Steven Pemberton – Resilience, Commitment, and the Gifts of Hindsight | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Steven Pemberton | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

Steven and his wife built two 7-figure e-commerce businesses. Today they use the skills they learned in both of their businesses to run a Virtual Events company called Hollowco. Whether it’s a coach, consultant, or author, virtual events have helped business owners exponentially increase their reach, generate more impact and increase their sales.

In our simply lovely conversation, Steven shares a great many details of his personal story – the rises, the falls, and the rising again – and how each step on his journey has led him to the thriving coaching practice he has today.

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Kevin Stafford 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaches podcast. I’m your host, Kevin, your usual host, Kevin. And today I have had the pleasure of introducing you and talking with someone who I just described as having a sunny disposition, which, as I hear myself say it again, it’s like, geez, Kevin, you’ve just, you’re getting corny and cheesy or in your old age, but it’s like, I’m embracing it. When you like somebody like somebody when it’s when it’s immediate. When it’s clear, it’s immediate, it’s clear, embrace it, go with it. Steven Pemberton is just a delightful human being in the in seven minutes, I’ve known him, and I’m excited to share him with you today and get to know him a little bit better. To introduce you a little bit to Stephen. He and his wife built two seven figure ecommerce businesses. And today they use the skills they learned in both of their businesses to run a virtual events company called Holika. Whether it’s coach, consultant or author, virtual events have helped business owners exponentially increase their reach, generating more impact and increasing their sales. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that today with Steven talking about how we got to start everything in between, we’re going to try and keep it to 1520 minutes, like usual, will probably fail in the best way possible. But I promise it won’t be more than 25. As my eyes dart up and down from the Zoom clock to Steven, Steven, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing with me. And I’m just delighted me clearly.

Steven Pemberton 1:17
Kevin, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to see where this conversation goes.

Kevin Stafford 1:22
Let’s let’s go back to begin with back to the beginning. At the beginning beginning we don’t have to go back to the beginning of time or it’s like in the womb or whatever. Just go back to the beginning of your your your starred as a coach, how did you and I’d like to try to like leave this a little bit open ended whilst being still kind of specific. How did you get your head you discover your your superhero powers as a coach? Like how did you realize that coaching was something that maybe you were already doing and didn’t have the right word for? Maybe something that you wanted to do? Maybe you found it that was the best way to have the kind of impact you wanted to have or the influence you wanted to have or create the kind of change you wanted to see? How did you realize that coaching was for you and discover your coaching superpowers?

Steven Pemberton 2:01
That’s a great question. I think that for me, it feels almost more like a villain origin story though. Because the the way that it went in just really short recap was I got married very young, I got married at 20 years old, my wife was 19. We had our son six months later, and then we decided she didn’t want to go back to work. So I was trying to support the household making $13 an hour. And then I watched her grow her social media following from zero to 10,000 followers on Instagram, she started bringing home $500 a month. And that was the first time I’d ever seen anyone do that. And my family and I went well, you can make money while you’re at home, I don’t have to go break my body to make money. And so I said, Hey, you know what’s better than just you doing it? How about I do it too. And so I quit my job, I had no skills, we had no money, and rent was 750. The very next month, we had 500 bucks. So you can kind of do the math that it did not go very well. So we ended up losing everything having to move into a basement and in the basement is basically in that dark place. And that secret place is where my villain origin story kind of began it feels like because in that place, I just remember walking through depression and feeling as if I was a failure for for almost putting my family in this position. And I saw the the family that took us in they didn’t have the money to take us in. So I’m having to work odd jobs to pay rent and to have food. And it gets to the point where I feel so low that I don’t even go upstairs because we’re living in this basement, I don’t go upstairs and eat. What I ended up doing is my mom gifted me a box of this huge family pack box of the Nature Valley crunch bars, you know, the ones that are really, they just have tons of crumbs Anytime you open them. That was my lunch and dinner and I didn’t eat breakfast. And that’s what I would live on. I lived on that for over a month. And I just remember after that time, I ended up going into corporate and corporate, which was it’s I use that terminology very loosely because I was I worked in a warehouse and I was working 14 to 21 hours a day. And five to six days a week. It was insane, body breaking mind breaking activity. But that was where I realized that there was more for me than just what I thought the basically the mental limitations I put on myself, I realized that when you have to do something, you can actually push through your mental limitations. And there’s a greater version of you on the other side of that. So as I realized that in short order, I started flying up the food chain pretty quickly. I went from entry level employee to management within a year, within another year and a half moved up to mid management. And in that mid management role, because I had remembered my origin story of being in the basement, is I was taking people under my wing and I wanted to take care of my team differently. I didn’t like looking at them as KPIs I didn’t like looking at them as just driving the top line or how to decrease the bottom line. I wanted to treat people like people and During that time in places where I’ve really built a lot of those skills that I use today, even in the company we have now. And in 2019, I’ve watched my wife start a business with 2018, she started. And by 2019, she had grown it on Amazon from zero to a million dollars, top line sales with six employees. But the the margins were terrible. So the margins were about 10%. So we had a partner in that business as well. So you split that two ways, plus, he had to keep some money for cash reserves, there was not much I was making more working that corporate job. So because I was in logistics and supply chain, and over warehousing, it seemed like a match made in heaven to quit that job to come home to do the E commerce route. Two months later, basically another part of that story is Amazon shuts us down because of a supplier that we were using had paperwork, not the right paperwork. And I know, right, and so a couple of months after that, we were pretty much in this almost in the same position that we were when I was 20. And we’re about to be out of house out of the house again, and out of food again out of money again. And we were blessed enough to be able to pivot into Facebook, Instagram, and Shopify. And we were able to within very short order within a year, take that from zero to a million. And the most important part was we were able to help 170 underprivileged kids have Christmas, maybe they’re going and finding them in the school system of Tennessee or in the backwoods of Tennessee, buying all the presents wrapping all the presents delivering all the presents, we were Santa and his little elves. And that was when at that time and place was when we realized that there was more for us in that. So instead of just selling people home goods, which is what we sold it doing our E commerce journey, we had started a mastermind. And during that mastermind, we had started helping people with E commerce, but it wasn’t getting the results that we wanted. So we just shut it down. And we wanted to revamp it to make it better. And during that time in place, we had people coming to us who didn’t know how to do, how to do funnels, how to do marketing, how to do the things that we knew how to do and they wanted to run events. So that’s kind of how that business started. And that’s where I truly that plus we do ecommerce consulting, where it’s very similar to what you’re saying with coaching people. For me, it’s not just about how do we drive more sales? It’s how do I take care of this person as a person? With that being said, it’s a large part of that is financial, how can I help them achieve their dreams? What is their dream look like? Even with our mastermind, is what is their dream look like? Some people just wanted to be able to pay for a dinner, other people wanted to be able to change their entire lives, they wanted that to be their full time thing. So being able to cater things to those people and who they are as people is really what drives me to look at them not just as another sale and other number. But as people will realize real dreams, and how can I help them achieve their dreams?

Kevin Stafford 7:48
Man, your your story has an all essentially like, seriously, like there’s so much there’s so many different like core core values that I find to be so intrinsic to like good coaching, and just good like just human relationships in development and just growth that the first thing I want to like identify is I love the fact that you saw really, really, really early that you wanted your life to be different. And you saw how that could happen. And you went after it. And you failed spectacularly. Really did and like obviously now we have we have the grace and the illumination of hindsight to kind of show us the path that we were on obviously in the moment, it doesn’t feel all that good to have gone after something and find yourself at the bottom of well, but went for it missed. pick yourself back up slowly but surely with help with help from people who who were positioned to help even if it was painful, or they barely had the resources to help you they had help got back up and still had it in your head what the life you wanted to live looked like how you wanted your family’s needs met your and your you know, caring for yourself caring for your family, your loved ones, your responsibilities, kept going after it found different paths that maybe weren’t certainly didn’t feel quite like the right path, but embracing it, getting the most out of it. And then immediately like I love the way that you once you began to meet the needs and requirements of you and your family, you’re immediately your brains like I can also I don’t want my people to be KPIs I don’t want the people that I work with and for and work for me who I’m responsible for, to just feel like numbers or to feel like cogs in a machine, even though when you’re in any kind of corporate environment. That’s very much what corporate as I don’t want to assign any like personality to it. But like, that’s very much that machine always wants to make you into a machine part, just as a natural expression and pushing back against that. And being able to make progress that learning the skills have what it takes to actually have an impact on people and to lift people up and to bring them in and to like help them to fly and make their own leaps in the future. And I just loved like the evolution of it the way you tell your story and how like at each stage you were finding the way forward and you had varying degrees of success or failure, or both, and learned from both the success and the failure and just kept going and kept iterating and the moment you got it Success, your immediate reflex? Only if it sounds like a reflex to me was to like I have, how do I, how do I give back? How do I how do I help? How do I serve more differently and better and just keep growing and changing. And I just love at so many different like key notes on the dressing. The word keynote comes out of my mouth, like I could hear you giving a TED talk on this for like, you know, 45 minutes, just like telling your story and all the lessons learned along the way. But all these different key positions, it’s, you’re still the same person, I could see like that person who wants to provide for themselves, provide for their family, and grow and change and evolve and have success and create impact and share all of that with other people. And just keep, you know, wash, rinse, repeat, wash, rinse, repeat over and over again. And it’s like found something that can really help help you to have the kind of influence in like, affect the kind of change you want to see in the world. I’m just I know, I’m basically just blowing smoke up your butt because I love I love your story. And also the way you tell it like it’s really, you can see the journey and the will to move forward. Especially again, using hindsight to help illuminate some of the darker valleys of that journey can really help people I’m so appreciative of you sharing it, because it can really help people to realize like, you know, you might be, you know, in the basement, you might be at the bottom of the well, you might be in the you know, the, in the valley, so to speak. Yes, like it’s and you don’t have to feel you don’t have to feel the sun on your face to know that it will shine again. And it really helps to hear stories like that, I think for people who are on their own their own journeys.

Steven Pemberton 11:28
Thank you for everything you said. First and foremost, I want to appreciate everything that you said. And I want to reiterate a couple of things. One, for those of you listening is you may be walking through a season and don’t know why you’re in that season, you don’t know how that season is gonna play out. But you typically don’t know the reason for that season until you get out of it. The same thing that you were just saying you typically for me, I can look back and realize and understand each iteration and why it happens. But when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t get it until afterwards. So it’s hindsight, right. And the other thing I want to say is I love how you were talking about what you feel I am as far as how the person that I am. The reason why I do what I do. The reason why I’m on this podcast with you, and for those of you listening is because I truly want to give back, I truly want to give back my time, my experiences my story, I do my best to keep nothing off the table, especially the bad just because I can get on here and just talk about my success, but it’s not going to serve you. But if I get on here and talk about the journey and the things that were I failed face first. And I was able to pick myself back up and move forward and pivot and change. And even when it’s hard had to push through if I can show people what perseverance looks like, because for a period of time, I was not very perseverant. If I can help somebody in that space, that’s why I’m here. Because so often in life, especially in business, we have some kind of goal. What’s your three year plan? What’s your one year run? What does it look like? And so many people want to hit a number for me is what do you do once you get there? For me, I always wanted to make a million dollars. And when I made a million dollars, guess what I did? I turned around because the money wasn’t for me anyways, is how can I use it to support the next people that are coming up the mountain behind me? If you look at Mount Everest, Mount Everest has these rungs that are left in the mountain already there. Why are they there, because somebody climbed it first, somebody got to that mountain top first and they left the rungs there so that the next person up can have a little bit easier journey. So for me sharing my story, if I’m able to walk through that valley and show you what it looks like and illuminate some steps for you, that’s why I’m here.

Kevin Stafford 13:29
I love that that’s that, that feeling of being on a on a journey climbing the mountain, and you reach out for the next handhold or you’re you’re putting your foot down for the next foothold. And it feels you can feel the presence of someone else having been there, it’s a little bit worn from other people having been there worn in a way that actually helps you gain traction worn in a way that helps to keep you on the mountain and on the path. And it’s just not only that, not only does it help to stabilize you and continue you on your journey, but it also kind of guide you because you can see where others went before. And you can realize like, well, you know, maybe this and now I’m just like you’re building an analogy on the fly here, but I’m thinking about so good. Maybe this handhold was like for somebody with longer reach. This one was for somebody with a shorter reach, they’re on the same path they got there more or less the same way but slightly differently. And I can see how this person like they have short arms like me and so I need to be able to reach there and then put this one foot here and then you know move forward that way. You know while other people might have different reaches different lengths of arms legs, I’m just like I’m thinking about how you kind of spoke to this as well to the the specifics the uniqueness of everyone’s journey. Even though they’re on a very it’s it’s very much the same path climbing the same mountain looking for success and impact and growth and change and just you know, delighting in living their life and how that looks the same for everybody and how that looks completely different for everybody at the same time, and how stories like yours, the sharing of them and the elaboration on so you don’t just share the story. You’re not just, you know, plopping it out there. It’s actually you go into depth and you really Like, Oh, like that, like you said, everything’s on the table. And so people can really like interrogate it and like for themselves and reflected back and like talk to you about it, obviously, as a coach, and really understand what their journey is going to look like and how your journey can not just inspire them, but also teach them about their own. Which that’s just, when I start to think about it and talk about it, I get I almost get like a little bit of a tangle because it’s it’s so powerful. It’s borderline magical, the way that that feels where people can just learn more about themselves from learning about you. It’s almost weird to say it out loud. You’re like, that can’t be the way things work, can it? I feel a little selfish is like new. That’s exactly exactly how you get back. That’s exactly how you help people. And I just, I’m, I’m glad you’re a part of it. I’m glad you’re here doing it. I love I love the way you approach it.

Steven Pemberton 15:46
Thank you, I appreciate it so much again, because I, I’ve had those same experiences, there’s people that I’ve listened to their story. And I went, wow, they thought that I had a bad. And then I listened to their story. And I realized maybe it’s not so bad. And there was a story of a girl who got left at a bus station and her mom had put acid in her eyes because she was using her to get handouts. And this was an India and her mom just left her at a bus stop. And I went okay, my life was not that bad. And then she gets adopted. And she was sitting there thinking that she was sitting there thanking God that she had been left at that bus station sitting there and was excited that her life had went that way. And for me is that gave me a very unique perspective to say if she can say that, after having acid poured into her eyes, and being left at a bus stop and enjoying her life and being able to move forward and press through different situations maybe I can to maybe my situation of being in a basement isn’t as bad as I made it out to be at the time. And I love being able to just share authentically because of somebody one person. I’m not trying to impact everyone. I want to be able to impact the one who was sitting there and they think that there’s no one ever walked through it that they’re alone in their situation. If I can speak to that person, and they say maybe I’m not alone, and it saves them one more day, they can push forward one more day. That’s what excites me to do what I do.

Kevin Stafford 17:04
I love that. It’s that the way you said that it was going to save saving the day, like just save, save the day. And then you could save the next one. And then the next one, it’s like yeah, you’re at that really sets and obviously it kind of connects back to the whole superhero villain origin story thing. Connecting things back all comic book style, but just like, just like taking it in those chunks, not trying to affect everybody, you’re not trying to bring somebody from zero to hero or whatever that looks like for them in like in one coaching session or in one day, it’s like, save the one day and then save the next day and then save the next day. And before you know it, you will be a hero. I just thought that just inspire you inspired me on the fly. And so I just wanted to put that out there, it might need some some polishing to actually be to be of genuine value. But okay, a little bit before we go because I feel like I could just talk to you about your story all day. And I told you, I would have this problem looking at the Zoom clock being like, alright, Kevin, the clock is ticking. I could just talk with this guy for hours, but we’re not gonna do the five hour marathon pod. We do want to give you a few minutes to talk about i to park this question as well, because I like to kind of get into the nuts and bolts of people’s coaching practices, how they go about their business, essentially, who do you coach and how do you coach them primarily like the WHO being the new focus on a particular type of individual or like, you know, age group demographic, you know, corporate versus entrepreneur, like you have a particular kind of person or people that you tend to work with more often? Or in or in greater depth or breadth? And also how do you primarily I say primarily, how do you coach them because obviously, there’s one to one coaching, there’s group group coaching and masterminds. There’s like larger team coaching, there’s corporate coaching, there’s keynote speeches, there’s book writing, there’s all of the above so basically, I’m giving you like a few minutes to talk about all of that and then some so who do you coach and how do you coach them that you want to speak to here in the moment?

Steven Pemberton 18:51
Yeah, so I coach pretty much I would say to a certain degree it’s two different people two different exact people which is one is they are somebody who is newer in business but they want to know where they’re gonna go, because again is it is about that next step. And what that looks like is Yes, I have a virtual events company called hollow co Yes, we have done ecommerce doesn’t have to be either of those that I coached them on. No. Why? Because I want to be able to give back into that person who needs their next steps. I have one client who is in Israel. So it is a international thing and with her is hers is much more niched into environments how to how to inspire people how to help their environment, speak to them when they work. So for me is I went to one coach her to be able and she’s older, one to one, coach her to be able to get her business off the ground, and that’s typically through one off sessions. Now I have another individual that there’s going to be another one coming on and then this individual in particular, where he is one on one coaching but he wants to know ecommerce. The one thing that I don’t advertise that I always do is I am available and what means is, and I feel like I can share this with this one client is he he texted me one day and out of the blue. And he said, Hey, I’m going through some pretty dark stuff right now, can you just be here for me? And I said, Absolutely, I’m here, what do you need. And he said, and he said, You’re, I feel like you’re the one person in my life that I can just come to. And so for me is more than just practical. Here’s your next steps, here’s how we’re going to do it, here’s the tech behind it, here’s what it looks like, is I want to speak into that person, because helping them be a better person and be able to get outside of their own head is typically where the success are looking for lives. The reason why you’re in the position you’re in is there’s usually some kind of block that’s in the way to keep you from going to that next level. So if I can identify that help them work through that and identify the answer for themselves, instead of me giving it to them, then I can give them the tech and the practical, and they’ll be able to run with it. So that’s kind of the nutshell of what that looks like.

Kevin Stafford 20:55
I love that, it’s that, again, I’m getting like these little jumping off points where it’s like, let’s talk about this for a half an hour, because it’s like that ability to like to create and to hold space for someone and I know that’s it, that’s terminology gets thrown around quite a bit. But it’s just so important. Because sometimes what people need is to be filled up, they’re like, they have a gap that they need to fill to bridge, they need built something that is lacking that needs to be filled with, you know, system process, encouragement, you know, guidance direction, and sometimes they just need a place to be that’s not in their own head, with with no with nothing else without form and void, so to speak, just kind of be there. And then once that space is held and allowed for, then things begin to like move and shift and change in ways that you might might not even be able to predict let alone ask for. That’s another thing too, about being able to hold that space for people is it allows the next right question to emerge, rather than trying to craft it or create it or get your hands on it and shape it or just apply your 17 Point strategy and a pace to everybody and let them figure it out for themselves. That’s, that’s really the dynamism and the real like, Next Level impact that good coaching can and should have. And so once again, I’m finding myself praising your approach. And just repeating what you were saying. But again, it is spot on, in my in my professional opinion.

Steven Pemberton 22:15
Thank you. Again, I appreciate all of the con regards, because it comes from my heart. I didn’t know I was doing it, right. That’s just where my heart lies. I’d thank you for that. Because I have no idea. It’s not as if I want to I went through a coaching certification program where I went and I was one to one mentor by Tony Robbins, let’s say I was not any of those things. I just truly care about people. And the best way to care about people is, as you said, hold space here, what are they giving me because typically, they’re gonna give you surface level, and then you dig a little deeper find out where their real pain is. And once you find that real pain, you can identify it and work through it with them. But it’s not, it’s not copy and paste. No matter what anyone is trying to sell, no matter what anyone is trying to say there’s not a copy and paste system that’s gonna make you millions. There’s not a copy and paste system that’s going to give you a successful marriage, but to be able to give you friendships, because each person is unique. We’re all unique. Kevin, you’re a amazing human being. But you’re not me. And I’m not you. And that’s what makes us unique and special. And that way we can speak to the people that are called to us. And that is where the magic really happens when you can look at people as unique individuals, and how do I work with this individual? Instead of thinking, here’s my blanket statement for these blanket amount of people, and that’s how they’re all going to move forward. That’s not true. You can look the same be the same age do the same work and not be the same person?

Kevin Stafford 23:36
Yeah, I’d rather come to my relationships with with questions than with answers. Because then with questions, you never know what might emerge, you know, to strangers meet and connect, and what comes out of that connection for each individual and also in the space between them for maybe others it’s like you never know what next great thing can emerge. And I like I love I love the continuing opportunity of that gets me excited before I let you go and I do have to let you go. Because like I said the clock is ticking. But um I want to make sure that people who are listening know and again, it’s another two parter where they can find out more about you who you are what you do just kind of learn more about hollow co about just you know Steven Pemberton and also where they can best connect with you if there’s a preferred social media or if you just like, you know, email me any time. Here’s my personal phone number text me at two in the morning. I’m you know, I’m kidding. But like how can people best find out more about you and also best connect with you?

Steven Pemberton 24:32
So Steven has pretty much all that information. It has more about me it has podcasts on there it has what were like what Harlow CO is what it looks like the entire business is right there to find out more about me if you want to as well. Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook are some of the best places. Those are also the best places to reach out to me. Especially LinkedIn, LinkedIn, I’m on there all the time. That’s where a lot of my clientele come from. That’s where a lot of my networking is done. So LinkedIn is big. Instagram is another big one. But those are the best places to find me.

Kevin Stafford 25:04
Nice. Yeah, I find that I find that LinkedIn especially but also Instagram in a different way they address really the full spectrum of relationship building. Like I can I build different kinds of relationships on those platforms, even with the same people. But yeah, LinkedIn is really upped his game in the last few years. And so I love I love directing people there because it’s theirs. I’ll say this as politely as as succinctly as possible. There’s less noise there, there’s still delays, and there’s still stuff that happens that happens on social media platforms, but there’s less noise there than there is in other places, which means I can get more signal there. I can get I can I can really connect with people and tap into people there. So I love it. I kind of I you know, I kind of love you don’t mean to drop the L word like that this student into our relationship, but I’ve loved talking with you. It’s been it really has been fantastic. And yeah, kind of like, I know I mentioned this because we both been on a podcast with with Coach Harlan Harlan hammock. And I remember mentioning the kind of made my day slash made my week when I talked to him. And you know, I think I can comfortably say the same for you. I feel like going outside and going for a walk and just kind of like taking a deep breath and doing some doing some reflection. So thanks for sharing some time with me and sharing your story.

Steven Pemberton 26:08
Absolutely the same to you. Thank you so much for your sunny disposition. Thank you for giving me the space to be open to be vulnerable. And thank you, this is one that I’m gonna hold near and dear to my heart. And it’s it’s actually a lot of things that you said, without knowing it are things that I needed today are things that I needed to move myself forward to move my business forward. So thank you.

Kevin Stafford 26:28
Oh, you’re welcome. And my pleasure, like I’m your your acknowledgment of a gift received is also a gift given. I’m feeling so cute well on that I can’t ended on any better note than that. So thank you, Steven, thank you to the audience for listening. I hope you got just at least a fraction of the sunshine that we’re getting from this conversation because if you did, your day is already brighter, and we will be grateful and anticipating talking to you again here in this space very very soon.

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