While money may be a hurdle most entrepreneurs have to overcome when growing a business, confidence ranks right up there with it. In the midst of learning to understand profit & loss statements and price for profit, it feels a little unfair to also battle the mental hurdles of confidence, self-doubt, and talking truth to our own inner critic.
From helping high school students feel comfortable and confident dancing on stage to helping educators know their worth and overcome imposter syndrome, Laylee Emadi is passionate about helping others find confidence, seeing themselves as capable and amazing.
We dive deep in today’s interview, unpacking money mindsets, cultural influences, confidence, insecurities, and becoming comfortable in your own skin.
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/laylee-emadi
Laylee Emadi (00:00):
For me, it's been really difficult, especially in the education realm. Less so with photography because photography like it feels a little more transactional in the beginning where you're like, Okay, this is my rate. Pay it. Thank you. I'll meet you there. I'll take your picture. <laugh>, Right? You know, there's like a process, but with education, for example, my retreats and my conference, do you know how hard it is for me not to just invite everybody I've met to be like, Just come. Just come. You don't have, Okay, just come
Shanna Skidmore (00:29):
You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast Episode sixteen. The first time I met today's guest, I was instantly drawn to her. She's a natural encourager, kind, confident, and exudes joy. And when I found out she was a former choreographer who loves teaching dance, I totally fangirled likely mentioning my own slight farfetch stream of becoming a hip hop dancer slash fitness instructor. So when she mentioned during our interview her own mental battles with confidence and her deep desire to help others develop confidence in themselves, while the lyrics to Ariana Grande song POV started playing in my head, Wouldn't it be amazing to see ourselves like others see us? Like with Laylee, I know most wouldn't guess that I too struggle with confidence, self-doubt, and knowing my own worth. Often my harshest critic is between my own two ears. Truth is, I've talked to enough entrepreneurs to know that while money may be a hurdle most have to overcome when growing a business, confidence ranks right up there with it.
In today's interview, with the lovely Laylee Emadi, we dive deep, unpacking money mindsets, cultural influences, confidence insecurities, and becoming comfortable in your own skin. If you dig professional bios, here goes: Laylee Emadi is an educator, speaker and conference host with a heart for serving clients and fellow creatives. She does this through her coaching work, hosting her own podcast titled, "So here's the thing", and is founder of the Creative Educator Academy. She believes in serving the creative industry with heartfelt encouragement, honest advice, and a shared pursuit of the ever elusive balance. Laylee is passionate about her goal to help you feel confident in your ability to make a difference, create impact, and to build a life doing what you love. Formal introductions over, let's dive in.
Hey, it's Shanna and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turned business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory. Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here.
Okay, Laylee darling, we are live. Hot mics. I'm excited for today and I'm just like so excited to chat with you because I feel like it's been too long. So hi, welcome to the podcast.
Laylee Emadi (03:14):
Hello. I'm so excited to be here.
Shanna Skidmore (03:15):
Thanks for coming on. I am, I feel like I know a, some of your journey and I'm excited to dig in and get curious about all of it. So I just wanna say thanks for being here and sharing your story. And to kick us off, I would love for you just to take us back to the days. What were you doing before you ever even started your business?
Laylee Emadi (03:37):
Oh gosh, I ha I, I always say I've lived many lives, um, in a short amount of time. You're like, honestly, I, yeah, a little bit. I feel like I, but I had like, you know, eight out of my nine lives before my business started. I, I think I just like couldn't figure out what it was for me. So I, most recently, before I started my business, I was a high school teacher and I loved it so much. I had no intention of ever leaving that career. I thought that was it for me. And then, I mean, fast forward to years later and clearly I'm no longer a high school teacher, so that did not pan out. But I loved it so much and it was, it was one of the greatest adventures I've been on.
Shanna Skidmore (04:18):
Tell me, what careers have you tried and then how did you get into teaching?
Laylee Emadi (04:23):
Yeah, so I um, I worked about four different careers after college. So when I graduated college, I moved to London to work in marketing for a publishing company. It was like a really small publishing company. I was only there for a few months when I realized, okay, this is not for me. Like this city life is not for me, but I, I'm gonna hang out in London for a while. So I quit and I worked like odd jobs and continued to live abroad for the next like four months. So I was there all in all just like over half a year. And when I came back I was like, okay, now what? Marketing and publishing not so much what's next? And it got a random job like assessing liens on homes and doing research on like the financial parts of like foreclosures. It was very weird. It was very random.
Shanna Skidmore (05:13):
Stop. It's so interesting. Laylee I didn't know any of this.
Laylee Emadi (05:16):
Nobody knows this. I never talk about this on any podcast or anything cuz it's like so random. Yeah, it was like my first big girl job, you know, like I had a salary, it was not good, but I thought it was good at the time and you know, it wasn't hard but it was boring and it was corporate and it, I had to get dressed up every day and go into my job, whatever. And all the while I was teaching dance part-time because that's just what I did. I mean I've done that. I grew up a dancer and I've taught dancing studios as like a sub and you know, here and there. And so I was still kind of doing that and working as a freelance choreographer. And then I realized, okay, I wanna do this. Like I wanna teach and I wanna teach dance and I wanna coach a dance team and direct a dance team. And so I was on a mission, I got my teaching certificate. I did not go to school for teaching and then I started subbing and then I got my first director job and high school English and dance. And I did that for a while. So
Shanna Skidmore (06:17):
<laugh>, did you know people at the high school or did you just see a job posting? You were like, I'm gonna apply for an English teaching job. Like that's amazing. I think getting into the education world I've heard is pretty tough. So that's amazing.
Laylee Emadi (06:32):
It was a lot tougher at the time. I think now people with the state of education, it's a lot easier to get in because they're desperate for teachers. They're like losing teachers left and right. But back in the day it was extremely competitive and there was only one of each position that I wanted at the high school level because I wanted to direct a high school dance team, um, and teach dance as an elective. And so I just, I subbed, I went in, I made connections with every like admin and teacher I could find. I volunteered with dance teams and I just kept making as many connections as I could before I got a job offer. It took a long time.
Shanna Skidmore (07:08):
Yeah. But that's incredible. And I just, I want to come dance with you Laylee, like you're please. Oh my gosh, I'm the worst coordinated ever.
Laylee Emadi (07:17):
No, come dance!
Shanna Skidmore (07:18):
That would be fun. That would be so fun. I love that. Okay, so you're teaching and how you, it sounds like you taught for a couple of years and then what made you think, you know, either this isn't the long term goal for me or I wanna, I mean, how did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Laylee Emadi (07:36):
So I feel like, you know, back when I first started telling this, like telling my journey or talking about my journey and my story, I always used to think it's so unique. I'm like an accidental entrepreneur. But I think everybody ends up being like, I feel like the more people I talk to these days, the more they're like, Oh, I just kind of fell into it. And that's really what happened. I was, I was teaching, I think I was like in my fourth year of teaching and I started getting asked to photograph like friends and family cuz I loved photography as a hobby. And my dancers would have like a photography project every year that I would help them with. And then when they kind of got older and like left my classroom, their parents would be like, Will you take our photo? Will you take her dance photos or her senior photos? And then I became a photographer and it was just like that. And I, it was always meant to be just kind of a side gig. And, you know, eventually though, the one thing that nobody has control over is how much time we're given in a day. And I just was running myself at like, burning the candle at both ends. I was working a ton of hours as an educator and as a dance director and then as a photographer, nights and weekends. And it just got to be a little bit too much. So about a decade into teaching, maybe it was like nine years I decided to retire.
Shanna Skidmore (08:54):
Wow, okay. Well you've taught for a long time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I mean that's, that's amazing, so wow. Laylee, this is so cool. So you were photographing and did you just teach yourself where you just totally self-taught and through trial and error practice? Or how did you learn and get comfortable and confident with photography?
Laylee Emadi (09:14):
Yeah, it was mostly, I was mostly self-taught. Um, I did do some like local workshops. I was like the weird, I was like the odd person out. I, I came up in a time before, like online courses were massive and so I never learned from like who everybody else I'm friends with had learned from online at this point. And so I just went to like literally local like groupon workshops, like, how to use your camera. And I had a friend who was a teacher at one of our neighboring high schools who was also a wedding photographer and she was really kind to, uh, kind of take me under her wing and we would meet for coffee and she'd give me feedback on my images. And then she turned me onto a conference and I showed up to this conference not knowing a person, not knowing literally a soul there, not a speaker, not by reputation. I showed up in, uh, Scottsdale Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, and attended Showit United, um, which now I've been speaking at for the past few years in a very full circle moment. But so cool. Um, yeah, so cool. And it was, it was life changing. It was amazing to see all these creatives who were like making a living doing the thing that they loved.
Shanna Skidmore (10:24):
Was that the first time at Showit that you were really introduced to, wow, people are taking their gifts and their talents and things they enjoy and making it a business? Do you feel like that was kind of your first wow moment? Like this can be a career?
Laylee Emadi (10:39):
Yeah, absolutely. Because at that point, I mean, Instagram was barely a thing. Like it was still filtered ictures of your coffee and your muffin. Like there was nothing
Shanna Skidmore (10:49):
Laylee Emadi (10:50):
There was like nothing going on. That was the way that it is now. I mean, it was like 20, I think maybe 2012, 2013.
Shanna Skidmore (10:59):
Yeah. I was still taking pictures of my dog on Instagram at that point, so Right <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you had been an educator for nine years, it's 2012, 2013, you've been taking pictures, figuring out photography. Did you think, I mean, it sounds like you just got too busy. Were you scared to, I mean, what made you I guess drop teaching over dropping photography?
Laylee Emadi (11:23):
I was terrified. I'm not gonna lie. I mean, it was a very stable career and quite frankly, I was pretty good at it. I, you know, had a really good reputation at a school, really good relationship with my principal and with admin. Like it was, it was all the good, all the things that I like really worked hard for. And so I was really scared to leave it behind on that level. And then also just on the financial level, I was scared to leave it behind, but I, I kind of got to the point where I had to do, I had to drop something like you said, and I just decided if I'm ever going to take a shot at making this work, this is going to be the time. And I had developed, I think, such a strong reputation. She said very humbly, um, you know, I had that, I knew, I knew that if I wanted to go back in a year I could get a job. Like it wouldn't be a problem because by that point I was very well established. And so I was like, no, I'm, I'm, I'm good. And so I was like, I'll give it a year if I can't make it this work, if I can't meet or surpass my salary in a year, then I'll just go back to teaching. No harm, no foul.
Shanna Skidmore (12:26):
Okay. Okay. So it's 2012, right? 2013, 2012. 2013.
Laylee Emadi (12:31):
It's like between maybe like 2016, 2017, something around there.
Shanna Skidmore (12:35):
Okay. Wow. So you went to Showit though. You had this kind of implanted in your mind like, this could be my career. You're getting better at your craft, you're growing your photography and then you're like, now's the time I'm gonna leave teaching. Tell me about those early days of photography and how did you figure out, especially like you mentioned it was before there was a ton of online education providing this. Like how did you come up with your offers and your pricing and your packages? Like, just talk me through those first years of being full-time in photography. I'd love to hear about that.
Laylee Emadi (13:08):
Yeah, so the first years of being full-time, I was really lucky because like I said, I had, I had been doing this as like a side gig for long enough to have been able to like research some trends and see what the other people in my market were doing locally and kind of base my prices off of them, which I wouldn't necessarily always recommend, but that's what I did. And you know, and it worked for a while before I realized like, okay, no, actually this isn't working for me the way that I want it to be. But, you know, i i, as far as what I was doing and like how I was planning it all out, it was one of those things that like over the past few years of having it be a side gig, I went to as many conferences, workshops in person, connecting with people who were doing what I wanted to do and learning from them. That's how I structured everything. And, and that was like the one thing I did right in the beginning was that just showing up as much as humanly possible and kind of like getting all of the content and information from directly from people. Like instead of going the online course route, mostly because I didn't know online courses were like a thing.
Shanna Skidmore (14:15):
Right? Yeah. Yeah. And so when you got started, and it sounds like your goal that first year was just to replace your teaching salary. Is that true? Yeah.
Laylee Emadi (14:25):
Shanna Skidmore (14:26):
Yes. Okay. So you're in it. And what would you say, you know, it sounds like you did some things really well, but did you ever struggle in those early years, like to get clients? Or was there ever a point where you're like, this isn't going well, or I need to switch something up with my pricing? Or do you remember any kind of those bumps in the road?
Laylee Emadi (14:46):
Yeah. Oh my gosh, I struggled with so many things, but in particular, uh, that first year I think I struggled a lot less with like getting clients and making money and more with like the mental aspect of things. My husband was very, uh, hesitant for me to go full time. He wasn't unsupportive. I hear that a lot, you know, and that's sad. He wasn't unsupportive, but he was, he was scared. And so it, there was I felt a lot of pressure. I struggled a lot with how to manage my time when before I was, you know, working during lunch breaks at school before and after school and on weekends and I would have to like really stay focused. Now I'm like home alone all day. And didn't really know what to do with my time. Didn't know how to structure that, but I knew that I needed to do something in order to like get more clients because I now have the time to serve them.
So that was a little bit of a struggle. Uh, luckily for me, the way that I started my business was so community focused with high school seniors and that market really, they speak to each other like they were word of mouth referring me left and right. And so I was very lucky that I had developed that community and the seniors for the next, like several years after I left. Cuz I taught ninth and 10th grade. So I was like photographing my previous students who like loved me and who I had a relationship with. So I was really lucky in that way.
Shanna Skidmore (16:13):
Yeah. That's so helpful Laylee I'm so glad you brought up kind of two things. One, real world, it is hard to leave a steady paycheck career. I mean, on so many levels, not even just the paycheck on so many levels. And so I'm glad that you brought that up. I mean, I love that you said it wasn't that he wasn't supportive, it was just real life. Like this is a little bit scary. So, And I also like that you mentioned figuring out how to manage your time when you work from home, I think is something that doesn't come easily to a lot of people.
Laylee Emadi (16:48):
Oh, it's so hard. And it, like, it's not something that once you, you can like set and forget, like you're constantly having to learn how to manage that.
Shanna Skidmore (16:58):
Yeah. How do you feel, like, what steps did you start taking to kind of give yourself some structure?
Laylee Emadi (17:05):
So I, for a minute I was like, Ooh, I'm going to, you know, I hear all these entrepreneur leaders talking about like, I'm gonna take a nap every day and I can set my own schedule. And that did not work for me. <laugh>. I needed routine, I needed structure, I needed to know that these are my working hours. And so I really started like scheduling everything into my day as though it were a meeting basically. So, you know, like I would work on certain things on certain days. Like I'd have theme days before, theme days were a thing. Yeah. Um, where, you know, back, back in the day and it worked really well for me. And then I actually started teaching on that a few years later because it had changed my life so, so drastically and so well, but it took a really long time for me to figure that out. I'm not gonna lie. And most days I found myself like Overexplaining to Tim, my husband when he got home. Like, this is what I did all day. Like I wasn't just chilling on the couch, I wasn't taking a nap. Yeah. Like, there's just so many mental hurdles that come with it. Yeah. So I, I started reading a lot about time management. I started reading a lot about productivity and the difference between being productive and just like sitting at work. Yeah. And that helped me as well.
Shanna Skidmore (18:15):
Yeah. And I also think it's, so something I think about a lot is as an entrepreneur, we have a lot of tasks and things that we're doing and also, but it feels like we need to be doing something all the time. And I think a lot about, we don't have like the coffee go into the coffee room or whatever moments or lunch break moments or like the chill time. So when Kyle was working as an entrepreneur, I, how many times did you go get coffee today? You know, and just these moments for a brain break, like, I feel like I'm required to be productive all the time, but no, in reality we need that space to think and you know what I'm saying? I just, I think we get more done in like four hours than we're as productive in four hours as like eight hours at a job. You know, like, because it's just a different environment. Yeah. So I feel like there's such high expectations on ourselves.
Laylee Emadi (19:07):
Absolutely. I'm like, think about if you've ever worked a corporate job, do you actually work those eight hours? I didn't. Right. I mean,
Shanna Skidmore (19:15):
<laugh>, I mean exactly how many times do you go to the bathroom, get water, get coffee, say hey to your coworker? Like all of that is cut out as an entrepreneur. And so we are highly productive and our brains are highly tired and we need more time, like more breaks. So I had to learn that as well. Like, this is my coffee moment, this is my coffee moment. <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Talk, talk me through how it started to grow. Like walk me through your first, Okay. So your first year, second year taught me through the growth. Like how did your business start to grow and shift and change over those first kind of three to four years?
Laylee Emadi (19:48):
Oh my goodness. There were so many changes that happened, I wanna say in those first few years, but also in every year of my business I find things are changing even this far in like, I'm just not a very, I'm not really good at like sit still and let things just stay the same. So I, you know, I started mostly as a senior and dance photographer and then that grew into families, which I, I really, I'm not huge like family photographer. It's not, I'm not bad at it, but I wouldn't choose to do it aside from my mini sessions with like my lifers, you know, the people who have been with me from the beginning. Yeah. But that eventually evolved because I worked with seniors and dancers and their moms, well who else has a camera? The moms. Yeah. And then who gifts their kids, cameras, the moms.
And so I started getting a lot of requests for, Hey, can you teach me how to use my camera? Can you teach me and my daughter how to use our new camera? And that turned into small workshops for how to use a camera for moms and their daughters or dads and their daughters who did, you know, like the, the photo dads at the football games and stuff like that. So, um, eventually photography was there and it was like kind of running itself in terms of getting inquiries because of the word of mouth. But then it became workshops for beginners. And then those beginners, some of those moms took it and ran and they became amazing photographers. And then it became, tell me how to run my business. And then it became photography workshops for photographers and it was, I was kind of growing like with, with the people I was working with. And it was kind of cool to, to walk alongside each other in that way. And then I took, I started taking weddings and I loved weddings, but that didn't last very long. Uh, I retired in 2019 right before the pandemic. My last wedding was December of 2019. But in that time I also taught wedding photographers. So it was just kind of like everything was hand in hand. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (21:41):
Would you say that you enjoyed having so many different facets and, and kind of taking what came? Or does that kind of light you up, you get bored with one thing or kind of just Yeah. Talk me through that.
Laylee Emadi (21:54):
Yeah, I mean, it's funny because the one con, the one constant in what I was doing was the fact that I love working with people in particular women and helping them become really competent and really, uh, just like seeing themselves in a new way and having a lot of fun doing something that is intimidating to them. And I think that that has been my constant forever. And so, even though I did a lot of different styles of photography with the main one being high school seniors, because I, I had that passion for working with that age group and for working with young women. You know, it's, it's even instilled itself now to where that's still my constant as a business strategist and as a business coach and as somebody who works with other business owners, most of them are women and most of them are in like dire need of confidence and Yeah. End up seeing themselves as capable and amazing. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (22:47):
Oh, Laylee. And you're just, you are such the right person to be in that role. I just feel like you are such an encourager and call out in people things that they don't see in themselves. So I love that you've identified like, this is, this is my constant. I want people to feel more. I mean, even with dance, I mean, that makes so much sense. Like dance is uncomfortable, is putting yourself out there, it's feeling confident on a stage. I mean, all of those things are really hard.
Laylee Emadi (23:14):
Shanna Skidmore (23:14):
Yeah. That's so cool. <laugh>. Okay. So as you've added these different facets, would you say that you have in the last few years or seen a major turning point in your own business?
Laylee Emadi (23:26):
Yes. So, you know, a few years ago it was about maybe three. When was, when was your conference that I came to?
Shanna Skidmore (23:36):
Probably 2019. Yeah. Was it Dolly's? Yes. The Dream More 2019. That was 2019.
Laylee Emadi (23:41):
Yeah. That I finagled an invitation to. Um,
Shanna Skidmore (23:44):
My favorite, favorite thing ever. I know. And I just wanted to hang out with you.
Laylee Emadi (23:48):
Oh, it is so good. But at that, at that conference, I was in the midst of, like, I just finished the beta round of my first online course, which is now like my signature program. So that was a huge turning point for me was when I started doing online education and working as, you know, like a business coach, strategist and, you know, overall like business minded educator. And that was in 2019. So yeah, that was a really, really big turning point for me.
Shanna Skidmore (24:19):
And walk me through how these last few years have shifted since moving in that new direction. Like, are you still doing photography? Do you find yourself really passionate about the educating? Like, I would just love to hear what you're passionate about now and just walk me through these last couple of years.
Laylee Emadi (24:36):
Oh, girl. These few years have been crazy. Um, yeah, it was <laugh>, it was insane. So obviously the pandemic hit and I was, I had already launched my course at that point, so that kind of, actually, it really did kind of take off at that point because people were home and they were wanting to work on things and they have time to really focus on the back end of their business and getting their lives together. And I loved helping them. So that was really great. I really enjoyed that. And I, I am very passionate about that. I am still doing photography, but it's shifted to become like maybe 10% of my business. I do like it. I don't think I, I mean, I love it. I don't think I'll ever fully like hang up my camera, but it's definitely scaled way back to where I'm only shooting maybe like once or twice every couple of months, you know? Um, and mostly it's brand, brand shoots and high school seniors if that. So portraits for Women is basically like, kind of my, my jam. Yeah. Which I love. But mostly it's the education I do. I have, like, my education kind of runs the gamut at this point. I, I've got retreats. I'm hosting my first conference. I've got mastermind that happens once or twice a year, and I do one-on-one coaching, and then of course I have like an online resource shop and my, my course.
Shanna Skidmore (25:49):
Would you say Laylee, like as you try new things that you keep, the things that, like the things you're doing now, do you feel like they're the ones that really have just light you up? Is that how, like what's your gauge for Yes. This is a keeper? No, this isn't.
Laylee Emadi (26:06):
Yeah, so there's a couple of things that I'll, I'll kind of ask myself. One is, you know, is it, is it profitable? Like, is it doing something for my business that that needs to make money to, to survive? You know, and I, and I need to be able to pay my bills. So that's, that's one question. The first question, I mean, the most important is like, does this bring me joy? Does it make me happy? I've given, you know, there's been a few things that have been like my biggest money makers that I've said goodbye to, obviously photographing weddings. I used to photograph a lot of dance teams, but it was a question of is it worth my time and is it worth the stress? And is it worth, you know, sacrificing something that brings me more joy, but maybe a little bit less money. And so it is kind of like a non non formulaic way of like formulating if I'm gonna keep something or move on. And I'm just a really big proponent of trying new things. Like, I think that's something I struggled with in the beginning. I was really afraid to try something and put myself out there, but that's how I found the things that I love the most.
Shanna Skidmore (27:09):
Hmm. I love that so much. Yeah. I love how you're trying things. And what would you say when you look at your business in your life right now, like what motivates you? What is motivating you in business? Is it a money goal? Is it the confidence you wanna see happening in your clients? Like what is motivating you right now?
Laylee Emadi (27:30):
I think that my biggest motivator right now is probably impact. I've been like an impact driven person pretty much my whole life. But I, I really love to see, there's something very rewarding about seeing somebody take the words that you're giving them. Like take the advice that you're giving them, take the guidance that you're giving them, apply it, and then see really beautiful results. And that to me is probably like the, the thing that drives me the most right now. And that's why I so en I so enjoy like my mastermind and my one-on-one coaching because I get to actually get like a front row seat to people's success and I get to like, celebrate with them, which is amazing.
Shanna Skidmore (28:10):
Oh, Laylee, that makes, I mean, I feel like in my mind things just like clicked together because you've heard me talk about my core motivators and what I teach in my business course, The Blueprint mMdel. But this idea of, we have to find that thing that drives us and for you, like impact makes so much sense. And when you try these different facets of your business or dance, you know, all these different things you've tried, it's like, well, the motivator behind all of them has come back to impact. So it's less about what you're doing and it's more about the end result, like the impact that it has. So I just think that makes so much sense where some people come at their business like, I wanna be a photographer and that's what I wanna be, you know what I'm saying? Right. For you, the type of work is almost less important than the result that it, I mean, that's from an outside, would you say that's kind of true? Like you'll do anything as long as it's caring for others, bringing out that confidence I love that.
Laylee Emadi (29:05):
Absolutely. I mean, I always used to say like, I love taking, I love the creative side of photography and I, I want my skill to be really high level, but the, the camera is just like a vehicle to get me to, you know, work with these people and give them an amazing experience and yeah. And build that, build that relationship with them and community with them. So I, I totally agree with that.
Shanna Skidmore (29:28):
Oh, that makes so much sense. Okay. It's like, it just, Yes. That makes so much sense. Le let's talk about numbers for a second. How do you feel <laugh>? Oh my gosh.
Laylee Emadi (29:38):
No, I'm just kidding. Yeah, let's
Shanna Skidmore (29:40):
Do it. Let's do it. Let's do, do it. Let's talk numbers. So just walk me through, what would you say your relationship with money has been, maybe even while you were a teacher and educating before starting your own business, and then as an entrepreneur as well. I would just love to hear about how, how do you feel about money? <laugh>
Laylee Emadi (30:02):
Okay, I'm gonna kick it back to like six year old Laylee. My hobby was like sorting coins and counting them and like hoarding them. I <laugh> have this thing about just, I would consider myself a saver. I'm pretty frugal. I try to be really smart about my money. I guess I'll put, I'll put it this way, this will paint a picture of my relationship with money. When I got married and we combined finances, we went into the bank and for the first time in like the three years I had been with my husband, I was literally having a panic attack in the bank. I was like, I cannot let somebody else have a say in my money. Like, I cannot, I can't do this. Like, this is a terrible idea. I don't trust you with my money. And that was like, not true, but I, I think I've had a weird relationship with money my whole life. I mean, I just, I'm a saver and I don't know if I'm a saver because I have like this mindset that like, uh, like a scarcity mindset with money. But that's kind of how, how I've gone about for the majority of, of my young adult life and adult life is just like, save as much as humanly possible.
Shanna Skidmore (31:12):
That's so interesting. And I don't know if you even know the answer to this, but I wonder is that, would you think maybe something of fear or just not knowing kind of just like an unknown or was there something. That your, you feel like your parents taught you? Um, uh, anything that comes to mind as re like as a saver where that's coming from?
Laylee Emadi (31:34):
Yeah, actually I think big part of it is, you know, we're an immigrant family and I think when you have immigrant parents that, like my parents came here, I think my dad, he's told me this story so many times and I always forget the amount. I think he had something like $5,000 and that was it. And a family of five, like we are three girls and you know, a husband and wife come to America with literally nothing. Yeah. And build a life from the ground up. And I mean, I was very, very, very lucky. We, you know, had a very comfortable life. I had a lot of privilege in that way that my parents never made me feel like we, we never wanted for anything. Like my dad really built a strong, strong life for himself. But I think watching him build that life, I was like, I, I need to do that. Like I think maybe I've just like adopted that immigrant mindset of like, let's build up as much wealth as we humanly can, like as humanly possible so we don't have to worry about it later.
Shanna Skidmore (32:30):
Yeah. That's so interesting. How old were you Laylee when you all moved to the States?
Laylee Emadi (32:36):
I was just a baby. I was born in Iran and, but my parents actually, they had, they went to England for college for undergrad and then went to Nebraska for my dad's master's, moved back to Iran, had me and then moved right back to America. So I was born in Iran, but it was, you know, I was born like in the midst of a war and they just hightailed out of there. So
Shanna Skidmore (33:00):
Do you still have a lot of family in Iran?
Laylee Emadi (33:03):
We do, yeah. My grandmother's there. I've got cousins and aunts and uncles.
Shanna Skidmore (33:08):
Yeah. I just think that's such an interesting, I mean you bring such an amazing perspective that, you know, so many clearly don't have that experience and I think a lot of people have their own experience with their families and the generation they grew up with with saving or you know, the baby boomer generation where they were taught to like keep everything or, you know, I just think so much of our childhood and how we were raised impacts how we feel about money today.
Laylee Emadi (33:36):
Shanna Skidmore (33:37):
I also think Laylee that's interesting. I mean, you were clearly born into a very hard working, it sounds like family. And I hear from a lot of people, they'll say things like, I was taught to work hard but not really taught how to manage money. Yeah. It's like, it just hard work. Money follows hard work is the idea, but that doesn't always happen, you know?
Laylee Emadi (33:59):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, I think that definitely played into my mindset. I mean, I got my first job at like 15 and hadn't I have not, not worked a day in my life since then. Yeah. So I just think it was important to me as well to like alleviate any kind of pressure as like the third child, I was like, I'm gonna make as much money as I can so that I can, you know, contribute to my home in some way even though nobody was asking me to do that. Right. I dunno. So yeah. Yeah, I've always kind of been that way and, and I think there's a lot of pressure that comes with that, with that mindset. And I bring that pressure even into my marriage. I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, you know, it was a slower month. Like, are we okay? And Tim's like, No, we're fine.
Shanna Skidmore (34:40):
<laugh>. Okay. What would you say, um, regarding money? Was there things that you feel like this came very naturally to me?
Laylee Emadi (34:47):
Um, some things that came naturally probably that didn't to other entrepreneurs that I work with and who I've I've chatted with was just kind of understanding that every dollar you bring in isn't your dollar. Being able to kind of understand the difference between like net and gross and profit and things like that, that I think, at least with the people that I work with, they're like, Oh my gosh, I'm a six figure entrepreneur. And I'm like, But you're not keeping that. Like, let's talk about what that actually means,
Shanna Skidmore (35:13):
<laugh>. story of my life.
Laylee Emadi (35:16):
<laugh>. Oh my gosh. I know for you you're probably like, Wait everybody hold on reign it in. Everyone chill. So that was something that I think came naturally to me, but there was a lot that didn't come naturally to me too.
Shanna Skidmore (35:29):
So, Okay. Now I'm gonna follow up question. What would you say lessons learned and, or kind of the struggles, like what did you have to fight for to, to learn about money?
Laylee Emadi (35:41):
I think, I mean, I'm still kind of learn. I'm still learning. Like I don't think we're ever done learning, especially for people who are not you and do not have like the experience that you have. But for me, I think a big one was understanding that there's like an ebb and flow in business and that things can be seasonal and things are not going to look the same every single month depending on what you're doing. And being able to kind of look at that from a broader perspective of, you know, like the bird's eye view versus like, Oh my gosh, I, I didn't hit this goal. Or like, I'm, I'm making less this month than I did last month. And understanding that there is like going to be an up and down. That was really hard for me. Another thing that was really hard for me was knowing what to do with the money that was just sitting there, especially in the beginning. I remember like the first few years as a photographer, you're getting like large sums of money, especially if you're shooting weddings, right? People are paying you like you depending on what you charge, but like $7,000 and it's just sitting there and you're like, What do I, what do I do? What do I do with it? That, that was kind of hard for me. It was like, what am I doing with this money other than paying myself every month? You know, like, what's next? That's kind of tricky as a business owner, if you're like self-taught and you're new to it.
Shanna Skidmore (36:52):
Oh, that's so tricky Laylee. I mean, I know so many people That's such a great and like, am I gonna need this later? Like the hoarding of the cash? Yes. And you hoarding your coins <laugh> like,
Laylee Emadi (37:04):
Yep, that was me.
Shanna Skidmore (37:05):
When I was little, my dad would get us, I don't like those coin rollers. I mean, we would roll coins. Yes. And I just thought that was the most fun little thing. Hey, activity for kids, roll the coins. I loved it. It was one of my favorite things. So you're just over there rolling your 7,000 not knowing what to do with this. So true. But so such a hard lesson. Okay. So I'm gonna bring it back. You know, you talk a lot about confidence and you light up bringing that confidence out in other people. Would you say that you've had to do work yourself on confidence and whether it's asking for money or making the sale or talking to yourself about like, we're gonna be okay financially. Like I'd love to hear how do you kind of speak truth over your own self?
Laylee Emadi (37:54):
This is such a like, funny timing question because I just came to this huge realization. I think it was like two weeks ago I was talking to Tim about money and confidence and how culturally I really think that like my culture set me up to fail with sales. Hmm. Culturally we are taught the Iranian culture is very generous and very gracious and very giving. So like if somebody comes to your home and they're like, Oh my goodness, I love your necklace. There's a saying, there's like a phrase and Farsi you say, that essentially translates to like, it has no words to me like it's yours and you give it to them like you offer them Hmm. Things off of yourself. And so for me it's been really difficult, especially in the education realm, less so with photography because photography like, it feels a little more transactional in the beginning where you're like, Okay, this is my rate. Pay it. Thank you. I'll meet you there, I'll take your picture. <laugh>. Right. You know, there's like a process. But with education, for example, my retreats and my conference, do you know how hard it is for me not to just invite everybody I've met to be like, just come. Just come. You don't, Okay, just come.
Shanna Skidmore (39:04):
It's fine. Bring it on. Uh, yes, Same. Same. Cause I just like hanging out. I'm like, it'll be great. Yes. It'll be so fun.
Laylee Emadi (39:12):
Yes, it is painful. People will like email me a question and I have to like hold myself back from being like, Just come, don't worry about it. Yeah. So that's been really hard for me. Confidence wise. Yes. I've had to work really hard. I am not by nature. And, and if you're listening to this and we've met in real life, you might, you might be like, what? I am not a very confident person. And my whole life I was extremely insecure up until maybe I hit my thirties and now I'm, I'm a little bit more comfortable in my own skin. I'm sure it has to do with growing up a dancer who was, did not have a dancer's body. I'm sure especially, you know, in the nineties, that's not ideal. And so there was a lot of confidence that I lacked in every part of my life. But, you know, working on it, but just giving it time and just kind of like becoming more comfortable in your own skin and becoming more, I guess secure in the things that you're offering has been, has been really good for me personally.
Shanna Skidmore (40:07):
Yeah. I think people are surprised when they hear this about me too. Like I struggle a lot with mindset and confidence. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and knowing my worth. And so I had this little, I think we've talked about this before, but I have a folder on my computer and in my email called My Sunshine folder. And I keep messages from clients or videos from clients or whatever recordings because I have to remind myself like, I grew up in a not very, you know, my family didn't have a lot of money and so I grew up like, you work hard for what you have. And so I'm the same. Like I struggle to believe like, this is worth so much money, you know? And so I keep this little sunshine folder to remind me of the, the transformations that I get to see or like, this really helped me. And so I have to be like, it's okay to charge for this. Like it's okay. Like I really struggle with that still today. And people are like, What? I'm like, yeah, I really do. And especially being in the education world, Kyle's always like, the course is the product <laugh>. Cause I'm like, Hey, and then I'll coach you through it. <laugh> like, you know, and he's like, No, Shanna, like the course is the product because I try to teach, you know, to treat all of my students like my one-on-one clients. And he's like, um, that's not possible. <laugh>.
Laylee Emadi (41:23):
I know I do the same. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (41:25):
It's hard. You just wanna give and give and give. Especially you, you're impact driven. So thank you for sharing that. I, I know that's gonna encourage people to know like, like this is a constant learning, talking truth over yourself and Yeah. With all the things you've learned, I always like to ask, what would you say is the best thing that you have learned about money?
Laylee Emadi (41:45):
I think for me, the best thing I've learned about money is probably just that you, oh gosh, this is hard. I feel like there's a couple of things, but one is that there's a give and take and it's okay to spend and you know, it's okay to make mistakes with your money and it's okay to, you know, make investments and there's, it's all in the cost of doing business and that not everything you're gonna do is going to bring in money and that's okay too. I think it's just to be forgiving. I think it's just to be forgiving with your money. Yeah. And that's personal I guess to me.
Shanna Skidmore (42:21):
Yeah. Well, yeah. And, and and it sounds like too with how you're raised or what you were saying about your culture, like you don't wanna feel like you're wasting any of it.
Laylee Emadi (42:29):
Yeah. Yeah. And it's hard when you do make a mistake with your money. Cuz I've recently made a lot of mistakes and it's, it really is hard to be like, it's okay, it happened, let it go, it's gone. Move on.
Shanna Skidmore (42:41):
Yeah. Yeah. One thing, uh, speaking of mistakes with your money, one of my, maybe my second year in business I, in confidence, I was asked to change up how I, this person's client couldn't pay my typical like payment schedule. So she asked me to change it and I was like, great, yeah, I'll do that for you. Whatever. Well anyways, because I'm, I was off my regular rhythm. I totally forgot to bill her, one of her bills. And so like six months later when I was catching up on my bookkeeping for everybody listening, Yes. I sometimes get behind, Forgive yourself there too. I realized that I had not billed her and it was like thousands of dollars Laylee. So Yeah. Oh my gosh. There's like, I, I always like to share that. I mean, I don't like to share that story, but it's <laugh> Like, I work in finance, I do this every, I done this for 15 years and I still mess up. You know, or like yeah. I mean, so many stories I could tell you. But we're at 43 minutes and I would love to get into a quick fire round, but I have one last question before we get into quick fire. Why I called the, the podcast the name that I did is just, I really love hearing from entrepreneurs cause I think this is like real life. Like get it, get it to the real in a world that asks us to do everything really well. Be a great business owner, be great with our money, be great at home life, have all the boundaries in the world. How have you found the harmony of living your life, building your business? Like what, what does that look like for you?
Laylee Emadi (44:15):
You know, I, I basically live by this phrase that I started saying to my students when I, when I launched my first course for educators. And that was that you can do everything, but you can't do everything at the same time. You can't do it all at once. So for me, I think the best way that I find harmony is just deciding on like, what's gonna get my attention right now in each category. And being okay with the fact that that means something else has to take a back seat. So like with my conference, you know, it's my first conference in January, so I decided I'm not gonna have a mastermind round during the last six months of this year so that I can prepare for that. Was that a financial like cut? Yeah, it was, but I had to decide, you know, I can't create a new offer focus on six to eight other people's businesses and my own and my life. Like, it's just too much. And so I think just realizing that everything will have its time, but its time might not be at the same time.
Shanna Skidmore (45:19):
Mm. That is so good and really, really true. I, a friend of mine told me this years ago, she was watching a little interview with Martha Stewart. She said Martha Stewart was like in her seventies at the time and the interviewer asked her what's next? Or something I, I wish I could remember the story exactly, but what I do remember is in her seventies, she said, There's always more time for that. And I was like, wow.
Laylee Emadi (45:42):
Oh I love it.
Shanna Skidmore (45:43):
I mean, what an amazing perspective to be like, I don't have to do it all right now. I mean.
Laylee Emadi (45:49):
Yeah. And people feel like they have to, right?
Shanna Skidmore (45:52):
Yeah. Like this is Oh, absolutely.
Laylee Emadi (45:53):
That's what our society tells us. That's what Instagram tells us is like, let's get, let's get going. Let's run this race that's not a real race.
Shanna Skidmore (46:00):
Yeah. And then I'm tired and I just wanna eat pizza on the couch. Um, <laugh> that's so good Laylee. Such great advice too. Okay, let's move into a quick fire round. Okay. First question. What is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew?
Laylee Emadi (46:16):
I think I'd be embarrassed if people knew just how long it took me to like, make a decision and move forward on things. Like how much I overthink before I take action. It's a little embarrassing.
Shanna Skidmore (46:28):
Yeah, that's so true. Like, I mean, it's sometimes it's like you move too fast or not fast enough. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So Yeah.
Laylee Emadi (46:35):
Yeah. I'm like a turtle.
Shanna Skidmore (46:36):
That's so funny. Okay. That's interesting to know about you Laylee. Thank you for sharing.
Laylee Emadi (46:40):
Yeah. Nobody, nobody thinks it,
Shanna Skidmore (46:41):
But No, here it is. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Laylee so second question. Do you have any wish you could do over moments?
Laylee Emadi (46:50):
Yeah, so I try really hard not to have a lot of, um, like regrets or, you know, taking things back because I really try to learn from everything I do, even if it doesn't work out. But I guess if I could choose one thing that I do wish I could take back, it would be just to be really wary and think twice about making really big investments with people who promise you a lot and don't really deliver on that promise.
Shanna Skidmore (47:17):
Yes. So if you wouldn't mind share, if you wouldn't mind, would you share a little bit more about that? Cause I think that ties into a lot of why you developed your course, I would imagine on for educators. Would you be willing to share?
Laylee Emadi (47:32):
Yeah, absolutely. In the past couple years I've made some really, really big investments in my business, and I think we all have like really, really big dreams and really big goals and aspirations. And when somebody comes around who calls themselves an educator or calls themselves a leader and can and is, you know, showing you all these really big success stories that they have either created for themselves or for somebody else, you wanna believe it. And so I made some really big investments in some education that that really didn't deliver. I'm talking like 10,000 plus. There was like a 12,00 one, a $5,000 one. And it just, they were some big mistakes that I made and, and I wish that I could have gone back and just listened to my gut a little bit more, dug a little bit deeper and not just like jumped at a chance to, you know, achieve these lofty goals that people are promising without actually being able to deliver on them.
Shanna Skidmore (48:29):
Wait, wait. That like, is a gut punch, like that's heart wrenching. Would you share, I mean, how can people avoid that? Or is it avoidable even? I don't know. I mean, I've made some bad investments and some, I mean, man. Yeah. How do you avoid that now?
Laylee Emadi (48:45):
I think, I mean, and I, I had this knowledge, I would've said the same thing back then, but I was definitely swayed by the bright and shiny and like competent delivery of these people that I got on calls with. And that really like sold me on their abilities. But the biggest thing I always say is like, ask questions, ask hard questions that they have to answer, which I did. But sometimes people can, you know, can talk their way into things. Yeah. And then check, you know, ask for receipts like where, like what are your success stories? What is the percentage of success that you find for your students? Like, how many of your students go through this and actually come out of the other, you know, come out the other side making a return on this massive investment. And if they can't answer that right, that's a red flag.
Shanna Skidmore (49:29):
Yeah. Oh, that's so good. I tell people you won it three times at least your, whatever the investment is. Yeah. That's, that would be a great goal. Rule of thumb would, I mean, I don't know if you agree with that, but I'm like, if you're gonna invest 10,000, like show me how I'm gonna get 30 back. Yeah. That would be what I wanna know.
Laylee Emadi (49:45):
Yeah, exactly. I mean, honestly I would've even been happy with like, making it back at that point. But, you know, mistakes, mistakes are made and, and it's all learning lessons. Right. And honestly, like you said, it does, it really does reaffirm like my business's mission to create ethical, impactful educators in our, in the creative industry. Like that's what I do and that's what I love to do. And hopefully I can help empower people to not have to like, rely on the bright, shiny, you know, preying on people's vulnerabilities in order to, to sell education that doesn't actually work.
Shanna Skidmore (50:19):
We could talk on this for a good 60 more minutes because whew. So many thoughts, but we didn't get to, I didn't have you share about this, but will you share about your program and why you're so passionate about teaching educators like entrepreneurs to be educators? I would love for you to share on that Laylee.
Laylee Emadi (50:39):
Yeah. Of course, I, you know, so I have the Creative Educator Academy, which is kind of my signature program. It's a foundational course that teaches you how to share your knowledge well in order to become a profitable and impactful and ethical educator. And then we have the Creative Educator Conference, which is kind of like a little bit of the next level, a little bit in person, tackles a few more topics with amazing guest speakers. But, but really all of it was developed out of this kind of desire for me, from me to see, you know, our industry stop having lackluster and mediocre education. Because the thing is, a lot of educators in our industry might be amazing at what they do, and they might have a lot of knowledge, but they might not be sharing it well, and that doesn't really create success for anybody. And so I kind of really wanted to create something that helps them do all the things, do them well, do them ethically, and see success for their students.
Shanna Skidmore (51:38):
Yeah. I love this so much because I, this is like my biggest fear. I'm great at what I do, but I wanna make sure I'm great at teaching it to others because I've never been an educator, you know, I was not taught to do that.
Laylee Emadi (51:52):
Some people are naturally gifted at it, and I think that you are, I, I love seeing you teach. I think you're an amazing teacher. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (51:58):
Well, you're the best, but I, I, I hope more people, I think teaching others, coaching others, guiding others is great, but I'm so passionate about what you're doing because yeah. Maybe not everyone is natural at it. And educators are taught how to educate you taught yourself through experience and nine years in the education world. So I, I, I wanna be a better teacher, and I hope everybody does. So thank you for sharing more about that program. We will link all the links to it in the show notes, because I am a, I'm a big advocate. I'm a big fan of what you're doing. Okay, let's go back to quickfire. Tell me about a big win or a pinch me moment.
Laylee Emadi (52:36):
Okay, so probably my biggest win. Okay. A fun pinch me moment. This is a fun one would be, and I mentioned this earlier, but taking the stage at Showit United, which is a photography conference as a keynote speaker when it was, you know, I, I have been a speaker even before I was an entrepreneur, So taking the stage is not really like a huge, it's not like a ego boost for me. It's just exciting to be able to share with people. But this in particular, it was the very first thing I'd ever attended. I knew nothing, and I knew no one. And so it was just pinch me moment to be able to see like how far the tears and the sweat and the hard work and the blood had taken me from, you know, six or seven years prior to being able to help people who were in my literal seat, <laugh>, you know, years later. Yeah, that was a really cool moment for me.
Shanna Skidmore (53:28):
That is such a cool moment. Yeah. Uh, I love that. Yeah. That's so cool. Okay. Tell me about best advice and or just really good advice that you have received.
Laylee Emadi (53:38):
The best advice I've probably ever received is more so it's asking yourself the question when you're getting ready to take a risk, asking yourself what's the worst that can happen? And then once you have the answer to that, and then what would happen, Because more often than not, we're making that risk way bigger than it needs to be.
Shanna Skidmore (53:57):
Oh, that's so good. That second question. Yeah. Too. It's like, make the plan, if the worst happens, then make a plan. Oh, that's good. Yeah. All right. Last quick fire. What are you working on now and or what is one resource you would love to share?
Laylee Emadi (54:12):
So right now, all, all of our efforts here are focused on the Creative Educator Conference, which is in January. So just planning that, making sure it's a really good experience for the people who attend. It's a lot more than I thought it would be, and I love it. It's been really fun. Um, and the resource I can share, I have a really fun quiz that's really exciting for people who wanna become educators but don't really know if they wanna be on a stage or if they wanna be an online course creator, or if they wanna be, you know, like a, a mentor. And, and that's just a quiz to tell you kind of like what educational setting is best for you and for your personality. And that's just layleeemadi.com/quiz.
Shanna Skidmore (54:53):
I love that quiz because I think it also puts a seed in someone's mind, because digital courses is only one way to educate. Speaking is one way to educate mentoring. Yeah. You know, there's so many ways that you can educate, and I don't think people always see that or know that because, you know, online education might be really in somebody's face, you know, So I love that quiz, layleeemadi.com/quiz That's good. All right, Laylee let's send it off. Going all the way back to when you first picked up that camera, what would you tell yourself on day one, even before it was a business just getting started?
Laylee Emadi (55:31):
I would probably tell myself, A, don't be afraid to take risks. And B, don't forget what made you start in the first place.
Shanna Skidmore (55:40):
Hmm. So good. Laylee, thank you so much for sharing your story today. It's been so fun to hang out and I feel like we could dive into so many other topics, <laugh>. But thank you for coming on.
Laylee Emadi (55:52):
Thanks For having me. It's so good to talk with you.
Shanna Skidmore (55:53):
You're such a joy. Hey, Wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to considerthewildflowerspodcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Laylee. One final thought today from Bob Marley. Love the life you live. Live the life you love. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.