Episode 113 – Coffee N5 – Asking for “Unreasonable” Requests with Stephanie Burns

Kris Jenner famously once said, “If somebody says no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” On this week’s Coffee N° 5, our guest Stephanie Burns knows how much truth lies behind that statement. As the founder of The Wyld Agency, Burns teaches CEOs and industry leaders how to pitch themselves in order to grow their brand organically. In order to do this, it takes a lot of courage and a lot of questions. On this Coffee N° 5, Burns shares with us some of what she tells her clients. 

What you’ll learn: 

  • It pays to be creative with your funding ideas. Stephanie used her winnings from the game show Wheel of Fortune to launch her first company Chic CEO!
  • You won’t get 100% of the things you don’t have the guts to ask for. Simply requesting what you want or need drops those odds down to 50%.
  • Lever your own value exchange to get what you want.

Learn more about Stephanie Burns and her companies on her personal website as well as the sites for Chic CEO and The Wyld Agency.
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Lara Schmoisman  0:03  

Hello, everyone, welcome back to coffee number five. And you remember for sure this because I always tell you this, and I will, if you don’t remember, I’m gonna tell you one more time. My mom always say, you have the no already, maybe I’m not translated correctly in English, but it means that if you don’t try something, or you don’t ask something you have already to know. So by trying it you might get and yes, um, who cares? If you say no, you just try and you learn something new. Today I want to talk about unreasonable request. So I brought Stephanie Burns, who she’s speaking around unreasonable requests all around. And I love what she has to say. So welcome, Stephanie. Thank you so much for being here. Oh, thanks


Stephanie Burns  1:32  

for having me. I’m really excited. Yeah.


Lara Schmoisman  1:34  

So send an unreasonable request. Let’s start from


Stephanie Burns  1:38  

Sure. unreasonable requests is my most favorite thing to talk about. an unreasonable request is the is the practice of asking for something that feels unreasonable. That feels bigger than you would ever ask for in a normal day. And just like you said, your mom says you have to know already. And I say this all the time. If we don’t ask for what we want or need. We 100% have no, if we ask, right. We’ve dropped that by 50%. So just simply by making the ask you are statistically, you know, able to get a yes, more than, than you would before, if you didn’t. So getting getting comfortable making an unreasonable request is what I love to talk about. Because it’s how I built my first business is really getting kind of scrappy, asking for things that seemed absolutely crazy. And getting yeses. And it’s just been a really, really, it started out as a fun experience and experiment, really, and turned into the culture of my my business.


Lara Schmoisman  2:52  

But there was a little request is depends to whom you’re asked to. And it can be an unreasonable from you where you’re standing. But for someone maybe simple. That’s not so crazy.


Stephanie Burns  3:06  

Exactly right. So what might be unreasonable to me may not be unreasonable to you. So it’s it’s an up leveling, it’s a personal up leveling, and, you know, stretching ourselves and getting better. And, you know, asking bigger and getting more clear on what we want and being braver with our voice. But yeah, it’s definitely it’s a it’s a personal thing on what feels as unreasonable.


Lara Schmoisman  3:32  

Yeah. And I would think, and I’m a little bit like, for example, my kids when they were little, they ask me for so many unreasonable things. And as they grow up, they start to catch up. Well, this is maybe a little unreasonable. And maybe I shouldn’t ask for it. And I feel like at some point in life, because even when we go to school, and you ask too many times to go to a bathroom, at some point, they tell you, No, you cannot go. So you need to say, well, maybe I should wait for the racist. So I think that we are taught what is reasonable and what is not reasonable. Do you think that we are taught to just shy away from asking all together? Or shall we learn about asking for little for ourselves?


Stephanie Burns  4:20  

I absolutely believe that we have been taught to stop asking for the things that we want, or the things that we deemed to be maybe a little crazier, out of the box. But you know, if you look at people who have really truly innovated in our lifetime, our generation really, they’ve all been unreasonable. I mean, looking at you know, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk, even like these people that have dared to think bigger, and therefore ask people to believe in their crazy big ideas. I mean, that’s, that’s nuts. And they just had no Oh, no qualms about it. They were gonna go do it. And eventually, obviously, they got yeses, because their projects are live there.


Lara Schmoisman  5:10  

It’s like, really learn how to remove that filter to unfilter ourselves somehow and to their self to ask.


Stephanie Burns  5:19  

Yeah, absolutely. So I after a while, so my business partner and I used to ask for this, these crazy things, because when we first started our business, our previous business Sheikh CEO, we had no money. You know, we started this business I had, I was on a game show, I was on the wheel of fortune, and I won some money. And that’s what I use to get cheeks CEO started. Well, that went to pay for the website and all the development and everything well, then that money was gone. So once the website went live, it was my job. And then I brought her on, it was our job to get people to know that we existed. So we had to get super creative. And sometimes we would just ask for what we needed. And we would get a yes. And after a


Lara Schmoisman  6:08  

while, give me an example of an unreasonable request.


Stephanie Burns  6:11  

Absolutely. So probably the first time that both of us were like, Whoa, we can not believe that just happened was shortly after we probably, I don’t know, maybe six months into having the business, we decided that we wanted to host our own networking events. And the reason that we did that was because we were going to networking event after networking event after networking event, bird sawston. Without Okay, well, how about we host a networking event, we bring people to us, and we won’t be so tired anymore, right? We can make a little money. So we decided that that’s what we were going to do. While the company’s name was cheeks iOS, we knew the event had to be super chic, it had to be cool. So my business partner called up the W Hotel in downtown San Diego, and said, Hey, we want to hold an event in your space. And we we’d like you to give a cocktail and tray past appetizers to these, these women will probably bring about 100 women, and we’ll call the media and come down. And that’s what we want to do. And they were like, Okay, well, you know, our food and beverage minimum is this. And God was like, Well, yeah, we were hoping for an exchange. And they’re like, Okay, cool. Yeah. And we were like, what? And so we held this huge event, we charged $20 at the door, the W Hotel gave, you know, it was in their lounge area, which is absolutely stunning. We call the press, they showed up that a nonprofit partner that we donated to, it was this massive event. And then we held them every single month at all sorts of different locations all around San Diego. For the next three years, we expanded them into LA Portland and New York. Wow, it became a significant revenue source for us. But it was this value exchange that we had between the venue and us. And that was when we realized that maybe we could ask for for things. You know, that seemed unreasonable and asking them to do that. Because unreasonable,


Lara Schmoisman  8:18  

in this case, for example, was unreasonable for you, because they feel like you are lacking of understanding of what it comes down if benefits they offer as well.


Stephanie Burns  8:28  

And that’s the key to an unreasonable request. We’re not just going to show up and ask for free things, right? We’re not just going to show up and say, Hey, can I have a Ferrari? You know, of course, no. But when you want to write when you want to make an unreasonable request, something that you feel might seem impossible, or too big or crazy. Showing up with value of your own, to help to move that person’s go forward is absolutely the key to asking for something big, and something nuts, you know, and it’s it’s a value exchange. So you know, karmically it feels good, right? It feels good on


Lara Schmoisman  9:07  

both sides. Do you feel like as you were doing this, you feel like what you have to give in exchange was more worth it. Or it was the same but it made you feel realize, hey, I’m worth I worth this.


Stephanie Burns  9:23  

So when we always strove to have a balance of value exchange. So we also started when we were growing, the company growing our email list was a very big initiative. So we would go and do email newsletter swaps. So if we went to someone and said, Hey, can we do a newsletter swap with you? We’ll email out to our list, you email, it’s yours and it say they had 20,000 on their list, and we had five, then we’d say, hey, we’ll mail out for you four times if you mail out for us, one, you know, trying to make that that exchange for value, but how often do you go to a person with a 20,000 email list and say, Hey, will you email out for me? Probably never. Yeah. And that would be something significant to grow your business forward to get your email list to grow. So sometimes those crazy ideas aren’t so crazy if you can package them in a way that values both sides.


Lara Schmoisman  10:23  

Well, that’s called collaboration. Yeah. And talking about collaboration. You also were a collaborator for many magazines for a very long time. How do you, I mean, I want to explain this to our audience today, because we talk a lot about branding, and PR and how to brand ourselves. Many people think that PR is a solution, it’s what is going to fix your life. And automatically, they’re going to be picked up by big magazines, because everyone is unique. And everyone thinks that they’re amazing. And I believe that too bad. Believe me, they’re not going to pick you up the first time, you’re going to have to build yourself and PR in three months is not going to change your mind. I mean, prayer retainers are expensive, you’ll need to make sure that you have the budgets for this. But there are many other ways that we can brand ourselves and get ready later on for PR and actually will help PR.


Stephanie Burns  11:22  

Absolutely. There’s so many ways to be visible right now that have nothing to do with PR. And that is the beauty of how our industry is right now, right? With social media with, you know, blogs with our own websites, we can actually create our own visibility. And we don’t necessarily need PR, PR is a nice feather in the cap. But it’s not going to make you a million dollars, it’s not going to fix your business overnight, you’re not going to become some sort of superstar, Oprah is not going to invite you onto her show. That is not how PR works. When you even


Lara Schmoisman  11:58  

even if your are caught tied to that PR and like I said, is not going to change your life overnight. But also the PR, I mean, you need to think about the return of investment, it won’t give you a really nice authority to have PR, but believe me when I tell you and we talk with these publications all the time, and they tell us you are not ready because those PR magazines are gonna check on you. And what are they? What do you show up? So you need like, we always say show up first and the many places and then you will be PR ready?


Stephanie Burns  12:33  

Absolutely. Absolutely get your social media, right. Get your website, completely updated. Make sure you have headshots make sure that your camera ready, make sure that you have media training. There’s lots of things that are needed for PR. But it’s definitely not something you should spend your money on right away. I actually consult with businesses on how to bring their PR efforts in house because I believe that works better. If you really, really want PR do it internally first, before you spend, you know, 10 grand on a PR firm because you really can make a lot of traction internally.


Lara Schmoisman  13:12  

Like I do in my agencies, we offer a very initial PR package, because it’s a lot more affordable. But we do PR for other reasons. We do PR for SEO PR to be Google able and for other publications or that your goal always is going to be to sell something or to make money. That’s what you have your business. So what do you need to make sure is that that authority will work with your conversions? No, right? Like I can be in a magazine of picking up apples and who cares. That’s not what I do. That’s not my industry. So I truly believe that there is a lot that we can do ourself in PR but I think it’s okay, if you want you have the small budget to outsource it, but always connected with your marketing because you never should do short PR and try to hit traditional PR, you should be doing it for SEO, you should be working with influencers, you should be branding yourself in other ways. Yeah,


Stephanie Burns  14:13  

I agree. I agree. I think that PR is nice. But it’s a longtail effort. And it’s it’s a credibility marker. It’s an authority marker. You know, I wrote for our I contributed to Forbes for nine years I contribute to entrepreneur life hack today. And I will tell you that a PR or what contributors and writers are looking for is not what you’re selling. Absolutely not about what you’re selling because our readers don’t care. They don’t want to be sold to. So if you’re pitching, I’ve got a really cool story. I’ve done this, I’ve done that. We don’t care because nobody cares about you. We all care about ourselves. And so we know that about our reader and if you’re not giving In the reader the value that they’re looking for the nuggets that they can take and put into their own life or their own business, they’re not going to read your piece, and a journalist isn’t going to want to write about you because they know that their readers aren’t going to read the piece. So, you know, you have to go into pitching PR, with a teacher mindset, a value mindset, just like unreasonable requests, you have to come up with value absolutely every time. Otherwise, it’s not going to be read, it’s not going to be picked up.


Lara Schmoisman  15:28  

I want to clarify something one thing is to do IPR round up. One thing is to be in a gift list for PR, though, those are the very different kinds of features that when you’re pitching a story, yeah, what are we talking about here? I’m a writer or someone to pick up the story. So first of all, how did you become a collaborator, because that’s a great way to brand yourself. So I support your thoughts and as a collaborator, and I’d people to start finding,


Stephanie Burns  16:03  

yeah, so there’s a lot of different publications that accept contributors, you just have to come in with a really strong angle, something that nobody else is writing about. And really just an angle that they’re not filling right now or a gap that they’re not filling. So and you need to have the credentialing behind you to support you writing about these things, too. But don’t forget, just because you want to become a contributor, you know, there’s a lot of different places that accept contributors as a lot of different places that you pay to become a contributor. And, but there’s also things like LinkedIn posts, medium, you know, places that you can post your thoughts, and your thought leadership pieces that have millions and millions of viewers. So, you know, if you can’t get into contributor ship right away, start posting on medium, start posting on LinkedIn, and get your thoughts out there just you got to be visible


Lara Schmoisman  17:06  

on how if I want to go and pitch you, I know that probably you’re not writing anymore as a contributor now. But if I want to pitch my story to you, you know me already, how we will be the best approach I can give you for you to pick up my story, for example.


Stephanie Burns  17:25  

So you would, you would come with some sort of value to the reader, you always have to remember it’s about the reader. So what can you teach the reader? What can the reader learn from you? What kind of insight can you offer the reader? Because unless you’re doing that, I’m not going to pick it up. In unless, you know, you’ve just secured a 1 million series A or something like that, it’s not going to be something that a top tier journalist is going to pick up. So, you know, three ways that I grew my email list by 10,000 people last month is a good is a good pitch. Right? I know that I would love to know that. I know, my readers would like to know that. But if it’s just like I started an agency, and I’m doing this is what I do. You know, and I get pitches like that all the time. I have I have a really interesting story you have would you like to hear about my entrepreneurial success? No, honestly, no, I wouldn’t, I don’t care. I don’t have time to care. I don’t have time to research it. I don’t have time to figure out questions for you. Tell me what you can teach, or the value that you can provide? My readers, and now I’m interested. And that’s the biggest piece of advice I can give you for pitching


Lara Schmoisman  18:47  

stories. Yeah, and of course, you still your story is still highlighting you. But it’s not about remember, people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. So make sure that you have the why they are and that’s part of who you are, and how people will connect with you. But it’s also what you can do for them. Like I always say we need to give beekeepers in any email marketing that we send out in, in any posts that we put in Instagram is about you for them what you can teach them what even if it’s a story about you what they can learn from that story.


Stephanie Burns  19:28  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s all about, it’s all about giving value. It’s all about seeing being seen as a person of value. Because that trust cut, you know, carries over to your business. And then hopefully the readers want to work with you. But if you just go in as is I want to talk about me and I want to sell my services. That’s not PR, that’s marketing. So for PR you really have to come in with a very newsworthy angle or something of value that you can impart on readers. And I call it the Win Win win, right? It has to win be a win for the journalist. So it has to be something that I want to write about something that is perfect for my column, it has to be win for you, right, you get to highlight your business. And that has to be win for the reader, it has to be interesting, they have to learn something, they have to be entertained. So it can’t just be all about you. And it’s a lose lose for the reader and the journalist, it can’t just be, you know, all about the the reader and the business doesn’t get any, you know, cloud from it either. So it really has to win for all the parties.


Lara Schmoisman  20:33  

Absolutely. So, I mean, there’s so many people out there that do pandemic, who you know, in the last few years with the big recession they’re trying to get, they think it’s easy to brand themselves, because we see it all the time and tick tock, Facebook, Instagram, all these people that they’re selling, that I’m became millionaire, and over the years overnight with my program, and how true is this?


Stephanie Burns  21:02  

Oh, gosh. I mean, I guess it could be true. It’s in the realm of possibility. But, you know, getting out there and being visible is is a ton of work. It’s a lot of work. And


Lara Schmoisman  21:17  

it’s not, it’s not cheap. Let’s say this. Try to get that visibility overnight. It’s impossible to be cheap. Yeah, cuz you’re gonna have to put money in ads in so many places just to get that overnight. Visibility overnight.


Stephanie Burns  21:33  

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you do. You do. If you can come with a value mindset, if you can stay consistent. Eventually, it’ll pay off. And I think some people just give up way too soon.


Lara Schmoisman  21:48  

Or they have expectations that is going to be really fast and easy. Because let’s be honest, social media. ads are showing you that everyone is succeeding overnight. But it’s not the truth necessarily, already that they’re selling. Yeah. So you need to be very careful on what you buy. Yeah,


Stephanie Burns  22:09  

I was this morning, actually, I was working out and I was watching a workout video on YouTube and it cut to an app. And this guy was talking about he’s like, Would you like to make $5,000 a month, you don’t have to learn how to code. You don’t have to learn how to do website, you really don’t have to learn how to do anything. You just collect money. And I was like, like, are you serious? Yes. Like, I don’t I mean, I’m sure you’re cashing in on these poor people that are like, yes, I’d love to make $5,000 a month. I’m having to do anything. Well, yeah, we all would, you know, you got to be really careful. You


Lara Schmoisman  22:43  

have to be very careful, very, very careful. Because the facts. I mean, I’m a true believer in education. Yeah, I believe that even I’m, come on that what I do today didn’t exist when I went to school. But I went to school for something. And I learned a lot. And because I learn that I was able to learn new skills as they were growing. And that later on make me be able to teach those. But I didn’t live in that formative years that you get to experience and to learn, even if later on you change, but just make going an online course or even like you will say, Yes, we can coach you to do some initial PR, and little things here and there. That doesn’t mean doing PR the right way. Thanks a lot of work.


Stephanie Burns  23:38  

Yeah, that’s why you pay so much for it. Yeah. You know, but you can get a lot of traction on your own, you know, PR and those kinds of things. And I think that it’s good to start locally, I think it’s good to start small because then you understand what is needed, you understand how to be on camera or be on the radio or be on a podcast or, you know, give a good interview. It’s a good place to start and plus, learning how to pitch yourself is an invaluable resource and skill.


Lara Schmoisman  24:13  

What is that about? Like an unreasonable request? It’s about you requesting being somewhere


Stephanie Burns  24:19  

yeah. And you know, I’m, I am a journalist and I have had, you know, I have never had to hire a publicist on my own. And I’ve been in the Wall Street Journal Cosmo, New York Times Fast Company, Inc, Forbes, entrepreneur, all from my own efforts, you know, so it can be done but it really is about pitching with the reader in mind more than it is about getting your story told. Yeah, it is. It is


Lara Schmoisman  24:49  

you know, for some I became I just find out the most funny way ever. I was reading a magazine in the morning breathing my cough, but yeah, and I found out there. I was one of the visionary CEOs for the LA Times. Thank you, but I didn’t expect that. And I was, I put myself Oh, they are. And they chose me. And I forgot that even though I did it, and I saw actually someone else who posted a few days before they got the money to set Oh, let’s see who else got it. Oh, I got it. Which was fantastic. And I do most of my own PR, personally, I choose where I want to be. And I talk to them. i We offer PR for our clients, but I like to the I really don’t have a huge ego when it comes to that. But I had to build it, I had to build it from scratch to be a little podcast. Yeah. I mean, you can still try it for four hours, or you can still try for entrepreneur. But if you don’t have that credibility, it’s gonna take a while for you to be accepted to be there.


Stephanie Burns  26:00  

Yeah, yep, it is. But luckily, there’s so many ways to salutely Grow your own audience and PR is not a gatekeeper anymore, there’s no gatekeeper there. It’s just you can literally get your message out in a million different ways right now that have nothing to do with PR. So by


Lara Schmoisman  26:23  

the angle, it’s all about you being unique. By the end of the day. Yeah. So before we go, I just want to ask you one last question, someone who’s starting their career, they want to do be this shake, see, they want to circus, apparently, it’s very glamorous to be a CEO, I can tell you probably know that. It’s not that we work way too much. And we stress way too much. We do a little bit of everything. But if you want to get this on this path, what is your recommendation? Where do you start to get that visibility of your brand?


Stephanie Burns  27:05  

Well, I think I think you the easiest way is to pick a social channel where you know, your audience hangs out, and just start creating content for them. And I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times. But it really is the easiest way to get started. And see what works, see what resonates and build what your audience wants so much. We see people who are creating a what what’s called in the computer coding world, a solution looking for a problem. And that is a very dangerous place to be. So don’t ever create a business that you just think would be fun, or that you think would be cool if there’s not really solving a problem for somebody. And so, try, go to the place where your people are hanging out, try to solve their problem and start to build your own visibility, start to build your own audience. And things will start to snowball from there, you’ll know what to do next. But that would be my advice.


Lara Schmoisman  28:08  

Yeah. And before you you start something, check, Who’s your competition? Who’s out there doing similar and how you can be different? Yeah.


Stephanie Burns  28:17  

And if they’re selling things, and you know, you’re on the right path. Now, you know, what’s in demand. So, you know, my company, the wild agency is a visibility company. And when I tell people what we do, you know, it’s a little bit PR, it’s a little bit SEO, it’s really mostly like, amplifying the personal brand of company founders. And I tell them, same thing you and I’ve talked about PR is not the answer. Everybody thinks it is. But it’s not the answer. Every single time I talked to a potential client, they’re like, yes. Oh my god, I get that. Yes, you’re right. You can’t just sit back and wait for a PR hit. No,


Lara Schmoisman  28:59  

absolutely not. It’s all about like I always say and you guys know that. I always say this is about authority and relevance. And there are many ways to get it. Yeah. Stephanie, thank you so much for having coffee with me. I really enjoy this time with you. And you guys. I will see you next week.



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