PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Susan Fennema is the Chaos Eradicating Officer (CEO) of Beyond the Chaos, a consultancy helping small business owners to simplify their operations and manage their projects so they can grow their businesses and get their lives back. With 30+ years of operations/project management experience in professional service industries, Susan is on a mission to improve American society exponentially. When not making multi-course dinners, she enjoys Texas A&M football games and Blackhawks hockey. She lives and works from her home in McKinney, Texas, with her husband, dog, and cat.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Susan Fennema at Beyond The Chaos today. From talking about SEO for Websites, Susan agreed to a quick interview.
She took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know her better and hear more about the things that have helped shape her business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, I get up, step outside, do some deep breaths, and then sit back down and sort out my list. Usually, you get overwhelmed because your priorities and calendar are messed up. So, taking the time to restructure the place you’ve gotten to is really my reset.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
Hiring experts to help me – most notably in the marketing area. Not struggling to do those things that someone else can do better and faster is a huge, worthwhile investment!
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — what would it say and why?
You don’t have to be an overwhelmed small business owner. GET HELP!
When did you first become a rebel?
I once pierced my left ear to wear a second earring. And I wore a toe ring for years in my 30s. That’s about as rebellious as I get… but my mother hated both things.
Hard Work Really Does Matter
- Susan Fennema
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
My first client was a pure fail. It was like I started my business to be in a worse situation than I was at the job I left. The client was a sociopath – literally. What it taught me, though, was what I wanted my business to be. I ended up firing him. And that was the best thing I’ve ever done.
What careers advice would you give to your 21-year old self?
Save money! Do the 401K. Don’t get into debt. If you do, you won’t be struggling at 40 to make sure you’re ready for retirement. Arg! The amount of money I wasted on things that didn’t matter is atrocious. If I had just put 1/10th of it into long-term planning, it would have made things a lot easier later.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Hard work really does matter. Being able to show poise in tough situations is one of the most valuable skills you can muster. And make sure you know how to write properly. As to what to ignore? You don’t need to work 70 hours. Just be really good at managing your time.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
Beyond the Chaos helps overwhelmed small business owners simplify their operations and manage their projects so they can focus on growing their business… and getting their lives back.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I’d love to put together conferences.
Tell us about someone you admire and why you admire them?
My dad. This man, at 80, is still running his own small manufacturing company. He knows more about theology than most priests. He is well-read, successful, loving, honest, funny, and tells great stories. He is well-travelled too – very adventurous. He is a great photographer and is in a band, playing trumpet at gigs. He runs his business with great integrity, and he taught me that you know you’ve made it professionally when you “don’t do anything” – you just set the tone. He loves life and is open to so many experiences.
What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?
Calendaring. Although, I think quite a few people practice it. I just don’t know how to be successful without it!
What's your favourite digital marketing channel and why?
Definitely LinkedIn. You don’t have to weed through the non-business stuff there. Everyone is there to be professional. (Except for the occasional nuts here and there who think LinkedIn is a dating site, but they are easy to ignore.)
What is a useful skill someone could learn in one minute?
How to write a process for how something is executed.
What one song can you listen to every day non-stop?
Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash.
What's your favourite colour?
What's your favourite holiday destination?
Anywhere I can SCUBA.
What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?
Social Media. I dumped Facebook, Twitter and Instagram a few weeks ago. I feel like I have so much more time to have REAL relationships!
What's your star sign?
What are you NOT Very Good at?
I’m horrible at package wrapping. I love gift giving. But having to WRAP them is a whole ordeal.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Protein shake with a date, chia seeds, strawberries and cashew milk
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Susan) in this new series.