Where you won’t find trendy business tactics, but you will find truthful insights and timeless stories from leaders to look up to.
Ep. 011 | Curate Conversations With Pia Beck
“It’s how you’re operating your business behind the scenes. Like who are you in the dark and what are you doing in your everyday life? I think it’s so easy to put up a shell of a company or to offer services and fake it till you make it.” — Magi Fisher
PODCAST SHOW NOTES
In this episode, we talk about integrity as a business owner. Our conversation spans how you’re operating your business behind the scenes, removing emotions from customer disputes (and what not to do including blacklisting — we reference some big brands who are doing this well and not so well, and why it’s so important to build your business with a professional foundation that includes sound legal infrastructure.
I hope you enjoy this episode.
Links mentioned in this episode:
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Music created by Queentide.
This is episode 11 of Curate Conversations. I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie Fisher. She’s a curate client, long standing. She’s our legal counsel for Curate Well Co and she’s also the founder of several legal businesses and several creative businesses she’s [00:01:00] been on kind of both sides of legal interactions as a creative entrepreneur, herself, and as a licensed attorney, which gives her a really unique perspective.
I’ve gotten to know Maggie well since 2020, and I can’t wait for you to know her too In this episode, we talk about integrity as a business owner, several definitions of what that means, and also what it looks like in application and in practice, . Our conversation spans how you’re operating your business behind the scenes and why that matters. Removing emotions from customer disputes and what not to do during customer disputes, including blacklisting.
We referenced some really big brands who are doing this really well and some not so. And we also talk about why it’s so important to build your business with a professional foundation. That includes sound legal infrastructure. I can’t wait to hear what you think.
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All right. Welcome Maggie. I’m so excited for this conversation. I’ve been looking forward to this for very many months. And the topic is something that I can’t wait to get into. So thanks for being.
Yeah, thank you for having me.
So the first question I always like to start with is in your own measure of success. Tell us about your growth as a leader, as a business owner, across all of your brands, cuz you have many, we’ll talk about that. Um, so this could be like number of contract templates [00:04:00] sold for the Artist Lawyer, or it could be the growth of any of your other brands or even just like a sentiment that defines your company’s approach, whatever feels like your measure of success.
Yeah, I would say, being able to sit on the beach on a weekend and know that we have events going and our team out there and everything is running and I can fully shut off for a long weekend. Definitely checks my box of measuring success. And then of course at the end of the year, like looking at overall revenue with our accountant and streams of income and where things came from, like that’s, that’s always going, going to do it for the business side of things too.
Yeah. The sitting on the beach is definitely a measure of success for me too. I think that that’s like one of the beautiful things about owning your own business is like people say you get to build your business around your life. And to be like totally honest, my business, like is totally the priority in my life right now.
Like the rest of my life forms [00:05:00] around my business. And though like definitely created my business to be able to live somewhere where I can go to the beach on a Wednesday evening and take a walk and wind down. So I’m with you on that.
Totally. I was gonna say, I didn’t even, I didn’t even know what events were going on this weekend. As I’m sitting on the beach. I had no idea what was happening. Like this is great. . Yeah.
That is great. I think that’s a huge, like measure of success too. The fact that you’ve like really successfully built, uh, one of your brands Magdalena Studios into something that like really truly does run without you at this point. Um, And that you’ve still been able to capture like the essence and like the special sauce that like you infused into it when you were running it every single day.
And that has maintained its like form as you’ve continued to grow. That’s huge. So on that note,
So on that note, you are the founder and leader of several brands. I know that you don’t necessarily [00:06:00] identify as a serial entrepreneur, but I would totally call you a serial entrepreneur. And, um, the first thing that I wanna know since you do have all of these different brands that are like related and not is what are some of the leadership philosophies that you subscribe to?
Yeah, I mean, that’s a real, that’s a good question. And it’s funny. I, I know there is that word, serial entrepreneur out there. But it never feels like that for me, because it’s just two things like photography and law that I’m passionate about and just kind of. Transpired into these businesses that I just felt like I had to run and put out into the world.
Um, but when it comes to leadership, I always, you know, we have, we have team members on all sides of our business. So on the law side, we have, another lawyer that’s working for us. On like the law firm and like the contracts template side of things. And then we have, our social media and marketing team and we have our [00:07:00] photographers that work for us.
And we always want it to be as easy as possible for everyone. Like our, they are my number one priority in everything that I’m doing, they come first. I mean, a lot of people say the client comes first for me, my team comes first. I trust them implicitly. I do everything to make their lives easier. I want them to make money.
I want them to feel successful. I want them to enjoy what they’re doing and, um, Everything that like we do improvement wise and building wise is to make everything more seamless for them. Because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who are providing the experience to our clients and are representing our brand and us.
And we can only, you know, I always, I never want anyone to feel like resentful or like not happy in what they’re doing. And, um, that’s always at the forefront of my mind as a leader.
I think you’re speaking to something that’s super important, which is that when you bring people onto your team, they [00:08:00] are representing you and they’re representing the business. And having them like fully enrolled plays, in my opinion, a really critical part in like the integrity of the whole system. Which is what we’re talking about today, right.
Is like integrity as a business owner. And there’s a lot of definitions of that. And we’ll talk about what all those definitions are, but to your point, they’re the ones who are providing. The experience to the clients, right? And so if they’re not in integrity with their own role inside the company, it’s gonna trickle out into the client experience into the revenue streams, into everything else.
So that like from the inside out approach, I think is really important, especially when you are growing and you start to step back from being as involved in the client work.
What are some of the challenges that you faced as your role has changed? Like as your businesses have grown, as you have started to step back, focus on different things, spin up [00:09:00] other brands that are all related to these two big passions. What have like the biggest challenges for you as a leader?
Right. I think that the, my biggest challenge also probably aligns with most other business owners and leaders’ challenges in that. It’s really hard to let go of control and to delegate. Especially with something that is creative work or personal work or something as serious as legal. It’s really, really, really hard to let go of that control.
But that is the only way that, that you can gain that freedom and that scalability. And, you know, sometimes it’s hard sometimes, you’re paying your, your team for things and you’re like, you know, Might be paying for duplicate work or you have to redo things or things aren’t done.
Right. So they have to be redone. Um, and it’s easy to look at those little things and those moments and to be like, oh, I just like, you know, we wasted this [00:10:00] time or this money and, or I should just do this my myself. Um, but big picture, all of those little moments are learning experiences and none of those little moments in my opinion are.
The big picture of, of having a team and, you know, versus being someone, if I were to take it all on and do it all myself, like it’s not worth it. Um, I’d rather pay for those mistakes and those little moments that, you know, you, you, you wanna be like, why didn’t I just do that myself, but it’s
Totally. And I think it’s, I think when you’re in growth mode too, like that confronting piece about like the cost is probably the most intimidating thing to people. Right. Of like, Ugh, like I’m paying this person to do this thing, or I invested this amount of money to outsource this thing, or, um, it took this much more amount of time than it would’ve taken me or this other person or whatever.
And I think that, that for a lot of people, myself included is like the most [00:11:00] confronting piece. Right. And I think that it ties back into what you were saying before, where like, if your team is the priority and you’re continuously making things easy for them and setting them up for success. Those do get to be learning moments and almost like investments into like the future of the business.
I had a mentor once who talked about it as making a donation to your future. Right? So like you maybe pay more for it right now, but you’re like donating it. You’re donating it to the future of your business until they picture vision. And what, you know, it’s gonna be in a year, three years because of that learning because of that investment.
I love that
So, like I said, what I wanna talk about today is integrity as a business owner. Um, and I wanna start by defining what integrity means to you. And just some context for everyone listening. So Maggie and I were talking one day, like quite a while ago at this point about the implications of the, on this like online business phenomenon that we both have crossover [00:12:00] in.
And neither one of us really like fully identifies with. And, I see it because of like the space that I’m in Maggie sees it through like some of the legal work that she does and. Entrepreneurship is more accessible than it’s ever been. Right? Like there’s a low barrier to entry with like the online business space, which is cool.
Right. It’s, it’s great that that’s like a, an accessible thing for people, especially when like a lot of the narrative around entrepreneurship in the past has been like, it’s hard, it’s a struggle. You have to like earn your stripes. Um, and because there’s a low barrier to entry, there’s also this like very low barrier of like checks and balances.
And so that’s how we arrived on this question of integrity is we’re in an industry where you, like, you kind of have to check yourself. Which is super weird and it probably won’t be like that forever. And there’s so much to like go into here. And I think that the right place for us to start is like, what does integrity mean to you?
How do [00:13:00] you define that?
Yeah, I, we, I feel like I could talk about this situation with online entrepreneurs all day. And that is like, you know, integrity is so, important in business. For me you know, when I, when I saw that question, I thought back to my childhood and my mom used to constantly remind me that, above the toilet paper role, growing up for her, there was a sign that says characters who you are in the dark, because my grandma would get so upset.
If somebody didn’t like replace the role for the next person.
Go grandma. Um, but I mean, I think that’s so true when it comes to business as well. It’s like, it’s who, it’s how you’re operating your business behind the scenes. Like who are you in the dark and what are you doing in your everyday life?
Like. I think it’s so easy to put up a shell of a company or to offer services and fake it till you make it. and it’s funny because [00:14:00] even now talking about this and thinking back, I remember being a young photographer and similar conversations. It was so easy for anyone to pick up a camera and be a photographer over the last, like five years.
Everyone’s this natural light photographer because no one did the work of learning flash let alone like dual memory cards and backing up your systems and your hard drives and like, All the things that I’m like, I’m doing, I’m making so much money for insurance and all of these safety measures and you know, all doing all the right things.
I’m losing work to people who are actually losing files and like not delivering wedding days. And, you just, you don’t know that when you look at the front of someone’s business on the internet. You see pretty photos, good branding. Good copy speaking to what you’re looking for. And, at the end of the day, like it, it comes down to integrity and like, [00:15:00] what, I mean, I feel like re even reviews and testimonials.
Like I’ve seen a lot of people doctor them. I have had people co like, you can reverse search your copy on online. And I’ve had people lift testimonials from me to apply to their own business.
Oh, my gosh.
So even it’s like hard to know, you know, how do you know that somebody’s running this business with integrity?
But for me, you know, I, how I check myself is like, how are we treating our team? And for me that’s like, even like, how am I treating my partner? And I think like for me, that’s. That’s the biggest thing, because you take your work home. And my husband is my business partner and, you know, do I get frustrated with him?
How am I communicating things with him? And like, that is the biggest, like, who are you in the dark? How are we like running our business together? Because then that’s disseminating to our team, which is disseminating to everybody else. So I think it’s really important. Like, if you’re running your business on your own or however, [00:16:00] like checking in that entire. Like even are you being good to yourself? Are you setting boundaries and are you setting up professional foundations are. I think the people that do those things are the ones that last and the ones that survive and shine through at the end of the day.
Everything you said, I think is just so spot on. That was so good. And I think that the idea of like, it’s like what you said about it’s so easy to like spin up a shell. Right. It’s really easy to like build the shell and put it out there. But it’s what happens on the inside of your business that nobody sees that in my opinion, too, is what makes a business like last and survive.
And I think that it’s like, that’s the hard stuff, right? Like it’s not hard to put up pretty photos to have good branding, to write, to get excellent copy for your brand. Right. And not to like discredit all of the business owners who provide those services. Like those are important things and my experience like that is the easiest and also like most fun part of running a [00:17:00] business.
And it’s all of the stuff that’s happening, like on your, zoom meetings and in your legal documents and with your business partners and how you feel about all of it. That is I think what sets it up to survive in the long haul. I think that that long sighted business philosophy is something that at some point, like started to fade with the glamorization of entrepreneurship, right.
It was like, oh, anyone can spin up this shell and people somewhere along the way started to like devalue all of that, like work that goes on in the inside and almost like discounted a little bit. What do you think it takes or what do you think it’s going to take to have that. I don’t wanna say like, come back, but like, how do we like support that in like the business owners of today, tomorrow?
that’s [00:18:00] hard. I mean, I think it, it, I think that discernment in like customers and how you use your dollars is really what it comes down to. And I mean, if you take like, Ted Talk or something, for example. Where we’re being marketed to all and Instagram all the time with like, like to know it and everyone’s posting their Amazon links.
Like, you know, that’s what gets you for a little bit at first. And like, you kind of get it. You’re like, Ooh, add your cart. Ooh, that looks great. And then you start acquiring, like, at least for me, I feel like I’ve fallen for that. And I’ve been like, oh, let me open that my browser and save it for later. And you know, now I feel like as consumer.
I don’t know if this resonates with you or I’m sure other people that you start to become, like we’ve been so inundated with like all of these links and things that it’s like, okay, I actually don’t need another three pack of sports bras. Like I’m, I’m good. I’d rather get like one really good one from [00:19:00] Lululemon or like, and maybe that’s like a customer purchase path too. But I think it’s the same thing with business owners and unfortunately, it’s a learning experience with newer business owners. I have had those experiences. Like I hired an SEO company for like $5,000 when I started out and they just ghosted and there ended up being a Facebook group of like 150 people that this guy did that to. And so I learned, and this, this was like five years ago too, you know, don’t pay in, get an Amex business card, use PayPal.
Um, you know, even I finally. Recently hired an SEO company again. I was like, I need to see the work before I do this second payment, or, you know, you become a little bit more savvy as you have these experiences. And I think being, if you’re a savvy business owner, you’re going to join groups and invest in learning experiences and [00:20:00] community and things that are going to guide you in that direction and be a sounding board for where and how to invest.
But the Internet’s a scary place.
Yeah, it totally is. Um, and I agree. I think that it definitely comes with learning experiences right. To your point and, and how we started this conversation. Like there’s gonna be missteps along the way. And I think that’s a whole other like angle on integrity that we can talk about in a second is like, when you are a bus, no business owner and you do make a misstep, like how do you own that?
Like, I think that’s part of integrity too. Like how do you take responsibility for that? And there’s like an ego question in there also that I wanna dig into. But I do think it comes with experience. And I also think that it takes, like modeling it to other people. Right. Like I think that one of the things that’s really important to me that I definitely didn’t used to do, but as my business grew and I got a little bit more seasoned realized was really important to me was to model that like, yeah, it’s not as sexy as it looks.
Right. Like. [00:21:00] there’s many a night where I’m sitting in bed, like pretty late at night, wrapping up, whatever thing is like due that day or there’s days where I’m really, really overwhelmed because I had this call that was like, just kind of started my day off on like, not a great foot. Or I, when I take time off, like what does that actually look like?
And just trying to like pull back the curtain and say like, I love being a business owner. I love being an entrepreneur. It does give me freedom in a lot of ways. And I’m not always like sitting on the beach, having no idea what’s going on in my business. Right. My team can pretty much reach me, like whenever they want to, if they need to.
And like, it’s not super sexy all the time. And there’s sacrifices that I’ve like made in other areas of my life that I’ve chosen to make. Um, but just being really honest about like, this is what this actually looks like, right. I’m not gonna market it to you as like this, like golden ticket of whatever it is. Like there’s the reality is that you have to [00:22:00] choose what’s important to you and there’s like priorities and yeah, I think that’s really important too. Another definition, and our community’s really familiar with this cause I talk about it all the time, but I feel like I wanna mention it here. Another definition of integrity that we subscribe to at Curate Well Co that is, I think, additional to. What we’re talking about here is this idea of workability.
And, I read this article and I’ll, I’ll make sure that we link it in the show notes about a new definition of integrity. That is not necessarily like moral or ethical. Right. It’s not good or bad or right or wrong. It’s just like the way that you talk about a bridge having integrity. Does it hold up? Is it stable?
Is it workable is the term that this article uses and the way that we do that as people, is by honoring our word. Right. Do you say what you mean? Do you mean what you say? Do you do what you say you’re gonna do? And like, it’s just as simple as that. And it’s the same thing that we’re talking about here.
[00:23:00] Just it’s about your word. Right? Did your customer actually give you that testimonial or did you lift it off of someone else’s website? Do you fulfill on the work in your scope of cer like scope of work or do you not deliver, even though someone paid in full, like it’s all just honoring your word. And I think that in a world where we are marketed to constantly and our word has become so fleeting.
or manipulated or, something else that like returning to that of like, yeah. If you don’t have a contract in place, but you give someone your word, can they count on that?
Um, it’s funny. A lot of people operate in that way, where they do operate off of word of mouth. And these are, you know, if I don’t operate that in that way as a lawyer, but I have a lot of, clients and colleagues and friends who are very resistant to contracts. And they’re doing they’re at the top of their industry.
They’re doing really big jobs, worth [00:24:00] hundreds of thousands of dollars on a handshake deal on word of mouth, because that, that integrity means more to them than a contract.
Agree with you that like, maybe not the best way to like operate a business at, at any scale, but especially at that scale. And though I do think that that’s really beautiful, right. That they like value their word to that degree of, and they’re so, um, committed to that. I think that’s, I think that says a lot and I think that people can tell if that’s how you run your business or not, regardless of whether you have a contract in place.
Yeah. And I think it comes down to too. How, how do you make things, right? Or how do you remedy things? If you have an unhappy client and what are you doing to make it right? If someone’s not happy with the work that you’ve provided or that you’ve done. And, you know, I know for us with like with COVID last year, our studio had over, it was like 110 weddings.
And we we’re in the business of people being, we want everyone to be [00:25:00] happy with us. It’s like our work. And, you know, it’s, it’s rare that we have someone come back and say anything at all, but in those situations it’s like, okay, we’re gonna go above and beyond to make these situations right.
Yeah, totally. That was gonna be my next question, which is about like restoring integrity. And I think this is another kind of like freeing thing about this definition that we like to subscribe to is that you can fall in and out of integrity. And like that happens sometimes. Right? Of course we hope that it doesn’t. And sometimes it does. And it’s less about like never being out of integrity and more about like, how do you restore integrity? How do you get back into integrity? How do you make it right? How do you own your role in the situation? How do you, uh, set a new word that allows everyone to, to move forward in the relationship.
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I think, I think you said it in the question too. I mean, owning, whatever it is is the number one, the number one step. The number one [00:26:00] thing that you can do is just owning it. And, and acknowledging it and taking a step. I mean, I see a lot of business owners, in their responses to situations, maybe not taking blame.
Or not taking accountability or deflecting or, you know, putting it on another business owner or, oh, the client didn’t give me like this questionnaire or didn’t respond in this amount of time. And it’s a matter of like, well, what could have I done differently? what do we need to change? What kind, what can we learn from this situation?
Um, and take, you know, a, a client wants to hear that too. That you’re taking some sort of accountability. If you did something wrong. I mean, of course there’s clients that believe sometimes too. Um, if you’re in a situation where, you know, you feel like your integrity’s been compromised, then you have to take ownership of that and do anything.
And you kind that you kinda make it right, because that one situation could crumble your whole business. In my opinion, and this reputation that you’re building.[00:27:00]
Totally. And I think even if you haven’t done anything wrong, there still is always something to learn from the situation. Right? So let’s say you do have one of those clients that’s upset and you feel really strongly that you, you didn’t actually do anything wrong. I still think there’s an opportunity to take ownership of the fact that you like landed in that situation to begin with. Right. So even if you don’t think that you really did anything wrong, there still is an opportunity to be like, what can I learn from this? How can I like not put myself in this, in like a potential client or a future client in this position? In the future?
Or should this have been in my contract somewhere?
Yeah, exactly. Good plug.
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Um, so, okay. So on that note, what are the legal implications of a breakdown of integrity? Like you mentioned, if you’re building this reputation, like your business can crumble. Let’s say someone does something shady. Like lift a testimonial off of a website or doesn’t fulfill on the scope of work, but takes the money or I don’t know, whatever, like weird thing might come up.
Can you talk us through from the business owner’s perspective? Like what are the legal implications of being out of integrity in your business?
Right. So, I mean, I think this is for, from a [00:30:00] true, true legal perspective, it’s going to come down to the situation and the terms. Like what, what is like the, you know, The actual thing that’s happened. If you’ve listed lifted somebody’s testimonial, they could send you a cease and desist. They could also out you in a very large Facebook group.
And now you’ve damaged your reputation to like hundreds of thousands of people I’ve seen that happen. Or if you don’t deliver something like that, word of mouth in a small community can get around pretty quickly. That’s not, the, the legal implication. The legal implication, you might have a breach of contract.
You might, they might have some sort of like recourse. Um, you know, if you’re in those kinds of situations. And I mean it’s, and at the end of the day too, that’s why you’re going to wanna handle it with integrity too, because ideally. If you say, you know, you make a mistake, like you lift a testimonial and you handle it with grace and say like, I [00:31:00] shouldn’t have done this and I’ll take it down right away.
You might have a little bit more, less legal implications than trying to stand by something that you know is wrong or that you shouldn’t have done. It’s gonna depend on like what the situation was too.
Yeah. Yeah, totally. And, and even if we scale it back to like a less dramatic situation right. Where it’s like, let’s say that you, that you don’t have an agreement in place for whatever reason. Like, what are like, that has integrity implications that are like, not necessarily like dramatic and serious, but like can affect your business.
What does that look.
Yeah. I mean, yeah. And like outside of legal ramifications, um, you know it’s gonna be like your reputation. It’s going to be, loss of trust and clientele and. you don’t know where they could take that. Um, I’ve seen that go a number of ways and then you’re dealing with, posts maybe on social media or Facebook and, that kind of thing.
So, I [00:32:00] mean, and I do think these things can work to be restored over longevity and that’s kind of, I think it is everyone makes mistakes in like the beginning of their business. You don’t, you don’t always realize.
even later in your business, I feel like business is just like a constant stream of like small and large and medium size mistakes that you, all you can do is move forward.
Totally. Yeah. And it’s how you handle it.
totally. I would even come back to say that, like, if you don’t have an agreement in place, but we come back to this definition of integrity is honoring your word.
There’s no word. Right. What did you agree to? Like no one knows. Right? And so there’s a breakdown in like the workability of the relationship. You can’t move forward in a productive way. If there’s no word that you’re both operating off of.
Totally. Yeah. And I think, you know, even if you do have a contract that, for example, like say a client’s unhappy with the work that you’ve delivered and your contract says that you don’t have to return [00:33:00] any amount of funds, X, Y, and Z. You still can, you might break what your contract , you know, I always say your contract can be the bad guy.
You can be the good guy. You can go a little easier than what your contract says. As long as you have a non waiver clause , and. In those situations too, like that might come, come back on, like you said, a donation to your future of, of freezing up of like, just let this person be a little bit, little bit happier.
Make thi like make them like go along the way easier versus having this like bad blood out there in like a small community or a kind of relationship, where it just feels more amicable. It just sometimes is worth it. Even if your contract allows you to keep some amount of payment or whatever it may be.
Totally a hundred percent. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions when people kind of like shy away from the legal part of their business, right? Like I hear this all the time where people are like, oh, I don’t wanna get lawyers involved. Like, can we just talk through it? And,[00:34:00] I think that the sentiment behind that is, is valid.
And I also think that people don’t realize that you can always act differently than the term, then the terms in your agreement outline, right. You could always scale it back. It’s like a protective umbrella and you have more room to operate underneath it. Than, if you don’t have it at all. And it actually just gives you like more freedom to show up in that situation, in like an amicable way. Yeah. So we mentioned this like ego thing earlier, and that part of integrity is like owning when something doesn’t go the way that it was intended to go or that you wanted it to go, or you didn’t know any better or like whatever the situation is. And I think that, as, as your business grows, The number and like size of vulnerabilities increase too, right?
Like as you expand your exposure, it can expand also. And I see this [00:35:00] weird thing that happens in some businesses, in a lot of businesses, I think it just looks different depending on the industry where there’s this like weird balance of power and accountability, right. Where like, as a business gets so big, they think that they have so much power that they like distance themselves from the accountability piece.
Right. They’re like untouchable. Right where it’s like, we’re so big or we have this leverage or we’re so integral to this consumer’s daily life, or we have this reputation or whatever it is that, they think that there’s less vulnerability. And I think I’m definitely of the belief that as a business grows bigger it’s a responsibility. It’s the, it should be. Every business is responsibility to have more integrity, the bigger you get, because now people are looking to you as an example. And the number of people’s lives that can be impacted by your actions is bigger.
what are your [00:36:00] thoughts? Um,
I mean, I, I know exactly what, what you’re getting at with, I, a lot of people do let ego get in the way of their decision making and handling things. I think, especially as you continue to grow and your client base is larger and larger and larger, they seem more disposable or, oh, I’ll just get the next client or whatever, like this one’s a loss. We’ll just move on to the next one or, you know, whatever the situation might be.
And that’s, it’s funny that you bring that up. When I, do speaking events, like one of the, one of the last things that I talk about, usually in a presentation is ego getting in the way. And I think in our responses to situations in general, too, a lot of business owners take things really personal and internalize and handle situations in a way that affects their ego so much. Like I, well, I did this and you got that. [00:37:00] And I spent this much time and we did, you got this from us, or we did that for you. And I’m also going through this, this and this, and you get like a seven paragraph email in response to a cancellation that’s like so deeply personal. Um, and you’re like, You’re a business owner, like is the CEO of target doing this?
When you wanna return a bathing suit bottom, like, no.
Yeah. Yeah, totally. I think it’s so good to think about that. Right? Like as cons, as business owners, we’re also consumers, right? So like yeah. You return stuff at target all the time and like it’s, it’s not personal, right? Like you bring your receipt, you check out, they put the money back on your card and you walk out with like a better solution or with nothing. And that’s what you wanted. And it’s just this like, yeah, like such, such a normal exchange. And I think that for small business owners, like we are so close to what we do and we love it so much. And we, we care so deeply and it’s our life’s work that we, yeah, we, we get entangled in it.
Right. But I [00:38:00] even see this with like very, very large businesses. Like if you think of like the Amazons of the world, right? Like you. you want to, if you have a dispute with Amazon, they, this is one thing I’ll give them. There’s, you know, pros and cons to that whole ecosystem. But one of the things I’ll give them is that they it’s so easy to get your money back to return something to file a, like, my order was incorrect and they just absorb it. Right. And they have the ability to do that because they’re such a big company. But I do think that they handle that really well. Right. You don’t have to chat with a customer service rep. You don’t have to jump through hoops.
You don’t have to, like, they make it so easy for you to be like, Hey, this wasn’t right. And you need to fix it. And then they just, and it’s so. Easy. And I think that, you know, there’s other areas that their business for maybe they don’t show a lot of integrity, but I think in that way, they, they’re a really good example.
Have you seen the backlash with [00:39:00] Free People and Urban on this?
I haven’t tell us.
So, so this actually happened to me, but I saw it’s going viral and TikTok with a few people recently who they don’t do this. Like they make it so difficult to return something. And then they blacklist you from ordering something. So long story short, I ordered one of those like trendy flower hair clips.
It arrived, broken. I called they sent a replacement. Second one arrived, broken. So finally I was just like, I don’t want a third one a replacement. Because clearly it’s just gonna break and they, said. Okay. That’s fine. You know, we’ll refund you. I get an email a, about a month later that, if I don’t return the two broken hair clips, this is a month later, they were thrown out because they were broken that if I don’t return them that or pay them for the extra hair clip.
Then I will be blacklisted from ordering anything from Anthropology, Urban Outfitters, Free People, Beholden, [00:40:00] Terrain. So mind you, my husband’s like, this is great. We’re gonna save so much money but order from them. Um, but I ha I, I was ordering something for our business and my, order kept getting denied. It kept getting your orders been confirmed. Your order’s been canceled. Your order’s been confirmed, canceled. Nothing. Can I can’t order from them? For the life of me which is probably a good thing, but, they don’t care.
They don’t care.
Right. Oh, that’s such a good example of like the opposite end of the spectrum.
And I pay them thousands of, I order so much stuff between all of those brands. I was, I worked with Beholden their wedding team. I did their marketing and tons of shoots with them. Like , I’m like you don’t realize I’m very looped in with the brand. A lot of my friends work there, you know, I’m not gonna bring it up, but apparently they’ve done this to a lot of people and now people are making Tik Toks about it that are going viral.
Yeah. It’s. [00:41:00] I mean, if that’s how you wanna treat your customers, that’s fine. But
Yeah. I mean, I think that you’re, you’re speaking to something that we kind of talked about before, but you articulated it really well, which is brand loyalty. Right. And how you handle the situation, even if integrity was like corroded at some point how you handle it and how you either restore or don’t restore integrity in that situation, determines whether or not someone is going to come back to your business in the future.
And I think that’s true, small businesses and like massive corporations.
I’m gonna switch gears just a little bit. One of the things that I admire most about your legal work and specifically your templates is two things. And that is how thorough they are and how easy they are for me to read. And I think that’s even like a note on integrity in the first place. Right. Which is like how many people are signing legal agreements and you don’t even know what it says.
Like I’ve done this. , I’ve totally done this. When you get a new car and it pops up on the [00:42:00] screen and you click agree or Apple’s like, Hey, it’s time to upgrade your phone. And you click agree. Like. We agree to legal terms all the time. And we have no idea what they’re saying. And, that’s, that’s an integrity thing, right?
Those corporations know that you’re not reading the terms and conditions and they don’t care to your point. And so I think some of the, I really appreciate about the way that you run your legal business is your, your contracts are really, really thorough. Because you’ve been on the other side of the business yourself, you’ve been a creative business owner, so, you know what situations come up. You know, what to be prepared for, you know, how to proactively put it into the terms. And they’re written in non-legal, they’re written in written in layman terms. And so for someone like me, like I can read it and know what it’s saying. And I love that your contracts like protect me, protect my business.
Don’t leave me vulnerable to anything really. And I feel. Really, really safe and secure, because I know that I can confidently [00:43:00] say that they’re thorough and protective because I can understand them. And that’s what actually has me feel like protected when I go into any like, sort of like contract conversation.
And they create integrity workability in my business. Right. I can have really transparent conversations with my clients because I, I know. What the agreement is saying. And my team can really easily like change terms. If a client like puts in a request for something to be slightly different and we agree to it and they just like allow they remove barriers.
Right. They allow us to do the work that actually matters like that our clients came to us to do, and they’re like workable. So shameless plug. I own at least seven contracts lawyer. We are constantly buying more. And like this, this is why I like them though. Right? Because it, it creates workability. It creates integrity in the relationship.
Well, thank you. Thank you for that. I love
I said, I know that that [00:44:00] was, that was like a really big ethos for you and like starting your legal business. Right. Cause like you were a creative entrepreneur first and you were like, there needs to be a better solution for this.
Well, just didn’t make sense to me. The way contracts are structured. Typically, they don’t need to be structured that way. And, one of the first things I learned in law school, you take a legal writing and research class for the first year. And, our legal writing teacher, just her biggest thing was that.
Outdated legal terminology is archaic and it doesn’t need to be like that anymore. You don’t need legal leaves. You don’t need thou shall or thou art. It doesn’t make it any easier for the opposing party for the judge, for anybody to decipher, just say it. What is the easiest, most straightforward way to say it, how it is.
And then when it comes to the organization of it. I mean every contract that I’ve ever like read or seen online, it’s like just Roman numerals and nothing. It doesn’t flow [00:45:00] in any manner. So, you know, you have something about fees and then you’re talking about the scope of work and then you’re back to, outstanding payments and then late fees.
And then you’re back to something about the deliverables and. It’s all just so it’s like, of course you’re just gonna sign it. You can’t digest that at all. Like you are going bouncing around like all over the place. So that’s something, I think that’s a lot different than like most contracts are not organized in like such a methodical, like, I, I like it to read like a manual or guide to the relationship and like very digestible, which is best for, like you said, it’s great for you and your team.
Great for clients. Great if you had to interpret it or if a lawyer or, hopefully you don’t ever have to be in that situation, but it just makes more sense for everyone.
Yeah. Totally. And I think that’s something that people don’t know about legal documents, right? Is that they don’t have to be written [00:46:00] in a certain language. Right. You can just, like you said, like write it in the simplest way so that it’s like very, very clear. And there doesn’t need to be run on sentences and extra words that don’t need to be in there.
Exactly. It needs to be as straightforward and straight cut as possible.
So that’s one thing that people probably didn’t know about legal documents. What is one thing that a lot of people don’t know about you?
Oh about me, me personally.
Yeah. You as a person, you as a business owner,
I don’t know I feel like I wear it all. I’m very open. I put, I put it all out there. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m very, very open about, you know, how much I love my dog and my husband and where I live and that,
I dunno, I think that what a lot of people maybe don’t know or don’t get. Even like my family and friends, is like what I actually do [00:47:00] in a day and like how I structure my days and how they’re set up between operating multiple brands and a team. And, You know, like what, what that actually looks like, like on the back end of, of things.
And, I think my strong suit in life has always been organizations. So I am very organized with like my calendar with, you know, how I structure contract templates. And I, I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure people know that about me, but , they just don’t know the ins and outs of it.
Yeah, no wonder we get along so well. I know that that’s just gonna beg the question for everyone. Like what does your day look like? Will you run us through like an average day or an average couple of days, if you split ’em up.
Yeah. So if I’m taking on legal projects, like I, I block out a day on my calendar and I’m very organized about my like project management systems. Like we have systems, software processes for everything, and like everything as a bucket that it goes in, um, [00:48:00] I’m really big on like brain dumping, like anything that comes up. And then scheduling things into my calendar. Right now, like my, my days can go from having a meeting with a bride or a groom to having an inquiry call for a new wedding. And then, you know, today I had a coaching call. We had some project work with SEO. I did some legal work this morning. And now we’re doing this podcast, which is like a whole mix of everything all together.
So I’m kinda, I, my day bounces around a little bit. But I, I’m trying to structure it a little bit more where I can focus on like legal one day, um, and projects another day and kind of like partition even like half a day, if I can.
Yeah. What is the role that your husband plays in the businesses? What’s his, like, what’s his official title? Does he have a title?
I would just say my business partner.
Husband, business partner.
Yeah. [00:49:00] Well, so when I started out, I feel like he, he started out supporting me in a way that allowed me to flourish and grow. And I would never have been able to build a business that I had without his support. In our personal life and about five or six, probably six years ago now I convinced him to come to a wedding and he started second shooting with me and he fell in love with weddings and shoot.
He loves shooting weddings more than anybody I know. And he is really a, a, just a great leader. So he was an elementary school counselor. And he’s just very, like, he’s just a really good gentle leader. So I love pushing him forward with our team. He’s my sounding board with everything that like we do big decision wise.
He started a photo booth portion of our business. So we now have like, almost as many photo booth events as we do weddings. So that could be like weddings or parties or, you know, whatever. But he has, I mean, a whole slew of [00:50:00] photo booth attendees that I don’t even know. I’ve never met them. I don’t know what they look like.
If I ran into them for this on the street, they work for back to the studios and I’ve never seen them before in my life. Which is really cool that he’s like fully. You know, taken this brand that I’ve built and, with his help and, created this like other department of it essentially. Um, but he does a lot of like admin stuff too.
Like he does all of our payroll and, he does all of our like investments and like big picture financial things and yep. All that good stuff. yeah. And I feel like we’ve just kind of like, you know, it’s funny cuz I’m. I wanted to like force him into certain roles at one point of like, sit down and do emails with me or, and like that’s not his thing.
Emails are not his thing. Calendar is an organiza. Like I still have to do his calendar every week in his like handwritten agenda book so he knows where he has to be. And when every Sunday night we fill it out together because he off of a digital calendar.[00:51:00]
there’s still things that, I had to let out like, okay, I’m gonna hire someone to come in and help because like, he is not an email, but he’s not going to be doing that kind of stuff.
But, um, yeah, it’s really cool. He’s doing now. He’s like focusing on long-term, uh, rental properties and those kinds of investments that he’s taking capital that we’ve earned together and rolling it into things like that. That will give us more freedom in the future. And, Yeah, it’s cool. It’s just great to like, have a partner as a sounding board in business too.
Yeah, totally. My partner is a physicist and I’ve also tried to like force him into like certain roles, both like in our home life and like a little bit in my business. And it’s just like hard stop. Like I just had to. I just had I just had to give up and just be like, all right, this is not, it’s not gonna work.
How do we, how do we put you into something that feels good? Um, so totally resonate with that. Okay. So last question for you. If you were gonna give, uh, one [00:52:00] piece of advice to business owners, looking to maintain integrity in their business, as they grow, what would it be?
My one piece of advice would be start with a professional foundation from the get go. So don’t skimp. Don’t say, oh, I’m just, I’m not, I’m not doing that much work or don’t, I don’t have that many clients yet. Or I’m only making a, you know, a few tens of thousands this year. Um, you still need an LLC. You still should probably consider a trademark.
You still need a contract. You still should have a separate business bank account and set everything up. You need to look at insurance and. That is like a number one way to set up integrity within your business, from the get go. And have all of that versus trying to backtrack when things are, you know, you’re already rolling and things are already picking up quick.
It’s just, I love when businesses come to me from the very, very beginning, and want to set everything up professionally with that foundation.
That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s, it’s one of the things I [00:53:00] made a lot of mistakes in my like early years of business and that was not one of them. Like I had a business bank account before I like made my first $200 and I am so glad that I did. It’s like one of the things that I look back where I’m like, I’m so happy that from the beginning, I was like clean books, like clean legal structure.
And it’s, it’s one of the things that I’m really proud of. If I think back to like the first month of owning a business. Thank you so much, Maggie. This was such a good conversation. I feel like we could keep going forever. I love this topic and I think your perspective was awesome. And, and so well said, so thank you so much for being here.
Um, and I can’t wait to send everyone to The Artist Lawyer Contract Template Shop.
This was awesome.
I really enjoyed examining the intersection of integrity and power and accountability. And what happens as a business grows over [00:54:00] time in that realm. I also love talking with Maggie about the businessed that last and survive the ones that are more than just pretty photos and good branding and what they have in common.
She, and I, when it comes to the idea of integrity, dig into the fallacy of fake it till you make it and how this can actually be really harmful for businesses. And that was another favorite part of this conversation for me. Like I mentioned, we use so many of The Artist’s Lawyer Contract Templates and I can’t advocate for them enough.
We also recommend them to our clients and we use them when we do systems builds on the configuration side of our business. Meaning, if you hire us to build out your CRM, like Dubsado, for example. And you don’t have sound contracts in place for your client or customer onboarding process or any other, a arrangements that you might be putting into place.
We will source from the Artist’s Lawyer for you for the build so that you can make sure that you walk away from that experience with really sound legal protection. You can use our code [00:55:00] CURATE to get 20% off of any contract template in the shop. And if you have any questions about these templates, feel free to shoot me and the Curate Well Co team an email at hicuratewell.co that’s dot co.com.
Or you can send us a DM on Instagram @curatewellco and we’re happy to share about our experiences and the very real implications and use cases of these templates in our business.