GE 190: How Miss Nevada Lisa Song Built a $2M/Year Alcohol-Infused Cupcake Empire (podcast) With Lisa Song Sutton

Lisa Song Sutton Sin City Cupcakes founderHey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Lisa Song Sutton, founder of Sin City Cupcakes, 5x entrepreneur, real estate investor, writer at Forbes, TV host, and Miss Nevada 2014.

Listen as Lisa shares how the right partner collaboration (and being Las Vegas’ only alcohol-infused cupcake truck!) led to their first 1,000 customers, how her business got press coverage by Fox News just 4 months into operation, the importance of being responsive to your inbounds, and all the other successful entrepreneurial projects she is working on (like being an investor in the world’s first light-emitting plant!).

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How Miss Nevada Lisa Song Built a $2M:Year Alcohol-Infused Cupcake Empire TRANSCRIPT

Time-Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:08 – Eric introduces Lisa
  • 01:30 – Lisa talks about her background in education, work experience in Las Vegas, and her first entrepreneurial endeavor, Sin City Cupcakes
  • 01:58 – Four months into operation, her business was covered by Fox News International
  • 02:20 – They are the only bakery that specializes in alcohol-infused cupcakes in Las Vegas
  • 02:42 –Lisa and her partner were skeptical of the email from Fox, but they decided to reply anyway and their quick response got them the coverage
  • 03:50 – Majority of their clientele are tourists, but they also had the opportunity to work with corporate clients such as Playboy, Golf, Zappos and Twitter
  • 04:42 – Gross sales of the company last year reached over $2 million
  • 04:54 – “You’ll get diabetes before you get wasted!”
  • 04:59 – Alcohol is added into the filling after the cupcake is baked
    • 05:07 – A competitive eater once filmed himself in their store to see how many cupcakes it would take before he got wasted: 26 standard sized cupcakes
  • 05:42 – The cupcakes are sold for $36/mini-size dozen and $46/standard-size dozen
  • 06:29 – Lisa has four companies that she co-founded and is an investor and advisor for several others such as Elite Homes US, Liquid and Lace, Brand Bridge and Gleaux
    • 08:04 – Lisa is also a part of Youngry
  • 08:10 – Lisa likes being a part of startups and helping entrepreneurs because she also gets a chance to learn
    • 08:27 – She looks at who the founders are, who is backing them, the support system, and the members of the team
  • 08:56 – She is inspired by the process of building and selling companies, while real estate is her legacy company
  • 10:00 – Another factor for Sin City Cupcakes’ growth was their collaboration with Fuku Burger in 2012
    • 10:57 – The food truck opened opportunities for wedding, events and conventions
    • 12:14 – The key to partnerships and collaborations is to bring different items to the table
    • 12:40 – You want to tap into a market that already knows your partner and introduce them to your product, too
  • 13:05 – Lisa’s focus is to not do everything on her own, but team up with the right people
  • 15:30 – In the beginning, Lisa struggled to introduce the cupcakes to consumer, and now she’s working on scaling the company
  • 17:24 – All of Lisa’s partners are her friends
    • 18:07 – Since they were friends prior to being partners, Lisa knows how they react to different situations and what their skills are
  • 18:36 – Lisa’s background in law helps her in her business
  • 19:42 – What’s one big change you made in your life, positive or negative, that’s really impacted you?
  • 19:50 – Realizing that she can do something outside of her business
    • 20:05 – When she won Miss Las Vegas and then Miss Nevada, she had over 500 community appearances in 18 months
    • 20:55 – She learned that she can pursue things other than her business and it would still grow because people will see you
  • 23:32 – What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your 20 year old self?
  • 23:37 – Don’t be so worried about choosing one path.
    • 24:45 – Lisa speaks at schools and she shares the same advice with them
  • 26:25 – “Every new level of your life would demand a new you”
  • 26:56 – What’s one new tool that you’ve added in the last year that has made an impact?
    • 27:05 – Lisa’s tool that she utilizes is having a virtual assistant from Uassist.ME
    • 28:03 – Charlie app helps Lisa on-track with her meetings
  • 28:24 – What’s one must read book you’d recommend?
    • 28:33 – A Shark Never Sleeps by Drew Rosenhaus
    • 28:56 – Lisa just finished reading the book Contagious about why things go viral
    • 29:24 – Lisa’s pleasure reading is Stephen King books
  • 30:04 – What’s one publication or blog you tune into everyday?
    • 30:10 – Lisa follows to NPR, EOFire and Eric’s blog, Growth Everywhere
    • 30:33 – Find Lisa at her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

3 Key Points:

  1. It is important to have good people on your team as you cannot do everything.
  2. You can be business partners with your friends, as long you lay everything on the table and have frank conversations with each other.
  3. You can pursue other things outside of your business—it can actually improve your visibility.

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Disclaimer: As with any digital marketing campaign, your individual results may vary.

Full Transcript of The Episode

Show transcript
Lisa S: We were and still are, the only bakery that exclusively specializes in alcohol-infused cupcakes here in Las Vegas.

Eric Siu: What?

Speaker 2: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit? Then you're in the right place. Welcome to Growth Everywhere. This is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle to the exact strategies they use on a daily basis. So if you're ready for a value packed interview, listen on. Here's your host, Eric Siu.

Eric Siu: Before we jump into today's interview, if you guys could leave a review and a rating and also subscribe as well, that would be a huge help to the podcast. If you actually enjoy the content and you'd like to hear more of it, please support us by leaving us a review and subscribe to the podcast as well. Thanks so much.

Everyone welcome to another episode of Growth Everywhere, I almost said Marketing School because I'm so used to saying that. Today I have special guest, fellow YEC member, Lisa Song Sutton. 5x entrepreneur, real estate investor, writer at Forbes, TV host, and also Miss Nevada 2014. She does so many different things and I'm going to let Lisa talk a little bit about these projects. So Lisa, how's it going?

Lisa S: Hi, Eric. Thank you so much for having me.

Eric Siu: Yeah. Thanks for being here. Why don't you just tell us your story, for starters?

Lisa S: Well, I went to college at the University of Arizona, Political Science, and then I went on to post-graduate degree at University Miami. Then I moved to Las Vegas in 2010, started working in a law firm and was working my big girl job there, and then 2012 was my first entrepreneurial endeavor. Started Sin City Cupcakes on a whim. We just kind of looked at each other and said, "Let's give it a try. Let's give it a go." And four months into operation we got really lucky, got covered by Fox News Business International and the segment went viral, and so we immediately had customers calling us and emailing us from all around the world who were planning their trip to Las Vegas. So that really helped to get us on the map.

Eric Siu: Cool. So tell us little bit about how did you get that press in the first place? What made you guys so special?

Lisa S: One was the fact that we were and still are, the only bakery that exclusively specializes in alcohol-infused cupcakes here in Las Vegas.

Eric Siu: What?

Lisa S: Yes, there was another company that did try to do it and they went under, I think in under a year. I don't know what their business issues were but that was just what we saw from the outside looking in. They popped up and then popped right back down. The way we got the really great press was just a lesson, a business lesson, being responsive

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to your inbounds. So we got this, what we deemed as random, email in from someone who was saying that they were from Fox News and they were doing a segment on alcohol and the Las Vegas strip and somehow they came across our website and they wanted to see if they could come into the bakery and film us. And as we're reading through the body of the email I remember we were actual together, [Danielle 03:08] and I, my partner with Sin City Cupcakes, and we're reading the inbound email that came in on Blackberry at the time, and I'm reading it and both of us are immediately skeptical. We're like, "Yeah. Okay." You know.

We scroll all the way to the bottom and the email signature was "At" and so we were like, "Okay. Maybe it's legit." And so we called the reporter back and it was within ten minutes of having sent the inbound that we called him and he said, "Okay, great. We'll set up the shoot for first thing tomorrow morning." And he told us that there were two companies that they decided to move forward with, us and another company and it was simply because we were responsive and called right back.

Eric Siu: Cool. And [inaudible 00:03:47] your clientele.

Lisa S: Oh my gosh, we are so lucky to have amazing clientele. Majority of our clientele are tourists that are just coming to celebrate a birthday party, bachelorette party, special event occasion on the strip. But we're very lucky to work with Playboy Golf, with Michael Jordan's golf tournament, Derek Jeter's golf tournament, Zappos, Bacardi USA, Twitter. We have many amazing corporate clients, it's so much fun.

Eric Siu: Cool. And you have some Instagram stars too like one certain guy. Dan.

Lisa S: Dan Bilzerian. Yeah, definitely. We got a chance to be alongside of him at Tropic Beauty. I'm a former Tropic Beauty model and used to compete with their system as well and we were sponsors one year with the cupcakes and I was a judge and he was a judge. So we all got a chance to hang out too.

Eric Siu: And what were gross sales for the cupcake company last year?

Lisa S: Last year? We did just over two million.

Eric Siu: Cool. Awesome. So how does it work exactly, I'm so curious, so how many cupcakes does it take for people to get wasted?

Lisa S: Well we have a joke, and it's a bad joke, "You'll get diabetes before you get wasted." Because the way we get the alcohol in is inside a proprietary filling that injected into the cake after it's baked. So you have cake, you have filling, and you have frosting all together in one bite. We did have a competitive eater come film who basically he was trying to answer that question, "How many cupcakes will it take to get wasted?" And he ate 26 standard size alcohol-infused cupcakes, and as you can imagine wasn't feeling too great after but it's just because that's a lot of cake. It's a lot of cake, it's a lot of filling, it's a lot of frosting. So we thought it was pretty hilarious, it was a good time.

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Eric Siu: Did he get wasted?

Lisa S: He said he definitely felt something, so we've leave it up to judgment.

Eric Siu: Got it. Okay. How do you guys typically charge for cupcakes? Is it like per cupcake or like a box? How does it work?

Lisa S: We bake and sell by the dozen.

Eric Siu: And how much does a dozen cost?

Lisa S: So $36 a dozen for the minis and $46 a dozen for the standard size. That includes two flavors. We also have an option called the Baker's Choice which is variety of what we're making fresh daily for other orders, and so that's $42 a dozen for the minis and $52 a dozen for the standard size.

Eric Siu: Wow, these are premium cupcakes.

Lisa S: They are. I mean we utilize premium ingredients in the sense that, in even our cream cheese frostings, we've tried tons of different types of cream cheeses and Philadelphia cream cheese is the best for us. It stands up to making that frosting taste delicious and Philadelphia cream cheese isn't cheap.

Eric Siu: All right, so you've got this company and then you've got four other things, or it's got to be like six other things. How many things are you working on right now?

Lisa S: I've got four companies that I've co-founded and then I'm an investor and advisor in several others. There's Elite Homes US which is luxury real estate. Liquid & Lace which is a swimwear company. BrandBridge which is a marketing app that pairs small and medium sized businesses with local and regional social media influencers. And then I'm an advisor and investor in Gleaux which is company that's created the worlds first light-emitting plant, so it's pretty cool.

Eric Siu: Wait, how does that work?

Lisa S: Have you seen like Avatar forest? Do you remember the movie Avatar and like the glowing forest? Similar idea. So basically what they did, it's a genetic modification and it took several years for the technology to get right and it's pretty incredible. They've genetically modified plants where they're able to emit its own light. Auto-luminescent. It's constantly emitting and so in darkness, total darkness, it's emitting light.

The goal is to eventually create the modification where it's emitting enough light to hopefully reduce our dependence on carbon emissions and dependence on electricity. The whole idea of having, instead of streetlights, you could have parks that are auto-luminescent. You could have your front yard foliage or backyard foliage. People spend a lot of money on lighting and all this kind of stuff and you could have auto-luminescent trees. That's really exciting, I love that company. Gleaux. G-L-E-A-U-X.

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Also Youngry is an entrepreneur media company based out of LA and I'm excited to be part of that as well. Anything that helps start-ups and entrepreneurs, it pushes my button because I also get a chance to learn.

Eric Siu: So your criteria is basically, if you're getting to learn something else and it's helping other entrepreneurs, that's how you decide to move forward on a project?

Lisa S: That's certainly a large part of the qualifications, and of course you have to look at who is involved. Who are the founders, if you're not a founder, who are the founders in the company? Where's the backing coming from? What type of support system do they have? That's not just monetarily that's who's on the team. Who's on the team and what other endeavors do they have? What skillsets do they bring to the table and how can you best complement that too?

Eric Siu: What do you think is your main driver? Like, all the stuff that you're doing right now, what's like the ultimate goal? What really pushes you every day?

Lisa S: For me, ultimately, for most of my companies I'd like to build and sell. I love the start-up phase, I love building the brand. And when you have companies that have aged a little bit, you know you get those offers and solicitations from larger companies or other conglomerates that may want to purchase. So building and selling, aside from the real estate company, building and selling is my ultimate goal with everything else that I'm doing. With the real estate, it's a legacy company for me. My partner with that, Devon, both he and I are rooted here in Las Vegas. We've been so blessed to have a wonderful experience utilizing and selling luxury real estate here in Las Vegas, so it's something that we'll be able to do well into times when we aren't going to be physically able to be as mobile as we are now, and also just to help build and foster the real estate industry here in the city.

Eric Siu: Back to Sin City Cupcakes for a little bit, you guys got that initial press bump. After that what led to your next thousand customers?

Lisa S: We were really big on doing collaborations and so we had a chance to team up ... This is 2012, right when food trucks were starting to become a thing here in Las Vegas, and we teamed up, our very, very first collaboration was in that same quarter where we got all that press and all the excitement. We teamed up with Fukuburger which is a great burger place here in Las Vegas owned by Colin Fukunaga. It's called Fukuburger, F-U-K-U burger. And they've got multiple locations now, like brick and mortar locations, but back in 2012 they had a really popular food truck and so we teamed up with them.

I think it was, might have been for like 4th of July or something. And we teamed up with them and we got a truck. We got a cupcake truck. It's built by Mercedes, it was super cute and girly.

Eric Siu: What?

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Lisa S: Yes. And that really helped, again, put us on the map because it got us great press that we had Las Vegas' only alcohol-infused cupcake truck. But that also opened up the door for a whole other line of revenue that we didn't realize that we could tap into, and that's your weddings, events, and convenient clients. Yes you could tap into them on the catering side which we've done many times, but having the truck is a whole other element.

There's actually a convention yearly called Nightclub Bar Show which is one of the largest in the country, it's held here in Las Vegas every March. We actually pull our truck into the convention center because that's how unique they think that it is. So getting that helped differentiate our brand, helped differentiate our product immediately and, like I said, opened up that whole other revenue from a market that we didn't realize we could tap.

Eric Siu: Got it. It sounds like, because you guys have the unique spin with the alcohol-infused right, and that actually tasted good, and you guys had these other kind of partners that you can collaborate with, that's kind of the magic that made everything happen. So I think that's a good lesson for everyone. The one thing I would caution for a lot of people, especially in the tech space, is often times people will think partnerships are like the first level of customer acquisition and often times the partners aren't really going to care about you, ultimately, so you got to realign yourself. Which is why Lisa started off with press first and had a unique spin on their product which I think is super important because often times people will rely completely on partnerships and then, boom, their business disappears.

Lisa S: Well the key with partnerships and collaborations is that you have to bring different items to the table. You can't team up, I mean I guess we'd be open, but I doubt we'd team up with just another cupcake company, right? Like even though that's the same target market, we share an audience, but how can our audience grow? So teaming up with Fukuburger, for example, a super popular food truck that already has it's own following of people who probably knew nothing about us before we showed up with them, that's the kind of collaboration you want. You want to tap into people who have never even seen you before and didn't even know you exist but they're already there because of your partner. They're there because of who you're collaborating with.

Eric Siu: Right. So, question for you, this is one thing I struggle with all the time. There's so many things I'm working on and it's like I'm actually trying to kill projects right now because there's so many things. With all the stuff that you have going on how do you focus?

Lisa S: Well, I certainly don't do anything alone. I don't do it alone. I have really great partners in everything that I do. I have great operational teams and staff. I'm by no means a one-woman show, it physically would be impossible. So you can't do it alone. I don't think that, that's my personal opinion. You can't do it alone, you have to team up with partners, you have to team up with the right people that compliment your skillset. And you've got to get to know them. You have to know, how do they react when they're under stress? How do they react when they're being yelled at?

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You have to see them kind of at like the ugliest times so that you know, "Okay. I know that he or she doesn't handle stress in the same way that I do. So that's good thing. So that way we can like compliment each other when it comes to some sort of crisis." Which will happen in your business. So you can't do it alone. For me it's comforting and also like physically so important to have people I can rely on, people that I can bounce ideas off of and people that can share the journey with you.

Eric Siu: So is your calendar like blocked off for certain projects? Like, mornings with this project, this afternoon is this project. How does your calendar look?

Lisa S: Some days it can be like that but it literally just depends what's going on. No two days are the same. So, for example, if you look at a one week period of seven days, the weekends are like the work weeks for the cupcakes, yet for the real estate Mondays are crazy just because that's when the rest of the world is answering emails and kind of back to it for business. So it just really depends on what's going on. Especially with the real estate, you have ebbs and flows, it's cyclical when it comes to season and when buyers are looking or when sellers want to sell. It gets crazy kind of towards the holiday time leading up to holiday time because you're talking about year end, so sellers sometimes need to liquidate their assets for tax purposes.

So now it's time to re-evaluate price, it's time to drop some things, it's time to take things off the market and put it back on in the spring, whatever that is. And then with the cupcakes it depends on what convention's in town. There's always something different that's coming in. Do we have golf tournaments lined up for that weekend? Is it wedding season? There's so many thing that we consider. So it just depends on what's going on.

Eric Siu: With the cupcake business, what's one big struggle you faced while growing it?

Lisa S: I think in the beginning the struggle we had was we had a brand new product to market. So we had to educate the consumer on what it is. And even now you say "alcohol cupcakes", people kind of get it and they're like, "Is that like pouring liquor into the batter?" And for some that is what it means, but that's not what it means for Sin City Cupcakes. Like I said, we take the time and effort and just everything else that goes into it to create this proprietary filling. And that's where the alcohol is.

So I think for us it was difficult for consumer education, we had a brand new product that we had to take to market and we had to tell people what it was and then also tell them that they would like it. And right now I think just scaling it, really taking it to make it a $10,000,000 company. What does that mean? That means that we need to have more corporate accounts. Right now we service certain corporate accounts, like we have serviced Sugar Factory, Nacho Daddy which is a very popular restaurant here in Las Vegas, they have multiple locations. So we are on certain special events menus and restaurant menus, but how do we gain more of that kind of wholesale corporate clientele. And that's something that we've been working on actively.

Eric Siu: With the projects that you've worked on so far, what's one constant that you've

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experienced across or what's like one constant learning that you've seen?

Lisa S: I think being able to adjust to any of like the crazy inbounds that come in. Like I said, you've got to learn quickly not only how you react to stress but also how your partners do too because if you have a partner that freezes up and isn't able to tackle it head on, you have a problem. So everyone on your team needs to be versed in crisis management.

Eric Siu: How do you test for that? Because you mentioned having to be able to see people in their tough times and all that but often times you don't really get to ... Like how do you test for that to see if they're the right partner?

Lisa S: With all my partners, I was friends with them before we went into business together. And people say, "Don't get into business with friends." That's like one of the first mantras that people say and I don't think that's the case. I think it can be done if everything is laid out upfront, you've got to have roles and responsibilities defined because when are we disappointed, when is our conflict? When expectations are not met, right? So if you come to the table with one set of expectations and he or she comes to the table with other set of expectations and they don't align, you have a problem, there's a conflict. So having that really clear, concise communication and having those frank discussions of, "Okay. So what happens if one of us doesn't want to be in the company anymore? What happens if one us doesn't feel like the other is pulling weight?" Having those frank discussions of stepping through that.

But yeah, I was friends with everyone that I have partnered with prior and so I got to see them in their happy times, I got see them when just external bad life stuff occurred like they [inaudible 00:18:19] or whatever. Just bad life stuff happens, I've been there to see that, so you know. You know how they react and what type of skillset and mechanisms they utilize when there's times of stress.

Eric Siu: Do you think your background in law helped?

Lisa S: Absolutely. It still helps today because even with real estate, all real estate is contracts. It's contracts and negotiations. So that was a huge background for me that was still helpful to this day. I utilize it every day. And what's nice is that I still have a great relationship with my old law firm. As you know, being in business, you've got to have a law firm that has your back and so it's nice to have them.

Eric Siu: Yeah. You know it's interesting because there's one business I have where there's two of my high school buddies, one's from elementary school, one's from high school, and it's working out well. There's another where I've known this guy for about 10 years and he's helping me with a couple other things right now. So it does work. I totally agree with you. I think you do actually have to get to know them because with one of my partners right now, I actually didn't get to see how he is when he goes through stress and all that. You see it later but I totally think if you've seen how they are, it might work out.

So who's the guy that said, "Don't fucking work with your friends." I think it was the guy

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that coached like Steve Jobs ... What's his name again? Do you remember? I forgot. I'll have to drop it in the show notes. It's something Campbell. Bill Campbell, I think. You guys can Google that, we'll drop that in the show notes.

I guess another question for you would be, what's one big change you've made in your life, positive or negative, that's really impacted you?

Lisa S: I guess a change was having that mental clarity and focus of realizing that I can do more outside of business by pursuing something that's totally not business related. So when I took on my pageant endeavor and became Miss Las Vegas and then went on to win Miss Nevada, I did over 500 community appearances in 18 months.

Eric Siu: Wow. That's a lot.

Lisa S: It's a lot. It was reading at schools, volunteering at hospitals, walking red carpets. I was everywhere, all across the state like not just in Las Vegas. I was up in Reno, Washoe County. I was everywhere. So while that experience physically took me away from the businesses, I had frank discussions with my partners before I took on the pageantry and they were very supportive and excited for me. And I told them, "If I win, I want to take it really seriously. Like I want to be the best Miss Nevada." And I took that really seriously, and I did.

That for me was like the biggest change. Realizing, for your business to grow and excel, doesn't mean that you have to be pounding the pavement in your business day in and day out. It can mean that you can pursue something that really matters to you and that speaks to your heart and your businesses will grow from that because other people will see you.

Eric Siu: Right. Building relationships. So you have that and then also there's a show that you host, right?

Lisa S: Yes. Yeah.

Eric Siu: So it all comes full circle.

Lisa S: Exactly. And that show was a direct correlation from contacts that I made during my time as Miss Nevada and they knew me as a person in the community, they knew me as a business person and they approached me about this opportunity. So that's how that came about.

Eric Siu: Awesome. This is something that I talk about a lot on Marketing School with Neil and it just, everything that we do ... I mean, this podcast itself, after the first year, we're getting like nine downloads a day. Year two was like 54 downloads a day, like nothing. You just stay consistent with it and things start to happen. It can be like winning a pageantry or it can be like staying consistent with a podcast or blogging, whatever it is, you just have to stick with it. And that's kind of what you did, right?

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Lisa S: Absolutely. People always kind of laugh about the pageantry if you're not in pageantry because you don't quite understand what it is but I really had to buckle down and put in serious work to win. I had stiff competition, you know. I had stiff competition and what people don't realize, there's four areas of competition. Interview, swimsuit, evening gown, and onstage question. So when you think pageant, you usually just think of like girls in their swimsuits. Which is part of it, but that's only 25% of your score.

So interview and onstage question? What are you doing during those, you're talking? That's 50% of your score. People don't realize that. A lot of girls don't realize that when they're competing. So when I won, my first runner-up, she was the first runner-up the previous year as well. So everyone was kind of like, "Oh, wow. Like watch out for her, she's very stiff competition. Watch out for her." And there was a small percentage that was like, "It's her time to win." You know. She beat me in swimsuit, like score-wise, my director told me that she beat me in swimsuit and she beat me in evening gown, by like a small margin thank you. But where I crushed her was in interview and onstage question.

And that combined to be a total of 20 points that I beat her by and it was at-

Eric Siu: How is the total on that? Like so do you have 20 points? What's the total point or the highest score you can get?

Lisa S: It's out of 100.

Eric Siu: Out of 100. Got it.

Lisa S: Yeah. Out of 100.

Eric Siu: So wait, you beat her by 20.

Lisa S: 20 cumulatively.

Eric Siu: Okay. Got it. Huge. So what's one piece of advice you'd give to your 20 year old self.

Lisa S: Don't be so worried about choosing a path. At 20 I was in undergrad, I had made up my mind probably in junior high that I was going to go to law school and it was mostly just because I'm good at reading and writing and there's no math requirement for law school, so I'll go to law school. And my dad had this joke, I was like six or seven, he said, "You either have to be a doctor or a lawyer when you grow up."

Eric Siu: Asian parents.

Lisa S: And it gets even funnier because of course I was like, "Well, why is that?" And he said, "You either have to be a doctor to take care of me in my old age or a lawyer to sue the S.O.B. that doesn't." So it's been running joke ever since. Yeah I was just on this kind of path. I was like, "Oh, I'm just going to move to law school and I'm going to be this fabulous corporate attorney." And that was my life, that's what I thought it would be.

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And then, obviously, now fast forward, now I'm in my early thirties, I'm 31, and my life is very different but extremely blessed. I'm so happy with what I'm doing. So I think that's what I would tell myself. "Don't be so concerned about choosing that one singular path." And that's the same message that I say to kids when I speak to them in schools. I just spoke at a charter school called Pinecrest Academy that's here in Vegas last week to their 7th and 8th grade finance and business classes. And I told them-

Eric Siu: 7th and 8th grade?

Lisa S: 7th and 8th grade.

Eric Siu: What?

Lisa S: Yeah. Finance and business classes. Smart kids. Super smart.

Eric Siu: Is that like a gifted school or something?

Lisa S: It's a charter school, yeah it's a good charter school here.

Eric Siu: Okay. Got it.

Lisa S: And I told them, I said, "Yes. I am a huge advocate of post-graduate education, higher education, pursuing that. And so, yes, here in school you have to pick a major and that's fine but don't feel that whatever you choose is something that you have make a 40 year career out of. Even if you go to post-graduate school, even if you go to medical school, dental school, law school, whatever it is. You don't have to stay in that industry for the next 40 years of your life. You can take the lessons you've learned and the network you make, I went to school with some amazing people, and turn it into something else and utilize it as a backstop for everything else that you're doing and it helps enhance what you do."

Eric Siu: Yeah. Totally. I mean the way I see it is like each stage where you're basically going past levels and you're trying to level up to the next thing and then you can go do whatever you want at a certain point but you've got to pay your dues at each level.

Lisa S: Absolutely.

Eric Siu: So you go to college then you go to the law firm and then it's like you go start other business. I don't think you necessarily ... People feel the pressure because you see everywhere immediately everybody's starting business, everybody's raising a couple hundred million dollars or whatever. It's not saying people are expecting you to jump there. You can certainly take your time and level up to get there and then certainly things will start to move quickly.

Lisa S: I read a quote and I think it really resonated with me and it said, "Every new level of your life will demand a new you." And I thought that was so poignant and just spot on

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because you do, you have to learn to adjust and grow and if you're not growing ... Of course, like bad things happen sometimes in business, if you don't turn those into teachable moments and all you do is play the victim of like, "Why did this happen? It was so bad." It's going to happen again. You have to turn it into a teachable moment, which as a result changes you.

Eric Siu: Right. What's one new tool that you've added in the last year that's had a huge impact. It could be a tool like Evernote, it could be like, I don't know, you bought like a microphone or something.

Lisa S: Well, there's several. One is utilizing a VA, a Virtual Assistant.

Eric Siu: From where?

Lisa S: So helpful. From Uassist.ME. So helpful. Just kind of I guess like tasks that you wouldn't think to ask someone else to do because you're like, "Oh, I'll just do them." But, for example, Devon and I were working on some real estate data and we realized it would be great to know what is the most expensive property listed in every single state in the United States and who it's listed with. What brokerage, who's the agent. And I was like, "Ugh. I guess I should start Googling." And I was like, "This is going to take me forever."

I had the VA do it and she sent us this beautiful spreadsheet that had like the property address and the brokerage and the [inaudible 00:27:51]. It was like the best thing ever and I was like, "Oh my god, I love you." Such a smart utilization of time and effort and money. So using VA for sure, and then there's an app called Charlie. Have you heard of this?

Eric Siu: Yes. Actually, you popped up on it.

Lisa S: Oh, perfect. Yeah. So I love that because it just helps keep me on track in relation to who you're meeting with. There's so many people you end up meeting with over the course of a week and so it's nice to get those little pop-ups and it helps you feel more prepared when you're going in.

Eric Siu: So we've got Charlie and Uassist.ME. Great. What's one must read book you'd recommend to everyone?

Lisa S: There's one that I love, it's an oldie but a goodie, I think. It's called "A Shark Never Sleeps" it's by Drew Rosenhaus.

Eric Siu: Never heard of it.

Lisa S: He's a sports agent and-

Eric Siu: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Lisa S: Okay. He's a sports agent and really good at what he does, like Jerry Maguire was based

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on him, and he wrote a book. I think it was originally published, I don't know, maybe in the early '90s and it was called "A Shark Never Sleeps" and it's great. I would definitely recommend that. I just finished a book called "Contagious" that was really interesting because it has these small snippets and stories and anecdotes about why things go viral. Why was this campaign successful and this one wasn't? So it's really interesting to read it with application in relation to your brands.

And then past that, I read a lot of fiction actually. I read a lot of non-fiction for development but my guilty pleasure reading is Stephen King. I love Stephen King books.

Eric Siu: Really? Okay. So you're into horror?

Lisa S: Yeah, surprisingly. I hate scary movies, like that's not my deal. I hate haunted houses. You know, I'm not-

Eric Siu: But reading is a different experience, huh?

Lisa S: And Stephen King writes it just so smart and even though I guess he is considered that Horror almost like Supernatural genre, right? But when you're reading the story and you're immersed in it, the characters are just so real. So when this like supernatural stuff is happening, it doesn't seem supernatural. It just seems like scary, you know? I think he's a very talented writer.

Eric Siu: Great. Okay, so we've got three books. Or one author and two other books, we'll drop that in the show notes. I haven't heard of that shark book, I think I'm going to have to pick that one up.

Lisa S: Yeah.

Eric Siu: What's one publication or blog you tune into every day?

Lisa S: I listen to NPR. I listen to a lot of NPR but EO on Fire, of course your blog. There's so many great blogs and a lot of great content that's out there so I think that's it really important to get your hands on all of it. Why not? You know?

Eric Siu: It's free, too. Lisa, this has been awesome. There's so many different ways to find you, obviously, but what's the best way for people to find you online?

Lisa S: Just certainly my website, and then Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all @LisaSongSutton.

Eric Siu: Great. Before we go though, what does the Sutton part mean?

Lisa S: So my father's American and my mom's Korean, and so Lisa Song Sutton is my full name. Song is my mom's maiden name, Song is my middle name, it's my mom's maiden name. So we made it my middle name. When I was modeling in Florida, the agency was like, "Your last name's Sutton. Lisa Sutton sounds white, we need you to get more bookings,

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so you need to start modeling under Lisa Song." So it stuck because it worked but ever since then I just continue to utilize it because there's so many people from the industry that knew me as Lisa Song.

Eric Siu: Awesome. Well, everyone make sure to check out Lisa's stuff, she's everyone online and we'll see the next episode.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to this episode of Growth Everywhere. If you loved what you heard, be sure to head back to for today's show notes and a ton of additional resources. But before you go, hit the subscribe button to avoid missing out on next week's value-packed interview. Enjoy the rest of the your week and remember to take action and continue growing.