In this event we dive deep into the brands, companies, and leaders who are doing it right and the opportunities yet to be discovered in the future of fashion. We are so excited to bring you the voice of Joanna Waterfall, Founder of the incredible community of Yellow Co. - an organization dedicated to supporting the creativity of entrepreneurial women who want to use their gifts, skills and talents to make the world a better place.
In our most digital age, Joanna has exemplified and encouraged connection and culture in a truly unique and beautiful way. Yellow Co. amplifies the diverse voices of women who are leading the way across all industries. We dive into her knowledge and expertise on what it’s like to:
- Connect in a highly digital world
- Communicate using your authentic voice
- Creative vibrant culture from remote places
Verizon 5G Labs:
Verizon's 5G Labs works with startups, academia and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. We work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges and more.
Women entrepreneurs are key economic actors in New York City — building businesses that support families, uplift communities and generate jobs. WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs NYC) is an initiative based out of the New York City Department of Small Business Services that is dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses. While there are about 414,000* women entrepreneurs in NYC and women contribute approximately $50 Billion dollars annually in revenue, according to our research, men own 1.5 times the number of businesses, have 3.5 times the number of employees, and generate 4.5 times the amount of revenue. WE NYC has researched the reasons for this gender gap and developed tailored programs and tools with women entrepreneurs through user testing and intensive feedback efforts to create an initiative that connects women entrepreneurs with the resources, education and community they need to thrive.
Noelle Tassey 0:01
Welcome to our panel, and thanks for joining us on this Tuesday afternoon in July. We'll be joined shortly by our guest for today's fireside chat, Joanna Waterfall, and— hey, Joanna. Really excited—
Joanna Waterfall 0:18
Noelle Tassey 0:18
— to be having a great fireside chat about her journey as a female entrepreneur and talking about the theme of digital connectivity, something that's really woven into that journey and that we are all super focused on at this point in time. Before we jump into that, for those of you who don't know, my name is Noelle Tassey, I'm CEO of Alley. If you don't know us, Alley is a community agency focused on innovation for corporate partners. We unite rich and diverse communities around the country with our enterprise partners and clients to provide resources to both parties and drive positive change in technology. Also want to give a special shout out to our partners at 5G Labs, we've been doing a ton of events with them since we've gone digital. Please check them all out at alley.com/events. 5G Labs, if you don't know them, works with startups, academia, and enterprise teams to build a 5G-powered world. So we work on 5G trials, hackathons, industry partnerships, prototyping challenges, and more with their awesome team. Last but not least, actually last, but most importantly, really, big thank you to WE NYC. That's Women Entrepreneurs of New York City. An initiative, based out of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. They're dedicated to helping women start and grow their businesses and we've been one of their longtime partners and are so excited to continue to work with them. If you don't already, like, check them out and follow them, do it now, especially if you're a female entrepreneur. You know, you have two of them on this panel, and I can just say that the work that they're doing is really incredible. So you visit them at we.nyc. Awesome. All right. So I think that's all my announcements. We're going to now move into today's chat. So Joanna, thank you again for joining us and deciding to, you know, share an hour of your Tuesday afternoon with us. I know you've been really busy recently, so we really appreciate it. And I just love to hear from you, you know, quickly, for our audience, a little bit about you, who you are, and then we'll jump into your amazing story.
Joanna Waterfall 2:31
Awesome, Well, thank you so much to you, Noelle, for having me here today and to the Alley team for having me, and for WE NYC, you guys are doing such awesome work and so it's an honor to be able to come and hang out with you guys for an hour on a Tuesday morning. I love it. Yeah, so like Noelle said, my name is Joanna Waterfall. I'm the founder of an organization for women who are creating meaningful work in the world called Yellow Co. and what we do on a high level is help our community connect on a deeper level with themselves, first and foremost. And then their work that they're doing in the world, and each other through community. So we have an online membership platform, we do conferences, which through 2020 have switched to virtual conferences, which I'm sure we'll get into a little bit. And, we have something called guidance groups, which is kind of where we get into the nitty-gritty day-to-day stuff with our community, connect them with themselves, their work, and each other. So that's a little bit about Yellow.
Noelle Tassey 3:38
Awesome. Thank you so much for background, and for joining us. So, I'm super excited to kind of jump in kind of headfirst into your story. I just love to hear a little bit about how you made the decision to start Yellow, because I think that this is one of those things with a lot of people you know, you're thinking about starting a company, you have these moments, you have an idea. What was really the catalyst for you in the moment that you knew, like, I need to be doing this?
Joanna Waterfall 4:08
Yeah, so my background is in graphic design and digital media. And I— prior to starting Yellow, was running a graphic design company where I worked with small businesses and worked on their website and their branding and marketing collateral. And I was doing that for a few years and it was going good. I hit a lot of goals that— a lot earlier than I thought I would, and I got to this place in my work where I was wondering, okay, I feel like there's a part of me that's not being expressed right now in the world through this work that I'm currently involved in. So I started on a journey of searching for that. What does that mean? What is this? What is this kind of thing that I feel like is within me that hasn't been expressed? And I came across the world of social entrepreneurship and specifically women who were in that space who were running these amazing social enterprises. And this was in 2014. So now, you hear that word, and most often people know what you're talking about, but then it wasn't as commonly used, and I was very new to that space. So when I really specifically met women who were running these do-good companies, I was so, so inspired, and it felt like something inside me just lit on fire just by watching these women. I was so impressed with the fact that they could go to work every day and know that they were making an impact for good because their business was designed around that. And so it kind of just set off this questioning in my own life like, well, how can I use my work to make an impact for good? How can I use graphic design or my graphic design business, to be able to do something more meaningful? And through kind of questioning, I literally— I still remember it to this day because it was like this idea from the universe that just hit me really hard. I was in the shower, and I was getting ready to go to an ugly Christmas sweater party. It was like, the end of the year, like, 2013. And I just thought, "Oh, I should start a conference where women like this, that I'm so inspired by, are speaking." Because I selfishly just wanted to sit in the audience and hear why they do what they do, and how they got to where they are and hear their stories. And it was never like— especially at that beginning, it wasn't like, "Oh, this is gonna be a business that I'm going to create." It was very much a passion project for a few years after that. I was still running it alongside my graphic design business, which was my primary source of income. But after that idea hit me, I just kind of hit the ground running. And it was perfect timing because it was right at the end of the year, right when, you know, you're kind of starting to reflect on the past year, what you did, what brought you alive. What do you want more of? What you want less of in the upcoming year? Starting to kind of think about those resolutions or those themes that you want to integrate into the upcoming year. And I was like, this is gonna be my thing for 2014. I'm going to work on this conference, and I'm going to make it happen. So that's really how it started. We had our first conference in 2014, August, which had about 150 women. It was in a little photo studio in El Segundo. And it was amazing and it was really after that first conference where I was like, Okay, I want to figure out how to make this something that I can do— spend more of my time doing because I just fell in love with the community of women who showed up, I saw that there was a need there, that other women were craving the same things that I was. And I was hooked on it. So that was kind of the catalyst for everything coming together.
Noelle Tassey 8:12
That's such an amazing story. I love it on so many levels. I think one of the things that has always kind of shone through like, when we talked about this the other day, and today is really that piece of it, where you're thinking, you know, what I do for work is like a huge part of my life. And I want it to actually be meaningful. And this is something we talk about a lot at Alley, both like on these panels, and just like internally, and with our team, I think a lot of entrepreneurs that I know, especially female entrepreneurs, kind of have this moment, I certainly have, where you sit, and you're like, well, I'm gonna be doing this for like— I'm in it for the long haul. This is like 5, 10 years of my life and what do I really want to show for that? And it's going to be more than, you know, just making this company a success for its shareholders, like, you know, I really want to make a difference. And I think that that ties back to just this idea that's, I think very important to Millennials, Millennial entrepreneurs especially of really like— the "start with why" idea, right? I think everyone's seen that Ted Talk. And I'd love to hear just about your why because I think it's such a strong, kind of compelling story, and your mission and just how that— how you landed on that, and how that continues to drive your work.
Joanna Waterfall 9:32
Yeah, I love the Simon Sinek "Start with why" concept. I— yeah, it's so good. It's such a good thing to come back to especially in times like right now with COVID and just everything that's happening, it's like we're all getting— everything, our "how" is changing so much for a lot of us our "how" has had to change but when you're able to go back to that, "why" it's so helpful to ground you. But, honestly, it's taken a while to really articulate our "why". And I always kind of knew— and I think— I don't know if any of you out there watching today would identify as an artist or a creative, I believe everybody is creative. I think creativity is just problem-solving, but I was very much like, involved in the creative world. I was a fine arts major in college, I was a graphic design and digital media major. I transferred schools and transferred majors and so I was very in like, the creative worlds. And I think that a lot of— one of the struggles, when you are in that world, is to be able to take these kind of feelings you have and articulate them into words and name them and I think once you're able to really name what your "why" is and your mission, have a solid cohesive mission statement not only for your business but even for your life, it really is helpful to guide you and direct you when, like I said, times get crazy and you have to pivot and you have to change. You know, through— and I know you guys at Alley have experienced very similar things it's, like, when we're not able to get together in person and do the regular things that we've always done, you've got to pivot and change, but the thing that has really helped me get creative and still stay inspired during this time is really going back to that "why." Okay, why are we doing this? How can we help women connect on a deeper level with themselves, their work, and others? And then the "how", the "how" can change as that "why" stays the same because there's a million ways really to accomplish our missions and our "whys." We might see another business that has a similar "why", or a similar mission and they're solving that problem in a totally different way. And so we can get creative with the "how" when we were really solid and can articulate that "why" for our businesses and ourselves.
Noelle Tassey 12:28
Definitely, and you know— so it's interesting, we've actually touched on a few of these things before and already in this conversation, but when you when I first talked about the work that Yellow Co. does, the first thing I did was I went on your website, and— which I love. It's really it's a gorgeous site, and I was sort of scrolling around clicking and there's a section that says, you know, "feel misaligned in your working life, do you?" and there are a lot of statements in there that we've actually already touched on just the importance of these you know, items, whether it's kind of like, having your heart in the mission of what you're doing, or you know the meaning and purpose. But I'm curious, you have something in here, and because we're talking about digital connectivity today, where you're kind of asking people if they're are experiencing loneliness and isolation. And I'd just love to dig into that a little bit and hear your thoughts, and like, what you see as a solve for that because I think this is something that a lot of people are— you know, I think we're always struggling with it, frankly, to some extent, it's part of the human experience, not to be too philosophical about it. But especially now, you know, with COVID, all of us being remote, distributed, how do you start to solve for that through community and in a digital setting?
Joanna Waterfall 13:44
Yeah, yeah. And I totally agree. I think loneliness is something that we all experience and it is definitely a part of the human experience and I think accepting that also helps.
Noelle Tassey 13:59
Joanna Waterfall 14:01
Because you don't feel like a crazy person because you're feeling alone, because that's a part of being human. But yeah, I think that it is important to show up to things right now and it's being— could be a variety of things as we are experiencing loneliness. Showing up for your friends like, Facetiming, texting, what— however you can, Zoom happy hours, my friends and I have been doing that it's really fun. I think also kind of in the work setting, you guys already are here and watching this, but I think making the effort to show up for digital events, participating in whatever way you can, whether it's a chat or even a Zoom call or following up with a person that you may be connected with or that you liked hearing speak at this digital event that you're going to. But I've found that a lot of us use time as kind of our excuse to not show up and connect. Because— and I think I'm probably preaching to the choir here, It doesn't always feel efficient to connect with people, or to make that effort, it doesn't always feel efficient to just chat, or to even show up for an event some time if you're on a deadline, or you need to you know, get some get stuff done or you're behind on your emails, whatever it can be, like, I just don't have time to hop onto that thing today. But I think that it's more important than ever that we show up to events digitally or whatnot. And with our community, we've, through really a lot of what we have currently implemented into our digital membership has been in response to our community just really feeling alone, so much more lonely and isolated, currently through the COVID Season. So we've— one thing that has been super helpful for our community is to have really solid anchors that are happening consistently every week, that don't take a ton of extra brain work to remember when this is happening and to really involve them in those conversations. So every Tuesday, which I have— it's actually happening right now in our membership, but I have two awesome women who are leading it today. But every Tuesday at 11 am. We have coffee and conversations together with our community. And we invite people on screen sometimes and they connect with us in that conversation. We connect around a topic every week. That's happening every single week at 11 am Pacific Standard Time. So having those solid anchors that don't take a lot of brainpower for us because we are overwhelmed. And there is so much that we have to think about right now. And so having to remember or to put it on your calendar, whatever different things can take a lot of work. So that's— we found just having— we have a few other things that are just solid, consistent anchors that have been really helpful to allow our community to connect and feel less lonely and isolated during this time. And for myself, too. I love, love connecting and chatting with our community digitally. It's so much fun.
Noelle Tassey 17:46
Yeah, definitely. And I think there's you know, there's sort of this like, idea going around about Zoom fatigue, and I'm sure like, we've all kind of had those moments, that burnout of like, but then you have a really great conversation, just reminds you like, video chat, and this form of connection is still better than nothing. And in some ways it can be, you know, really like, liberating and can actually open up who you can talk to. One of the cool things for us has been like, be able to widen you know, our search for panelists and I can be on here talking to somebody who's in Amsterdam, and—
Joanna Waterfall 18:17
Noelle Tassey 18:18
— not have to fly them halfway around the world, which has been really great. So you know, with Yellow Co., obviously, you're building this community of incredible female entrepreneurs. You see a lot— and you're a female entrepreneur yourself, so you see a lot of the challenges associated with running a business as a woman. I know you've also spoken about the fact that 90% of women business owners are solopreneurs or are basically running their business with independent contractors instead of full-time employees, and so you've kind of drawn a line between that and the fact that women are starting businesses but not necessarily scaling them. I'd love to hear from you and like, your work with your community, just like what you see as the drivers of that, and you know, what your overall take is on it. Like is it good? Is it bad? Is it— you know?
Joanna Waterfall 19:11
Yeah, just super interesting. I'm not sure if I know. I have some hypothesis— hypotheses.
No, let's formulate.
—on why it might be— like yeah I got— I got a latte here today, so I'm a little fancier than normal. But yeah, I think from what I've seen, and I don't mean to generalize or stereotype, I know that everyone is unique, male or female, they have their own way of going about things in the world but, I see on a— (inaudible) starting businesses not because they want to make a ton of money, or gain a lot of influence or power, I think that's all a part of it. Obviously, we have to make money, and we have to— you know, having influence is important and helps our impact and all that stuff. But I do see a lot of women, especially in the Yellow community, they're going into— they're creating their own business because they feel like they're going to be able to have more autonomy and to be able to express themselves in a way that hasn't been able to be expressed in other ways, through other jobs. That's what I consistently see a lot of that, So I almost think that oftentimes, we— a lot of women will go out and, I'm saying this carefully because I know that there are so many different stories of women, but this is just an observation, and maybe what I've experienced in my own self as well. But if you're able to provide for your family, if you're able to do the things you love, travel, pre-COVID, post-COVID, spend time with your friends and family, a lot of women I see are content with that. And so I think it kind of it stops us from necessarily taking things to the next level or wanting more or even seeing that there is more for us to have as far as scaling our businesses and what that could mean for us. I think a lot of it too is, you can't be what you haven't seen. And I think that you know, we could— there's so many examples of men who have grown and scaled their businesses and been very successful, and there are examples of women as well, but there are not as many examples of women who have been able to do that, historically speaking, and women are making amazing strides. And I think that as we're able to see more examples of women who have grown and scaled their businesses, it will empower us to see what is possible, and see that there is more. But, I mean, also there's a lot that makes it difficult to scale just in our current market or current world even before COVID. I think social media, it used to be, you could really have a solid— solid visuals, a solid website, and a solid, consistent Instagram feed, and you could really stand out. Now, you know, that's a must. You have to have a beautiful website, you have to have a solid, consistent Instagram feed and you have to have these things. So I do think with our just, digital space being a lot more saturated than it was even like four or five years ago, it does make it harder to stand out and scale and grow your business because we're having to innovate so much and navigate just marketing what that looks like and getting the word out about what we're doing. That was a little bit of all over the place, I feel like but— yeah.
Noelle Tassey 23:32
It's a complicated phenomenon for sure. And I know like, it looks like— to your point, it looks very different depending on every woman's individual experience. But it is just kind of very interesting as a trend. It feels like it's the wide mix of things driving that. I think it's easy to like point to a million different experiences that are different facets of it. But as we try to build communities around female entrepreneurs, starting to understand that experience and what women really want from building a business, right? That is, at the core of it, the whole point of this entire thing is you got to choose. And if you don't want to scale your business, that's awesome. But if you do, it's always interesting, you know, when we have female entrepreneurs and CEOs on here to talk to them about what those barriers have been, whether it's, you know, encountering sexism when you're raising rounds of funding, or just not being looped into the same network that your male peers are right off the bat. And it's even now, even with all the attention drawn to female entrepreneurs running early-stage startups, it can be hard to fill up a panel of all women, for us, depending on the industry, you know, the minute you kind of leave the traditionally pink fields, you're like, Okay, well, I want to do something about, you know, AI in Manufacturing and there's like one woman who started a company in this space and running that company.
Joanna Waterfall 23:40
Noelle Tassey 25:11
It's been interesting. So I want to talk a little bit about also the journey that you've been on with the Yellow Co. and just how you've responded to COVID. So we talked to, like, again, digital connectivity is a huge theme that we're trying to touch on today. You told me a little bit earlier this week about how you guys have been responding to that, and sort of pivoting your business and with just like, love to hear more about that and how you're solving for that and this time.
Joanna Waterfall 25:42
Yeah, I think that I'm still figuring it out. But yeah, we've had to make a lot of changes. So the biggest one, we do a conference every year in New York and in LA, and the kind of— especially our LA conference, it's our flagship event, it's what we started with. It's what a lot of people know us just for that event. And it's been happening for six years now. And it's been a huge part of my summers and my life. It happens at the end of August every year. And when this all started going down, I remember driving in the car, I was on the way to work, and I started thinking— and this was like, middle of March, I think it was like, "I wonder if this is going to impact our June conference?" So we had a— June 26th was our New York conference— was supposed to be our New York conference., and then August 27th, and 28th is the two-day LA conference. And I just remember being like, "I wonder if this is going to impact that?" That's interesting. And then it felt like that week, and I'm sure all of you guys have your own experience (inaudible) how it just kind of like, dominoed. And then by the end of the week, it was like, okay, yep, we think that making the June conference virtual is the best. We want to make sure to just keep everybody safe. And we don't know what June is going to look like, even though it was still March, we just— with looking at the research in the data, it was just like, you know, we don't know, and we can't plan around not knowing that's another thing with events, you know, it's like, you're planning out months and months in advance. So to be planning for something that you don't know if you're going to be able to execute in the way that you've been planning for, it just isn't working— it doesn't work. So that was hard. And then after— shortly after that, it was— we had to come to the realization "Oh, we actually might have to make our August conference virtual as well." And that one, just from an emotional, like, personal place. I was like, really trying to hold on to that August conference because it's been such an anchor for my year like, usually in July I'm like, getting— we're just like full-on conference mode, getting excited, getting ready, doing final pushes for everything. And so deciding to make that virtual was a really hard thing. And we had already been selling tickets for it. We had sold, I think over 100 tickets already, for it. And so having to let everybody know that that was going virtual was hard and as far as more practical things that we did. We let all of our ticket holders know that we are more than willing to refund, but we would love if you would consider joining us for our virtual conference in August for free if you transfer your ticket to our 2021 conference— in-person conference. So we were able to— most everybody chose to stick with us and do that, which was really helpful for us from a financial perspective. And, so we have that at the end of August and then we just had a June— our June virtual conference happened last month and actually, you know, it was super, super fun. I wasn't sure how it was gonna be because it was virtual and our in— you know, there's nothing like in-person, there's a magic when people, especially women, are together in person, but the virtual conference felt pretty magical, too. We had some amazing speakers come, and they were so inspiring, and we had just a great engagement in our chat, which was super fun. There's definitely pros and cons to virtual. A lot of pros, like you said, we were able to reach a wider audience and have people from all over the world join us, which was super fun. But we had— we were able to take things that we do, that are staples for us at all of our in-person conferences, and bring them online. So we did an online virtual marketplace. Which, every year, we have a do good— do-good goods marketplace, we call it, where we invite ethical vendors to come and sell their goods at our conferences, and so we were able to still do that, but we just created an online shop. And then it was kind of cool, and a lot of this stuff will definitely transfer to when we do go back to in-person, hopefully, that'll happen. I feel like right now, it's like when it just— the road looks so long, but it will happen even if it takes forever, but there's a lot that we will bring different conferences that worked really well at the virtual one. So we were able to have sponsors, direct sponsor— direct links there, talk a little bit about them. We were able to have direct links to our speakers' bios. And we just created (inaudible), and it was amazing. The marketplace, the speakers, the bios, the sponsors. We also had a digital goodie bag, which we're actually known for our goodie bags, and we were able to get brands to participate and offer highly discounted or free items to our attendees. So we have a digital goodie bag. And it was kind of like we were able to take everything that we do at our in-person conference and make it even more accessible to our community.
Noelle Tassey 32:01
That is so cool.
Joanna Waterfall 32:02
So other small things. Yeah, like small things too, to make it feel like an experience, like, we created a conference playlist and had a link to that. So you could play it at home and we played it through the computer, and to kind of create, you know, as much of an immersive experience as you can. But things like that, and it was really fun to get creative with it. Again, like, going back to that, okay, if this is the "why", how are we gonna then execute upon that, and it was really, really fun. I actually very much enjoyed it.
Noelle Tassey 32:36
I love that. Well, you know, you said at the beginning of this conversation, I think that you know, creativity is just problem-solving, and—
Joanna Waterfall 32:43
Noelle Tassey 32:44
You know, with the right resources and attitude, and granted, this isn't true across the board, but for a lot of businesses, you can really treat COVID as a problem that just needs a really creative solution. I think one thing that's really striking me about your story is just— we've not heard a lot on these panels about like, corporate sponsors still like, being willing to throw advertising dollars into things during this time. You know, I've been hearing a lot more stories that are kind of the opposite— budget cuts and things like that. So kind of cool that you've got that continued participation in your goodie bag, your swag bag, you know, just all of that, is also really— it's cool. It's encouraging, it shows I think with the right mix and the right engaged audience, you can still be doing things like this digitally and potentially doing an even more effective job, which is really, really cool and really exciting.
Joanna Waterfall 33:43
Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, not to say that like, it's the exact same, it's definitely changed. And we were fortunate enough to have a few sponsors who we landed before pre-COVID to stick with us and pivot with us and kind of add on and get creative with a few different things. And then also, we've been fortunate to work with smaller brands— smaller businesses that are still, I don't know, maybe medium-sized, you'd say, but are still up for giving sponsorship dollars, and it might not be on a super high scale, but we're able to get more of those people involved. And, so yeah, we've been really fortunate to be able to kind of have those relationships continue. But I mean, it's definitely changed. Like there's— it definitely has been— I don't want it to come off like, "Oh, it's all the same." And everybody's like—
Noelle Tassey 34:44
Joanna Waterfall 34:45
Yeah. Yeah. But it has been cool to still see people stick with us and also kind of pivot around that as well.
Noelle Tassey 34:55
Yeah, definitely. And I think the biggest success stories that we hear out of this are like, the ones where you know, you kind of have this understanding that there's still value in connection, community, and, you know, engaging with communities in this way. And then Okay, let's like, be partners and creatively work something out that still gets us to that outcome. Frankly, it's something that like, Alley's gone through, right? Because we are a company that really, you know, since our inception has been incredibly focused on bringing people together in-person to build community and since this started, we've had to sit with our corporate partners and say, "Okay, what was— you know, in a weird way, how do we reverse engineer like the core value of that in your eyes versus the core value of that in our eyes and how it ties to our mission" and then kind of find that common ground between the two and that's been really interesting as a journey, we've been super lucky to have you know, I think like you, amazing partners, sponsors, clients who are actually willing to like, meet us halfway on those things, work with us, co-create and ideate with us. But it's definitely— it's definitely different. It's definitely tough. So, I think— yeah, it's been a wild ride for everybody.
Joanna Waterfall 36:11
Yeah, for sure. And I think to your point, the relationship aspect is like, so much more important. It's always been important, but I think that even during COVID time, it's so much more important. Not only relationship with your clients or your partners or sponsors or whoever you work with, but your relationship with your customers. If you are a B2C company, or— we're B2B, just relationships are so, so key and so important to I think doing business right now. It's always been important, but I think it's very much highlighted now. That relational aspect can get you really far.
Noelle Tassey 36:59
Yeah. You know, you need to be able to have that conversation of like, I know, neither of us know what we're really doing right now, but trust us and also trust that we'll work this out together because we both want to, like make it good. And if you aren't coming in from a position of, you know, I think some degree of like, authenticity in that relationship and, you know, good problem-solving, from like, a sort of place of good intentions, it can be tough, for sure. We've had like, people who've had all kinds of experiences with this on these panels, which has been really, really interesting. I'm curious, so I know you guys have a lot of conversations with your community, what the biggest challenges you're hearing about during this time are, and like, any creative solutions. I think, especially when we think about digital connectivity, like, two things that have always— that have been real themes actually for us throughout these panel series have been like, people talking about, you know, the impact of the crisis on their mental health and how they're solving that through digital solutions, you know, community-driven digital solutions, and then also the challenge of being a leader and trying to be connected with your team in this time. And so I'm curious what the Yellow Co. community, you know, was kind of thinking about this, if there are other challenges that they're encountering that are also top of mind.
Joanna Waterfall 38:30
Noelle Tassey 38:31
Joanna Waterfall 38:32
Yeah. I think, gosh, there's so many things that are coming to mind right now. I think as leaders, I just see people craving leadership right now. Craving direction and clarity and just how do we do this? And I think it's a really great opportunity for us and everyone watching, I know you are a leader in one way, shape or form, and I think it's a great opportunity for specifically female leaders to step up and provide the clarity of leadership that is needed for communities right now. Even if it's just "hey, we're in this together." It doesn't mean you have to have all the answers, but I just see so many— (inaudible) because there's so much uncertainty and I think every industry kind of is struggling with different types of things. But what I really just consistently see is so much uncertainty and just a craving of clarity, of guidance, of leadership, and for someone to just be walking with them through these challenges. So yeah, I mean, I see some industries, you know, are really thriving right now. I think I— there's a lot, I think because of my background, we have a lot of like, design-type industries, and they're doing really well, because, I think a lot of people right now are— because things are shifting and changing, they are able to work on things on their businesses rather than in it. So rebranding or, you know, working with a copywriter to get some good copy going and working on those things that kind of often get pushed to the backburner.
Noelle Tassey 40:40
Yeah, those are pretty high-priority if your only channel is digital. We've found that. Suddenly it's like, "my God, wow!"
Joanna Waterfall 40:47
Yeah, totally. Yeah, yeah. And then, you know, I see a lot of like, co-working spaces or communities that did do a lot of in-person, stuff, mine including, pivoting and offering online coaching, or leadership groups or, you know, ways to still get that connection, that advice, and guidance but in a digital space. So yeah, just a lot of uncertainty because things— I'm in California, so a lot of frustration just with everything just started opening up, and then they all close back down. So people who are owning restaurants, you know, just spent a ton of money getting their kitchens back up, getting their stuff rehired, and now— you know, I have a friend who owns a restaurant, family chain here in LA and she has over 700 employees she just hired back and now she's like, "Am I gonna have to fire all these people again because we're shut down." So just a lot of frustration, a lot of uncertainty, I think across the board right now. And craving leaders, craving connection, craving guidance.
Noelle Tassey 42:05
Yep. And that's really where you know, communities like yours especially, just have such a unique role to play during this crisis. And also, again, groups like, obviously our partners here just another shout out to WE NYC for really providing another one of those spaces for people to connect, to lead, mentor, since we don't have, you know, the option to go through our regular channels. I think so— you know, for somebody who's joining us who's a female entrepreneur, whether they're looking to scale their business, keep it the same size, or just kind of make it through the weeks and months ahead and navigate the crisis effectively, what would be your single piece of advice to them, just as we wrap up, around how to seek out connectivity in the digital landscape and where to go for that?
Joanna Waterfall 42:58
Yeah, yeah. I would say take— making that extra effort to connect with your community. One thing I started doing during COVID is, I literally will personally go on our Instagram account and every— as often as I can, when I see new followers come in, I have a direct message that I copy and paste (inaudible) the name, text message them and just be like "Hey, let me know if you have any questions on getting involved like, I'll give you someone to follow." I have a friend who will send voice memos to people in her following just being like, "Hey, thank you so much for following. Like, appreciate you" No agenda.
Noelle Tassey 43:46
I love that.
Joanna Waterfall 43:46
And I think making extra— that like, little bit of extra effort right now in ways like that, is really— goes really far. Especially on very, very saturated markets like Instagram. Like, how can you really connect, like, one-on-one with one of your Instagram followers?
Noelle Tassey 44:06
Joanna Waterfall 44:07
So yeah, I guess I would just say like, make the extra effort to, like relationally, and personally connect with people one-on-one. We so often, I think especially when it comes to marketing or social media, we think so— about the crowds and a group of people and almost dehumanize them in that way. But if you just think about speaking to the one person, it goes so far. So that's what I'd say.
Noelle Tassey 44:36
Yeah, I— you know, I love that so much. Thank you. That's really, really interesting. And I think so speaks the idea of like, we use words like followers, when we talk about Instagram SharePoint, it's, you know, kind of like, almost this dehumanizing herd of people who are just— it's a one-way interaction, and when you think about connectivity and community, and relationship, it's way more two-sided. And, you know, I mean, personally, at least in our line of work, and just as a human, I'd rather have a relationship with one person than like, be followed by 100. So that's really cool, and a really, really interesting tip. I haven't heard of anyone else doing that, I'll have to check that out. Cool.
Joanna Waterfall 45:17
Yeah, try it.
Noelle Tassey 45:18
Yeah, follow us on Instagram, maybe I will send you a voice memo.
Joanna Waterfall 45:23
There you go.
Noelle Tassey 45:24
Send you a memo of my dog barking. Well, Joanna, thank you so, so much for joining us today. This was a really wonderful chat. It's been great learning more about you, your journey, Yellow Co., and really looking forward to seeing what you guys do next. Thank you also to all of our audience members for joining us for an hour this Tuesday. This conversation has been recorded and it'll be available tomorrow on our website if you'd like to share this content with your community. And for more information and to sign up for upcoming events, visit us at alley.com, and also check out Joanna's Yellow Co. Thank you all so much again. Thank you, Joanna. It's been a pleasure. And we'll see you all soon. Thank you.
Joanna Waterfall 46:14
Thank you so much.
Noelle Tassey 46:16