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Ep116 Transcript: Interview with Andrea Vahl
Sarah Scott: Hello, late starters. My name is Sarah Scott. I am the podcast manager here for the Late Starters Club, and I have been joining you on this journey from the very beginning through all 115 episodes that we have produced so far. And all of your stories have been so amazing, and I cannot wait to see how many more stories we tell.
But all along the way, I have been sharing with Andrea. One thing that I think that this podcast has really needed, and that is Andrea’s late starter story. So if you have not heard Andrea Vahl’s late starter story and all of the amazing things that she has done and the lessons that she’s learned as she has become a late starter, then you’re in for a treat this week as I interview Andrea Vahl for The Late Starters Club podcast.
Andrea Vahl: Hello Dreamers. Welcome to the Late Starters Club, giving you the inspiration mindset and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond. Remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.
Sarah Scott: Hello everybody. Surprise. I am not Andrea Vahl. I am Sarah Scott. I am Andrea’s podcast manager, and I have been with you on this ride since Late Starters Club has started, and I have loved every single story that has come out. However, I felt there was still one more story to tell and I finally got her to tell it.
So I am excited today to have your guest, your host, Andrea Vahl, is on with us today to tell us her late starter story. So welcome, Andrea, to your own show.
Andrea Vahl: Thank you, Sarah. This is awesome. This is, it’s like taking everything I can do to just be interviewed instead of taking over and taking charge.
So thank you. Thanks for the takeover. We talked about this was, she was like, I know you need to be interviewed. And I’m like, okay?
Sarah Scott: You do. And I’m so excited because I am going to be doing the week long takeover now, which is going to be so much more fun. So I’ll be doing the other two episodes this week as well.
So I’m really looking forward to that. But, Let’s go ahead and dive in a little bit. So Andrea, for those that don’t know your story, maybe as well as I tend to know it, because I’ve been working with you for a while. Tell folks your late starter story, like from being an engineer now all the way out to everything that you’ve done, give us the like cliff notes version of where you’ve come from.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. And that’s a funny thing. A lot of people are like so shocked to find out that I was an engineer. They’re like, what? And I was like, yeah, it does feel like a lifetime ago where I did start out in mechanical engineering and I like to joke around people when I started working people like, oh, you’re an engineer and you can talk to people. You’re going to be in sales. And that was a great fit for me. So I’ve always been in the sales engineering was sales engineering and I’ve always had a marketing mindset and things like that.
But I was, I did sales, I did engineering for a while. I ended up in telecom and then in in. 2002, the telecom bubble burst and I was laid off and that worked out fine because I had a one year old son at home and I really wanted to stay at home. I was just hating daycare and so I was happy to stay at home.
We just thought let’s use the severance package and stretch that out. But I always got a little, I was getting a little antsy after a little while and freaking out, I needed to do something something else. So I was looking at starting like a little side gig side business, and so that’s when I found in-home wine tasting, so I also joke that that was a perfect job with a toddler at home. I got to drink on the job. And I learned a lot about wine. Super fun. It worked out well because it was in the evenings, but that was actually what led into the social media marketing realm because that was right when Facebook and Twitter and YouTube were all really starting, and I was using them to market my in-home wine tasting business.
And people were saying, oh my gosh, I see what you’re doing, can you teach me how to do it? And so I was learning a lot about social media marketing. And I was also realizing there weren’t the tutorials I wanted to see out there. There weren’t the fun, funny tutorials like that I like and that I was hoping for.
It was a lot of dudes, going through real quick and not doing step by step. So whenever you see a hole in the market, you just think, Hey, maybe I can do something for that. And that’s when Grandma Mary’s social media Edutainer was born.
Sarah Scott: Oh, and for those of you that haven’t found Grandma Mary, go back and find some old videos of Grandma Mary.
We’ll link it in the show notes, but she’s fantastic. I love it.
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, and so it was just a really fun time. I was out there, I was creating content. I was excited to serve and help people learn about social media and help people learn how to do it the right way and not be so confused about it.
And also I like to use my humor and my fun background. And I also joke that I always wanted to be Carol Burnett. So I got to, oh, I got to wear wigs and go to work and drink wine.
Sarah Scott: You still wear wigs? You still wear wigs. We see them pop up in the episodes every now and again. You still wear wigs. It’s great.
Yes. But it’s more than just going into social media though, because either you’ve either gotten bored or you just, you’ve got, I think your brain just goes in multi directions because you do way more than that. You’re also a standup comedian. You’re also now an actress, I think it’s official to say now you’re an actress. It’s been a few movies and commercials now. As well as a speaker and everything else that you do. So how does all that come about for you?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, so I think for me it’s really about, really feeding some of these passions and these fun things that I want to do and just going out and making the opportunities, it was that way with my business as well.
It was taking the opportunity and creating something yourself, not waiting. And when I first started my business, I started the YouTube channel and said, okay, I’m just going to create these videos and I’m going to, I’m going to make tutorials. And I know maybe there’s similar tutorials out there, or maybe there’s something already somewhat like this, but I’m going to have a unique spin on it.
I’m going to have my own unique voice. And of course, Grandma Mary was a very unique voice, but that, that, that doesn’t change the fact that even if you aren’t wearing a wig and getting crazy, you have a unique voice to get out there and deliver that message, deliver that training, deliver that, whatever it might be.
I. In the way you would, in the way you want to see it. So that was what it was all about.
And I started running workshops like, so I just found a way, that’s how I started my business, is I found, I was like, okay, I want to do in-person workshops and I would just, I found a little coworking space that had a little boardroom.
And I would just figure out that, okay, I need two people to make this profitable. So if I get three that’s gravy and more. And sometimes I’d have 10 people in my workshop. And I just started doing it over and over and really listening to the feedback on what people wanted and making these workshops.
So that’s how I became a speaker, right? Because I was just did that over and got that experience. And definitely similar with the comedy as I just said. Hey there’s no comedy shows with all mom, all women comedians. There are some with all women comedians, but I was taking this more unique angle of all mom comedians and started the show. Mom’s unhinged.
Sarah Scott: Which is doing phenomenally well lately. You’ve been selling out your shows for that as well. And you now have comedy channels up. So folks who want to catch up on your comedy can certainly go out and find your comedy pieces out there. And again, we will link all of this. But one of the things that’s really interesting here for me is listening to you talk about that, did you overthink it? It doesn’t sound like you did, so you’re said, oh, I knew there were similar things, but I still went out and just did it.
So to me, that’s not necessarily overthinking it or over researching the pieces of it and really just going after what was fun. Is that really how that went?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it did, and it, I, the overthinking came later.
Sarah Scott: I know you joke about the Overthinkers Anonymous, so
Andrea Vahl: The overthinking came later.
It was really about just a passion for it and excitement for it and and just knowing that it didn’t have to, I didn’t put any pressure on it. It didn’t have to be anything big. It just was like, Hey, let’s. Let’s you know I’m growing from nothing. I’m not anything interesting.
I’m not any, anything that. That needs to have any pressure put on it. It was just, let’s offer this and let’s see where it goes. And that’s how the comedy went as well. It’s let’s see where it goes. And I think as it grows, that’s definitely where the overthinking comes in because now it’s Ooh, what.
How big do we want it to grow? Or what direction do we want to take it now because now we have a thing and now it’s a little bit scarier. That’s how I feel, is that it does get a little scarier as it gets bigger because there’s more possibilities open. Whereas when you’re sm starting out small, it’s just Let’s do this little thing and see what happens.
Yeah, and I think that’s exciting too, because it’s like this little test balloon that you’re sending up to say, Hey, is this going to work? And I think it still makes sense to do that kind of thing. I’m actually, I. Doing that a little bit more with some of the workshop online workshops I’m offering right now.
I’m like, Hey let’s try this online workshop and see how it goes and let’s try this topic and see if it gets gets people interested in it and signing up for it and paying for it. Let’s try this price point. Let’s try things. And let the market. Give you some feedback, and sometimes that’s challenging because maybe you didn’t get the word auto enough about it.
There can be lots of reasons why it doesn’t succeed. But if you have a little bit of su success, then that’s the feedback that says, hey, someone’s buying this. Maybe more people would, yeah. So I think that’s how it’s been.
Sarah Scott: So I find that really interesting that. When you think about something getting bigger, it almost becomes scarier because you, it’s interesting because you said there’s more possibility.
I always feel like when it’s smaller and there’s less the possibility, I feel like I’m more afraid to do something. For lack of it getting off the ground. Versus, oh, I have all these possibilities now and I can just choose one. But yeah. I’m really curious, how do you decide what direction to go?
Is there, if you’re not overthinking it necessarily, like where’s the. Drive or the instinct maybe that goes into what direction to choose?
Andrea Vahl: Right? I think that’s, that is kinda an interesting kind of question because I do find that some people might overthink early and maybe it’s, maybe it pays off to recognize, am I an overthinker or early and I’m not even getting started, or do I get paralyzed later when I, when it’s more growth oriented and I don’t have anyone to ask on which way they, what feedback they might have.
So I think that I think for me it’s just basically going where the curiosity is like. Really feeling the energy around something and saying, do I have the energy to bring this forth? Do I have the energy to, make this happen? And sometimes it’s a little bit of the path of least resistance, right?
Yeah. If it’s like launching something huge where we have to record a bunch of stuff, we. We are know that’s going to take a lot of investment in our time and in our energy. But maybe it’s just Hey let’s choose at the lowest hanging fruit right now. And something that I see has real, a lot of great possibilities and a funny joke I have around around this is like sometimes now that I’ve been in business for 14 years things that I had more energy for, like I used to.
Create these big programs and be like, oh, let’s record all these videos and I could record at night and I would have all this energy. And and it’s almost like dating now where I’m like now we know too much. We know how difficult it can be. We’re like, oh man, I don’t know if I want to do that.
It’s hard or something.
Sarah Scott: We know exactly how much time and effort it’s going to take to put some of these things together. Oh, I don’t really want to do that.
Yeah. Yeah. So when you first got started, so we were talking about this before too, like when you were first getting started and for anyone watching who is in that, Hey, I’m looking to launch something new, because of course they’ll look at someone like you and say, oh, you’ve been doing this for 14 years.
You’ve got this huge email list, you’ve got the, the clientele now that where you could test things in the market and you’ll get a response normally right away because you’ve got all these people. But let’s like swing back to the old Grandma Mary days where you’re first getting started.
Like where do people start? Where do they really start with following this, when there isn’t necessarily an audience for them yet?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. I think the big thing, first of all is not comparing yourself to other people, because you can get so bogged down in saying they’re doing it great, and look at their website, and that looks amazing, and they’ve got a big list and they’re so successful, so I shouldn’t even try.
And I have had. To do so much work around that. It has been such a lifelong process around not comparing yourself. You know where you are to someone else’s journey, and if you are excited about your thing, you’re going to. Be better at promoting it. So that’s why you do have to realize that you have to be excited about whatever you’re promoting.
Yeah. Because you’re going to have to say it a million times and people will still be like, oh, I didn’t know you were doing that. I’m like, are you kidding me? I have been talking about it nonstop. I feel like I’ve been, posting about it all over. And they’re like, how did I miss that? I’m like, I.
I think it, when you’re starting from scratch, realize you’re going to have to talk about something way more than you realize going in. You’re not going to, you can’t just mention it once. You need to personally invite people to the, to partake in it or to sign up for things, or you have to get the word out multiple times and start with what?
What assets do you have? What audiences do you currently have? So for example, when I started with my social media coaching, I started with my local neighborhood. Literally, my first client was my neighbor down the street. And so I was like, who do I know? What do I have people in my local area, and I started just like offering these workshops.
And then what I would do is invite people to work with me one-on-one. And again, it just is like leveraging your local. Connections. And also even like leveraging the the platforms. So I put my initial workshops on Meetup because I knew Meetup would allow for some organic discovery that I didn’t have.
And another way too is just use advertising like, When I’ve gone into new markets for my shows, like we went down to Colorado Springs and we went down to Fort Collins. I don’t know the people in that area. I don’t, I have some friends in both areas and I reached out to those people personally saying, Hey, we’re going to be doing a show here.
Invite your friends, tell your neighbors, let me know if there’s anywhere that you could post or, help me out with that. But then I also just ran ads for it and filled up the shows. So it didn’t cost me a lot of money to run those ads, but it got into a perfect, got my. Yeah. Show in front of that perfect audience.
Sarah Scott: That’s awesome. And of course I lost the question I wanted to ask you. Oh, so I want to ask you one of the questions that you love to ask your guests, which is, what do you think is the benefit from doing this stuff like in your forties and fifties versus having to maybe try to do this in like your twenties and thirties?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I think for sure you have more energy in your twenties and thirties.
Sarah Scott: Those midnight all nighters were a whole lot easier than was they?
Andrea Vahl: Oh, that is not happening anymore. When I was first starting, I did start my business like when I was late thirties very late thirties and Started this social media business and and I was able to do a little more late night work because I was super passionate and I had these young kids at home.
So I, it was the only time I could work practically. So it was a lot of coffee happened during the day. But. And I, and it was and it was super exciting. Not that it’s not exciting now, it’s definitely just a little bit different though. But I do think the advantage of starting later is just this detachment from the outcome.
It’s not as, it’s. It’s not as personal when I get a rejection, because I have a little bit more resilience. I have a little bit more emotional maturity and I’m able to just roll with things. Got some really bad comments. I’m my YouTube, videos recently. Just delete. I don’t care. I’m not stressed about things.
I don’t, you get into your fifties and you just. Don’t care anymore. Nope.
Sarah Scott: I don’t have that. I don’t have the energy for it anymore. Goodbye.
Andrea Vahl: But I do think that’s part of it. I think it’s it’s resilience. You realize that this is a marathon and it’s okay. It’s going to be, we’ve got some wisdom, we got some, we have some intelligence around how things can go.
And we know that we just have to keep going and it’ll. It’ll be a success in some way. It’s not always the way we think it’s going to be, but it’s That’s true. It’s going to be amazing.
Sarah Scott: That’s very true. And you did actually mention one more thing we didn’t bring up in the intro that you do, which is you don’t do marathons.
But you are a, a. Kinda like a Spartan athlete or something. Like you do these crazy things, right?
Andrea Vahl: I did two marathons back when I was younger before kids, but yeah, just half marathons. And then now I’ve been competing in some fun fun different types of races. I’ve actually got the Camp Gladiator preliminary race coming up, this preliminary qualifier coming up this weekend.
I did a Spartan race last week and we had a, we have a team this year of 50 plus women. Oh. And it’s going to be amazing. A team of four of us. We’ve, the four of us did the Spartan race last week, and we’re doing the prelims and then we are, We’re definitely going to qualify. We already know that we’re going to qualify for the finals coming up in in Texas in October or November.
We’re the Colorado crushers, so we’re yeah, that’s, but it’s, that has, the thing that has been helpful with that is just plugging into a group like that group. Can motivate you. All of a sudden you’re doing crazy stuff. And I think that’s an a thing with business as well. Like I’ve always been part of some mastermind or some type of group because that group can lift you up when things go wrong.
They are motivating you to try new things. You’re watching people do things and you’re like, oh my God, if she can do that, then I can do that. And so that’s the. The great thing about support system and a group of like-minded people. So whether that’s a mastermind, an informal group of friends doing the same thing you are, or even just a coach, that, that can be super helpful.
I have a comedy coach, I have a comedy group of that I’m part of that we all talk about things that we’re writing and working on so that we can get better that way and we’re accountable to our writing as well. That is a huge thing to, the power of numbers is a big benefit.
Sarah Scott: So what is your favorite productivity hack?
Because literally I think we’ve just listed off like five different topics of things that you do today from your business to the gladiators, to the comedy, to the acting, to all of that. That. Is stuff you’re doing today, like in this season. So how on earth are you managing? What is your productivity to get through all of this?
Cause that’s just crazy.
Andrea Vahl: I actually don’t really know. Someone else
asked me like,
What, how do you do it all? And I don’t. I don’t really know. Like I love this saying of bite off more than you can chew and chew it but that’s not really, that doesn’t really work for everybody. That doesn’t really work for everybody.
And I think for me, what works is just really. Getting good at scheduling things and really planning your day out and planning the big rocks that need to fit in for the day. There’s some people who are really good with their calendar and they’re like really just plugging in their calendar and blocking things off.
I’m not as good at that and I’m not, I’m definitely not perfect at getting things done, but I realize that if I don’t have a deadline, it never gets done. I. So I need to commit to something actually going live, going happening, and that’s why I will announce workshop dates before I’m ready. I will announce launch dates before I’m ready.
I sign up for races because they’re coming. There’s a specific date I book shows before I have. Before I know what exactly what I’m going to do with it, and it has to happen. I do have a couple of things that I use to track my Writing one is a app called Habit, and it’s based, it’s a super simple app.
It’s just a habit tracker that just, I plug in that I did the activity that day. And sometimes what I’ve used is a pain point to make sure that I get something done, like I commit to something really painful. By painful, maybe. You know what, why? I think I talked about how my one friend committed to Running, running down, streaking in the neighborhood if she didn’t get something done.
So she got that done. She got it done. But yeah.
Sarah Scott: Yeah, I would too. I know I’ve seen you do that a few times with me too. Before you’ll call me up and you’ll say, all right, I need to do this thing, so this is what we’re going to do, and if I don’t do it, this is the thing and it’s. I know it normally benefits me quite nicely, but
Andrea Vahl: I know sometimes it has been like, if I don’t get this done, I’m going to give you a hundred bucks and Yeah.
So sometimes motivate money can motivate you, or I just saw I just saw something, or I talked to someone who said that their pain point was for anyone who lost. Or who didn’t do this competition, they would have to go and do five minutes of standup at an open mic. I’m laughing that’s like the, that’s the pain point that the lose, you knows I do all the time.
So I would not,
Sarah Scott: no pain point there no pain points at all. Yeah. Yeah. All right, so I know we’re getting up on our time, so there’s two more questions. One is, given that we’re now into episode, I think by the time this launches, we’ll be at like one 17, somewhere in there. Out of all of the episodes which ones have been like your absolute favorite?
Like people you never thought you’d get to talk to or just were like your favorite people to learn from?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it’s so hard because I have learned from every single person, I’ve taken something away and I think for me, that has been the most surprising part of this podcast is how much I have gotten out of it, like my original reason for starting a wi it was to feature inspiring stories, but I had no idea how much I would be inspired myself.
And sometimes it’s just so shocking and keeps me really going. But I love the stories of people who are doing something even in their seventies, eighties, they’re out there just living life, taking classes. Not stopping starting businesses. Climbing their se. Yeah. Climbing mountains.
Start climbing El Deirdre Nik, climbing El Capitan and oh my God. And and, competing in the Olympics and doing, just amazing, incredible things. And what I love about it is that it makes me realize that we have so many different life’s. And experiences available to us, and it’s not.
You’re not over the hill at age 60 or it’s Yeah, I don’t think anyone has to retire ever. And if you, life is what you make it. And I think the most vibrant and exciting people that I’ve met are the ones that are just still approaching life from a point of curiosity in their seventies, eighties and things like that.
And just really, Still learning and discovering.
Sarah Scott: Yeah, these stories have been absolutely amazing. It definitely shows you that. You can just keep living your life. Yeah, there’s no cap whatsoever anywhere along the lines if you don’t let it be there. I think that’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away.
As long as you don’t say that there’s a cap, right? There’s no reason to live with one. Okay. And so our last and final question as always, so you have gotten more than your fair share of favorite quotes, but what is your favorite quote? What is your motivational saying that keeps you going when times get tough?
Andrea Vahl: So I have a couple of favorite quotes. One is shorter from Abraham Lincoln. Let no feelings of discouragement, prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.
And I love that because I love the idea of the feelings prey upon you. They’re, the, they’re. Discouragement is the enemy. Yeah. You can just keep going and you’re going to succeed.
The other one I love is from Theodore Roosevelt. It is far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much, nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory or defeat.
And I think that for me is about just getting out there and trying. And there have been plenty of failures that I have had that it just didn’t go right. I’ve launched courses that just took crickets. I’ve put things out there, I’ve thought, oh my God, I’ve taken it too personally. And. What it’s about is just continuing to get out there and try things and put things out there.
Yeah. And not worry and not be tied to that outcome. And to say, this life is one big experiment. We’re out there in their arena doing things and not just sitting watching other people.
Sarah Scott: So that actually leads me to one final question too. Then. For all those failures and things that have gone wrong, what has been your.
Secret to overcoming that and to move on and not allow it to pull you down. What is that great secret you carry?
Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I cry in the shower. In the shower.
Sarah Scott: That’s a good one. I like that.
Andrea Vahl: No, it is, it’s a about for me. What has really come down to is feeling the feelings and allowing yourself to say, it’s okay.
I get it. I feel disappointed. Yeah. And that sucks, and I feel really bad right now, and maybe I’m embarrassed or maybe I feel like. Like people are talking about me behind my back, or no one’s talking about me behind my back. Maybe they are, but who cares? Let ’em talk. Don’t talk to my face about it.
Keep it to yourself. It’s all good. My business, it’s not my business. What your idea is. So I I think it is just feeling the feelings. Saying It’s okay. Talking to yourself really gently and acknowledging yourself for doing, taking the risk, and doing the things. It’s just, that’s a huge accomplishment and kudos to you for getting out there and giving it a try, because I, for one, want to get to the end of my life with no regrets and say, I lived life to the fullest.
Sarah Scott: Oh, I love it. That’s a great way to end it. Andrea, thank you so much for being game here and telling your story too. I think it’s something everyone should hear. They should know why you’ve started this. I am so thrilled and I cannot wait to do the takeover for the other two episodes.
Andrea Vahl: Thank you Sarah!
Hope that was helpful, and make sure you grab the free guide Top Tools for Late Starters on the website at latestartersclub.com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.
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