Scout Sobel of Scout’s Agency on harnessing the power of podcasts and an important mindset lesson she learned early on
Describe your business in a few words?
Scout’s Agency specializes in getting women as guests on podcasts. We up-level brands through podcast appearances and PR placements so that women’s voices and missions can be heard by new audiences.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I started Scout’s Agency six months into running Okay Sis Podcast with my sister, Mady. I recognized the immense power of being a guest on a podcast as our community would go follow our guests on Instagram and buy their product. I then was able to see that power first hand when Mady and I started being a guest on podcasts – new community members would flow in! I also recognized that podcasting – unlike digital media features – were long form, intimate, and the message really came through the guest’s personality. With the power, intimacy, and potency of podcasts inspiring me, I started Scout’s Agency to help other women get in front of different audiences via podcasts. With that as our bread and butter service, we also book high profile guests on podcasts (the best way to grow your network and downloads!) and we also help product based-brands and personal brands get featured in traditional press. The foresight of the power of podcasting and the rising popularity of the medium mixed with me yearning to be my own boss again as I was working a day job was the catalyst for starting Scout’s Agency.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
My background before starting Scout’s Agency was anything but linear. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 20, I dropped out of college (and a few attempts to finish up school after that ended with me dropping out for good!). I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 21 when I decided to start a magazine with a friend. What started as a fun project that we were going to print at Kinkos and pass out to our friends ended up being a three-issue run with Halsey on the cover that was sold in Barnes & Noble and newsstand locations across the country. That is where I got the entrepreneurial bug – but I was still in the process of healing from my bipolar disorder. I then went on to help launch a women’s digital media site, started a blog, a solo podcast, became the Director of Operations for a tech start-up, and then ultimately to my life today: running Scout’s Agency and Okay Sis Podcast. I have never really worked a job that is out of the start-up entrepreneurial energy nor did I take a traditional career trajectory. I believe that what has transpired has been perfectly me. My background is in mental health healing and an intense energy to create a life on my own terms through business.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Definitely not. As a kid, I was much more creative and artistic. I flourished in AP Art History and AP English classes and detested math, business, or science classes. The fact that I would fall so in love with business has been the biggest mystery of my life. However, the life of an entrepreneur makes perfect sense for me. As someone who lives with bipolar disorder, entrepreneurship lives within the same emotional framework: high highs and low lows. Entrepreneurship demands that you take radical responsibility over your life the same way healing from bipolar does. I have never felt more at home than when I am in my entrepreneurial zone however there was no indication growing up that this would be my path. Sometimes, something even greater than we predicted is waiting for us.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I first launched my business without much thought. I didn’t have a business plan, a marketing plan, or even a plan past the first month. I had an energetic inkling to offer the services that I offer and to just try. I really didn’t mind if I failed or if it didn’t take off. I had a media kit mocked up, I had a spreadsheet of 1,000 potential clients I wanted to work with, and I just started cold-emailing – so much so that Google blocked me on day one of emailing because they reported me as spam so I opened up another email and got to work there. I allowed the energy of my business to move through me. By month four, I had a roster of 10 clients and quit my day job. I hit six figures within my first year and multiple six figures in my second. Today, we are a team of 4. I have been following the future pull ever since and seeing what is available to me for the future of Scout’s Agency.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
When I started my agency, I cursed myself because I am a people-pleaser, it is my greatest weakness, and here I was in the business of serving people one-on-one. There have been so many lessons but the most important one is a mindset lesson. About three months into Scout’s Agency, my husband and I went to Italy, our first real abroad trip as a couple. As I stepped off the plane in Italy, I turned my phone on to receive an unfavorable email from a client. That unfavorable email ruined my entire trip and sent me down an extreme anxiety spiral. I have learned that my services and the way I work are not for everyone – and that is okay. I have learned that not everyone is going to understand the value in my services or in the opportunities we bring – and that is okay. I have learned that even if I make a mistake or a client is unhappy, I can get through it, brush it off, and become stronger. My biggest learning is that I get to stand in my personal power and maintain a sense of balance and calm throughout external chaos. Entrepreneurship and business is truly a mindset, emotional game. You can have all of the strategy in place but if you don’t master the art of expectations, anxiety, staying calm amidst a fire, or conquering self-doubt, your business can go under.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
It is difficult to name one as I am a big believer in celebrating all of my wins so I keep each very close to me. A few big ones would be: breaking a six-figure revenue in year one of Scout’s Agency, supporting a team of women who enhance my life and the business significantly, and signing with Podcast Nation network for Okay Sis. However, I believe the accomplishment that I will be most proud of is going to unfold this year when I launch my first book.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
When it comes to hiring, I am less concerned with experience, college education, or skill set. For me, the most important thing is, “Do you want to be here?” I want a team who is excited to be working at Scout’s Agency, whose work here enhances their life. I want them to be passionate and ready to roll up their sleeves and learn where they need to. A lot of skills can be taught but passion for the job is something that you just can’t buy.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
At the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, we lost 30% of our clients within a week due to them being in brick and mortar industries. I quickly identified that a lot of businesses were actually thriving – online businesses, authors, coaches, and e-commerce. I pivoted and targeted those that were thriving as potential clients. I saw an opportunity I think where a lot of people didn’t. In doing that, we grew 250% in 2020.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We are so excited to be launching a course this year – Get Yourself As A Guest On Podcasts – which will be a self-taught course that teaches you our entire process. We have booked over 500 podcast episodes in the past two years and we are revealing our process, strategy, secrets – all of it! This is perfect for the entrepreneur that isn’t quite ready yet to hire a monthly retainer agency but wants to get their voice out there and isn’t afraid to do the work. Over the next few years, Scout’s Agency is aiming to serve as many female business owners as possible expanding from our one-on-one client model to courses, workshops, masterminds, subscription communities, etc.
I will also be launching my book this year which details will be out soon!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
The biggest lesson I have learned in 2020 is that when I get still and quiet and reject external stimuli, my greatest strength and lessons are revealed to me.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Nothing – I am so grateful I went in naive without an actual plan. I threw myself into the deep end and learned to swim. If I knew how deep I was going to have to tread out of, I might not have started.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
My morning and night routines are sacred. I do not look at my phone for the first 1.5-2 hours in the morning. It is my time to intentionally ground and awaken in a soulful way. I journal first thing in the morning, pull cards, go for a long walk with my dog, make breakfast, listen to a nourishing, inspirational, or educational podcast and take my time with my shower and skincare routine. Having those moments in the morning for just me is so crucial and sets my day up beautifully. I honor my night routines just as much! Phone away an hour before bed, a cup of hot sleepy time tea, and reading a good book in bed.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in work/life balance but I also believe that ratio ebbs and flows depending on where you are at in your business. At the end of 2020, I was sleepy and had a lot more of the life balance incorporated into my days. Now, I am full steam ahead and the work ratio is a bit overpowering. We go through cycles and phases and I think it is important to listen to where your energy is taking you – and where it is asking you to slow down. I believe we each get to do what is best for us within our work/life balance. For me, that often means less social time and more alone time or time with my husband. I think it is important to stick our head out of the ground and recognize that life is happening all around us regardless of how our business is doing. I also believe that there are times where head down, pedal to the metal is the best option. So it depends! On your energy levels, goals, and the phase of life you are in. The main thing for me is not to shame myself for working more or for working less in certain periods of my life.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1. Write down a to-do list either at the end of the day for the following day or first thing before starting work. Having it all down on paper allows you to stay on track and visualize your day. 2. Get super specific with your Google Cal – color code it, determine what time you take calls and what time you don’t, have some days for sales and others for creation, etc. My Google Cal has my entire life organized and it helps me stay on track so much. 3. Make sure to get up from your computer, leave your phone inside, and walk outside (preferably with no shoes on the grass!). Getting outside and having five minutes of pause where your only task is to look around at the trees and the sky and breathe is so impactful for your soul and your work day.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means having a dream in my imagination and extracting it into our physical reality.