One of my pillars of selfcare in midlife is community and connection. Women are generally better at reaching out and networking than our male counterparts, and I am fortunate to have been on the receiving end of other women, not only wishing to collaborate, but also connecting me with others who are in their circles.
When I met today's podcast guest, I knew right away that I was in the presence of one of these great connectors of people. She is like a magnet for the midlife community. Donna Cravotta is the CEO and founder of the Cravotta Media Group, the Be Visible Club, a group learning community, and the Real 50 Over 50, a visibility project featuring 50+ women who are quietly making a difference.
Donna designed her business to help authors, speakers, and small business owners pull together all the parts of their stories and mixed tried and true strategies with new technology to be visible to their perfect audience. She is a real live sherpa for her clients and all whom she touches.
LinkedIn: Donna Cravotta
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Asking for a Friend - Fitness, Health and Personal Growth Tips for Midlife Women
The Real 50 Over 50 - Her Crusade to Help Midlife Women Be Visible
Speaker 1 0:00
community and connection are super important. And I consider them to be part of those key pillars of health and self care. I've said it many times that women are just better at reaching out and networking than our male counterparts. And I'm fortunate to have been on the receiving end of other women not only wishing to collaborate but also connecting me with others in their circles. What's been amazing is to see that there are so many of us still wanting to connect and forge new friendships. And when I met today's guest, I realized I was in the presence of one of those great connectors of people. She is like a magnet for the midlife community and I can't wait for you to meet this inspiring can do woman.
Speaker 1 0:58
Health, Wellness, career, relationships and everything in between. We're removing the taboo from what really matters in midlife. I'm your host, Michele Folan. And this is asking for a friend. Welcome to the show everyone. My guest today is the CEO and founder of cavada Media Group, and the creator of the mix tape Brand Story Video reels to be visible club, a group learning community and the real 50 over 50 the Wisdom revolution of visibility project featuring 50 plus women who are quietly making a difference. Donna cavada designed her business to help authors, speakers and small business owners pull together all the parts of their stories, and mix tried and true strategies with new technology to be visible and connect with their perfect audiences. Welcome to asking for a friend Donna cavada.
Speaker 2 2:08
Thank you for having me. Michelle, I'm very happy to be here.
Speaker 1 2:11
I kind of feel like I know you already just because we've been connected for a while on social media. And I sat in on one of your zoom calls recently, which was very fascinating. Even though I say it's nice to meet you. I feel like I already kind of know. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 2:32
Well, good. The plan is working then.
Speaker 1 2:34
Yeah, right. Exactly. I would love for you to really introduce yourself though, because you do have kind of a cool story. I'd love for the listeners to know a little bit more about where you're from family details and how you ended up where you are today.
Speaker 2 2:51
Okay, well, I'll go all the way back to the beginning but move quickly so we can get to more present day stuff. But I was born in Brooklyn, in Sheepshead Bay, which is like this weird little fishing village in Brooklyn. I have three siblings, and my mom was a single mom, my dad left when we were all very young. She was a single mom in the 60s in the 70s and the 80s. And you know, there weren't a lot of them back then. But we all seem to be on one block. I lived on a block with 10 buildings. And it was primarily single moms. Oh, interesting. So we were like The Little Rascals. I mean, we had the run of everything. But I didn't have a friend with a dad until I was like in my teens. Oh, wow. So I was raised by this, you know, tribe of women. Which isn't a bad thing. No, it's not a bad thing. It's not a bad thing at all. But I you know, now that I'm also a single mom, and I'm almost 60 It's all coming to roost, you know, all of the experiences that I've had throughout my life or just showing up in these weird ways. And that's one of them. You know, this being surrounded by strong women has really made a recurrence in my life. Yeah, I can see that. So I started working in law firms, when I was like, 19 years old, and I worked in law firms for over 25 years. And when my son was four years old, and getting ready to start kindergarten, I realized, well, my poor time law firm job is 5060 hours a week, and I have a commute. And this is just not going to work because I'll never know my child and there's nobody else it's just me. I can't have the cat raise him. In 2006. I walked away from a very secure golden handcuffs kind of job and started a virtual assistants business, which nobody ever heard of virtual assistants. And I didn't even know what I was doing. I was just like, I have to do something. And this is better than getting a job that I'm going to hate. That's going to be half the pay that I'm making. So I said you know what the hell yeah, I'm going to take a chance on me. I was 42 years old at the time. I did whatever I had to do to get my business started. So for the first year or two, you know, I would go to BNI meetings and they would be you do what it was a roomful of Like plumbers, insurance agents, mortgage brokers and I was like this foreign entity that walked into the room. But I organized bought mitzvahs, I put footers on pages, I cleaned out closets, I helped somebody move their office, I did whatever I had to do to make a living and be home for my child. And then I went to a New Year's Eve party, and there was a woman there. It was a terrible, snowy, freezing day. And she's got no shoes on. And she's wearing gloves. And I was like, that's the person I want to speak to. And it turns out that she was a hand model. And she was launching a line of anti aging hand care products. And she needed somebody to help her with her business. Oh, wow. So she was like my first big client. And through working with her, I started to pull together all of the skills that I learned over the years of, you know, working in the law firm, and all of the different things that I did, trying to start my own business and the things that I was learning. So I learned how to build websites, I learned SEO, I learned I had PR experience from working with the law firm. So I resurface that. And we ended up with no budget, taking all of this amazing PR that she had paid for. But they didn't know how to use social media in 2008, or 2009. I still don't know how to use it. I knew how to use social media. So I took all of this PR that she had and leveraged it into over $100,000 in sales in eight months with no budget. Oh, wow. So I was like, Okay, well, maybe we're onto something here.
Speaker 1 6:29
Yeah, I may have a chance at this. Yeah, maybe
Speaker 2 6:33
maybe this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Then I just took that system. And I applied it from one client to another client, but I wasn't getting paid what I should be getting paid. Because I didn't even know what to call what I was doing. I was just pulling together my parts. And then over the years of working, it's been 17 years now that I've been in business. And that's what I really help people do. You know, I help them pull together all of the pieces. And I recently did this for myself again, over like the last year and a half. I decided I didn't like the business that I had anymore. My son went off to college, I was, you know, at the tail end of a health issue. I had just worked with two really stressful clients. And I had three new ones that were amazing. Ready to come on board. And as I was sitting with all the things I had to do around me, I was like, I don't want to do any of this.
Speaker 1 7:24
Oh, wow. You had a major midlife pivot epiphany?
Speaker 2 7:29
Yeah, well, I just you know, it was the first time in my life because I, you know, my childhood, I was the one that took care of my family. I've taken care of people since I was five years old. I'm done. I want to take care of them anymore. And that's what my business felt like I painted myself into an agency that I didn't want. I had an expensive team. And I was doing work I didn't like. And I said I just need to stop. Because if I don't stop, I'm going to perpetuate and grow this business. I don't want to be in and I don't want to be unhappy. Yeah, honestly, my expenses are really modest. I don't need to 10x anything.
Speaker 1 8:03
This is fascinating. At different degrees, right, different levels. Women, at this point in our lives, we sometimes just something dawns on us and in sometimes it can be overnight. It can be a long kind of churning. That brings us to this place where we just say, Yeah, this isn't lighten me up anymore. Yeah, it really
Speaker 2 8:32
wasn't. But what I did was I stopped and then I just started, you know, tinkering. Like, okay, so what have I done? Like, I took myself through the process that I brought my clients through, and I wasn't even realizing what I was doing for them. Because I was working, I was doing what they needed. I was building my business based on what clients needed, not what I wanted to do. So I wasn't realizing what I was truly doing for them. And when I took myself through it, it was like, This is what you do. You help people reconnect to their stories. And I never realized that and like I was never the creative one. I was never the artist, my brother is a photographer, and there's only room for one in the family. You know, I was the one that carried the weight of the world on her back. And I was like, You know what, it's time to put the world down and figure out what I'm really made of. And one of the things that happened that was really interesting during this period was a friend of mine was doing the boundaries workshop, and she said, you know, you just need to come to this because you're at the perfect stage of life to be doing this. And I was like, I don't want to do this. I've already like Brene Brown trained. I've done all of this. I know about the boundaries and the vulnerability and the values, lessons and all of that. And she said, Yeah, well, I'm not taking that is no, no. She said you're coming. And she said and you're going to do this values exercise. I was like I tried a million values exercises. They're always the same. She goes no, you're going to do them again. And my values totally changed. Really. They We're always about being responsible being the one somebody can count on being trustworthy, being innovative, my new values are fun, genuine. And oh gosh, what was the third one? Now a creative, like my creativity was coming out through innovation. But an innovation is really more kind of techie. Yeah, more like structured. So I opened up my creativity. And I owned that I'm allowed to have fun. But it took me a few days to realize what the genuine men and the genuine men that I had to be genuine with myself, because I'm always me, I'm always the same person. You know, there's never a facade. But I wasn't doing that with myself.
Speaker 1 10:44
You know, the more you speak, I sit here and think, and even women who aren't in business, you may have been a stay home mom, for years and years and years. But don't you think everybody needs to kind of take themselves through this exercise?
Speaker 2 11:04
Yes, yes. And I named it. It's called tried a new, ah, and it's basically a life and business edit. And you take yourself through looking through all the things that you've done, because, and this is what I was doing, without realizing I was doing because I was doing it from a marketing perspective. So when you have holes in your story, or gaps in your story, that's like a gap in your communication internally and externally. And it's also a gap in trust. This is why people don't connect. So they're trying to do marketing, where they're trying to do something, and there's a disconnect there. So that's when they go in, they'll hire some $25,000 coach that has all the magical marketing words. But that's not really what they need. They need to reconnect themselves to their own story. Because we discard things as we go through life. And this really happens around this age, right? So you know, what were you doing three years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, that was incredibly important to you, that your sole focus was on that thing, you can't throw that away. Because when you throw that away, you leave this big gaping hole in your story. And that's what people will connect with. They're not going to connect with where you're going until they know who you are, they trust you. So what they need to connect with is where you've been, and how you got to where you are today. And then once they have that trust, they feel your credibility, they feel, you know, your experience, and they have like a rapport with you, then they're willing to like hitch onto your wagon and go where you're going. But not until they have that click. And that's what I help people do. And I was doing it through content, like we would do content audits. So one client I worked with, I mean, we did it with the hand model, we built a whole business, she ended up being on HSN 12 times sold out twice and was acquired by a big company. Because we took her story, we repositioned it in a different way on social media. And then I had another client who was asleep consultant, who was working with babies, and she wanted to expand her business because it's a very short sighted business cycle working with only babies. We went through seven years of blog posts, she religiously wrote a blog post every week for seven years that nobody ever read. So we sat in her dining room, and we spent a whole day going through this, and she didn't want to do it. She was kicking and screaming. At the end of the day, she had six avenues of business, infancy, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, so she could work, you know, the whole growing up cycle of a child that changed her entire business because I taught her how to do media, how to like, you know, land media for herself. She ended up on Fox News, she was their go to person. She was on 50 or 60 times, she had a company invested in her and created a whole line of sleep products that she was selling on Amazon. You know, it just went from there. Now she has got a yoga studio in Connecticut somewhere. But, you know, it's just like when you look through what you already have. It's a lifetime of work. And you have to bring that with
Speaker 1 14:10
you. Well, you've got people, they're coming to you they want your help. They're paying you. But there's a piece of this, it's uncomfortable. Yeah, because they gotta peel back the layers and admit, oh, gosh, I really wasn't approaching this the right way. And when someone has to take seven years of work and go, Oh my gosh, yeah, but you came up with something that was more than salvageable. Right? And that's what's so cool about it. And then
Speaker 2 14:43
it you know, there's a release part of it too, because then it's like, okay, so this stuff I don't need, these are the parts that I do need. And then it kind of like, almost before your eyes like the future just happens. It's like okay, this is the path we need to take now and then I'm like, geeky on the research. Which side So, and now with AI, there's so many advancements. And I could do it so much faster than I used to do and teach people how to do this too. Because you know, so much of it is tied to who you are and your voice and you really can't give it to somebody else to do you have to reuse this things in your head, things that you might not even be thinking of, that are just going to be brought to the forefront just because you find things and you start to put the pieces together in a different way. But like I have another client who's a hypnotist, and she talked about being a hypnotist, and she's been doing this for like 20 years. But you know, that could be a hard sell for some people. I knew her for years before I knew what she did in the past. In the ad, she was a celebrity DJ. And then she was one of the first voices automated voices for taxi cabs, hotel answering machines and supermarkets. And I just said to her, I said, you've been using your voice to heal people for 40 years. And she goes, Oh, I never thought of it like that. Yeah. And then that's a whole different perspective now, because it's not she's just a hypnotist. But you know, she was a DJ, everybody can relate to a DJ. And now you know, there's there's a connection there. And then it's like, well, maybe this hypnosis thing isn't so weird, after all, that everybody knows move the bananas to the belt. Or I'm going to 42nd Street. And it just brought this whole layer of familiarity and comfort to something that might be new and a little scary to somebody.
Speaker 1 16:32
Yeah, I love that. That's actually really fun.
Speaker 2 16:35
And then I did it with myself. Yeah. And I let go of all the things I didn't want to do. And then I realized what I was doing for everybody. Because I was always like, No, I'm not really the social media person. I'm not really the SEO person. I'm not really the PR person. I know how to do all these things. And the reason that I'm doing them is so people can become visible to themselves, and then visible to the people that they want to connect with. And I had that disconnect. And I never knew how to talk about my work. And in the beginning, I worked with so many people that were not ready to work with me. And they would cry. They will, why are you telling me to do this, and I would see this whole vision for them and they couldn't see it. And what would happen is like two years later, I would see them online starting to do the things that I had given them a strategy to do. And then they would have success, but they weren't ready. They were always like two years away from being ready to do that plan.
Speaker 1 17:33
We all do it though. Yeah, right. Yeah. Just even doing this podcast, I came up with this idea during COVID. But it took me a couple years to know, you know, we've got to summon up that bravery and confidence. And I say this all the time. Sorry, listeners get tired of me saying this. If you wait until you're ready, it won't happen. It won't happen. So just get out there and just do it. Yeah. I'd love your approach. And I think I already know the answer to this question. But how do you differentiate your business from others out there? Because you do have competition?
Speaker 2 18:11
Yeah, but I have yet to find somebody that does exactly what I do. Yeah. Because I'm almost like a guide. I bring people through their own stories. And then we figure out okay, so who's your audience? It's not everybody. You know, like NPR? Like, you know, one of the questions I asked on my intake process is like, what media do you want to be in? And it's always something big, you know, from somebody that has very little media. So they'll want to be in like an Oprah type show or the Today Show? And I'm like, Okay, can you cure cancer? No, okay, let's start smaller. Or they want to Brene Brown to find them. And I was like, well, that's not gonna happen. So what I do is like, go and I'll find Brene Brown from 20 years ago, you know, somebody who's like, Brene, brown light. And then you know, we start researching the bat audience, because this is a more attainable goal. And it also helps them realize, like, what they can do and what they can't do, you know, like, yeah, you could be on the Today Show, but that's not going to happen next week. So let's start getting you some podcast interviews, talking about some topics. I'm taking them on this kind of like inner journey, and I'm not a coach, you know, I've never been trained as a coach, but it's all through the work. And then we align everything with where they want to go. So, you know, we figure out what their end goal is, and then we work backwards on how to get there, got it, and then we create a plan. So it's very tactical, because it's like, you know, these are the topics you need to talk about. These are the tools you need to use. These are the podcasts or media that you should pitch for. And then I teach them how to pitch because unless you have a lot of money, you can't hire a PR agency because you're not going to get what you need and learning how to build relationships with journalists with To podcasters is way more valuable than paying somebody else to do this for you. Because they're building the relationships for themselves, right? So I've been teaching people how to do this for like 12 years. And it's really successful. And it doesn't need to be big, splashy, successful. That's the other thing I help people do, is I help them realize what they actually need. Because with marketing, we get all pie in the sky like, oh, this million dollar launch. And you don't know what goes into that they're not showing you what goes into the back end of a million dollar launch. Most of the people that are doing that have been doing this for, you know, 20 years. So you've missed that boat. Yeah. Now let's work with what we have. And most of the people I work with, they need 20 clients a year. So if you need 20 clients a year, what is the vessel that we need to build to get to those 20 clients a year, and we do that around content, and the content is meant to be out in the world, building relationships before people get to know you this way, by the time they get on a zoom call with you or they interview you or you have some kind of you know, more personal exchange, they feel like they know you.
Speaker 1 21:08
I just wrote in big letters on my cheat sheet here. Sherpa. Donna is a Sherpa. Because I think that's what you're doing. You know, people have the stuff they just gotta learn how to use it. Yeah, you have be visible club, and then not that you weren't already busy enough. You started the real 50 over 50 project. How did that come up out?
Speaker 2 21:38
So the real 50 over 50 started when I woke up on February 17. pissed off at the Forbes 30 over 50 Because it was all household names, people that had were famous or had resources that people like us did not have access to. And then I learned that to go and be in the audience. It was $10,000 a seat to go sit and be in the audience at the Forbes 30 over 50. Really? Yeah. So then I said, Well, I wonder how long would it take me to make a list of 50 women over the age of 50 that I know that are doing incredible work. And it took 15 minutes. Wow. So I was like, I guess I have to do something with this. Now. I just started doing weekly interviews in March, put up a website with no real plan. And everybody jumped all over this. We have 70 people up on the website. I've done about 25 interviews so far. And we have interviews booked all the way into I think the next one is July 2020. For the next available opening. I've been busy. So I haven't been able to do all the things I want to do. But we're going to have our first virtual meet and mingle party in October, just so everybody can get together and really get to know each other because what dawned on me a couple of weeks ago, was that we're all out there looking for our tribe looking for our people looking for our small group. This is it. Yeah. I mean, we've got women that do everything. From a medical medium to lawyers, accountants, hypnotists, I mean, everything artists, it's incredible. There's somebody in there that does everything. We have eight or nine people that help people heal trauma in different capacities. We're forced to be reckoned with and the through lines that I've seen with having all of these conversations is that we are all people that want to leave an impact with the work that we do. We want to help others. And we want to leave a legacy and that not a financial legacy. But a legacy where we've made a difference for other people. Like I have younger women that watch this, I mean binge. I've had people reach out to me that I'm going on a seven hour car ride, I'm going to listen to all of your interviews. We've got one guy who's like in his 30s, two little kids works in cybersecurity quietly comes to every interview, he doesn't say anything. He'll Hi me afterwards and he'll say, Oh, I learned this or I learned that. But he loves my interviews. He loves all of the people that he's like getting to meet.
Speaker 1 24:20
I think this is such a wonderful mission that you have. I can tell you get very excited about it. Because your face lights up.
Unknown Speaker 24:30
I do. I do. I can
Speaker 1 24:32
hear your voice. What have been some of the aha moments that you've had doing these interviews?
Speaker 2 24:41
There was one day where I was really frustrated with myself. I was reinventing myself yet again at almost 60 years old and I was like what does this ever end? When are you just gonna like stick with something? And I interviewed a woman that day that was 75 doing the same thing. 75 yeah. 7575 Not only was she doing the same thing, but she was so excited about it. She was like off the charts excited. And I was like, Okay, well, I guess it doesn't keep going.
Speaker 1 25:18
That's fascinating. She's 75 years old. And she's still out there. She's got clients, she's doing all the stuff.
Speaker 2 25:26
And I interviewed a woman who was a Medical Medium. And after that interview, there were a ton of people that reached out to me wanting an introduction, they had a story. So this isn't about getting clients, it's about really connecting our resources and connecting our wisdom and seeing what we could do together and being more visible and making an impact. But I can guarantee she got more than a handful of clients from that interview. And you know, we're not pushing like, by my stuff, it's not like that at all. It's more about sharing stories. One of the things that I want to start doing, I just haven't had the bandwidth to do it yet, creating panels, because we have people that are such interesting mixes and putting them together. And then taking those recordings and pitching them for speaking opportunities. Yeah, because women are not represented enough from stages. And then also, you know, I already have the media kit ready to go. So I want to start pitching media with the whole project, I just haven't had the chance to do it. And I don't want to start something that I can't support. I really want everybody to get to know each other because I think from there, there will be collaborations, I don't know, I've been trying to not anticipate what would come from it. Because I want to see what happens when it just like organically.
Speaker 1 26:52
I love how you stress community, and that intertwining of people from different backgrounds and careers. I was doing a speaking engagement this past weekend, and I was talking about my pillars of health and wellness. And my fourth pillar. Now my fifth pillar, excuse me, my fifth pillar is community. And I feel it's very important that women not only keep their current relationships strong, but be very open to creating new connections as we get older, not shut ourselves off from making new friends and connections. Do you have any pillars of self care or wellness that you've tried to live by self care is
Speaker 2 27:45
not my strong suit, because I was raised to take care of everybody else. So I have maybe about seven or eight years ago, I realized that this is not something I could do on my own. So I started to build my spiritual squad. And a lot of them are in the real 50 over 50. Because I love to share them with the world. But I mean, I have I have a lot of people around me that reminds me that I matter. And I need to take care of me because no matter how I try, it just doesn't become a priority. You know, I'm working on it. But I don't know how to move myself to the front.
Speaker 1 28:23
Donna, that is something that we call it human giver syndrome that we're so used to because we're programmed of putting others first that it's sometimes a little uncomfortable. Oh, yeah. Prioritizing ourselves, but and I think you know this already, it's not selfish, to put yourself first so
Speaker 2 28:46
no, no, I get it here. I know it here. It's here. I don't know we're here.
Unknown Speaker 28:52
You'll get there. You'll get there.
Speaker 2 28:55
You know, I realized that I was going to be in a constant state of learning this, but I couldn't do it alone. Yeah, that I needed support. And I needed people to remind me and I've got people that know me so well. Now that without even me reaching out, they'll call me up or text me or communicate in some way. Like what are you doing for you today? Like, stop, you know, hashtag stop it. Whatever it is, you're doing stop.
Speaker 1 29:23
Yeah. Well, I love that you're trying to live by your words and creating that wonderful connection and community in your own life. I think that's neat.
Speaker 2 29:32
Yeah, and one of the most beautiful things. I've never met most of these people, right? We met online and they are relevant in my life. And, you know, it doesn't matter that we've never met in person.
Speaker 1 29:47
No, it doesn't. And I can tell you just doing the podcast. I do feel like I make a new friend. Every time that I do one of these interviews because you I'm so fascinated by what people like you are doing. You're we're well into midlife, and you're still impacting people's lives in a very positive way. And I'm so glad that we got an opportunity to connect today, I would love for you to also tell the listeners where they can find you.
Speaker 2 30:19
If you just go to my website, Corvara media group.com Everything is there on social. I'm primarily on LinkedIn these days. And links to everything is on my website and check out some of those real 50 over 50 interviews. They're amazing.
Unknown Speaker 30:34
And I'm up I think in February.
Unknown Speaker 30:38
It's a good thing you got it.
Unknown Speaker 30:40
I know right? Oh, Lord,
Speaker 2 30:43
I had to change my communication letter that I send out to people to say like the calendar is real. It's gonna be a long time but but there's going to be lots happening. So keep an eye on us because we are going to be a voice
Speaker 1 30:59
together. And I will keep the listeners posted on anything new. You got comment? Okay. Thank you, Donna. It was great meeting you.
Speaker 2 31:07
You too. Thank you for spending some time introducing me to your audience. I always appreciate that you bet.
Speaker 1 31:22
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