Lauren: Good morning everybody. I am here today on Investing Across Borders with my guest Sandi Webster, and Sandi, I met through a very cool medium. We were both interviewed as participants in a book called the immigrant hustle, all about 50 immigrants that made an impact or are making an impact in the US or Canada from other countries. Now, Sandy’s a little unique because unlike me who immigrated 20 years ago when I was an adult, Sandy immigrated with her family when she was incredibly young. Sandy how old were you when you immigrated?
Sandi: I was nine years old.
Lauren: So, you didn’t have a whole lot of say in the matter at that time, right?
Lauren: I was just talking with Sandi, because she has a Jamaican accent, and yet she came here when she was nine and she said, the accent developed, when she was an adult, and she was getting more and more involved with people of Jamaican descent so that’s kind of funny. It’s the opposite of South Africans. A lot of my friends growing up were from South Africa and growing up in Toronto, and all of them want to get rid of their accent. So, they change the way they speak just like me. I speak American now, not that I ever really spoke Canadian, but they changed the way they spoke, but as soon as they talk to their family, their South African accent is so thick you’re like, it doesn’t even sound like the same person. Welcome to the show. Please introduce yourself. Give us a little brief bio and let us know how and what are you doing to serve the world.
Sandi: Sure. Thank you, Lauren for having me. So about me. I started out being an entrepreneur, I was young. My first entrepreneurial venture was babysitting. And I’m they’re entrepreneurial!
Lauren: So, I guess all of us were entrepreneurs and needed to make money right.
Sandi: I started when I was around 10. I grew up in a mostly Jewish neighborhood.
Lauren: They let you babysit at 10?
Sandi: Yes, I would babysit at 10. Yes, this is I’m not as young as I love Lauren.
Lauren: Well, you know, that’s the beautiful part about being black. You guys seriously, you get to wear all those amazing wings. Okay, like, I mean, I have a friend. She’s in Toronto and every day she has like this new wig. I’m so jealous right and …
Sandi: I don’t wear wigs.
Lauren: I know you have super cool hair, but you also do not age. Um, but, I mean, I’m a little jealous. But still, 10 is incredibly young to babysit.
Sandi: It’s, I in those days in the 70s, it was not young is very typical,
Lauren: So, I can just leave my kid then because he’s 10, so I’m just going to leave him.
Sandi: You know you don’t necessarily leave them; you go to the house and some other person might be there but you’re in charge of the baby and making sure, and it doesn’t have to be the baby baby, it could be another you know five- or six-year-old that can take direction. And I learned that babysitting could make me money. I could have my own pocket money and my mom didn’t have to give me an allowance, because I was doing my own thing. And then I would turn on lights because it was a mostly orthodox neighborhood, and conservatives.
Lauren: Oh right, of course, that’s super cool because they can’t, or you were there on Shabbat or something and you would turn on the lights. Yeah, you would be what they call the Shabbos goy.
Sandi: Yes, I did, of course, I would make $1, I would make $1 turning on lights for people. Yes, yes. So that’s how I made my first entrepreneurial venture and then my babysitting turned into a local daycare.
Lauren: Wow what that at 10?
Sandi: Later in my teens. I started hiring or getting my friends to work for me because I was getting too much, too many babysitting gigs. And so, I started hiring out my friends, that’s my first consulting job is to hire other friends.
Lauren: And delegate, and then you get a piece of the action, that’s the way to do it.
Sandi: Exactly. So that’s how I started out and you know it really helped me a lot Lauren and understanding how to navigate how to negotiate with both people who are putting on gigs, and both the people that were going to be my clients. I thought this is teaching me a lot. And later, I just had so many kids, I turned it into a daycare out of my home.
Lauren: Your own kids you mean or you’re saying …
Sandi: No, the kids from the neighborhood. I just started having so many of them I started a summer program in the summertime, and I started it out of the garage, and it just blossomed from there so that was my first entrepreneurial venture, but I was always an entrepreneur. I crocheted and sold baby layettes. I come from a family of seamstresses, so I utilized that. And I just always felt like I was in control when I made my own money.
Lauren: Absolutely, it’s so true. I mean, it’s an amazing thing when you think about being an entrepreneur, and the difference from having a job. You know I’m a lawyer, and I before I became an entrepreneur, which did not happen by choice, it just kind of happened, which happens to a lot of people. I was always working for someone else, and especially through COVID, look at how, how much, how dependent you are on somebody else you have no control. Now I’m not saying all the entrepreneurs did so well during COVID. If you have your own business or you invest in real estate, which is a big part of what I’m teaching people, and a big part of a lot of my client’s success, you have control over your destiny, and that’s where we want to be end of the day.
Sandi: Yes, and particularly for women, whether in this country or in other countries. Once a woman gets a job or become an entrepreneur, they really know how to navigate the world, and they’re not as worried about you know, if I get a divorce, I’m going to be destitute. So, I find being an entrepreneur, something that’s a lifesaver for most women. Right? Yes, and I’ve worked in corporate for Oh my god, too many, too many years. I shouldn’t say too many because it taught me a lot. That’s where my business savvy came from. I realized when I have the daycare, that I needed to go learn things from other people. And so, I went into the corporate world and I became management, an executive in the corporate world and managed the budget and managed the team, and worked with different customer service, and collections, and marketing and all the different things that you could do in a corporation. And that was amazing. It was a great time. But I always knew I was just learning to be interested. I wanted to learn all the things so I could go back to having my business. So, you always knew that was your destiny, always knew. And the thing that I was afraid of about having a corporate job or having any job is, I got laid off after 911 after 16,17 years of being a superstar in a company. I got laid off right after 911. And that’s my aha moment, is Sandy go back to taking control of your life. And my business partner for that business that I started right after 911, we both came from the same company. And we were both women and we realized that was a phenomenon going on, where women were leaving the corporate world after having their second child, because they couldn’t put in the hours the 70 Hour workweek anymore. They didn’t want to right. And a lot of my friends who worked hard and now had children were staying home. So, my first business was ‘Consultants To Go’, and to utilize those stay at home moms who were senior level executives, and putting them back into the workforce.
Sandi: Brilliant right! And that was my very first company, ‘Consultants To Go’. I then sold that company in 2016 and started a second company which is called Candy and Panda which was really a holding company, of all the assets I didn’t sell. So, we did a lot of workshops, we invested in other companies, we bought pre-IPO stocks’, but you know, we have a book that we published, and we published for others. So, all of this was a holding company. And then earlier this year I decided to take out the workshop portion and made it into online courses. And so, that’s solely by me. And that is ‘Sandy Webster Coach Salting, because I started teaching people how to, how to do their own advisory board, create their own advisory board. I started coaching them, I was a business coach for the last two or three years, coaching young women on how to get financing, how to grow their businesses, how to hire people, and all the things a coach does, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. But now with COVID, having the online course was very appropriate, we could not do the workshops in person. And this came along at a great, great time. So COVID for me was just a time of enlightenment and learning and launching a new product and getting it out there, building it. So that’s what I did with my COVID time and I’m looking forward to launching it in January.
Lauren: So, a true entrepreneur, you were able to find the silver lining in COVID, which is awesome. So, Sandi, have you ever worked, have you ever had challenges working with people that haven’t been in corporate America now on your own? Tell us a little bit about your experience working with people, or for companies in other countries?
Sandi: I would say Lauren, well let’s start in the corporate world. That’s where I learned to work internationally, because I was on International teams launching marketing products in other countries. And I learned to work in this venue that we have telecommunication because I couldn’t travel all the time to other countries, so I had teams that were located in India, and that advent of outsourcing. You must start managing teams, and so you learn how to communicate, and you learn how to get up at all hours of the night, right. So, we’re across borders. And then I took that into my business when I started Consultants To Go and started working with companies who either wanted to come to the US to do business, and I would help them, or I would do business in their country, whatever country they were in. And I still am continuing to do that in my current business Lauren, because my course is an international one.
Lauren: Let’s talk about your course because I think it’s super important. And by the way, I know that your course was developed for for-profit businesses, but there’s equally as much need and demand.
Sandi: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lauren: So, Sandi developed a course, about how to build a successful advisory board. And this is so important because every company, maybe not the solopreneur, but every company needs an advisory board, even a solopreneur advisory board, maybe more so, it just may not be called an advisory board mastermind attained.
Sandi: It can be called an advisory board because if you’re a company, you could be a solopreneur and a company, and you can get your team like you said together, all your mentors, a lot of times people have disparate mentors you know, one here one there, but if you get them all in a room together on a regular basis, so that they can give you continual feedback. you are forming your own advisory board.
Lauren: Right, right. So, so tell us a little bit about how, is there an ideal number of people, is there an ideal profile and ideal avatar? How does that look?
Sandi: Well, you have to develop your own avatar that suits your business that matches your company, and most people, if you ask them, if they need an advisory board, they’re like, oh I have one. I call so and so, I call this friend, I call that one. And that’s not an advisory board. Those are just mentoring. When you are putting people together in a room, you do have to look at the profile that you need. Why do I need this person on my board? That’s the first question you ask, and when you’re interviewing people to be on board, you have to keep that in mind. How will this person be of value to my company? It could be that you need a particular expertise. Right. You need someone, you need a lawyer, I’m sure you know a lot of companies who need lawyers and bring on lawyers.
Lauren: Absolutely, absolutely. And so, having a lawyer or a professional person and accountant, someone on your board to help you look over your books and give you a strategic advice is a wonderful thing. So, you might need someone who knows other people.
Sandi: Connectors and funding, someone if you need funding can pick up that phone and get you in. We have someone who was great. They came from corporate at a high level. And when we needed new clients, or to break into a company, he can pick up the phone and make an introduction for us. So, there are tons of reasons you need to understand why you need that particular person on your board, that avatar that you’re talking about.
Lauren: Do you recommend that advisory board positions be paid or unpaid, or does it depend on the company?
Sandi: It depends on the company and it depends on what you need. There are for example, I like unpaid advisory boards, only because people are there, out of their heart. They’re really on your side, they’re pushing for you, and they’re willing to give up themselves. A paid board, there are some people you really need on your board and you can’t get because their time is so scarce, and you might have to pay for that to get it. So, it just depends. There are plusses and minuses from both the international aspect.
Lauren: How important is that when you’re building an advisory board?
Sandi: Diversity. I like international people on my board because it gives diversity. It can come in the form of color, it can come in the form of gender, but just have that other world perspective, right, it’s fantastic because depending on the country they’re from they might do business completely differently. I would suggest, let’s say if you’re doing business in Brazil, we were talking about Brazil, you might want to have someone on your advisory board from Brazil, that can help you navigate in that country and say, “Sandy what you’re doing, is not correct for this country, no one’s ever done it”. Or, if they speak a different language that’s always helpful to have them review your marketing copy or different copy. Does this mean the same thing in another language?
Lauren: Yeah, it’s really a big deal. I have an e-book that I offer as a free download which definitely you should take a look at called Expanding Across Borders, 10 tips to successful expansion across borders. And the most important part of it, the most critical aspect of this global expansion is culture and understanding, that culture is vastly different no matter what country you’re going from, and a perfect example of that is Target. When Target went into Canada, they did not modify their marketing or Target marketing sufficiently, and they failed. And it was because they were thinking Canada was the same as America, and it’s not. There are multiple examples of that, but Target is the most prevalent and the most recent, and certainly a noticeably big part of expanding across borders, and you’re right, if you have somebody on your advisory team to help you with that process, you’re going to be prepped and ready before you go in. You don’t want to be prepped and ready after you go in, you want to go ready, aim, fire. So that’s a big deal in that cultural aspect and bringing somebody on your board of directors or advisory board or however you characterize it, is also a big deal. We have Israeli companies coming into America startup nation Israel. One of the challenges that these Israelis companies have, where they are the principles of these companies, that are a lot of tech, is that they come to America and they’re not prepped for America. They don’t know how to, you know, enter into a meeting. They don’t know how to negotiate they have their own method. It’s vastly different than the American method, and it doesn’t work and if they don’t have training, or they don’t have Americans on their board, they are going to end up creating a lot of problems for themselves.
Sandi: We have a certain way of looking at people who are in business. And when someone from another country comes here, a lot of times they hold on to doing business in America, the way they did it in their other country. So true. And they bring that aspect with them.
Lauren: Well, it worked there but it’s not going to work here. It worked there, you know, and honestly, since I’m Canadian and American and I work with a lot of Canadians, that’s a big challenge for Canadians, because their differences are greater than the similarities, and I think that that’s become even more apparent through COVID, and the way that America has, let’s say, not reacted. We’ll just say that.
Sandi: And, you know, Canada is on lockdown right now, so it’s just these cultural differences that play a huge role in your business expansion and your success in expending time with entrepreneurs who come from another country. When they set up their businesses in the US, their modus operandi, I guess I should say is, they start with the thing they used to do best in the other country. And so, I was just talking to my husband who was also a lawyer about this, because there are people who, in another country, paying someone off might be the way of doing business.
That’s how they and they don’t call it, you know, they don’t call it anything but doing business. And that same habit is brought here. And it’s no longer called.
Lauren: It’s not a good idea. It’s going to get in big trouble.
Sandi: And it’s a struggle when you’re working, and I find people from a lot of the Latin American countries or African countries, that kind of place. In Russia and China, it is very commonplace, and you have to break them out of that habit or try to break people out of that habit on how to do business here. And it’s also a wake-up call when you go to the other country as well. Absolutely no one asks you, oh, I need money to pay someone, and you’re outraged like why? Why should I have to pay for that? So that’s doing it both ways. You have to learn.
Lauren: So, Sandi when you’re coaching people, what is your strategic coaching look like now? Let’s say I was a prospective client, other than advisory boards and that kind of strategy.
Sandi: As a business coach, I find out what you need. Where do you need help? What do you need help with? So, the advisory board came out of a part of that, there were a lot of people who just needed help and didn’t know how to get it right. So, I do a profile of you, you answer some questions and an assessment, and I see where you need help.
Lauren: Is that profile available to listeners, or is there a charge for that? In other words, if, I was to promote this to my listeners would they be able to undertake or complete that profile?
Sandi: Not right now, not right now. That is not available, it’s something I send as and when someone wants to come on as a client. I do a pretty
in depth assessment to understand your needs. It’s run the gamut Lauren from, I’m too quiet as an entrepreneur I don’t speak up, and I need …
Lauren: I never have that problem. That is not me. Okay. My problem is the opposite, I have trouble shutting up. So, every time I’m on a call I would think, okay, I’m going to shut up now and I have to mute myself. No, I have to say something.
Sandi: And that could be a problem too, who will speak so much they have to learn to listen. Other people are allowed to take advice from other people. So, I do that assessment of what you need in your company, and what you what want brought to the table for you. What can I bring to the table and help you with? So, some of the things I’ve helped people with are just sales. Now that’s a big thing in the corporation. I don’t do hiring, I don’t know how to hire, and then I have new entrepreneurs who know how to do none of that. So, I have to help them all the way from startup, registering their businesses, going through. So, I have from startups, to seasoned business owners, as part of company needs, I make sure they get an accountant, are you doing your books properly? Are you paying your taxes?
Lauren: Are you filing them somewhere?
Sandi: Something that new entrepreneurs always say, “ but I don’t put aside money to pay taxes”. And so, I do, the various finer detailed things. And then if you’re a company that’s already over a million dollars or $10 million dollars, you have a vastly different need. Absolutely. It could be learning how to not get a new product into the pipeline. Do I need to identify a new product or a new line of business? And so, I help them with that. So, it’s very customized to the person and to the business.
Lauren: Sandi, how would people reach out to you to learn more about your coaching and about your advisory board course and so on?
Sandi: It’s quite easy to remember. It’s my name Sandi webster.com and my email is Sandi at Sandi webster.com. Extremely easy to find me, and I’m always open to helping and mentoring and just being out there for particularly women business owners. But I have everyone, I take all newcomers.
Lauren: Thank you. Well, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you and having you on the show and thank you for your time. I wish you a happy and healthy 2021. And hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to do some great things together, maybe with some of your international clients, or some of mine as they’re building advisory boards. So, thank you so much, and I will look forward to speaking with you in 2021.
Sandi: Thank you Lauren, have a great year. Thank you.