Introduction to Episode

This is your sign to do your calling, invites Katie Thompson of Modern Darling Media. Do the thing you love, but do it in a smart way.

Podcast Episode Summary

Katie Thompson is your marketing expert. She is also the one to look to when you want to start your next new thing. Katie believes that we can work towards harmony in life, rather than balance. She wants to take back the word hustle to mean flow in doing the things we love.

Katie wants all of us to know that we have something on our hearts this is your sign to do your calling. And, she invites us to start now. 


Katie’s tips on being your own boss and disturbing myths.

  • Transition to being a boss takes a mindset shift.
  • Set your boundaries so you serve yourself first then your clients.
  • Bust the myth of the 8-hour workday, there are other ways to be productive.
  • You are in charge of how you think, how you act.
  • Go follow your dreams, but do it in a smart way. 
  • If it’s on your heart, just do it. 

Recommended Resources

See Katie on the web. Be sure to check out all the resources in her education tab, and don’t forget to visit her podcast, Hustlenomics.

For more information about Michelle, Balance Shared, events, and projects, please visit


Michelle Lasley 0:02

Hi. This is Michelle Lasley with balanced shared a space where I truly believe we are better together.

My guest today is Katie Thompson. She uses the pronouns she her hers. Katie Thompson is the founder of modern darling media and the host of hustle nomics podcast. Modern darling media is a full service branding, marketing and design agency for creative entrepreneurs who want to make a bold and meaningful impact. Katie helps build bold brands and craft strategic marketing campaigns that provoke emotion, have personality and help build your tribe. Modern darling media's goal is to make sure you communicate the right message to the right people on the right platforms. Welcome.

Katie Thompson 0:49

Hi, thanks so much for having me.

Michelle Lasley 0:51

So, I want to talk about hustle nomics. First, if you don't mind. Why did you What did you do? Like, well, what is hustle nomics?

Katie Thompson 0:59

Yeah, absolutely. So it's my podcast, where I interview other female entrepreneurs, about their journey to becoming business owners. And I get a question, I get questions about the name all the time. And I kind of came up with it. based off of the idea that I wanted to reframe what the word hustle means, I think it's going to kind of get a bad rap in the past couple years of the idea that it means that you need to work all the time and a need to never take time for yourself and hustle, hustle, hustle. And I kind of wanted to reframe it in a different way of finding that harmony between working really hard, but also having a social life. And having a family and balancing. Well, I mean, I don't even like the word balance and harmony better. Because really, there's never a balance, but finding that harmony between a work and life and, and not having to just hustle, hustle hustle all the time. So that's kind of where that comes from.

Michelle Lasley 1:53

Oh, I love that. Thank you for dialing into that. So what did you do before hustle omics?

Katie Thompson 2:00

Absolutely. So I got my master's degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Georgia, graduated in 2016. And went straight into the working world had a few corporate marketing jobs, that really, you know, kind of didn't live up to what I was hoping they would be, which, you know, I think I was a little bit idealistic in my ivory tower, because I was, you know, in school for so long. And when I really got into the real world, excuse me, real world, I realized that, you know, what I wanted to do was something with a little bit more creativity, freedom, impact meaning. And so I decided to start a little side hustle, which was a photography business while I was working my corporate job, and that's how this all kind of got started.

Michelle Lasley 2:52

So you didn't make the transition, just like one day flip a switch, and you're like, peace out corporate job, I'm gonna just do a side hustle.

Katie Thompson 2:58

Absolutely not. I'm actually a pretty impulsive person when it comes to things like creative things. But when it comes, when it came to actually transitioning to being an entrepreneur, it took about two years to do you know, that full transition into full time, I really wanted to take it slow. First off, because I had no idea what I was doing. So that was a big factor. But also, I wanted to make sure that I was being financially smart. Thank goodness, I have two men in my life, my, my husband and my father who taught me a you know, really smart, financial, you know, decisions and ways to go follow your dreams, but do it in a smart way. So I had them supporting me, you know, by asking questions, and all that kind of stuff. So I wanted to just be smart about it. That's great.

Michelle Lasley 3:47

So I have a number of people in my life who definitely are the boss or want to be the boss or have transitioned to be the boss. I mean, we're very fond of the hashtag boss, Mom, boss, Lady mompreneur. I mean, really, the list goes on. So can you dig in a little more to like how you became the boss?

Katie Thompson 4:12

Yeah, so I started that little side hustle, the photography side hustle while I was working my corporate job, and really kind of started transitioning my mindset first, really, because I was so used to being an employee and being under someone and having to go to them for decisions or, you know, permission to do something. And so I started making decisions for myself when it came to, you know, my business and it really took a while to actually get in that mindset of, you know, I make the decisions, I need to be a leader, I need to ask what I want you to ask for what I want. So all that stuff. So once I started getting a little bit more comfortable with that, I decided, you know, I really, I needed to either jump in and dedicate more time to my position and And go part time in my corporate job. So that was part of that slow transition, I went from side hustle on the weekends to transitioning to a part time job to then transitioning to full time in my business. So the mindset part was really the first step. I think that's great.

Michelle Lasley 5:19

So if you were to do that transition over, would there be anything you would do differently?

Katie Thompson 5:27

Yes, I think I would start setting boundaries sooner. with myself and with my clients. I think a lot of entrepreneurs go through this struggle of when we're first starting, we want so badly to be good at this. And we want it to work so badly, that we kind of don't set those boundaries. And we just do whatever our clients are asking of us. And thank goodness, I had a client really early on that was difficult to put it nicely, a very kind of needy calling me at like 1130 on a Friday night to make changes on our website. And I was like, doing it. You know, my husband was like, Why in the world, you started this business because you wanted more freedom, and you wanted more autonomy, but you're just, you know, doing whatever somebody asks just because you want to keep them as a client. So I needed to really set those boundaries early on. And then also with myself, I found myself working overworking, working on the weekends working till two o'clock in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I loved what I was doing. And that's why I was like, able to do those long stretches of stretches of working. But I needed to set those boundaries as myself and say, okay, you have a home office, this is where you do your work, you're not doing work in bed, you're not doing work on the couch or whatever, you need to find a separation between that workspace in your home space. So you're not blurring those lines, and you can't really ever step out of that that work zone. So I've definitely set those boundaries sooner.

Michelle Lasley 6:51

Awesome. Are there like a list of takeaways that you have? From your story? From transitioning from employee to boss, like top three to five? Yeah, I

Katie Thompson 7:03

would say my top one is that we're taught a lot of things. When we go into a corporate environment, not all of them are bad. There's a lot of great things. But some of them are not necessarily conducive to working for yourself or being a boss, for example. You know, just because you're working eight hours in an office doesn't mean you're being productive. Does it mean that you're getting stuff done? It doesn't mean that you actually had a good work day, I you know, some of my corporate jobs, I could sit in that office for eight hours. And I thought two things done, you know, because I was unmotivated, uninspired, you know, so I had to teach myself that if I have a four or five hour a day, and I get a lot done, and I was super productive, that's okay. And that's a great work day. And I'm able to work this five hours and feel good about it instead of feeling guilty that I didn't put it that that eight hour day. So things like that you have to kind of change the way you think. And I, I really it took me a long time to kind of get there. But I'm slowly moving away from those kind of corporate ideas. And I say corporate but you know, it's just kind of like a mainstream, I guess, idea. And so yeah, that's, that's one of the big things.

Michelle Lasley 8:14

Thank you. So modern, darling media. What do you do overall in that in that umbrella? business?

Katie Thompson 8:23

Yeah. So we're a marketing branding and these design studio and I started the business based off of kind of what I needed. When I first started as an entrepreneur, a solopreneur. I had no team, it was just a one woman show. And I realized that having to go to 100 different places to get things like web design, branding, graphic design, help with my podcast having to go to all these different people, it was so difficult to keep track for one, and also my messaging and my Brandon and kind of like the overall vibe of what I wanted was getting watered down. So I said, well, it wouldn't be so much easier if I could just go to one person or one studio. And I had one point of contact who got exactly what I wanted, got my brand. And either they did the work for me, or they had somewhat under somewhat under them doing the work for me. So that was kind of the inspiration. I wanted to create that for other creative solopreneurs that didn't have a team supporting them. I wanted to be that team for them. So that's kind of where I got the idea. We offer everything from web design, branding, graphic design, social media, and podcasting. And we're I just started offering virtual assistant services because I realized that like I mentioned those solopreneurs who don't have a team, they have a bunch of things that they need done. And they don't exactly want to go to 1000 different people. So offering that, you know, package hourly package of a virtual assistant, they can say, Alright, here's what I need done this week. Let's strategize and get all this finished. So that's it. Kind of the services that we offer and who we

Michelle Lasley:

serve. I love that. So I want to take a quick break. And when we get back, can we dive into telling the business story?

Katie Thompson:

Absolutely great.

Michelle Lasley:

I love aligning my days with nature's rhythms, and I made a tool to make it easier. I would like to introduce you to my moon deck. My moon deck is a perpetual calendar, a calendar that never expires. This 86 card deck with booklet will allow you to lay out your day, week or month and overlay the sun and moon with the elements and with the celebrations from the Wheel of the Year. This tool drawn and created by me, Michelle Lasley will be your fun, whimsical and practical tool to see how nature and its rhythms can support you. If you want to learn more and get your own deck today, visit www dot Michelle slash moon deck. I can't wait to help you align your time with nature, and my perpetual calendar, the moon deck. Welcome back. So you help businesses tell their story. What are some of the pitfalls you notice right away when a client comes to you? So they've already identified that they're struggling? And they've somehow connected with you? What are some common trends that you see,

Katie Thompson:

I would say some things that are difficult are pride, like prioritizing what they need done, as well as strategy. So those are really strategy is something that's behind everything that I do. Whether it's branding, or social media, or podcasting, whatever it is, I'm not just going to do it for you, and then hand it back, I always want to have a strategy behind it, and know why we're doing it. So I think a lot of people struggle with a figuring out what do I need to do first, what's most important? And then how do I create a strategy behind it where it's going to be most effective?

Michelle Lasley:


are your clients on focused in their storytelling? Are they using inconsistent imagery? Are they like, what? What are some things that you notice? that are maybe mistakes and branding that you can help? Correct?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, I think that people get that shiny object syndrome sometimes. And I always I, you know, I identify with that as well, because I am a multi passionate person and creative and I get distracted. And I say, Oh, well, you know, I've got my branding, but I'm really loving how this looks right now. And that's just how I'm feeling at the moment. So, you know, I kind of oscillated, at first between, like you mentioned, the storytelling and the visual branding. And I was going in 10,000, different directions, and I didn't really have a cohesive story that I was presenting to the public. So I always tell people, you need to, you know, be consistent consistency is the key. Because if you're getting distracted by all these different things about how you're feeling right now, it's not going to come across as a cohesive story or a piece, cohesive brand. So making sure that you're consistent, of course, you can always go different directions within that brand and pivot, but making sure that you're presenting something that is recognizable again, and again, for somebody who's coming to you for your services, or even just to check out what you do.

Michelle Lasley:

One of the examples I like to use is like FedEx, right? You see the purple and orange and immediately, you know, especially if it's associated with a box truck, or you see a brown box truck, you know, its ups just hands down, and it's recognizable. And then for me, when I see those things, it immediately brings up memories and imagery. Went back when I worked in offices, like of all of the great ups drivers that I worked with who right and so like even though they were busy, they were literally hustling from, you know, business to business, right? And they were always fit even the FedEx guys, because they're lifting all those packages. And so I see that one little image and a triggers all of that story behind it. So on time delivery, making sure they're getting to the airport on time and all that. And so I would imagine this is kind of what you're trying to tease out of your clients.

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, absolutely. 100% Yeah, even like you mentioned those colors, just seeing that trigger something within you. And that's what storytelling brands do. So that's it's so important.

Michelle Lasley:

Yeah. Can you walk me through what it would look like if I came to you, and I'd say definitely fall into this too. It's like, Oh, this pretty font could be, you know, this certain thing and I've picked my design and colors and all that. So I'm a little bit maybe further along than maybe some of you Your clients, but let's say I had multiple fonts, multiple colors I was using because it was, you know, the whim of the day, or I thought that it resonated or wasn't really sure how to tell my story. I'm a multi passionate person, right, you know, so I like to do these things that maybe a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And I'm not really describing what those things are. But yeah, I think that would work. Okay, what would it look like to work with you? Like, how would we sit down and tease that out? And what would some of those, like? How would you bring out those strategies?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, absolutely. So for other people like us who are creative and multi passionate, I always say, we're going to create a brand that's going to allow you to move it's going to allow you to pivot, it's going to allow you to have that creativity, it's not going to box you in. So I mean, I think that's what people get afraid of when they they are afraid that they're not going to be able to change when they niche down or they brand. So I always say, That's not what we're doing. You're recreating something, that's you, which means it's going to change, but in a way that makes sense. So I start really with just talking to people having a conversation, getting their vibe, understanding what their their strategy is, what they're wanting to do. And then I'm a really visual person. And I find that visuals are a great way to start. So I start with things like mood boards, I put together colors, images, patterns, and I send it to them and I say what do you gravitate towards? What are you like? What are you what's pulling you, you know, and that's just a very simple way to start. And I also say if you're struggling with like, your colors, or your your vibe, I always say go into your closet, what are the colors that you pick to wear all the time, what's the style that you pick to wear all the time, because we kind of unconsciously do that, right? We dress in a way that we just like, it feels good, feels good to us. But really, that that's a great way to say like, Oh my gosh, I wear yellow all the time, you know, and I love how it looks on me, I love how it makes me feel, right? Because brands, they're they're meant to make us feel something right. So if yellow is makes you feel happy all the time, maybe that's a great place to start for picking out your colors. So um, you know, simple things like that, that people would never really think of start to tease out some of those ideas of what you want, branding wise. So really focusing on how certain things make you feel and how you want your audience to feel. That's great.

Michelle Lasley:

Thank you for sharing that. So you told me that you have some freebies, what kind of freebies Do you have to offer?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, absolutely. So I created a free resource library where it has freebies, on podcasting, social media, branding, graphic design, productivity, everything from you know, templates, worksheets, things like that, you can find all of that there. Once you sign up, and you sign in, you can download all of them at once you can download, you know, one here, there, but it's really a kind of vault of a bunch of free stuff that I've created. So you can find that on my website under the education tab.

Michelle Lasley:

Oh, great. And we'll have links to all that in the show notes and then a direct link to get on. Get your your the sign up to those freebies and be on your newsletter. So how else do you tease out story for your clients?

Katie Thompson:

I always say to people, okay, well, at first they come to me and they say, Well, I don't really have a story. I'm a pretty normal, boring person, which, you know, I've heard myself say that before, too. Everybody really thinks they're not that interesting. Some people think they're very interesting. But you know, the people that I work with, they're kind of like, well, I'm like everybody else. But the thing is, that normalcy might be what connects you to other people. So even something along the lines of like, okay, I was going to work this morning, going into the office, and I left a cup, a cup of coffee on my car, and I didn't even realize I was getting in and I was driving down the highway and all of a sudden coffee all over my windshield. Who else has done that? You know, it's like that recognizable, kind of relatable thing. That could be the most, that could be what connects you to your clients. So even if you feel like you don't have something interesting to say you probably do, and you have no idea what's actually going to

Michelle Lasley:

connect you to people, I firmly believe that one of the ways that we can elevate our world is to share story, right? And so I just any way that we can share, especially that and this is a new trend, like we didn't do this in the 60s as a society, right, like the people who shared their stories were the famous people, the presidents, the, you know, top CEOs of Corporation and this shift that you and I are part of, of, of helping these boring, normal people to share their stories is in in one sense, a cultural shift. And I absolutely want to do that more and so any way that we can tease that out a little bit because Yes, that that dropping the coffee, putting it on your cup, you know, and I've lost keys that way. Like it's totally relatable. So yes, yes. Overall, that's good. So is there anything special you're working on right now?

Katie Thompson:

I just a couple months ago released a DIY podcasting course. Speaking of sharing stories, that's I think podcasting is one of the best ways to get your story out there. And it's so relatable, and it's so accessible. And so I really wanted to teach people how they could podcast and share their story that way. So the course is designed to help you release your podcasts in 30 days for under $100. Because there's also a myth out there that you have to spend a bunch of money to have a great podcast, but you don't. You could you could do it on a budget, and you can do it well. So that course is four modules that include four resource lists with with all my recommendations, as well as worksheets, templates workbooks for each module. And if you do one a week, you can have your podcast ready to release by the end of the month. So for anybody who's interested, that's also under the education tab. But that's something I'm really excited about. And, you know, I want to make it possible for as many people who want to share the story to be able to,

Michelle Lasley:

was there any specific inspiration that got you to start that DIY project?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, I mean, when I was in that corporate job, and was depressed and didn't really know, what I was gonna do next, I just was thinking, I can't do this for the next 30 years. So I was listening to podcasts, and I was listening to other entrepreneurs share their stories and tips and tricks. And that was my you know, I already spent five and a half years in school, I couldn't afford to go back again to school to do something else. So that was my free education. That was my, you know, Business School, and it was free. And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is such a valuable resource that people are sharing. And there's podcasts literally on anything, anything you want to learn anything you want to be more knowledgeable about. There's a podcast out there for it. So that was my inspiration. I was like, you know, how amazing is it to offer this to people for free. And it's so valuable. So that's, that's what I really was inspired by.

Michelle Lasley:

Awesome. So for those listening right now, Katie is 100%, right? Like quite literally pick any single thing, subject noun, verb that you're interested in, choose your favorite platform that you use, put it in the search box, and you will get probably hundreds of options of things to listen to, can we go back to the corporate job for a second, because I want to talk a little bit about the mindset and keeping yourself strong while you're working in that because people are everywhere. And we're messy. And even though we sometimes think that the corporate world is like this idealized, impersonal, just very practical functioning place full of people. And and things can get a little bit challenging. Sometimes. Sometimes you have power struggles and whatnot, and different people with different intentions and motivations. And so you're trying to stay in your lane and do your job, right. And then sometimes these other things come on. And then or just even, you know, you're transitioning, you're like, Okay, I want to do do this other thing. And so while you're holding space for that, you're being the worker bee, on one hand, and then you're the boss lady, on the other hand, so you're starting to empower yourself to make decisions. And then when you have this head on, you're asking permission all the time. So how did you? What did you do to keep yourself strong? focused on your goal? And so that, I'm assuming and correct me if this is not correct, that you probably you don't strike me as the kind of person who likes to burn bridges? No,

Katie Thompson:

I'm very conflict averse.

Michelle Lasley:

Ah, one benefit of being conflict averse is that you won't necessarily burn that corporate bridge, even though it wasn't bringing you the happiness that you wanted. So how did you stay strong? mentally, like, what were some of the mindset tips that you focused on and kind of went back to so that you could make that transition without burning the bridges?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah. 100% I mean, I even had my former boss come to me for work now that I might my own boss, which is amazing, full circle, how that works. But yeah, I definitely understand how things can get really tough when you're so unhappy, and you're so unfulfilled, and you're just ready to move on. It can be easy to burn those bridges like Like you said, but what I did is I had to remember that I I am in charge of how I how I act and how I think. And for a long time, I was blaming everything on everybody else, I was saying this job sucks, my boss sucks. Everything is I'm so unhappy, I was outward, right, I was not focused on what I could do. And that's when I focused on what I could do and what how I could teach the situation, that's when I started that side, hustle and all that stuff. But even if you're, you're not ready to do that yet, just remember that you're in charge of how you think. And you're in charge of how you act. And whatever's going on around you, you can be in control of how that's gonna affect you. So if something's going wrong, you know, during the day, and you're really upset, you know, your boss maybe yelled at you, or whatever it coworkers are annoying you Whatever it is, you can be in charge of how you react to that. So if you know that you're upset, and you're gonna snap at somebody, go for a walk around the building, put a podcast in and say, you know, I'm listening, I'm you know, just point to your email. So you don't have to talk to people. But um, control that situation in a way that you know, that you can simmer down, and you're not gonna yell at somebody. But also, like, if you're ready to quit, if you're ready to move on, what I did is I just I went to my boss, and I was honest with them, I said, this has been a dream of mine for a long time. You know, I obviously want to keep this relationship. And I would love to work together in the future, what can I do for you. So always finding a way to serve, you know, other people, people like that, you know, and they'll remember that, and that, that ended up serving me well, because I had, like I mentioned, I had my boss come back to me for work later on. So making sure one making sure that you realize you're in control of how you act and how you think. And there's always a way to bring that control back when you're feeling out of control. And also just making sure that you're always finding ways that you can serve people.

Michelle Lasley:

Those are great. we'll highlight those in the show notes. I want to dig into a little bit about who your ideal client is.

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, for sure. So I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of my ideal clients recently. But mostly, it's just other women who are fired up about what they're doing really passionate, very, you know, very creative, and just easygoing, most of the time, I've worked with micromanagers, I've worked with high strung people, I've worked with people who are very needy and need to be contacted me all the time. And I realized that's not my person, I you know, even if the job is great, even if the money is great, it's going to take away from my mental health and my sanity. So I've realized to say no to those people, because you can usually pick them out in the first couple of weeks working with them. So just people who were who are really excited about what they're working on, and, you know, who also understand that I'm human, I make mistakes, you know, and I understand and they, they're willing to work with me when I when I make mistakes. So that's definitely my ideal client.

Michelle Lasley:

Oh, that's great. So what is one thing in your business that you haven't done, but really want to?

Katie Thompson:

Well, that's growing a team, you know, I worked in a lot of unhealthy environments, and a lot of places where people were unhappy and didn't feel like they had control or were fulfilled. And, and that made me really sad. Because if I know that they're going to be going back to that space, every day for the next 30 years. And that makes me sad for them. So I really wanted to, you know, eventually create a work environment, create a team, for people who don't have to go through that. And I want to create a safe, happy, positive environment for other women. And, you know, not just women I'd be I'd hire men too, but I mostly work with women. So I really am excited about doing that. I think it's gonna happen in next couple months, hopefully 100 my first person. So that's what I'm really excited about that.

Michelle Lasley:

That's awesome. So where can people find you?

Katie Thompson:

Yeah, so you can find me on my website at modern durling Media calm and also on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest under modern darling media.

Michelle Lasley:

And my

Katie Thompson:

podcast is on my website under the education tab as well. And it's just the hustle nomics podcast, it's on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, all the places, and soon coming to YouTube as well.

Michelle Lasley:

Nice. Yeah. Awesome. One last parting thought for our listeners.

Katie Thompson:

I would say if you've been waiting for a sign to do something, whether it's to start a podcast to start a side hustle to start a business, whatever it is, if it's on your heart, and you can't stop thinking about it, this is your sign to start. Because sometimes I just needed someone to push me off that cliff. I needed someone to say, just do it. Just do it already cuz I was waiting too long. So this is your sign. If you're listening and you've been waiting. Go Go for it. Great.

Michelle Lasley:

Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie It's been a pleasure.

Katie Thompson:

Thank you for having me.

Michelle Lasley:

You're welcome. Balance shared is produced and edited by me. Michelle Lasley, the instrumental music grass by Silent Partner is from the YouTube Audio Library. If you've enjoyed today's episode, leave a review, especially on Apple podcasts. If you love the messages of CO creating a better future and digging into ourselves, maybe you'd like to become a supporter. Email Hello at Michelle to get your sponsorship guide. Thank you for listening to this podcast. This is Michelle Lasley with bounce shared a space where I truly believe we are better together.

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