Don’t let an algorithm decide what you read »

Business Innovation with Monique Mills

August 8, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

One of the best parts of running your own expertise-based business is that you get to choose the business model & strategy that you use. But with so many options available it can be hard to figure out the best way for you.

In this episode, Monique Mills and Alastair McDermott discuss how to start a consulting business, how to think about innovation, and how to price expert services.

They also discuss why sales is just a conversation, how acceleration is important, and why you should remain consistent with publishing valuable information even when you’re not getting a lot of engagement.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Monique Mills is a degreed electrical engineer turned serial entrepreneur. She’s founded 5 companies and with her focus on business innovation, Monique currently serves as the CEO of TPM Focus, her strategy consulting firm, and as President of Focused Innovation Group, a family-owned acquisition company.


people, business, mba, engineers, tech startup, sales, money, business model, consultant, startup, monique, learn, understand, ron baker, authority, podcast, literally, create, fast, clients

Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Monique Mills


Monique Mills  00:00

remain consistent in doing so. Because if no one knows what your messages are, or are aware you even exist, it doesn’t matter what service you provide how smart you are, you know what you can do for them if they don’t know about it. So that’s that would be my top advice.


Voiceover  00:17

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:34

Hey, folks, it’s August. As the summer winds down and we’re getting ready for September, I’m getting ready for a new intake into authority labs. That’s a coaching group and tight knit community for independent consultants and experts who are looking for coaching, accountability and peer support on your journey to authority. The next authority labs cohort will be starting in September. And if you’re a consultant or expert, and you’d like to build your authority and grow your income, have accountability and support around you while you do that, then this might be the right group for you. You can sign up for the interest list at the recognized Now on with the show. So today, my guest is Monique mills. And Monique is a degreed electrical engineer turned serial entrepreneur. She’s founded five companies with a focus on business innovation. She currently serves as the CEO of T pm focus, her strategy consulting firm, and she is the president of focused Innovation Group, a family owned acquisition company. And Monique, I’ve been on Monique’s podcast, which is called the unpolished MBA. And I’m really delighted to have her on because I think she’s one of the smartest people that I follow on LinkedIn. So Monique, thank you for being on the show.


Monique Mills  01:46

Thank you so much. I appreciate that kind comment. Thank you.


Alastair McDermott  01:51

Yeah, well, I know I said I was going to start with another question. But actually, I want to, I want to just start with the the LinkedIn thing. Okay. You post a lot on LinkedIn. And like, we both know, there’s, there’s a lot of crap gets posted on LinkedIn. And a lot of really good stuff gets posted on there. I just just wondering what you think about that? And how you think about what you actually post on LinkedIn? How do you how do you decide what to put up there,


Monique Mills  02:12

I decide what to post based upon the people that I help what they need to know, and what they need to hear. And the thing is, a lot of times folks will hire me to tell them the exact same things that I post on LinkedIn. So folks that are reaching out for, hey, can you help me with this? Can I pick your brain? You know, those kinds of things, say, you know, I have a place for you to find those things included? There is one of the channels. So


Alastair McDermott  02:38

yeah, why do you think that people put up a lot of rubbish isn’t that people have bad taste, or they don’t know any better, or, you know, because because there was a lot of rubbish up there


Monique Mills  02:48

is lazy, you know, it’s interesting. You have to really, especially as an entrepreneur, you have to really love the work that you do and be interested in it. And a lot of folks are really just interested in making money, right, the quickest way to easiest way, the fastest way. And you know, I’m not hating on them. But for me, it’s, that’s, of course, you want to make money. But that’s not the top of the priority list. It’s just doing a quick, fast and in a hurry. And so I think a lot of people just kind of copy and paste a lot, because it’s easy, it’s simple. But also, as you and I, you’re probably aware to a lot of people hire freelancers, and folks that just kind of throw things together up there for them to have activity. And there’s really no strategy behind it. And so it’s good enough to get some engagement, because a lot of people are in engagement pods, you know, where they have agreements with other people to support and like and engage on their posts, regardless of how bad it is. So that’s what you’re competing with.


Alastair McDermott  03:57

Yeah. And, you know, I think about those engagement pods. And sometimes I wonder if I should actually do that, because, you know, I see people getting lots of engagement, and they, I’m sure their numbers are much higher in terms of the amount of people that are seeing it, because the algorithm likes it and all of that kind of stuff. And then sometimes I think, you know, I really don’t want to get into that. I want to just do what I do, you know, yeah. And not not focused on trying to game the algorithm and, you know, playing the system and having to go in other people’s and comment on posts. I’m not really all that interested in.


Monique Mills  04:28

There’s a time suck anyways. Yeah, yeah, it


Alastair McDermott  04:31

  1. Okay, well, let me ask you the other question. So we were just talking beforehand about engineers. And so I’m not a real engineer. I’m a software engineer. So


Monique Mills  04:41

you’re a real engineer.


Alastair McDermott  04:44

I think that software engineers don’t have to go through the same, the same strict protocols that other types of engineers do. Bridges don’t fall down. If we make mistakes. Typically, your app might crash. But you know, it’s not quite the same But yeah, so So I am an engineer, but I think that this applies to experts as well, which is that I think that engineers and experts create things that don’t make money, and you agree with me. So why is that? What Why do we create these things that don’t make money,


Monique Mills  05:14

because we like to create things. You know, and that’s the thing, especially in college, I remember, I’m an electrical engineer. And it’s actually fun, right. And so we think about the utility of it by other people later. And that’s just kind of who a lot of us are, just as people. And, and, and I’m not really being facetious with that, because having done five years of engineering school, and then, you know, at a school with, like, you know, 25,000 students, there’s some trends that you spot, and that tends to be one of them. We like to create things that solve problems, but we don’t necessarily think about it, and kind of like, you know, a macrocosm kind of thing. We look at it with a cassava in our in our little bubbles. And so we’ll keep creating things and just keep creating, keep creating, and never think about the business model behind it.


Alastair McDermott  06:10

So how should we think about the business model? What like, what do you think about when you think about that?


Monique Mills  06:15

Well, first of all, it needs to be serving someone in specific, right, and providing them with it. And I hate using these terms, providing them value, and like, it just sounds like the same old stuff everyone else says. And so I try to break it down differently, especially my one on ones, but of course, publicly on podcast, you got to be like, politically correct, and try to be as as polished as possible. But you know, I’m the unpolished MBA, so I’m just gonna say like this, create something that people can’t live without that they’re gonna keep buying over and over again, or keep accessing over and over again, and it’s something that they really need, and will pay for whether they want to pay for it or have to pay for it, it’s going to be paid for either way, because they need access to it or need to use it, you know, in their daily life, I think frequency of use is something a lot of innovators and entrepreneurs forget about to, you want to create something that people just need over and over again, not a one time thing. But looking at business models. Back to your question about business models. Most engineers, we were never taught about business models and how things are supposed to make money, we were taught how to create solutions. And so that is who we are, I went back to get my MBA, like 12 years into my career and a light bulb went off. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, this is how people make money. Wow. And the thing is, engineers make enough to be comfortable. So we don’t never, we don’t really think and you’re making more money than most people in the world, especially in the US, as an engineer, you’re making more money than most people in the world. And so you really have no incentive to keep going down this, this rabbit hole of understanding business. But if curious person as I am, I really wanted to understand the money side of things more than just, you know, in my what happened in my bubble of engineering. And so that’s why I went to get my MBA and literally, week one, they dug right in. And I was like, Whoa, I was glued to class, you know, for the next 18 months. And, you know, if that’s who you are, go for it. But not all engineers want to be business people. And that’s okay. But at least know what where your strength is.


Alastair McDermott  08:44

Yeah, and it’s really interesting that you say that, because you’ve made me realize that I was in that bubble as well. So I was doing software engineering in college, and, and there was there was there was this bubble that I was in that where technology is good and clean and useful, and businesses bad and evil and negative, and, you know, unethical and all of that kind of stuff. And so I never would have considered, you know, I never would have been considered being self employed or being a business person. It would have been, it would have been literally laughable, you know, it just didn’t it didn’t occur to me at the time. And it’s it’s, it’s strange, but like it took it took me quite a while to come around to that and, and realize, you know, that if I embraced learning about business and business models, and all of this kind of stuff, that that would be really, really useful for me. And in fact, I completely flipped to the point that I was at an award ceremony that I was running from my local, my, my local kind of region. And so I was organizing this. And I actually said, you know, can I have everybody who’s an employee here? Please give a round of applause to their boss. Because they’re They’re the heroes here who are taking Seeing the risks, you know, I really believe that small business owners are heroes because they take risks, you know? And, and it’s a whole different ballgame when you when you do not because you know, somebody else’s mortgage is dependent on you. So, so yeah, I think I think I do want to make this though I do want to make this conversation really useful for the people who listen to the podcasts who are independent consultants. And like, Monique, you’re a super smart person I like I know that from talking to you. And from reading your, your posts on LinkedIn, the you have, like, you seem to have, like more than re embraced your knowledge of business and gone deep. Like it’s not just an MBA MBA that you have, you’ve you found it five companies, like what is it that that that drives you to do that? And can you can you just talk a little bit more about that? About about the whole, you know, the focus on business and, and what you get from that?


Monique Mills  10:57

Yeah, I think once I learned how people make money, that’s what I keep saying, I know, most MBA programs prepare people to be successful in corporate environments. But I took the tract for technology innovation, so we were focused on startups and where the future is going and creating a business from an idea. And so having had experienced that, like, I can spin up a business and a week, design a business model, do customer discovery, everything. And let me tell you what makes it so intriguing. It’s actually an experiment, when you’re springing a startup from an idea, you start with a hypothesis, just like in science, you start with a hypothesis, but we call it a business hypothesis. And you go out there, and you run tests and experiments. And that is the core really, of who I am. So you design experiments, solutions to the problems that you find, when you’re doing your discovery, as we would say, research in the field, and being able to do that and design solutions and innovative things and do that over and over again and make more money than you could have ever made in your life being just, you know, just an employee or you know, and not that you didn’t do, like I said, You do pretty well. But it’s incredible the amount of value that you provide, not just to yourself, but to other people. The impact that I’ve had with working with hundreds of companies as innovation consultant, right business consultant, and I work with mostly tech startups. It’s incredible, because I meet, and I mean, the most brilliant people ever, most brilliant people ever, that are trying to figure out this business thing. And to be able to help, you know, funnel that vision into focusing on not just creating a product, but looking at it as Who am I going to impact and how many people can I impact? It kind of brings out the emotional side of things, which I would just say, as engineers, that’s not how we’re trained. We look at ones and zeros black and white, you know that everything is very finite in our world. And so I’m addicted to the process. So that’s why even if I’m not creating another business, I’m working with other people as they create theirs. And my business, my consulting business revolves around helping, you know, TPM focus revolves around helping those who are trying to create something innovative in a new industry. And it doesn’t feel like work at all.


Alastair McDermott  13:45

Yeah, I want to I want to talk to you, you you say that it’s a strategy consulting firm. Can you talk a little bit about how you actually get clients for that business like you? Because you seem to have built an authority business? I’d like to dig into that a little bit.


Monique Mills  14:00

Yeah, you know what it first of all, everything happened, everything. And I had I hate to say by accident, but I didn’t plan to become a consultant that wasn’t in my plan, if I’m an engineer, so when I went to get my MBA, I really thought I really my initial planned, and even was in my application was that I’m going into sustainability. And I’m going to use the combination of what I know in engineering and apply it to people profit and planet, right. That was what I wanted to do with it. And the the main thing that I did when I started learning was I started executing right away, you know how some people do their MBA, and they wait till they complete it, and then they start trying to do little things and at work and, you know, maybe little things I didn’t do that I literally I quit my job. And I started working on a tech startup. That was my initial company. Right away. It was one of it was gone. To be our capstone project, but I ended up just starting it as a business on the side. And when you learn, implement, learn, implement literally daily and weekly, you learn at the fastest rate possible, which I didn’t know that at this time, I was just trying to get this business spun up, because I’m like, hey, you know, I’ve quit my job. And by the time I’m done with this program, I want to have a business setup. So,


Alastair McDermott  15:28

so no pressure.


Monique Mills  15:31

Yeah, right. So but I guess I liked that kind of pressure. But in that process, people would like in my program, I went to Georgia Tech. People say, how do you know this stuff? Because I started bringing even more value to the classes. And he’s like, how do you notice I was like, oh, because last week, this, this and this, and then if you meet with this person, you go there. And then this person does this. And then, and I knew marketing and sales roles, and how to developer, you know, comes into the process and appear requirements for that. And like all of these things, they like, how do you know that it was to the point where my professors were sending people to me and say, Oh, you started a startup, you should talk to Monique. And that’s really how it started. People will show up in the local Starbucks, because I used to go to class every weekend. It was a full time program. And I would go Friday through Sunday. And I would go be a Starbucks before class in the evening, just doing homework and stuff. And folks would show up and say, Hey, Professor, so and so said, come and talk to you, I’m thinking I have this idea. I’m working on this or that. And that’s that’s why I say happened by mistake. Because what people were showing up every week, and I’m like, Listen, I’m trying to get homework done. And you can’t show up here every week wanting my, you know, expertise on what you should do. And I started charging it, it was just a random number. I pulled out the air and I was like, oh, you know what, if you decide to come back, it’ll be $100. And people literally would show up with cash. And then they would say, Can I have one more hour and it would take out another $100. And I was like, Oh, I guess I am saying something valuable here. And then it was sent people and say yes, so and so said they met with you here. And that’s really how it happened. I was like, Well, let me set up like a calendar link. So I can just give it to people and Calendly, which a lot of people may be aware of now it’s it’s a unicorn startup that’s here in Atlanta, that’s when I first started using them, I created a free sketch scheduling link, really, because of that kind of demand. And I needed to control when people would just show up standing in front of my table. And from there, you know, I have my own tech startup I got, I got selected for private casting of Shark Tank. This wasn’t a long line waiting outside. It’s like an angel investor knew knew I was working on he had met me before. He knew the producers there, he told them, they needed to talk to me, like all of these crazy things was happening so quickly, within like the first eight, nine months of my startup, and I already had the product because I did my own architecture, you know, all these things that I was able to do, because I had the engineering background. So things moved really fast for me. And so I got in, I got into community, I would I put 15,000 business miles on my car, the first year of having that tech startup. So that goes to show you, I needed to meet with the venture capitalists to understand more about what they’re looking for, if they want to fund the business and all of that I drove they needed to meet at 730 because they had not I drove I went a lot of people are not willing to do that. So what ended up happening like, Wow, you really smart people will say something to you. I’m like, oh, okay, you know, I’m just learning this stuff. I’m just doing it, you know, and I want you to tell me why I shouldn’t have left my high paying engineering job to do this. I actually don’t want your money. I have my own money right now that I’m I’m using to build this business. I would love for you to tell me why this is the dumbest thing ever. And that’s how I approached everyone to help me. And I learned so much from these more experienced people, they started sending people to me. So now I got professors, venture capitalists, tech startup, incubators, accelerators, X, you know, exited entrepreneurs that has come that have companies that have come to them for like angel investment. It’s like, Hey, how about you talk to Monique and let me see what she thinks. So it kind of grew organically from there. And I would just do it here and there as I would put that money into my tech startup, you know, to keep it going some without hitting more into my bank account. But yeah, and so I started, I really started that way. And it just kind of grew.


Alastair McDermott  19:35

Yeah, I mean, it’s an amazing story. It sounds to me. I mean, like clearly you’re very smart person. It sounds to me like you work bloody hard as well. And that that’s a big part of it.


Monique Mills  19:46

I do it does it when you’re doing it. This sounds like such a cliche. When you’re doing it. It doesn’t feel like work. But I can tell you that during that time I was doing my MBA and Bill Linus tech startup, you know, at the same time, it was exhausting. I wouldn’t advise what I did for anyone, because I also have a family, I’m somebody’s wife, I’m to pee little people’s Mother, you know, so I run a household and, you know, I have commitments to my church. And, you know, and I’m doing the, you know, community thing and school. And so I’ve literally survived off for like, four hours asleep most times. And that is not sustainable. And so when I tell people, why did I cut my journey short and exit my company, I licensed it to a small business. And it’s because I was really burned out, I did not realize how much it took out of you to do this entrepreneurship thing. And also, when you’re building an innovation, right, something that does not exist, that you have to find product market fit for, like you’re really starting at the ground. And it takes a lot more effort to get something going. And so, you know, lessons learned.


Alastair McDermott  21:08

Yeah, it’s interesting, because, I mean, I’m sure a lot of people would want the success that you’ve had, and that they would look and say, Well, you know, I would be prepared to do that hard work if I could get there. So, you know, finding the balance between that and burning out and, you know, it not being sustainable. I think that’s, that’s what a lot of people are trying to do. I know a lot of people who listen to this, are, are still working on hourly rates on projects. And so if they stopped working, they stopped getting paid. And that’s one of the things that, you know, that I encourage people to do is disconnect and move to fixed price projects and things like that. So, yeah, so I really liked the, you know, asking, asking people, you know, why is this done? Why is this going to fail, and just being kind of embracing, embracing the negative feedback on your work and looking for that, I also think it sounds to me like a big part of your success, is the acceleration effect that you that you had in play, you did things very, very quickly, you move very quickly, I sometimes think that there’s more benefit to moving fast than, then we realize that, you know, releasing podcast episodes more often, or running blog posts more often or, you know, having more calls with people that actually moving faster can have these positive effects that are kind of outweigh the way the you know, it doesn’t to x what you get 10x is what you get, because you move faster. So do you think that acceleration was was important to you?


Monique Mills  22:42

I do, I believe that also being present. So this is the heart balance. You know, a lot of people that want to get into the startup world are not 20 something, they’re not drop college dropouts, that are, you know, trying to figure out this life at the same time, it’s figuring out business at the same time, it’s figuring out who they are as an adult and a person. That’s not the majority of startup founders, regardless of what folks see. And actually, that is not the majority of my clients. Most of my clients have had a very lucrative career as rather, as engineers, lawyers, all types of things, you know, DPS at companies, and they’re in their 40s Plus, trying to figure this out. And I was still I was I was younger than that, but not in my 20s. Right. And so it’s one of those things were, when you’re that age, you may have a family, you may have kids, you may have different things. And then, you know, depending on the roles in your household, you may carry more burden than your partner, things of that nature. And that’s why I survived on fire was asleep, because I was trying to keep everything. The same for everyone, especially in my household, because that comes first for me. So what I did, and I know everyone can’t do what I did. I know that. And so I try to tell people who want to know my stories, I want to do exactly what you did. I’m like, No, you don’t have like, we have different gifts and things we bring to it. And I say we have different stacks, right? We have different resource stacks, technology stacks, you know, money stacks, right? And so I had a part time nanny, I had someone that could come to my house when I went to class, make dinner for the kids clean up the kitchen. And then when my husband came home from work, you know, hand things over to him. I had someone that could take the kids bowling into the park, or the other thing was sometimes I would take the kids with me and they would see me they would sit at another table and this is the funny part. A lot of people that are you know, in the area who know me had seen this, but you know, many people don’t know this, but I would bring them with me. And I remember they were still in elementary school. And I bought them each little, little blazers. So my son, and my daughter had little business blazers and my my kind of brand, really, at that time was wearing a blazer and jeans. And so my kids would have on their little blazer, they would go sit at the table in a coffee shop with, you know, with their iPads, laptop, or hot chocolate, whatever. And they will see me at a table either across the room or nearby, and I will be conducting business. And so I did the best I could to blend in everything. And you know, a lot of things that I did with this development making calls, a lot of times they will be right there in the room, you know, or nearby. And so they would over here, because what is important to me now, first and foremost, was my family. And I tried to keep things as normal as possible for them. And I know everyone can’t do that. So you know, everyone can dress their kids and blazers, you know, dress professionally is, you know, seven and eight year olds to business meetings. Right?


Alastair McDermott  26:01

It’d be awesome if you could write, but


Monique Mills  26:06

I trained them, they sat at the table, they played their games, they did whatever, until it was time to go ahead. All right, let’s go. So you just got to be willing, you got to think through, like how long am I going to do this. And the time that I put into thinking about how I was gonna do it was just as equally was one of those things like with what I said with doing the MBA, I would think about or learn how to do it and it didn’t execute right away. And that’s, that’s why I was able to have that kind of fast, you know, moving execution because I’m not sitting back just pondering and afraid to make mistakes, just just do it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, you know, try something else.


Alastair McDermott  26:52

Yeah, yeah, I like that. And I think, you know, I like to take an experimental approach to, to marketing to the podcast, I mean, this podcast started kind of as an experiment. It was, it was low risk, I figured I knew what I wanted to do. But it was still an experiment. I’ll see how it goes. And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But I think it’s important to take those kinds of risks. Because I think if you take no risks, you’re, you know, your business eventually stagnates and dies. Because, you know, businesses is risk taking. So I think it’s good to try and make those educated risks. But we do we do have to take risks, you know, we do have to try things.


Monique Mills  27:30

It’s a lot of things, you just won’t know how no one and I always say this, I don’t know, I know, I don’t know, everything. I do know a lot of things about a lot of different topics. You know, if you look at my resume, like, wow, she’s to build power plants. Yeah, I did, I used to build power plants for Siemens, all over the US. I also build software, you know, also build buildings campuses. So all things in between, and, but I don’t know everything. And I know my limits, and that’s where consultants, that’s See, this is one of the things that I talk about with consultants, those that are in my, in my, in my network. Some people they want, they they want your expertise, whatever it is that that you provide, but they’re like, Ah, it’s gonna cost me this. Like, I don’t know, if I have the money and you know, and consultants actually accelerate your progress. Yeah, people who don’t understand that aren’t ready to work with you.


Alastair McDermott  28:25

That’s, that’s a good point is so I mean, is that, like, I’ve heard people talk about different, you know, different ways of summarizing what we do. And I think Brad Farris says, you know, what we really provide people with provide our clients is confidence. And that’s certainly one way to think of it and acceleration is another one. I think that’s quite interesting. You know, what we provide is acceleration. So, yeah, what advice would you give to somebody who is building a consulting business?


Monique Mills  28:54

Well, so this, this may sound controversial, but I’m actually a fan of one of these rule of thumbs that, that I’ve heard, especially if you’re under a million dollars a year, it’s like having a concentration and this is what you talk about, right? Like, be willing to sell one product or service or whatever it is to like one avatar customer using one marketing channel, right, really


Alastair McDermott  29:24

focused on the focused,


Monique Mills  29:26

simplify it, you know what, and then you definitely need to simplify your offering. Like especially in the beginning, when you when you offer you again, I know how to pay, draw, do hair, build buildings, code, copyright, I can listen, raise children, event plan, I can do financial models, you know, like the list goes on is no way I’m going to offer all of that to people, right? So I think people really, especially when you’re a technical person, I understand how you have all the These things that you may enjoy doing, but don’t give it to everybody. So minimize it so that you can create an offering that’s understood by the market.


Alastair McDermott  30:11

Right? Yeah, I like that. I like that. And I think that I think there’s a tendency to want to, you know, throw mud at the wall and see what sticks like, try everything. And you know, so what, what can you do for us? Well, here’s the 85 different things we could do. But I think that it, there’s a lot of different things that happen. You can, you can sound desperate, you can sound unprofessional, you can sound like you, you’re spreading yourself too thin. So you’re not truly an expert in anything. And, and that’s the, that’s the problem with that. But it goes against the, our subconscious mind is telling us our reptilian brain is telling us, you know, you can’t niche down, you can’t, you know, you need to cast a wider net. And so we’re trying to fight against that, you know, that it’s trying to protect us, you know, this was trying to do but you know, it ends up not serving us in that way. So yeah, so Simplify, simplify. I liked that one channel one product, one customer avatar. Oh, I like that. Yeah, that’s that’s a good way to put it.


Monique Mills  31:14

It’s controversial. Some people are like, what?


Alastair McDermott  31:17

Yeah, I will. I think that this audience, if they’ve listened to me talking about specialization, they’re probably already on that train, or at least, consider considering it. What so what, what else? And apart from the niching? Down thing? Is there anything else that you see consultants doing that? They probably should stop doing?


Monique Mills  31:35

Charge charging by the hour? That’s number one.


Alastair McDermott  31:39

Yeah, yeah. Yeah.


Monique Mills  31:40

When you charge by the hour, you basically put in a value a number $1 figure on the value, you can provide an hour and it’s not accurate. Alistair, you’re a software engineer, you can develop things, what you can accomplish in an hour can make me millions. Why would I only pay you 175 bucks for that?


Alastair McDermott  32:01

Yeah, absolutely. I agree. Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s because I think it’s because it’s an easy way to charge. And people start out because


Monique Mills  32:10

I’m not going to use the word easy, it’s lazy. Yeah.


Alastair McDermott  32:15

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s, it’s the default, you know, it’s the default mode. Everybody starts out that way. But I think you got to move away from it pretty quickly. Yeah, quickly, at least moved to fixed price projects, or maybe like productized services, right. And I had Ron Baker, the author of value pricing on and he talks about, you know, value pricing, and how, how to do it. Like even he said, you know, value pricing is very difficult to do. But if you can make it work, it can be a very lucrative way to do it. And it’s also a very fair way to do with where you charge for the value of what you’re providing. And that can mean, you know, 10, or 20x, in your prices, depending on what you’re doing. But you do that in collaboration with your clients, and they understand why you’re doing this. So I think that that’s a good way to go. And if you listen to my conversation with Jonathan Stark, and Ron Baker, earlier on in this in the in the podcast, probably Jonathan Stark was actually episode number two, I think Ron Baker was about 40 or so. I’ll put a link to those in the show notes. But yes, they both talk about value pricing. Was there anything that you wish you knew before you started?


Monique Mills  33:25

Yeah, I wish I knew that sales and marketing was the most important thing after you have a product or service to sell.


Alastair McDermott  33:32

Yeah, me too. Yeah.


Monique Mills  33:36

There’s no question. You see how quickly and easily I answered that question. Yeah, yeah, no doubt about it. Yeah. But being the person that I can see, I hate not knowing stuff. I don’t know if anybody else is listening. So you know how you talk about, we’re talking about accelerating, getting things done what I used to do with like, I had this one, hole, a few books that I’m like, Oh, I really need to understand this before I decide this portion of my business model when I was doing my software company. And I would literally, I taught myself to speed read, during the MBA, so that I could read faster and consume, but also understand, so I taught myself that before during the MBA, and it just got better and better. And so if there was something I needed to know, I don’t have time, for booking, trying to get someone to meet with me, and then maybe I can meet with them three weeks from now, like, I don’t have time for that. So I will literally find the book in the library. And there’s one book in particular that explain the business model of Groupon. I tell this story to my clients all the time. And I literally read that book in two days. And I read it read it, I was like, oh, yeah, I learned this. I know that. And it helped me not make the same mistakes that they made, you know, early on in the process. So when we’re when we’re talking about, you know, value pricing is well, you know, It’s one of those things where you help people avoid a lot of the landmines. A lot of the false starts a lot of the wrong paths, rabbit holes, all of that, which accelerates things for them.


Alastair McDermott  35:13

Yeah, back to acceleration. Yeah. And it’s like, I talk to people about mistakes and making mistakes, I think it’s a really important way to learn. But it’s also nice to learn from other people’s mistakes, so that you don’t make those and that you can move quicker. So I agree with that, too. In terms of sales, I know that’s something that engineers and experts consultants find difficult to do sales. Do you have any any piece of advice for for people who find selling difficult or maybe even they find it kind of like a little bit icky, or something trying to sell because they’re often selling themselves?


Monique Mills  35:47

Yeah, well, everything is sales, right? Even even when you’re going out for job interview. See, no one ever, ever gave us as technical people, this kind of perspective. And I think sales should be taught in every college like period, I don’t care what major is, I think every person needs to understand what sales is, and, and value proposition and all that stuff. But sales is just having a conversation, there’s nothing nothing icky about it. Especially when you start with just trying to understand and know people, like stop trying to push your product, like, Okay, I just want to understand your your, your your challenges and things that you enjoy. Like that’s it, just understand that sales is a conversation. So, you know, I was just talking about I read the book to read the to learn a business model real fast, because sales and marketing is so important. And I learned that I was in early, I was like, Oh, I went and did all kinds of sales training, read every book practice. All my, like, my kids, I would be like, Alright, guys. You, you know, that is at work. Let me let me practice this on unit like, oh, that sounds good. Like, I would literally do role playing and script writing and all of that, like, you have to really put yourself into it till you’re comfortable with it.


Alastair McDermott  37:03

I think the world is gonna be in trouble when you let those kids loose. Gonna, like rule the world.


Monique Mills  37:09

We were I have one who was actually completing her first semester of college at Stanford, and she’s a rising junior in high school. So yeah, so she’s doing pre med classes. And so that’s the thing is like, listen to you. I only have my little bubble, right? I don’t have family nearby just kids and husband and unfortunately, a lot of what I needed to do, and who I need to practice with fell on them. And somehow they all benefited I guess. But um, that’s that’s the important part of like, learning things really fast to the point where you’re comfortable with saying it with doing it with rehearsing it, and even with my client, and I say get help with my clients and I hired people to and I did sales training programs. And I practice like I said, I practice but even with my clients, what am I so how did that sales call go? You know, because my company helps align sales, marketing technology and customer success with financial goals, right? So everything has to be in alignment. So they said, Okay, I have this call with the customer. Okay, so excellent. How did you go? Would you say, Oh, it went fine. Okay, well, let’s roleplay Tell me tell me what you said. And, and Alastair, I literally will eat them up. And I’m like, No wonder you’re not closing deals. This is awful. And I’m not even the pro pro sales trainer, expert, whatever. I just know how to sell. And I didn’t know that. By the way. I was told that I could sell by two angel investors that wanted to invest in my company, because I had a sales team. This is the craziest part. Okay, I tell people learn from my mistakes. I had a sales team for my tech startup. And there actually ended up being six people. And I was out selling them. I learned you needed to actually set up a sales organization train them this. I didn’t know that at the point. I was just people who were excited to be along the ride with me and want it to do some so sales is where I need to help and the one of the angel investors said I think you should sell your own product. I think you need to get rid of everybody else. And then the other angel investor Hey, how about I go on a sales call with you with with one of the customers that want to meet you face to face? And I said yeah, sure. And I brought brought them along. It’s like you are one heck of a salesperson. I was like, really? I never saw myself that way. But like I said, I practice with the kids with it, but my heart still jumps out of my body. Because that’s not who I am. Right. It’s who I have to become in order to fulfill my ultimate purpose. Even this podcast and being this talkative. I’m an introvert. Like, this is not what I do. All day every day. I’m an introvert like me Most engineers, but most people find that hard to believe, because I understand the way I need to communicate in order to have maximum impact in this world during my time here, and what I’m supposed to be doing. And so if you need to get help, you need to practice you need to hire people. That’s what you need to do we in order to accomplish your purpose here on Earth.


Alastair McDermott  40:22

Yeah, I agree with that. I got help with this too. In fact, I, so I’m naturally an introvert as well. And a lot of people who meet me kind of would be surprised at that. Yeah. But when I was 15, I bought a book called How to make small talk, so that I could learn how to interact with other human beings.


Monique Mills  40:43

Nothing wrong with that. Well, that’s


Alastair McDermott  40:44

that’s the again, it’s the engineers approach to, you know, to personal relationships.


Monique Mills  40:49

learn anything, right?


Alastair McDermott  40:50

Yeah, yeah. Money. Do we have five more minutes? Or do we have to wrap it up? Because I have a few more questions want to ask you? Go ahead. Yeah, go ahead. Okay. First is what is the number one tip that you’d give to somebody who wants to build their authority?


Monique Mills  41:03

Oh, gosh, definitely. First of all: remain enouraged, because every time you post, everyone is not going to respond or engage with it. But remaining consistent, you know, as you share valuable information that’s entertaining, and maybe informative, but remain consistent in doing so. Because if no one knows what your messages are, or are aware you even exist, it doesn’t matter what service you provide, how smart you are, you know what you can do for them if they don’t know about it. So that’s that would be my top advice.


Alastair McDermott  41:40

Cool. I love it. What about a business mistake? Is there a business mistake or failure that you can tell us about? Because you sound like you’ve had a lot of success? But I’m sure there’s been a few what was


Monique Mills  41:50

tons of myths I told you about the one we’re hiring the salespeople. I mean, so a lot of the things I post and I tell people this, even on my LinkedIn, I’m like, Listen, I’m telling you this, because I made the same mistake, you know, but you have to be a person that’s willing to correct it right away, not fight against, you know, people who are trying to help you, they all they don’t understand they just being a hater, or whatever you may say. But I would say for me, especially when I was first getting started, I didn’t not know how important sales and marketing was. And so understanding to get that, that under that that in very early, but the main thing is is like what you don’t know, and you don’t have time for it, you don’t have the willingness to learn, hire somebody, like, either you’re gonna do this, or you’re not going to do it. I see so many businesses, and I call them zombie startups. You know, they exist, businesses exist, but they’re not. There’s no transaction involved. There’s no customers no revenue, they’re just having conversations and telling people they’re entrepreneur. But who are you providing value to? And what value are you being provided? So I can just really also that really goes back to understanding sales and marketing. And that all of that involves communication with people.


Alastair McDermott  43:20

Yeah, yeah. I think you know, that’s what I really love about when you follow an authority style business model, it makes those conversations much easier. Because the sales conversation, the communication, it’s much easier, in part because people already know what they want to talk to you. But you don’t have to do the hard yards. Yes, yeah. Is there a business book or resource that’s been important to do you’d recommend, particularly to somebody who’s a consultant,


Monique Mills  43:47

oh, man. So I would say I have so many different books. And there’s, there’s actually one behind me that I recommend to read to your consultant, or tech startup, or whatever it is. It’s called where to play. And I know Sharon tall is one of the authors. But it’s called where to play and so that you know how we were just talking earlier about how people don’t they have too many things that they offer, or can offer too many people they want to serve in these different markets and all this like that, that book, where to play helps you really fine tune who you’re you know, who you’re going to serve and why. What makes most sense. And so I recommend that book to quite a few people, and it’s actually on the shelf behind me.


Alastair McDermott  44:36

Cool. And that’s “Where To Play” by Marc Gruber and Sharon Tal, and I’ll link to that in the show notes. Awesome. And what about fiction to read any fiction Do you have do you have any downtime?


Monique Mills  44:47

I do, but I tend I miss I’m a little bit of a sleepy head so I just have to be honest, I tend to fall asleep. If no matter how it


Alastair McDermott  44:58

really shocks because it sounds like You worked very hard.


Monique Mills  45:00

Yeah. I didn’t realize how mental stimulation actually makes you physically tired. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t. Again, these are things I’ve learned over time. But yeah, I think like, why haven’t went to the gym today? Like, why am I so sleepy, you know, mental stimulation all day thinking and brainstorming and all of that. It’s actually very tiring on your body. But one thing that keeps me awake is “The Ozarks”. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that show.


Alastair McDermott  45:29

I have. And you’re not the first person to say that. Yeah,


Monique Mills  45:33

I love it. And it was filmed here in Atlanta, by the way, so I had some of the stuff I recognize. Yeah.


Alastair McDermott  45:39

Oh, very cool. I think Joe Jacobi, who is a recent guest, he’s an Olympic gold medalist. I think he likes that show as well. There you go.


Monique Mills  45:49

That’s the craziest part about this show. Because my my business mind is always going. And I’m looking at for people who watch it. But I’m looking at the business model of the mobsters that are involved in the businesses that the main character starred and how they’re able to, like, you know, do all this just crazy stuff with money. And I’m explaining Oh, yeah, I’m telling my family. This is how it is goes under the radar, because, you know, XYZ, so I’m still analyzing it. But I love that show. That’s one show I’ve never fallen asleep on.


Alastair McDermott  46:24

Very cool. Well, I said at the start of the show that you’re one of the smartest people that I follow on LinkedIn. And I hope that the listeners, anybody who has gotten this far in the show, realized that I wasn’t making things up. Monique, thank you so much for being on the show. It’s been a pleasure to chat. Oh, one last thing. I should I should ask you, where can people go if they want to learn more if they want to find you? You


Monique Mills  46:46

know what the easiest way to just to go to Monique Mills dot biz, because you can link to my LinkedIn from there and all the different companies stuff I’m involved in. So yeah, Monique mills. And that’s m ONIQUEMILL s dot biz. You can also go It’ll just send you over to DAP is because I own that too.


Alastair McDermott  47:11

Cool. Yeah. And we’ll link to that in the show notes as well. And and check out money con on LinkedIn as well. Yeah. Well, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the extra five minutes. I really appreciate that. And we appreciate your time today. Thanks for having me. Thanks for listening. And don’t forget if you’re interested in learning more about getting some coaching peer support accountability on your journey to authority. The next authority labs cohort will be starting in September. So if you want to learn more about how you can build your authority, grow your income, have some support while you’re doing it, check out the interest list at the recognized Catch you in the next one.


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