We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Sanchez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
I think most of my success can be chalked up to making the decision to go after things despite my fears and imposter syndrome. As entrepreneurs (or, really, anyone pursuing big, audacious goals), we’re constantly confronted by new obstacles, scary “firsts,” and the nagging voice of self-doubt. As cliche as it may sound, growth really does happen outside your comfort zone.
For example, this year, I started speaking professionally and it has taken my business to a whole new level. But the truth is, I spent my entire life scared to death of public speaking! In fact, I nearly quit graduate school just short of earning my master’s degree because I was required to publicly present my thesis. Imagine spending two years knee-deep in academic journals and original research only to give it all up because you’re scared to speak for an hour! That was almost me, but I refused to let fear win.
Now, when people say they admire me for being able to speak professionally and that they wish they could, too, I tell them my story. I want people to understand that my fear of speaking was absolutely crippling and that it held me back in many ways over the years. And, honestly, I didn’t “get over” my fear in order to speak; I spoke despite my fear. I believe the only way to get to the other side of fear is to go right through it. Whatever you might be scared to do, do it anyway, even if that means doing it scared.
What should our readers know about your business?
In nutshell, I help industry experts grow their audience, authority, and impact with irresistible storytelling and brand messaging magic. I do this primarily through speaking, training, and educational content like blog posts, podcasts, and digital courses.
How I got here is a long story, but I’ll give you the cliff notes. I became interested in marketing at a very young age, before I really knew anything about the industry. I knew I liked magazine ads just as much as the articles, I knew I liked to tell stories (bless my family for listening to me), and I knew I liked to create fliers and brochures on our clunky ‘90s computer. But having grown up on hand-me-downs in a small town where cows outnumber people, I didn’t really know where this interest could take me.
Fast forward to community college where I took my first marketing class and it hit me: I can do this for a living! I worked in Corporate America for a bit, but I quickly realized I was far too creative and independent to stick to a rigid schedule and work on the same thing day after day. From there, I started freelance writing and consulting, which took off. I was able to buy a home (my dream!) and work on my terms. Then, I was hit with the “what’s next?” bug (I’m a future thinker through and through).
I pivoted into teaching others what I know instead of providing “done-for-you” services. As someone who values education deeply and loves to mentor, this was a natural next step. I used my 10+ years of experience in marketing and communications to create my proprietary Cornerstone Stories Method, which is my unique approach to teaching industry experts how to nail their messaging and build a profitable thought leadership brand. I’m thrilled to be fully aligned in my talents, passions, and expertise; I feel like I’m finally living my purpose.
As you can see, my journey has been anything but straightforward (and I’m not done yet!). It’s not like getting on the freeway and quickly arriving at your destination. It’s more like navigating your way through a new city without GPS, taking the wrong exit, getting lost on arterial roads, backtracking at times, and finally getting on the freeway headed in the right direction. If you’re ever been lost in an unfamiliar place, you know how stressful it can be. When you’re growing a business, you can choose to be stressed the entire time, or you can choose to see it as an adventure — a once-in-a-lifetime road trip — and make awesome friendships and memories along the way. I recommend the latter.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in the Pacific Northwest and absolutely love it. The Seattle area has so much to offer! If I had a week to show someone around and play tour guide, I’d be hard pressed to squeeze everything in.
+ The Space Needle, because you can’t visit Seattle without going up to the top
+ Pike Place Market and the Seattle waterfront (this includes the gum wall, which is all at once fascinating and disgusting — the makings of a great social media post)
+ The University of Washington campus (my alma mater!); it has such gorgeous old architecture and beautiful cherry blossoms every spring
+ We’ve got sports (Seahawks! Mariners! Sounders!) as well as tons of concerts and museums, so whatever you’re into, there’s bound to be an event
+ The underground tour, because who doesn’t want to walk around a city under the city?
+ A coffee tasting at the very first Starbucks (or one of the city’s many other coffee tours)
+ How about a chocolate factory tour, too? Theo Chocolate is made in Seattle
+ We can’t forget about the hiking opportunities just outside the city, either, so I’d definitely head somewhere like Rattlesnake Mountain to show off our outdoor scene
+ Want more outdoor adventures? Snoqualmie Falls offers majestic scenery and day hikes (and a nearby spa for post-adventure pampering)
+ With the region’s incredible diversity, we’d eat somewhere new every day: Authentic pho? Done. Ethiopian cuisine? No problem. Street tacos? Let’s go! You name it, we’ll find it.
Truly, this is just the tip of the iceberg…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people I could name! But over the past few years, I’m especially grateful for my mom, Stella Columbia, and fellow entrepreneurs, Glady Dalton and Yolanda McAdam, for tirelessly listening to my ideas and regularly rehashing business plans.
As far as books go, Jen Sincero always lights a fire under my butt and Brené Brown never fails to help me grow in beautiful (sometimes painful) ways. But honestly, I think I owe the biggest shout out to the entire mystery/suspense genre!
Growing up, I devoured mystery novels and, honestly, I believe they played a massive role in developing my storytelling and copywriting skills. Want to learn how to write copy that makes people keep reading? Sure, Ogilvy is great, but pick up a well-written mystery and you can learn so much from analyzing how the masters of suspense keep you turning the page all night long.
Photographer (all photos): Glady Dalton of Heart Take the Wheel