The Business of Meetings – Episode 133: Another Day Above Ground with Carolyn Strauss
We are delighted to speak with Carolyn Strauss today! Carolyn has had a fantastic career! She has had an apparel collection and was CEO of a multi-million-dollar company. Now, she is a podcaster, speaker, and emcee. Carolyn has loads of energy and tons of business experience! She joins us today to offer her advice and share some great tips and insights for business owners!
We hope you enjoy listening to today’s inspiring conversation with Carolyn Strauss!
Carolyn Strauss, CSP, is a professional keynote speaker, emcee, and trusted corporate advisor with over 30 years of experience both on stage and on camera. Carolyn is the former CEO of the Carolyn Strauss Collection™ an apparel collection exclusively sold on the Home Shopping Network where she sold over $160Million worth of her own product. She is an expert on sales, persuasion, and execution. Carolyn has worked with associations and executive teams across all industries. She trains “Wicked Smart People” on how to communicate effectively and she is a certified Working Genius™ facilitator. She has appeared on PBS, ABC, NBC, HSN, Food Network, and Lifetime television network. She is an active member of the Screen Actors Guild and is the author of 5 books. She is the host of the long-running podcast “Another Day Above Ground” and believes a good day contains chocolate.
The National Speakers Association used to have specialized professional education groups called PEGs for their members. Someone started a group called The Cigar Pack for the rebels and outcasts. At the Cigar PEG, humorous speakers get together, smoke cigars, and get to know one another. Most of the money raised goes to charity. Carolyn joined the Cigar PEG 16-18 years ago. She loves their philanthropic approach to fun! She met her podcast partner, Dale Irvin, at the Cigar PEG.
How Carolyn became CEO of a clothing company
After graduating from college, Carolyn moved to New York and made a living as a plus-size model. Then she got certified as an aerobics instructor and personal trainer, hired two models, designed their leotards, and created an exercise video.
Home Shopping Network
Carolyn suggested to her modeling client in New York that they sell the exercise video along with exercise clothes. So they pitched the Home Shopping Network (HSN). The HSN did neither exercise videos nor exercise clothes, but they asked Carolyn and her client to put together a line of sportswear for them to launch several months later.
From failure to success
Their sportswear failed to sell when Carolyn first presented it on TV, and she got pulled off the set. They had to do another show with a different network an hour later. That time, their stretch pants sold very well! So the HSN offered to bring Carolyn and her partner back if they designed another sportswear collection in the same fabric.
The three-legged stool of home shopping
Home shopping is all about presentation, pricing, and product. The HSN told Carolyn and her partner that they could be successful if they had a great presentation, great pricing, and a great product. They did, and for the next eighteen years, Carolyn and her partner made their living selling clothes to the HSN. They made more than 160 million dollars in wholesale sales between 1997 and 2015!
When doing business consulting, Carolyn always explains to business owners that you need to know what you do, who you do it for, and why they care. Everyone who worked for her knew that they made easy-wear, easy-care clothing for busy women so that after getting dressed, they did not have to think about themselves for the rest of the day.
In 2015, HSN merged with another company. They decided to shift and move in the direction of celebrities and brand names.
Carolyn got her CSP because her dad always told her to do anything she wanted to do in the world and be the best she could be at doing it!
Fashion show expert
Carolyn started commentating on fashion shows when she was 25 years old. She became the highest-paid plus-sized fashion show expert and fashion expert in the United States.
Some college students approached Carolyn at a fashion show she was commentating on and asked her to speak at their college. She did, and it went well. After that, she began taking on speaking engagements.
A great opportunity
In 2008, Carolyn was at a National Speakers Association conference. Vistage, a CEO Mastermind group, was a sponsor, and they invited her to audition. They called a month later to say they wanted to work with her. One of their chairs helped Carolyn tailor the material she had designed for women business owners and make it applicable to all business owners. She has subsequently done more than 200 presentations for Vistage. She also speaks for various other associations.
During the pandemic, Carolyn started doing emcee work.
Advice for business leaders
When something is not right, speak up and get it fixed.
Carolyn’s podcast partner, Dale, had been doing a podcast with a friend and comedian called Tim Slagle. The podcast was winding down, but Dale and Tim still wanted to do a podcast, and they wanted to include a liberal female point of view. So they brought Carolyn in to meet Tim. They recorded a few podcast episodes relevant to baby boomers, and things worked out. So Carolyn joined them as a podcast partner. She makes no money from the podcast, but she loves doing it, and it looks great on her resume!
Doing the weekly podcast kept Carolyn razor sharp and helped her stay on top of her game during Covid.
How you present yourself
In business, the way you present yourself is crucial! If you want to succeed without really trying, dress to suit the part.
Advice for business owners
Business owners must be clear with their employees about their expectations and how they want them to work. They must ensure that all their employees are happy doing what they do. Business owners should also have a clear roadmap of where they are heading and what they hope to achieve, and they should engage their employees in getting there.
Connect with Eric
Connect with Carolyn Strauss
On her website
Another Day Above Ground Podcast
Join The Cigar PEG