in good company // issue no. 09 // sunny lenarduzzi
So, there's this girl who runs this little (but big) video/social media company out of her small apartment in Vancouver, BC. I really wanted to feature Sunny on my website because, selfishly, I'm also from Vancouver and we have 4 degrees of separation, but because I have been SUPER impressed with her videos & how she's quickly grown her company.
(We actually haven't 'met' in person, but we know a lot of the same people, and have similar networks which is not uncommon in Vancouver.)
If you don't know who Sunny is, you've been living under a rock. And if you're not on social media, you're missing out BIG TIME. Her video on how to make videos with your phone has reached an astonishing 875,017 views and her YouTube channel now has over 70,000 subscribers. Not bad for a local gal who only started her business a couple of years ago.
Sunny is a mover. A shaker. A ball of energy and highly animated in her videos. She's a broadcaster and online entrepreneur, and she believes that authentic communication is the key to connecting with your audience online. Very important if you ask me, in a world where being online can come across as fake, insincere and extremely filtered. Sunny's 'realness' and authenticity shines through in all of her self-made, self-produced videos (she releases a new one every Tuesday, folks) on the 'how-to's' of digital media. All from her small Vancouver condo.
Find out exactly why this lady is on fire, what makes her tick and what her future plans are sunnylenarduzzi.com.
So, you're basically a video-creating, social media maven. How did you get started in this type of business?
My background is in broadcasting and since I learned you could get paid to communicate, I knew that was the path for me. I grew up wanting to be the next Mary Hart or Oprah and as I entered the traditional media world, my desire moved to wanting to increase my impact by moving online.
I started an online magazine, learned online marketing from scratch and fell in love with the space. From there, I found my true passion of sharing everything I'd learned with my clients and teaching people on YouTube and that is when everything changed for me. The moment I uploaded my first YouTube tutorial, I got this insane traction and views were coming from all over the world and in my first year I grew from nothing to 50,000 subscribers, 3 million views and that translated to creating online courses and my first 6 figure year in business.
You are such a motivated and driven business woman. Are you glad you took the leap of faith to start your own empire post 2010 Winter Olympics?
YES! I remember my mom asking me what I wanted to do for work when I was 16 years old, and without even thinking, I said "I want to build an empire". I've always had this inner belief that I was meant to have a big impact and do something big with my life and I feel like this was the avenue I needed to take to do it, so I'm glad I did!
What's the scariest thing about going out on your own?
All of the risks. The unknown. The constant lack of security. The naysayers. There's a lot to be afraid of when you start your own business, but I've come to realize it's a hell of a lot scarier to live the rest of your life on someone else's terms and living up to someone else's expectations.
What is the most difficult and fulfilling part of running your own business?
Growth. It's uncomfortable, it forces you to take a really good look at yourself and your priorities and it always feels like you're jumping out of an airplane. But, at the same time, growth is the best part of being an entrepreneur. I feel like being an entrepreneur is the best practice in self awareness you could ever have. I've learned soooooo much about relationships and how I handle pressure through running my business. And of course, the more we grow, the more of an impact we can make and the more people we can help - and that's what gets me out of bed in the morning :)
Clearly, you are very comfortable in front of the camera. How did your experience in broadcasting prepare you for your current work?
It's weird, I don't know if it did on the level people assume it did. Even though I had worked in TV for years, I remember being terrified to put out my first YouTube video...because it was mine. I didn't have a production team or anyone else helping me. It was me and I was opening myself up to the whole world. I always say the key to being comfortable on camera is knowing that you know your shit. As long as you're talking about what you love, you'll nail it.
You've received press in some very notable publications from Forbes and Entrepreneur.com to The Huffington Post and BC Business. How has this impacted your business & what's the one publication you'd love to get coverage in?
It's had a positive impact on the business from a credibility standpoint, but I always look at press as a bonus and not something we actively pursue. FORBES was always kind of a north star, so that feature holds a very special place.
You've also had the privilege to work with some amazing companies - from Hootsuite to NATO. What has been one of the more memorable experiences you've had with clients?
I've been very lucky to work with incredible clients and have amazing experiences because of my business, including speaking at NATO. I think that still goes down as one of the most surreal moments I've ever had. I remember sitting there and speaking to elite members of the CIA, the UN, NATO, the US Army, NASA and having them all listening to me and my advice so intently...it was a trip.
Social media and video marketing have both evolved so much over the past 5 - 10 years. What's the one big mistake most companies make when entering this domain?
They think about 'going viral' as opposed to 'adding value'. The more educational, informational, inspiring content you can create as a business, the more sustainable success you'll have in building a respectable brand.
Your latest venture, BYOB (Be Your Own Boss Mastermind) offers live online training where people can do everything from build their YouTube presence, to creating content that captures & converts and so much more. What was your inspiration and motivation behind starting this and why the heavy focus on video-based marketing (aside from the fact that you know the domain so well)?
I was inspired to start the #byoBOSS group because it can get lonely and confusing as hell being an entrepreneur, especially if you have an online business. I wanted to bring people together to support each other in growing and learning. I like to talk about what I know and what has worked for me and video has been a big key to my success, which is the main focus.
What does Be Your Own Boss mean to you?
Be Your Own Boss means so much to me. It means being the master of your own destiny and knowing that you have everything you need to make your dreams a reality. I'm living proof of that. Whether you work for a company or you're an entrepreneur, you are your own boss. Everyday you make decisions personally and professionally that dictate your happiness and your future, and you should make those decisions like a boss. Anyone at any age can be their own boss. #byoBOSS
For a thriving video business you still do things on a smaller scale. Such as filming all the videos in your apartment. What's the set up for this and do you plan on expanding outside of this space?
I have no plans to expand outside of my apartment in the near future. I love that my home is my everything. I've tried using studios and office spaces and it never felt right. Seems to be working pretty well for us. If it ain't broke....:)
What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
Don't micro-manage. Ugh. There is nothing worse. I believe in empowering people to be their own boss and to make decisions as if the company they work for is their own.
Being the social media/online expert that you are, how do you use social media?
I don't use it as much as people think. I use it strategically and I map out when and how I will use it month over month. When I'm with family and friends, I keep my phone in my purse for the most part. I believe in being present and nurturing relationships offline. I also don't think we need to share everything and anything I do share, I try to think "how will this help/inspire/inform/entertain" my community? If it doesn't, then I keep it to myself.
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
I fail all the time, so it's hard to think of a big failure. I think it's vital to fail fast and brush yourself off. That's the best way to learn. If you aren't failing, you aren't learning, in my opinion.
I'm a big believer in 'ah-ha' moments, that timing is everything and things happen for a reason. What has been your biggest ah-ha moment in life?
My biggest ah-ha moment came during the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics. In my head, I had "made it" by reporting at the Olympics, but in my heart it felt all wrong. The next day, I came home and started my first business. The rest is history.
Where do you see sunnylenarduzzi.com in 5 years? Do you have a vision for your company and if so, what is it?
I see us keeping it tight, with a team of no more than 5-10 people. I see myself writing a book and I see our company growing a worldwide #byoboss movement.
What are three qualities you look for in the tribe of men/women you surround yourself with and what's the one thing men/women can do better to support each other?
Trust. Accountability. Gratitude.
Know that no one is your competition if you're doing things authentically, in your way. That breeds a much more supportive world. Collaboration > Competition.
What's the one word of advice you would give your younger self?
You are stronger than you will ever know, you are worthy, and you better buckle-up, baby girl. It's an exciting ride ahead!
What inspires you and motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Helping people. Period. I live for getting my community results for their lives and businesses. Income has always been a much bigger motivator than income.
Tell me what one word best describes you as a:
Social media authority: