Today our spotlight is on Sarah Batista a female goal getter, entrepreneur and community builder. This conversation is all about the power of vision and goal setting, the purpose of community and how she built it, and a little on how she made the jump from corporate to business owner.
Sarah Batista: Find people who are strong where you are not, because if you are not great at executing and you’re a big idea person then partner or team up with somebody who is, who can help you in that area, so that you can get your ideas out there.
Speaker1: Welcome to the Lady Tech Charmers Podcast with your host Paula Okonneh, the podcaster for Chatting with the Experts and CEO of Computer and Database Solutions LLC, author and technology consult Dr. Sharon Jones, owner of () Rose Consultant and Caitlin Sellers, a digital therapist, inbound consultant and speaker. In this podcast we will share with you stories, ideas and resources from women globally.
So, you know how there are just not enough women in stem worldwide and those are there and not as visible as they should be. Well, The Lady Tech Charmers Podcast connects women and girls who are interested, impacted and inspired by technology, so that people can shift the conversations about women in tech and female leadership, because our mission is to benefit, inspire and educate women and girls.
Caitlin Sellers: Welcome Lady Tech Charmers to episode 4. Today, our guest Sarah Batista is a goal getter, female entrepreneur and community builder. This conversation is all about the power of vision in goal setting, the purpose of community, how she built it and a little on how she made the jump from corporate to business owner.
Sarah Batista launched Stories to Inspire, a film production company in August 2013. Stories to Inspire is a team of passionate journalists and videographers who work to inspire change by capturing impactful stories on film and video. Prior to launching Stories to Inspire, Sarah spent 7 years as a reporter and anchor for WBTV in Charlotte. In 2015 Sarah founded the She Flew the Coop movement to inspire and empower women to get out of their comfort zone and pursue their dream or purpose. The movement includes educational workshops, panel discussions, a meet up group and an original She Flew the Coop song on iTunes and various other projects. The documentary is still in production and is set to release in 2018. I am your host Caitlin Sellers with my co-host,
Dr. Sharon Jones: Dr. Sharon Jones.
Paula Okonneh: And Paula Okonneh.
Caitlin Sellers: Welcome Sarah.
Sarah Batista: Hi ladies.
Caitlin Sellers: We’re excited to have you today.
Sarah Batista: I’m excited to be here.
Dr. Sharon Jones: Yes, thank you for coming and joining the Tech Charmers group.
Caitlin Sellers: So, tell us a little bit about your business and Stories to Inspire and She Flew the Coop.
Sarah Batista: So Stories to Inspire, it was just an idea that came after reporting the news for so many years, because I was the crime and court reporter, so I spent a lot of time in the streets, a lot of time interviewing people who have gone through tragedy, and it started to weigh on me a little bit, so after so many years of that I thought, you know there are so many stories out here that are not making the news. So, Stories to Inspire came about and at first, I just practice and I was like, well let me see, is this just an idea that I really want to pursue to try to start my own business and do stories on non-profits and other businesses in the community, is this something I want to try. So, I did it on the side while still working at the TV station, but really Stories to Inspire is just a business to allow other businesses to get their message out.
Caitlin Sellers: What was it like to do the side hassle and the full-time gig?
Sarah Batista: It was exhausting, scaring, nerve-racking because I was on television and I wanted to tread likely there and not make any mistakes or doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing and I was okay, but I had my son and then I was going to work full time in that schedule alone was exhausting and working in television, the hours are long and it’s pedal to the metal all day and then you come home and you are trying to work on your side business and schedule things and coordinate things and it was a lot.
Caitlin Sellers: How did you make time to be a Mama?
Sarah Batista: Well, I was trying to balance everything, but I’ll be honest I don’t think there was a lot of balance. I did the best I could, but it was a lot.
Caitlin Sellers: What was the process you went through to shift from corporate to female business owner?
Sarah Batista: Well, first it was a mind shift because reporting is all I ever wanted to do from the time I was a young girl, and that was all I really had done. To change and to leave that career was really a difficult decision for me and I have to think what else would I want to do, because I really actually enjoyed what I did, I was just tired of constantly reporting on bad news. So, it was a difficult decision, I even had to talk to a life coach for a little bit to try to figure out what direction to go in, so it was tough.
Paula Okonneh: So, what were some of the goals you set?
Sarah Batista: The main thing was to get this business off the ground. Those were my main goals as to just get the business off the ground, stay afloat and work on some documentaries, tell some stories in the community that weren’t being told and just stay fulfilled in the process.
Caitlin Sellers: What were some of your favorite topics that you did when you first started out? What were the kind of aha this is where I’m supposed to be moment?
Sarah Batista: In my business? There were some stories that I did on a community culinary school where the students have rough backgrounds and they come to the, I don’t know if you know Community Culinary School of Charlotte, it’s a great non-profit organization, but a lot of their students have difficult backgrounds and so they’ve come through the school and they have turned their lives around and so that was great opportunity to tell that story, and to also make a business out of that. So, now it’s doing what I loved and able to still provide for myself in the process.
Dr. Sharon Jones: Sarah, when you decided to go into doing documentaries because it’s a little bit different than reporting, similar but different because it’s a longer band of time, did you know how to go in and record and edit and what software did you use to start that process? Did you teach yourself, I think that sometimes women get a little nervous about jumping into something they are not sure about because I don’t know really know how to edit a film, so how did you do that?
Sarah Batista: It’s funny because I think it was Steve Jobs who says like you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots going backwards, and when I started in the business in Charlottesville Virginia, I was a brand new young rookie reporter and the way it works in television news is you have to do everything, so I had to shoot, I had to write, I had to edit, I had to do everything for the first two years of my career. When I left to start my business, I already had that skill set even though it drove me crazy at that time because it was so much, it set me up well to start my own business and the television station that I started was a brand-new TV station, so I also got to learn how to start something from scratch. So, all those things were sort of preparing and setting me up for eventually starting my own business which I never saw it coming.
Caitlin Sellers: Well, with social media today you really can create your own news outlet, so having the unique background that you have is there a particular channel that you prefer to get your word out?
Sarah Batista: On social media? You know I got to do better with that. Social media thing, it’s a great tool but it’s like anything you’ve got to keep at it and be consistent with it and so I use Facebook, we do Instagram and Twitter, but honestly a lot of those are still tied to my personal brand and we’re still in the process of building business brands.
Caitlin Sellers: A lot of entrepreneurs who have personal brands and have a really great network, I think I’m in the same boat.
Sarah Batista: Right.
Caitlin Sellers: Trying to figure out how to make the shift and how to build something bigger than yourself.
Sarah Batista: Right.
Caitlin Sellers: But having that vision and then surrounding yourself by the right people, it’s usually what comes about right?
Sarah Batista: Yeah and it’s challenging because you’re like how am I going to manage all of this? Obviously, you can’t do it all yourself and then you have to, as an entrepreneur you are like, well could I pay someone to do this, but that’s always a challenge when your solopreneur, figuring out how to make that work is always a process.
Caitlin Sellers: Do you find yourself doing energy exchanges or trade outs or whatever to combat the financial investments?
Sarah Batista: I have done trades, I don’t do them often. I’m very cautious about that, I just think it’s good to be careful and just make sure you’re managing your time well and getting what you need out of it. I do have a lot of interns, I’ve had an intern every semester since I started my business and that has been extremely valuable and I sort of see it as a mentoring opportunity as well, so they’re not only helping me but they really get to, I get to work with them one on one to kind of mentor and guide them and teach them as well.
Paula Okonneh: So, as you have mentioned that you had many interns working with you, what advice would you give to a young person who wants to do something similar to what you are doing, that is starting their own business?
Sarah Batista: Well, you have to be prepared for the highs and lows that come with it and not everyone is an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur, it requires wearing a lot of different hats, it requires being able to tough out the storms, but I think we’re living in an age now where millennials especially, they are able to do it. They just jump right in and they figure it out and socially with technology, so it’s certainly not impossible but you have to be willing to stick it out.
Paula Okonneh: Good advice.
Caitlin Sellers: So, what’s up with She Flew the Coop? Where is it going?
Sarah Batista: So, She Flew the Coop was really supposed to be just a documentary and then it’s branched off from there, so now there’s a meet-up group. We do these live sort of talk show type events, the goal is to do more of those. I also want to finish the documentaries; the documentary is supposed to follow 5 Years from the time I technically flew the coop and leaving the TV station to where I am 5 years will be next August. It’s the process of what happened during that time as very raw behind the scenes type look, but also women I met along the way who did the same thing, and just see where it goes. It’s always a process, constantly innovating, trying to figure out the next step, where are we going, what are we doing, it’s definitely a journey.
Dr. Sharon Jones: What has been the most rewarding part of She Flew the Coop?
Sarah Batista: Building a community of women who really are looking to find that encouragement and that push that they need, because the main thing that I hear from women is I want to do this, but you know people tell me I can’t do it, or I don’t have the money, or I don’t know where to start. So, I hear a lot of these things and I think the purpose of She Flew the Coop is to provide them with the community of other women who’ve gone through this but also point them in the right direction as to what resources they can use and just show them that you don’t have to be like everybody else.
You can do whatever you want to do, I mean it’s going to be hard, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s fulfilling. 11:15 "]I just have gotten to a point in life where I don’t want to go through my life and say I wish I could have, I should have, I just want to do it and if I fail I fail, but at least I know I tried. 11:16
Dr. Sharon Jones: That’s a really good advice. I think teaching technology over the years has been an interesting Journey as well. 11:31 There has been more value in the failure part than in my successes because I was able to grow from that and figure out well what do I do next. If I didn’t know how to program in a certain language and I had to teach it the next day, it was really that persistence of going to learn it. She Flew the Coop offers that on that business level to those that are really interested in wanting to go out on their own.
Caitlin Sellers: What are some of the resources that you’re giving women who are trying to make the leap?
Sarah Batista: Recently we partnered with Central Piedmont Community College and their small business center to do this She Flew the Coop live event, which was a panel/talk show type event and so the goal there was to inspire the crowd, but also point them in the right direction. If they want to start their own business here’s some resources, a lot of them are even free that you can take, courses that you can take to get started in your own business, and also just networking, a network of women who have their own businesses that are willing to help you and can support you in whatever area that you need help with.
Caitlin Sellers: When you started your business, what was one goal you set for yourself?
Sarah Batista: To pay my bills, no I’m just kidding.
Caitlin Sellers: For real?
Sarah Batista: I didn’t have all the answers, I really didn’t. Like looking back I’m like God, I was kind of crazy. I really jumped in without the whole plan, but you never really do have the entire plan. But I think the main goal was just to get this business going, to stay out there, to network, to remain visible and to just work hard at it. But you know I’m a person of faith too and that played a big role in my journey as well, because I don’t think that if I didn’t have that faith, I don’t think I would have been able to do it. For me, that’s what’s sustained me along the journey, just believing that it’s going to work out.
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Dr. Sharon Jones: Did your plans change?
Sarah Batista: Yeah, the plan has changed somewhat because I didn’t see “ She Flew the Coop “ coming. “Stories to Inspire “ is my business, She Flew the Coop is something that came out of Stories to Inspire. The initial plan was just to work Stories to Inspire, grow it into a bigger film production company that maybe also produces shows one day, and then She Flew the Coop came about maybe a year and a half afterwards, after I left the TV station, and that was just sort of a random thought that I had. I want to do a documentary and so that’s how that started.
Paula Okonneh: I think this is very inspirational to a lot of women because many women and girls tend to beat up themselves, they don’t feel like they have something to give, and what you’re doing is classic example of I can start off without really, as you mentioned not quite a 100% sure of what you wanted to do, but still starting and making a difference, because you’ve made a difference obviously looking at the documentaries that you are or you have created.
Sarah Batista: Thank you, thank you. Yeah, I know it’s a process and I think that’s the advice I gave to everybody is don’t think you have to have it all figured it out.
Paula Okonneh: That’s true.
Sarah Batista: And I also didn’t just jump without thinking it through. I really took time, although I did my research, I did some videos on the side for free to build up my portfolio before I left, and I got testimonials from those people from clients. I asked people, is this something you would buy, you would be willing to pay for these video services, so I’ve talked to other video production companies about how they set their prices, how they did their packaging, all of that. So, it wasn’t like I decided, oh I’m going to start a company and I’m going to do that tomorrow. I set a date, 10 months out and said okay, this is the date that I’m going to leave my job, and I also made sure that I left on a positive note. The car was under contract with the TV station and towards the end it was really difficult, because I was just kind of getting really tired.
But still one of my mentors was like just honor your contract, finish strong, that sentence played in my mind over and over and over again through those final months as I was trying to build, it got really hard just balancing everything trying to build a business and working and raising my son, and that sentence of honor your contract finish strong just kept playing in my mind. I’m so glad that I did it that way and did it right, because I didn’t want to burn any bridges and that’s been valuable.
Caitlin Sellers: How has community building grown your personal brand and helped you find purpose?
Sarah Batista: I love meeting people, I love connecting people and so for me it’s just been rewarding just to meet other women and know that even I am not alone, because sometimes as I’m the one out here champion, being the champion and leading and all of this, it can still be lonely. So, leaders need leaders, encouragers need encouraging although it’s nice to be around other women who are in the same boat. They give me what I need as well in terms of just support and networking.
Paula Okonneh: So, do you have any competitors?
Sarah Batista: Yes, there are other video production companies in the area that do similar things and that’s okay. I think for me I’ve always focused on my network that was another big thing, when I left the TV station I really relied on the network that I had built through working in television for so many years, to help kind of carry me to the next level in my business, so a lot of those contacts that I had made and had been developing for a long time, I definitely used that as a resource to get new clients and build business.
Paula Okonneh: So, would you say that set you apart from your competitors?
Sarah Batista: I think that definitely gave me an advantage when starting a business is that I had built a a community I had built a network, a strong network already. That definitely was helpful for sure.
Caitlin Sellers: Are working primarily in Charlotte or are you travelling all over?
Sarah Batista: I work in Charlotte. I also do some freelance work, so I’ve done freelance work for other companies and production companies. So, I do a lot of it. It’s a little bit here, a little bit there and there’s a lot of opportunities that have come up since I left the TV station and started my business, and that’s the other thing, I would say is just be open like I acted in a play in Canada which was so random and it came totally out of the blue, so opportunities like that that you never expect but it was an amazing experience, just be open to all of those things that could come your way and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity or the time or flexibility to even do that if I had still been at the TV station.
Caitlin Sellers: What kind of role are you playing in your business? I know that when you have a video production company there are lot of hats that you can wear, what do you prefer?
Sarah Batista: Directing and producing, being the storyteller. I can shoot, I can edit and I do enjoy writing, but I try to hire or higher out people who can shoot and edit even though I can do all of those things, there are definitely people who do them better than I and they specialize in that area and so I prefer to stay in my lane.
Caitlin Sellers: What are some recommendations on goal setting for our listeners?
Sarah Batista: Goal setting. Well, I think you do have to write it down, be very clear about what your goals are, and understand that they may change and that’s okay, but have some sort of picture of where you want to go and stick to it, follow-through is so important because a lot of times we have a lot of these big ideas that we don’t execute and also finding people who are strong where you are not, because if you are not great at executing and you’re a big idea person then partner or team up with somebody who is, who can help you in that area, so that you can get your ideas out there..
Caitlin Sellers: Absolutely. A Few quick questions before we wrap up. What tool or tools are you using to edit video?
Sarah Batista: Adobe Premiere.
Caitlin Sellers: What would you tell people who get caught up in equipment?
Sarah Batista: Get caught up in equipment? Meaning they don’t know how to use it?
Caitlin Sellers: Yeah, they’re like oh I need to buy this really expensive camera or I don’t know what camera to pick, oh I need all these accessories to go with video production. What do you do?
Sarah Batista: It’s funny because you can have the best equipment in the world, but if you don’t know how to use it, what’s the point? And I have seen people who are amazingly talented and they have the bare minimum and their stuff looks great. I wouldn’t get caught up on that, you can get the basic tools nowadays and people over think it sometimes and I think at the end of the day it’s just starting somewhere, just start, you’ll figure it out.
Caitlin Sellers: I think that goes to people being nervous about being on video or especially with live video, now people are like I don’t know what to do, I’m freaking out.
Sarah Batista: Right, right, yeah. I can see that, I can see that. Live is, even me I was, I do live shots every single day as a TV reporter, but going live on Facebook, I’m like aahh, I don’t know if I would be able to do that.
Caitlin Sellers: Yeah, I think we all feel that way.
Sarah Batista: I don’t know why, but there something about being watched and not being able to make a mistake and not feeling like you can make a mistake.
Caitlin Sellers: And vulnerability with your core network, that’s crazy. How can people connect with you?
Sarah Batista: They can go to my website, storiestoinspirefilms.com, I’m on Facebook as Sarah Batista and then we also have a She Flew the Coop meet up group in Charlotte that they can join if they’re interested.
Caitlin Sellers: Awesome, so we’re going to wrap up this episode. Make sure you head over to iTunes and click subscribe. If you love what you’re hearing, please write a raving review. If you have questions or topics you want us to cover related to technology and are a woman in leadership, send us a note. If you are woman in Tech and want to be on the show, checkout ladytechcharmers.com to apply. Thanks for being here.