Samantha Ettus – Founder & CEO of Park Place Payments and Bestselling Author

Episode 100

Samantha Ettus is the kind of woman we need in our corner during these uncertain times. As a dedicated champion of women, Sam has devoted her career to advocating and supporting women in the pursuit of their dreams. With the mission of helping women achieve and maintain financial independence, she launched Park Place Payments, an award winning company that has revolutionized the credit card processing space. Sam is all about putting income earners back in the workforce, and she dives into that on today’s #podcast. She also talks about how she harnesses her inner-entrepreneur, how to tap into your grit to achieve success, and how you can invite new opportunities into your life just by saying yes. Samantha is also the bestselling author of five books - which includes "The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe For Success and Satisfaction" focusing on empowering women.

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Kara Goldin: Hi, it’s Kara Goldin from The Kara Goldin Show. I’m here with Sam Ettus and so excited that you’re here with me today. Welcome, welcome. For those-
Samantha Ettus: Thank you, it’s so fun to turn the tables now, right, after I grilled you a couple of weeks ago on our podcast.
Kara Goldin: Yes, no, definitely. So Sam, for those of you who don’t know a little bit about Sam, she is the founder and CEO of Park Place Payments, which is so, so cool. And it’s really a salesforce, not to be confused with the company, but a salesforce, as a service business. And it’s really dedicated. I love the idea when Sam was talking to me about it, it’s really dedicated to championing women and she’ll talk a little bit more about that. She’s really devoted her entire career to really advocating and supporting women. I love that you are always the person that is showing up when I feel the underdogs really need lots more support. So thank you for doing all of what you do every single day. But so we’ll talk a little bit more about Park Place, but in addition, she’s also the bestselling author of five books.
I mean, you haven’t slightly been busy over the course and you’ve taught me so much about being an author and how getting the word out about your book and marketing and how important that is. And then in addition, she is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Women’s Collective aimed at supporting women to run for office and win. And I’m so, so excited to dive more into your story on that as well.
Oh, and I almost forgot for those of you who didn’t hear the last interview she is. And we’ll talk a little bit more about this, but she is the speaker and cohost of a nationally syndicated call and radio shows that we will chat a little bit more about that coming up, but welcome, welcome Sam.
Samantha Ettus: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I’m so excited to have you here. So can you explain a little bit about, even before we get into Park Place Payments you grew up in New York and what was life like? Who was Sam as a little kid?
Samantha Ettus: So I grew up my parents were married. My brother was two years younger than me. And starting at age eight I became a competitive tennis player. So I had my first… I guess at age nine I had my first ranking, but I really kind of missed the teen years in the sense I never had a sip of alcohol until college. Not that that is defining your teen years, but I was definitely on a different path than everyone else was.
And I felt I had a job or a full-time job. So I would go to school, as I got into high school I was able to stack all of my classes to be done by 12:30 or 1:00 every day. And then I would travel out to Long Island. My mom would drive me every day and I’d play tennis for a couple of hours and then come back home. I was at a very competitive school so I’d have three or four hours of homework. And then I’d have dinner with my family, homework, and then I’d maybe talk on the phone for an hour and then go to bed and repeat the next day.
And then every weekend I played tennis tournament. So I missed most parties. I remember there was this boy I had a huge crush on, and he asked me out three times and all three times I couldn’t go and that was kind of it, because I was always playing tennis. I then got to college and in college I was really part of the athlete crowd. And that was a defining part of my college life. My roommates were all varsity athletes too. And then after two years in college, I just one day I started writing for the paper and the coach kind of said to me, you have to choose, you can’t write for the paper if you’re playing number two singles on the tennis team.
I remember being up all night and I finally thought, okay, I’m done. I’m not going to be a pro, and there’s so many other things in college I want to do. And so I just kind of branched out and did a lot of other things.
Kara Goldin: Wow. That’s that was a huge decision. So, I mean, how did you feel about that? Did you feel like it was… Obviously you had been on this path for so long and your community was all kind of built on, your identity was built on this. How hard was that to sort of walk away from that and kind of move in this new direction?
Samantha Ettus: It was very hard. I’m not even sure in hindsight that… I don’t believe my big thing is don’t live life in the past lane, but I would say that it was not necessarily the wisest decision at the time, in the sense that it was somewhat impulsive. As you said, my whole community most of them were athletes. And I remember even my senior year when I wasn’t playing anymore, people would ask me how the team had done in that tournament that weekend. I was still known as a tennis player for the rest of college. And even now if I go back to New York City, now live in LA, but if I go back to New York and bump into people, everyone’s always asking me about tennis. It was my identity for so long.
I think that in many ways that identity, having an identity that kind of made me a little bit well-known in my community was something that maybe subconsciously I’ve always sought out. Right? It wasn’t enough to be mediocre. It wasn’t enough to be pretty good at something. It almost instilled me this drive to be the best at whatever it is I’m doing.
Kara Goldin: I felt like I was a gymnast, not actually to sort of your level, it sounds like. But I found that I also really appreciated having other people around me that were also really good. In fact, I didn’t have the sense of, I always wanted to be better, but I also really appreciated the fact that there were certain things that maybe I couldn’t be as good at. Like floor exercise for me I was never a dancer. I was a great vault and bars and I was okay at beam, but I could not do floor. And so I would sit there and mesmerized by people who could actually do floor really, really well. And I would want them on my team because that’s ultimately how we were scored. And so I feel even though I didn’t continue in college, I feel I still have that appreciation where I want really great people on my team.
Right. And part of my community. I feel you’ve done such a great job of building your teams and make sure to have people who are maybe better than you at certain things and try and figure… They have to culturally sort of be a fit, but then it’s okay to actually have people that skills wise are maybe better than you. And I think oftentimes people I mean, I hate to say this, but I feel men just in general have a harder time with that than maybe women do. And especially if you’ve been a female athlete, you and I have never really talked about this, but I really feel that’s what I see. And even when I look at how you’ve built your companies, I feel you sort of subscribe to the same mindset, so.
Samantha Ettus: Absolutely. And I also think just in terms of the people I surround myself with I love learning. Right. And I’m so aware of my weaknesses like you just said, and my strengths. And so to me, it’s every relationship I have I feel I have something to learn from that person. I can’t get enough of people. I love meeting new people. I collect new people, just you do. I mean, you and I became friends recently. And I already feel I know you so well. And you’re in my collection of women I love.
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Samantha Ettus: It’s just that never goes away. I think that desire to always be learning and getting better. And I think that the people you surround yourself with are definitely a huge part of how much you learn.
Kara Goldin: So you graduated, what was your first job after graduation?
Samantha Ettus: So I graduated and I was the only one of my friends who didn’t have a job upon graduation because I knew I wanted to be in Hollywood and no one in Hollywood will hire you in advance. So when I would send out resumes, they’d say, well, call us when you got here. And I moved out to Los Angeles and I remember I traveled backpacking through Europe on $30 a day with three of my really close girlfriends for five weeks. And they all had… Two of them were going to medical school and one of them was going to an investment bank. And I was the one who was just going to LA without a job. But I remember it was very hard for me all summer to be, because I was never that person, right. I was the person that was like… It sounded I was the underachiever because I was, “Oh, this poor girl without a job.”
I had a plan, but no job. So anyways, after that I moved out to LA and the first thing I did was go to this temp agency. So actually between Europe and LA I knew that one of the ways that they evaluated you as an assistant in Hollywood was how fast you type. And so I took a typing class across from Madison Square Garden at the most disgusting hotel.
Kara Goldin: So funny.
Samantha Ettus: It was on the Penn Plaza hotel or something for two weeks straight, every single day, all day I would go and learn how to type. I think it came out of there at 35 words a minute, which isn’t still a very good, but it was good enough to get me in the door. And so then I moved out to LA and my first interview is with this guy named Jules who had a temp agency that placed you as an assistant at different agencies.
And he looked at my resume and he said, “Harvard.” He did a double-take and he’s like, he thought he’d struck gold. He’s like, I’ll get you a ton of interviews. So the next day he was sending me to CAA William Morrison ICM. And my first interview is at CAA with this guy named Kevin Cooper and the woman who was head of HR she’s really famous in Hollywood, her name is Arlene Newman. And she sent me to Kevin Cooper’s desk and he’s like, “I never would hire someone this green. Why should I hire you? All my assistants have cried, are you going to cry?” And I said, “Oh, I never cry which is total BS.” I was like, “I never cry any ways.” “I don’t know about you. Let me think about it.”
So next day before cell phones I’m going out the door to my William Morris interview and my phone rings and it’s Kevin Cooper again. And he’s like, “Hey, what are you doing?” And I said, “Oh, I’m going to my William Morris interview.” And he said, “Don’t go.” And I said, “why?” And he said, “You’re hired. I just don’t want William Morris to get you.” And he goes, “But come in right this second.”
So I remember, I didn’t even call my mom to tell her I got a job. It was pre-cellphone and I had to be at the office and I ran to CAA and started that day. And I think it was five weeks later where he made me cry. But it was a really abusive. If you’re listening, Kevin Cooper, he would make… It was very Hollywood, the way I was treated.
And then he got a job running Francis Ford Coppola TV production company. And so I remember three months after working for him, he brought me into his office and he’d spent his entire career at CAA and he’d gotten his job and asked me if I would go with him as his assistant. So I went with him and we got there and we had a deal with Hallmark television. And one day, one of the guys who was head of Hallmark, came over to me and he said, we actually can’t stand the way your boss treats you we’ll help you find another job, but you must leave. It was an abused situation where it took these intervention. And by the way, I moved on and worked at a Ted Turner’s film studio for a little bit. And then I moved to the Bay area.
Kara Goldin: So funny, Oh my God, what a crazy world. I didn’t realize that you worked at Turner as well. So because I was at CNN, but probably a little bit different times, but I was in New York.
Samantha Ettus: In New York.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, but on the news side, actually of Turner, like I was-
Samantha Ettus: I was on the very assistant side of Turner pictures, but leaned a lot.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. That’s so funny. What a crazy small world. So after these points, then how did you get to Park Place Payments ultimately?
Samantha Ettus: I went to business school and when I graduated from business school at the time I was the only entrepreneur in my class. It was 2001, everyone was going into private equity and consulting. I decided to launch kind of the CAA of personal brands. And it was a little bit ahead of its time, like today everyone would be signing up because everyone knows what their personal brand is, but then it kind of morphed more into a PR firm because that’s what people were willing to pay for. And that was also when I started my book series with Random House, The Experts’ Guide. So there were a lot of experts that couldn’t afford our retainer. And so I basically would put them in our book. So I did four books. The Experts’ Guide to 100 things, everyone should know how to do was the first.
And that was everyone from Barbara Corcoran doing how to sell your home to Bobby Flan had a barbecue and so on. And so I’d cold called all these experts who ended up writing chapters in my books and then started doing that full time because I got this four book deal with random house. And so I then closed my firm. I placed everyone in other places and thought, okay, I’m just going to make books and babies because at that point in time, books were, I mean, I had a really amazing book deal that would carry us for a while. Paid for our first apartment and stuff. So but then of course I’m really ambitious and there were six months a year where I wasn’t producing any books and I was bored to tears. And so I immediately started this online talk show with Gary Vaynerchuk.
So I hosted the show that he created with me called Obsessed TV, and we did 75 episodes. And so I did that in the books. And then I really missed working with people and what I’ve been doing in media platform kind of was fun, but I really missed working people. And so I started going back and helping people with work-life balance and recognizing that there was no expert in that space that was positive. There were like, Anne-Marie Slaughter telling you you can’t have it all. And a lot very negative portrayals of working women. I thought there was space for a really positive one. And so that is what led to the pie life, which was my last book that came out four years ago. And when I was on that book tour, I spoke everywhere you could imagine, from Google to Target and General Mills. And the one group of women I could not help were the women who had left the workforce and wanted to return, but found that there were just no opportunities for them, except for maybe selling makeup and skincare and clothing to their friends, and not even making martini money.
And I thought what’s going on here? These are women who have had incredible professional experience in all different fields and they’re kind of left on the sidelines and I’ve always been super passionate about financial independence and felt I could make a difference. I speak at a lot of different events and 10 years ago, I was at an event that was a boondoggle event for the top 20 companies in the credit card processing industry. And it was all white men who’d arrived on private planes.
And I said, where are the women and people of color? And they kind of laughed at me and said, there are none. And I thought, okay, one day when I’m 60 or 70, I’m going to come back and crush these guys. I don’t need to do it today, but one day. And so I was on this book tour and I was, oh God, this is the day. I am going to train this group of women to sell financial services and their communities, and I’m not going to charge them to do it. And that is how Park Place Payments began.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome. And so what have you, so basically you’re changing the lives of women. I mean, tell how do people ultimately make money in your business and how do you make money in your business?
Samantha Ettus: Sure. Credit card processing is this industry that a lot of most people, I didn’t understand, no one understands unless they own a store business that accepts credit cards. But any business that accepts credit cards, whether it is a hair salon or a yoga studio or a restaurant or a sports stadium has this middleman between American Express, MasterCard and Visa and the business. And today, the middleman is 40,000 white men who function a lot like used car salesman. They change rates on you. They’re hard to trust. There’s a lot of hidden fees.
And so what we’ve done is we train people to sell credit card processing to the businesses they already know, to their kids’ pediatrician, their dentist, their hair salon, their favorite bookstore. And we train them through our free online course called Park Place Academy. And then they’re invited to our weekly training sessions and they’re up and running and we do all the heavy lifting.
So they basically source leads. And then we put together a beautiful PowerPoints for them comparing businesses, pricing, and service and technology to what we offer. And then they present it. And if the business says, yes, we board them, we do all the heavy lifting and we do all the servicing of the account. And then that account executives split everything 50/50 with us, for the life of the account.
Kara Goldin: Wow.
Samantha Ettus: So they become entrepreneurs. So we have seen people who went from being a teacher or being a newscaster, or we have a doctor, we have flight attendant, we’ve people in every different field you can imagine who we trained to sell financial services in their communities. And they might start out with one account and then suddenly they grow it to 30 accounts. And suddenly they go from three figures a month to four figures a month and they just keep on going. So they’re only limited by how much time they’re putting in.
Kara Goldin: That’s amazing. Do you feel there’s a certain part of the country that there’s more people interested in sort of doing this type of work or do you feel it’s pretty scattered all over? I mean, it seems a huge opportunity for people, especially in today’s day and age, when there’s so many people who have gotten furloughed or laid off and this is something where you can just go and do because how many people know a lots of people in their community.
Samantha Ettus: Right. I mean, there’s so many people right now that need either a side hustle or a full-time thing and an opportunity that gives them the flexibility to still help their kids with Zoom school or work from home or care for a sick relative or whatever it is. And so this is a way that they can build their nest egg while also building their resume. Because if they want to go back to corporate America, they’ve been an account executive with a financial services company, as opposed to maybe a consultant with a beauty company or something that people won’t take us seriously on their resumes.
We have seen a basically record number of people who are interested in our program, just given the economy obviously, and how many financially vulnerable households there are. And a lot of people who want to be returning to the workforce or adding to what their household income is currently. And so that’s been really rewarding for us. I mean, we’re creating a huge company. It’s going to be a multi-billion dollar company, but there’s this huge social mission component, which is financial independence for people who might not have had the opportunity to have it before.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, no, it’s absolutely amazing. And do you feel… Or I should say how has the pandemic affected you during this time? How do you think about your business or what challenges did you have during this time?
Samantha Ettus: So we got really lucky and I realized I didn’t even answer you previously when you asked about geography, we’re all over the country and there really is every single zip code in America needs a credit card processing. So we’re kind of agnostic in terms of that. In terms of COVID, I hate to say it’s been good for our business, but certainly people are now realizing business realize they have to accept Apple Pay and Google Pay.
People don’t want to be touching a terminal or touching credit cards. And so, because of that a lot of businesses have upgraded their terminals when they might not have. And so if they’re going to upgrade might as well upgrade to a company that offers exceptional service Park Place. So that’s been helpful for us. The other thing that’s helped us is that we kind of specialize in the un-sexy businesses. So we have so many doctors, 27% of our portfolio is dentists and doctors and physical therapists. And those are kind of pandemic proof businesses. So we have some restaurants, but we’re really lucky. We’ve only had three to four businesses closed since COVID. So we just happen to not be weighted towards hospitality, restaurants, clothing, boutiques, the kinds of businesses that have gone out of business pretty quickly.
Kara Goldin: That’s great. So more of a services business, that’s sort of?
Samantha Ettus: We have medical, we have HVAC companies, we have pool companies, we have contractors, we have bookstores. We have just a lot of businesses that have continued to thrive. We have business to business customers. We have a sports stadium, we have a very wide variety in our portfolio and I think that’s really helped us.
Kara Goldin: I feel you probably would not have ever imagined when you were in college playing tennis that you would have been starting this company, right?
Samantha Ettus: I don’t think I could have imagined it five years ago. I mean, people will say to me, well, you used to be on the Today Show all the time, and now you’re talking about credit card processing and I’m like, “No, I am talking about financial independence and taking a population of people who are underutilized and putting them back into the workforce.”
Kara Goldin: I love it.
Samantha Ettus: And that to me is the sexiest thing I could possibly be doing with my time. I love it. I’m more passionate about it than anything I’ve ever done. And it’s incredibly rewarding. I get up everyday super fired up for what I’m doing.
Kara Goldin: Well, I feel you saw this problem and this hole in the market. And I always talk about, and something I talk about in my book as you know is this journey you ended up at this event where you’re speaking and there’s a bunch of people in this industry and your curiosity you just sort of went there, right? You were trying to figure out the industry and you were trying to… You didn’t sit there and walk into that event thinking I’m going to go figure this out so that I can ultimately go and start a company around it. And I feel so often there’s this misconception of entrepreneurs where you think, I mean, I didn’t start my company hint until I was in my mid to late 30s. Right?
People think like, oh, I wasn’t born to be an entrepreneur. I don’t even know what that means. And most great entrepreneurs that I know we’re not sitting here thinking about it when they were playing tennis in college. Right.
Samantha Ettus: I think they’re just the people that don’t take no for an answer. And that’s what you and I have in common, which is no, is a slower path to yes. Right. And when you started Hint, Kara, you didn’t have beverage experience. But anyone who thinks that you needed to have beverage experience to start Hint is off the wall. Right. And I’m sure there were tons of investors who said, oh, well, she hasn’t a beverage experience. It turns out Grit was the number one thing that was going to make you successful. And you already had that in space. That’s one of the things I loved about your book is it really hammered home where the Grit came from and how young you were when you started to show that Grit. I love your stories. And I think that’s what I had too.
I had the grit and the bottom line is I don’t think of it as an industry where I need to understand every single thing about payments. Instead I need to understand everything about people and customer service, that’s the secret sauce to what we’re doing. And some people-
Kara Goldin: And also passionate for creating jobs which I think is something that you don’t need to be an expert in finance or payments in order to understand that people need to be working. And they would figure out how to get jobs, and so-
Samantha Ettus: Well, it’s funny you say that because all of our competitors, the agents, they call them agents, we call them account executives because we’re really into pristine branding. The agents are out there and they’re all crunching numbers out in the field. And writing chicken scratch and saying to people, I’ll save you this, and we realized why should our account executives ever have to crunch a number? That’s the most scalable part of the business. We have an internal team, they crunch the numbers and all our accounting executives do is sell. And I think that there’s so many scalable parts of this business, and this was one of those industries, probably the beverage industry where there’s so many things. People are like, well, that’s how it’s always been done. And you’re like, that’s just a terrible reason for doing it again tomorrow that way.
Kara Goldin: Yeah, totally. Like I said, I’ve just launched my book last week and I’m talking and thinking a lot about this stuff as we go. I mean, large companies are not good at innovating. They’re not great at sort of identifying problems as opportunities. They’re great at identifying yeah, there’s this problem. But their typical answer, because they’re all in bread. Right. And so their typical answers, that’s just the way things are. And so when you’re curious as you were to trying to really ask the right questions and figure this stuff out, when no one has any answers, then you’re like, ah, okay, I get it now. And there really isn’t an answer. And so that’s when you went and developed a company around it, which is amazing. I would think also that especially the more people I’ve talked to and some of them have lost their job or they’ve been off for a couple of years and they’re like, oh, this is not the time to go find a job. I feel there’s going to be so many new opportunities in 2021 around people creating jobs. I would think that would be a massive opportunity for you to actually go and get those people that are just… They’re needing some kind of payment system set up.
And how do you find those people and get them hooked on your program before they’ve got another system? I think that that’s super huge. So I love it.
Samantha Ettus: Yeah. I mean, one thing about our business that’s super unusual is that the attrition is really, really high. So the average business which is credit card processors every three years. So most of our new customers come from pre-existing businesses that are already very well established businesses that just need a better solution because they’ve accepted a pretty bad one for so long.
Kara Goldin: So interesting. Wow. That’s crazy. So what do you think is the hardest challenge that you have and kind of starting your own company? What do you think is still something that you lose sleep over in building this?
Samantha Ettus: Oh my gosh. What don’t I lose sleep over. I think it’s the same for every working parent. Right. I lose sleep over the fact am I forgetting something? I have three children. I have my podcast as you know, What’s Her Story With Sam & Amy, which is definitely takes some time. And then I have the company which owns a podcast by the way. So they’re synergistic, but I will say that you never have enough time. You never get everything done in a day that you want to get done. You never spend quite as much time with your kids, as you would want it to, whether it’s studying for the biology test or just hanging out with them or whatever it is. Or you never have enough time to really spend with your employees or whatever it is. I just feel every day there’s new things.
But also I have to say, I think it’s really fun, right. So I don’t want to make it sound, oh my gosh, I have worry about everything. Of course I worry. But at the same time, I think you and I are similar in this way. I wake up everyday kind of excited for the day, even though it’s going to be so busy and overwhelming. I feel I have a really fun life. I don’t know if that’s okay to say, I feel misery loves company, but I feel very grateful for the fact that I have a lot of positive happy things going on in my life. And so even when a day is hard, I feel that way. How do you feel about it?
Kara Goldin: I feel the hardest thing… Well, I’m just as crazy as you are at the moment, because in a different type of crazy, but launching this book in the midst of actually running a growing company, it’s sort of there and trying to do it from home. I think also when you’re leading a company I think that the biggest challenge I feel is that some people want you to have all the answers. Right. And so I think that they’re looking for direction, they didn’t sign up for being an entrepreneur like you, right. They’re trying to, when are we going back to the office? Can I go back to the office? I feel so often we have 200 people in our company. And again, they’re not wrong for asking. They’re just curious how… They’re sharing what their needs are. Right. And they’re looking for somebody to kind of help them feel better and direct them in a way. So I think like-
Samantha Ettus: You would say managing people, I mean, managing 200 people is no joke. That’s an enormous-
Kara Goldin: It’s an enormous thing. And it’s not that I don’t have great leaders in the company either, but I think when you’re headed into something and hopefully coming out of, or have been sitting in a pandemic for eight months any way that you want to look at it, I think people start to ask, right? They ask these questions that sometimes you’re not going to have answers to. Right. Although I have answers to lots of things. Right. Just because the longer you stay on this planet, you feel you’ve kind of experienced different things. If you want to talk to me about emergency C-sections versus planned C-sections, I’m your girl, right.
I can tell you how to do a lot of things around parenting. I can also share that going through the 2009 financial crisis was actually, it better prepared me for actually dealing with the pandemic very different, but there are things about it and aspects about it, including the fact that I wanted to raise money at the beginning of the pandemic, because I didn’t want to sit there and wait and figure out if it was going to get worse. There’s a lot of people that did that.
Samantha Ettus: Well, I think I did that actually. And I think it was a huge mistake. I mean, I would say if I could re-answer that question, I’d probably say that the biggest challenge is raising money from my bedroom. So we’re raising our seed round of capital from my bedroom. It’s always a challenge, a woman raising money, period.
Sallie Krawcheck, I interviewed her the other day and she shared with me something super valuable, which is she would never take a meeting with a VC if she asked them a question, do you need full consensus of everyone on your team? Because if you need full consensus, you weren’t never all going to want to fund the women’s business. It’s not going to happen. So she wouldn’t take those meetings. She would only take the meeting with decision makers who had the power to say you know what, I believe in this and we’re going to go forward.
I think for me I’m used to traveling a lot and doing what I have to and hustling my butt off. Right. So if I had to have 100 meetings to get to my 10 investors, I would, I’d be on a plan. I’d do what I have to do, doing that now from my bedroom, while my kids are down the hall, homeschooling, my husband’s running his business from downstairs. When people talk about working from home, they don’t envision working from home with everyone else practically in your lap. Right. Working from home when you’re the only one home. And now we’re working from home with everyone else here too. And raising money at a snail’s pace, which is basically what it feels like because I’m not in the road and I don’t have 15 meetings a day. It’s definitely been a rude awakening for me. And it’s happened, but it’s very slow compared to what it would have been if there weren’t a pandemic.
Kara Goldin: But, I will also say that you’ve raised a lot of money and already you’re what? 80% of the way there.
Samantha Ettus: I am. But it’s I’m someone who like results. [crosstalk 00:33:19]
Kara Goldin: Also So give yourself a little bit of a break because you’ve done an amazing job. I think that’s another thing that I always talk about is celebrate what you’ve achieved. Because if you’re like us you’re constantly looking at what you don’t have versus and what you haven’t been able to accomplish versus what you’ve done. And I think you should stop and give… I mean, you are so accomplished and you’ve done so much. And I know you’re going to finish this up. I mean, it’s just, yeah, no.
Samantha Ettus: Thank you for believing in me. And thank you for all of your guidance. I mean, you’ve been a mentor to me in this process and I’m so grateful.
Kara Goldin: But you also just have to keep going. Right. And it doesn’t matter if we’re in a pandemic or there’s millions of people saying that you’re not going to be able to finish and you’re not going to be able to raise or whatever it is. You’re going to be able to do that. I know you are, you just have to be in that mind frame and just go and keep talking to people as you’re doing and to connect you. And I know you’re going to be able to do it more than anything.
Sort of my next point is you’ve built a huge engaged social following. I mean, how important do you think that is in today’s day and age for any business?
Samantha Ettus: It’s really important. I’m challenged by social media in the sense that I spent a lot of time on it, especially on Twitter and more and more on Instagram, but I’m not scrolling people’s feeds checking out their barbecue from yesterday. I’m usually there trying to engage for some purpose of communicating with people in different ways, whether it’s learning something or whether it’s, I’m constantly reading articles, I’m constantly trying to find good content to include in my weekly newsletters. So I’m always there with a purpose, but you have to be really disciplined about it. I’m sure you find this too. There are times when I’m, oh gosh, I don’t have two hours today to spend on this. And I’ve just wasted a half hour and I could’ve been doing something much more useful.
And I think it’s this constant distraction that’s just always there kind of begging us to pay attention to it. And we do have to be really disciplined about it. So I think it’s very, very important. I think that social media, I focus on the positives of it. So every day you’ll see people in your feed, they’re I’m quitting Facebook. It’s been terrible. Or I have to go off of this for a while and I understand that feeling, but I think it’s more about their own self-discipline than anything else, because I feel that overwhelmingly what I have received from social media is super positive things. It’s deepened relationships with people I wouldn’t have even met before. I’ve met certain friends on Twitter and on social media.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. Me too.
Samantha Ettus: I see it mostly as positive and it makes people think of me for a speaking engagement or for a business development relationship, or I’ve used it totally to help all the things I do. And to expose me to different kinds of people that I might not have had a lot of exposure to.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. I think it’s a true… I was explaining this to somebody the other day who is not really on social media. I think that Instagram, or I should say, Instagram, Twitter, whatever, maybe not Instagram as much, because I think that Instagram is more about pictures and storytelling. I don’t know, but I feel Twitter there’s when people start to get in trouble on Twitter, it’s a true measurement of their IQ. Right. And again, there’s some days when I think people sort of go astray a little bit, but I think it’s something that you would… Sometimes people will say things and these platforms that they wouldn’t say in real life to somebody and that it’s so fascinating to me because I really do believe that it’s… I mean, I think the way that you speak to people on social is really, I believe that that’s what you would say, right? You’re not going to say something to people that you think is head to head, one-on-one and in a large audience or something.
Samantha Ettus: So it’s funny. So Gary Vaynerchuk was the person that first insisted I get on Twitter when we had our show years ago. And his thing was every negative comment you keep up, you respond to. At first I followed exactly what he told me to do. And then I realized as a woman, the rules are completely different.
Kara Goldin: Interesting.
Samantha Ettus: And you can not follow those rules. And usually you can block with abandoned, block anyone who says something offensive to you. You do not need to keep Paters on your page. You do not need to respond to hateful comments or nasty comments.
Kara Goldin: I totally agree. The other thing that I find and talking about Twitter in particular, I found that I’ve actually ended up becoming friends with a lot of men and sort of not in creepy way, that actually are looking to kind of bounce ideas off of me and figure out ways that they can support women. I mean, it’s actually been a fascinating over the last year that these are people that don’t live by me are not in the beverage industry, but are actually trying to be better. And so I found that I’ve almost been a mentor to not just women, but also men that are just curious about things. I think it’s fascinating because maybe sometimes they may not have a group of people around them where they feel they can actually ask certain questions.
I had one guy the other day asked me how do I actually, I don’t have any women on my board. And what do you think is an appropriate way to go about getting a woman on my board? I’ve asked a few women to be on my board and they hold it against me because I don’t have any women on my board.
Samantha Ettus: And you’re like the first thing to do is not just add one woman.
Kara Goldin: No, exactly. But again where do they ask those questions? Again, I feel it’s my responsibility, right. To really help make them do better. And especially when they want to do better. So again, I feel there’s this kind of opportunity that you probably have as well, where they’re watching you and you’re listening to your voice. I think at times there’s other platforms where you’ve got creepy people that are kind of hanging out and saying nasty things or saying things that are not appropriate at all. But I feel like there are some people, I believe that there are people who actually do want to do good and actually look at leaders like you and people that have kind of done things and they don’t want anything from you other than to say, what do you think about this.
So anyway, I really value that side of social. Anyway, I think it’s an important thing to do. Getting back to Samantha, so you’ve grown a business with kids, obviously, you’re going to have crazy days. I know you agree with me that days are not always balanced, especially in the last eight months, you can’t always have balance. You sign up for the crazy and maybe even like the crazy a little bit too, so would you say?
Samantha Ettus: Probably. I’ve always ascribed to the idea that you can’t have that philosophy that you’re only as happy as your happiest child, or you will always be unhappy if you have a lot of kids.
You have four kids, I have three. If you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, you will pretty much always have a bad day because when you have a lot of kids, there’s always someone who’s struggling or someone who’s having a tougher day than others. I think our role as parents actually have some separation and be able to be the supportive parent and you can’t be the supportive parent, if you’re completely enmeshed in that feeling that your child is having. I think that it’s definitely been a test for all of us just being home so much and being together so much. And I feel so badly for my kids just because what an unnatural childhood they’re having.
I know your kids are a little bit older, but my kids are 10, 13 and 14, and one of them started high school on Zoom and one started a new school on Zoom. It’s just a very unusual time. So I think that this period of time has posed certainly enormous challenges for all of us. But I also think that thank God I have something other than monitoring my kids homeschool, because I think that you can even just see, like I have three fairly independent children. And I think part of that is because they have two parents who are running companies and are not going to be there all the time.
And I think that’s helped them in many ways get through this period with a little more ease maybe than they would have. So I mean, I’m a big believer in saying yes, over saying no and inviting more opportunities into your life. I think that makes for a more fun, richer life. Does it mean that you’re going to drop balls often? Hell, yeah, but I would rather have a really fun, big life with balls dropped then have a perfect confined life.
Kara Goldin: I’ve shared this with you before that, as they get older, I think that they’ll have stories and they’ll remember things about you trying to take on big industries. As one teacher said to me a couple of years ago that one of my kids explained perfectly the money raising process and the difference in this class that they were talking about private equity versus venture versus preferred stock versus common stock. They are like how did they learn this? And I’m like, because they’re sponges, right? And so they sit in my house and they overhear conversations, they actually become smarter. I don’t know if they’re going to be entrepreneurs or not, but I don’t think that they will fear it as other people.
Samantha Ettus: No. By the way it’s inspirational. I think it’s so great for all of our kids, boys and girls to see a powerful mom who’s working and also being a loving parent. I think that’s such an important thing for them when they grow up, they’ll probably grow up to have more egalitarian relationships and choose partners that are also believing in them because they’ve seen us do that. And so I think that’s really, really important. I always share my work with my kids. You alluded to the radio show I used to host that was a call-in radio show and people would call with our problems every week. I would always spend Thursday night or Tuesday night, I think the show is on Tuesdays and I spend Tuesday night at the dinner table and I would tell everyone I would G rate problem and tell everyone the problem.
And it would give each child a chance to say how they would have solved that problem.
Kara Goldin: That’s awesome.
Samantha Ettus: They all participated and they would have age appropriate responses, but it was like completely fascinating. And just the other night I was trying to solve Halloween and because there’s no trick or trading and it’s true bummer. And so I said, why don’t we have like the ultimate candy trading game? And I felt like, what could be more fun than candy treating? Like, that sounds fun to me. I would like to be part of a candy trading game. And my 10 year old is like, “Do you realize if you have unlimited candy, then there is no value to the currency.” And I was like, “Oh good, God, I give up.”
Kara Goldin: That’s hysterical.
Samantha Ettus: I’m like, okay, I just thought it’d be fun to have like a snickers for a Milky Way.
Kara Goldin: That’s what you create. My son started doing DoorDash and he wanted some extra money and wanted to buy some shoes. I told him, you have to start making money and then you can have really fancy shoes like that. And so he signed up to do DoorDash and he started doing DoorDash. And what he figured out after a week was that there are certain nights that are definitely better than other nights. Okay. And then he figured out that there’s certain areas we live in Marin County, but not every area has a lot of larger home. And so what he realized is that the larger homes are where there’s more kids. And so they get paid minimum, like 10% on every ticket. Right. And so he said, when you have lots of bedrooms in the house, then you also have a higher ring.
So your likelihood of being able to actually get at least 2% or maybe more. And then the other thing is, is that if there are neighborhoods with younger kids that actually going out at five o’clock to get the kids fed before you ultimately have dinner is like this whole thing. I love that he’s actually like researched it and tried to figure out like patterns, and customers and stuff. I’m like, I’m totally intrigued by this. And by the way, I think there’s no reason why anyone can’t make a little bit of money. Just after hearing about this DoorDash, as long as you have a car, right. And it’s like, I’m like-
Samantha Ettus: With Park Place you don’t even need a car.
Kara Goldin: You don’t even need a car, there you go. Right. But anyway, I’m fascinated by, you’ll see as your kids get a little bit older, how they’re learning along the way. And anyway, I love this, love this. So how do people find Sam Ettus?
Samantha Ettus: They can visit If they want to join our team, they can find me and my podcast at or they can follow me on social @SamanthaEttus.
Kara Goldin: I love it. I love it. Well, thank you so much for coming. And I’m so excited for all of you guys to get to know Sam a little bit more. She is so smart and is just doing something really, really big and taking on this industry. I’m very excited to see how really you disrupt it and do great stuff, and all through it, helping really people, women to find better ways to ultimately get a better life. That’s what I think of when I think of your business. So thank you for doing all that you’re doing., That’s awesome.
Samantha Ettus: Yeah.
Kara Goldin: Thanks everybody, and if you loved this podcast please give supper high marks and come visit us. At The Kara Goldin Show we recently rebranded it because there were a few other unstoppables out there. So we decided let’s really push people into The Kara Goldin Show where we are doing interviews twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, with mostly entrepreneurs but also just people doing cool stuff, sometimes book launches as well. So definitely come visit us and say hello on social as well. So thanks everybody.