Time. And experience. And a lot of mistakes. Of the handful of helpful life lessons my father imparted was “money rolls away, and it rolls back; don’t sweat it.” As a small business owner and freelance writer for more than 30 years, I have the perspective to know this is true. In time, you develop an instinct about when business is going to roll away, and when it’ll return. It is faith in that knowledge that is born of experience. You just gotta live it.
Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
Hope says: Not only do the talented professionals that I rely on have an expertise that I don’t, I absolutely need their assistance to keep me focused and on track so I can be the conductor of our orchestra.
- Know the strengths of your collaborator so you can maximize them — and make sure they know their weaknesses, too. My web developer Max Kukoy has been building websites for my company, and my clients (about 98 at last count) since 1996. Not only is Max excellent at understanding how to program WordPress sites, email blasts, and more — he helps me think through options in a way that I couldn’t do on my own. However, Max is admittedly not a designer.
- Be respectful of your collaborator’s time and talent. For our design and illustration work, we turn to our art director Michael Glenwood who provides a third perspective and some freaking amazing illustrations and designs. And Mike has a busy illustration business of his own. So I schedule our deadlines around his calendar, and he never misses one. I just step out and let Mike and Max work their magic. Of course, if there is question or issue, I step in and the three of us figure out a solution.
- Focus on building a team that will help make money. Often, before the money, comes the marketing. And since 2012 I have been working to build a video team that will help get our clients, and ourselves, onto YouTube. Quality counts, so I knew I had to invest in a talented video team. It took YEARS to find the right balance. I hired, and fired, dozens of videographers until I found Nelson Benavides (mentioned earlier). His patience, ability to tell a story, attention to detail, and did I say patience (with me and our clients) is what has helped us get nearly 300,000 views on Inkandescent.tv.
- Hire smart. Not just smart in that fit your mission and goals — but people who actually can think on their feet. In 2019, I met a woman named Jan Skierkowski when I was trying to buy another company. After interviewing the team they had at the time, it was clear that Jan was the most savvy and hard-working one they had. Although that deal continues to be a work in progress, I hired Jan to help build our www.InkandescentShop.com in the fall of 2020 because I knew, simply, she could do it. Not only has she mastered the e-commerce system we purchased, she is teaching me how to do it, too. Thank you, Jan!
- Collabor8. In addition to the team that makes Inkandescent™ Inc. run, I have partnered with two other professionals to help build our offerings. Earlier I mentioned Cynthia de Lorenzi, founder of www.SuccessIntheCity.org, who is working with me to build our Truly Amazing Women project through our magazine www.InkandescentWomen.com. Her idea: To create the What’s Next project. Since August, we have interviewed more than three dozen professional women who have shared their thoughts on What’s Next in their lives, businesses, and industries. We are putting the finishing touches on the 2021 What’s Next Journal, that we are collaborating on with your Inkandescent Publishing book designer, Cindy Seip in Miami. We’ll be launching the Itty-Bitty Mini Conference every Wednesday morning for 30 minutes, starting in January 2021. And, to say that Cynthia is not short of clever, fun, fabulous ideas is the understatement of the century. It’s an honor to work with her and turn those ideas into reality. I am also blessed to work with a coach, entrepreneur, and diversity expert in Washington, DC named Tony Farmer. He found me on LinkedIn in 2017, and we knew we’d find a way to Collabor8! When the Black Lives Matter Movement came to the forefront in 2020, we knew that we have to have conversations with lots of people. So we launched the BlackLivesMatterRadioShow.com on our podcast network, www.InkandescentRadio.com. Now, every Sunday night, you can tune in to hear Tony host the show from 6–7pm EST. Surely, a book based on those interviews, published by Inkandescent Publishing, isn’t far behind.
One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
Hope says: I believe, “If you want something done — find the right person / people to do it with you.” Don’t take your eyes off the ball. Coordinate the goals, mission, timeline and be sure the job gets done. But don’t micromanage. Collabor8. Honor the people you work with. Pay them fairly. Share in the gifts and goodies that come. If a client doesn’t pay you — pay them. Their contract is with you. As I said earlier the life lesson my father imparted was: “Be a Mench.” So never never never give up. And always always always do the right thing. And while you are at it — spread the love.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
Hope says: I have started a Revolution with the Truly Amazing Women project / www.InkandescentWomen.com: Together We Stand. I believe that when women come together, support each other and Collabor8 — there’s nothing we can’t do.
How can our readers further follow you online?
- Inkandescent Women magazine: www.InkandescentWomen.com
- Inkandescent Health & Wellness magazine: www.BeInkandescent.com
- My new book: Why Divorce — 5 Reasons to Leave www.WhyDivorce.us
- My online portfolio: www.Powered-by-Hope.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!