Ann Carden

Join Pamela Bardhi on the Underdog Podcast as she interviews Ann Carden, an extraordinary entrepreneur whose journey took her from aspiring doctor to accomplished writer and businesswoman. Ann shares her remarkable story of launching a craft business from her basement and scaling it globally, before venturing into the fitness industry. Throughout the conversation, Ann offers invaluable insights on business growth, efficient system creation, and the crucial roles of marketing and sales in entrepreneurial success. Tune in for an inspiring discussion filled with practical wisdom from Ann’s diverse business experiences.

Ann Carden is not just an entrepreneur; she’s a passionate author and speaker who has left a lasting mark in writing, publishing, and real estate development. Anne is dedicated to inspiring others through her work with three published books and a new magazine on the horizon. Her path from humble beginnings in a basement craft business to successfully building and selling multiple ventures showcases her unwavering commitment and resilience. Anne’s warmth and wisdom inspire countless individuals to pursue their passions and realize their dreams.

Key Takeaways:

  • Follow Your Passion:  Anne initially aimed to be a doctor but found her true calling in writing and speaking. This shift underscores the importance of recognizing and pursuing what you are genuinely passionate about, even if it means changing career paths.
  • Adaptability and Resilience: Embracing change and being resilient in the face of challenges are crucial for personal and professional growth.
  • Value of Personal Development: Investing time in self-growth not only enhances your professional capabilities but also enriches your overall life experience.
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: Being proactive, innovative, and client-focused are key elements in building and sustaining a successful business.
  • Impact of Writing and Communication: Writing and speaking are powerful tools for sharing knowledge, inspiring others, and establishing authority in your field.
  • Real Estate Development Insights: Anne’s involvement in real estate development across the country provides valuable lessons on managing large-scale projects. Her experiences shed light on the intricacies of real estate and the importance of strategic planning and teamwork.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Building strong networks and collaborating with others can open doors to new opportunities and foster mutual growth.

Whether you’re just starting or looking to scale your business, Anne’s insights and experiences offer valuable lessons that can guide you on your journey.

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The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also in the Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

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Ann Carden’s Million-Dollar Success Story

Pamela Bardhi: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Underdogs podcast. Today I have an incredible guest here with me. Anne, how are you?

Ann Carden: I’m fantastic, Pamela, I’m so excited to be here with you.

Pamela Bardhi: I’m so excited to have you, Ann. Oh, my goodness. I just. Your energy, as soon as you came on the screen, I was like. You know, you’re great when people radiate, and we’re both wearing white blazers, so that’s.

Ann Carden: You know, I know you got the email, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Render mine, or.

Ann Carden: I got the email, I should say.

Pamela Bardhi: I love it. So, it’s always good to connect with incredible souls from all different parts of, different walks of life. Like, really hear the stories and details. I’m excited to dive into yours today and really all the things, what you’ve built and really everything expert you. All the things. And so, before we go into all of that, I always like to dial it way back. Because we want to know where all of this originates from. It’s so fun when you get to see these parallels. But as a kid growing up, what did you want to be like?

Ann Carden: What was your dream? I wanted to be a doctor. Until I found out that I was terrible at science and terrible at calculus and all, terrible at algebra. And I said, okay, I think I’m going to have to change career ideas here. But I think for years, I wanted to be a doctor, but it’s funny, Pamela. When I really look back, I always was a writer. Now, I’ve written three books, and I have a magazine coming out. I’m always writing articles and publishing, and I always was, in front of people speaking. Just always at the front of the room. Right. So now those things, I would have never thought that I wouldn’t be doing those things in my business. But also teaching those things to other people, so it’s pretty funny.

Pamela Bardhi: That is amazing. Yeah, you know, algebra never really made the cut with me. None of those things. But, yeah, it was weird because in geometry and in chemistry, I was, like, an absolute genius. Like, I was high, nineties. And how’s, like, chemistry of a nineties average? That’s, like, not even normal. Meanwhile, algebra was, like, a C minus at best, and I’m like, why did my brain just understand? Teacher would always say to me, you’re not gonna have a calculator everywhere you go when you grow up, you know. I’m like, now, every time something new comes up, like, there’s the new iPhone that you can write out mathematical equations on. It’ll solve it for you. I was like, I, make sure I send her all that.

Ann Carden: So, anyways, I wonder if kids are ever going to have to learn anything anymore.

Pamela Bardhi: I mean, seriously, AI it is, you know, it’s crazy stuff.

Your dad was an entrepreneur, and he always had his own businesses

Really fun how, like, you know, our youth really shapes us. And, you know, in growing up, like, who or what, or maybe it’s multiple things that motivate you and inspire you most.

Ann Carden: Who are, what inspired me the most growing up? Well, my dad was an entrepreneur, and he always had his own businesses. And I think subconsciously I was inspired by that. Because I had my first business when I was seven or eight years old. I sold craft classes to them, I learned how to make these paper mache balloons, and so I wanted to. You popped the balloon, and then you’ve got this shell with all this bright colored tissue paper. Thought, oh, I want to teach all the neighborhood kids how to do this. And I charged them, I mean, I just, that actually, again, came out on a podcast one day.

I hadn’t even thought about that, and somebody said, how, how far back does your first business go? And when I started thinking about that, I thought, you know, I think I always really have been an entrepreneur at heart. Even though I went the career path and corporate path when I got out of college. But, yeah, I think I’ve always had that, and I think that I got that from my dad. Always saw him making his own money, and we were a middle class family. I mean, we, I’m sure they struggled and they had their times, but I didn’t see a lot of that. Got to see the good side of him being an entrepreneur.

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s so beautiful. And there’s something to be said about parents that are entrepreneurs. Because I always feel like the kids somehow subconsciously pick it up at some point in time. You know what I mean? Like, it’s fascinating how an effect that has on you, and really, I mean, our brains are wired. Our subconscious is wired from zero to seven. At seven, that’s your first business.

Ann Carden: Well, you know, it’s so crazy, there was a period of time, so I have two brothers and a sister. There was a period of time we all four had our own businesses. And then, we all kind of went in and out of jobs or whatever, doing that through, you know, growing up. But, yeah, I just learned early on, hey, make your own money, you can make a lot more. Learn how to make your own money. Yes.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that.

Ann Carden: I love it.

Pamela Bardhi: And where did you grow up? Where was home for you?

Ann Carden: Perryville, Missouri. In missouri?

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

Ann Carden: Small little town.

Pamela Bardhi: I absolutely love that. Oh, my gosh.

You set the intention that you wanted to work from home, raise your kids

And walk me through, kind of like you said. You had mentioned you were going down the corporate route when you graduated and all of that. So I’d love to hear the whole story with that and how you got to this point.

Ann Carden: Yeah. So I went to a year of college because I decided at some point I wanted to be a special education teacher. That’s what I went to college for. But then again, the whole math thing, all of that, and I just. I had a really good time my first year in college, but I decided this isn’t really for me. Like, I don’t feel this, and I don’t really feel like this is the path I’m supposed to be on. But I was very creative, I loved it. And so I had this cousin that was doing, she had gone to school for retail management. She was managing, she was running high end stores, and I’m like, that’s what I want to do.

So I actually went to school for business management, for retail management. And so when I came out, I started working for a high end department store. I eventually was running milk, you know, multi million dollar departments for high end department stores. That were, you know, billion dollar companies and did that for 13 years. Retail, as you know, is kind of like the restaurant industry, right? The hours are horrendous, so I did that for 13 years. When I had my kids, my babies, I decided, this is not the life I want. Do not want them raised by daycare. I do not want to be, you know, working all night for inventory, I do not want to be working weekends.

I want to raise my own kids, and so we were living in California at the time, my husband and I. And we made the decision that we were going to move back to the midwest, where we were from. So I could, so we could afford for me to stay at home and raise my kids. But it wasn’t very long, we discovered we really couldn’t afford it. I, you know, he gave back a company vehicle, we left, so we had one vehicle. We lived in a small little town, or outside of a small little town, a lot of opportunities. That is how my first business started, we were financially struggling, and I didn’t want to lose our home.

My husband’s paycheck was not enough. Sat down and cried when my four year old son needed shoes and we didn’t have the money. And I said, I’ve got to find a way to do something here. There’s no opportunity. We have one vehicle. I mean, all the things, and I started making some things with a box of stuff in my basement. That was worth about $15 back to the co craft thing. But that became a global doll business I did for seven years. Employed lots of employees, lots of other moms, I was shipping. I was basically running a manufacturing company out of my home.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s insane.

Ann Carden: And that was 34 years ago. That was a long time ago.

Pamela Bardhi: Well, that’s incredible, though. And I mean, but here’s the thing, though. You set the intention that you wanted to work from home, you wanted to raise your kids, which is really powerful.

Ann Carden: But we didn’t have what we have today. Oh, my gosh. That would have changed everything if we would have the Internet and computers and all of those things.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. No, it makes total sense. I’m just fascinated at it, it comes in these moments where you really don’t expect it. But the minute that you commit to something, you say something, and you set that intention. All of a sudden it comes flooding in. What you need comes flooding it, right. The universe will provide. So right away, you were given this business, and then you started it straight from. Straight from your basement, it sounds like.

Ann Carden: Well, I didn’t have any money, so I had to get creative and innovative. And yeah, there’s a whole story behind that, too.

Pamela Bardhi: But, Yep, do tell.

My business really took off when I created Noah’s ark dolls

Because there may be someone who’s listening that is maybe at that pivotal point right now. That’s like, you know what? Like, it’s. This is not just not enough. I need to know, I need to jump into something. How do I do that?

Ann Carden: You know?

Pamela Bardhi: So that story, I’d love to hear that.

Ann Carden: Yeah, well, you know, I didn’t really. You know, I had this box of stuff, I was always pretty. I was always crafty and creative, and I love to do that. Even when my son was born, I fixed up his nursery and I made things for the nursery. Even though I could have bought those, I was in a high end department store. But it was. There was just something very special to me about making those things and. And really creating this spectacular room for my son. So I had this stuff, and I kind of dabbled in crafts a little bit. Just because it was a great outlet for me. Like, it was a great stress reliever, so I had.

That’s why I had this box of stuff, but I made up these things. Took them to this little store in town, which was about 8 miles away, and so not, again, not walking distance. Right. To be able to go and do that, but took these things in there, and she said she would put them in there. Everything was consignment, so she wasn’t out of anything to put my stuff in there. But after about two weeks, I kept calling her, calling her, what’s old? Nothing, I mean, zero, I had zero sales in the first couple of weeks. So I finally, on the weekend when my husband was home, took the car, went in there. I said, tell me what’s selling, I want to know. And she said, these rabbit dolls, she picked up these.

They were really pretty, and they were the kind of dolls. People would sit on their beds and would sit around their homes and decorate. That was kind of a thing back then. Again, 34 years ago, don’t judge me, okay? So I thought, a rabbit doll? I have no idea how to make a rabbit doll, so I thought, well, I’m going to figure it out. Borrowed my mom’s sewing machine, and I went to the store, and I looked at loads of different patterns. And I kind of just got different ideas from different things, I went home and I designed my own rabbit doll. Made up a couple of them, and I took them in. She goes, oh, my gosh, these are going to sell, and they did.

They did, and I couldn’t make them fast enough. Then my business really took off when, and so I had to start employing other people to help me. It really took off when I created this line of dolls that were Noah’s ark dolls. This fabric had come onto the market, it was Noah’s ark. Everybody was doing nurseries and everything in this Noah’s ark fabric. And I just got this idea, I am a Christian. So I got this idea, I thought, wow, what if I, you know, I’m already making animal dolls, right? What if I do, like, a set of lions and a set of giraffes and a set of tigers? I put them all in this Noah’s ark fabric. And, I mean, my business exploded, I started, I was shipping all over the world.

They were selected for the COVID of an international magazine. Was in stores all across the country, I just couldn’t make them fast enough. I would have moms coming in and out of my home. Some cutting, some sewing, some stuffing, I mean, it was just, they would take bags and bags of these animal parts. And they would be stuffing them, and they’d bring me back these huge bags of these doll parts that were stuffed. Like, to do all the finishing work, so I didn’t. That’s what I did, and then I, you know, ran the business and all of that. So, yeah, I did that for seven years, I mean, it was. It was a grind. This is for any entrepreneur listening if you think you can’t do something.

So I had these two little ones at home. I would be up at three in the morning making dolls, and I would be working late into the night. Like, I really don’t think I slept a lot in those years, to be quite honest. But that just shows, I talk about being resilient, and I talk about, you know, just being committed. And I think you mentioned that earlier. You’ve got to commit to anything that is important to you, and that’s how that business grew to the level. Back then 34 years ago, I was making over a six figure income, not revenue, income, from that business. Which was really unheard of back then, so, yeah, it was a life changer for us. Then started my second, my third, whatever, so I’ve sold five businesses now, and I still have two.

Pamela Bardhi: Oh, my gosh.

What is your biggest piece of advice for scaling businesses? And then structuring that exit

And, I mean, and this is something that, you know, an entrepreneur who is listening, that wants to scale out. Like, what is your biggest piece of advice for scaling businesses? Then, structuring that exit. Right. Because that piece is also really critical because some people are like, I’m gonna start this business. It’s gonna be so great, and then they don’t have their exit planned out, right. So, like, you know, did you go in strategically? I would love to hear some advice, and on your experience when it comes to that.

Ann Carden: Yeah, you know, I. The thing is, I kind of learned it with the first business. Okay. It was a grind, right, I was still doing so much of the work myself. Even though I had a lot of people helping. I still didn’t take my hands off of some of the dolls and things like that. But then I started learning, really, about scaling because I started creating patterns and designing patterns. Now I didn’t just have the finished dolls, I also had the patterns. Well, the patterns could be sold by the thousands. And even though I didn’t make as much money on the pattern, patterns. All we had to do was print, print them, stick the pictures on them, bag them, send them to the company. So I became more of the creator then.

And we had, I had this whole other revenue side of my business. Which would have been the scale, really, the scalability side. Now, I could have sent my dolls off to a manufacturer and had them do it. There’s a lot of ways to scale. But, you know, just doing things on paper with plastic bags, that was pretty lucrative, and that was very profitable. So I would say there’s always ways to scale. You have to look for ways that are really going to leverage your time. Not just grow your business and have more work, and so I learned that in the first business. When I got into the second business, though, again, you know, your business is kind of your baby. You want to hold on to it and you want to have control.

But you will never sell a business like that if it’s dependent on you. So I really learned the power of turnkey businesses and everything that I did. It didn’t come immediately when I started my second business, but everything that I did, I had, four businesses at one time. Well, that meant I could not be in all of them, right? I couldn’t be the person doing everything. And so I really learned the value of a turnkey business. The reason I was able to sell all of those businesses is because everything was in place. Everything, systems, processes, people, you know, the clientele, everything was in place. It was very enticing for someone to buy into that business. Be able to walk in and just keep doing business as usual.

The other side of this is you have to train people and you have to quit trying to be in control. Of everybody thinking or everything thinking that you’re the only one that can do it. You can do it better than anybody else. If you’re ever going to really grow and you’re ever going to sell a business. Really make a lot of money, you’ve got to duplicate yourself. You’ve got to train people, I remember coaching a client one time, and he had a home care business. And I said, how much training do you do, to your people? Because they had all this turnover. I had people that stayed with me for years, that were employees for years and years. Even moved with me when I built another business.

I said, how much do you train your people? He said, well, we don’t and I said, what do you mean you don’t? And he said, yeah, what if I put all that money into them and then they leave? I go, what if they stay? What if you put all that money into them? Or, what if you don’t do that and then they stay? Like, what do you have? So I would say that was a long winded answer. But I would say those are some real takeaways for people, built to sell. Bill turnkey think McDonald’s. Nothing’s left to chance. Everything is a process and a system, and anyone can walk into a McDonald’s and learn how to run it. That is what makes a business enticing and worth a lot of money. It’s not about. You love that.

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. The systems and processes are key. That’s the reason why people buy a business.

Ann Carden: Right?

Pamela Bardhi: You could think you have the best, best product in the world. If you don’t have the systems and processes, you are never going to scale. Right. Then, being able to delegate is huge, and I love that. Well, I mean, you know, that’s the secret sauce to entrepreneurship, right. And letting go. I think one of the biggest things is also, like the whole ego play, right? Like, we all the best.

Ann Carden: Yes. There’s so much of that thing since.

Pamela Bardhi: Sliced bread, and it’s like, well, you know, there’s actually people that can do it out there better than you, right? That was one of the things. Like, I was on Sir Richard Brinson’s island about a month ago at Necker island. And I asked him, you know, I was like, how in the hell did you build all of these things? I’m like, all of your entities? I can’t even name on my two hands right now.

Ann Carden: Sir Richard, isn’t that crazy?

Pamela Bardhi: What is it? He’s like, I always find someone smarter than me, Pam.

Ann Carden: Yes.

Pamela Bardhi: And I let them run with it.

Ann Carden: And that’s a hard one to get over, though. There is a pride and an ego that goes into building something and then thinking that you’re the best. You’ve got all the answers, and that is a hard one to get over.

Every successful entrepreneur that I’ve met has had successful exits

Pamela Bardhi: It is. You will never succeed as an entrepreneur if you never drop that down. Every successful entrepreneur that I’ve met, has had this successful exit and things like this. They’re always like, well, you know, like, we drop, the ego comes down, the pride comes down, all of that. It’s just fascinating, you know, and something that, you know, or even like imposter syndrome comes in at certain times. And it’s like, you know, but if you surround yourself with incredible souls and people willing to learn as well. Like, there’s always a way that you can bypass it. Right? Everyone starts as a beginner at some point. So it’s not to say it’s the end all, be all by any means. But it’s just a way to really navigate through all, and bringing other people in and trusting in the process, too.

People have to realize entrepreneurs’ role changes as they start building companies

Ann Carden: Yeah, and I think too, Pamela, you know, people have to, entrepreneurs have to realize your role changes. So when you start, you know, you have to get out there and you have to hustle and grind, right? You have to get it going and all of those things, but as you start building, your role changes. Then you become, you know, more of a director. And then you become, you know, an owner and you’re a visionary and you’re building out and you become a CEO. If you don’t really get this or you don’t think like this, you’re always going to be making, really sometimes. Why, I shouldn’t say always. You’re mostly going to be making the wrong decisions to get to the end.

You might have this big vision to sell someday, but if you’re not doing it. Making the decisions all along the way to help you get that. You’re going to end up with something that maybe you, isn’t what you planned or you don’t like or it’s exhausting or. But your role changes and you have to learn the skill set of each role. And so when you become the leader of your company. Now your role is more managing the people and leading the people and motivating them. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t really get that, and there are skill sets that you can learn. But you do have to understand that that is a part of the process.

Pamela Bardhi: Amen. I absolutely love that.

You started your fitness business after selling your craft business during recession

And now you’ve still got two other businesses as well. Would love to dive into that, and what inspired you to start these two?

Ann Carden: Oh, gosh, there’s a story there, too. Let me.

Pamela Bardhi: I love, story.

Ann Carden: Well, so my first, my fitness business, I started after seven years of that. When I sold the craft business, sold the designs and the patterns and all of that, and started into the fitness industry. But, I started with just teaching classes out of a community hall. I really, I studied in fitness and I had actually gained a lot of weight in that first business. And so I thought, okay, I don’t know what my next thing is going to be, but I’m going to take better care of myself and feel better. Started exercising, eating right, working out, lost, got in the best shape of my life and said, oh, boy, I want to help other people do this. So I started with, just teaching classes out of a community call.

But I built my first million dollar offer that, again, back then, 20 something years ago, I learned premium services. Like, we had a $12,000 gym membership, which was absolutely unheard of 20 something years ago. Yeah. A lot of the strategies that I use today and teach to people, I learned 20 something years ago in my own businesses. And, so I built that out. It turned into the largest health club in our area. I added on a weight loss center when we had a low price competitor come in. Now, how can I set myself apart? So I added a second business to that, and then when, the 2008 recession, now I’m really dating myself here. The 2008 recession hit. Gyms and businesses around me were shutting down. Because I had an upscale premium business, another FYI, big tip for you.

You can recession proof your business if you’re playing in a higher end market. So I had enough high end clients that my business was so profitable. I made the decision to expand and open two more in the recession when everybody was shutting down. It was a big risk, I have to tell you, to now have four. We did do a loan and all of that for those businesses, but I knew in my gut. Really my thinking was, okay, if you can’t make the same amount of money that you were making, let’s expand. And you can still keep things going. But I knew at the end of that recession, if I could keep my head above water. Could just keep them going, I knew that I would really have something that I could sell, and that’s what happened.

So I ended up building up, you know, the two that I had, building up two more. While I had the other two, I sold two of them, but it was such a game changer for us financially. In our lives to be able to sell all four of those businesses as well. But it was a big risk, and I don’t think most people would take that risk in a reset. We, I mean, we put everything on the line, our home, property that we had acquired. Lots of things that we put on the line to be able to do that. And most people would not be willing to do that, but I was all in. I knew also, these things are not going to fail. There’s no way these businesses are not going to fail.

But, you know, Pamela, it turned out to be such a great thing. Because I was able to get lower rent, I was able to negotiate lower rent. Was able to negotiate advertising at a lower rate. I was able to get phenomenal employees to already start running those businesses because people were out of work. People were struggling. So all of the benefits, the opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. It was so impactful to my business and what I was able to create. But most people wouldn’t even want to take that kind of a risk. It was nuts, I mean, it was a bit crazy and it was stressful but it turned out, you know. Felt really led to do that.

Pamela Bardhi: So I absolutely love that. And no, I mean, that’s incredible that you can recession proof the business.

I would love to get into, like, the marketing pieces of it

I would love to get into, like, the marketing pieces of it, too. That you were saying that you had incorporated from 20 years ago, from your early businesses. Like, if it’s a similar framework. Any framework that you can share with anyone who’s listening, that would be helpful to their business. Because truthfully, marketing is the heart and soul of the business.

Ann Carden: It is.

Pamela Bardhi: I have no marketing. You are dead, period. Just what it is. It is a story so into that.

Ann Carden: Here’s the other thing, too, just to inspire people. If you learn how to market, if you really put in the time to learn how to market and sell. You will never be out of work, you will never be out of money, you will never. I mean, I just truly believe that you. I could go out today if everything shut down today, I could go out today and start something else. It would not make any difference. Now, would I want to do that? No, but I could, because I know the fundamentals of business and I know how to drive a business. So that’s an important thing for people to know. But, yeah, as far as a framework. One of the things that I always want to teach people is when they are creating their business model.

They’re figuring out what their revenue is, what they’re going to build their revenue around. Always think about something that can at least make you a million dollars or more. Because if it can make you a million, it can make you 10 million. That’s just the reality, if you can get to a million dollars with what you have. You can get to five, you can get to ten. I, always. Most people do not create offers or products or anything around that mindset. And that’s the first thing that I would tell people to do, is, what’s your million dollar offer? What is the core of your business? Is there the opportunity to make a million dollars with that? If there’s not, you probably don’t have, like, a real strong business model there, if that makes sense.

You should also be able to build off of it. One of the things that I teach people is when they have their core offer. Okay, what are other things that complement that offer that aren’t disconnected? A lot of people are out there talking about being serial entrepreneurs. But I don’t always think that’s a super great way to go. Because it’s hard when you think about being a serial entrepreneur. Like, I have two businesses, I have my expert, in your agency. And then I have my coaching consulting business as well, but they feed each other. They’re not disconnected. So even though I can go out and market all of them separately. I don’t really have to because they feed each other, I also have partnerships, and we have

I’ve built out other things in my business that are revenue streams, but I don’t do a thing, like, they’re. They really, all I do is, okay, you want a LinkedIn program here, this person’s gonna do it for you. Then I have revenue coming off of that. I believe that when you start with your core and you build out. And I did this even when I was working with small business owners. Partnered with people building websites, people building systems, people running advertising. So I had income streams coming in off of other people, but I wasn’t doing the work. But I was a great referral source to my clients because I’ve already vetted all this, right?

So, for example, if I wanted. If I don’t do this, but if I wanted to have VA service. I actually share my vas with a lot of my clients, and I just give them more work. Now, I don’t take a cut of that, because I want to help my vas. And I want to help my clients be able to implement and get things done, but I certainly could do that. That would be a perfect example of building out another revenue stream. But I do it with enough other things that I don’t have to do it with that.

Maybe someday I will, but I don’t want to hassle with it. Those are, those are things to think about, like, what’s your core? Then how can you build off of that and not have everything be disconnected. So you’re trying to market so many different things because I believe if you’re too split. You’re not going to get traction on anything, you’re not going to be able to really get to the levels. That you should be able to get to a million dollars with one core business. And then you can add on and, or start something else.

Building complimentary businesses that feed your core business is also critical

Pamela Bardhi: The complimentary businesses alongside that you, that you discovered along the way. Or an affiliate. Affiliate relationship.

Ann Carden: Exactly.

Pamela Bardhi: Connect bots for other people. And I mean, for anyone who’s listening that’s not familiar with affiliates. It’s like if you’re constantly recommending somebody or something or some company, you can get paid for that referral.

Ann Carden: Yes, most companies will pay for that.

Pamela Bardhi: You know, word of mouth is the most powerful referral that you could ever give. Because people trust, like, and if you were to tell me, hey Pam, I think you should go check out x. I’m like, okay, well, Ann, I built that rapport with Ann, I will go out and check out that thing. And so that’s very valuable to companies. So anyone who’s an entrepreneur that’s like, you know, don’t leave money on the table. There’s affiliate opportunities really anywhere. Then building these complimentary businesses that can feed your core business is also critical.

Ann Carden: Yes. Yeah, so important. The other thing I would like to say, as much as we love referrals, they are not a marketing plan. You need a marketing system. Unless you have a really great referral system in place. That you can count on, which there are some industries that work really well in. But they, I still would not want to put my business and the success of my business into someone else’s hands. You need to be able to control your own business. And you can’t do that if you are relying on referrals to come in. It’s hard to do that. So just another piece of advice there, do both have, do the referral thing. Then also have your own marketing system that you can control and ramp up or dial back.

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

If you don’t know how to market, you’re pretty dead

And I mean, in terms of the marketing systems and like what’s been like a big. I know you have kind of the experience on the influence and marketing side. So like what would be some recommendations that you have there for entrepreneurs? It could just be on the influence piece, like, you know, anything that will help with their messaging, right.

Ann Carden: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Will help with their marketing because that really is the core of the business, right. If you don’t know how to market, you’re pretty much dead, like we said, right. But like, you know, that’s that. It seems like that’s been a core kind of theme throughout all of your businesses is your ability to market. And take that framework and then be able to translate it into each business that you’ve done. So, I would love to hear kind of that little, those little tips for you, for everyone.

Ann Carden: Yeah, so there’s really two sides of marketing. And I see a lot of people out there doing one or the other, but they’re not often doing both. So, for example, people are taught, you know, sort of a rinse and repeat system. Build Facebook groups, put people in your Facebook group, sell your program, sell your course, whatever that is. That is the marketing engine part, the revenue generating part. But the problem with that for a lot of people is that is the only thing they’re doing. I believe there are two major parts of marketing. One is your influence, I call it your influence system. That’s your brand, your content, your thought leadership, you consistently showing up, you’re building this strong brand. Almost like building a celebrity, building your influence in the market. Getting, you know, being seen at the top of your market.

That’s one piece. The other piece then is, okay, how are you going to generate revenue now? What are the things that you’re doing, what are the campaigns that you’re running? And the ways that you’re pulling people to you? That could be virtual events, that could be, maybe you speak on stages as your revenue generating system. You know, and then you have to put it into a system. So, for example, if I want to be a speaker. I know that every time I go and speak, I get two new clients at whatever amount of money. And I know this is my goal for the year. Well, how many events do I need to speak at? How often do I need to be speaking?

That should be my system, right? But I don’t believe that we’re in a world anymore where we can only have one system. I love to teach my clients not to do everything all at one time, but how can we layer on? So we’ve got this marketing engine working for you, you. Now we can layer on this marketing engine, and now they start feeding each other. Then we can layer on this marketing engine, and they’re all feeding each other. They’re not disconnected. For example, your podcast fills your virtual events and, you know, your podcasts get you booked on stages. And your podcasts get you clients, and so it’s working multiple ways. You know, we have the opportunity to do this now because of technology and the Internet and social media.

And so if people are not doing that, wow, they’re missing a lot of opportunities. But you need both of those things. So I heard somebody say, when was, when’s the best time to build a brand? Yesterday. You know, that’s the truth. If people are not doing that, they’re not building longevity into their business. They’re not building sustainability into their business. I mean, I got shut down on Facebook a few years ago, right before COVID. It did not stop my business because I was already doing other things, I had multiple ways. Was bringing in clients, but, boy, that sure could have if I had relied only on that.

Now it took a hit because I was making a lot of money off Facebook. But it did not stop me in my tracks. Already knew other things I could do. Knew how to market, I knew how to get back into the, you know, into the game. I just made some shifts. So even through, Covid, you know, just made some shifts. It’s important for people to realize, don’t be in a one trick pony kind of business. And don’t do a one trick pony kind of marketing plan, you know, just really, you have to diversify. You really do in the marketplace today, you really have to diversify your efforts in a lot of ways.

Pamela Bardhi: I absolutely agree with that. And on the real estate front, I always say you got to diversify your income, too.

Ann Carden: So that’s your experience.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that. That’s absolutely critical. Just kind of having different marketing channels so that you have a pipeline that’s being built across so many different. So many different channels and, oh, man, I love that.

Ask your older self what advice you would give your younger self

And this question is, like, my favorite question, but I always save the best for last. So here we go. Older self, tell your younger self based on what you know now, whether it’s business, personal, whatever it may be.

Ann Carden: Oh, gosh, I would say. My older self would say, really learn business, marketing, and sales when you’re young. Like, learn it, study it, learn it. Get everything you can about it. It will serve you well in anything you do. Looking back, would I have gone the career path that I did? Probably not. Did it help me? Yeah, it did. There were a lot of benefits to it. But, yeah, I would have to say that I’m a little bit of a rebel. In the fact that I don’t know that I necessarily believe in our education system and the path anymore. I think it’s outdated, I think it’s expensive. And, yeah, so I know I’m a rebel in that way. But I have just found entrepreneur entrepreneurship to be the pathway to stability in the world we live in.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. Well, you know, education is a system, and a system is designed for those who love creating it. So there’s certain, you know, at the end of the day, right. If that system is no longer working and no longer serving. Then we’ve got to find alternate ways that we’re going to disinformation, which is the reason why podcasts have exploded. Online learning has exploded 100%. Did people really want to know? I mean, TikTok is more of, actually, a Google search. Like, it’s more of a search platform where people learn than anything else. YouTube, everyone’s always learning on there, too. It’s incredible the resources that are out there these days, it’s amazing to capitalize on it.

How do you integrate traditional marketing into the new age of digital marketing

The question is, and since you mentioned the sales and influence side. Would love to hear your number one tip on that. Because in markets where everything is so saturated, there’s so many people online. Like, how do you stand out? Does your message stand out? How does that all, kind of, come together in tandem with all the marketing? Right. So, like, this marketing framework that has worked for a long time. How do we integrate that into, kind of the new age of digital marketing? And, you know, brands online and that kind of thing? You know, all of that.

Ann Carden: Yeah. The very first piece is you have to decide what you want to be known for. What is your genius, what is the thing that you’re so great at? I am so great, I say I am the queen at helping people get high end clients. Because I can pull their value, I can find their expertise, I can find where their value is to the market. Help them package, market and sell that, and so that’s where, expert in you came from. You’re an expert at something. Build your business around that. It’s your fastest path. Nobody has to teach you how to do your thing. You already know it. So that’s where that whole brand came from. But I want to think about what you do as a brand.

When I built that first million dollar offer 20 something years ago, it was called body blast. We would have, it had its own brand, I mean, people knew about it from all around. They would drive all around to come to this 30 day body blast at five in the morning. Which was insane, right? But it had its own brand, and we would have a waiting list. I became very well known because of that one offer, and it brought people into my club. It fed, you know, it fed my businesses. So think about what you’re doing and who you are as a brand. And when you do that, people, you will stand out like, nobody has my process. Nobody has my experience.

Nobody has done the things I’ve worked in over 80 different industries with hundreds and hundreds of clients. I have my own story, right, my own background. All of that should come out in your marketing. Just like I’m sharing that right now with you, Pamela, on this podcast. But think about how, can I get seen? How can I get heard, how can I share what I have, how can I show people what I have? And we’ve got the opportunity to do that. You just have to do the work.

I mean, that’s just the reality. You have to build your influence and do the work. But get, I always say, do high impact marketing. That means, where can I get in front of the most people with the least amount of time? So if you’re doing that, it’s speaking on stages, it’s running events, it’s getting on podcast. It’s having your own show, it’s being on platforms that, you know, where you can build your audience. And, I mean, we just have the opportunity today like we’ve just never had.

Pamela Bardhi: I absolutely love that, Ian. Oh, my gosh. What a beautiful note to leave on, too, like, that’s such a. Thank you so much for that, oh, my gosh. And I’m sure everyone who’s listening is like, where can I find Ann and all of her magic? Where are the things? Then I definitely want to hear about what you’ve got coming up next in the next three to four months. Like, what’s up in your world?

Ann Carden: Yes. Oh, my gosh, I have so much going on. So I have a magazine, an expert in your magazine that’s just about to be released. Which I’m so excited about, that probably will even be available this week or the first part of next week. We’re in the final stages, so adding that on. But right now, I am filling my million dollar accelerator mask, and my masterminds are very high touch. I only take six per group, so they’re, but it’s for people that really want to get into premium markets. They want to play in that higher end in their industry to build that million dollar business with a handful of clients. It’s all the things. I’m an a to z coach. It is really all the things they need but right now, that’s what I’m super excited about.

Pamela Bardhi: I love that, and that is amazing. And how can everyone reach you, in your, awesome.

Ann Carden: Yes, you can go to my, it does have my middle initial in there. And also I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Facebook, I’m on YouTube. I’m on, you can find me all over social. You can google me and find me my podcast. But go to my website and you can find almost anything on my website that I have going on.

Pamela Bardhi: Oh, my gosh, so magical. And thank you so much for all of the nuggets you dropped today. Sharing your story is amazing. So excited to see all of the success that you’ve had within your businesses. Now that you’re expanding out and helping coach others to really get there as well, I appreciate you. Thank you so, so, so much.

Ann Carden: Thank you. And I love your energy, too, by the way. So awesome.

So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Always dropping on Thursdays

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Overdose. Always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. Check out and let’s chat. Sending you so, so much love.


Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Ann Carden. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:

If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: