When something doesn’t go your way in business, it either wasn’t meant to be, you are being saved from something or there is something better coming in its place. I think this applies to all aspects of life, but especially in business. There are things that will go your way, and things that you will seemingly “fail” at, but there is a reason for everything. Just go back to the passion you had when you started, and keep moving forward. Often, with time, you will realize why you were not meant to have or achieve what you thought you wanted. This has happened so many times in business, including people I wanted for a cover story. One time I was trying to get a celebrity interview for the cover and it just didn’t work out. I was really bummed out about it, but knew it obviously was not meant to be. A month later there was a huge scandal that broke and would have certainly brought backlash to the magazine as a result.
As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tammy Mastroberte. Tammy is the founder of Elevated Existence and publisher and editorial director of the multi-award winning Elevated Existence Magazine, a new age, spiritual and self-improvement publication featuring top authors and celebrities. As a three-time, award-winning writer, she teaches her clients and students how to tame the chaos in their lives and access their spiritual connection to create miracles in everyday life. She does this through live workshops, online classes and a membership community. One of her most passionate topics to teach is how to uncover and understand signs and synchronicities from the Universe or our loved ones who have passed on. She has been featured in a number of films including “Dream Big,” and “The Abundance Factor,” and her first book “The Universe is Talking to You: How to Tap Into Signs and Synchronicities to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day,” will be published in May 2020 by Llewellyn Worldwide.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I grew up in a middle-class, NJ family with both parents and an older sister. I attended Catholic school through 8th grade, and my faith was always a big part of my life. I was a cheerleader in high school, and also a competitive dancer in jazz and lyrical dance. I lived in a small town — Elmwood Park — only a couple of blocks from my mom’s sister and my cousin Joey who was the same age as me. We spent a lot of time together, and he is still like a brother even though we live a bit further apart now. I always loved school and learning, and still do today. I am always trying to learn new things, whether it’s business or personal.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?
I actually started in the magazine industry when I was only 20 years old as a part-time editorial assistant. My major in college was English Writing and I knew I wanted to write in some capacity. I found an ad in a local newspaper (dating myself, I know) for a trade magazine publishing company, and it said “college-students welcome,” so I applied because I knew I needed the experience before graduation. And I got the job!
That is when I fell in love with the magazine industry. But my ah-ha moment came after the sudden death of my mother from a brain aneurism only 3 days after Christmas in 1999. She was only 53 years old, and I was only 22. About 10 months after her death, my sister convinced me to go with her to a medium named George Anderson in Long Island, NY and that hour session changed my life.
Suddenly I had confirmation that we don’t really die. Only the human body dies. The soul or Spirit lives on. He told me things nobody could know or research — things I had only thought in my own head. This sent me on a spiritual search beyond my original Catholic faith, and I found so much hope and faith in the teachings I was reading from people like Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, to name a few.
About eight years after my mother’s death, I was working in New York City as an Executive Editor at a trade magazine, and I realized I wanted to start writing about the spiritual and self-improvement topics that were helping me so much. It was 2008 and there were not many spiritual publications out there in my area at the time, and certainly none online yet. Talking to a co-worker, I shared what was going on and she said, “Why not start it online? Everything is going online these days?”
After initially laughing it off, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I started coming up with names, and column ideas, and before I knew it, I had trademarked the name Elevated Existence, formed an LLC and started plans for my launch issue. And I wound up getting Deepak Chopra on our debut issue cover!
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
I believe there are two things that helped me, and can help someone else. The first is passion and drive. You have to really love and believe in what you are doing. I was so passionate about both the magazine industry and writing, as well as the spiritual and self-help topics I was learning about. Putting these passions together was easy and fun for me, and creating the magazine was truly fueled by my joy and love of both. It even drove me to build my own website from scratch by reading a book on Dreamweaver to learn how to do it! I followed my joy, and didn’t worry about how it would turn out. I just kept moving forward knowing it would lead me to where I was meant to be next.
The other piece is that I started this “passion project” on the side while still working full time at my job in the magazine industry. Elevated Existence was a nights and weekends project when I first started, so there was not a lot of pressure to succeed and make money right away. I always recommend to people when they have an idea or what to start a business to start now and spend as much time as you can on it while still relying on another income. It takes the pressure off, and allows you to dream big and have fun.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
As I said above — start slow. Is there a way to start making money from it on the side? You don’t have to quit your job and jump right into something because that is putting a lot of pressure on yourself. There are so many people living out their passion projects on sites like Etsy today, for example. If you are passionate about something, then just get started. Even if it’s small. When I started the magazine, I had no idea where it would go, and today I am about to publish my first book and have become a spiritual teacher myself. That would not have happened if I didn’t start small.
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
When things get tough or overwhelm and worry set in, it’s important to remind yourself why you started the work you are doing in the first place. Remember the excitement you felt about it, and try to come at the work from that place. Also, make sure there is a hobby or something that you do outside of work or making money that can bring you joy, and be sure to do that as often as you can! When you own a business, it’s important to schedule in some down time and fun time so you don’t burn out!
Additionally, I’m also always looking for new ideas and offerings I can create and put out into the world. That keeps things exciting for me. My business started as an online magazine, but today I am a spiritual teacher offering a monthly membership, online classes, in-person workshops and have a new book coming out soon. We also offer a annual online summit each year featuring top experts in the mind, body, spirit market. This past year, for the 11th anniversary of the magazine, we did a refresh with new columns and new format featuring embedded video and more to keep it exciting and adapt to the way people consume content today. Keep it fresh for your customers and for you!
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
I enjoy the freedom it brings me in terms of making my own schedule, and the ability to work from anywhere I would like to work. I also love to learn new things, and running my own business is a constantly learning experience, whether its marketing, writing a book for the first time, or a new online technology. The downsides are sometimes the business can take over your time and you find yourself working too much — which is why scheduling in down time is so important. It can also be lonely at times unless you surround yourself with friends and other business owners. I highly recommend getting into a mastermind with other people who are running a business — even if their business is different than yours. It is so helpful when looking for new ideas, a fresh perspective, or making decisions. I’m in two small mastermind groups with other entrepreneurs, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
I am a writer at heart, and when I started the magazine, I was very focused on creating a beautiful magazine filled with tools and tips that would help people change their own lives. I focused on that piece, and soon realized there was so much more to my business than just creating the magazine. There is marketing, technology, social media and so many other aspects to understand and oversee. I had no idea how many hats I would have to wear in the beginning before I was able to hire other people to help me. And even with those other people helping me, it’s still up to me to understand it all as well!
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so how did you overcome it?
Of course! And I know so many entrepreneurs who have felt the same way from time to time. But it never lasts very long because I love what I do, and I refuse to give up when I hit a roadblock. I believe there is a solution to every problem, and that if I keep moving forward I will find it. And I always do. I also remind myself how unhappy I was working for someone else in a 9 to 5 job, and that quickly does the trick too!
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
I have always been inspired by the bestselling author and spiritual teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer. I got the chance to interview him years ago when Elevated Existence Magazine presented him with a Spiritual Service Award. He started his career by selling books out of his car and really did live what he taught others. He also never hesitated to help other people, often bringing new authors on stage with him during his speeches to help spread their messages because he knew he had a large platform that could help them.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I like to think that with every class I teach, book I write, magazine article or issue I publish, talk I give, video I create, or email I send out, I am helping other people improve their lives, which in turn can change the world. I believe every experience I have — good and bad — gives me more information and advice I can share with others to help them, and hopefully have them share it with others, too.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- When something doesn’t go your way in business, it either wasn’t meant to be, you are being saved from something or there is something better coming in its place. I think this applies to all aspects of life, but especially in business. There are things that will go your way, and things that you will seemingly “fail” at, but there is a reason for everything. Just go back to the passion you had when you started, and keep moving forward. Often, with time, you will realize why you were not meant to have or achieve what you thought you wanted. This has happened so many times in business, including people I wanted for a cover story. One time I was trying to get a celebrity interview for the cover and it just didn’t work out. I was really bummed out about it, but knew it obviously was not meant to be. A month later there was a huge scandal that broke and would have certainly brought backlash to the magazine as a result.
- Make meditation part of your daily life. Again, this goes for any situation, but in business, you have to come at things with a clear mind free from worry, chaos and overwhelm. And it doesn’t’ have to be meditation in the traditional sense. Science shows now that short periods of meditation during the day have the same brain changing benefits as longer periods. Even taking 60-seconds, three to five times a day to get present and repeat a mantra can calm things down and help you see things clearly. There are many times when I am overwhelmed and have a decision to make on something, but making a decision from that state never works. Overwhelm and chaos block the solutions from coming. Getting quiet, going into a meditation and trying to find a solution from that space always works faster and better.
- It’s OK to fail. When we work so very hard to build a business and things don’t go as plan, it’s easy to spiral and think, “maybe I shouldn’t be doing this?” or “maybe I made a mistake and should drop the whole thing,” but if you go into something knowing that if something doesn’t work out, it’s OK and you are OK and your business is still OK, it take some of the pressure off of you. We learn just as much when we fail as when we succeed — sometimes more! If something doesn’t work out, pat yourself on the back for trying. Some people don’t take any action out of fear of taking the wrong one, and they remain stagnant. It’s better to take the action and fail. Then you will learn something and at least still be moving forward. It’s OK to fail. Just don’t let it stop you.
- Get into a mastermind group. Find other entrepreneurs who can meet with you either weekly or monthly, so you can share your ideas, wins, loses and get feedback. This is instrumental to growing any business. Once I started participating in a mastermind, my business began to grow faster than ever before. Having someone on the outside look at what you are doing and offer help, opinions and advice based on their own experience is invaluable. Even if you run your business alone, with a mastermind you are never alone.
- Building a business takes time, so don’t beat yourself up if it takes longer than you thought it would to make a profit. I started my business in 2008 when I was working full time as a magazine editor. It took me three years before I left that full time job to focus on my own business, and even longer to truly start growing and expanding where I could hire more help. Don’t look at your business after a year and say, “well, I’m not where I want to be yet, so this isn’t working,” or even three or four years and do that. Yes, there are overnight success stories out there, but the majority of business owners will tell you it took them time before they began turning a profit or experiencing explosive growth. If you are passionate about what you are doing and truly love it, and you know your customers do too, keep moving forward.
What person wouldn’t want to work doing something they absolutely love. You are an incredible inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to see stress management, mindfulness and meditation techniques taught as a mandatory course in grammar schools around the world. Our children need to learn how to handle the chaos and stress around them in today’s world in a healthy way, and I think this needs to be part of any curriculum. Let’s teach our children how to handle their stress and emotions to create stronger adults both physically and mentally.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I love the quote, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right,” by Henry Ford. It reminds me what I think — the mindset I have — is what truly matters when it comes to success in any area of life. Whether it’s business or personal, we create our lives by the thoughts we think, and I’ve seen evidence of this again and again in my life. My goal is to always think I can!
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I’m sure other people say this too, but I would love to sit down and chat with Oprah. In fact, I would love to interview her and talk to her about all things spiritual! On the other hand, I would also love to have lunch with Bethenny Frankel because not only do I believe she is an incredibly smart business woman, but I think what she is doing with her charity B Strong is beyond incredible, so I would pick her brain on both!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.