Creating the Midlife (and Business) of Your Dreams with Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter
Creating the Midlife (and Business) of Your Dreams with Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter | The Content Experiment Podcast

Creating the Midlife (and Business) of Your Dreams with Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter

Every stage of life has its challenges, especially when you’re trying to find balance and happiness. But speaking from experience, midlife is tough. There are so many life changes going on and honestly, you just want to feel grounded and like you’re fulfilling your life’s mission.

But how?

It takes work, and often it takes another set of eyes and ears on your thoughts and feelings. This is just one of the things I’m talking about with this week’s guests, Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter.

If you’re feeling like you need a bit of a shift in life or business, this is the episode for you. And we’re talking about what to do in business to ensure you’re on the right track. Tune in now!

Mentioned in This Episode

About Carmen Reed-Gilkison and Deirdre Harter

Carmen Reed-Gilkison, whole person certified coach, and Deirdre Harter, CPA and business strategist, are the Co-Founders of Encore Empire.

Mission-oriented women over 40 hire Encore Empire to help optimize their foundational business strategy so they can focus on positively impacting the world.

Carmen and Deirdre help new and established female entrepreneurs increase bottom line profits in their online business consistently and holistically by leveraging their past experience, honoring their values, and becoming financially savvy.

With decades of combined entrepreneurial experience, they understand all aspects of business-building in the online marketplace. By combining their two areas of expertise Carmen and Deirdre have created a uniquely holistic approach to launching and growing businesses.

Women relate and interact differently at this age than their younger counterparts, and definitely different than men. Carmen and Dierdre believe in relationship marketing and that’s where women in midlife excel.


Abby Herman 0:08
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 145 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever moving targets in any business. And it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it All right all of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content, to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience, and what grows your business, and most importantly, what feels good for you.

Abby Herman 0:38
I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and coach for online business owners who are ready to make a bigger impact online. I firmly believe that success isn’t about what big marketing brands and so called gurus think is the right thing. It’s about you in your business, your lifestyle, and frankly, your values and belief systems, you get to do business in a way that works for you.

Abby Herman 1:01
If you’ve been hanging out with me virtually for a while, you probably know a little bit about my story, I left my secure, I’ll be at low paying teaching position in May 2013, just a few months before my 40th birthday, I knew I wanted needed to make a big change in my life, if I was actually going to be happy because I really was not happy at that stage in my life. So I made a big giant change that scared the crap out of me.

Abby Herman 1:29
But that allowed me to take a little bit of control of my life, something that I felt was really missing. Though it was incredibly difficult and really stressful for a while I can’t imagine my life or career anywhere else But where it is right now.

Abby Herman 1:44
Now today on the podcast, I am talking with two amazing business owners who helped women through the transition that I made with a little more focus than the way I did it. Deirdre Harter and Carmen Reed-Gilkison are some of the most dedicated coaches I’ve seen out there. And you’re gonna love this conversation where we talk about why now is the perfect time to turn your passion into a business, if you consider yourself in midlife. And we also talk about what you can do to get started or even shift gears and the business that you’re already in.

Abby Herman 2:21
We also talk about Deirdre and Carmen’s upcoming summit, the Optimize Your Online Business Summit, which I’m really proud to be a part of. On the summit, I’m going to be sharing about how to attract more ideal customers to you through content. It’s a live summit starting September 24, which means all of the presentations and interviews are delivered live. You can find out more and register for your free ticket at

Abby Herman 2:52
But first before we get into the interview, if you’re not already following The Content Experiment Podcast, please take a moment to hit the subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast app So you don’t miss another episode. And I’d be so grateful if you would give the podcast a rating and review to help it get into the earbuds of more listeners. This is the ultimate way that you can show me and even other podcast hosts that you like what you’re hearing.

Abby Herman 3:22
Now, today you’re going to hear from Carmen and Deirdre and I want to share more about what they do at the Encore Empire, their partnership. Carmen Reed-Gilkison, a whole person certified coach, and Deirdre Harter, CPA and business strategist, are the cofounders of Encore Empire. Mission-oriented women over 40 hire Encore Empire to help optimize their foundational business strategy, so they can focus on positively impacting the world. They help new and established female entrepreneurs increase bottom line profits in their online businesses consistently and holistically by leveraging their past experience, honoring their values and becoming financially savvy with decades of combined entrepreneurial experience.

Abby Herman 4:10
Carmen and Deirdre understand all aspects of business building in the online marketplace. By combining their two areas of expertise. They have created a uniquely holistic approach to launching and growing businesses. Women relate and interact differently at this age, this midlife age than their younger counterparts and definitely different than men. Carmen and Deirdre believe in relationship marketing, and that’s where women excel in midlife. So let’s listen into this interview with these two amazing coaches, which is, by the way, also my very first interview with two different interviewees, so I’m really excited to share this with you.

Abby Herman 4:58
Hi, Carmen and Deirdre. I am so excited to talk to you both today. And I’m really excited too, because this is the very first episode where I’ve had two people that I’m interviewing at once. So I’m super excited. Thank you for being the test subjects for this episode.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 5:18
We’re happy to be the test subjects.

Abby Herman 5:21
Yeah. So I would love to have you both introduce yourselves for the audience. Can you tell us a little bit about separately who you are and who you do it for? And then, and then I’ll have you talk about like your partnership as well. So Deirdre, let’s start with you.

Deirdre Harter 5:38
Okay, hi, I’m Deirdre Harter. I am a CPA. So I spent 20 plus years in public accounting, and all those horrible tech seasons and about 15 years. And I realized that I just really couldn’t do this until I retired because the joke was, you know, accountants don’t retire, they die at their desk. And so I didn’t want to be one of those.

Deirdre Harter 6:04
So I started doing a side business, while I was still working full time. And with the idea in mind, at the time, it was, you know, for that longevity, but also, it kind of pushed me to get going quicker, because my husband had a medical condition, and he was out of work for three months. And so that became the thing that kind of put me into action sooner and quicker than I anticipated.

Deirdre Harter 6:33
But it was a really good push, because I’m a big believer in multiple income streams, you know, and not having all your eggs in one basket. Because if something happens, I mean, accounting, you know, taxes are never going to go away. But things can happen for other people, you know, they can be downsized, they can lose their job, they can just simply be so sick of it, they can’t stand going to the office anymore.

Deirdre Harter 6:57
So I wanted to be the one to be out there and to live that belief that I had, and to help others do the same thing. Because as I got older, especially after I hit, you know, past 40 midlife that it was so important to really think about the future, you know, what does it look like in 10 years from now, and I wanted to be in control of my own economy.

Abby Herman 7:20
But it totally makes sense. And I can’t agree with you more about being in control of your own economy, and that we can do that as business owners. So thank you.

Abby Herman 7:30
Carmen, can you tell us a little bit about you, what you do and who you do it for?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 7:34
Sure. So I am Carmen Reed-Gilkison. I am a certified full person coach coming out of a 20 plus career in corporate in the proposal department. I have a high paced, high high value position where marketing was my focus, making sure that we nailed our contracts and got our deals was my focus.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 7:59
And so when I hit midlife, I kind of hit a wall. And it was like, gosh, you know, is this all there is and I had worked my butt off to get where I was, it was all great. So I then immediately after that felt guilty for even questioning it right. But that happens a lot in midlife.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 8:18
And so my quest began at midlife I got about when I was 50, to figure out what is the rest of my life going to be. And then that quickly became my passion. And what made most sense to me was to be able to develop my own business, and to have that sense of freedom that David was talking about, you know, create your own economy. I wanted to be able to take all of my skills and turn them into something that I could do that actually lit me up instead of stressed me out and drained me.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 8:48
So I set off on a quest to do that. became a certified whole person coach helping women in midlife, and then met Deirdre and that’s a whole nother story. But basically, doing coaching for a while helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do. And it wasn’t then just helping him in life. It was helping women who wanted to start businesses.

Abby Herman 9:09
Yeah. Well And, I feel like so, I mean, I started my business just a couple months before, I guess I should say, I went full time in my business just a couple months before I turned 40. And I didn’t go into it with the thought that I want to do something that lights me up instead of totally stresses me out. Like that wasn’t the thought in my mind.

Abby Herman 9:33
But at the same time I did it because I was so incredibly miserable just in professionally and in my personal life. And I was not a fun person. Because I was so miserable. But I mean, but it’s true. Like I left my day job which was teaching and dove into this and yes, it still was pretty stressful and mostly because I had no idea what in the world I was Doing. but yeah, like, I feel like there’s a point where you think like you said, Carmen, is this all there is? like, Am I really going to have to feel like this for the rest of my working career and the rest of my life? No. No way. I wanted to do that.

Abby Herman 10:20
So Carmen, I know you. All right, I met you first, you introduced me to Deirdre. And we’ve done a little bit of work together. And I’ve been a guest in your group program that you guys have. Can you share a little bit about how you two partnered up and what you do for your clients collectively?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 10:42
Sure. Deirdre, did you want to tell that story?

Deirdre Harter 10:45
Sure, sure. So, you know, I was already coaching and I was also in e-commerce prior to meeting Carmen. And it was sort of like my second realization, kind of what you talked about Abby. I’ve been in e-commerce for 13 years, and it got me out of my profession and got me into freedom. However, it was one of those things where I was getting tired of that, too. And I really wanted to do something that had a bigger impact. I mean, it was great to get toilet paper to people who were in need of it, you know, and could just order online. But that was not fulfilling enough for me. So I wanted to, to really make a difference.

Deirdre Harter 11:22
And then COVID came around last year. And that’s when it really, really hit home. And I just felt this urge, I’m like, I have got to do something bigger than this. And so I had been coaching in the e-commerce space, other online sellers. But I wanted to expand that. So I started working on that business model to see what would that look like. And then I went to a virtual event, which, of course, was all the rage once COVID hit, and I met Carmen. And we were at a table in slack together.

Deirdre Harter 11:54
So we actually got to know each other enough, at a slack table, you know, not even really having seen each other, just a little avatar photo, to resonate with one another. And after the event was over. I mean, I loved what she was saying, you know, during the event, and then we met outside of that on zoom, and just started talking to see how you know, get to know each other, could we collaborate with one another, and that began relationship marketing. And that’s when I knew Okay, this is really powerful. And we just kept meeting, you know, more, you know, first it was once and then we’re like, okay, let’s meet again, and then pretty soon, it became every two weeks, and that was every week.

Deirdre Harter 12:35
And then Encore Empire, that idea was born, where we could put my financial and business model strategy background, with her holistic whole person coaching and her marketing background. And it became the perfect package and vehicle to help other women start their business and not go through the struggle that I know you went through Abby, when you first started not knowing exactly what do I do? and in what order?

Abby Herman 13:04
Yeah, I just wanted to like be able to pay my bills. I wanted to be able to live and survive. And I had no clue how to do that. So that’s great. I love what you do. And I know that you have such a great following and such a great group of people who are in your program. So it’s been fun to watch you guys grow it.

Abby Herman 13:24
And I didn’t know that that’s how you met was on zoom table. I’ve never even heard of that before. I’ll have to, I’ll have to, like, look into that and see what that’s all about. I just thought you meant like a zoom isn’t wasn’t a zoom breakout room. It was a or was it essentially a breakout room that you just couldn’t see each other?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 13:42
Wellthey ran it. So they did it was a virtual event that was held on zoom. But at the same time, you’re in slack. And they assigned quote unquote tables, because hey, this event normally is held in person, but they had to do it virtually because of COVID. And they decided to keep that format, it was actually pretty brilliant.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 14:00
So the little channels on slack was table one through table, whatever. And you were assigned a table like you would be if you went into a hotel room, you know, and or a hotel ballroom, you know and you’re at an event you get assigned a table. That’s what it was like. And so then they would ask questions in the presentation for all of us to work with the people on our table.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 14:20
So it really facilitated us getting to know each other. It was a really cool model actually.

Abby Herman 14:24
Very cool. Interesting. It’s really neat how creative business owners have been over the last 18 months or so in continuing their business and, you know, or in growing a business inside of COVID. So that’s interesting.

Abby Herman 14:41
So let’s talk about that a little bit like, you know, women over 40 are women in midlife who are in this encore stage of their life. Can you share a little bit about, you’ve shared, kind of from your perspective, why you started your businesses. What are you hearing from clients and The people who you’re working with who you’ve been working with, what is the, the why behind what they’re doing? And where does that come from?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 15:10
Sure, it’s very similar across the board. Most women get to a point where, you know, we’ve done everything for everybody our entire lives, your I mean, lovingly, and most the time, right, and it’s a midlife and it’s like, Okay, well, you know, your kids fly the coop, maybe there’s a divorce, maybe, who knows what’s happening, you know, changes happen. And then you realize that, first of all, you don’t have the same role because your kids have left or whatever is happening.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 15:45
But the second thing that happens is they want something that lights them up, they want to make an impact, they want to make a difference in the world. You know, as much as we left our corporate careers, probably only a fraction of them really let people feel like they were making a big impact on the world. So most of the time, the people that we work with are heart centered entrepreneurs, they want to go out and make a difference, they feel so passionate about something. And it’s super energizing and exciting to have that spark that you want to bring out into the world and turn it into your business. And then they just don’t know how to go about it.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 16:21
And I was in the same boat, you know, so, you know, starting this and helping them, it’s great because we can go, these were all the mistakes we made. These are the potential pitfalls, here’s how to avoid all of those. And then here’s how to be a heart centered entrepreneur, and still make money because a lot of them are nervous about charging or charging too much. Or why would someone pay or, you know, it’s a whole mindset shift. So it’s really a lot of fun, and very rewarding.

Abby Herman 16:51
Yeah, yeah. Sounds like it. So is this something? Do you work with clients who are starting this business as kind of a passion alongside what they’ve been doing? So a lot of times people will make the choice to stay home with their kids and to be there for their kids, and they choose not to work? So I’m sure that you have some clients in that arena.

Abby Herman 17:16
And then also others who are working full time and they need to find a way to replace their nine to five income or do you have people in both buckets that you work with? And how do you find the time? How do they find the time to start a business? When they’re, you know, busy with things at home? Or are they busy with their nine to five? What does that look like for the people who you work with?

Deirdre Harter 17:42
Yes, so it isn’t, it is a mix, Abby. there are people who you know, the women who’ve stayed at home, or the individuals who stayed home with their kids. They, what we like to teach them is they think okay, well, I haven’t had a corporate career. I haven’t had a profession in the past. So how could I possibly start a business and what we love about being in midlife is that you’re you have so much experience from your life, you know, and your experience elevates everything for you.

Deirdre Harter 18:14
And within that experience, and in hobbies and things that you love to do. It’s monetizable working with so many business owners in so many different types of businesses, I saw this all the time that you don’t have to do the one thing you don’t have to do the thing you went to college for, you don’t have to do the thing that you spent 10 years trying to climb the corporate ladder, there are so many other things. And it doesn’t even have to be some skill, it can be an experience, if you have gotten through a divorce that was particularly difficult. And you learn how to overcome that. If you’ve had health or you know, fitness challenges, you know, all of those things. If you have the solution to a problem that you have figured out, there are 1000s of other women out there who need that solution that you have.

Deirdre Harter 19:04
And so that’s why we teach that experience can be your next, you know, it can be your vehicle for your business. And for those that already have their career. Sometimes it is a segue, they’re doing something and they just simply don’t want to work for someone else’s dream. They want to work for their own. And so of course that translates over.

Deirdre Harter 19:24
And for the time. You know, everyone has the same amount of time. It truly is a mindset issue. I built my business on the side while working full time. Carmen has done the same thing. And it’s really a matter of being organized, prioritizing and knowing and being very clear on what are the steps and what are the things that you need to do and focus on that are going to really bring the growth and move the needle in your business because we can be very busy and very distracted by all the things that we see out there. So really having that focus, that’s the key to the whole thing.

Abby Herman 20:05
Yes, there are so many shiny objects and you look at what people are doing online, you look at, you know, your quote unquote, competition or just other business owners who are doing really cool things. And you think I need to do that too. And so then you toss aside like your plan or your whatever you had in mind already to do this other cool thing.

Abby Herman 20:29
And then I feel like, that’s like a recipe for spiraling into just inaction and procrastination, maybe unintentional procrastination, because you’re actually doing things that are you really doing the things that you’re that are going to benefit your business and that are going to move the needle,

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 20:47
right, it becomes overwhelm is what it is. And so our values are, you know, values of validations, what we teach, so we teach people to go inside instead of getting stuck in that hole comparison, itis. And we will look at that, and I need to try this.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 21:01
Because really, when you’re looking at all that stuff, you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg of whatever’s going on with that person. And it might be going great for them, because they’ve spent the last 20 years building up this process that you’re only seeing their shining moment. And so then you think well, all I have to do is do what they’re doing. But that’s not it at all, you know.

Abby Herman 21:20
So yes, exactly, exactly. Deirdre mentioned, being clear on what’s going to move the needle, what’s going to what’s going to bring growth to this new business. Can you share a little bit about what are some of the things that we should be focusing on? Because I think that that is true for whether you’re a brand new business owner or someone who is looking to grow and scale, there’s probably very similar things that we need to focus on. Can you share what those might be?

Deirdre Harter 21:52
Sure, sure. And it does change, Abby, it changes in the stage that you’re in. But the but never changes is that you have to have your foundational strategy in place. And that’s what we help put together. There are so many tactics, and you have to know the difference.

Deirdre Harter 22:10
What is the strategy versus what is the tactic? a tactic is flavor of the month marketing. It’s what

Abby Herman 22:16

Deirdre Harter 22:17
Instagram reels is the thing, you know, and there’s so many things, and we end up scattered and diluted over all the things. But when you have the foundational strategy in place, you know what your revenue goals are, and you know what your impact goal is, that’s, that’s where you have to focus. And you have to build the strategy, because there’s 100 ways to market, there’s 100 ways to do sales. And you really need to find what works for you, what aligns with who you are, who you help, and what, what feels good for you.

Deirdre Harter 22:53
Because let’s face it, if we’re trying to learn a skill or a strategy that is not resonating with us, you know, if you’re an introvert, for example, being out on social media, and, you know, sending messages six hours a day, it’s not going to last very long, you’re going to burn out really, really quick. And everybody thinks that’s what you have to do.

Deirdre Harter 23:13
But you don’t have to do it that way. That is one method. And there are other methods. And it really depends on what is that goal? What stage are you at? And where is the next level you want to be? Because you always need to be looking at not where you are. But where do you want to be 12 months from now, and that informs what you should be doing and focusing on right now.

Abby Herman 23:36
Whoops. Yes, I totally agree. And I’m so glad. Thank you so much for sharing the difference between a strategy and a tactic. Because I think that people use the- I don’t like the word tactic at all. It feels slimy to me, and you know, because then it’s the little things, those are the little things that you’re doing. It’s not a big overarching strategy. It’s not the plan, you know, and that’s what you need as a plan and people use the word tactic. Like that is what is going to save their business and their business. And it’s just simply not true.

Abby Herman 24:13
It’s the strategy, and then you figure out what those actions are. Exactly. Yes. Thank you for thank you for that. I had to jump in and say that. So what are some of the things as someone is deciding that they are ready for? To do something different, they’re ready to take this hobby or they’re ready to turn it into a business or they’re ready to take their business and grow it to the next level? What are some? What are some things that that people need to consider as they’re thinking through that?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 24:49
Well, I would say there’s two different things here. So if we’re talking about someone who is wanting to take their hobby in turning that into a business or they’re hit by life and they want To make an impact and start something new, it’s really a matter of going inside and discovering what are your true values? What do you want out of this?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 25:12
It’s so much, you know, everyone tends to look outside for the answers. And really, you’ve got to dig deep. And that’s what we do in our programs, we teach people how to go inward. And we do that with the existing business owners as well, because a lot of times, they missed that. And what we find is that it’s that foundational business strategy piece that Deirdre was talking about. And it really requires you going in and making sure you know who you are, what your goals are, you know, looking at where you want to be, be it scaling your business, or just starting a business. But what does that look like? and then reverse engineering back from that.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 25:48
So we recommend that you really get in touch with who you are, it helps definitely to have someone guide you through that process. Because, you know, it’s a little difficult to go sit out on the grass and think Who am I and come up with all the answers. But really, it requires that in introspection, it just really does. Because what happens if you don’t do that piece is you will, you know, look at something and say, this looks like something I want to do, I’m going to follow these steps.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 26:18
And there’s nothing wrong with that. I think the second step after introspection is to get into action. Because you need to start doing something to learn and gather the data from what you’re doing. Like, yes, this worked, or this didn’t work, or I thought I would love doing this. And it turns out, I liked 1/3 of it, but I hated two thirds of it.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 26:38
So it’s through taking those forward actions towards that goal, the thing that you’re trying to do that you discover what, and you fine tune and hone what it is that you really want to do. And then you can create whatever you want. So it starts with really knowing you and then taking action.

Abby Herman 26:57
Yeah, I think, you know, a lot of people miss that piece, that first step that you have to know, what is your end goal? And it’s okay. I mean, I think I personally think it’s okay, if it changes. I mean, because we all change, we all grow as people and as business owners.

Abby Herman 27:16
but to start with something with some sort of vision for you know, what do you want to have happen as a result of starting this business? I think that that’s valuable. And I think that Yeah, lots of people miss that.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 27:30
Yeah, well, and so when I started just real quick, this, it’s very normal, that you’re going to change your mind. So that’s another thing to expect if you’re starting out brand new, even if you’re starting to, you know, add on a different income stream on your business, you know, you may decide you don’t like that going that direction. I mean, change is part of the whole thing. But when I started out, I didn’t know what to do.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 27:52
So I went and followed, you know, things step by step and thought, Okay, I’m gonna do this thing. Well, three quarters into it, I realized this is not for me, and why wasn’t it for me?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 28:03
Well, one, it was a learning experience in the first place. But two, I never had connected with my values of what it is exactly that I wanted. So it wasn’t going to work anywhere. I was creating something that made me feel like an imposter. Because it wasn’t me. So that’s why it’s so important.

Abby Herman 28:18
Yes. Yeah.

Deirdre Harter 28:20
Like one thing I found too, Abby, is that we all have, those of us who’ve worked somewhere else. First, we have an employee mindset, we have been trained to think in a certain way. And we bring that into entrepreneurship, and it does not work, you have to learn to think differently as an entrepreneur, because as an employee, you’re there to do a job and get a paycheck. And so we kind of go at our businesses the same way.

Deirdre Harter 28:45
And a lot of business owners, they have already started their business and they and they’re going and they’re doing the job, and they’re making the pay. But there comes a point where they hit the ceiling, because they don’t really have that strategy and that vision in place to know, you know, what does this entity look like? What does my organization look like? And so then they just kind of start flailing around and you start putting out fires because it’s growing, but you’re not prepared for the growth. You don’t know what’s next because now it’s bigger than you.

Deirdre Harter 29:18
And so you’re trying to hold it all together and do all the things then you start to like, Okay, well now I’m gonna have to get help or I’m now I’m gonna have to, you know, change my model because it didn’t really, you know, I can’t serve all these people like I thought I was going to be able to and that’s where that not only the vision but then there’s a financial piece to that, because we all unless we have a you know, unless we have, you know, a trust fund sitting in the bank, which most entrepreneurs do not. We do have to look at the money piece of it.

Deirdre Harter 29:50
And money is a tool. A lot of people feel bad about, you know, charging or what they’re charging, but you have to charge what the business needs. You have to give the business what it needs. And so you need to price accordingly. And they, a lot of times, you’ll price yourself into a corner, especially if you’re in a service based business, because all of a sudden, you can’t go any further than where you’ve gone. And you can’t serve any more than you’re serving.

Deirdre Harter 30:16
And so by understanding how that financial piece works, and being able to plan that part of it out, then you’ve got the money that’s needed to bring on the extra help that you’re going to need or to get the contractors that you’re going to need, you know, ineke, or another service even that you’re going to need in order to build to that next level.

Abby Herman 30:37
Yeah, and I can speak from experience when it comes to hitting that ceiling where like, I got to the point in my, in my business a couple years ago, where I could not, I wasn’t going to be able to earn any more, you know, I could I could have raised my prices and probably should have, but my time was so strapped because as a service provider, I provide a one to one service as, but that’s part of my business. And there’s nothing else I could have done like I could not have done any more, I couldn’t squeeze any more time out.

Abby Herman 31:11
So I think in addition to like the financial piece, it’s also a mindset of figuring out how to let go of things too. Because when I started to hire a team, I had to let go of control of things, I had to allow other people into my business too, to help and to support me and to support my clients. And that’s really hard to do. Because I because I think I was approaching business as a as a, as a job, which I do kind of see my role as a as a job, because that helps me to get in the mindset of like, there are things that I have to do and you know, boxes that I have to check on a regular basis. But it also helped me just kind of be more productive.

Abby Herman 32:02
But I think that Yeah, you have to tweak your mindset a little bit to be that leader and to figure out okay, what do I really want out of this? Do I really want to work 60 and 70 hours a week? No. Not at all. I have been there and done that.

Abby Herman 32:21
And over my shoulder, you can see but listeners can’t see, I have a word of the year. That was my, freedom was my word of the year in 2020. Because my daughter graduated from high school, I was going to become an empty nester that did not happen in 2020. But it’s going to happen this year. She’s going away to college where she opted to stay home during COVID. But yeah, like I want freedom like that is one of my values is to have fun and to be able to serve my clients and support them, but yet still have some freedom and fun in my life, in my own midlife, because I’m there to write. definitely.

Abby Herman 33:05
So what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see new and even seasoned business owners make as they are getting started. And as they’re getting ready to grow?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 33:18
I think it comes back down to that basic first step that most people miss, which is connecting with your values and who you are. So, you know, that’s what we teach people from the beginning when they come to work with us. And even the seasoned business owners that come work with us are surprised at what they discover, when they go through that process. You know, they’ve maybe been a business owner for, you know, a decade or more, but they never stopped to do that.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 33:46
Because, as you said, Abby, you know, when you start, it’s like, Okay, well, now I have to make the money to pay the bills, right? So you’re just on go, go go. There’s a lot of times, there’s no time to stop and figure out this great grand plan or strategy, you’re just going thing to thing to make sure that it works, right. So when they’ve gotten through their business for a few years, and they come back and then they come work with us. It’s like a whole new awakening.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 34:12
And it’s so awesome to watch. Because that one little thing of knowing who you are or really going in and connecting with your values is your foundation. I mean, I don’t, I don’t have any other way to say it. I mean, I believe that you need guidance to get there.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 34:29
But it’s the biggest mistake because what will happen is people will go let’s say get a certification. We see a lot of people will say a health certification, right, you become a health coach. And then the next thing they do is they’ll go take a sales program. And because now that makes sense. I got my health certification. Now I need to learn how to make sales.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 34:48
But what happens is when they don’t have that foundational business strategy, that Deirdre and I help people develop, then there’s nothing to base that on so there’s nothing to go they’re just going blue into trying to make sales to people they don’t know, based on something that they haven’t developed yet. So it’s really hard to go from course to course, program to program, and try to tape it all together and create something if you don’t first have that foundation.

Abby Herman 35:15
Yeah. And I feel like that’s definitely what you do, too. You take this course, and then you join that program. And then you just do this other thing. And then another thing after that, because you don’t have it without a plan. Without a strategy without knowing your ultimate vision and your values, your- there is a lot of frustration and a lot of bouncing around. I mean, frankly, and I say this, because I’ve totally done this. It’s a waste of time. And it’s a waste of money to do that. Yeah, having that plan is so so important.

Abby Herman 35:50
Well see you, the two of you are hosting a summit to help support people in this. Can you share a little bit about the summit, what it’s called and where people can find more information?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 36:04
Sure, it’s the Optimize Your Online Business Summit, coming in September 24, 25th, and 26th. And it is about helping people optimize their online business, hence the name. My website is So it’ll be a live three day summit featuring fabulous guests, such as yourself, Abby, and guess experts that have the expertise in a whole variety of different modes and modalities. So there’s marketing, there’s AI and bots, there’s storytelling, there’s video, there’s audio experts on all of that.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 36:45
And the point of it is that if you have an online business, you know, you’re doing your thing, and maybe it’s going well, but there’s always room to grow. So what piece can you take and tap into, and help optimize and connect further with your audience, bring more people in and grow your revenue?

Abby Herman 37:05
Yes, 100%, there is always room for growth in anything. So I love it. And I’m really excited about being a part of it. Thank you. And I love it. I love the live component of it. Because what I think it’s going to be stressful, might be stressful for the two of you. But as a speaker, I love the online or the live component, because it just allows that interaction that we don’t always get with summit’s anymore because everything is recorded and planned out ahead of time, which is great, but I love the live component.

Abby Herman 37:45
So are there opportunities for attendees to be live with speakers with either view with one another? How are you handling that?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 37:57
Yeah, so there will be the ability for attendees to participate in a live capacity, they’ll be able to interact with the speakers as they go. And and the reason we wanted to do a live was to get that interaction piece because as you said, Abby, it’s one thing to be able to be there with the people in the in person or present when they’re actually saying what they’re saying and get a question answered in real time than it is to watch a pre recording. And then you sure maybe you can get your question answered. But there’s a delay of emailing out or whatever you have to do. So yeah, we’re really excited about that part of it.

Abby Herman 38:30
Yeah. And I’m excited about just yeah, that interaction piece and just feeling more engaged in the summit as a whole. So, so yay, thank you for asking me to be a part of it.

Deirdre Harter 38:43
There’s one thing I want to say, Abby, because we just talked a minute ago about, you know, not putting all the pieces together, you’re getting this piece, that piece and taping it all together without a plan. And our goal, even though we have different speakers that are experts in different things, Carmen and I will be there to talk about that strategy piece too. So it still can be holistic, because some people do actually have, you know, their strategy all laid out already.

Deirdre Harter 39:11
So we wanted to give the opportunity for them to stay like, you know, up to date on what’s going on. Things change in the online business world so rapidly, especially with technology. And when it comes to marketing and visibility, it’s always changing. And so we wanted to bring those people together that knew what was you know, there’s, there’s evergreen principles that all the experts are following.

Deirdre Harter 39:36
But then there’s also that component of, you know, what is working now based on the current environment and based on people’s behaviors. And so that’s why we wanted to bring this forward so that everyone stays up to date with what’s going on.

Deirdre Harter 39:50
And you had asked earlier about, you know, seasoned business owners and their foundational business strategy and you You know, a lot of times people are working on pure intuition, or they might get to a point in their business, like you didn’t go, I need to do something different bring on a team, I need to build out something else, maybe, of course, that I don’t have to be there, you know, you know, in front of everybody all the time to provide the service. But then they do it based on what they think that their audience wants, they don’t necessarily know.

Deirdre Harter 40:27
And so that’s where our validation piece comes in. Because we’ve seen seasoned business owners come into our validate your business idea workshop that we run regularly. And they’re like, wow, I could use this for this new thing I was thinking about, because you’re, you’re all in your head about it, you’re like, I think this is what they need, I’m just gonna build it, and they will come. But it isn’t always the case. And so that, even if you’re not new, that whole validation piece is still very important for you to go through.

Abby Herman 40:55
Yeah, it’s so important to go through and to try things out and make sure that that is really what your audience needs and wants before you build out the entire thing and spend all of this money and time and all of that building something that may or may not sell. So thank you for that. Yes.

Abby Herman 41:14
So I would love to hear from the two of you. And you can get, you each get to pick one thing. If listeners would only take away two things from this conversation, what do you hope that they take away? So Deirdre, you can get to say one and Carmen, you get to say one or the other.

Deirdre Harter 41:35
Okay. So I would say the biggest thing is to take some time, don’t be so busy doing all the things that you don’t have that time built into your schedule, whether you are new in business, or whether you’ve been in business for a while, you need to have that meeting with yourself. And you need to go on the inside and really ask yourself those hard questions is what I’m doing. Fulfilling me? Does it align with my values? And what does 10 years look like for me? You know, it? Am I on the right path? And I’m like, Am I get do I even know what that looks like? You know, and as you said, it can change. But where are you right now? And where do you want to be? And so always do that assessment on a regular basis.

Abby Herman 42:20
Love that. Carmen?

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 42:22
And then I’ll add on to that. So one of the ways that we help people discover and develop their foundational business strategy is by setting a big goal. So what is your big goal? You know, five years from now? You know, you set that big one, then what is your goal three years from now? What’s your goal a year from now? And then you look at that, and you reverse engineer backwards.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 42:48
And so one of the things, and I know, Abby, this is where I learned a lot from you too, is by figuring out what those goals are. And like, let’s look at your one year goal. Now, your one year goal. So plan out all of your, we like to say our events or conversion events or whatever that you’re going to put on your calendar, which is going to then help inform your copy, which is going to inform the things that you promote, which helps then to fill in what your calendar is. And it helps create those tactics.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 43:20
There’s that word because you’ve already developed your strategy, you know, you know where you’re going to go, you want to be here at goal a and year one, goal B in year three, and goals C in your five. So what do you need to do between each of those goalposts to get there, and then reverse engineer? And that’s the basic, the basic, high, high level view of putting together your foundational business strategy.

Abby Herman 43:49
Yes, I love that. And if I could just give a plug for an episode for a different episode here. If, listeners, if you go back to Episode 135, I talk about long term and content planning, and why it’s not a good idea to plan your content too far in advance. And it’s exactly the way Carmen just described those goals.

Abby Herman 44:15
So when you set your five year goal, your three year goal, your one year goal, you don’t want to plan your content that far in advance, but you do want to plan it for you know, a year in advance, what are the big conversion events going to be? What are the what are the big thing was the launches all of that plan those ahead of time, so that then when you sit down and you go to plan your content, you can do it with that in mind and with the the nurturing and mind that you need for that that big thing that you’re going to launch a year from now.

Abby Herman 44:47
So, so go listen to Episode 135. For more on that, but yes, I totally agree. You’ve got to have those big goals so you know where you’re going Yeah, so

Abby Herman 45:00
Well, thank you, Carmen and Deirdre so much for being here. I really appreciate it. It was really fun to chat. And thank you for being my guinea pigs for the very first two person interview. I appreciate that. So much.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 45:15
You’re welcome. It was great.

Abby Herman 45:17
And then I will have links to all of your contact information, and the summit in the show notes. But if you could just share really quickly, what are your favorite social platforms where people can follow you?

Deirdre Harter 45:30
So you can find us on Facebook, we have a free community of women over 40 entrepreneurs where we provide accountability, support and learning opportunities, and that’s the empire of unstoppable women. You can also find us individually on Facebook, and we’re on LinkedIn as well. So you can just look up our name or look up Encore Empire and you will find us.

Abby Herman 45:54
Fantastic. Thank you again so much.

Carmen Reed-Gilkison 45:56
Thank you.

Abby Herman 45:58
So motivational right. It has been so much fun watching Carmen and Deirdre grow. And my connection with them started when Carmen participated in the Ask Your Audience challenge last year. You know what, I am actually running the challenge again, right after Carmen and Deirdre’s summit for five days beginning Monday, September 27. I’ll teach you what questions to ask, how to ask them, and what to do with the results of your audience survey and I’m going to give you personalized feedback. If you are participating and posting your homework each day, go to to sign up for free right now.

Abby Herman 46:42
And if you loved what you heard on this interview, and you want more from Deirdre and Carmen, be sure to sign up for free for the Optimize Your Online Business Summit, which starts September 24. Get your free ticket at

Abby Herman 47:01
If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. You can tag me @thecontentexperiment and tag Carmen and Deirdre at, and the Encore Empire, @encore.Empire.official.

Abby Herman 47:24
The more you share the more we can get this podcast into the hands of more business owners just like you who need to hear the message that they are not alone. Until next time, take care

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