Entrepreneur and systems & automation expert Sara Loretta talks with Sam about growing a business from the ground up, the importance of chasing your dreams, and why Anthony Bourdain is such an inspiration to her.
[Designing Growth introduction music plays]
Sam Chlebowski: [00:00:00] Happy Thursday everybody, and welcome back to Designing Growth. I am incredibly excited to sit down with somebody I had the immense pleasure of speaking with about a week ago. We were booked for about 45 minutes. I think we ended up talking for like an hour and a half.
On the episode today, I have Sara Loretta joining us. Sara is a designer, business owner and operations specialist through her business, appropriately named SYSTMS – exactly how it sounds without the ‘e’ – Sara is on a mission to help freelancers evolve into badass CEOs.
So Sara, how are you doing today? How’s everything going?
Sara Loretta: Man, thanks for having me. I am overly caffeinated, so I’m just a bundle of joy this morning. It’s Friday. I’ve had a double coffee, so I’m living the dream.
Sam Chlebowski: For our wedding, we got married, back in 2021, somebody gave my wife and I this espresso machine it’s called a Gaggia, so it’s kind of like a Keurig where like all you have to do is press a button, but the difference [00:01:00] is it like packs the shot for you and grinds it fresh every time. So it is pretty dangerous.This morning I go over there, I’m just like mashing away at that button, making myself a quad shot everything.
Sara Loretta: Oh my gosh. I’m very similar. I actually came across a company called Cometeer that very publicly, I’m obsessed with them. And they basically take other people’s coffee, brew it flash, freeze it down into these pods. They kinda look like cake cups, but they’re frozen and they’re aluminum.
And so you can make coffee literally any way you want. You can either completely unthought and put it into ice coffee. You can just like melt it a little bit and then put hot water on it to make hot coffee. You can do like literally anything, you can make lattes. And so it gets shipped to my door once a month.
I get like eight different types of coffee, like different brands, different flavors, and it’s been a very slippery slope for me because I’m like, oh, all I have to do is melt this little thing and it takes 30 seconds to make my coffee. And it’s become a very bad habit that I have multiple coffees each day.
Sam Chlebowski: I did see this study though that [00:02:00] wasn’t good for me personally, but, uh, that they said that people who drink more than five cups of coffee a day have a substantially lower risk for heart disease, which I thought was like wild.
Sara Loretta: I believe it. You know, when I was an undergrad, I worked full-time and I was taking about seven classes a semester on average. Cause I double majored. I was a psycho and I was drinking probably a pot to a pot and a half a day between my commute and my day job and then going to class cuz I was up 5:00 AM and wouldn’t get home from class till almost 10:00 PM every night.
So I believe it and I mean, I’m a little shaky, but I’m doing fine. So, it’s totally okay.
Sam Chlebowski: Amped up for the podcast. I love it.
Sara Loretta: Hell yeah.
Sam Chlebowski: I did want to get into some. Stuff here in a second, but I also feel like the compulsion to share with you, just because I know you have tattoos. I got my first like, real tattoo last night.
Sara Loretta: Really? I gotta hear about this.
Sam Chlebowski: You know, I’m kind of healing from it. I got this cool skeleton cowboy thing.
Sara Loretta: Dang. You really went out! I have one arm fully covered almost, except for right by my shoulder. And then I have a bunch on my other arm. And this one, you have it just like a little bit further over and, oh, man, the muscle on the forearm is rough. I feel like my muscle on my forearm hurt more than my hand tattoos than my side piece. Like I’ve got tattoos, 27 tattoos. So I’ve been through the ringer and I love every minute of it. So welcome to the dark side, my friend.
Sam Chlebowski: Thank you. I had seen like your tattoos and you have, almost a full sleeve, and I’m like, I’d like to get there.
Sara Loretta: Yeah.
Sam Chlebowski: I waited a long time to finally get a tattoo. I’ve been thinking about it since I was like 16, but, uh, it was super fun. I mean, it’s just, it’s art.
Sara Loretta: Well, and I think it’s, for me at least, a good representation of [00:04:00] where you were at in your life when you got it. So, for Covid, you can’t see it now cause I’m in a sweatshirt, but in the inside of my arm, I actually have an elderly woman with like the old like Betty White hair flipping the world off.
I don’t think I’ve ever waited longer than a week for a tattoo. Like, I’ve never sat on an idea and been like, yeah, like I just, I really need to think about this cuz you can get them removed just as easily as you get it put on.
there’s like two tattoos I have that I regret, so to speak. I have flowers on my forearm, right? And what I regret about those is I live in Texas, sunny 10 months out of the year, and I’ve had the color sunburnt out of my arm multiple times because I’m so fair-skinned, even with sunscreen on, you know, protecting the tattoos.
And so I regret getting color. So that is what I tell everyone, like, don’t get color. If you are fair-skinned olive toned, like stay away from color because it’s gonna fade, it’s gonna sunburn out and it’s just gonna look like trash and the upkeep not worth it, you know? So [00:05:00] tattoos are fun. We could talk about those for a long time
Sam Chlebowski: yeah, I am sure we could. but it does make me feel better that I did not do any color on this one cuz I
am super fair-skinned,
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: I come from a long line of, uh, fair-skinned polish people.
Sara Loretta: Yep. Same, Polish and Irish.
Sam Chlebowski: So wanted to kind of get into it here and talk your business and your business model. When we had spoken, um, I think it was like a week, week and a half ago, uh, you had explained to me that you had recently kind of shifted. Can you talk to me a little bit about that process, the why behind it and what you are doing now and what that looks like?
Sara Loretta: Yeah, so I think it’s interesting to kinda talk about the backstory, right? So I came from the nonprofit world. I worked in STEM and adult workforce for almost 10 years, and I did everything you could think of. I did data compliance, I did media, I worked with PBS and started a citywide initiative about women in construction.
And I was really passionate about telling [00:06:00] people stories. you know, a little bit about me too that I think is really important for this is I’m one in 28 kids in America who’ve had a parent incarcerated before they’re 18. My dad’s in federal prison, he’s gonna be there for very, very long time. He’s not a good person.
But that really shaped how I look at the world, growing up in Cleveland, my dad going to jail was kind of like, just like another Tuesday. no one really educated me on that. I didn’t really go to therapy. . And so when I joined the nonprofit world, I really leaned on other people’s experiences and, fell so deep into their stories and their experiences to understand my own story.
And so through all that I really started experimenting with, well how can I do that visually? Is it through video? Is it through photography? Is it through design? and so while I was doing my day job, if you will, I don’t even know if that’s like the true term anymore, right? Because technically I have a day job running a business.
But when I was getting paid from somebody else, , I fell into other stories that were out there specifically with, people that were working blue collar jobs. Cuz [00:07:00] being in adult workforce, we offered certification programs in like electrical and plumbing and, welding.
And I learned how to bend a 90 degree pipe, like at 19 years old. Like that was really fun to me, right? I was teaching after school and, doing robotics in stem. And so I was learning about these kids who also had parents incarcerated and they were in a much different situation than I was, right.
And so it just really shaped me as a human to really learn what empathy is. But also at the same time, like I have been in survival mode forever, right? Like my entire life I’ve been in survival mode. And so I learned very quickly that, okay, if I’m gonna start freelancing, like I have to do whatever it takes to pay my bills to be sustainable.
Cuz I was really in this kind of weird, spitefulness period in my life I was gonna prove all these motherfuckers wrong, right? Like, I am not a statistic. I am not traumatized.
Like I don’t have ptsd. And like, that’s all bullshit, right? And so I really, when I started my freelance journey was kind of in this, I have to break my back and say yes to every [00:08:00] single thing that comes my way. Or like, I’m gonna fail, I don’t have family to pay my bills, I don’t have anyone I can lean on, put myself through undergrad.
Moved cross country at 18 and so through all of that, you know, I look back and like, yeah, it came from a pretty negative place. But saying yes to every single project helped me realize what my skillsets really were, helped me realize what I was interested in past just pressing record on a video and allowing people to talk about, you know, they were in prison for 25 years and now they’re restarting their life and you know, all these different things.
I realized through that what I was really good at was fixing problems and really good at looking at the finer details to see how a business operates and how it works. And so over the last four years, I owned a design agency, was saying yes to all these projects.
I was doing web design, branding, packaging, video development. literally went to a local client and like filmed his entire course for him and he teaches you how to drop ship. Like that was a client that I had. Right? Crazy. You don’t connect all of those things [00:09:00] together. But in realizing and doing a lot of reflection on what I’m good at and what I want to do, I had found notion, I guess like three years ago now and had kind of like played with it online. I was building my client portals in there and operating it and Notion came to me. end of last year, 2021, so I guess like a little over a year ago. And they put me through their certification program and I became the 10th certified notion consultant in the us.
And so I was like, you know, branding and web design just isn’t, it’s not doing enough for me, and I’m not able to really drive that impact home with clients. And so, I shut my entire business down in April, and we relaunched as a digital operations agency over the summer.
And so all we do is literally come into businesses, work with freelancers to really take them out of their business themselves and focus more on the role and what you’re doing in order to make your business work. So I really have this whole mantra that like, it shouldn’t matter who’s doing the job, the job needs to get done.
[00:10:00] And so I do a lot of strategy, a lot of consulting, um, and a lot of one-on-one work just in general to pull people out of the person mindset and put you into the operations mindset. when people ask me to come onto their shows and talk, Everyone’s like, you gotta have like a clean, emotional, pull the heartstring story. And I’m like, but it’s not that simple. there are so many little pieces that get you from point A to point Z that I feel like are just as important as pulling the bigger pieces out, I think it’s still important to understand like, yes, you’re curving and swerving, but it is getting you where you need to go. Even if for six months it doesn’t seem that way.
Sam Chlebowski: It’s such a powerful story to me, and hearing your approach, it makes me think about advice that I would’ve offered to my younger self I really resonated with the piece that you said was like, Say yes.
And you know, long term that probably won’t be sustainable for you. if you say yes to everything, you’ll be working a lot. You’ll eventually get burnout. But when you are, little bit earlier on in your career, many people have the [00:11:00] energy to do that. And that was something that I saw firsthand was super valuable for me.
coming right out of school, starting as a graphic designer and
building websites on WordPress. Then quickly moving into a sales role, and then a marketing role, and then leading our, customer success and marketing and sales departments at the agency I was at. provided me all of these little skills along the
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: And the only reason that I was able to get those skills is because I said yes. And I was saying yes to whatever opportunities were thrown at me. I would internalize it as like if somebody offered me something and they offered me a opportunity, I should take that because they’re more experienced than me.
They know what they’re doing and they’re trusting me to make these things happen
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: And I love this approach that you have shifted to while I think branding logos and design is important to me, it’s ultimately just one factor within what’s gonna make your business successful. And I think technology has become [00:12:00] so much more affordable. and so much more efficient than ever before that there are all of these new ways to remove yourself from those operational an administrative pieces of your business that are ultimately going to allow you to scale. And I, you know, that’s like plastered right on your website where you’re talking about helping freelancers evolve into CEOs.
Like that’s the first step
Sara Loretta: Yeah. One thing that I do is every single year in December, kind of that, that haze between Christmas and New Year’s is I sit down and I literally list out all the skills I have, the new skills I’ve acquired, and then I break that list up between what I enjoy, what I wanna learn more of, and what I hate.
And that is honestly like how I continue to shift my offers and how I market and really build things out and evolve my business I hated doing social media graphics when I did branding.
You know how everybody, you kind of get like templates with your branding that you can like plug and play. That is the dumbest deliverable. And I [00:13:00] don’t understand why people do it because. , you’re not a social media strategist. You’re doing a logo in a branding package. Like you shouldn’t be making templates unless you’re doing like blog post ones for Pinterest.
I could see that where you’re just plugging in a title, but social media is so much different. And that was a skill. It’s like, yeah, like I can do really good graphics,
but I’m not getting paid for the
strategy behind that.
And so why do I need to
keep adding that as a deliverable? And so really as we continue to evolve and explore, I really press a lot of everybody that is in my audience and my community to do an annual reflection on your skillset.
I’m in the tech capital of the world pretty much like the sister city. And I could not find a job for two years. And that’s honestly why I started freelancing cuz I was miserable at my day job by that point. And so I sat and said, I am just gonna take the next year to explore. I’m gonna say yes to the projects that come.
And a full caveat, cause I didn’t mention this earlier, it doesn’t mean taking free work. Okay? You can [00:14:00] explore and say yes to projects, but they don’t have to be free. so y’all listening like, please don’t take free underpaid work from Facebook groups. But I said I’m gonna sit and see how this goes for a year.
I’m just gonna see. And that was November before Covid started. And so I was kind of. hanging out, doing little pieces of work, whatever. And then Covid hit and I have been nonstop since. And so I didn’t get my LLC right away. I didn’t open business accounts right away because if you’re not sure, if you want to sustain it, if you’re not sure what you wanna do, don’t do all the legal stuff.
Just operate yourself as a dba. Don’t do all the all the crazy expenses. You don’t need to go all out. But once you realize, and that was really the shift for me, is I don’t wanna go back to working for somebody else. I know my expertise. And so when I made that decision, it’s like, okay, now we can get the llc.
Now we can start thinking about hiring out and bringing on contractors. And so I literally freelanced for about a year and a half. . that’s kind of the secret [00:15:00] is you don’t have to make everything perfect, you just have to figure out what you wanna do.
And you’re not gonna know that being at a desk job and saying, I’m gonna start freelancing tomorrow.
Sam Chlebowski: How you look at, starting and then also growing a business is really interesting for me because I just put the pin on a massive blog post all about how to start a web design business.
it was really interesting because what you had shared where you’re like, hey, you need paying clients, the legal stuff, you might want to do it, but you don’t always have to do that right away.
That was the exact advice I
gave in this article and something that I think a lot of the other resources I’ve looked at, don’t articulate the way that you just explained it.
You need to make sure that you can number one, get paying clients, and number two, that you like the work, that
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: with the work. Don’t go all in with a fancy website with a brand. Those things are just distractions that hold you back from the only thing that’s inevitably gonna determine how successful you
are, which is paying customers and your [00:16:00] ability to service
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm. . . I think that that’s the nail in the head. And I tell everyone too, I actually used to run this challenge for a while, that was how to build your portfolio without doing free work. And it was basically, these mock clients that had a mock budget here was their deliverables.
And the whole idea was you were practicing doing sales calls and, sticking to what you say your pricing is, and then you’re building your portfolio based on these mock clients. It was really fun. I had a great time doing it. But, with that, it’s such a disservice for people who are just starting out, that they’re like, I’m only gonna work with women.
I’m only going to work with chefs. I’m only going to do this. And it’s like, you are putting yourself in a reactionary decision based on your previous experience. Right. in our call, one thing that really stuck out to me was you were talking about your friend, or maybe it’s your co-founder, who did funeral websites and it’s like, who has the previous experience that they fell into the funeral industry.
Like that is the most random thing. Okay. And maybe he did, but the example I’m trying to touch on is you [00:17:00] may do one project and it completely changes the trajectory of your business because you fell in love with it. and I’m not saying say yes to things that make you uncomfortable, As long as it matches your values. As long as like the client isn’t a bunch of red flags. who cares? Who cares if you take a project and it’s not what your normal stuff is, you’re not required to put it in your portfolio unless it’s going to be beneficial to you. I think people just have to stop being so serious when it comes to your first, two years in freelancing. I think a lot of people would actually still have businesses if they did that.
Sam Chlebowski: I resonate with that like almost exactly. And one of the pieces of advice that kind of changed my life was look for opportunities, not ideas. Meaning that you need to see what the opportunities are.
If you have an idea, whether it’s for a business, whether it’s for a, software product,
you have that idea, but is there an opportunity there?
And you need to be in that, you know, constant state of trying to prove hypotheses I think no
matter what business it [00:18:00] is. and , it’s funny cuz that was another piece of advice that I shared. so often people would be like, you need a niche. You need a niche, you need a
niche. in my opinion, why are you gonna go out and pick a niche
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: worked with people in that niche before?
You’ve seen an opportunity before
Sara Loretta: That’s it.
Sam Chlebowski: if you value the same things, That’s not the right way to go about. That’s not how you’re gonna build a sustainable.
Sara Loretta: You can literally build a sustainable business solely on values. And I don’t know if that’s like the nonprofit. You know, in me, the empathetic preacher of the nonprofit space, but you really can build it on values and build it on personality. I think you can specialize in tools and software. Absolutely. You need an expertise, but. People have so much to bring to the table regardless of where they come from and what their business is, it’s really a shame that we continue to build silos for ourselves because it builds a silo in your mind, right?
And I, I’m not trying to be too much on like a preacher [00:19:00] train at the moment, but I really feel like you don’t know how someone’s gonna impact you and impact your life and impact the way you think and feel until you give them an opportunity to do that. And so I make it a goal and a value of mine that I learn from every single client that I work with, whether personality, belief, listening, whatever, whatever those skills may be, that is literally a goal of every project I bring on.
What can I learn from this person, not what invoice can I get from them? And I think that that kind of mentality can really take you far.
Sam Chlebowski: I mean, I think even if you are a software company, can really propel your growth. That idea of Every single person that you talk with
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: About the work you’re doing has something to teach you.
Sara Loretta: yeah.
Sam Chlebowski: from those learnings, there’s a lot of opportunities to propel your growth.
There’s so many times people start businesses, they launch products and they don’t listen
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: that they are serving, and they’re not actively trying to learn
from the people that they’re serving. I think that is just a huge mistake.[00:20:00]
Sara Loretta: People are always like, well Sarah, how do you, how do you like land these clients? Like how are you doing discovery calls? I literally go into this call. I don’t pre-research clients because I don’t want a biased opinion on where they’re at versus where they’re going. Cuz I haven’t heard from their own mouth, right?
Because online you want everything to be perfect. You’re not seeing the issue that you’re gonna get hired for most of the time. So I don’t pre-research people, I don’t have questions listed out. I literally go into these calls and tell people to word vomit. And when I tell you, I have made almost every single client I’ve worked with cry.
because they are like, no one has listened to me. No one understands where I’m coming from. And that I think, is a superpower that I never expected to have, but I never want to not have now that I’ve experienced it. And I think if you’re on a constant clout chase, trying to be the next Tim Ferris, or Jacqueline Johnson or whatever, those people have already made that path.
Make your own path and stop focusing on their accolades and start focusing on your own, and you’re gonna do [00:21:00] really, really well.
Sam Chlebowski: incredibly powerful stuff. something I wanted to ask you is the bulk of your clients right now, what types of businesses are you working with?
Sara Loretta: Yeah, so it was interesting because when I was doing design I really was not niche down. So I have a degree in American history. I wanted to work for the Smithsonian, so that’s like my entire education is museum studies and history and historical stuff. And so I would go from working with a coffee brand to then doing a museum’s website.
I do a lot of government work still. I’m working on a government website right now, kind of on the side. so I really had clients like all over the place in the design space and really I kind of specialized in the way that I designed, not really the industry, like people came to me because I did kind of a lot of out of the box stuff.
and then now that we are an operations agency, I specialize in teams of 10 and under. and that is specifically. One, because I have been a teacher, I taught K through five. I also taught adult workforce and I trained professional [00:22:00] development for the city \ so we specialize in teams of tenant under, so I can make a point to sit with every single team member. Like, I don’t care if you’re the CEO or the admin assistant. When you hire me, you’re gonna get time with me.
regardless of what your role is on that team, . that is primarily our focus, with our one-on-one work, right? So we say we help freelancers evolve in CEOs, but with that, that’s more of like our coaching and our, one-on-one work is usually, people who have at least like three contractors on their team and then they have employees.
but we’ve worked with everyone. I do still, I do so much nonprofit work because honestly, like that’s where my heart is. I love just seeing the way that people help their communities. Um, . We’re working with a client right now out of Boston that they host these like health hubs for low income neighborhoods.
And so they sit and they come and they talk about covid, they talk about the flu shot. They talk about ways to just really live like healthy lifestyles. And it’s really fascinating because they don’t have client deliverables. that’s kinda like the first nonprofit I’ve, I’ve interacted with [00:23:00] that isn’t government grant founded.
they’re kind of more of like a tech seed company in a way, which has been really fun. we’ve worked with all kinds of things. I’ve worked with, oh my God, one of my first notion clients. I worked with a wind turbine repair company and I built like an employee tracking database and notion for them.
So like, literally when I say I don’t care what you do, it’s about you caring about your community and moving people forward. but yeah, the small teams thing, that’s really kind of that key. I don’t have any desire to work with a company like Oracle on a bigger scale.
Now, maybe they had like a design team internally, maybe. I worked for Dell for a while and you know, they have really cool internal, small teams. So that’s something that I’ve explored as a goal of working with long-term, but it’s not like a make or break for me.
Sam Chlebowski: Specifically for small agencies, whether
it be a team of like two to three, whether
it is a marketing agency,
brand strategy, digital advertising. based on your experience, what do you think are some of the biggest operations and [00:24:00] systems mistakes that those types of businesses in that sort of under 10 growth phase are making right now?
Sara Loretta: I will speak on personally what I think and then give kind of a follow up to that. I have seen, in my experience, most of the clients that I have worked with, Kind of just picked software based on what other people were telling them to pick. and they didn’t know what they needed when they picked that.
get a lot of people specifically marketing client based, right? Like when we think about client based businesses, they were told, oh, you need honey book, or you need do Soto, or, you need to use X because that’s what your industry is using.
And it’s so fascinating to look at the design space because I do work with a lot of designers. and smaller design is they have no idea what their process looks like when you take the industry influence out of it, right? How do you run discovery calls? How do you do client management? How do you do offboarding and retainer work that’s custom to you and [00:25:00] your business and not what the industry’s telling you what you’re supposed to do?
I don’t care if you don’t wanna do discovery calls, who the fuck cares? Right? But the software that they’re doing to execute all of these phases within their client journeys are based on what they’re being told is the best tool. And so when we get connected, it’s kind of this weird experience because they’re like, yeah, like this never really worked for me and I don’t really know why I’m on it.
And so it’s been really fun to kind of do this exploration strategy sessions with these clients and going oh, I didn’t know I needed a form tool, or I didn’t know that there was actually a better way to automate my business because the software I have right now doesn’t even have that feature. And so they’re not even thinking about automation.
So that’s kind of the follow up to that I couldn’t tell you how many calls I get on with clients that are like, yeah, I spend like two to three hours writing proposals and contracts. And I’m like, why? why is that process not automated?
Why are you writing a custom contract for every single client? that makes no sense to me. And so [00:26:00] I do a lot of kind of that coaching stuff of how can we better operate your business? Because human error is literally the number one downfall for people losing money in their business. one of my deliverables with people is I reduce your human error through automation.
So what repetitive stuff can we get rid of? What can we improve? I call it remove, improve, and automate. That’s kind of our, our three key focuses. Yeah. And then I think too, you know, just as like kind of a third touch is, it’s interesting because I primarily work with online businesses, and so it’s interesting because a lot of these companies got started post Covid, Or they were kind of trickling before Covid and the Pandemic, and they’ve never really thought about what remote work looks like and what Async work looks like. And so I actually wrote this essay that kind of took off a little bit about what I call the cubicle crutch.
And it is the fact that you are leaning on Slack and you have at any moment the ability to message someone and ask questions instead of doing the work yourself. And like finding those. . And so a lot of the work [00:27:00] that we do too is how can we stop relying on the individual’s knowledge and focus more on the tools to help us give us that knowledge?
Because again, it doesn’t matter who’s in the role, if the job is not getting done, it doesn’t matter, we need to take the actual person, Sarah out of c e o and CEO should still operate no matter who’s in that role.
Sam Chlebowski: I really liked your perspective on how a certain industry tends to gravitate towards one set of tools,
just because that’s what other people are using, but they’re not. Able to kind of remove the industry from that and choose a tool that’s actually doing the things that they need. And the reason why I like that so much is it has been a big focus about how we’ve gone about developing motion.io,
Sara Loretta: There is no software that I’ve come across, at least in my first three years, that spoke only to creative design businesses, right? Like, yes, you have do Sodo, but they don’t [00:28:00] really speak directly to designers. HoneyBook designers use it like the back of their hand, but was built for photographers, like it’s not a design company.
And so it wasn’t until I actually found kitchen. . That was the first time I saw a website of a productivity tool, specifically speaking to creatives, which was really fascinating to me. And so I almost like challenge you guys to maybe not like, yeah, you can have these other clients, but I think it would do y’all so well, to keep that language of like, this is for design creatives, because no one’s really doing that.
And it’s such a shame cuz it’s such a lost market, It’s forgotten. No one’s doing it.
Sam Chlebowski: wanted to end our episode here with, couple fun questions and then, kind of business question to close it out. my first question for you would be, where do you go for. Who do you look to? Who do you admire? .
What inspires you? Who inspires you?
Sara Loretta: I’m very much an anarchist and I don’t follow anyone in my space very closely, , to be honest. you kind of ask the question like, you know, if you could have dinner with anybody, like who is, who’s your [00:29:00] biggest inspiration? And for me it’s Anthony Bourdain. I’m a big foodie.
I’m a home chef. I don’t buy processed food. Like I make all my own breads, my own pasts, my own sauces. I grew up in the food world, I literally reread Kitchen Confidential every year, specifically on audiobook because I love hearing his voice.
Sam Chlebowski: No way, Anthony Bordain narrates it?
Sara Loretta: You need to listen to it on audiobook. It’s so good. I got to meet Anthony Bourdain South by two years before he died. Because CNN used to do a south by party and it used to not be a private invite only. And so he was premiering parts unknown.
The new season they had flown out. Chef from Spain who is like fresh cutting prosciutto with champagne. oh my God. It was one of the coolest experiences. But for me, with Anthony Bourdain, what I love is he literally doesn’t give a fuck. he knows, like the grit and the grime, and he’s not afraid to really talk about the reality of things.
And I feel like that is what I miss in our space now. Like I don’t get that from anybody. Everyone is so [00:30:00] tailored on being perfect on the internet and not saying the wrong thing. And so I really struggle with like, I wanna talk about. basketball and the fun shit. I’m, you know, like outside of business on Twitter, but it’s like, no, it has to be curated and you’re always talking to your niche and all of this.
And so I think that’s why I love Anthony Bourdain so much is he’s like, , I’m gonna talk about the fact that I did drugs and I was on drugs and I’m listening to Confidential right now. This is my annual re-listen. And they’re in one of the chapters, he talks about how they used to finish a night of cooking and would go drive out to Long Island and just get fucking toasted and they would sleep on the beach until three, four in the afternoon until they had to get up and go back to work and keep cooking.
And like, that’s, that was their whole summer for multiple years. that’s the kind of stuff I love, another person though that I’m really inspired by is Shay Serrano. if you are a basketball head or you ever follow the Ringer, Shay is based in San Antonio. And when I was in undergrad, I wrote my senior thesis on how people in the rap game are actually historians, because [00:31:00] mass media is not covering inner city equality.
They’re not covering events other than like murder, right? Like there’s so much more, there’s so much culture these inner cities and rappers are actually the ones that are authorizing things. And so one day on Twitter, he was like, you know, send me whatever you’re writing, And I’m like, he’s never gonna fucking see this, right?
Like, I’m, you know what, fine. Like I’m just gonna ship it. Cause I had like turned it into a blog post he ended up retweeting it and it got me three different writing jobs. And that to me, like he is so focused on no matter where he’s at, reaching back and pulling people up and. that totally changed my perspective on life is like you don’t have to hit a certain success level.
You don’t have to, make a certain amount of money to reach back and help somebody up. God, I was maybe like 21 when that happened. Like I was super young. and so it was funny because two years later it was movies and other things came out.
that one had come out and he did a book signing here in Austin. And I’m in line with everybody. I’m like, holy shit. Like I’m about to meet Chase [00:32:00] Ronaldo, like, this is so dope. In Arturo Torres who did my Rocky Art and the Scotty Pippen art and the basketball dude right here, that’s all Arturo’s work.
Who did the illustrations for Shay’s book. And I like walked up to the table and I see them and I’m like, you know, you probably don’t remember, but you retweeted my piece and like, I just want you to know, like Charlemagne, the God ended up retweeting it. I got like three different writing jobs from it. It was insane.
And he was like, dude, when you get to where I’m at, I expect you to do the same thing. And that has stuck with me for eight, nine years now. It’s been, since that happened, those two people, man, I love them.
Sam Chlebowski: both of those stories are incredible and
especially for me, I actually was not super familiar with Shay Serrano until right now. I love that approach though. And now I’m gonna have
to like, do research later today. that whole idea of if somebody helped you along the way, you better be doing the same thing once
you get to a place. there’s so many people I can think of, have been just fundamental to my career and my
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: And then I just love the Anthony Bourdain thing. I I’ve been [00:33:00] obsessed with Anthony Bourdain, I think, as long as I can remember. since the earliest seasons of. No reservations. I was
just like instantly hooked. I’m like, who is this guy? And it gave me so much of my ideology that I have today
about travel, about food, but more importantly people.
And it comes back to what we said the beginning of this episode, like listening to people and hearing about their experiences. this past year we went to Morocco, we were there in Ramadan.
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm.
Sam Chlebowski: I was really sort of blown away by Ramadan and the experience there and seeing the way it brings people together and the way that an entire place in this entire town was sharing this same experience simultaneously, it was like really magical. Cuz we were eating the after-sunset dinner with people and just like hearing about their experiences. I just gained this whole new level of respect that I would’ve never had if I wasn’t open to those things and if I didn’t get some of those lessons earlier on.
Sara Loretta: that’s the key I [00:34:00] think to just living a good life is like, read a book that you wouldn’t normally read, watch somebody’s video that comes up on your for you page or your YouTube algorithm that you wouldn’t normally listen to, go to a workshop, expand your horizon.
There’s so much more than what’s in your immediate digital and physical backyard, you think about being a kid and like all of your ideas and your exploration and the world you used to create, and it’s like, why did we lose that?
Why are we so afraid to go explore, try on a new outfit that we don’t normally wear, make food that we don’t? You know, I’m cooking through Les Halles right now I’m kind of doing the Julia Child thing – that woman who cooked through all of Julia Child’s, recipes and her cookbooks, but I’m not doing it very, you know, strictly. But that’s just been fun to be like, oh, I can try this new thing, or I can test this new skill. And you know what, if it turns out like shit, who cares? At least I tried.
Sam Chlebowski: I could not agree more. before I move on to my final question of this episode. I do just want to share this fact cause I found it mindblowing. And [00:35:00] I can’t resist just because I know that you’re a foodie. You love cooking. Julia Childs, did you know this? So she was in the military and one of her first jobs was creating the chemicals that would repel sharks away from the bombs that they would put in the water.
Sara Loretta: And also that people thought her and her husband were the CIA.
Sam Chlebowski: Yeah. I was reading through her Wikipedia page.
Sara Loretta: Yeah. Julia Childs is one of the most fascinating people.
Sam Chlebowski: Yo, Julia – you are a badass. I thought you were just this sweet little lady who cooked French food that was it.
Sara Loretta: Mm-hmm. . Oh God. She was very tall, very outspoken. Yeah. .
Sam Chlebowski: Final question of our episode today. And first I wanna say, thank you so much Sarah for coming on, sharing your time, your expertise, your stories. It’s been just a blast chatting with you. we quickly blew through our entire hour just because I was
Sara Loretta: I know , it makes me sad. I’m like, we sh we gotta do a Joe Rogan stint one day and just like sit here for like four hours and record [00:36:00] it.
Sam Chlebowski: Oh, I am absolutely down. I should have booked this for longer in hindsight.
Sara Loretta: It’s all good. It’s all good.
Sam Chlebowski: But my final question for you, what is new and exciting going on with your business and where should people go to learn more
Sara Loretta: Yeah. So we are actually in the process of launching a cohort-based course called SYSTMs Club, that is launching in early February. and it’s not Notion-based. So I say this in the sales copies, like I don’t give shit what software you use cuz you’re gonna bring your processes to our course.
And we’re gonna go through, we’re gonna automate audit, implement, teach you how to document your process. and then inside you also get paired with an accountability buddy to build your collective network because I don’t believe there’s competition anywhere, but you really have to maximize on who your partners are.
And so within here you get paired with like somebody in a complimentary business. So if you’re a web designer, you get paired with a copywriter, brand designer, web designer, et cetera. It’s a six-week cohort based course. You get lifetime access to our community. Though we’ve got master classes, we’ve got [00:37:00] bonus calls, I have somebody coming in talking about contracts.
My financial advisor’s gonna come in and talk about business credit and your equity building and things like that. I’m really proud of it. It’s really coming together and it’s kind of a collective of all the things I’ve tried in the past four years really how I provide value to people and kind of one big, beautiful swoop.
it’s not expensive, like most coaching programs. so, it’s under a grand for six weeks and it’s a really good time. other than that, I pretty much only hang out on Twitter now, so you can find me at the Sara Loretta – no ‘h’. And then everything that we offer, my Notion templates, if you wanna work one-on-one with me, that’s on our website, which is ‘systems’ without the ‘e’ dot club – SYSTMS.club – and you’ll find everything there.
Sam Chlebowski: Amazing stuff. Sara – thank you so much again. If anybody’s interested in checking out Sara’s work, learning more about her, check out the links in this episode’s show notes. And until next time, thank you so much [00:38:00] Sarah, and see you next week everybody. Bye-Bye.
Sara Loretta: Bye y’all.