The School of Moxie Podcast

The Last of Us is a Business Story: The Pursuit of Uniqueness with Renee Bowen (part 2)

November 08, 2023 Mary Williams @sensiblewoo Season 1 Episode 15
The School of Moxie Podcast
The Last of Us is a Business Story: The Pursuit of Uniqueness with Renee Bowen (part 2)
Show Notes Transcript

Join host Mary Williams and special guest Renee Bowen in the second of a two-part episode (see episode 3, “From Hollywood to Business” for the first part) as they dive into the realms of entrepreneurship, parenting, and personal growth through the lens of The Last of Us. Explore the challenges of carving your unique path in saturated markets and how to disrupt the ordinary. Find inspiration in their journey from starting businesses in a highly competitive landscape to becoming thriving entrepreneurs.

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Guest information

Renee Bowen helps creative entrepreneurs with spicy brains find clarity and regulation through coaching, courses and her podcast, Tried & True With a Dash of Woo. She offers high level 1:1 coaching as well as group coaching, in addition to photography education online courses and hypnosis tracks. Connect with Renee on her website, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn.


Show Credits

Support the Show.

I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo.

You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we might reference in an episode are in the show notes.

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Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all, be you. 🤗

[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.

I'm your host, Mary Williams, and I've been an online creator since 2010. I've seen a lot of trends come and go over the years, but one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I've seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.

So we're going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we're using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems. And tells people who we are.

I find that a lot of my 

[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can't describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives through the ability to put our feelings into words.

This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it's done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they've been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the HBO original series, The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name.

Consider this your official spoiler alert. On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we're going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Before we get into this week's episode, 

[00:02:00] have I told you about the weekly readings I create for entrepreneurs just like you each and every week?

I am an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I've been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching. for just about 20 years now. That's a long time. I know that most readers out there don't focus on your business needs. So that's where I come in; readings with me are only about your business development, and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.

Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates, where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just $9 per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week.

No more Sunday scaries. You've got this better in hand than you know. And I'll help you see it. Now let's get watching and talking. Welcome to the second 

[00:03:00] of a two part episode featuring Renee Bowen. It's been a few weeks since we heard from Renee, and I'm so excited for you to hear the rest of our discussion.

When we recorded this, Renee's insight was so good. I knew that I needed to include it in the opening week for season one, in addition to my original plans of having her help wrap up the first season of discussion. Renee dropped a lot of amazing truth bombs during this conversation. And if you haven't yet listened to the first half, you'll find that at the beginning of this season's episodes. We dove right into an analysis of celebrity and how entrepreneurs chase or avoid visibility and fame.

What I encourage you to do is think about how you relate to the entertainment that you consume. Especially now that you've watched The Last of Us, along with my guests and me. How does your perception of a well oiled media machine influence your choices as a business owner, for better or for worse? This television series has so much to offer us in discussion, based on the 

[00:04:00] fictional story alone, but the business side of it is just as impactful.

Let's rejoin Renee for the rest of her time on the mic. 

[Mary] As an entrepreneur, I have found, you know, a place. 

[Renee] Uh huh. 

[Mary] For me. But I get that question too from a lot of my, my audience, my clients. 

[Renee] Yeah. I got it one this morning from, in my coaching group, she's like, how did you get to be this confident? And I was like, okay, well, first of all, I'm 52.

Yeah. Let me just start there. 

[Mary] You need some years. 

[Renee] Okay. I was not always like this, and definitely not. And it is, it goes back to like those years of messing up, years of experimenting with things too. Like, you've got to create contrast, right? Like, you got to find out what you like, what you don't like, and what hits, what doesn't hit, what feels good, what's aligned with you.

And that's always what I'm going to come back to with, with people too is what feels good to you. Like, because what 

[00:05:00] feels good to you may be very different than what feels good to me. And I'm never going to tell somebody, you have to show up three to five times a day in video and do this. No, absolutely not.

Because that's going to come across very inauthentic. 

[Mary] Yeah. I think the overly formulaic branding, the interesting thing with actors and you see it with this show. I think a lot of people forget when they haven't had a lot of exposure to people in the industry as you and I have done, is that you are a brand, you, you are a business, you are a walking business on two legs.

And I think if our entrepreneurs thought of themselves a little more like actors, I think some of this branding stuff would make, it would click into place. It gets uncomfortable real quick. Because you're like, well, that's real personal. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] Really personal. But, but you are, you, you are. Well, they get PR training, too.

[Mary] Yes. 

[Renee] And that's a big part of it. 

[00:06:00] They didn't also just pop out of the womb knowing how to talk. And honestly, not all of them are super charismatic. 

[Mary] No. 

[Renee] A lot of them are actually painfully shy. They've had to work on that because part of being in films, and I know this from my husband, you have to be able to promote it.

[Mary] Press is half of an actor's job. 

[Renee] Yeah, exactly. 

[Mary] But a lot of business owners don't realize that that is part of it. For actors, if you really know what they do, press is half of the job. And for entrepreneurs, I would argue that messaging is half of your job. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] I always tell people, don't go into online business if you don't want to write copy.

I was like, you are going to write so much goddamn fucking copy. And if you don't like writing, because I know people and they're like, well, how can I get around it? Well, maybe I can do this. And they're like, maybe I'll have somebody write it. And I'm like, okay, so what are they going to write? What's your voice?

How do you sound? And they don't have answers. And because you've got to know who you are. 

[Renee] A consistent 

[00:07:00] core, at least, message that you can repeat it over and over and over again in many different ways. That's the other thing that a lot of people don't realize is that it, we overthink stuff a lot, right?

Most of my audience does. And usually it's because they are really oversaturated by watching what everybody else is doing, right? First of all, stop marketing to your peers because they're not buying your stuff most of the time. That's that also happens a lot, but they're oversaturated, so it's really easy to get stuck in that.

Just bring it back down to, okay, what is my core messaging? What am I about? Do you have that lined up? Okay, well, how can I express that in cute, funny, interesting, educational ways? 

[Mary] This is why I love, I love that you said that, because it's making me think immediately. I'm like, this is why I love looking at material that isn't inside of business.

Because it shows you the example so clearly, because otherwise you get all twisted around and you start overthinking it. We're talking about celebrity and fandom. 

[00:08:00] If anybody here wants to be a nut, go on YouTube and watch the interviews that Pedro Pascal does for The Last of Us Season 1. And he tells the same stories again and again.

He's got that famous story, well, famous to me, but where he talks about how he was offered the job and he talked to his sister on the phone. She's driving her kids to school, his two nephews, and they're gamers. And he's like, yeah. And like, all of us over a certain age is, he's like. So it's called the La.. and they're like, you better fucking do that show, you know, and, and he tells the story and it's it's a little different depending on who interviews him, who's in front of him, what group he's with.

Sometimes it's like way over the top and sometimes it's not. And when you watch him long enough, you were like, when he was on Graham Norton, he was so nervous when he went on that show. He looked like that. He was like, he was peeing his pants sitting next to Helen Mirren and it was hilarious. And because people are like, Oh, how does somebody get that charismatic 

[00:09:00] and whatever?

And I'm like, that man is nervous. He's a human. And it just kind of shows you the humanity in some of this. And I just think cases like him are just such fascinating case studies. It's a really great business case study for brands. 

[Renee] I agree. Yeah. That's a really good point. He also is just so, like you said before, really comfortable in his skin.

And at the end of the day, I think he knows he can sort of just rely on a little bit of his charm. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Renee] You know, I think especially now, maybe not. in the past, but now I think he, he, he has a little bit of that awareness of like, okay, I kind of just need to show up and be me. And that's kind of all, you know, but you're right about telling the same story.

And that's something that I tell people all the time is you don't have to reinvent the wheel all the time, right? You just have a core message, a brand voice, and say it in a lot of different ways, depending on who you're talking to. I mean, know your audience, obviously, but make people feel something with it.

That's, that's really what it comes down to. It's not hard for him to make 

[00:10:00] people feel something. Let's just be honest. 

[Mary] I think some people search for that magic ingredient before they search for the work. I think that's what it comes down to and it's like everybody has their own little magic juju. 

[Renee] Mm hmm.

[Mary] And it sparkles differently per person, but you can't try to sparkle like someone else. 

[Renee] Yeah. And most people do. Yeah. Most people, you know, they try and figure things out on their own. I see this a lot where they're like, okay, well, I want to do this. I'm jumping into the deep end. I don't really have a good foundation, but I also can't afford to, you know, hire someone to help me.

So I'm just going to like. You know, a lot of us are really good at teaching ourselves things. I'm one of those people. But then you get really confused because there's a lot of stuff out there. And then it starts to get really muddled together. And that's when you start trying to not straight up copy, but really, you know, use this inspiration and then feel like it's going to work for you.

But your business is unique. It should be because you are. It's not going to hit the same way. 

[00:11:00] It might work for a little bit of time, but it's not long lasting. 

[Mary] I think to that point, one of the best ways to get out of that rut, that loop, is you just got to start producing stuff. You just have to put stuff out.

You got to be willing to let a whole bunch of shitty first drafts go out the door. One of the best lessons I ever learned, I was at South by Southwest when I still lived in Austin. And the Funny or Die team, creative team was there and um,  they had the perfect title. They're like, how to make yourself go viral.

So of course everybody was there and their advice was so basic and it was so good. And they were like, we don't actually know. Do you know how we solve this problem? We just put out a fuck ton of content every day. And they're like, you put it out, you get creative. You make it happen. Publish, publish, publish.

And they're like, the rate at which information recycles and rolls over on a daily basis is so huge. And this was. 

[00:12:00] 10 years ago, so like, I mean, it's even more now, faster. And the librarian in me knows this, too, because people get so overwhelmed with information. And I'm like, just put it out there, because whatever will go viral will take off.

And whatever really, truly sucks is going to sink so hard, so fast. It's going to get buried so quickly, nobody's going to know anything. People are so worried about like, wow, you know, and it's like, you've got to stop comparing yourself on one sense to like, all these celebrities who have teams of people. They are a business.

They've got stylists, and they've got wardrobe people, and they've got, you know, whoever. And you don't have that. 

[Renee] No. That is so true. I hear that so often from the women in my community. I ask them like, why? Why? Just, again, it is a numbers game in a lot of this, you know? And to that point, we can also speak to being an actor.

I mean, Yeah. I agree. It's a numbers game. I think Harrison Ford said it years ago. My husband has talked about this often because he's been in this 

[00:13:00] business a long time and he's like, Harrison Ford always said, he's like, if you just stick around long enough, there's not going to be a lot of people left.  You’ve got to be willing to stick with it and be willing to see what works, put stuff out that isn't perfect, but go of that perfectionism. That's really like rampant in, in my community at least. And You know, we have, we hold ourselves to like this insane, it's usually from unconscious programming as kids. Yeah. Right?

Uh, but we can get through that. And you're right. One of the ways to do that is to just take small, actionable steps. Just take the step. It doesn't have to be the best piece of content you've ever put out. No. No. It's just content. 

[Mary] It's just content. 

[Renee] It's literally just a video. 

[Mary] I'm such an entertainment nut.

I watch a lot of content. And every single show, every single season, every single series has a standout episode. And then there's one that's like, wah, wah, 

[00:14:00] wah. Every single one. And you know, there's so many people who fell in love with Bill and Frank on this show. And, like, total standout episode. And then there's a couple others that are a little like, you know, we're kind of searching for something here.

Like, it sets you up for maybe something bigger, but it's not the standout episode. And the same thing's true of all the content you put out in your brand. Everything cannot be a winner all the time. Otherwise, everything's just bland all the time. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] You know, I mean, I think about since blogging, how many words I must have written over there.

Thousands, hundreds of thousands, you know, and I'm like, you know how many typos went out with those? A lot. Probably thousands. And nobody's ever complained to me, oh, you have a typo, and the ones who do aren't doing jack shit with anything they're doing, and I just tune them out, so I'm like, come back to me once you publish something, like, and, and I think people get afraid of that kind of criticism, but, you know, 

[00:15:00] you see it in stars, actors, too.

They have their lovers and their haters. 

[Renee] Absolutely. You can't. You're not for everybody. You're not going to be, but even the celebrities, like you said, they have teams of people. They have, they're not, you're not on the same, the playing field with these people. And even some really big content creators for that matter, some really big coaches and really big, whatever you want to call it, you're not on the same playing field as them either.

They've got a team of at least 20 people helping them produce the content, edit the videos. All of this stuff. You're a one woman show. How the hell are you supposed to, like, don't, don't compare yourself to that. Just do your stuff and get it done in the capacity that you can. Right? If that means you repost that same video on four different platforms.

Do it. 

[Mary] Do it. Yeah. 

[Renee] Do it. 

[Mary] Yeah. I, I have found myself a nice little stream of income by working for other people on the back ends of their businesses. I write copy for 

[00:16:00] them, it's signed by them, and I adjust the voice to theirs. But they never see the copy. They never approve it. I just write a pep talk to the community and it goes out.

And people on the receiving end, I was in one community where, um, a woman had one-on-one coaching appointments with me as part of her program and she had just received the weekly newsletter and she's like, Oh, did you see that message? And I just, I just needed to hear that message. Boy, how does he do that?

And I was like, Where do you think those come from. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] And I was like, you know, I write those, right? I was like, do you want to know what the next five weeks of pep talks are? And she was just like, what? And because she'd been dogging on herself for, I can't put out enough. I can't do it fast enough. And I'm like, there is a whole staff here.

You're not having one on one coaching calls with this founder. You're having them with me. So let's talk about like what you're actually going to do this week. And I think that our. I just sometimes, 

[00:17:00] you know, gets the better of us. 

[Renee] Absolutely. Yeah. It's what keeps a lot of people stuck, I think, sadly. Yeah.

It really does. Even these TikTok influencers. Yeah. These Gen Zers. Look at Alex Earl. 

[Mary] They have big, full teams. Yeah. Full teams of people. They get their hair and makeup done by a professional. 

[Renee] Yeah. Yeah. And, and even Alex Earl, you know, even though she's doing her own get ready with me, she comes from money.

She comes from, you know, you don't know what someone's backstory is.

Um, and then it did, right? And you don't know. You don't know what people are either struggling with or building underneath that surface. What's important is to really stay in your lane. You know, and it doesn't matter really at the end of the day, you know, yeah, there's time for inspiration and, 

[00:18:00] you know, to, to pick apart TV shows and see how, you know what I mean?

Like there's, there's a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, you got to really stay in your lane. And. And know where you're going. A lot of people don't know where they're going, and that's a big problem. 

[Mary] No, they don't, um, which kind of leads me into the next point I really wanted us to talk about.

Because we're talking about there's no such thing as an overnight success. And so I want to know, like, why do we cling to this idea that our businesses and brands should pop faster? Because we've just talked about, like, all the work that goes into them. And I think when we see somebody break the mold or disrupt the industry.

That's a long time coming. 

[Renee] Very. And I mean, I've had a unique position, I think, because I have had a front row seat. You know, my husband's by no means an A-list actor, but he's been on many TV shows and he's worked for a long time. So I see the other side of the business I've seen, and he also does a lot of voice acting for some big games.

So, and that's a 

[00:19:00] whole different world completely. So as a side note. I just really love that they also used the voice actors in this. 

[Mary] Yes, the voice actors. It was so great. 

[Renee] Like to see how they treated them and even like spoke to them on the podcast and that is not the norm. 

[Mary] No, it's not the norm. I thought there is so much loving intentionality from soup to nuts and how they produce the whole thing, which I think is part of the reason why I really loved this as it's something to examine because

I think in our businesses, we strive for that and it's such a great example of. It's a place that did it really, really well. 

[Renee] Yeah. It's that high touch service, right? Like, really, when you look at it from that perspective, it's catering to not just their game fans who might know these names, but they're also giving back to these actors who gave so much to the game.

[Mary] So much. But they also draw these nice 

[00:20:00] bridges for other people to come into the space. So somebody who's really struggling, a gamer who's really struggling to get on board with a TV show, is probably a Troy Baker fan. It's probably more likely to pick up the podcast because he's the host, because they made him the host.

And then he's dissecting the whole thing and helping them build a bridge to make them You know, understand that, like, it doesn't have to be exactly the same. Maybe I can watch this, you know? And then there were some things that were just so, like, incredibly magical, like having Ashley Johnson be Ellie's birth mother.

They look alike. 

[Renee] They look so much alike. Well, and if, and that was really, I loved that episode because they were talking about that when they were speaking to her about it. It was the first thing, because I didn't, like, again, I didn't. I know a lot about the games and until I listened to that podcast, I didn't even really know a lot of that context.

And I also was like, Oh my gosh, she looks just like her and she speaks like her and why? Why? And they were like, that's by design, you created this character, like you took this character to hear them tell her like, 

[00:21:00] you took this character and, and made it what she made Ellie in the game, what she is. And so you really are her mother.

I was like, Oh my God, chills, like that was just so cool. So anyway, that was just like a little segue there. Um, but to get back to your question, 

[Mary] It's a perfect segue. I love it. I'm like, let's talk about Marlene. Yeah, let's go. I, and I love that when they interview her on the extras, she was like, time has passed.

She's like, I've aged into the visual of this character. I can finally actually embody this in real life. And I thought there was just something. 

[Renee] I know. 

[Mary] It's so special. 

[Renee] I know. I know. It's so awesome. But I think that this whole overnight success thing and And in business is how we, we really cling to that.

Like you were talking about, like it is, it's important to remember that 

[00:22:00] intentional small steps make the biggest difference. I mean, I just asked this recently on Threads because I really wanted to see what people were thinking. Like I really, and like I said, that's kind of how my coaching is defined.

That's why my podcast is called that. I think that there does need to be strategy, my, you know, strategy and you know, the masculine, if you wanna break it down. And then the feminine, the flow, the optimism, the belief. Right. So they have, there has to be some belief. I believe that there is a dance between both of those.

Yeah. I don't feel like. exact balance is probably something we should seek to achieve because the the scales will always be tipped no matter what we're kind of going through. But what comes first right and it's been interesting to see what a lot of people are saying. 

[Mary] Yeah, I think that is true I I love thinking about the balance point, I always think of like the natural seasonal cycles and the equinoxes of our years, our balance points.

And it's like, it's a day, it's a moment 

[00:23:00] really. And then the rest of the year everything's technically out of balance. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] And it, that's the way it's suppo- and, and it's like, what season am I in? What am I feeling? 

[Renee] Yeah, for sure. But I think that being able to commit to putting in intentional work is really, really important.

And to not, to try your best to not focus on wanting to be the next big thing. To look instead of like, okay, how can I serve my clients better? How can I show up for them better? How can I, you know, make them feel a part of my community? And how can I get them to be feral for my brand instead of feeling like, okay, I want to be the next big thing.

Well, to get them feral for your brand, you, you've got to, you've got to get them to feel something and, and also to feel a part of something, to aspire to want to be a part of what you're doing. And to do that, it can't be just about you. 

[Mary] Well, this 

[00:24:00] brand property of The Last of Us gives people that. These gamers, they are like, I play it.

You play it. We are part of this community that plays it. People who watch the show really got into it. Because there's a lot of people who rejected it and they're like, I don't wanna, no thank you, you know. And, and the people who watch it are like, you saw that too. I mean, you and I did. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] You know? 

[Renee] Yeah.

[Mary] It was like, you know, you know, it just happened. And, and I think it's why people are rabid fans over any number of shows out there. We can't just put things out and just expect other people to do the work of interpreting it and giving it meaning and context. It's our job. 

[Renee] Yeah. 

[Mary] It's our job. And I think somebody who really wants to follow along with us this season and watch the show to enjoy it, first and foremost, but then to like, Listen to the official podcast.

Listen to the way they talk about their creative choices. It gives you so much 

[00:25:00] valuable data and insight on how you do or don't do things in your own business. And they even talk, I love that at one point they even talk about how they have a budget. They were like, yeah, there were these things we want to do.

We want to like go around the world and show these things. And like, yeah, we don't really have the budget for that. But they came up with the next best thing. They, you know, started with a cold open on episode two in Indonesia. And that's such a beautiful part of the show. And it wouldn't be that deep if they had just been flitting from city to city and showing destruction around the world.


[Renee] Exactly. 

[Mary] And, you know, I have a degree in art and I remember in my color and design class, our um, professor used to give us these like crazy assignments with like, so many rules. And one day somebody was like, what up with all the rules, man? And she was like, because I'm teaching you something in addition, you are always going to have constraints, 

[00:26:00] no matter what, you're gonna graduate and you're gonna have a constraint.

It might be money. It might be time. It might be labor. It might be something, something you might be out of creative juice. You know, and she's like, there's always going to be constraints and you have to start to learn how to exercise your creativity within, within constraints because you're never not going to have them.

[Renee] That's so true. Yeah. And that's usually what pushes you to genius is those, those limitations, those constraints is, you know, and we're obviously most often out of your control is, okay, well, how can I make that work? You know, how can I actually figure that out? And it's really, if you look at it from the perspective of.

Oh God, that's not working. Then you're going to shut down. But if you look at it from the perspective of this is a cool opportunity. And it's just like anything else. I mean, you know, there's a, there's a way to look at anything. You can turn it on its head if you choose to. Right. And I do believe that those, those situations can be 

[00:27:00] amazing opportunities if you choose to accept it.

[Mary] If you choose, if you choose to accept the mission. Yeah. I think a lot of our entrepreneurs, I always hear, well, if I had, if I won the lottery, here's what I would do. And I'm like, what would you do right now with the budget you have? Because you can do an awful lot with nothing. 

[Renee] Absolutely. I mean, I built my business with literally nothing.

Most people I know. Did. Nothing. You know? It, it, it absolutely can be done. It is done all the time. Um, you don't need a lot of, and I tell that to photographers especially because they get really hung up on things like, well, you know, I don't have a formal training and I don't have, you know, a studio and I don't have this, I don't have any of that stuff either, you know?

And I realize that it adds to the imposter syndrome when you don't have like the technical background and things like that in a space. Like photography or art or whatever it is, um, because there's always going to be naysayers who are like, I have a degree in that. 

[00:28:00] And so, you know, that's none of your business, right?

It doesn't matter. Are you speaking to your client? Do they love what you do? That's really what matters. That's what matters. And do you love it? Do you feel in alignment? Do you, does it light you up at the end of the day? Because that's why you got into it in the first place, you know, and my husband deals with that a lot too.

You know, he's not formally trained. I mean, he's, he's an actor. He's been an actor his whole life. He's got a lot of that training, but you know, he's, he didn't graduate with a film degree to write all these scripts and things that he's done and it's like, I just like doing it. 

[Mary] I think that's the key. I just like doing it.

It feels good. I'm having fun. 

[Renee] And the more connected you are to that, the better. Because that's what shows up. People can tell if you're showing up, just trying to make money. And that's really what's been happening, like we've just been talking about and that's why people are sick as fuck of being sold to is because it's the same message, it's the same Canva templates, it's the same shit over and over again and it's like, 

[00:29:00] okay, tell me something new, right?

Like. 

[Mary] It's the same formulas and you're like, oh, there goes the five day challenge again. Oh, there goes the same webinar to whatever lead, you know, and it's not that those processes don't serve a purpose or they don't work. But like, just to take it like a cookie cutter. 

[Renee] Yeah. Yeah. How, how are you disrupting a little bit?

You know, it's kind of always what I'm thinking and asking is how are you disrupting the space, but also in a way that is you, like what is so unique to you and your brand and your purpose? That is, is going to help you stand out, you know, there's this, especially in photography. My God, you could, and, and it's like that now, but it was like that when I started, right?

Like, people, I started shooting headshots on film in 1999. 

[Mary] I love it. 

[Renee] Okay. And. And people were like, Oh, that's so cute. Like a little pat on the head. That's so cute. You want to start a photography business, you know, when in LA. 

[00:30:00] where you could spit and find a photographer. Good luck. You know, I got a lot of that.

And I was like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's not what I want to do. I had a very clear, specific thing that I wanted to do that was different. And it actually hit a lot sooner than I was ready for it to hit. Let's just be honest. But that's kind of what I want people to remember is that you're going to hear that from anybody.

All the spaces are saturated. And the fact that the market is saturated, it's kind of a good sign because it means you're in demand. 

[Mary] It does. And it also means the educational barrier to your market has disappeared or been reduced. You know, people love the whole red ocean, blue ocean thing. And it's like, I know what it's like to be in a blue ocean where I'm talking about things differently.

And I'm like, let me tell you it’s a fuck ton of work that goes into educating people.

It's like all the stuff that comes before, you know, and to do things a little differently. And it's amazing to 

[00:31:00] me, like how many people are doing systems and operations now. It's like hitting its stride now and I'm like, where were you 10 years ago? But, but you have to love what you do. 

[Renee] You do. And especially now, post pandemic, you know, the education, the digital marketing space, all of that, it has boomed.

Because of so many reasons, but that it's not going anywhere, but because of that, I think that's why we're seeing so much of the same stuff. 

[Mary] Well, the same thing happens on YouTube, on Instagram, Facebook, all the things. Threads has been out for like five days, and I haven't seen so many people try to be stand up comics in my life.

[Renee] Yeah. How funny can I be today? It's something. And it's like, okay, I really think that people are seeking some sort of freedom, but they 

[00:32:00] also, at the heart of it, like I said before, really want to be first. 

[Mary] Yes. 

[Renee] Right? And there's this, this sense of, okay, well, I was here first and how can I capitalize on this?

And how can I, how can I make sure that I don't, you know, miss my, my window on this platform or whatever it is. 

[Mary] I actually think there's a lot of people who do end up being first, but because they're ill equipped to handle it, somebody else actually takes that title because they're ready for it. 

[Mary] That's a good point. It is true. It is very interesting though. And I, I do think that in terms of the overnight success, like we were talking about before and wanting your brand to pop. It really comes down to, how long are you willing to put into this? And that really kind of should tell you.

If it's truly aligned with you and if it's something that you really want to do that lights you up because if you're really only into it for the short term or the money or 

[00:33:00] the fame, let's just say, you might get it, you know, some people do, but it's, it's probably not going to be built to last. And so it really, it really is a business model thing.

I think at that stage of the game, like what kind of business model do you want to have? How, how willing are you to be bittersweet. 

[Mary] Oh, that was such a nice little piece. Um, okay. I'm going to ask you a question that I ask everybody. That was so well placed. 

[Renee] You're welcome. 

[Mary] Okay. I've asked everybody this question.

I'm so curious to see what you say. What does The Last of Us reflect back to you about yourself? 

[Renee] This is such a great question, too. Thanks because I get so into shows, like I was telling you before, I get, well, not all shows, good shows, 

[00:34:00] obviously, you know, let's just preface it with that. Um, but I, I do, I tend to like get really sucked into things and really like go for the ride, so to speak.

So while I was watching it. I don't really, I, you know, think I was introspective enough to think about that, right? I wasn't thinking about like, how is this, yeah, how is this going to relate to me and or my business or my life or, or, or any of that stuff. I was just like, oh my God, what's going to happen to them?

Because I didn't know. 

[Mary] Like, no, don't go that way. 

[Renee] I was like, what are they doing? Um, it was so stressful at times. Like, it was really stressful. 

[Mary] Oh, there were some moments. I was. Like, literally on the edge of my sofa, just like, oh my god, what's happening right now? 

[Renee] It was really stressful. But I think ultimately for me.

What I, I could take from it, a lot of the, the parental stuff came up for me, thinking about that. The 

[00:35:00] lengths that I would go for my kids is, and it, and it truly is a scary, it's a scary place to be when you think about the world has not been stable for a while. Let's just say that. So being a parent, and my kids are all older, so I have like two 22 year olds and I have a 24 year old.

And so I had three under the age of two. I was not ready. We just literally threw ourselves into the fire. Yeah, we, we, we actually, we were dating. Well, let's just say that , we were dating, got pregnant with my first, and we were like, okay, this, this sounds like I was 28, you know? And I was like, okay, let's just figure this out.

We ended up getting married a year and a half later. And then literally, not even a year and a half, but like right after we got married, I got pregnant with the twins. And so it was like, oh, I guess we're doing that. So I, I, I remember telling my gynecologist, which she was doing the C section.

I was like, 

[00:36:00] burn it, cut it, do whatever you need to do. Like, make this never happen again, please. I only wanted two kids. 

[Mary] I love that you had Saturn return babies. 

[Renee] Oh my God. Yes. I was 30 when the twins were born and I was 28 when my oldest was born. So it was just like, it was hard. Okay. And it was the year, like there was an actor strike that happened that year too.

So that was super fun. Um, yeah, it was, it was really tough. I, my kids are older and I feel like most of their lives has just been really like, especially their teen years, most of their teen years has just been really a lot. It's been really a lot. And it's so difficult as a parent to separate yourself from their journey.

Like I've always, my husband and I always went on the same page. You know, from the very beginning that these are not, they're not ours. They, you know, first of all, we, our oldest has autism. So when 

[00:37:00] you are a special needs parent too, you really go through a completely different thing too. Like you start grieving for a child that isn't dead because you're grieved for a life that you thought he was going to have that he absolutely is not.

And you get to see him treated very differently than you hoped he would. By the general public. So you tend to want to put them in this bubble, more so than you want to put your kids in general in a bubble. That already happens. And so we've always said, you know, they're not ours. They're not our possessions.

They're going to be who they are. They're going to be, we're, they're just on loan. You know, we're here to help them be the, you know, the best functioning adults they can be. And not go to jail. And they're gonna be in therapy. That's just gonna be what happens. I literally, when they turn 16, we're like, you get a therapist, you get a therapist, you get a therapist.

Have fun. Um. That was honestly the best gift we ever gave them, but I think that it really is reflective to me. The show is really, it showed me 

[00:38:00] some things about myself, I think, as a parent and I don't really like to think, like, I'm a very melancholy person and so that book, Bittersweet, really did hit me, but I'm not, I'm not an aggressive person, I would say.

Aries Moon. We like to call it big dick energy. So yes, I do have that, but it's not the same. I'm not like 

[Mary] No, it is not the same. An Aries moon is not the same as an Aries sun. 

[Renee] No, it isn't. No. No. But I always, we always laugh because Tony Robbins has an Aries moon and I'm like, yes, that is, um, 

[Mary] But you wear it so much better, may I say.

[Renee] And it's funny cause both of my twins have Aries moon too.

[Mary] No. 

[Renee] Yes. So, and they're all Libras. All my kids are Libras, all of them. And I am a Libra rising. So it's really interesting, this whole like, yeah, it's fascinating. So I always, I'm not like an aggressive person, I'm not like the kind of person who's going to go out and like start fights and, you know what I mean?

You know, for the most of my life, I've probably been pretty passive and I can use 

[00:39:00] my words to get out of situations. But when it comes to my kids, like that scene from, um, this is 40 when she goes into and she like tells the kid off, yeah, that is, that is me. That I literally came this close to doing that.

So, you know, so I think this show really showed me like how far would I go? Really, where is that line blur between like protecting them and also letting them be who they are and fulfilling their destiny? And I mean, what if their destiny means that they are being harvested and, you know, killed for a vaccine?

Like, oh my God. Yeah, it made me think about some things. Didn't like to think about it, I'm going to tell you. 

[Mary] I think what's so interesting when you're talking about the parental journey is, you know, when you look at the show as sort of like that reflection back to you, Ellie's mom immediately treats her not as her possession.

She's forced out of circumstances not to. 

[00:40:00] And then through chosen family, in the end, Joel I guess kind of treats her like a possession in a way where he's like, mine, I'm not letting this go again. This is not going to happen again. 

[Renee] Because of what happened to before. 

[Mary] Yeah. 

[Renee] You know, so it is a, is an exploration of trauma as well.

[Mary] Oh yeah. 

[Renee] Which, and like the showrunners have said multiple times, literally about love and, The power and also the detriment of it and how it make it, it can turn you into someone different and it can, it can absolutely take you down a road you never would have gone before and you would never even want to thought about before and it is very different than the love

between, I mean like, my husband and I always talk about that, and we're like, we love each other very much, but if it's come between you and the kids, you're going down. I mean. 

[Mary] Find your 

[00:41:00] own route. 

[Renee] You know? Like I love you so much, honey. You know, and it is different though, you know, when it, when it comes to that.

Now especially watching them fly and be adults and make so many fucking mistakes that you can't believe they've made and just being there to like be like, okay, well, let me know how that turns out. Let me know if you need some help with that. But that's on you. Okay. 

[Mary] A lot of trust. 

[Renee] Good job. Yeah. 

[Mary] Amazing.

[Renee] Yeah, it is. And a lot of trust in yourself too, I think. You know, which ultimately I think the show can also reflect back is, you know, not just what you would do in the event of a fungal pandemic, you know, like that's scary enough for me. Like, my anxiety took that and ran with it, by the way. It was like, oh my god, like this could actually happen, which I think is another reason why so many people have, you know, taken hold of 

[00:42:00] this IP so much.

[Mary] Well, and I think that we came out of a pandemic, and to see this one, and the showrunners talk about it, to see it reflected like it could be so much worse, is, is a real reality, not to diminish the pandemic we went through, but when the stakes are honestly higher, it makes you think about your values a lot more, and our pandemic, for all of its inconveniences, and the destruction it did have in a lot of ways, the stakes were significantly lower than this fictional story.

And that's why I like looking at the fictional stories. They give us a chance to really examine, but really what are my values? And so I've got this little bridge built where it's like, I have lived through a pandemic. Okay, I understand that. And it's like, and what if the stakes were just a little bit more twisted?

And it's like, what would I do? And I don't know that a lot of people have answers about that 

[00:43:00] for themselves. 

[Renee] No, I mean, we can joke about it, you know, I always joke about it because, you know, my brother is one of those people, he lives in Louisiana, my brother's one of those people who's just like prepared for everything, I mean, he was like an Eagle Scout, you know, like he's just one of those people who's just like always prepared.

I was like, shit, it's a fan. I'm coming to your house. Like I walk if I have to, you know, we always joke about it, but like really at the end of the day, what exactly would we do? You know? And I'm one of those people. I, like I said before, my anxiety will take it and run. Not to the point that I'm actually going to come up with a plan.

And so I have to stop myself. I have to like, I have to like, intervene and realize that, okay, this is taking me on a road I don't really want to go on. So I'm not going to think about that anymore. 

[Mary] I am a planner. When I lived here in LA, I was at a dinner party and, um, my friends pointed out, they're like, you know, if the big one really hits and we have the big earthquake, none of us are driving our cars out of here.

And I was living on the West Side at that 

[00:44:00] point. So I was like. Oh shit. And I had my cat. I had my cat. And I had a beach cruiser with a basket, and I had a plan for how the cat was gonna fit in the basket, so I could push this with a suitcase strapped to the top. And I was like, I'm gonna walk up the coast, I'm gonna walk up to Portland, I'm gonna walk up to Vancouver, Washington, to my parents.

And I'm gonna find my way up there. I know the roads. And I, you know, I, I, I think I've always been fascinated by these sort of apocalyptic stories because they ask us the what if questions. And I think like, how adaptable am I? 

[Renee] See, I'm an anagram 7, so I'm like, Fuck it, I'll just figure it out. 

[Mary] I'm a 3, so I'm like, I'm gonna ace it.

[Renee] That makes sense. 

[Mary] I'm gonna master it. 

[Renee] That makes sense. 

[Mary] I'm gonna know my plan. Yeah, I know. 

[Renee] The part of me, I'm just like, yeah, no. I'll just figure it out. I'm resourceful. Like, because I can't go there. Like it's so, and I do think that's just because of my anxiety. Like I have like a base of that deep down.

And so I think there's a part of me that just was like, 

[00:45:00] I don't think I really want to. I mean, yes, we have a basic plan for an earthquake. We have to. We live in California. But at the end of the day, my husband and I both are kind of like that. You know, like, we're just, we're gonna figure it out. We always have, we always will.

It's gonna be fine. It's gonna be fine. Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, I, I don't know, at the end of the day, too, I think another thing that I could probably take away. In terms of business, too, from the show, is that, and it's something that I always kind of remind my clients of, is that your business is really kind of a reflection of how you feel.

And so not just like how we were talking about before about getting your clients to feel something, but like how do you feel, right? Um, and that's more of the Woo side of it is, is what are you putting out? What is that radio beacon putting out?

So, if you feel constricted, afraid, anxious, constantly worried about money, constantly 

[00:46:00] panicked, that's something, the shoe is going to drop. That's exactly what you're sort of staying in, calling in, and you're also closing off to the possibility of what else could be. So that, and the show sort of does that, you know, it's like, just when you think, you Can't get any worse.

[Mary] There it happens. 

[Renee] There's more. But then there's also something else, right? And then there's, and yes, it's a, it's a story and then, you know, it's a formulatic sort of thing. I get it. But we can sort of put that into play in our, in our strategies and our business marketing as well. Really. 

[Mary] I think beautiful things can come out of really horrible things.

It's happened in my life. I've been through some really, really awful things in life, and really beautiful things have come out of them, and I think stories like this they show us something. 

[Renee] Absolutely. Yeah. I agree. 

[Mary] Thank you so much for talking with me about everything on the show, being a 

[00:47:00] superfan.

[Renee] This was so fun. Thanks for having me. 

[Mary] I'm sure it won't be the last time we talk. 

[Renee] What else can we watch? 

[Mary] Well, I already have an idea for season two, so, you know. 

[Renee] Okay. Okay. Cool. 

[Mary] I'll see you then. This has been the official School of Moxie podcast with your host Mary Williams and special guest Renee Bowen.

The show is written and produced by Mary Williams. This episode was recorded in Los Angeles, California at Melrose Podcasts with Joel Liss as our sound engineer. Chris Martin from Chris Martin Studios is our editor and sound designer in Vancouver, Washington. Additional production and marketing support is provided by the AK Collective founded by Amber Kinney.

I'm Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series, The Last of Us, on Max.com. As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book, Bittersweet, by Susan Cain at your local library. You can find this show wherever you listen to podcasts and all of the links to resources, guest information, and anything else we 

[00:48:00] might reference in an episode are in the show notes.

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Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all, be you.