You don’t have to have all the answers, just be willing to ask for help and work together. I used to think I had to know everything about business in order to be a successful leader, and put a lot of pressure on never letting anyone know whether or not I didn’t know something. Now, several months in, I’ve realized you DON’T have to be good at everything or know it all, that’s what hiring people is for, so you can get experts in their field to be a part of the team and help you.
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 Sabrina Scholkowski.
Sabrina is a former fashion/beauty marketing & PR expert turned entrepreneur. She’s overcome bullying, self-esteem issues & lack of confidence and has made her mess become her message. She fell in love with podcasting when she started Pretty Sure Podcast, and now coaches other millennial entrepreneurs on how to take their story and create podcasts that impact lives and grow their businesses.
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?
I’m excited, and I love this question because I actually had a somewhat atypical childhood. Firstly, I’m Mexican/German but after being born, I spent the first 4 years of my life with my parents in the United States until eventually moving back to Mexico when I was 5. So since I was little, I was exposed to different cultures and pretty much was trilingual since I learned to speak, and growing up, my parents always had this philosophy I guess that’s what you can call it? That travel teaches you just as much as school does, and so I always got great grades in school, was one of the smartest kids… but didn’t have many friends, and never ever got an award as I was disqualified for having so many missed school days from going along on business trips with my parents for my father’s work. Between traveling with them, moving to different cities because of my dad’s work, and being an only child, I grew up much faster than most of my peers, and still bring that with me to this day. I’ve moved a total of 17 times now, including 7 different countries, and speak 4 languages fluently, and as I say this, I want you to know it’s not a brag, it is just my reality, and I don’t know another life. As much as it’s brought difficulties with keeping friends or having a “home”, I’m grateful for this crash-course in life experience through our family life because it’s made me who I am today, an ambitious young woman that lives life to the fullest each day and wears her heart on her sleeve.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I don’t know who wrote this, but I read it once in a book and I related to it so much, it’s almost as if it was written for me (cue the eyeroll): “Before you start to judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I’m living. If you get as far as I am, just maybe you will see how strong I really am”. I don’t share this as often as I should, but growing up, I wasn’t particularly the happiest child when it came to friendships and school, don’t get me wrong, I WAS a happy kid, but I kept to myself a lot or had fun with my cousins and family rather than friends. So it was a hard time in my life, I had always wanted siblings, and struggled to make friends because we were either moving, or people thought I was weird or pretentious because I was different, and spent a lot of time alone, and was bullied a lot too. And I still have that now, you know, people see my Instagram or what I’ve accomplished so far, and they think oh, she’s a daddy’s girl, she got everything handed to her, look at her being confident and all that, and what they don’t see, is that it’s taken me a lot of conscious rebuilding, working on myself, and regaining that confidence I lost after all the bullying and toxic relationships I had, and everything I have, I’ve had to work extra hard to get.
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?
I’ve mentioned this podcast in previous interviews, but it truly is the reason I’m here sharing my story now: Powerhouse Women Podcast by Lindsey Schwartz. I discovered it last year, and something about the way she spoke or the questions she asked, just clicked in me and I realized: I was meant for more. I can’t explain in words what exactly happened, but hearing other women unapologetically share their stories, ambitions and their success, helped me see that that could be me too. I’m a journalist at heart and I’d been putting it off for long enough, but I just love sharing people’s stories and understanding what makes them happy, successful or just be who they are, and thanks to Lindsey, I got the courage to pursue exactly 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 had been in the fashion industry doing communication and PR for about 5 years working for brands like Burberry, Veronica Beard, Azzedine Alaia working backstage at shows, in showrooms, magazines and whatnot, and right before the pandemic hit, so August of 2019, I had shifted into the beauty industry in a similar role. I left my job in January to find a company whose values aligned more with mine since I had a newfound passion for sustainability, but little did I know what was to come. I started freelancing for my previous company doing some copywriting and social media consulting to make some money while looking for a new job, and then went on to create my branding consulting agency just weeks before covid hit and everything changed.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
Funnily enough, thanks to the pandemic, I started my podcast as a way to entertain myself, others, and “socialize” while indoors, which I wouldn’t have had a need or desire for under any other circumstance. And several months later, podcast in tow, and after the second wave hit, I realized this isn’t going anywhere and decided to fully lean into my passion, stop doing branding and become a podcast coach. Now, I’m onto creating an online PR & Production podcasting Agency as well.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
People usually have a story to tell about how someone just told them something, or they were in their lowest moment and it just clicked for them and off they were on this new adventure, but I don’t really have something like that. Looking back, for me (and this is going to sound crazy), it was more of an internal push. I just got this feeling all of a sudden and out of nowhere, that THIS is what I should do, start a podcast. And when I say out of nowhere, I mean I had never considered starting a podcast, I was never even curious about it and had no particular knowledge of podcasting whatsoever before that moment. Then one day, I was talking to some friends about their origins and whether they felt more from one nationality than another, and it hit me, we’ve all felt alone or misunderstood at some point, and that’s how Pretty Sure came to be.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Better than I could ever have expected or imagined! I’ve been podcasting for almost a year, and have interviewed over 60 people now from different walks of life, ranging from influencers, business owners, to writers and more interesting people whom I would’ve never been able to meet or talk to otherwise. It’s such a full-circle moment, especially having been in the fashion industry, to now get to talk to thought leaders in the industry and have direct contact with them… I’ve also turned podcasting into my business and now coach creative entrepreneurs on the entire process from idea through interviewing and marketing to launch phase, which means I’m successfully making money from podcasting in ways I didn’t even imagine. And, to top it off, I’ve now created an online PR & Production podcasting agency from the demand I’ve had for it.
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?
The answer to these types of questions will always be my mom! She’s been my biggest supporter, she listens to each episode the minute it airs and always asks questions on who I’ve interviewed on that particular day we’re talking. At times when I felt like my story was not important, or felt like giving up because no one was listening or I was especially negative, she’d just tell me I was doing amazing, and shouldn’t give up, I was about to make it. This has become sort of my motto, and whenever I’m feeling stuck or gloomy, I’ll just repeat to myself: “You’re about to make it, don’t give up!”. I can even accredit the name of my podcast to her, she was visiting me last March and accidentally said the phrase I’m pretty sure you can do this, and I liked the ring of it, so it just stuck, and I called the podcast Pretty Sure.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Oh they’re so many, and mostly involving guests for the show, but one that is happening this month and I’m particularly excited about, is I’m interviewing one of my favorite bloggers and authors, Tova Leigh, for an episode. It was all very serendipitous, see, since launching Pretty Sure Podcast, I’ve gained back the confidence I lost years ago, and now challenge myself constantly to get out of my comfort zone so I can grow. So I came across an announcement on her Instagram, and submitted a secret dating story for her upcoming book as a spur of the moment thing. I got an email in January that they needed my permission as the story had made it into her book, and while I responded, I decided to shoot my shot and ask her people if she’d like to come on the show for an interview. And lo and behold, she agreed, so now, I’m interviewing Tova Leigh for my podcast, and it’s just mind-blowing to me that I get to do this because I used to dream about these things as a kid but never thought they would end up happening…
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 don’t just want to hire anyone or the first person that comes along, even if it’s an internship. I have a funny story for this, so before finding Nathalie, my current right hand as I like to call her, I tried hiring 3 people on a trial basis sort of like an internship. The first one, a university student about to graduate, signed the contract, started the onboarding process, and one day later she quit as she had found a job and didn’t want to continue with me. The irony is, several months later she responded to a social media post I did saying she wanted to launch a podcast and needed help… The second person I hired, signed the contract, started the onboarding process and then her computer broke down, and she ghosted me, to this day I haven’t received a response to my: “how are you and what happened to your computer?” text. And then I found Nathalie who’s just amazing, and the best person I could’ve ever found to help me in my business. So it just goes to show, sometimes hiring with a deadline/rush, leads to the wrong people.
- You don’t have to have all the answers, just be willing to ask for help and work together. I used to think I had to know everything about business in order to be a successful leader, and put a lot of pressure on never letting anyone know whether or not I didn’t know something. Now, several months in, I’ve realized you DON’T have to be good at everything or know it all, that’s what hiring people is for, so you can get experts in their field to be a part of the team and help you.
- We is always better than I. I saw the act of hiring as something that was either black or white: so you either had someone working full time for you, or you worked alone but boy was I wrong! You can hire contractors, project-based freelancers, VA’s, hourly, virtually anyone and for any amount of time. When I realized I could hire people for specific things I hate doing (like Pinterest managing, or systems operations, or even cleaning out my email) without breaking bank, my life rally changed!
- You learn to be a leader by doing. I felt like a fraud before I hired my first team member, I felt like a fraud for even thinking I needed one, even if it was an intern at first. I actually talked to my coach about this, and she suggested I get an intern to help me with some things in my business a couple of months back, and the mere thought of that was: but I don’t know how to be a leader, why would anyone want to learn from me where I’m at right now? And here’s the truth: a lot of people!! And not just for me, but for everyone, for you, in general, reading this. We don’t need to know how to do it, we just have to have the desire to learn how to be one and try and do things as best as we possibly can. I’ve learned that a leader doesn’t inspire by knowing it all and having it all figured out, but by the choices, we make and the way we handle things and treat others and what we do when we’re uncertain.
- It’s okay to become friendly in a small team. People in a small team often become a family, and if it’s a good organization or business, you can even become somewhat friends. I had pretty bad experiences in the corporate world where my bosses would be just that, not leaders, but bosses talking at me and not interested in teaching but preaching their way as the only way. I vowed not to repeat that mistake, so when I first started hiring people on the team, I struggled with the boundaries of: I think this person is excellent at what they do, but they’ve also got a great personality, but we can’t talk normal life because they work for me. And now I’ve found that it’s perfectly okay to discuss personal things, send dog pics or things like that, at least for me, since that’s the type of business I want to lead and the type of people I want to have by my side. Not a cold, distant barrier off a group of people, but a tight-knit, loyal and have each other’s backs type of people.
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?
I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, but I purposefully avoid watching or listening to the news, as I’ve found myself getting sucked into a negative mindset from seeing everything that’s happening around the world. When I do read articles or look at news channels, I limit myself to once a day, or one hour if there’s a particularly important topic going around and I want to know more so I can have educated discussions with friends or family. If I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, like the other day when I found out I still can’t go back to my apartment as borders in France are closed, I take an hour out of my day, and watch some Netflix. I put on a show that feels comforting for me, which in this case, is Gilmore Girls as it reminds me of my teen years and it’s one of those shows you don’t really have to think much about. And before bed, I always try and listen to a meditation or calming music playlist so I can go to bed with a different mindset. I’ve found when I don’t do this, I wake up stressed and a bit jittery from feeling like I have to react to things first thing.
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?
This will sound very cliché, but, I truly want to inspire a self-love movement that’s all about embracing your mess (aka your story) and start telling it to the world. Through all of the people that I’ve interviewed, and looking back at my own experiences, I’ve realized that the shame in talking about these things, is the cause of so much self-esteem issues and lack of self-love there is out there, especially for women. Most of us, have either been bullied, been through a toxic relationship, or dealt with troubled parents that have eaten away at our self-confidence, and once we’ve overcome them or started to heal, we feel ashamed of having let that happen to us, or from sharing that it DID happen to us. When you come out and tell your story, and share how your mess changed you, built you up or strengthened you, self-love and compassion start pouring out of you almost instantly. If I could inspire anything, I would hope it would be this, it’s become a passionate topic for me as I’m still working through a lot of these issues.
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!
I’ll give you two, one that recently passed away, and one that’s still alive and see what happens. Firstly, I would’ve loved to have met Larry King, he just seemed like the most fascinating man and he must have had the best stories from everyone he got to interview in his lifetime. He’s a big inspiration especially after reading that he follows the same style I use to interview, which is unscripted and just being curious and listening rather than speaking. Now, for someone that’s alive, I would love to meet Anna Wintour, even just a phone call or 20-min interview. She’s been my biggest role model and inspiration both as a fashion icon and as a journalist legend, and I still remember when I was younger and saw fashion as only a dream, I would watch The Devil Wears Prada, and whenever someone asked me what I wanted to do when I got older, I’d respond be like Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada, the next Anna Wintour. Just getting 5 minutes with her I feel would be the most epic thing to ever happen, I’d have so many questions for her!
How can our readers follow you online?
The easiest way to connect with me directly is through my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thatgirlsabrina I’m very responsive, love to connect with my audience, am available for questions, collaborations or whatever it is you might want, and my website is always linked on there too so if you want more information, you can click there directly. I do many live trainings, interviews, tips, tricks and snippets into my daily life so you’ll get to know me pretty well over there!
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!