008 – Interview with Confidence Coach of Girls (and Moms): Erin Tarr
- Choosing your thoughts to create your life and change the world.
- Growing confident girls (and how moms can learn, too.
- Learning your superpower, even later in life.
- How exactly to live your best life. (It’s super simple.)
- Why she’s not afraid of the future.
Important Links for Erin:
Complete Transcript Below
Calling all Wonder Women! Yes, that’s you. Hello! On this podcast, get ready to explore how female entrepreneurs use their superpowers to grow their careers, take control of their lives, and make the world a better place for their families and communities each and every day.
I’m Michelle Huls Rice, your host here and founder of The Women’s DreamVision Network, where I coach women on how to build their businesses, step up as leaders, and enact change for a greater good. I’m an entrepreneur, marketing professional, speaker, and promoter of cool women and cool ideas. Plus, and most importantly, I’m a mom to four littles with my supportive husband.
So tune in each week as my guests and I answer YOUR questions with practical, real-life, sweat-and-tears advice to help you proudly confirm your place with your fellow Wonder Women.
Grab your capes Wonder Women! We’re flying high!
Michelle: Hello Wonder Women! Thanks for tuning in. I’m excited to introduce my guest Erin Tarr. She coaches girls starting at age 8 to help them discover and then own and enjoy their own awesomeness. As an educator and motivator, she helps her clients identify and overcome the mindsets that hold them back from achieving everything they are capable of in life so that they don’t miss the opportunities that will help them become their most vibrant selves. She’s dedicated to giving young girls and women everywhere the tools they need to develop confidence, communication, and conflict resolution skills that will ensure they lead a life of limitless possibility and full disclosure. She’s coached my daughters and I could not love what she does more. She’s a life-changer for girls and parents and I can’t wait for you to get to know her better. So let’s dive in.
I’m so happy to have you on calling Wonder Woman. Thank you for joining us.
Erin: Absolutely. Thank you for asking me. I’m so excited to talk today.
M: So you’ve definitely been a Wonder Woman for my family and for so many other girls and other families and that’s why I asked you to be on here. I’m pretty sure that you have considered your superpowers because it’s something that I know I’ve seen come through with your coaching with the girls. So what do you consider to be your superpower? I’m going to even invite you to list multiple because I’m I know that you have multiple.
E: I mean, I do think that we have multiple that have to come out and come into play at different times in our lives. Right? So I think the biggest thing that that I discovered as an adult was this main tenant that I teach the girls: I have this ability to choose my thoughts and really understanding that and being able to apply it to my life made all the difference. That’s the superpower. That’s the juice and I’m like – I get to choose. I have choices. I always have choices and really understanding that as an adult and then teaching it to the girls has been huge.
M: I love that superpower especially because it is shareable and teachable because I’ve seen it in the girls and I’ve seen it work in me. When I am talking to them or working through a problem and I’m just speaking from my own family life here, but it is a statement and a thought process that has worked wonders for us and I share it with everybody – choose your thoughts. You are responsible for how you react in situations. Am I right?
E: Absolutely and I think that what you said about it being teachable, that’s so true because you don’t have to have a certain personality type. You don’t have to be an extrovert or an introvert. You don’t have to like one thing or another in order to do this. This is something that anybody can change. This is a superpower anyone can choose to embrace.
M: Why coaching girls. How did you get into this business?
E: Oh my goodness. That story could be really long or short but I’ll give you the short one for now and maybe we’ll get into more of it in the rest of the interview. But basically my background is in education and so teaching and coaching and mentoring has always been in my realm of what I knew I would do as I was growing up. I didn’t exactly know what that would look like, but I went to school, I got into education degree, and worked in a private school for a couple of years. I had two daughters of my own and, hand to God, I grew up with two sisters. And for that reason was like – I want boys.
It really just became clear to me that as I grew up I needed more strong female mentors and coaches in my life that were showing me that there are so many ways to be a strong woman. There’s not just one way. There’s not just one profile of what that looks like and I wanted to raise my girls not just looking at me and not just looking at, you know, just a handful of women that they had around them. But really being exposed to all sorts of models for strength and for creativity and vitality in their life, and so I started to pull together a bunch of resources and you know, it just became much bigger than my girls. It became what I’m supposed to do. This is my version of education. And so I’m kind of living out what I’m teaching at the same time, if that makes sense.
M: So that leads me actually to my next question because as a parent of girls I know you’re constantly working your program with them, but it’s a little bit different right? You’re a mom in that instance. Do you ever have lapses out of practicing what you teach?
E: All the time! And that’s what’s so amazing about it is because I’m teaching it to my girls. They call me on it 24/7. It’s amazing because what’s great about it is all the different principles that I’m teaching about choosing their thoughts and a million other theories that I have about how we as women show up in this world. How we show it for each other. How we respect authority but also encourage our friends at all these different types of things. If ever they see me, for example, in traffic like getting angry with someone, they say, “How would you like them to be treating you? And are you choosing your thoughts right now?”
They’re not being like ‘ha ha’ got you. It’s more like we want to challenge you the way you challenge us to live your best life. So it’s really actually so very cool. And one of the main things that I’m always teaching them is humility. Humility is just that opportunity to say, “Whoops. I screwed up. I did it wrong. Here’s what I did wrong. Here’s what I’d like to do differently next time and can you forgive me?”
So I just have to model that on a regular basis like dude, Mommy lost her cool. That wasn’t appropriate. You know, here’s here’s how we need to work to make that different next time.
It’s really cool that I do get to be held accountable to my beliefs for both myself and my girls.
M: I want to go back a little bit because I want to see if you have any stories that you can elaborate on a little bit more with your daughters learning these tips and tricks and helping you become better at what you do. Maybe it’s better at your coaching or better as an entrepreneur because I know when I’m teaching my girls or reminding them about choosing your thoughts, or in our family we have a reset button.
I might have learned this from you. I don’t remember where I got it. But you know, when anybody’s feeling a little hot or having a spiral out of control moment for a long time. We push our reset button. It’s a button on the top of our heads that we press and hold for at least 20 seconds and there are times that it needs to be held longer. I’m bringing this up because it’s something that I encourage the kids to do when I remember but when it’s my turn to be a little out of control, my kids will remind me or they will actually come over and gently touch the top of my head and say it was time to hit your Reset, press your reset button. I’m wondering if you have instances as well where, I know you mentioned the car, but do you see it in your daughters as they are helping propel you as an educator, as a leader in your group coaching programs, or as an entrepreneur? Are they helping you do that?
E: Absolutely. So I remember one specific instance several years ago. I did one of my first Facebook live events for moms, and I was really nervous because Facebook live was brand-new, you know several years ago. Like nobody was doing it yet and I get all this prep work and I told her I was going to do it and then I put the kids to bed and then I went ahead and did it. My oldest actually woke up after that and was like Mom, how did it go? And I said, oh, I don’t really know. I was really nervous. She said, “Mom, what was your goal?”
I think ding ding ding ding ding. I’m always talking to them about what is your objective in this situation? Because you can’t measure everything. If you’re shooting for a goal you have to kind of be able to say what that was. What was your goal? My goal was to get it done and I got it done.
She was like, “That’s a success then, right?” And I said yes. She was seven or eight at the time and it’s just things like that where I know they’re aware. I love it when that happens because they’re listening. They’re not only applying it to their own life, but then my oldest daughter makes me check all the time because that’s something I say as an as an entrepreneur, you know – I have a lot of things going on. So I need to make a list to remember all the things I’m doing. So every day, you know when she gets up she makes her list and it’s just it’s really cute to see her do that to remind myself if I get out of the habit, you know, anytime I get out of my habit, they’re right there to remind me.
M: Absolutely. So talk a little bit about being an entrepreneur because you started your business a couple of years ago, but you’re still working in a different setting to so how do you manage that dual professional life? And what are some of your best tips?
E: My number one best tip that I tell everyone – because I have people say all the time, “How do you do it all?” I don’t do it all.
E: I have learned to say no to certain things. I heard someone once say, achievement of the goal is only as good as the goal is good. So I do not have a goal of having laundry folded and put away in my house. That’s not a goal. And it’s not something that we ever achieve. Everyone goes out in clean clothes, but the reality is most of the time we’re pulling them from a clean clothes pile that’s right next to the dryer because that’s something that I’ve let go that I’ve allowed myself to say, you know what, that’s not a goal of mine and that’s not a priority in our family so I don’t do it all. There’s lots and lots of social engagements that I would love to attend because I’m an extrovert and I love doing things. I also have my priorities, you know, and it’s making sure we pay the mortgage. And then spending time with my family and then working on my business. And so once those you know, those three things are accomplished in any given day or week, there’s not a whole lot of time left over for other things sometimes and that’s okay. For everything there’s a season is how I look at it and so there will be a season where my kids are older and they’re doing all their social things and they don’t need me to be out with them socially so I can be out on my own.
So that’s my number one tip – I don’t do everything and I refuse to try to do everything.
Number two is I get eight to nine hours of sleep every night. I read too many articles and too many books about the importance of sleep to your overall health and how your body processes your nutrition. I just know myself when I get less than six hours of sleep – I may as well have been on a bender the night before. I just remember in college, you know, the few times that I had too much to drink in college – I remember just feeling miserable the next day and that’s exactly how I feel if I don’t get enough sleep. I’m no good to anyone – I’m crabby for my kids. I’m not productive at my day job. Not productive when it comes to Benchmark, so it’s just not worth it.
M: Arianna Huffington would be proud.
E: Yes. The Sleep Revolution. I haven’t read her book but I recommend it to people who don’t believe me. I’m like – somebody did a lot of research on it. You should read it.
M: You do work with teens. Do you see anything we can stand to remember as older women already established in our careers and building our business?
E: Absolutely. We have a program that was a weekend-long program. I partnered with program that is local to Champaign-Urbana called That’s What She Said and it’s a stage program for women who get up and tell their stories. So we did one called That’s What Teens Say. These teens all got up and shared stories from their lives in front of a crowd of over a hundred people. What they do every day is what we wish we could do and if you go back – you did it too, we all did it. We got up and we got dressed and we went to school and we tried to put our best foot forward while still being ourselves and still trying to please 17 different audiences. Whether it’s their friends and their teachers and their parents and their sports teams or whatever.
They have so much pressure on them and yet they rise to that challenge every day. What’s awesome is when you’re able to get them together and let them just be themselves, they can start to get to know themselves and then share themselves in a better way with the rest of the world.
And so I think what happens is we very rarely give them that opportunity to truly be themselves. We’re asking them to perform for 17 different audiences just like we as adult women sometimes feel we feel like we have to be one person for our mother-in-law and one person for our husband and one person for our kids and one for our boss. We feel like we have that same thing.
What we can learn from them and what I see happening when they’re given the opportunity and when we’re given the opportunity to just be ourselves in a safe space. So for this particular group, it was the Teen Girls – most of them had never met prior to this weekend – giving them this safe space to just speak their truth and be themselves and then accept one another for that and be able to look at each other and say, oh I experienced that too. It allowed them to be much more powerful to stand and be who they are and know that they’re not alone, but they can also be unique, you know and make wise choices based on their own uniqueness instead of trying to be someone they’re not.
I think what we can learn as women from that is we need to find our safe space in that same way. If we as women can provide those safe spaces for girls in different places both inside the home as well as outside the home but then we as women, you know, especially if it’s women entrepreneurs that are listening to this podcast, you know, you have to find your people that get you and empower you to be yourself and that’s not always easy to do in the local setting because if you have dreams or aspirations that are bigger or different you’re not always going to find people that say, “me too.” Like, I’m experiencing that same pull of wanting to create something big while still wanting to be at home with my kids while still wanting to make an impact outside of the business realm in some sort of nonprofit or social sector and well I feel this pull in all these ways. You might be surrounded by others in your space who don’t feel any of those pulls.
So finding your faith as an entrepreneur and as a woman to have people that will say me too with you and will say your dreams aren’t crazy and go for it and we’re here to support you and yes be yourself. Live your dreams and live that life.
I think providing that for teens is important for me and my business but as women entrepreneurs, we can really learn how to create those spaces for our fellow women entrepreneurs as well.
M: Yeah, I would suggest that reason the experience people have with each other is a reason that social media groups are so popular, that people leave conferences feeling so energized and ready to take on the world because when you were describing That’s What Teens Say, I was imagining so much positive energy.
Guided by you and the other leaders and mentors – that is powerful and impactful and energizing. You and I have been to events like that. Even online you can garner that positivity and it buoys you. You feel lighter and your brain is operating at a higher level and you’re much more creative.
E: That’s really the idea. It gives you a spring to keep moving forward with these people.
M: Well, it’s something that happens with coaching too and it’s something that I see with my girls. We work on things but having you focus on topics with other girls, it really provides a different way of learning and a different way of internalizing the lessons that you teach right?
E: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.
M: So what are some challenges as an entrepreneur that you have experienced? What’s been your greatest obstacle or maybe your current obstacle and how do you actively work to overcome it?
E: Yeah. I feel like all of our biggest obstacles are in our own heads for the most part. There is always the obstacle of time, you know. But the truth of the matter is it’s all how we use and focus our time and I really sometimes struggle when I have to really prioritize. What is most important for me to do right now, you know? That’s kind of my struggle is making sure that I have my priority list consistently updated so that when I do have an hour here or two hours there I can really sit down and be focused and productive instead of scrolling through Facebook or my email and thinking oh, I’ll do a little bit here and I’ll be a little bit there and then at the end of the hour feeling like I didn’t really get enough done.
Productivity and efficiency are my love languages so when I don’t feel productive, I don’t feel efficient. So I have to stay on top of those to really make sure that I used those bits of time well. When we take a vacation day or we take a day to work on our business, we have this, you know, seven or eight-hour chunk – let’s do all the things today and then we end up usually getting done half of them, you know.
You know, that’s the challenge I think of continuing to work another job while starting your business. Seth Godin call them bootstrapping. He makes this distinction as far as an entrepreneur – we’re not going out and looking for, you know, Venture Capital funding or anything like that. We’re literally like, you know taking the bull by the horns and doing it every day and making progress each and every day. That’s really why I how I try to measure it. It’s like, did I move the ball a little bit down the field today? Okay, then I’m headed in the right direction.
M: Yeah, I concur 100% So what’s been your smartest business move as an entrepreneur?
E: I think truthfully it is kind of what we talked about earlier – connecting with other people who are entrepreneurs because they continue to push me to think at a higher level about what I’m doing and offer different perspectives about what I’m doing. Curiosity is definitely one of the main tenants of my being. I need to be curious. And as an entrepreneur, we get so curious that we go down these rabbit holes of reading everything about something or exploring the whole idea and leave everything else behind for a while.
Or we have so many ideas that we can’t figure out which ones to move forward. There are so many things we could do. There are so many possibilities. So getting together with like-minded people whether online or at conferences, like you said, I think those are the best decisions that I’ve made because I come back feeling so much more focused fighting those demons in my mind that are telling me that I’m not being productive enough. I can be focused on what I’m going to move forward on right now and I’m going to let those other things simmer for a while and what I’m going to let go that isn’t working.
Be the Benchmark has been around now for over six years and it is taken on several different iterations from year to year. I’ve done a variety of formats in trying to figure out what works for me, what works for girls, what works for families, what works for moms. Who am I actually serving? Am I serving the mom? The kids? Teenagers or young children? You know, where did it all come together? And the answer is eventually all of it.
But the answer right now is you can’t do everything and so making those decisions by having a group of entrepreneurs around you and asking you hard questions and pushing you to make hard decisions and hold your feet to the fire. Once you’ve made a decision, what’s your next step? Otherwise, there would be ideas in my head from six years ago, right?
M: So thinking in terms of superheroes here, I like to pull back the curtain a little bit and share maybe the not so glamorous part of being an entrepreneur. Is there a time that you have felt your cape was missing a bit and you just maybe didn’t have it all together? And then how did you get it back on to feel totally super again? I think it’s valuable for people to know what goes on in the less positive side of things so that they don’t feel so alone. You know what I mean?
E: Yeah. Absolutely. I think the most crystallized time for me was when I found out I was pregnant with my third child because I’d already started Benchmark and I had ideas and I taken a 9 to 5 job so that I could focus my free time. Prior to my nine-to-five job. I had a very full-time-plus career in education. And in order to focus on Benchmark, I knew that I needed to take something that would less intense.
So my nine-to-five job was part of that answer and I had two girls and they were both about to be in elementary school. I was going to have a little bit more free time on my hands – they’re able to do things – and then I found out I was pregnant with our third child and it really threw me for a loop because I had all these ideas of where Benchmark was going to go and now I’m like, I don’t know what a third child looks like. I don’t know what that looks like for me. I don’t know what that looks like for our family. I didn’t plan anything for the for the next year after she was born she was born in January and so for the entire year after I didn’t have any Benchmark programming at all, right? Because I had rocky nursing relationships with my first two kids. I didn’t know what that was going to look like. She ended up having a lot of ear aches and not sleeping very well.
So I had a lot of sleepless nights with her that I hadn’t had with the other two and there was a whole year there where I literally carried around in my pocket a folded up piece of paper that had my next step visions for be the Benchmark on it that weren’t happening that I had made while I was pregnant and my husband would say like well, why why don’t you get that started? Why don’t you go ahead and move forward with that plan? I didn’t know if I could with a third child. I wasn’t sure that it’s possible and but a year later I did.
You know what you’re meant to do, you don’t have a choice, right? I sometimes say that I knew it would come back. I just didn’t know what it would look like and and how it would fit and I took an entire year to re-evaluate our family, re-evaluate my values, re-evaluate our finances and my time and my emotional capacity to give to other things besides just my girls and it’s turned out beautifully. It’s been wonderful. I gave myself an entire year off in the middle of all of this to give myself room to grow and to breathe and it was hard because there were times during that year that I felt like, what am I even doing? Why am I pretending that I have a business? You know, there was there was times I would tell myself that I don’t really have a business. I’m pretending. I tell people this but it’s not true, you know. That’s what I needed at the time. At the time it felt really awful, really awful, but in retrospect it was exactly what we needed to set our family, you know on on good footing. You have to give yourself permission to start and stop. It reminds me that this is my choice right? I’m choosing to persist in this and there’s such freedom and joy and continuing to make that choice and not feeling like it’s something that I have to force if that makes sense.
M: Yeah, you’ve taken it full circle. You can choose your thoughts. Did you ever think of a Wonder Woman and what did that look like? Did you know anyone or did you have her made up in your mind?
E: So I have one specific person that always comes to mind when I think about my role model or somebody that I just really always want to be proud of me and she was my high school Sunday school teacher for two years during my freshman/sophomore year of high school and I just felt like from the outside looking in she just had it all together. She was so kind to us. We were a group of probably 14 or 15 teen girls. We all went to two/ three high schools, but we came together on Sundays and she taught us for an hour every Sunday and was just a really kind/compassionate part of our lives. She had this really cool house and a cool job. She did something with marketing and fashion or something.
It seemed like she really had this awesome life and she didn’t have kids yet. So she just really loved on us and encouraged us and really related to us in a beautiful way. And so whenever I think of what I’m doing with Benchmark, I always kind of think about her and what she did for us during that time. She gave us that safe space to be ourselves and she gave great advice and she would talk about things. She was learning from us. It was a reciprocal relationship and it was it was really awesome and really beautiful and that’s the type of thing I want to replicate for girls to know that they have a person that they’re not related to. I think that’s a key for me. I obviously want my kids to be able to come to me and tell me all the things and what have you but the reality is – a parental relationship is there’s always some other agenda is happening, you know what I mean? And the idea that I had someone to go to who didn’t care what grades I was getting because it didn’t reflect on them. And didn’t care what color I dyed my hair or any of those things, you know? There was no other issues between us except that she just wanted me to be my best person and she wanted to help me do that. It just it really helped and that’s that’s what I hope to do for for girls and I hope to find similar mentors for my girls because I can’t be that for them because I am their parent and there is still you know, relationship things there that will will make it tricky from time to time.
M: That’s lovely. What are you most excited about as you look toward the future in regards to women and our place in the world?
E: Oh my goodness. I get so excited to meet with these girls. They are learning tools now, they’re putting tools in their toolbox. Most women I know don’t have these tools or have only acquired them as middle-aged women because they’re on a journey of self-improvement or what have you. And so when I get to work with these girls I think about how they’re going to take those tools into college and into the workforce and how they also spread this joy and this knowledge with their friends. I’m starting a ripple – they have friends that they’re talking about the things that they’re learning and that they’re doing. They’re already changing their generation and just seeing how that progresses as they start in the workforce, having all these tools already. Not having to sort out all this dramatic sticky stuff that I personally have had to figure out as I entered the workforce. They’re already going to have tools to deal with those things and they’re going to have mentors that they can call that can help them through all of those issues so they can make a bigger impact.
My entire stick is, “choose your thoughts to create your life and change the world.” So they’re learning all this foundation of stuff about choosing their thoughts and about creating an amazing life for themselves so that they can go out and change the world and that’s the whole point. They get to change the directory for the next generation – whatever that looks like. Whether it’s with women’s issues or the environment or in the political arena or whatever it is. That’s their choice. That’s what I’m excited about seeing when I get to look back and see how the little ripple that started with one or two girls in Champaign-Urbana. One of my girls is living in Japan right now for a year in college and just thinking about the things that she’s doing in the ways that she’s approaching her study abroad in her education because of some of the foundational pieces that I’ve been able to give her – just gives me chills.
M: Erin, that was fantastic! You give us all greater hope for the future and I just love talking to you. So how can people connect?
E: The best way to connect with me is on Facebook: Be The Benchmark. But I also I never turn down the friend request. I love having friends. So I put a lot of stuff on my personal page and Facebook algorithms make it more interesting and easier for people to see you if you’re friends with them. So that’s the best way to connect with me right now.
We also have a group for moms that you’re part of, Michelle. Be The Benchmark Moms. So that’s a group that moms can join where I try to also give some good life advice – not usually from me. Usually I found it somewhere else and I pass it along because if it’s helpful to me, it’s going to be helpful to someone.
M: Yeah, that’s a great group and I would say even if you have boys you get a lot of value out of it. Definitely connect with Erin. So thank you so much! I want to again say answer the call Wonder Women! Embrace your powers, step up, and change the world. Thank you so much.
E: Awesome. Thank you so much, Michelle.