Episode 139: “Feed My Soul, Fill My Bag & Build My Brand”: The Art Of Being Intentional With Diana White
Servant leaders are great. In a lot of ways, they make the world go ‘round. But servant leaders are also human beings. As we mature in our leadership journeys, there comes a time when we need to take steps toward being intentional about how we spend our time. Diana White, the Executive Director of Moonshot at NACET Flagstaff Campus, approaches this with 3 buckets: feed my soul, fill my bag, and build my brand. It may sound very simple, but that’s precisely what makes it so effective. Diana uses these three buckets to guide her every time she is faced with a decision to spend her time on something or someone. Any one of us can apply this 3-bucket concept. Join in and learn how you can possibly create yours!
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I’m excited to introduce a guest that I’ve known for a couple of years. Her name is Diana White. We’re going to start with where she is now, and then maybe we’ll get through some of the other things that she’s done in her amazing career. Diana is the Executive Director of the Moonshot at NACET Flagstaff campus. We’ll talk about what that is here in a minute. In addition to doing all this executive director work for this cool organization, she spends time serving on many boards, including The Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, and lots of things like that. She is one of those people who has more energy than I’ve ever seen in most people. She’s involved and she serves. She helps and lifts. Every time I interact with her, my energy level goes up and a smile comes to my face.
Diana, thank you so much for being here with us.
Thank you. I’m happy to be here with everybody.
Tell us a little bit about Moonshot at NACET Flagstaff campus. I know there’s a lot of cool that goes on there, but there is a little bit of explanation for people to go, “What is this NACET thing?”
I’ll give you the acronym so that you guys understand. NACET stands for Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Several years ago, our president and CEO, Scott Hancock, came aboard and said, “We need a little bit of a rebranding.” If your audience doesn’t know, Flagstaff, Arizona has a lot of ties with the Apollo mission and the astronauts’ training. We also have Lowell Observatory, which is huge. The Shoemakers were a couple that discovered many things and gave a lot to planetary science. It all tied in.
We became Moonshot at NACET. Our founders that joined our organization are our pioneers. They’re our cowboy astronauts or cowgirl astronauts that are going into a frontier that is unknown. We have a relationship with the city of Flagstaff that has withstood the test of time. We are funded by the EDA. We have office space on campus. If you want to be on campus, you have to be approved by the city. There are about maybe five industries that fit into that category to be approved. Other than that, you can be an affiliate. That means that you’re not on campus and don’t have office space, but you can pay a yearly fee per company and take part in our curriculum, events, mentors, counseling and coaching with me and other strong business acumen people.
Our goal is to take someone from ideation to market the scale. Within that goal, and it’s one of the reasons why I love what Elite Entrepreneurs does so much, we’re always trying to teach these founders, whether you’re a company of 1 or a company of 100, how to be servant leaders. Also, how to make sure that you have a company that has a culture that is sustainable and cultivates ideation and growth. That’s all we want to do.
That is fantastic. Most of our audience comes from all over the country and even other parts of the world. If you happen to be lucky enough to live in Northern Arizona, especially around Flagstaff, you got to stop at the Moonshot at NACET Flagstaff campus and get to know Diana and the rest of the team there. They’re wonderful people doing amazing things to lift the local business community higher wherever they’re at.
It is a little bit of a mouthful to say Moonshot at NACET, but what we know is it is awesomeness bottled up, helping entrepreneurs, and helping the technology community there in Flagstaff flourish. We’re thrilled to have you here. You don’t have the distinction of being the executive director there. You’ve had a long career with lots of experience in retail, sales, and leading retail sales forces. If I’m not mistaken, at least one of the stores that you led had 200-plus employees.
Most of our audience isn’t in that range of 200-plus employees. I say that because Diana has been there and done that when it comes to leadership and industries where there might be a high turnover of maybe teenagers and lower-wage employee types all the way to salespeople who are making good money. It’s not easy to do what you’ve done for as long as you have. You bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to that role there at NACET.
Let’s get past all that and talk about what we’re here to talk about. You told me about a wonderful process and a wonderful thing that you did as you’re changing over into the New Year. As you’re reflecting on, preparing for, and working on your intention for 2023, you did something that I immediately said, “I want to share that with our audience.” I appreciate you being willing to come and share. Why don’t you set this up for us? Where were you and what were you doing? Let us talk about this before we get into the details of the clarity that you were getting.
Let me preface by saying I am one of those people that I love to make New Year’s resolutions knowing deep down inside that by January 5th, it’s done. It’s not going to happen. My daughter and I have adopted a different stance on the holidays and what it means to us. The holidays mean for us that we’re together. It doesn’t matter where we are. We do destination holidays. Christmas 2022, we went to Jamaica and unplugged completely. I didn’t bring any electronics with me. I did bring a pen and paper. For this year’s goal for 2023, I decided, “Let’s do something different. Let’s not do the same old New Year’s resolution that I know deep down inside.” It has been routine and now it’s ingrained in me that I’m going to break it.
I decided to bring a pen and paper with me. I sat on the beach. I know that not everybody is fortunate enough to be able to take holiday trips. Sometimes, it’s not even a monetary factor. Sometimes, you have so many close families with you that leaving them and going to a destination makes you feel guilty. You can’t enjoy the holiday because you have to do your tradition. I understand that, but I broke tradition a long time ago.
I sat on the beach in Jamaica and wrote out every single thing that I committed myself to for 2023. My calendar stays pretty full. I do have a lot of causes that I believe in. Everything shouldn’t come from work. You should have fulfillment in all aspects of your life. There were three buckets. After I made my list, I said to myself as I look at these line items that I committed myself to, “If it didn’t feed my soul, fill my bag,” which is slang for bringing money, “or build my brand, I’m going to say no as much as it hurts.” I’m a bit of a people pleaser, so it does hurt when I say no. 2023, for me, I felt like it had to be intentional and pivotal.Not everything should come from work. You should have fulfillment in all aspects of your life. Click To Tweet
You did something that I want to underscore. I’m going to repeat what you said. It doesn’t have to be on a beach in Jamaica. Whatever it looks like, the important thing is that you got by yourself and eliminated distractions. You were there with paper and pen, yourself, and your thoughts. That’s it. You happen to be in some beautiful surroundings, which I highly recommend, but it doesn’t have to be hours away on a flight. It could be in your backyard. It could be at a park nearby or the public library. It’s wherever you can find a little time and space to be alone with your thoughts and some way to capture that. That old technology we call paper is a beautiful thing. What are your thoughts?
Peaceful surroundings mean something different to everyone. For me, it was a sunny beach. For someone else, it could be a ski lodge or a ski slope and looking at the snow. For somebody else, it could be the one place in their house where nobody knows they’re supposed to go, but they still have a view of the Christmas tree lights. It doesn’t matter where it is as long as you know that your mind and soul are at peace.
I’m going to drive that point home that if you’re going to do this exercise, there should be no electronics. Have a good old-fashioned pen or pencil and paper. I know for myself. I can’t say for anyone else. If I would’ve said, “I’m going to bring my laptop. I’m going to structure it out. I’m going to use apps. I’m going to use all of these different things to structure what I have going on,” then it would’ve turned into a work project. I then would’ve gone into my email and into my calendar. I needed to unplug and be with myself, my thoughts, and that pen and paper.
That’s wonderful. I didn’t want people to hear, “Someday, I’m going to invest in that perfect trip where I go and get clarity.” Diana knows and I know who we’re talking to. The world is whirling around you. You’re busy. You don’t have to wait until Christmas time or the holiday season in 2023 to do this, but you need to make it a priority to get clear with yourself. I love that you did that. We could end it right here. There would be lots of value for those who would hear it and those who would take that and use it. That’s extremely helpful.
I do want to get to your three buckets some more. You already shared them with us. These aren’t prescriptive, but for you, these were the three buckets. For the rest of us, maybe they’re different three buckets. It’s not 12 buckets or 5 buckets. It’s relatively few. Why don’t you speak to that? You have a servant’s heart. Even from the introduction, people can get that. They sense that from you. You want to say yes. You want to help. You want to serve. You do a lot. This 2023, it sounds like you’re saying, “I still am that, but I’m getting more clear about where to channel those energies.” Talk about narrowing it down to three buckets.
I’d love to do that. I also want to make clear that I feel like those three buckets do boil down everything you can think of. If you have someone else that’s saying, “I don’t want a bucket of X like Diana has. I need a work-life balance. I have been away from my family too long trying to build this business. I need to bring my family back into it.” I dare say that is still the feed-my-soul bucket. That is the soul bucket. Don’t try to complicate it too much by changing up the buckets so they fit exactly what you think you’re pinpointing. Boil it down to the essence. The essence is what gets you up in the morning, what feeds your soul, what makes you happy, what makes you feel like you are of service, and what puts money in the bank because we all need to survive.
Whether it’s your organization or you personally, everybody has a stamp or brand that they’re trying to build. Everybody has a fingerprint that they’re putting on the world. We see that with social media and engagement in social media. We see that if you have your own websites or you’re writing a book. If you’re building a company and all eyes are on you because you are the founder, that’s part of branding. I feel like those three buckets cover a lot of things, but if you want to change them, you can.
I may have jumped to conclusions there when I said, “It’s not the prescriptive list. Do whatever you feel like.” You’re saying this is a pretty good list of bucket categories for people who want to adopt something like this. I may have jumped the gun when I said that this isn’t prescriptive and that they could come up with their own buckets. You’re saying any bucket category that they could come up with fits nicely in these three areas that you’ve outlined.
I know, for me, that it would’ve muddied the waters.
I may have jumped the gun when I said this isn’t a prescribed set of buckets. It sounds to me like maybe there’s some room for personalization, but you feel like those are the three buckets that most people’s stuff would fit into.
I agree. If we try to personalize it a little bit more, then we’re in our heads. We’re trying to figure out, “Which buckets are more important? Is this more important than that?” If you say, “This bucket that I want to relabel, does it fall into branding, feeding my soul, and filling my bag?” You don’t have to worry so much about whether you forgot something and that kind of thing. At least that worked for me. It’s going to be different for everyone, but I would challenge you to KIS it or Keep It Simple. I would challenge you to do that.
I love the simplicity of it. It’s fantastic. At the time of recording this, which is different than when it will go live, we’re a couple of months into 2023. I would love to have you share how those three buckets become filters for you in evaluating opportunities or building requests. How has that shaped your calendar, your inbox, or anything else? Talk to us about the application of these filters.
Immediately, upon returning from Jamaica, I had to make some tough phone calls and send some tough emails. Some of the things, I extracted myself from completely. That was heart-wrenching. I was always leaving the door open. If you want me for a quick this or that, I’m always there, but I can’t commit in perpetuity regularly. I feel like almost immediately, new things started popping up. As much of a giver as I am and as much of a servant leader as I am, I’d look at my calendar and go, “Today is going to be a day.” I started looking at my calendar like, “I get to do this now. I couldn’t do it last year because I was too busy.” I feel like I had a shift in my energy which then brought the things that I wanted to participate into me. Now I have the time to do it.
I don’t know how we can say that in ten different ways to sink in for all the people that are reading. What you said was through the power of the intention and the work that you did to get clear, you ended up shaping or drawing in the things that came to you. Your calendar is then full of the things that you wanted to fill it with. Is that what you were saying?
Yeah. It’s the chicken or the egg. I don’t know if it was because I shifted my mindset and it wasn’t about me being as “busy” as I could possibly be, but being intentional about my time that my antennas were focused on the things that brought me joy, fill my bag, and build my brand. Whereas before, it was a wide fish net that I cast out hoping that the things that I pulled back in would fit those particular buckets. I got rid of all of the fish I didn’t want to catch and I’m focusing on the stuff I want to do. I feel like that intention is bringing those things to me.
I can sense that as you talk about it. I can tell that’s happening to you. It makes my heart hurt a little bit for what I’ll call lovingly a bunch of unnecessary sufferers out there. We go around with our days and our lives full of things. We’re so chaotically busy. If we could slow down enough to stop all that madness enough to get clear, we could lead with intention or, by design, have our lives take shape in a way that we want them to. That’s why it’s so powerful to me. When I heard you say it, I was like, “We got to share that message.” It’s so great.
I, too, have a consulting firm besides Moonshot at NACET. I started that by myself from the ground up. When you’re starting a business, you have to be everywhere. You have to be seen. You have to engage. You have to go to these things you wouldn’t ordinarily go to. I get that. It is a part of building that brand. You have to decide for yourself when you get to the point of, “I’ve done enough exposure. Now, I need to be intentional.” That point is different for everyone. It happened to be, for me, December 2022.
I love that distinction though. You’re saying, “You have to earn the right to get to the place where your dance card is full.” Your dance card is not just full, but it’s overflowing. You’ve done the thing where you’ve filled it up with all these worthwhile activities. It’s time to cut it back to the ones that matter most.
I see a lot of sages and gurus come out. They say these things like, “You should X.” They don’t acknowledge the fact that I’m not even at A. How can I get to X? I got to go through the alphabet. That is real for founders. I understand it. I’ve gone through it. You do get to a point where you’re like, “Now I get to choose,” and choose wisely.
For the vast majority of folks tuning in on this episode, we cater our messages to people who have gotten their businesses off the ground. They’re in that seven-figure territory. They’re starting to hit some of those scaling challenges post-million in revenue. By and large, for those people, what you’re sharing is spot on. It’s not like they’re doing the scrappy, gritty founder get-it-off-the-ground thing anymore. It doesn’t mean they’re still not grinding, but maybe it’s time to be grinding less. Maybe there’s more clarity or focus. I love that practice. Is there anything else as far as the practical application, whether it’s how it shows up in your calendar or how it changes the way you or an assistant review what’s in your inbox? What’s the practical side of this day in and day out?
The practical side is it’s hard. Sometimes, I feel like the need to be a part of things is an addiction. I still get stuff that comes into my inbox. I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m like, “I know I can’t do it. Delete it.” I have to read it. I have to check my calendar. I know I can’t do it, but I’m still figuring out what could be. A good tip is, first of all, to put every invite or every opportunity through that three-bucket filter. I’m being very honest and serious. Create email templates in a Word document. It could be quick sentences that you can send out to someone that has inquired so you don’t have to feel bad about typing, “I’m so sorry. I can’t.” You go copy and paste that template and keep it moving. Do things for yourself that make it less heart-wrenching to give up that thing.
I was a firm hater of Calendly or any calendar app. I hated it. I adopted it and gave it to my team. I said, “Instead of you guys coming to me with each and every opportunity, I’ve already told you where my focus is. Here’s my Calendly link. If somebody wants to meet with me and they fit that criterion, go on my Calendly link. See when I’m available and set it up.” It will show up on my calendar. I’m not going to control it. I’m not going to think about it because I know I am attracting the kinds of meetings that I want to have.
You’ve gotten clear with your team so that they’re a line of defense or a filter. Over time, you’ll know which ones are getting it right and which ones aren’t. You can make some adjustments. I love that. The templates you talked about are super practical. I have a good friend. In fact, we’ve talked about him before. You and I have. We mentioned him here on the show before. His name is Clate Mask.
He has this canned response to an invitation for lunch or coffee. It’s like, “I’d love to go to lunch. I’d love to pick your brain. Can you meet me for coffee?” He takes his canned template. It says something like, “I would love to spend that time with you. I’m super focused on my priorities. I’ve had to choose what I can and can’t engage in. Let’s pretend that we’ve had lunch together or that we’ve sat for coffee and had some small talk. What’s the thing that you want to ask me? Ask me. If I can help you, I’ll respond. If I can’t, I’ll let you know.” That saves so much time and all of that pain of typing that again and revisiting the, “I want to be the servant, but I can’t.”
It’s so true. I want your audience to understand that it doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you a snob. It doesn’t make you antisocial. It gives you clarity. It allows you to be the person that you should be for the people that are supposed to be in your life instead of trying to be everything to everyone.Refusing to see people doesn't make you a bad person. It gives you clarity. It allows you to be the person that you should be for the people that are supposed to be in your life instead of trying to be everything to everyone. Click To Tweet
That is so powerful. It’s not that you’re a bad person. It’s that you are more able to be the person that the people who should be in your life need you to be. I’m trying to play that back because I’m like, “Please record that forever in my brain and my heart.” That is so good. I don’t even know how to quantify the amount of explosive impact that you’ve shared. It’s explosive but not destructive. You know what I mean. It’s a powerful, creative impact that you’ve shared. You’re helping people get clear using those filters to be who you want to be and attract what you want to be spending time on. Is there anything else you want to throw in as we wrap up this topic?
Yes. Your senior leadership, whoever that may be in your organization, need to be on board and need to respect it. You need to preface it in a way that they understand. I know many of the founders that are in that echelon that you speak of that Elite Entrepreneurs deals with have a core team underneath them, whether it’s a right-hand person or a whole C-Suite.
You’ve all gone through something together. You survived this and come out of the other side successfully. In turn, they also may think, “He or she has changed their priorities, but I’m still going to have access to them the way I used to. Nothing’s going to change for me.” If it does change and you are saying, “You don’t have access to text me at 2:00 AM because you thought of a new idea for the company. You’re going to have to wait,” you need to make it clear in a compassionate way that you are changing and they need to change with you so that there are no hard feelings within that core team.
It’s important that you don’t wake up one day, walk into the office, and say, “In my three buckets, you guys aren’t a part of it.” It’s important that you explain the why and trust in yourself that if they got the why the first time to go on that journey with you to build this company, they’ll get that second why. You can be an inspiration to them because if you’re overworked, they’re probably overworked. I wanted to point that out because sometimes, doing that shift in your personality and what you’re trying to attract, your leadership team may not get it. They may see it as a challenge. They may see it as something negative instead of the positive that it should be.
They might see it as somehow a takeaway or a letdown in your relationship. It’s like, “Diana used to spend all the time with me that I wanted. Now it’s only if it fits these buckets. It feels very impersonal or whatever.” That’s a very interesting insight as you’ve worked to implement this.
Even though it’s so fresh and new and it’s still February 2023, I’m lucky enough that I have a core team that we’re phenomenal together. We joke. They’ll come to me and say, “I’ve got this thing.” I’ll say, “Which bucket does it fill?” They have to say, “This will feed your soul. Listen.” I’m there and I’ll also ask, “Is this for you?” Servant leadership never leaves me. I know they have buckets to fill, too. If it’s one of their buckets, I want to know if I can be of service. It’s got to fill somebody’s bucket.
I’m thrilled that we have this time together and that you were able to share some powerful principles of getting clear, setting up the right processes, and making sure the people understand. All along the way, it was very practical and helpful. You did it in such a way that I can sit with you, be there, and go, “This is how it feels. This is how it works.” I appreciate that. How can people connect with you on social? How can they learn more about Moonshot at NACET if that’s applicable? Where can they connect online?
I only play on LinkedIn. That is my primary source of communication and seeing what’s going on in the world. MoonshotAZ.com is where you can find Moonshot at NACET. If you want to know more about us and you happen to be in the Flagstaff area, we’d love to give you a tour. Reach out and inquire. You can sign up for our mailing list and check out events. I would be remiss if I didn’t plug in my podcast. I have a show called 10 Lessons Learned. You’ve been on it so you know it. Take a look at that. That is anywhere podcasts are listened to. We also have a YouTube channel, 10 Lessons Learned. That’s where you can find me. 10 Lessons shows my philosophy. If you want to get to know who I am, check that out. We keep it pretty raw over there. I hope that maybe some of your audience one day be guests.
I’m sad that I didn’t even mention that podcast in the introduction earlier because I enjoyed being a guest. It’s a cool concept. 10 Lessons Learned is not just about business, but life lessons. I enjoyed thinking about it first and then sharing some things. You’re a wonderful host on that show. I hope everybody will go check it out. Listen to the 10 Lessons Learned podcast. Go find Diana on Linkedin. Connect with her if you’d like and go to MoonshotAZ.com. Keep tuning in. Share this show with other seven-figure business owners. We are trying to help as many of you as possible go through this important and challenging path from $1 million to $10 million and beyond. I appreciate you tuning in. We’ll see you next time.
- Moonshot at NACET
- LinkedIn – Diana White
- 10 Lessons Learned
- 10 Lessons Learned – YouTube
About Diana White
Diana White has over 30 years of sales and retail experience, leading stores with revenues of over 10 million and a staff of 200. Consumer psychology, marketing, operations, and leadership are just a few of her skill sets. Dianas career experience encompasses the east and west coasts, starting with managing several retail locations in NYC. Diana moved her family to Arizona in 2002. She has spent her years in Arizona working across the state, learning more about consumer buying patterns and honing her sales skills. Seeing a need for startup and operations assistance within the local business community, Diana established D.E.W. Business Solutions, LLC, in 2014 to provide consulting to small businesses.
In 2017, Diana began working with a technology incubator in Northern Arizona. Diana was the Director of the Coconino County Small Business Development Center under the incubator and worked to develop programming for entrepreneurs. Along with developing curriculum content and facilitating small business workshops through Moonshot at NACET, in 2019, Diana was appointed as CEO of Chandler Innovations, a technology incubator funded by the City of Chandler, Arizona.
Diana obtained a Bachelor of Science in Small Business Administration from Northern Arizona University, holds a green belt in Lean Six Sigma, is a certified Agile Scrum Master, and a certified PeerSpectives facilitator. She is committed to helping businesses and non-profits as well as the community at large. Diana has served on many boards, including the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity. Diana currently serves on the advisory board for Lancaster Leadership, a woman-owned and operated leadership academy, Tynkertopia, a STEM-based non-profit for children, and the Global Chamber. Diana is also the co-host of the show 10 Lessons Learned and leads a coalition for women of color and a guild for entrepreneurs. She splits her time between her residences in Gilbert and Flagstaff, Arizona, where she continues to assist founders in her role as Executive Director of the Moonshot at NACET Flagstaff campus.
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