Consider the Wildflowers

030. Shay Cochrane: The 16 Hour CEO

February 02, 2023 Shay Cochrane
030. Shay Cochrane: The 16 Hour CEO
Consider the Wildflowers
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Consider the Wildflowers
030. Shay Cochrane: The 16 Hour CEO
Feb 02, 2023
Shay Cochrane

From living on food stamps to building a multi-six figure photography business all in just sixteen hours a week, Shay has perfected the art of working smarter not harder. She has spent the past sixteen years modeling what it truly means to build a business that supports the life you want instead of the all too common bending all of life to build the business you want. From designing your offer ladder to pricing to money management, Shay’s has so much wisdom to share for anyone looking to build a sustainable and profitable business aka all of us!  


Show Notes Transcript

From living on food stamps to building a multi-six figure photography business all in just sixteen hours a week, Shay has perfected the art of working smarter not harder. She has spent the past sixteen years modeling what it truly means to build a business that supports the life you want instead of the all too common bending all of life to build the business you want. From designing your offer ladder to pricing to money management, Shay’s has so much wisdom to share for anyone looking to build a sustainable and profitable business aka all of us!  


Shay Cochrane (00:00):

We were in a very financially meager season of life. I've shared some of my story in various places, but at one point we had moved, we had lost jobs. We were on food stamps. I mean, it was during the recession 2009. I mean, it was really kind of a crazy time of life where the business was then. And I was transitioning from wedding and portrait into commercial photography. I really could only afford 16 hours a week of childcare. And so that was kind of the origin of why do I work 16 hours? That's how it started. That was just all the childcare that I could really afford. 

Shanna Skidmore (00:34):

You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast episode 30 from living on food stamps to building a multi-six figure photography business all in just 16 hours a week. Shea has perfected the art of working smarter, not harder. She has spent the past 16 years modeling what it truly means to build a business that supports the life you want instead of the all too common bending all of life to build the business you want from designing your offer ladder to pricing to money management. Shea has so much wisdom to share for anyone looking to build a sustainable and profitable business, a k a, all of us, if you dig professional bios here goes as a commercial photographer and product stylists, Shea's clients, Spann the globe, brands like Sugarfina, pure Fiji truffle bags and simplified planner to name a few. But powerhouse female entrepreneurs like Marie Forlio, Jenna Kutcher, and thousands of others love her social squares membership where she puts her years of work as a commercial stylist and photographer into a highly curated stock image membership that supplies elevated stock images for female owned online brands. 

Her vision is to enable more women to find greater success, sharing their ideas and businesses with the world. And she manages to do this in just a 16 hour work week. She has been married for 16 years to her fellow entrepreneur husband Graham Cochran, and they call Sunny Tampa, Florida home along with their two daughters. Okay, formal introductions over, let's talk to Shea. Hey, it's Sha 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, turn 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 shape them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encouraged to redefine success and build a life in business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here. 

Hi Shay. 

Shay Cochrane (02:53):

Hi. I'm so excited to be here. 

Shanna Skidmore (02:56):

I'm so excited and for everybody listening, I told Shay, I'm like, I'm hitting record before we really start chatting because we have not caught up in forever. And I am, first of all, let me just say I am so honored to have you on the show and sharing your story, and I'm just excited to get to do that. I love being the host of the show. It feels like the greatest gift because I just get to get curious and hear your story. So thank you for coming on. 

Shay Cochrane (03:22):

Yeah, I feel humbled that you would even ask. I'm excited about this. I'm excited about what you're doing. I've loved watching your journey and you know, and I both have been entrepreneurs for a long time and so it's, that's just kind of cool to see how each of us have grown and our businesses have grown and changed. But then also these types of conversations are really life giving for me because I live in the image creative c e O world and these conversations aren't a regular part of the work that I get to do. So I just savor any chance to have these kinds of vulnerable behind the scenes type conversation. So love it and thank you. 

Shanna Skidmore (04:02):

Oh, me too. Would you say Shea, this is totally off script. Would you say that personally I feel like there's been a shift in, so this is our 10th year officially in business, which is so fun. Yeah. Decade. There's been such a shift where for better or for worse, entrepreneurs, business owners, we're focused, we're moving, we're shaking, we're getting stuff done. And I think that's really good. That whole idea of a rising tide lifts all boats or whatever that beautiful saying is, and I think I've seen that that's been so true, but in some ways I feel sad that we have lost some of the slower the time for just coffee chats and yeah. Conversa. Would you say that's true? 

Shay Cochrane (04:47):

Yeah, I mean I feel it myself. Yeah, I, I'm feeling the need to make more space for that relationship development. I think you're right. Over the years it became all about scaling and efficiency and <laugh> relationships. They don't run on <laugh> on efficiency. They just take time. So man, there's so much we could probably talk all day about the way that the creative and online industry is changing. The small business industry is changing, but I think you're on to something. Yeah, 

Shanna Skidmore (05:19):

That's going to be interesting. Okay. So we met each other at Creative at Heart in <laugh> 

Shay Cochrane (05:27):

21 million years ago. 

Shanna Skidmore (05:29):

<laugh> know forever go 

Shay Cochrane (05:30):

In oh five or later than that. I don't know, it's been a while. 

Shanna Skidmore (05:34):

I know it's been a while and I'm so glad that we met because I feel like we are such kindred spirits in life, but we haven't gotten to catch up very much since the last time we saw each other. So before we talk about business lately, will you just, those of you who may not know Shea yet, which would be shocking, but will you just tell everybody who you are and just talk about that beginning, how'd you get into business? 

Shay Cochrane (06:02):

So my name is Shay. I am the c e o and founder of Social Squares, which is a styled stock membership for creative entrepreneurs. I'm a commercial photographer by trade and just kind of turned that into a subscription. And my heart is really for small business owners. But my journey, I mean really if we're going to go way back, my entrepreneurial journey begins on the playground. Pretty sure I found a way to monetize anything I could get my hands on, but I started working for myself right after college doing portrait and wedding photography, the only way in quotes to make money as a photographer. And I owned my own business while working full-time did that, I ended up doing wedding and portrait photography for quite a few years, started to grow a family, moved, I mean, I'm going to fast forward through the story, but as I started to have kids, I was realizing that it didn't really work for me anymore season of Lifewise to be working in the evenings doing portraits or gone for a weekend to shoot a wedding or coming home at one o'clock after a reception and still needing to nurse my child and wake up at 6:00 AM the next day, exactly day. 

So I knew that a shift was needed and I kind of made a somewhat dramatic overnight shift into commercial photography. Did that for a few years until that no longer served my season of life and figured out a way to go from a one-to-one service into first a stock website, the SE stock shop, which I had for a while. That was kind of my first entry into stock photography for female business owners specifically. And then that eventually morphed into the subscription, now the monthly image and video stock subscription. So that's kind of the 30,000 feet story of the changes of the business over the last, at this point, I'm think I'm 16 or so years into business ownership. 

Shanna Skidmore (07:58):

I mean, that's amazing and I love that there's been this common thread of photography throughout and I think it's so incredible. That's something I have learned so much since having my daughter too and something I teach all my students, but I'm learning it myself. It's I'm the student right now of creating offers that align with your season of life and how that shifts and changes and pivots. Yeah. Yeah. That's so good. So tell me, in that just love 16 years, what would you say that you have done really well? What I see of Shea from the outside looking in is you model aligning your business with your season of life, but what would you say that you did really well in those beginning days? What would you say was something you had to learn? 

Shay Cochrane (08:49):

Yeah, how much time do you have for them? What did you learn? 45 minutes. So the things I think that by the grace of God, I managed to stumble into doing well. I did always, I tried to build a business to support the life that I wanted to live instead of bending all of life to build the business that I wanted. And that served me really well. It actually proved to be really strategic. So as soon as I first started having children, I mean, we were in a very financially meager season of life. I've shared some of my story in various places, but at one point we had moved, we had lost jobs. We were on food stamps. I mean, it was during the recession 2009. I mean, it was really kind of a crazy time of life where the business was then. And I was transitioning from wedding and portrait into commercial photography. 

I really could only afford 16 hours a week of childcare. And so that was kind of the origin of why do I work 16 hours? That's how it started. That was just all the childcare that I could really afford. And I really found that personally, I didn't do well trying to balance motherhood and business ownership at the same time. Some people do that really beautifully. I didn't had to compartmentalize them so I didn't feel guilty so that I could in either space so that I didn't feel guilty when I was working, and so that I didn't feel guilty when I was being a mom and not working. So I started from the beginning, I built a business that would serve my life. So that created instantly a filter, a pretty strong filter of what I could spend time doing and what I had to say no to. 

And what that filter did, if you're familiar at all with anyone who's familiar with the 80 20 principle, I mean, that caused me to instantly need to identify what are the things that are actually going to grow profit and help me to scale, and what are the things that are fun and other people are saying I should do, but I really just don't have the time for, and they're only going to generate a small amount of profit anyway. So those boundaries, and this is what I think is so beautiful about boundaries. We know we've done enough research to know that boundaries can create an enormous amount of creativity. And I think boundaries, and for me it was the boundary of ours really forced me to be creative and strategic, really flux that strategy muscle of, I don't know what platform am I going to show up on? 

What can I deliver? What can I commit to? What spaces can I be a part of? So I think that that has just always served me is building the business. I, I've said it recently, build the business that you want to have 10 years from now. Because a lot of people think the opposite. I'll just hustle now, work crazy, and eventually I'll get to the point that I can scale it back or scale back my involvement. But it is, from what I've seen, it is excruciatingly hard to work in that direction. When you're used to running at a 40, 50, 60, 80 hour a week pace and you've built a business that's really owner dependent, it's very hard, if not sometimes impossible to then pull your way back out of that. So I think whether I thought that far in advance or not, I had the opportunity to build the business from the beginning to serve the me 10 years from now. 

And that has, that's just served me from a profitability perspective and from a mental health burnout perspective as well. So I would say that's one of the things that I feel like who praise the Lord I, there's a lot of hard lessons I've learned along the way. I mean, yeah, we're going to cover a lot of them, so I don't want to get too far into that, but there have been hiring hard lessons, managing a team, leading a team is a whole different beast. And so we can elevate how awesome it sounds to have a team and be a team leader and have multiple people working for your company. If you care about doing that with excellence. It is a full-time job, just the leadership. Yes, just that aspect. And I have spent hours and hours pouring into leadership books, more than strategy books, more than marketing, more than anything else. 

I spend my time pouring into leadership, and I still get it wrong all the time. Yeah, I feel like just a kindergartner in the leadership space in terms of how to really lead a team to excellence. So I could just go on all day. I probably have about five dozen other lessons, but in some ways it is far easier to be a solopreneur than to be a leader. And if you're going to build a team and you want to do it with excellence, then it is really, it's really something you have to be ready to dedicate a lot of your time and energy to doing it well. Yeah, I'll stop there. 

Shanna Skidmore (13:37):

So glad Shay that you brought that up because I have led a big team and I have done solopreneur work for a lot of the time. I've had a lot of contractors and there is this part of me that's like, why can't I get this right? And it's like, oh, if I just have better SOPs, if I have better workflows, if I 

Shay Cochrane (13:59):

Had a better interview 

Shanna Skidmore (13:59):

Process, <laugh>, my team wouldn't need me, I can do my work. But to hear you say no, it requires a lot of energy to lead a team. And I'm so interested to hear because I'm kind of a, sounds like in a situation where you were when you had your littles, where you have very limited time and hours in the week. And so we're in that situation of getting just very strategic in our offers and how we can best show up and serve in this season with the time we have. And so it's like, well, if I only have this amount of time in the week and I have a team to then manage, I just don't want to get in a situation where I used to be where most of my day was spent managing the team, and then I'd work at night. And so yeah, I'm just glad you brought that up because some people might do that really well, but it takes time. It takes time 

Shay Cochrane (14:54):

And it takes relinquish and control. And so if you have a lot of thoughts about how things should be and the level of excellence and a high view of your own strategies, then that's going to be hard. It really takes, and this is something that I'm learning and I have people speaking into my life as advisors who are encouraging me to grow in giving ownership and what does it look like to give ownership? I mean, there just really is a lot there. Or you'll find yourself building an owner dependent team, which I've done. You build an owner dependent team, and so all of your time is spent keeping everyone else's work moving forward instead of really doing the things that you need to be doing as the c e o and leader. It's just a unique challenge. 

Shanna Skidmore (15:38):

Yeah. Ooh, that's so good. Have you built your business, it sounds like for the past, however long since you've had little, since you had children on about 16 hours a week? 

Shay Cochrane (15:49):

Yeah, it's always been 16 hours a week. So the only exception would be when we're in and out when we're traveling, sometimes I have to fit in the time otherwise. So we got back, coming back from Christmas vacation and multiple trips, I worked a few nine to 10 hour days, which is way too long, but I had to catch up. So there have been some weeks where I've been as high as maybe 18 hours if I'm again catching up from work. But yeah, 16 hours from the beginning and I haven't always had a team, so it was 16 hours even when it was just me. But then I've kept it as I've grown the team and now my kids are in school, so I could work five more days of the week if I wanted to, or I'm sorry, I could work three more than the two that I already work but I choose not to. And those reasons are completely different but I do st to answer your question, short answer is yes, I have always worked only 16 hours. 

Shanna Skidmore (16:49):

I'm so intrigued by this. I am Shay and everybody is, I know, and I know you speak on this a lot, but I think I talk about this with money in some ways. I think I see entrepreneurs or business owners who start a business and they don't have to make money. In some ways I have seen that that can hurt the business owner because you make different decisions when you have to make money versus you don't have to make money. And so I see business owners who have to make money, kind of learn that business money side faster for you. I think in the same way you only had certain number of hours to give every single week. So I can see how that served you to be very strategic about your offers and your pricing. But I would love to hear you speak, I love the 80 20 rule. I teach it to all my students. I love it. Analyzing what's working, what's not. Have you felt frustrated ever by that <laugh> like I wish I had more time. 

Shay Cochrane (17:50):

I have very much felt frustrated. I think where, and some of it was my own lack of maturity or jealousy or envy of what other people could do. I think the place that I felt it the most initially was I had kids early. So I got married early, I had kids early. I was only 26 when I had my first daughter. So not a lot of the other people around me were having children and try and not of a lot of the other women that I was looking at in the industry who were doing amazing things had children at the time. So they were just crushing it. They were working 40 hours a week and their business was just seeing so much fast growth. They were able to be everywhere and seemingly be everywhere and do everything. And I felt like I was somewhat alone trying to figure this out also at simultaneously being a mother. 

So it would be very frustrating for me when I knew why I had said that I was going to commit to just a 16 hour work week or two days a week. But when I would see other people, younger people or just people in a younger season of life, I guess without kids or maybe they weren't married, coming along and being able to execute on things faster than I could, that was pretty soul crushing. When I first jumped into the styled stock space, I was really kind of the first of its the only other options when I created SE stock shop were Getty, and it was very masculine, very cold commercial. So I got the privilege of being first to market with. I'm going to create a product that feels totally different, looks totally different. And it is specifically for small business owning women entering the marketplace. 

And that was great for a minute. But then more and more and more shops like that and competitors started to pop up and they had a lot more time that they could put into it. So they were producing content far faster than I was, and they were able to build audiences far faster than I was. And so I often felt frustrated and torn between really feeling good about my convictions and not wanting to compromise on those, but just feeling like, man, I can't run as fast as these ladies. Yes, I mean I could, but I'm choosing not to run as fast as these ladies. And that's still true all the time. I see other people who are able to build bigger or faster because they just are in a different season or they're willing to give it more than I'm willing to give it. So I absolutely have felt that. 

I still feel that I don't often wish I were working more. I don't feel it in that sense, but my pride gets a little hurt. I want to be awesome and I want to be <laugh>. I want to be the best. I want to be the best. So that's where I feel it is when I'm like, man, they can just get this new idea to market faster. They can add this thing faster, they can build the audience faster than I can. But at the end of the day, work is a small slice of the pie of my life, and I really want to feel like I'm loving all the other areas of life and I'm just not willing to give more to it. So that's where I land. 

Shanna Skidmore (20:52):

Yeah, no, I hear that so much. You got to speak truth to yourself over and over and over again because choosing that pace or choosing that harmony or bounce or whatever word you want to call it, is not often what we get to see. 

Shay Cochrane (21:09):


Shanna Skidmore (21:09):

That's presented. Yeah. I am interested though, now that you've done this for, how long old is your oldest 

Shay Cochrane (21:16):

Daughter? She's 13. 

Shanna Skidmore (21:17):

So for 13 years. I am interested now on the backend, if you can see, not to compare to other people, but where you see that pace has allowed you even to sustain longer or like you mentioned in the beginning, avoiding burnout. Yeah. Have you seen ways that's like, wow, I can see on the back end how that served me really 

Shay Cochrane (21:36):

Well? Oh man, absolutely. If we're talk talking about the family impact on the family, I see it in my marriage. I mean, we, Graham and I take all of Fridays off to have a date day together. I can only do that. Well, both of us can only do that because we've said I'm going to work this much and know more. And even though for me, any kind of work or email is now going to sit Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday until I'm back in the office on Tuesday. We have a beautiful, healthy, fun marriage now almost 18 years in. Yeah, that's a major win for putting a cap on the hours. I mean, I see it with our family and the way that we have together, the fact that I have those boundaries that Graham and I both cut out of work with a hard stopper by five at the latest, and neither of us are really doing any work in the evening. 

Again, context, this is what suits our season of life, this that is what works in our industry. So I realize there are some people that have to work in the evenings, but in terms of our situation, the fact that we were willing to cap work meant that in the evenings when we come home, we can catch up on each other's day. It's not with a laptop open while one of us is doing work, we're able to sit and have family dinners. Family dinner is a high value in our home because that to me is where discipleship is happening and lessons are being learned and you're just helping your children to become who they're meant to be around the dinner table. So that's a high value. So I see it in the relationships that have been built as a family unit in just quality time together in the evenings, especially because I don't homeschool. 

My kids are out of the home all day long and now they're in sports and then they're in activities. So my time with them is so precious. So I see the relationship equity in marriage. I see the relationship equity built in with my children, the communication and connection that we have as a family. So in so many ways, I mean there there's so many more ways, but those are just two very tangible things that I see that I think are a direct result of limiting the amount of hours that I'm willing to give to work and when those hours fall. 

Shanna Skidmore (23:47):

Yeah. Ooh, this is so good. This reminded me of this quote from the movie Wall Street. Have you seen that movie? Oh, it's so good. 

Shay Cochrane (23:55):

I haven't. Okay. 

Shanna Skidmore (23:55):

It's good. But I think his name is Shia Above the Yep. Actor in the movie. He said, I wrote it down. I pulled it up. No matter how much money you make, you'll never be rich. And he's just talking about this idea of lifestyle creep and more is a moving target. And so learning to limit how much time you give to work, I think, and I want to talk to you because I know you and your husband Graham are so much into the numbers as well as me, does in impact how much money then you can make. We can be strategic and we can be great about our offers. You created a membership scalable product. That's a great way to kind of maximize your time. But will you just talk through financially you started in the recession, would you just talk through what you've learned about money, what you feel like you've done well, what hasn't come naturally? Just for me, time and money go so hand in hand and I'm think it's the same for you guys, but I just want to hear how this has impacted the financial aspects of your business. 

Shay Cochrane (25:01):

Yeah, such a good question. I think one of the things that I've learned, one of the biggest lessons learned there, if we talk about relationship with money and then versus now, and when I think of then I go all the way back to my childhood. So I was raised in a very traditional home. My dad was actually in the military, so he was working a traditional job. My mom worked, was home with us for a lot of the time, but then went back to work as a librarian. So we never really had a lot of money growing up. We lived in very small military housing. I mean, it was very much paycheck to paycheck. We had a great childhood, but no wealth to speak of. We didn't take vacations, we didn't travel, we didn't eat out at restaurants, nothing like that. So to me, money and wealth was fixed. 

It was like whatever your job was willing to pay you and you could only rise to to a certain point. And that was kind of your lot in life. And I think becoming an entrepreneur and really seeing the way both Graham and I have been able to grow businesses after the recession because Graham wasn't an entrepreneur, he kind of got into that accidentally after trying to get jobs and trying to go the traditional route and then being forced into entrepreneurship and then seeing that really grow and take off even in the midst of a recession really taught me that money is makeable, right? Yeah. It's not fixed. 

It's created. So that provides so much peace now, and we have this conversation all the time. If all of our money disappeared, if the internet broke and we could no longer do this, if all of it went away, I think we have a high level of confidence now that we could create it again. We can create money again that it's create <laugh> resource and not, you're not a victim and you're not a fixed resource. You can actually create it if you're willing to be creative and think outside the box. So that's been a big mindset shift building businesses over the course of the last, since 2009, specifically relationship with money then and now, I think also I have, this is a little bit of a side tangent, but I have a weird emotional disassociation with money. You have these conversations all the time, so maybe you can help me figure this out. 

But I have a very strange emotional disassociation with money that really serves me. So it makes it pretty easy for me to give it away. I don't feel very strongly when I make it. It's almost like in my mind that there's not a big difference between a hundred dollars and a thousand dollars and a hundred thousand dollars when in reality there is a huge difference. But something I have some kind of emotional distance from it that I think has served me well. I mean it at least makes generosity easy. But even with that said, I mean in the beginning of Graham and my relationship, we were doing Dave Ramsey and we were both working traditional jobs and we were budgeting down to the penny. We were living off of $2,000 a month was our budget. It was actually right under, it was like 1,997 or something. 

That was our monthly budget. So we learned to budget down to the penny, which has served us now. So I say all of that to lead up to answering your question, which has working only 16 hours limited what I could make financially. And then I think the side question is how much do I care about that? So yes, I do think limiting your hours both benefits the business financially and does throttle it back. So it benefits the business in the ways that we've talked about. It allows you to be really strategic. I mean, it forces you to be very strategic about how you're going to increase profit. And I think if you really do 80 20 and you really do <laugh>, do the 20% of the work, that creates the 80%, then even if you continue to work your same number of hours, you really can like five x six x seven x your business. 

So I think it can really help you do. I think social squares could be a lot bigger and more financially profitable if I were willing to give it more than 16 hours a week. 100%, yeah. I know that I feel that I could probably be three or four times at least the size of company that I am if I were willing to give it more time. So I do compromise revenue to maintain the life holistically that I want to live. But I don't think it only holds you back. I think it both allows you to grow and simultaneously does put a limit on it. Unless you're going to hire people that can really take it, that are smarter than you, more experienced than you who can then take it and run it. And that's an option as well. But for sure, working 16 hours does throttle it back. 

I think because of my mindset about money and where I come from, my family of Origin's relationship with money and the lessons we've had to learn over the years about relationship with money, I value every dollar, but I also value my time. I kind of disassociate with money in a way that I'm, I want to just have fun and be joyful and have time with my family, and I want to do something that's rewarding. So I don't care as much about how much money, not that I don't care about how much money it makes, but I'm not dead set on it hitting a certain level of revenue. Yeah. I'm not waiting for it to become an eight figure business or anything like that. So all of those lessons are kind of an amalgamation that has resulted in the way that I look at money and my ability to be content with where it's at. 

So right now it sits at seven 50 a year in annual revenue, 750,000 in annual revenue. I think it could be probably over 3 million if I really gave it the amount of time and attention that it needs, it would benefit from, yeah. But I'm, I'm not willing to give it that, not in this season of life. I can take over the world when my kids are out of the house, but I have such a short season with my kids in the house. I only have, if my daughter goes to college, I have five more summers with her in the house. The time is ticking, it is running out on how I can invest in her. I can grow scale, take over the world, do whatever I want when they're out of the house. And that's helpful for me to just be like, you know what? It doesn't have to all happen now. I can do whatever I want later, but right now I have them under my roof and only for a few more years what feels like only a few more years. 

Shanna Skidmore (31:39):

I love that so much. And I think everybody hopefully is, I think we talk in a good way so much more now about defining success for yourself and identifying your life values and what you want. And because it is so true that limiting your hours, and I'm the same, I'm right there with you right now, limiting hours forces good strategy in a great way, but also mentally that just the pride side is like, I kind of remember, this is such a side tangent, but in 2017 I went off of Instagram and Facebook totally for, it ended up being 18 months, but for a year. And that was kind of the heyday, the Facebook ads. And now looking back, it's that moment of man, if I had been on <laugh>, I saw so many business owners really propel their audience growth utilizing a tool that I committed to stay off of for a year. 

And this is interesting, and I think it will always be, especially with limiting your time and of how it could have been. But if I had not taken that time off, where would I be? It's this knowing what you need and what you want, you just always have to come back to that. And I think that's so true. Thank you for sharing your numbers. That's so helpful. And I think something that you and I both have in common that we have talked about a little bit, and I did not do Dave Ramsey, I'm not super, I'm familiar with this program because mm-hmm. From Tennessee, I live in the south, but knowing where all your dollars go and where they are going is something I highly stand behind and that we practice and I teach and I call it my enough number. What do you need to pay your bills? And would you guys say that's been the case for you? You talked about your mindset about money when you go into your 16 hours a week of work though, what you have to make and don't you find some kind of freedom in that? 

Shay Cochrane (33:41):

Yeah, absolutely. And Graham and I both have kept that mindset from the beginning. What is our enough we take from the business far less than it makes, I mean, we've had kind of a unique journey in that God has kind of called us to maybe slightly more radical levels of generosity. And so in order to do that, we have had to be very aware of what do we really need to live and then can position ourselves so that everything beyond that point feels like gravy. So I don't know if that answers your question, but yeah, that mindset has become very helpful for us so that it, it's is freed us up to give more, it's also freed us up to stress less because you're right, it's a moving target at lifestyle creep. I mean, all of those things are very true and that we've seen that in our own lives for sure as well. 

So always being very aware of what are enough is, and we always try to treat it. The conversation we have often is, if this disappeared, what would we wish that we had done differently? Because I don't assume that we're always going to make the same amount of revenue that we make in our respective businesses. I kind of always have the mindset that it could disappear overnight, which is probably a scarcity mindset, but I always think if this all disappeared tomorrow, the internet broke and we could no longer run our online businesses. I don't ever want to look back on these seasons where there was a lot of fruit of our labor and regret how we spent it or regret the decisions we made. So that's where we're like, okay, should we pay off a house? Should we pay cash for cars? Should we stock up in advance our kids private school tuition? 

Should we, and then what should our budget be so that we never look back on these years and say, man, we really blew that, but we did the things that we valued. So for example, we will spend exorbitant amounts on travel because it's a very high value for us in terms of memory making and seeing the world. And so that has just really served us very, very well and enabled us to give generously in a way that then I think we've also seen just an enormous return on that investment of whatever money comes in. We're just, we, God. So whatever comes in, we're just trying to keep it moving forward to be a blessing to the people around us and the organizations that we care about. So knowing you're enough makes that possible, otherwise you really do operate from a scarcity mentality that I just need more, even if I haven't defined what more means. Yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (36:10):

I am just so grateful that talk with you, Shay, because I feel like the messaging, and I don't know if you feel this way, and I'm not even on social media, so I don't want to say it's social media's fault. Maybe it's just the business world in general. The messaging doesn't tend to be this way, even if it's built business on your own terms and laptop lifestyle and mm-hmm. Spoken, but I don't feel it's practice or I don't feel, and so I'm just so grateful to hear and speak with you because I feel like you guys truly are living out your values. And I just would love to hear you kind of think back on this journey and what are you really proud of looking back and almost imparting to us and maybe some things or one thing that you're like, I didn't quite get that right and how you've changed it. So just kind of aligning again, business and life. I feel like you've done so well, but what would you say that you're really proud of? Looking back? 

Shay Cochrane (37:12):

I think I'm proud of doing it differently, and one reason I'm proud of doing it differently is that I think to your point, I think what we're going to start to see and what we're seeing even now because we're seeing an increase in conversations about burnout, we're seeing people who have been very successful in business need to find an out or another way of doing it because it, it's too dependent on them. I mean, personality brands, people who own personality brands, I think are often starting to feel that or their season of life is finally changing and they're starting to have kids and they're finding it very hard to balance the way they have done business with now what this new season of life calls for or what their marriage needs in this season. So I'm grateful to have done it differently so that hopefully as more small business owners start to feel like, man, this isn't working for me anymore, the way I've been doing it for whatever variety of reasons that I can just raise my hand and be like, you know what? 

You can do it differently and still be really successful, financially successful. So I'm glad to have gotten the opportunity to do it differently. And my encouragement would be build the business that you want to be working in 10 years from now. Don't assume that you have to hustle and do it the way everybody else is doing it because it's just not going to be worth what you're going to have to sacrifice in terms of caring for yourself. I mean, spiritual, emotional, physical, and then being deeply connected to others in relationship, whether that's your marriage, your children, your friendships, it's just not going to be worth it at the end of the day. So be willing to do it differently and you can succeed doing it differently. That would be my encouragement there. In terms of what's one thing that I would do differently? I wish <laugh>, the thing that comes to mind is I wish I had the whole first year of my first daughter's life. 

I wish I could get a do-over on that because I feel like I didn't enjoy it. I just really was trying to fit my new life as a mother into my old life as a business owner. And it really sucked the joy out of that season. And I wish I could get that year back. I would do her whole first year of life over. I think the other thing that I would do over, if I could start over again, was I do think that working only 16 hours a week and then really being all in on being a mom the other days, I really did kind of isolate myself from the industry. I just didn't have a lot of time to connect, to be in Masterminds, to go to conferences, to Mean Creative at Heart was the one conference I went to for 10 years. 

Yeah. I just wasn't, and I also isolated probably out of pride. I mean, I don't think it was just, oh, I was being a martyr as a mom and wasn't pursuing those relationships. I think part of it was pride, just like, I'm going to figure this out. I'm not going to ask for help. I've got this. And I wish now that my challenges are bigger in business, that I had really invested more in relationships and been a little less head down. I really had blinders on and that really propelled my business quickly. I was very, very focused. But now I'm like, I need the relationship equity that I wish that I had built in those early years. So that as I'm hitting challenges that I don't know the answer to, I would have people that I could reach out to and say, you've done this before. You've navigated this. You're really good at this. I just didn't really didn't invest the time that I needed to in industry relationships. And that's something that I wish, I don't know how I would do it over, but I would probably just allocate some part of my day to invest in relationships that I'm now, I'm trying to do that, but man, the journey would've been a lot easier if I had made more of an investment to be more connected early on. 

Shanna Skidmore (41:04):

So good to hear. I think that I was raised, I don't specifically remember being told this, but my sister and I are the same. So I'm going to blame it on how we were raised that we have an inability to ask for help. And like you said, it is actually probably pride. So I very much find that I struggle with the same thing. I'm just put your head down and get it done. You can do this from your own grit and sheer self willingness. So that is something I am trying so hard to learn too, is letting people in a little bit more 

Shay Cochrane (41:40):


Shanna Skidmore (41:41):

For help. And one kind of clarifying question I do have Shay, before we go into a quick fire round, is, yeah, when you said your daughter's first year of life, was that when you were transitioning to commercial photography or when you were trying to That 

Shay Cochrane (41:55):

Was when I was still trying to balance doing wedding and portrait work with having a newborn. And I found myself, even though I was so excited to be a mom and I wanted to be a mom, we entered into that decision by choice. When faced with a child that needed to be nursed for the 10th time that day, or client emails and delivering a new set of images to a wedding client, I found myself not resenting that my clients took me away from Chloe. I resented that I had a child that was taking me away from this work that in the moment felt a lot more satisfying. And I think if I had just created more space, again, I was one of the first of my friends to have kids. So I just didn't know any different. I hadn't seen any different, but I was able to correct that mistake with my second one. And I wish I could go back and just give myself more grace, create more margin in my business on the front end, take maternity leave, changed the type of work I was doing to just create room to enjoy being a mom versus trying to fit it in to business ownership. 

Shanna Skidmore (43:02):

That's so good and so hard. Yeah, that's so good. So after I had Madeline quick story, I had some postpartum anxiety. And again, Shannon doesn't ask for help. We were in Minnesota at the time and I'd made some really good friends there, and two of which had babies within five weeks of me. So the three of us together had tiny little newborns, and I remember calling one of my girlfriends and I was just sobbing and she just came over. This was her second child. So it was just the most beautiful moment of, I didn't even know how much I needed all of you. And I had gotten to this mom's group, and it's kind of the same thing in business so much, I just put my head down and figure 

Shay Cochrane (43:47):

It out on your 

Shanna Skidmore (43:47):

Own. And when you can hear, and that's why I love this podcast so much, just to be like, wow, somebody else's dealing that's in that mom moment, having that postpartum anxiety just for somebody else to be like, oh yeah, girl. Yes. Yeah, I know how you're feeling. This is how I dealt with it. I mean, that was just so life giving to me. So I'm grateful for you sharing your story and your journey. Cause I know there's so many listening that are like, thank you, Shay, this is so good. I want to dig so much more into <laugh> all of this. But it's really helpful to hear how you've just found harmony in your life and your work, because I try so hard to do that as well. And so often it feels like I'm swimming upstream and all alone, and so I'm so grateful for you. Okay, let's go into, I'm 

Shay Cochrane (44:33):

Swimming upstream with You 

Shanna Skidmore (44:35):


Shay Cochrane (44:35):

And now that we both know that we have trouble asking for help, we can hold each other accountable. I 

Shanna Skidmore (44:39):

Know asking for 

Shay Cochrane (44:40):

Help, reaching out to each other. 

Shanna Skidmore (44:42):

We really need to see each other I R L. Yeah, I would love that. We'll come to Florida. It's fun there. Okay, let's do a quick fire. 

Shay Cochrane (44:51):


Shanna Skidmore (44:52):

All right, let's go hot seat time. Okay. What is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew 

Shay Cochrane (44:58):

How much I spend money I spend on taking care of myself? For sure. So skincare, supplements, health gadgets, I love that stuff. And I spend, that's where most of my fun money goes, 

Shanna Skidmore (45:13):

<laugh>. Okay, this is so good because this is kind of my personal goal for the year would be, yeah, I would be embarrassed of the opposite for people to know. The last time I went shopping was probably three years ago, and my sister is the exact opposite of me. She's like, I shop at least once a week. So that's funny. My sister set up a hair appointment for me on Friday to get my hair cut. I've never had my hair dye, but those grays, my God, are taken over. And so she's like, you were getting your, and I'm sweating it all already out. I don't know if I can get my hair dye. I just don't know. So that was kind of personal. My 

Shay Cochrane (45:49):

Hair died every four and a half weeks because of the amount of grace. I don't have to, but I choose because the amount of grace and I, every time I'm like, if people knew how much money I had to spend best to have brown hair, it's ridiculous. 

Shanna Skidmore (46:03):

Well, okay, so I'll let you know how it goes with my first hair dying experience, but that truly funny enough is one of my goals this year. Spend money on yourself, so that's fun. Okay. Any regrets or wish you could do over moments? 

Shay Cochrane (46:18):

I mean, I think just the two we covered whole first year of my daughter's life and isolating myself within the creative industry. Those are kind of some big I wish I could take another swing at. Yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (46:31):

Well, we're getting together. So number two is recovering. Okay, number three, what's a big win or a pinch me moment, 

Shay Cochrane (46:40):

Man, I think of my commercial photography days. My stint in commercial photography was only a few years long. It lasted maybe three years max. But in that time I got to shoot for some really cool brands, including Sugarfina Candy. And I remember being in an airport and seeing a vending machine, a sugarfina vending machine that was wrapped in this image that I shot. And then coupled with that, the c e o who had hired me directly because the company was smaller at the time, I remember she sent me a photo of my images that I shot for them on the whole side of a building in China, in LA in these just major store openings for them. And then locally, there's a radio station, I guess it's not a local radio station, but there is a radio station that uses social squares and used SE stock shop. And every Christmas, they still use some of my Christmas seasonal images from the SE stock shop on their billboards. And so we'll be on the interstate and will see my images. And those are just such, I mean, I don't even do commercial work anymore, but that's such a pinch me moment. I'm like, wow, I can't believe I got to do that. That is so 

Shanna Skidmore (47:52):

Cool. Yeah. That's so awesome. That's like your testimonials kind of. Yeah, 

Shay Cochrane (47:56):

Yeah, yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (47:57):

That's so fun. I know. Seeing it in real life. That's awesome. 

Shay Cochrane (48:00):


Shanna Skidmore (48:01):

Okay. What is the best advice you've ever received? Or just really good advice? 

Shay Cochrane (48:05):

Yeah. One of my favorite pieces of advice kind of has to do with the hierarchy of solutions. What one problem once solved makes the other problems disappear. This has been so helpful for me in the past few years. I'm actually still not good at actioning on it. I'm too busy solving all the hundreds of little problems. And a friend and kind of coach of mine challenged me with like, well, hold on. What one problem? If you just solved that one problem, it would take care of all of these other little problems. And that's been just priceless for me. When I really take the time to figure out that one problem, the top, the problem at the top of the chart, that will solve the other ones. 

Shanna Skidmore (48:51):

So helpful. That's so good. And we'll make Kyle very happy about a conversation we had just last night, <laugh>, because we have this project that we've been working on, we call it the Black Op and <laugh>. We've been working on it for six months to a year. And my time again is so limited. It's filled up with all of the other things, but it's like that one project would solve so many. So I'll go tell Kyle, you win. Yeah, chase said so. Okay. <laugh>. That's good. That's good. All right. Last quick fire question, then we'll kind of send it off. What are you working on now or one resource that you would like to share? 

Shay Cochrane (49:32):

Yeah, I mean, we are always just trying to make social squares the most amazing style stock membership there is. And so part of our initiative currently is just focusing on video. But I think personally, I'm trying to develop whatever I have that's helpful relating to this kind of concept of working 16 hours. And I've had a few chances to speak about the 16 hour c e o content and how I was able to arrive there. I don't own a business where I don't have a pipeline for offering a course or anything like that. I really have been just focused on social squares, but I'm starting to get just a little bit curious about, okay, could I do something with this 16 hour c e o content that could be really helpful for people and timely? So I'm just trying to do more of that, be on more podcasts, develop that content a little bit more. 

And the only way you can access anything remotely related to that other than just binge podcasts that I've been on, is that I do have a guide that you can slash c e, and that's kind of just an initial free guide on how to work less and earn more. It takes you through how to 80, 20 year business, your products and services and time. So that's kind of the only place find out anything about that. But I do have that resource, but I'm just kind of personally working on like, okay, is this helpful? How could it be more helpful? Is there something I could do with this that I have margin and interest and energy in doing? So kind of a personal project of what I'm working on right now, 

Shanna Skidmore (51:02):

Chay. I love that. And I'll just say from the work that I do that is so meaningful for all of the entrepreneurs I work with. So yeah, I know that that is going to impact. And you've lived it. You've done it for years. Yeah. You have a tried and true method. That's something I'm talking about daily with my students. Yeah, because most probably 90% of the people I work with are females and a lot of them are moms. And even if they're not moms, or even if they're working full-time, like juggling a business with life commitments is something that is always relevant. So yeah, that's very excited and Kimmi here to help with, love to support you and however I can. So we will definitely link that download in the show notes. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Thank you. Let's send it off with what would you like looking back now, what would you tell yourself back on day one to 2009 of starting your business? What would you tell yourself on day one? 

Shay Cochrane (52:05):

I think I would go back to the build the business you want to be running or living in 10 years from now, because maybe you don't, like you said, maybe you don't have children, maybe you don't have, maybe you're not married. And so I hear a lot of entrepreneurs who say, I don't have anything else that I'd want to do with my time right now, but I would just encourage people to think about yours. The 10 year from now version of you, the 15 year version of you. What do you want to feel like physically? What do you want to feel like mentally? How do you want your mental health situation to be? What do you want the relationships in your life to look like? What do you want your marriage to look like? What do you want your parenting to look like? What do you want your family unit connectivity to look like? And then build the business around that longer term vision instead of assuming that you have to hustle now and then pick up the pieces later and sort it all out later. You can be successful holistically in life. You can be thriving in all of those other areas and also still thriving in business, but my encouragement is just build it differently from the beginning and build it with the end in mind or the future. You in mind? Yeah. 

Shanna Skidmore (53:20):

That's so good. Jay, you're so wise. I'm so grateful for you. Thank you for your time and coming on and sharing more of your journey with us. And I'm just so grateful Well, thank you again just for giving me a chance to have this conversation. I'm excited for you in this podcast. I know it's been so fun. Yay, <laugh>. Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider The Wildflowers, the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Shea. One final thought for today for my girl, Dolly Parton, never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.