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Five Lessons in Entrepreneurship and Creating Multiple Income Streams From the ‘Guru for Gurus’

Make like Jay-Z and embrace the multi-hyphenate.

On a live edition of the Stories from the Influencer Economy podcast, host Ryan Williams talks to Dorie Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You: Tell Your Story, Grow Your Expertise, and Thrive.

Clark, a marketing entrepreneur and associate professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, sat down with Williams on a visit to Los Angeles to discuss her multifaceted approach to entrepreneurship. Clark shared thoughts on how to develop a clear, authentic brand, launch multiple income streams without losing your mind, and inspire a customer base that grows along with you.

1. Don’t pigeonhole yourself (unless you want to).

As the author of three books, a public speaker and a teacher, one might wonder how Clark answers the eternal question: “So, what do you do?”

“If I don’t really want to talk to them, I just say I’m a marketing consultant, and then they walk away,” Clark laughs. “That’s the good move.” She might tell her Uber driver that she writes career books, she says. But when Williams asks her how she defines what she does, the answer is more expansive.

“It’s so hard these days for talented professionals to get noticed,” she says. “There’s so much noise. Many talented voices go unheard. They might be good at what they do, but they don’t know how break through. It’s a very different skill set. I’m trying to empower people –– to learn what the game is, so they’re better equipped to get their best ideas heard.”

2. Toot your own horn –– strategically.

Clark recounts meeting a CEO who hosts a prestigious conference. She thought she was a shoo-in to speak at his next event after he connected her with the staffer who ran it.

Weeks later when they met, the staffer “had no idea who I was –– she was doing it because her boss told her to,” Clark says. At the end of their meeting, Clark was told, “we’re looking for high-profile people, so if you know of anyone, feel free to suggest them.”

“I’m like, ‘oh, snap!’” Clark laughs. “Anyway, I never spoke at that conference.”

To prevent this from happening to you, Clark recommends an easy, elegant tactic: prior to meeting somebody for the first time, send a brief, friendly email titled, “In Advance of Our Meeting.” Then add, “to make it as efficient and effective as possible.”

“Magic words, right?’ she says. “Give a bit of background information about your work –– your bio and whatever is salient to your meeting topic. It ensures that even if you are too lazy or disorganized to do research about me, you will have at least read this email. When I walk in the door, you will know I have reasonable credentials and treat me with respect.”

3. Embrace the multi-hyphenate.

Like Jay-Z, you’re a hyphenate,” Williams jokes. “Mogul, rapper, married to Bey, you do it all.’

“I’m a business, man,” Clark deadpans.

In college, Clark says, “I was frustrated because the job I wanted was not really a job that existed. My peers were doing really clear things: you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. A doctor, you go to med school.”

As an aspiring entrepreneur with ambitions of a career she envisioned as “half George Stephanopoulos, half Tony Robbins,” Clark knew she had to forge her own path. “I just wasn’t sure how to get to where I wanted to do,” she says. Years later, she’s paving the way for budding business gurus with an approach that emphasizes multiple, diverse income streams.

4. Start small.

“A few years ago I consciously chose to create multiple income streams in my business,” says Clark. “This was a shift in business strategy –– I wanted it to be more diversified. Now I’m pursuing up to eight income streams.” These include books, online courses, coaching, speaking, and live events like workshops.

When asked how she manages it all, Clark notes that it took her seven years to get to this point. “Pick one, or maybe two, new revenue streams to focus on per year,” she advises. “Even while you have a day job that you want to keep. Create the entrepreneurial side income stream. It’s a little extra money, which is always nice. But if you need it, it’s there. It makes you a little bit less dependent, which is I think always a good thing.”

5. Score points by passing the ball.

Clark’s leadership style emphasizes teamwork, fairness and empathy. “I want them to make connections with each other, not just through me,” she says of the community that has sprung up around her, spanning everyone from social media followers to readers, students and longtime clients. “Every organization takes on the characteristics of its leaders, and to the extent that I am able to lead a community of people … I want to make it really clear that I don’t tolerate people who are mean to each other,” she says. Instead, she celebrates collaboration and cross-promotion: “I want the rising tide to lift all boats.”

Why does Clark so freely share her playbook? “I do not like the idea that it’s just the loudest voices that win,” she says. “I’d like the best idea to win. But that only happens if people have equal access to knowledge.”

This article is based on an episode of Stories from the Influencer Economy, a one-on-one interview podcast that explores the world of influence, social media, and people talking about the next big thing.


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