Patty Aubery Shares Her Secrets For Success As A Female Entrepreneur

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If you don’t already know who Patty Aubery is, we have to change that. 

Aubery is a fountain of knowledge, an entrepreneur and a creative genius – but most importantly, she’s real

She put her money where her mouth is to participate in building one of the first billion-dollar brands in publishing – Chicken Soup for the Soul – showing that women can be powerhouses.  

In her current role as President of The Canfield Training Group, she has “created an inspiring life for herself (and others!) around the world.”

In a time when the world needs authentic voices, Aubery “Can be your best friend or the tough love you need to get unstuck when it seems impossible.”

Which is why we were thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her creative mind this week!

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Lately, Aubery has been empowering women to show up more boldly and authentically in their lives with her best-selling book and course, Permission Granted

In it she teaches clients “How granting themselves permission can lead them down a path of fulfilling what they want most out of life.”

She uses her dedication for business-building and her devotion to helping people live life on their own terms to “Help speakers, authors and coaches create the lives and businesses they’ve always dreamed of through teaching online programs, providing coaching and mentoring, and running luxury retreats at her home in Nashville, TN.”

Our talk with Patty happened over the holidays, with lots of family running in and out of our homes. We shared a bit of personal info about each other’s day to day life, and what it is like working remotely because of the pandemic. 

Then we got into the good stuff — Aubery’s advice to women about asking for what they want (and deserve) — and why it’s so difficult to do. 

You can view the full interview in the video below, or keep scrolling to read some highlights!

Kelly Castillo: Tell me a little bit about how you got started with Chicken Soup For The Soul.

Patty Aubery: So I actually started with Jack (Canfield) before Chicken Soup For The Soul happened — I met him in I think 1989. 

We didn’t really think about the book series until probably 1990 or so and it got published in ‘93, so that was kind of the beginning, but it was one of those things where he just came back to the office and said, “Hey, I think we’re supposed to put these stories in a book.”

I always tell people I’m so glad I was 24-25 or however old I was, at a time when I didn’t have an opinion. This is a stupid idea. So we put stories in a book for a couple years and then finally got published in ‘93 after being turned down by everybody under the sun. We didn’t realize you had to have an agent to get published.

And so we went, “You know, we sent out to every agent and everyone said ‘No, America doesn’t want nice, they love blood and guts.”  And you know, that’s so weird. 

I’m pretty sure they’re going to work, you know, because Jack had been testing them out. So finally after we got 100 we just thought, “Well, let’s just go to a book Expo and just pass out my scripts.” 

In the Expo parking lot, Peter Bag (who owned Health Communications) walked up to him (Jack) and said “Hey Jack, if you want I’ll look at your book. You know, maybe I can publish it,” and Jack said “Well, only if you really like it.” So he took it to the airport and about 2 hours later he called the office. He’s like, “I love this book. I want to publish it.”

I never knew that story until five or six years ago. 

How often do we ignore what’s in our own backyard and look outside – you know, like the grass always greener somewhere else? It turned out it was the best thing that ever happened to us because it was a small publishing house and they owned their own print presses. They owned everything, including the distribution.

So we were easily able to go from zero to 500,000 copies in a month, or I think at one point it might have been a week – any other publisher could never have done that. It’s very different from any normal, traditional publishing house, which allowed us as entrepreneurs to also work with him, a major entrepreneur who was always willing to take a risk. 

So together, we spent the next 18 years building 230 titles and 500 million books in print. Something like that. So yeah, I’m sure he would say it was the best thing that happened to him too.

I think that kind of tells people not to give up right away — if you really believe in what you’re doing, you just have to kind of keep pushing forward. If it resonates that deeply with you, it’ll resonate with someone else as well. 

KC: Do you think it would have been different for you at that time if you had had female mentors? Or do you think that the leadership that was shown and the learning opportunities would have been the same? 

PA: I think if I had female leadership it would have been very helpful. I had a little bit of that, but not much and I think they put me in a position to pretty much create my own destiny at some level, but I didn’t really have anybody there to say “I’m giving you permission to go ask for this, or do that, or own what you’ve created.”

I do think it would have made a big difference, and I think I was really lucky, because my youngest sister came to work for me when she was studying for her nursing state boards in California. She said “We should do this book” and I said to her “Well, why would they ever let us do a book?”

She said, “Patty, if anybody deserves a book, dealing with all these crazy authors and having to handle all these day-to-day operations and everything else under the sun — if not you, who?” 

And I always say to women, how many of us take ourselves out of the game before the coach even puts us on the field?

KC: That is definitely a topic I wanted to talk to you about because I know you’ll have insight on that, and it’s something we recently wrote an article about. 

I don’t see this as much with men. I was in a very male-dominated industry for most of my career before I started this publication and I don’t see it in my male colleagues. 

This habit of upper limiting, where we really put our own ceiling on ourselves. We used to talk about the glass ceiling, but now it seems almost self-imposed and I don’t know why that is. But I see it a lot.

PA: You know, I think this a lot. I love your publication and what you’re doing. I think it really gives women a voice and allows them to speak it. 

It’s like you get to read about people’s lives through their own eyes. And so there was no how-to guide, it was just motivation and inspiration and it gave you the inspiration and motivation to take action. And I think that’s what’s been missing for women.

I honestly wouldn’t have started the permission program if it wasn’t for my mom. Diagnosed, you know 15 years later or whatever it was, she said “I did not raise a daughter to be invisible. You have to promise me, no matter what, you will take credit.”

I see dads at work having no problem saying “I gotta leave early, my kid has a soccer game today” and not apologizing for it or trying to make up a different reason.

I don’t know if that’s been decades of this being imposed on us or we’re creating that dynamic ourselves, but I agree – it really needs to stop. 

I remember the first time I asked for a bonus. We got a $1,000,000 check and I walked into Jack’s office and I said “So, how much are you going to give to me?” like an idiot. He said “Well, how much do you want?” I said, “I don’t know, $10,000?” and I was a wreck. I was a total wreck. This is insane. And so he kind of laughed. And I walked out.

And I had Harvey Mackay’s voice in my head saying, “You know, don’t ever ask for something because you need it. Ask for it because you deserve it.” And he said so many people go in saying, “Oh my wife,” – or my husband or whatever – “just had this happen and I need a raise” or whatever it is. And so I went back and I said, “I have a question for you.”

I asked, “Well, what would I have had to have done that I haven’t done over these last five years to get a ‘Yes’ from you on a $10,000 bonus?” 

He said. “Go write the check.” In hindsight I could have said I want $250,000 and he would have given it to me. But he was navigating the waters just along with me.

He didn’t know any different. So at some point he finally said, “Listen. Whatever you want, you have to ask for it because I am absolutely not a mind reader. I know you are, but I’m not. And if you ever find a man who’s a mind reader, send him my way.”

I had used myself as my own science project and when I would get nervous I would think, all right, you’re going to have an out of body experience.

You’re going to walk in there, you’re gonna have already played it out in your head of what you’re going to say. If there’s an obstacle or any kind of answer you don’t like, what are they going to look like, and how are you going to respond? And you know, we teach that in the work that we’ve been doing for years. 

It’s all about events that happen, and we respond, and you get an outcome. And all I had to do was change my own responses. I just had to stop saying “no” to myself.

I had to start asking for what I wanted — I had to start. You know, not always plotting against myself, telling myself a bad story.

I always say to women “Start asking for little things so when you have a big ask you’re not a wreck.”

You know if it’s a brand new sport for you, you might throw up the first time, but if you’ve been asking for a silly little things, you know I would say ask for an upgrade on the airplane, ask for an upgrade at a hotel, ask for an extra discount and don’t be attached to the outcome. 

And so if you can have the intention without the attachment, then you can kind of watch how it goes.

It’s like we take that big scary step and then we retreat and then we just wait a long time before we do it again. I think the repetition is really important – to keep on keeping yourself uncomfortable and knowing that you’re doing it for all the right reasons.

KC: Absolutely. I mean if you think about it, if you put me on a basketball court and give me a basketball and told me to shoot the ball and make a basket it probably wouldn’t happen. But if you gave me 100 tries, I would probably get one in. 

So it is a numbers game with things like that, and everything is practice and repetition. I mean, I know a million times a day I’m faced with things that make me uncomfortable or nervous.

Whether it’s being a boss or pitching ideas, pitching sponsorships, or anything, I always try to take everything out to the worst case scenario and say “OK, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” I get myself comfortable there and then anything less than that feels like a win because I’m prepared for that.

So for women who are hearing what you’re saying and want to step up and be more authoritative or ask for what they want, but it’s not comfortable for them — how do you tell people to practice? I know you mentioned starting at home, but is there a path?

PA: Well, I think first of all it’s to look at your past and look at how you’ve responded in the past to get the outcomes that you have today.

Because stuff is going to happen. Whether your husband comes home in a bad mood or your boss shows up and says no or whatever, that’s all going to happen. It’s all based on how we respond to that situation. That’s going to create an outcome.

So I always have women go back, and I tell them to look at every response they’ve had and the major situations in their life. They could even timeline them.

If you went from zero to whatever age you are now and could go back, then with what you know now at least intellectually, how could you respond differently? What would you say that would support where you want to be in your future? I think every obstacle actually has an opportunity – so what does that look like? Go back and look at that.

But then I also asked them, what do you want? What do you really want? If the sky was the limit what would it look like? And then I have them. Or, what stories are you telling yourself today that might keep you stuck? Identify those obstacles now, so when you come up against them, you recognize that conversation you have with yourself 1000 times. You can do it differently.

Also, hang out with people who love you sometimes more than you love yourself, and who are willing to support you. I always say I already have an inside critic — I don’t need an outside critic.

KC: Surround yourself with people who are maybe just one notch above where you are in the spectrum of life and you always punch up, right? That’s what they say. But just surround yourself with people who, like you said, are positive and supportive and don’t tell you “No, you’ll never do that.”

PA: I think that the more we can encourage women to go out there and share their story and share their lives, the better. And it’s so important to know your “why.” Because if you’re not really passionate about something — if I was only into the Chicken Soup thing for the money, or I was only into permission grants for the money – it never would have worked.

 

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Was any of Patty’s advice particularly helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!


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