Do you feel like you're bombarded daily with subjects like "Reach 6 figures in 2 days!" and "While you're sleeping I'm hustling to reach my dreams"? I know I do. And instead of feeling motivated, I'm filled with anxiety and not-good-enough, not-doing-enough dread.
In today's interview, Nora Conrad is getting real on the two issues we don't talk about enough as entrepreneurs- money and energy.
Her approach as a productivity expert doesn't involve learning how to function on 5 hours of sleep or adopting a one-size-fits-all magic formula. Instead, she's learned how to maximize her own energy and helps clients do the same.
Her honesty around money and burn out are just two of the reasons I couldn't wait to share her story. I've been following Nora for years and know she has a lot to teach us.
Let’s dig in!
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know starting a consulting business was the right direction?
I love this question because for the longest time I was clueless on what I wanted to do.
Since I was a little kid I’ve always been organized. I’m not kidding - my favorite game to play with my sisters was “office” - where I was the boss and they were my employees. I was the life of the party. And because I was embarrassed by my nerdy childhood, I avoided it like the plague. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I realized the job I am now doing it the thing I’ve always loved doing! I just transitioned from loving organization and productivity to teaching others to be organized and productive too.
I think the best way to find the career path that you’ll enjoy is to look at what you’ve enjoyed your whole life. And give yourself a little grace in the search - every job you do can teach you skills and lessons that are preparing you for the next stage in your life. I don’t think you’ll ever really know if you’re on the right path or not if you spend the whole time looking for the next best thing.
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
Money. I don’t think enough people talk about money, maybe because it’s uncomfortable or feels personal - but either way, I think this is the most common struggle. Starting a business is hard and it takes
Starting a business is hard and it takes money, and when you’re not making any money, that $5 website hosting fee feels daunting. I’ve been through periods where I made $2000 in a month and the next month I make $6. It’s not consistent, it’s stressful and it’s hard to talk about because we’re literally putting a price on our dreams.
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
I’ll admit that I’m currently in a season of rest. I’ve stopped blogging, I asked my team to take a few months of vacation and I’m just working when I feel like it. We’re all going to experience burnout at some point, but the way you handle it is what really counts. Knowing the difference between a break and quitting is important.
For me, I like to spend my down time reading. I think reading is SO important for everyone but especially entrepreneurs. It makes you smarter and inspires you.
I also think exercise is important. I love running, and it’s my go-to when I’m feeling stressed or need to work through my thoughts.
My absolute top routine that keeps me grounded is reading my Bible. I could plot my productivity and motivation on a graph for you and those days that I skipped my Jesus time are the days that I got nothing done. My faith plays a huge role in my business and everyday life.
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
Ah, rejection. I was lucky enough to grow thick skin early on in my career here on the internet. I started out with a beauty YouTube channel. Yikes, I know. But putting myself on video and posting it for random strangers to comment on was the single best thing I ever did to prepare myself for online business. I learned that no one else actually cares about you all that much and their comments never reflect your value or worth.
Personally, I’ve made rejection into a game. For every “no” I get from potential collaborations, brands, companies, clients - I’m that much closer to finding my people. Those people that you’re really here to serve aren’t going to be the ones commenting “show your boobs” on your YouTube videos.
What do you do when you're having an off day—maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
I don’t work! I’ve been very careful to automate and pre-create content for most of my business. We have yearly team meetings where we plan our content and an entire year in advance. This makes it super easy for me to write, record, edit, promote and create when I feel inspired instead of forcing myself to do it.
It seems a little crazy and way to organize for a lot of people, but it’s totally possible. It also makes things super simple if you want to take a long weekend or jet off for vacation on a whim.
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
“Productivity expert” isn’t the most common title so explaining this to friends and family can be a little interesting.
Most people assume I’m a professional organizer or personal assistant but it’s not exactly the same. My job is to transform your business and work day from top to bottom. We don’t just clean out your inbox, we completely change how you handle emails.
I help people change their habits that are resulting in stress instead of just cleaning up the overflow of that stress.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
None of us know what we’re doing. We all are lacking some skill or a little hazy on the details.
Understanding that we’re all beginners in something has helped me overcome so many fears and roadblocks in my progress. I’ve been able to accomplish a lot in the last few years simply because I was willing to tinker and guess.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
People want to buy things that help them, entertain them or satisfy them in some way. You might be a fantastic song writer - but you need to decide if you serve people better by writing songs or teaching them to write songs. Learning how you serve your audience best and understanding that process start to finish is the absolute best way to grow your business.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
7 am on a Saturday morning with a big cup of coffee.
I work so well in the mornings and the weekends are my favorite times to create freely and see what it turns into. I love the feeling of a fresh day with nothing to do but work on my dream job.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
Emily Ley of the simplified planner was the first boss lady I encountered as I started to look for women to model after. Her outlook on life, God and family were so inspiring, because for awhile I tried to keep my personal life separate from my business and she really inspired me to merge them together.
I’m a HUGE bookworm, but give me any book by Dave Ramsey, Jennie Allen, or Lysa TerKeurst - and I’ll have it done by the end of the day. Oddly enough I’m not a huge music person. I like a lot of music and genres but I’d prefer to listen to rain sounds or a podcast while I work.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
I don’t know if I have a “favorite”. Last year I had the chance to travel to Texas to train a church on Asana and that was a blast (also one of my biggest paychecks so far). But I really love finding joy in small things in my business, because that’s what adds up. Like just this week I had a young girl email me to tell me I had inspired her to start a
But I really love finding joy in small things in my business, because that’s what adds up. Like just this week I had a young girl email me to tell me I had inspired her to start a Christian blog and she’d learned how to use Squarespace all from my site. It’s just so amazing when you find out your content is actually making an impact on someone.
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
Well, since I’m taking a short break to work on my business without fussing over deadlines and things - I have a lot cooking right now.
My biggest project is the ConradHub. It’s my membership based community for business owners. You can access all six of my e-courses, all my past workshops, every shop product and exclusive content for $18/mo. I’m going to be relaunching that very soon and I have so many new things in the works for it, I’m really excited to launch.
I’m also working on pre-filming a ton of tutorials and youtube videos for the rest of the year, so I’m excited to start working on building my channel up a bit more and making that a larger focus of my business.
About Nora Conrad
As a child, her favorite game was playing "office." Yup, she was THAT kid. Bossy, organized and productive as hell - a skill she's carried with her through all her life. Nora works with business owners to develop systems that allow them to work less and spend more time living life. She's an organization VA, productivity expert and a borderline coffee addict.
This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know!