Breaking the Narrative With Phyllis Nichols
Meet Phyllis Nichols. Phyllis is the founder of Sound Advice Strategies, a podcast production company that crafts unique audio experiences for authors, small business owners, and creatives. She's a maestro in making voices resonate, handling all the tech intricacies while her clients shine.
From humble beginnings, Phyllis evolved from a spirited salesperson into a podcasting maven, thanks to a dare, her one-person production team, her husband, and her business partner.
Like so many of us, Phyllis absorbed the BS narrative of being 'too aggressive' or 'too loud.' It's a tale many women know well. Yet, fate led her to a tech sales job that unveiled an audacious side, one that reveled in pushing boundaries and was met with applause.
Join us today in listening as Phyllis shares her journey from being told she was too much to founding a podcast production company that amplifies voices. To connect with Phyllis, visit her website https://www.soundadvicestrategies.com/
Watch Phyllis's Story
Jennifer: Welcome to the I Don’t Give a Should Show – a podcast exploring ALL the ways that women SHOULD all over themselves. How many times do you find yourself acting out of obligation or doing what everyone ELSE expects from you without stopping to consider why? Where do all those beliefs that are driving you come from? If you’re tired of feeling resentful, overwhelmed, stuck, exhausted or pissed off you’re in the right place.
Shoulding all over yourself is a real thing, but it doesn’t have to be in the driver’s seat.
I’m your host Jen Sherwood, and I spent waaaaay too many years trying to prove that I was good enough and worrying what other people thought while avoiding conflict at all costs. Today, I don’t give a should – well not as many anyway and neither should you. I’m talking to women like you who figured out how to stop shoulding and start LIVING.
Today, my guest is Phyllis Nichols, she is the founder of Sound Advice Strategies, a podcast production company. She's best known for helping clients create unique audio experiences for their listeners, authors, small business owners and other creatives use podcasts to tell their stories, inspire audiences and build real connections. Phyllis and the sound advice team makes sure they sound great, and they handle all the tech and marketing details. Well, this is a salesperson at heart who found her way to podcasts on a dare.
Her husband and business partner was her one man production team. humble beginnings. No one is more delighted than Phyllis that her previous sales consulting work turned into amplifying and selling the messages of her clients.
In between listening to podcasts, you'll find her with a book checking out live music, or practicing piano. She's an avid list maker and girl left to my own heart, which feeds her office supply addiction, also a girl after hours, and gives her a way to keep track of all the podcast ideas that pop up daily.
Welcome - I'm so so glad you're here.
Well, thank you, Jennifer.
It's really nice to be here - thanks.
Oh, you're welcome.
You're somebody I enjoy so much, and I'm excited to hear I have not heard this story. I want to hear your background, and I want to share you with my audience.
So let's just jump right in. So Phyllis, would you mind just telling us what was life? Like, when you were living under the shoulds?
Yeah, thank you.
I gave some thought to this, and so two things really kind of come up for me. One thing is, for a variety of reasons, I was really raised and I didn't really realize this until I was well into my 20s that I was just sort of raised to take the feelings and concerns of other people kind of into account. Ultimately, I ended up being sort of this person who honestly until probably actually was into my 30s before I felt like I really got a handle on this.
That felt like it was my responsibility to make sure everybody else was okay, like everybody else was having a good time, or everybody else was happy, essentially. That obviously met for a long time. I, you know, put my own needs below sort of beneath, you know, the needs of others and even, you know, there were some points probably in my early 20s as a young adult that I probably would have.
I didn't even have the awareness to know that this is sort of how, you know, just kind of how ingrained all of this was for me. It was a big transition, I should say, from that and to now, I certainly, and I still care a lot about other people, and there are little things that I, you know, still today that I will recognize and be like, okay, like, you know what, I am really not like that lady over there at the grocery store who looks like she's about ready to cry.
I can be kind and empathetic to her, but it's not my job to make sure she's okay like, sometimes it's okay for me to just do what I need to do for me, that kind of thing. Some of this is so strongly ingrained - you just really have to have some perspective on it, I think.
I imagine there are so many heads nodding along with you as we're listening to the story because it is, I want to say this not to diminish your experience, but to kind of bring us together it's so common that women girls, because this is where we start, right girls are really expected to take care of the feelings of others, but we're not really encouraged to take care of our own feelings.
That's so true.
I think you're right and one of the other things that I wanted to bring out too, if somebody is listening and you because in conjunction with this sort of taking care of other people thing, I was also in both overt and very subtle ways at told, you know, I was sort of too much, right. I'm too loud and too opinionated, too aggressive. It was a little bit of either.
There were times when I would recognize and be like, no, like, I'm going to really go for this right, some things that we would normally applaud, I think we'll just talk in a business context, right, spin a business context, typically, you know, like, being aggressive and really going for what you want, and not being being sort of fearless about maybe taking a risk, or really kind of going for it. Even the language and that sort of thing is typically kind of seen as a good thing or as a positive thing, but for women really not so much. I felt like, you know, many, a lot of times, I just, I either didn't do it, I didn't go for it kind of the way I would or I would try to and then I would sort of shrink back.
I just played smaller than I should have for a long time.
I love that you're bringing this up, because as you were describing this sort of go for it attitude, I was thinking that's very masculine and so when you said women aren't really encouraged to be that way. It comes. There's definitely a way we're treated when we're young that, you know, girls are nurturing, and boys are rough and tumble, you know, the whole boys will be boys mentality and then how that affects us as we grow up.
I'm curious and I'm sure there I have no doubt people are like, Yes, I was taught, I remember, by the way, my best friend growing up. If she watches this, she'll appreciate this. My best friend growing up, her mom said to her one time, and that Jenny, she's so loud about me, you know, and I don't even really remember a lot of too much. But I remember that specifically. So you know, it really hits you so before the business days you weren't willing to go for it.
When you were just I'm just curious how this played out? Like, did it stop you from this idea of being too much? Did it cause you to sort of shrink down in your sort of like, I'm thinking teen to young adult years where you didn't want to stand out? You didn't want to draw attention, so is that how it manifested?
Yeah, it did.
It is also in just the choices that I made, like I, you know, I didn't go to college because I was sort of, I wasn't, I don't want to say I was discouraged from going but I wasn't encouraged to go. Just all these like, choices that I made, because and again, part of that was just I really wanted to go and I ended up going a little bit later.
I didn't, like I just didn't stand up for myself, you know, I just didn't say yeah, I'm really gonna go, I'm gonna fill out the applications. I'm gonna we're gonna, you know, want to go visit some schools, that kind of thing.
Again, hindsight, you know, it didn't even. It just didn't even kind of didn't occur to me to really fight for it. It just never occurred to me and it definitely made an impact and some, you know, pretty big life decisions. I think things have turned out really great and I am not looking back with a lot of regret. I don't really have any major regret but I certainly wish I could have gotten kind of, you know, pass this a little sooner in life, certainly.
It definitely that's how it played out and also, I think there's not a woman probably alive who hasn't either. Let a guy win or not speak up at a business meeting with your great idea because you just know somebody's gonna get irritated or even irritated by it. It's going to be seen as too pushy, like we applaud really successful women. I just saw an interview with Sara Blakely, the woman who created Spanx. She's a billionaire and a self made millionaire but, you know, there were probably some times when she had to be super aggressive and pushy, and probably even maybe, to the point of being obnoxious to get some things done.
We applaud people when they sort of get to this place but a lot of times I think, especially for women, you know, if you're in the messy middle part there, you have to do what you have to do and you may not get applauded In fact, you know, you might be told to you know, wait your turn, or I know a friend who's running for office and you know, she was told like it's not you know, like you should be should wait your turn.
You should volunteer in somebody else's campaign first, things like that. And so, and I don't think people aren't really not trying to do her harm. I think they're just you know, it's, it's just the way we see things and this also shows up one of the things with podcasting. I'm always looking at language and sort of content, and especially audio content and video content. One of the things that's also this, how this plays out a lot, too, and in very subtle ways, is just in the way that we speak. There's been a ton of studies done about this since the 70s, all the way up to just last year, you know, women are interrupted way more frequently, in every kind of setting, even on the Supreme Court.
The women on the Supreme Court are interrupted by their male colleagues 33% more or third more than the men interrupt there. Then there are other men, right, like they, it's, it's crazy and, you know, these obviously super accomplished women have every right to be speaking and asking questions. I want women if they're, if there's anybody who's listening, who's had some of these experiences tonight, first of all, you're not wrong for speaking up, right. If you feel like you're sort of playing small or shrinking, I think we know when we're maybe not taking the chance or not raising our hand, you know, whether it's metaphorically or what I mean, we I think most of us realize sometimes when we're sort of, we're calculating in our head, like, do I want to say anything?
Do I just kind of want to be kind, go along and get along like, I don't want to be the person who's sort of, you know, kind of throwing a wrench into the plans for the you know, whenever that kind of thing. I think that feeling certainly happens a lot in a business setting and, you know, even a personal day next to you, I don't think there's a woman out there who hasn't let her boyfriend or husband win at a game or something.
Again, I love men - I'm not bashing men. I mean, some of them that sell like Calvin wouldn't. My husband would never ask me to do this but certainly early on in our career, I'm sure I let him win or whatever, like, yeah, sometimes because that's just what we're sort of taught us a nice thing to do, right?
That's what we're talking about these ingrained expectations, and shoulds.
There's so much in here, Phyllis, that I'm so interested in and so I really, I know women can see themselves in what you're talking about. I want to say what's interesting is, as you're talking, you know, that risk that you're talking about, what we're calculating is, what is the outcome of that.
If I speak up, what's going to happen and what's interesting is I talk about how women live under the shoulds. They don't recognize it but I like what you just said about how we know that we're making these calculations, what I actually think women don't know is that it can be different. Now, we can't control getting interrupted 33% more than our male, we can't control that, right.
What we can control is kind of that BS that we're telling ourselves that if I speak up, people will think differently of me, and this will happen. Yes, that may happen, but how would you rather live your life sitting there calculating the risk or actually doing what you want to do? I think that's the difference so in that vein, I'm curious, was there something that happened in your life to help you see it and help you shift? It? Was it, you know, a series of events? How did you recognize what was going on and make changes for yourself?
Certainly there were, I mean, obviously, it wasn't more, there wasn't just one thing, but I do think one of the things that helped me the most was in my late 20s.
Apparently, I got a sales job, and it was kind of my first sales job. I moved about 90 miles away here to Columbus, Ohio, where I live now. I didn't. I didn't know anybody who lived here. This is just where the job was, and it was really wanted. I was, it was a commission-only job, which I tell people to send, they're like, they just rolled their eyes at me. I just was like, I thought it was like the greatest thing ever. I was so excited, and I actually did really, really well.
A couple of things, though, that helped. Right. So one of the things about this is that, you know, it was up to me, right? This is one of these kinds of positions where the effort and the energy and the focus and everything like it was on me to do those things and to take those actions. I was given a look back now I can't even believe it - I was given a lot of latitude. I just went for it kind of I didn't if there was nobody really holding me back. There wasn't anybody saying oh, you have to do it like this, you have to do it like that so that was actually really helpful.
It also kind of forced me to, you know, to figure out what worked right like I had to their attempts. I had to be aggressive and I had to, you know, I had to do this as I was in the IT space at the time and I had to call most of my clients were men, we were at like a datacenter or the, you know, CIO and whatever so it was talking most. I just had to call and I had to make contacts and I had to get to know people. I didn't have a network of friends and say, introduce me to your friend that works over here, that kind of thing. Honestly, this is, this all really helped me because I really liked doing it and I did really well.
I think it just put me in a place where, you know, nobody told me to stop. Nobody told me not to speak up and you don't, I mean, like people I just was, it was the kind of position where these things were actually encouraged and rewarded. And I did well, and, and then the people who actually I was working for at the time, men, of course, great guys, but, you know, they were sort of like, you know, the more the better. I did the more sort of, I think acknowledgement, but also encouragement.
Then they actually asked me to really like to show other people, they were like, oh, my gosh, you know, really well, like, you know, can you show some other people how you've done this, because you sort of have just jumped in and all these things. So, you know, that was a really big difference year, 18 months or so of that job, especially like it was a huge growth, both personally and professionally, but I also kind of came in on the other side of that going.
Here's one of the other things I learned through this to Jennifer is that, you know, when figured out like, there really aren't any rules, right? Like, it's just sort of what works for you, and what fits you and what feels right for you. The first time I was again, I was 29-30 and when I was close to 31, I took this job. Probably one of the first times in my life where it kind of clicked like, oh, my god, like I really can't kind of just do things the way that I want to do them if you know, there really aren't any rules.
It's okay to just do it my way.
I want to pause for a second because I think this is really important.
What I'm hearing you say, and I want you to tell me if I've got this correctly is okay, so you took this leap of faith, you jumped into this job, and you kind of jumped in with both feet and really embraced it. Because it was all on you, the more you put yourself into it, the better the outcome so it sort of fed itself.
Then at some point, you just kind of looked around like, wait, all these things that scared me or held me back or you know, fill in the blank. None of it's real - it's just all these things that we are afraid of. But if we actually go after it, all these things we're terrified about don't actually happen. Is that what I'm hearing you say?
Very, very true.
That's absolutely right and it was really. It just felt good to write like it felt really good. It was a hard job, don't get me wrong. I mean, I look back now like, oh my god, if you know, in hindsight, like yeah, if knowing now what I know about the job and how hard things were, and all that kind of thing.
I would never tell my younger self necessarily to do it because like when you know what you don't know, then you're like, totally, yeah, I've had I don't have children, but I know that you do it. I've heard other people that are young parents say that be like, Oh my god, like if people tell you what, being a mom, you know, a little baby, like, you just wouldn't even do it. Right. But then you're, but you do it because now you're a mom, and you just sort of have to do it. So that's a little bit like that sort of strike, but I just did it. I've gotten a lot of times I think there's that's why I think so many times in life, there are these things where, you know, we don't really know. There's a reason we don't know, and it wasn't that raising would stop ourselves.
We would never take a step forward so having learned these lessons, and shifted, shifted, you know, what you were thinking about things and how you were showing up? How is your life different now than say before you took the leap into that job? How is it different for you not responding to expectations? And shoulds?
I'd like first of all, I think there are times when I still you know will find myself concerned about things like that and you're human. I have a much higher level of awareness that right I immediately kind of can recognize when that's happening. I also know things have just been a lot. I don't know if it was a lot more successful.
I also think a lot less stress and anxiety because I'm just doing what I tried to anyway; my approach is to do what feels right for me, what sort of, you know, ethically correct, right for me as a person, the kind of values that I want to have not to get all like, you know, deep about stuff but
You're in there deep about stuff.
I just and I also, you know have learned I think to cut my have some slack like, I don't have to be perfect. I'm not responsible for everybody else under the sun. I mean, certainly I have friends and family that I care for and people for, you know, I want to be happy and do well and be successful.
It's not my responsibility to make sure everybody else is okay at my expense, especially
and I think that's and that those things are significant. You know, and the other thing I finally can, I can't always recognize it, but I can understand it as I'm, if I'm processing if I supply myself in a difficult situation, or I'm getting really maybe somebody who's responding really negatively. You know, it's almost always done perfectly, so sometimes I might do or say something that's not right.
I, you know, when somebody will correct me or asked me to, to discuss something, maybe find my true intention and that kind of thing, but almost all the time, and people that are listening, if you run into this, too, if you feel like people are sort of criticizing you or expecting you to encouraging again, like this person is being encouraged to not run for office, it's like, you know, that's really a reflection of the person who's talking to you.
In that case, the person who's being told not to run for office, you know, one of the people who are telling her that I think it's just, they're really threatened, you know, I think they have their own regrets about maybe not doing something sooner in their own life. Now they're kind of they don't want her to get out there too far ahead of them. That kind of thing I can recommend, certainly, it's easier, obviously, you know, this as a coach, right? It's so much easier to see these patterns and others, of course, but yeah, I definitely have a little more awareness.
They and I would encourage other women to just understand that sometimes that criticism, especially if somebody's telling you to, metaphorically or in real life, to be quiet or to, to, you know, to settle down and not speak out too much, or those kinds of things, you know, it's probably much more a reflection of how the other person feels about themselves and how they feel about you,
I would totally agree.
I think it's more about their discomfort than it is about you, and this is why I am so passionate about encouraging women to love themselves. Then particularly when you can recognize what's going on outside of yourself, you're much more, okay, you don't need that person to validate you, or you don't need that person to tell you what to do. I also just want to say how much I appreciate you a few times you said, I'm not perfect and like, can we just start a movement like hallelujah, we're all not perfect, unattainable expectations.
I love that you said that and the thing is, is actually imperfect, people who embrace their imperfection are way more fun to be around. Let's be honest, as a recovering perfectionist, I can say that, you know, so I love that.
Let me wrap this in a different direction - you have such a beautiful company, and you really support female entrepreneurs. I'm wondering if that experience brought you to that place in your business. Or was it just something you love? So how did that come about? Yeah, so
I think, you know, I've had my company since 2008 and we were originally doing sales, copy and sales sort of related stuff. Then digital marketing became super, you know, the thing. And so we started doing a lot of copy and, and strategy around that. One of our copy clients actually said, I want to start a podcast. The dare came, like I had talked, I was in a mastermind group at the time, years ago, this a number of years ago. One of them, we did this, like, I don't know, I think it was like three months, six months in one year goals or something.
For a long time, like, I started a podcast was all my goal sheet, and then that's sort of where the derrick and finally they were like, okay, like, you can't just keep putting that on there and not doing it. If you don't really start it, then we're gonna maybe kick you out of the group. And I don't think they would have kicked me out, but I think again, that was sort of like, they were really kind of calling me on it.
Anyway, so we had just finished that I had just launched my podcast, and this client said, you know, I'd really like to have one, would you help me do it? And I was like, Okay, sure. We just sort of figured this out for mine. So we can do that. And, um, it went, well, she's still podcasting today to get ready to have her four year podcast anniversary, and that a couple of months later, fortunately, a friend referred somebody else to us, and that's kind of how things got rolling and which is great.
I mean, honestly, in the beginning, Jennifer, you know, I mean, I had started a podcast and I maybe knew a little bit more than somebody who hadn't started a podcast would know, but I certainly had did not just not like I was deeply schooled on the topic, because I was not. They have a little faith in me. And we had a little faith in them, and it worked out so I think that's one of those times in life where you know, instead of going, oh, you know what I don't I don't know, like, sure I've only done my own. I'm not sure I could do it for other people. I don't know what we're gonna charge money for.
I said, yeah, sure, let's do it and so that was kind of a big, big thing and a big moment. One of the things I think about, now that we've been doing this for a long time, and we've done a lot of research, and I do know a lot about it. One of the things and this sort of feels like a full circle thing for me in a lot of ways is that I've learned that, you know, women are really underrepresented in the podcast world as a whole. There are tons of very good women podcasters that are what don't get me wrong. There are lots of really smart, amazing women who are podcasting, but we're still really underrepresented.
When I first started podcasting it was only like six or 7% of podcasts were by women. We're now up to maybe 11, or 12%. We were talking about, you know, the women maybe being interrupted or not being heard a lot. I mean, in a lot of ways, in the podcast world, in particular, women's voices literally are not being heard on a number of topics and really passionate about helping other women to be heard. If that's something that they want to do, most women, I'm not saying everybody in the world should have a podcast, although probably everybody could.
I just want some women out there to know, like, there's lots of women that have a lot to say that have, you know, they're smart, that have great insights, that all kinds of things, and I don't want fear or lack of sort of knowledge or anything to stop them right to, you know, want people to find a way and to that point, this is something you might not know yet.
We're launching a Sound Advice FM, which is going to be a podcast network specifically for women podcasters.
Oh, my goodness, that is amazing.
Do you want to tell me a little bit more about the network?
Yeah, I just keep it at that.
I mean, it's okay, Sound Advice FM, there's still going to be individual women podcasters, and their podcasts will still be doing their thing. By bringing people together, that sort of community of podcasters we can leverage things like marketing capability, and potential ads and sponsor capability.
One of us on our own might not be able to get but a group of us together can and so and it also is just to help bring you know more people and bring a bigger audience to some of the amazing women podcasters that I know that I you know, they're they're doing amazing work, and they're sharing amazing information, and just more and more people need to hear them and this is a great way to do it.
This is absolutely incredible.
I'm so glad you brought that up and I'm just thinking how lovely that our conversation started from, you know, taking other people's needs into consideration and too loud, too big - all full circle to you are going to amplify women's voices in a field that is so male dominated.
Phyllis, thank you so much for sharing all of that with us. I loved hearing what your experiences were and where you're at. I think this is so fantastic. Is there anything I didn't ask you? Or is there anything else that you want to share before we wrap up?
No, you've been really great, and thank you for letting me chat about this.
One thing I will tell people though, if there's somebody watching who has questions or information, feel free to reach out to me at Sound Advice Strategies. On our website, we have a free it's an opt in that there's a free 50 page guide about podcasting that will literally walk you through everything from planning to, to everything.
If you want to learn if you're in the education process, research process, please take advantage of that. Connect with me and let me know and if somebody out there has a great podcast that they'd like to maybe be part of the network, or somebody wants to nominate someone to be part of the network. I would love to hear from them and we really want to have a group of just really smart, fun, interesting, diverse women and yeah, so help me out.
I love it and how can people connect with you said the website but are there other ways to really like to get to know you?
The best or the place where I'm probably most active is on Twitter, actually, which is my name Phyllis Nichols at Phyllis Nichols, like all one word.
The same thing over Instagram and the website are probably the three best places. There is a contact form on the site. If you want to just ask a question or shoot me a note or anything like that, definitely put it there. It'll get to me, I will see it and I'd love to, I'd love to hear from anybody who has any questions or feedback.
We will put all your information in this post, and people can get in touch with you. Phyllis, this has been so I never used this word but it's been delightful.
Thank you for letting me, you know, share all that I feel like I've just sort of dumped all this like stories but it's been fun. You are quite a good interviewer - I watched some of your other interviews. I just really love and appreciate how engaging and how generous you are at allowing other people to share their stories.
It's, it's really, it's really lovely.
Thank you, Phyllis - I really appreciate that.
The whole point is for other women, if they feel stuck to see that there are choices out there that they may not even recognize so thank you so much for being here with me today.
For those of you watching or listening - thanks for joining us.