Imagine chasing a lofty dream you’ve had your entire life, only to realize that once you reach that goal, it wouldn’t feel good internally. Because that’s exactly what happened to YouTube sensation Sunny Lenarduzzi.
She set her sights on broadcasting at the Olympics, got there, and drove home from the games knowing it wasn’t right. And that’s actually only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sunny’s story, which she shares in today’s incredible conversation.
Sunny went on to build several companies and eventually landed where she is today. A YouTube sensation who helps entrepreneurs elevate their own success, Sunny has built a community of over 175,000 subscribers and a team of almost 10 (in just 3 years!). But that success comes with a price – one that Sunny shares with such rawness in this episode. And man, it was refreshing to hear.
Personally, I resonated with this conversation and everything Sunny said like whoa. A couple of years ago, I found myself hitting business goals left and right, only to find that something was missing…and I was exhausted.
You’re gonna love Sunny’s uniquely candid way of sharing how she found her true calling, the #struggles that come from hustle, and above all, she’s in-freaking-credible.
Super honored to have had this free-flowing talk with her and to share it with you today. Plus, her 3-step system for finding “your thing” is preeeeetty awesome. 🙂
I can’t wait for you to hear this one!
Check out the episode below:
In this episode, you’ll hear about things like…
- Sunny’s accidental journey into YouTube (that started with a window and a webcam!)
- How to operate your business out of a dreamy place of worthiness.
- The physical warning signs that lead to Sunny’s eventual burnout (and how she recovered).
- How to confidently step into a visionary role in your business.
- How Sunny wrapped herself up in achievement and perfectionism, with a peek into where that need for approval stemmed from.
Some Questions I ask Sunny…
- Where does the need to constantly chase more and be the best come from?
- How do you stay true to your purpose?
- How did you come to find your legacy, and what tips do you have for people who aren’t sure what theirs might be?
Links from the interview:
What do you think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. Have you suffered from burnout in your business, or a need for perfectionism?
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Thank you for listening!
TranscriptRead the Interview Transcription Here
Hey, everyday world changers. If you have ever felt burnt out from work or life and you’re unsure of how to get your creativity and Joy back, then this episode is for you. Now today I’m chatting with YouTube sensation, Sunny Lenarduzzi, who built a massively successful seven figure business and an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, which sounds pretty sweet, right? Well, it is, but what a lot of people don’t tell you about success, and what we’re digging deep into today, is that achieving some kind of success in any area of life can lead to more pressure, more anxiety, and a whole lot of fear. What happens when you combine all those things together? Well it can lead to burnout and a total lack of creativity, and in Sunny’s case, an anxiety attack that put her in the hospital. So if you’re struggling to get your mojo back, if something you once loved doing now feels like a chore, if you’re putting too much pressure on yourself and feeling worn out because of it, then this episode is for you. Now Sunny is extremely open about her struggles and her triumphs, and you will love the fun, free flowing conversation that we have about success, burnout and what it really takes to create a purpose driven, joyful life. I especially love the activities Sunny shares with us at the very end of the episode which I know will help you feel even more fulfilled and proud of yourself for the work that you do you every single day. Let’s dive in.
Melyssa Griffin: Hey, Sunny. Welcome to the show.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be on your podcast.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, me too. A lot of laughs are going to happen, I just have a feeling.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Oh yeah, I feel that way too.
Melyssa Griffin: Okay. So we were talking just a second ago before we started, about kind of your life growing up and how that influenced your trajectory. So I’m actually—I’m always just curious where people started, how they grew up and how that influenced the path that you’re on now.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Totally. So my whole upbringing was centered around I wanted to be a TV host. I wanted to be the 6 o’clock news anchor. That was my ultimate goal. If I did that, I was like that’s me set, I’ve made it, no need to do anything else. And so all growing up, I was doing things like I acted and I danced competitively. I was always a high performer. I was always a top performer and I’ve always been very competitive. And so I think that was just innate to me, that if I wasn’t the best, in my head I was the worst. That’s something that’s really translated over into growing a business and realizing that that’s really not true and that was a story I kind of told myself my whole life. It actually is so detrimental to me, but it helped me grow a lot as a young person and then also grow my business where it is now.
So basically what happened, was I went to school for broadcasting. This came off the heels of getting academic scholarships, university here, going the day before I was supposed to start at the main university here, which is The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and realizing I don’t want to wait four years to get my degree. I just want to go right into it. So I ended up going to broadcasting school instead which was a two year program, and got my first job before I even finish school—classic, high performer. I worked in radio. I was the evening host, the weekend host, and then I also did all the promotion. It was super fun. It translated into me then working in television which is the ultimate goal, obviously. I think at the time, I was about 20 or 21, and I got my first big gig which was the Olympics, which was my goal when I was in school. I was like I want to work at the Olympics. That’s the goal. If I do that, I’ve made it.
So I get this gig at the Olympics and I’m reporting in Whistler, I’m living in Whistler when the games were here in Vancouver. I’m like this is the coolest thing ever. This is amazing. I get to do what I always thought was my dream job, but something really interesting happened during those two weeks when I was working 12, 14 hour days. I’m a really driven human, so working those hours was not a problem for me, but it didn’t feel good. In my stomach, in my heart, I was just like something’s not quite right. It stemmed, I think for me, from a place of like logically, this was the dream, but in my heart, it isn’t because the only reason I wanted to get into media and to be a television host and to host six o’clock news was because, in my head, my version of it was I get to tell the stories I want to tell, I get to impact people, I get to help people, and I get to educate and entertain people. I get to talk to and interview people that I’m really interested in speaking to. That wasn’t really how it panned out, especially when you’re first starting, which I totally get. You got to pay your dues. I realized real quick that this was not making me happy.
So out of nowhere, on my drive home—and if you’ve ever been to Vancouver, it’s stunning. There’s the Sea to Sky Highway, which literally, it’s mountain on one side and beautiful ocean view on the other side. Driving home, it’s the end of the Olympics and I have this idea to start a business. I have no experience. I have no idea what I’m doing, no real plan. I just decided to do it. I got home and the next day I was like hey, I’m going to start this business, and it was an online magazine. And I again, had no idea about the online space. I was looking at media at the time and going, “I wonder how much longer this is going to last as is? Because we’re moving into an age where people want to not be talked at, they want to be talked to.” At the time, Facebook was pretty new. I think I had just joined. Twitter was the only other thing out there. So I started dabbling in them, but this online magazine I started was the reason for me to really dive into it. I built the magazine over a year. I had a team of 10 people writing for the magazine. The concept of it is pretty hilarious because it was called “If He Only Knew”. It was a magazine for men written by women. And so it was kind of like a cosmos for guys. And so we would have guys writing in to us asking us questions about sex, love, relationships. I had a sex therapist, relationship therapist, a foody, a stylist, all the things that a guy could possibly need. It was a lot fun, very interesting and eye opening.
I had a conversation with one of my mentors at the time and he basically said, “Is this a legacy that you want to leave?” I’m so young at the time and I’m like, “What’s a legacy? What? What are you talking about?” It hit me and I couldn’t shake that question for weeks. I realized no, this isn’t the legacy I want to leave. The legacy I want to leave is still tied into that communication piece. I still want to be able to impact people in a really positive way, in a deep and meaningful way. I want to elevate other people to be able to bring their message out to the world. So from doing that and creating this brand with the online magazine—I literally was walking door to door doing sales in Vancouver, like selling advertising space. I remember when I got my first sale. I remember I got my first sponsorship for $500 and I was like I’m rich, take it to the bank. I was just so proud of myself. I was like I created a thing and now people are paying me for the thing. And so I learned work ethic, I learned the online space, I fell in love with social media. I fell in love with the fact that you could talk to people all over the world, build relationships with people all over the world from this platform. So I started translating that because companies started to take notice in Vancouver, and I started to get some international recognition, and people were starting to hire me to consult with them. So I had a consultancy for five years and didn’t talk about it. But then, obviously, as a consultant, you had a limit. I got to a place where I was pretty burnt out. I had so many clients that I couldn’t manage them all properly. They were all asking me the same things over and over again.
I’m sitting in the behind the scenes seat for five years and super happy about it. And then all of a sudden, I’m thinking okay well, how do I answer these kind of questions without having to get on the phone or go to a meeting and how do I save time. So I filmed a YouTube tutorial and filmed this first tutorial on how to use Periscope because that was a question, and sent it to my 10 clients at the time. Didn’t think anything of it because my YouTube channel wasn’t active. I had nothing on it. I woke up the next day at a couple thousand views and I’m thinking how did this happen. This is your nerve-racking, and all these comments and a bunch of traffic to the website. So I’m going, “Okay, well if I started doing this every week, what would happen?” That was the first year when I really dove into this online world for myself because I was doing it for so many different companies and brands and corporations around the world for five years, loved it. I was like I wonder what would happen if I started applying this to myself. And so I started building my own little brand.
In the first year, we went from scratch to 50,000 subscribers, 3 million views. I always say this, but it’s like imagine if in the next 12 months, 3 million people knew who you were and what you were good at. It built my business basically. I always say YouTube changed my life because it did. So that first year, I also got invited to speak at a bunch of different stages. I got invited to speak at NATO’s headquarters within a month of starting to do YouTube because the head of social media for NATO was searching for how to use Twitter and my video came up. He reached out to me on LinkedIn. He was like, “Hey. I see you know how to use Twitter really well and I like the way that you taught it. So can you come and speak to our delegates?” It was people from the UN, it was people from the FBI, it was people from NASA. So you can imagine, I was like, “Is this a joke? Am I being punked?” I did it and I went to Brussels. It was amazing and then it just snowballed from there. And so that first year was incredible, and then it just continued to build. Now the channel has over 170,000 subscribers. We’ve built a full business and it’s not just me anymore, it’s almost 10 people. It’s happened over the span of three years which is really, really crazy because it seems like in the online marketing world, really slow in the online working world, but it’s been really fast for me. It’s been a lot of growth. I think it ties into that early childhood story, like trying to be the best and working so fast and moving forward so fast. That’s what’s happened in the business. This has been the first year where I’ve kind of had to check in with myself and be like okay well, I’ve done the thing, now what? What am I really here for? What’s my real purpose and how do I start building that into what I’m doing in the business?
Melyssa Griffin: Wow, so much to unpack in what you just said. How many questions…
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Oh, yes. Let’s do it.
Melyssa Griffin: So first of all, like a nitty gritty, how old were you when you had that spark of “I want to start this business”?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Oh my gosh. So I was—I’m just trying to think. I’m trying to do the math. It was in 2010, so 8 years ago, so I would have been 21 or 22 at the time—21. I would have been 21.
Melyssa Griffin: So we’re the same age. That’s cool.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: No. I lied to you. You’re younger than me. I think I’m 30 right now, I’m not, I’m 31. I just turned 31 like literally a couple weeks ago, so I’m just wrapping my head around that. I was 22 or 23, probably 22.
Melyssa Griffin: Got it. Okay. And then you had the idea for the magazine that you created. Where did that come from? Why that topic? Why a magazine? I thought you were going to say “I had the idea for YouTube channel”.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: No. The funny thing is I started the YouTube channel with that business to start leveraging social media. And so I would do these funny little videos that were so random about, like what to get your girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. I would go and interview people on the street. I think this is a really important takeaway and point, and when I look back on my journey, I’m like oh my God, the clues were everywhere of what I was going to end up doing. So I would find cameramen and I would create these concepts for segments. I would make these videos and I would edit them myself. I loved doing it. My whole life, the only gift that I loved to give to people, was videos. I would do video montages for my parents’ anniversary, for birthdays, whatever. I make this magazine, this online magazine, and the story behind why I started is actually quite funny. I was in a relationship at the time. It was quite a long term relationship. We had started dating when I was really young. I was like he just doesn’t get it. And so I was like I’m going to make a magazine because there’s probably a million other guys like this out there. He’s the sweetest human. We are no longer together, but he’s like honestly the sweetest human being ever. We were both just really young. I was like I wish someone would just tell him this is where to take me out on a date or like this is how to court me or still flirt at this point in a relationship, whatever. That was one. And then the other thing was my brother. He’s four years older than me and he was very single at the time. He was like dating…
Melyssa Griffin: Very single.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Very single and dating. He’s now married with a baby, but he was like dating and I just was like, “What are you doing? You’re a lunatic and you need help with actually how to attract the right girl,” which he now has an incredible wife. I was like this naive little 22 year old, being like I’m going to teach men everywhere how to date and find the right relationship. And so I called in experts, and that’s what I created. It was so much fun, but I also realized, oh this isn’t really business, is it? Yes, I made some money in like ads and sponsorships and whatever else, and I would do the door knocking thing, but it wasn’t a business in the sense that we had no recurring revenue, we had no real idea our plan of how to monetize it. It was me doing absolutely everything. I was managing all the writers, managing the content or coming up with content ideas, doing all the technical backend stuff, building out the website. I was doing everything on my own. It was also a huge learning experience for me in how to do all those things when I eventually did want to start something on my own. It also, I think more than anything—because I’m not claiming to be an expert in any of those topics, but for me, what it taught me is that I truly can figure out how to do anything.
Melyssa Griffin: Such a good lesson and such a high performer thing to be like, “Oh, the me in my life need dating advice. I’ll create a magazine about it.”
Sunny Lenarduzzi: It is. Now they’ll know what to do.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, exactly. That’s so funny. I love what you were saying about when you looked back, you’re like everything I was doing that I loved, was creating videos, whether it’s for my parents’ anniversary or for creating videos for this magazine, that was what I loved. I noticed that for my own life too, where I would look back and it’s like when my brother was in elementary school—I’m just a few years older than him—I would color code his books and create a lesson plan and teach him how to read, and try to teach my fish how to read. Basically everything I did was around teaching and that’s what I love doing now in my business, is teaching. Do you feel like—can we only see those dots connected in retrospect or is there—If you’re not—for people who are listening basically and they’re like I want to know what my thing is, can they see it by looking back or do they have to figure it out first?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: I think there’s like a two part to this or two fold answer to this, because if I do look back, it was very obvious to me what my zone of genius was. I was always weirdly creative. I would come up with these crazy ideas and concepts as a kid. I also was always kind of entrepreneurial even as like a really little kid. I remember when I was six years old, my mom worked in the cosmetics industry, and I decided to start an oatmeal facial line.
Melyssa Griffin: That would probably be pretty popular now.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Totally. No one was going to buy it, but I was like hey, I made it and so now someone needs to buy it. I think for me, it’s twofold. So yes, I think—I actually do think that you can see the clues in real time, but you have to have a great sense of self-awareness in order to see them. I think you have to surround yourself with the right people, who are going to say, “That’s your thing. How do you not see that’s your thing?” So I think that’s a big thing for me, is that you need to be self-aware enough to know okay this is when I feel most in-flow, this is when I feel happiest, and this is what I’m getting the most gratitude for. I know you’re a Danielle LaPorte fan, like I am as well. One of her best quotes, in my opinion, is “Your zone of genius lies in where you get the most gratitude.” It’s so true. Where are people on a daily basis saying to you, “Oh my gosh, you’re so good at that. Thank you so much for explaining it that way. You just made that so clear for me.”? We take it for granted because it’s something that you do so naturally, but it’s something that actually can make a huge impact. So that’s the first part, is I think you have an immense amount of self-awareness and also surround yourself with the right people. That’s how you can see it in real time. I also think that—the funny part for me is, you have to take action to figure it out too. You have to actually do it to be like oh that’s working, that’s my thing. So even for me, when I started leveraging YouTube, I wasn’t just talking about YouTube, I was talking about all different types of social media because that’s what I was doing for years for clients. Not all kinds of social media really were like what lit my fire and weren’t the things that were working extremely well for me like YouTube was, but it took me seeing feedback and seeing comments and getting responses from people, being like I need you to teach me how to build my business with YouTube, to be like oh that’s the thing. So I think it’s being self-aware, figuring out where people give you the most gratitude, and then taking action and getting the proof.
Melyssa Griffin: Oh, I love that. That’s such a great three step process too. Something that I almost would add or would add on to the self-awareness piece, would be like having the awareness and then being open to receiving that that’s your thing, which I think kind of encapsulates the second part that you said too.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: 100%. I think also knowing that it might seem like something that’s so trivial but it isn’t. That comes down to you really believing in that capability that you had, that is unique from everyone else. The more you hone and practice it, the better you get it and the more you rise above.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I think that’s what it is, is that you look back and you’re like oh I like making videos, but that’s not my career. I totally agree with that.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Totally. You disqualify it basically because you think it’s come so easily and who is really going to pay me for this because it’s so much fun, because we’re trained and we’re told the story since we were kids, that your job isn’t fun and that it’s something that you have to do, not something that you want to do.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, exactly. So one other thing that you said in your story that I thought was interesting, was that you had grown this big YouTube platform, you had this very successful studio that you were recording in, and you were like this isn’t feeling good to me. Can you tell us more about that part of your journey?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yeah. This was really recent. I’ve been very open about it because I think it’s an important lesson for anyone in this space, but really in any space, is that you’re never going to feel happy or truly successful if you don’t feel aligned with what you’re doing. The irony for me was that we’ve had the most successful year in the business this year and it’s been so much growth, I’ve never had any anxiety in my life before and I’ve had the most anxiety I’ve ever felt in this year. It’s been the first time where I really had to dive into where is this coming from. For me, what I have really tapped into, is that you can have as much success in the world, but if you don’t feel worthy of it, you’re never going to feel good. I always was striving and running and chasing and trying to get to where I wanted to get to, that I got there and I was like oh okay, now what? It’s like I didn’t feel like I owned it. I didn’t feel like it was mine truly. I didn’t feel like I truly deserved it. I can’t possibly be successful if I stop running, if I stop sprinting at a full speed.
And so the moment I stopped sprinting, was really last August and I’ve talked—I did a video about this on my channel, which was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done because everything is so polished for the most part. I did a video where I just sat and I talked to camera. I talked about the fact that I had a major burn out in August. It was a terrifying experience. The funny part is or the ironic part is, it was when I was on vacation. I took two weeks off last summer. I allowed myself for the first time in a long time to slow down. I was just in Vancouver. I did a staycation. I was with all my friends and family. I was very like chill, mellow. It was a normal Wednesday night. Anyone who would have asked me that day, like how are you doing, how are you feeling, how’s the vacation going? I would have been like great, I’m loving it, I feel so good. And then I tried to go to bed and I couldn’t go to sleep. Immediately, my whole world started spinning. It was like I went down this really crazy, dark path of like how have I gotten here and how am I going to sustain us this? I now have a team. I have people I’m responsible for. I have a real business. We’re making an X amount of revenue per month. This is more than I ever thought was possible. You don’t deserve this. This isn’t going to be something that you’re going to be able to maintain for the rest of your life, whatever else. You just start the self-doubt. It’s like never before. So it sent me into this tailspin and I started getting shaky and sweaty, and all the signs of a panic attack. Ended up in the hospital. It was just a really eye opening experience for me because it taught me that I had been chasing success and chasing this destination out of a place of trying to prove my worth to myself and to everybody else. Then when I got it, I still didn’t feel fulfilled, which is such a common story. I realized okay I’ve got the things, but I’m still not happy. So what am I supposed to do now? How am I supposed to make this feel good for me?
So it’s been a journey since then and I think it will continue to be a journey. Really what it taught me was like okay, what are the things that are going to make me feel good and where can I operate out of a place of worthiness? Here’s the thing. You can learn a lesson once, but it’s going to continue to show up until you really learn it. So I learned it and I definitely put more structure in place in the business and more peace and quiet in the business. Then fast forward to January, we had a pretty big growth spurt on the YouTube channel and my audience was growing. I was feeling this pressure to be more perfect. The only way people are going to still show up to watch this stuff is if we make it more perfect. So we had a multi-million dollar set here in Vancouver that we were able to shoot at. We used that set and we made it look amazing. We had three sets of camera people and looked like a TV show. The funny thing was it felt weird for me, felt off, and our audience didn’t resonate with it because it was so perfect. The reason people started tuning into my content was because I am me. It was me and my webcam and nothing fancy. And all of a sudden, I’m like fancy pants because I’m trying to prove I’m worthy of your time, instead of just knowing that I have earned this. I do know what I’m talking about. The right people are going to come into the space. It was just another lesson in that self-worth area for me of like you don’t need to prove anything to anybody. You are who you are and just because the audience is growing, doesn’t mean you have to change.
And so we took a step back pretty quickly. I’ll say kudos to me on the fact that I move really fast, which is a good thing and a bad thing like I said, but in this case, it was a really good thing because I was like screw this. Doesn’t feel good for anyone, we’re taking a step back. So we did. For two months, we had no set. We were filming in my apartment. We were filming in random places, just kind of put content out there. That was a challenge for me too because it didn’t look perfect. I was like I don’t want to put this out there, I just want to stop, but I challenged myself to be like continue to do it, it’s okay, continue to take the action, this is going to pan out into what you want it to look like. You have to do the thing. Like I was saying, you have to do the thing, you have to take the action in order to actually know what you really want. Now it’s become clear, but it’s taken a few months to get there. So now we’re in a really good spot and I have my set settled and I have the flow to my videos, which is completely new and unique for us and feels really, really good because it feels authentic to who I am. Yeah, it’s been a journey.
This year has been such a roller coaster ride of so many highs and so many questionable moments. I wouldn’t even call them lows, just questionable moments and so much self-awareness and self-discovery through the process of growth and success, because I think for a really long time, like seven years, I was grinding. I was hustling. I was pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing to get the things that I wanted or thought that I wanted. Then I got them and you don’t really need to hassle anymore. You still need to take action, but the beauty of getting to this place in the business, is really allowing other people to take control of what they’re the best at. For me, to take that visionary role, but it was so uncomfortable for me to move into that because I was like if I don’t run, if I don’t hustle, I can’t be successful because that’s the narrative that I’ve had my entire life. Melyssa Griffin: Wow. I resonate so much with everything that you just said. It seems like there’s so much undoing that has to occur for you to get to that place of fulfillment. Hearing you talk about hitting all of these huge benchmarks, these huge goals that you had and then not feeling fulfilled, that was completely me. That’s the reason I started this podcast. A couple of years ago, I was feeling the same way. I had my own breakdown and was like I had all these goals that I thought were going to be making me happy and now I feel worse than ever. I don’t know how to get out of it. So I’m curious for you, where do you feel like that chasing comes from, like that high performer, that achiever, that always wanting to be the best? Where does that come from for you?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: I know it comes from me—I know and I’m very aware of it now that it comes from a deep sense of not feeling like I’m worth the attention or time or whatever, unless I’m proving myself. That’s really what’s driven me my whole life. Now the very root cause of that, I’m not entirely sure. That’s something I’m still trying to explore and discover. I’ve definitely had some monumental moments in my life that really shook my sense of confidence in myself and sense of self-worth, but I think it’s accumulation of stories that I was told in my own head, stories that I’m telling myself, that I’m constantly trying to dissect and figure out and move past. I would say that in my experience and in talking to so many interesting people who have really massive success, it’s a weird thing, but like a lot of high performers I find, have a massive sense of a lack of self-worth. That’s oftentimes what will drive you to push so hard so fast and get the accolades and the external recognition. If someone had said this to me a year ago, I would’ve been like no, there’s no way. I just really love teaching. I love sharing the message. I love putting stuff out there, because I do. It lights me up. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. It makes me so happy. There was also an underlying piece of like if I’m teaching this, people better like me. If they say something negative, oh my gosh, it’s going to rock my world.
Melyssa Griffin: Right. I love that when you started your YouTube channel it was like webcam videos and that’s what people loved. And then you got to this point of “success”, I guess, whatever that means to you. And then you started upgrading to this huge set, these expensive TV cameras, and then realized that it didn’t actually resonate with people. I think that’s really powerful too, in and of itself. People want the nitty gritty of the real Sunny. For you too, how did you recover from that sense of burnout and of feeling—like you had a physical reaction to it too.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yeah. It’s interesting. I’m much more aware of it now. I just had Amy Porterfield on my podcast. We were talking about this because she’s experienced burnout as well. She was like, “What are your signs?” I really thought about it for a second. For me, I get this like achy headache. I can feel my whole body being kind of tired. I also just don’t have motivation. I don’t have motivation to get the things done that I need to get done. So I’m much better at seeing it and stopping it now. Knock on wood, it won’t have to happen again because it really did shake me. Yeah, I think for me, when it happened, it was such a wakeup call to ensure that I have a business that actually works for me and that I’m not grinding my bones to make sure that it works. We started putting a better structure in place. I have a really great mentor now. I have a whole team of supportive people around me. I also have a girl gang of female entrepreneurs, who is there for me every single day and vice versa. I think that support at this level is vital. I think if you don’t have it, it’s really hard to sustain your success and to continue to keep growing, because it’s a weird thing. I always say it’s like no man’s land. You get to a place and you’re just like okay I’m never been here before, what am I supposed to be doing, how is this supposed to feel? Is it weird that I’m doubting myself? Is it weird that I don’t feel confident even though I’ve done all of these things? What I’ve come to realize is that it’s actually really, really normal and that’s okay. You just have to continue talking about it. So getting support, mentorship, I definitely started seeing a therapist and that was really, really helpful and beneficial. I can’t recommend that enough. Yeah, just continuing to talk through it and being really aware of how I’m feeling, and having the right people on my team to say, “No, you’re not going to do that today because I can sense that you’re starting to get a little tired. So we’re going to pull back and ensure that that’s not what your schedule looks like.”
Melyssa Griffin: I can see that being huge because I definitely struggle with like I don’t want my team to know when I’m feeling burnt out. I want them to see me as like wow, how does she do all this stuff? In reality, deep down, I want them to be like, “Hey, you seem kind of tired and maybe you shouldn’t do all these things.” I think it comes from that need of like I need to prove to everyone that I’ve got it together and I’m worthy of being able to do these things. I’m curious for you, something has shown up for me since I had this kind of revelation a couple years ago. I wouldn’t say that I’m completely past it, I think I’m still working through it. I think for me, what shows up a lot is like okay I had this revelation of I need to scale back, I need to figure out a way to do it that’s fulfilling, but then—and I readjust things. And then I go back to the place of like okay I’m feeling weird with all of this being too chill now and I need to get amp it up and go back to the craziness that it was before. It’s so easy for me to fall back into like the high performer stage of doing everything and chasing things that I don’t even really care about. How do you do that? How do you ward it off and stay true to that purpose?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Well you tell me and then I’ll tell you. You give me some tips, I’ll give you tips. I’m still figuring it out on like every level. I feel like truthfully for me, it’s funny because I feel like I’ve said so many times over the past year, let’s just get back to the basics, let’s get back to the roots because that’s when I feel my best. What I mean by that is that when I started in this whole thing like three years ago, I didn’t know what an online course was. I didn’t even know anything about online marketing. I didn’t know anything about this space. I didn’t know who was in it. I didn’t really care to be honest. I was just like this is fun to teach and people are learning stuff. So I’ll keep doing that. And then obviously as you grow, you start to realize oh there’s other people out there who are in this space, there’s other people who are like far and above and beyond, and all of these things. And so I think it just comes with growth that you’re starting to be more aware of what else is around you. I think that’s the toughest part, because truthfully, for the first two years, I didn’t look at anyone else in the space. I didn’t know anyone else in the space. I didn’t pay attention at all. I really mean that. It’s like a running joke with a lot of my friends who are in this space. They’re like, “Do you know so and so?” I’m like no. So I think that that has been a big key to actually staying sane.
This year, because I’ve become more aware and I’ve met a lot more people in this world, I’ve had to take a conscious effort of like just because someone else is doing this, doesn’t take away anything from me. Just because in the first two years I had to grind and hustle, doesn’t mean that’s the position I’m in now. I think that’s been the biggest wake up call for me. So comparison is huge and I talk about it a lot because I never did it before. My whole motto in life is stay in your own way, because I truly think that’s the key to your success. Stay in your own lane. It’s going to allow you to create your own unique product offerings, your own unique genius to the world. The moment you start diving into other people’s content, you get kind of screwed. I think it’s taking this shift and the approach in your head of like I am no longer a consumer, I am now a creator. And so that’s been a really important shift for me in my own head.
And then I think, just overall, really taking an audit of what’s important to me; what are my values, what are my morals, what is the company that I ultimately want to build, what is the bigger mission. This was actually an exercise that that same mentor who asked me about my legacy, he did this with me when I was 22. He said, “Do you want this to be your legacy? Let’s map out what this looks like over the next 5 to 10 years.” I was like, “5 to 10 years? That’s forever.” And here we are. And so he started mapping everything out. He was like, “Look, here’s the line to where you want to go. In that line, you’re going to get offers to host TV shows. You’re going to get offers to go back into media. You’re going to get offers to go work for companies as a strategist, whatever it might be.” He’s right, all of those things have happened. He’s like, “But if you go do that, this line isn’t going to be there anymore.” He’s like, “You have to figure out how to say no. It’s going to be the biggest part of your success.” It’s been the hardest thing for me to do because I’m such a people pleaser.
In the beginning, reality is, you get offered something, you do it because you need to start getting your name out there and you need to start proving your expertise. You have to do things that are unpaid or whatever. At this point, it’s a shift of like really and then this is the practice of self-worth. It’s being like, “Oh, I’m bringing something to the table that’s why you’re asking me to do this. I don’t have to if I don’t want to.” If it doesn’t really align with me and if it doesn’t make me feel good and it doesn’t light me up and it’s not in service to the kind of people that I want to serve, don’t have to do it. So the priority is peace and actually really sitting down and looking at that, is really important. Something I shared with my audience is that I do something called the 90 day letter. Basically, you sit down and you write out a letter to yourself 90 days from now. So you’ll say, “Dear Sunny, in the last 90 days, you’ve done X, Y, and Z.” You can be as specific as possible. It’s a visioning exercise. I love it because it keeps me on track for where I ultimately want to be and the person that I do want to become.
Melyssa Griffin: I like that idea and I like doing it every 90 days too. I’ve done that where it’s like three years in the future…
Sunny Lenarduzzi: It’s hard though.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, it’s hard. I feel like 90 days is a good amount of time because then it gives you a pretty short increment of time to pivot if you’re like oh, 90 days, I’m totally doing all the things that I said I wasn’t going to do and if I’m not in pursuit of my mission. That’s amazing advice too, from your mentor, of like you’re going to get a lot of opportunities. I had this conversation with my boyfriend a couple weeks ago because he started a Pinterest marketing business a few months ago. It’s going well and he’s starting to get opportunities. For him, he’s like, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing. Should I do all of these things? Because I want to grow this business.” Some of them are kind of sporadic, random things that are relevant, but not I know in pursuit of that bigger goal for him. I think it’s easy to intellectualize, but hard to put into practice because it’s totally easy to be like “oh my gosh, these are amazing opportunities, I should do all of them”, but then forgetting that now we’re on a different path, it’s not going to put us in that straight line to the overall mission that we were shooting for in the first place.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yeah. It’s really awkward too. It’s awkward to say no. It feels really weird.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. What if we became the culture where, instead of being awkward and tiptoeing around saying no to these things, it was like this sounds amazing, but I know this isn’t in pursuit of my bigger mission, so I’m going to have to say no. That would be freaking cool.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: That would be awesome. Now it would become the norm. That would be amazing. I hope that it does.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. Yeah, I like that. You mentioned something at the beginning actually, that you’ve kind of brought up again. It was the concept of legacy that your mentor talked about with you, of like is this really the legacy that you want to leave. For anyone listening, who maybe doesn’t know what their legacy is, like how did you come to find what yours is and do you have any tips for people?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: I think for me, it was very similar to figuring out what my thing was, is that it was really paying attention to what made me feel really good and what made me feel accomplished, not in any external way or comparing myself to what everyone else thinks success looks like, but what made me feel the most successful. What makes me feel the most successful—and I can feel it right now. As I talk about it, I feel it in my body, like my heart lights up. I can feel butterflies in my stomach. What makes me feel the most successful is elevating other people. I think that it’s—I’ve heard something recently, it’s like the thing that you feel like you lack, is the thing you’re ultimately meant to teach. And so it’s like what makes me feel really powerful and successful is, if I can show somebody else, you are worth the attention and you are worth the time of this audience and you have something really, really important to share. And so I always say that my job is to creates success ripples. My job is to allow people who come in contact with me, to see themselves on a bigger stage and start playing on a bigger stage. So that’s really what lights me up. It always has. Even as a kid, I’ve always been the person who wants to teach or help or support in some kind of way, more that I want to really like pay attention to what’s going to get me out there on the biggest stage possible. That, miraculously, has kind of happened organically, which is amazing. It’s a super fun place to be, but I would much rather be the interviewer than the interviewee, ironically.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, ironically. I’m so with you on that. How does that show up for you in your business and in your life, of always wanting to be a helper to other people and elevate them?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: I think it’s ingrained in everything we do. I mean every single thing that we offer, is based around let’s use your unique genius to your advantage and let’s start spreading that out there in the world, and start building this tribe of people who are going to be so bought into you, that you have a lifelong legacy and brand and tribe. I would say your tribe is your trust fund because I truly think if you build an audience, that’s going to sustain you for the rest of your life. So that is really ingrained into every single offer we have. The things that we’ve been able to do with people, even in the last year since launching our first signature course, which is YouTube for Bosses, we have students who have built hundreds of thousands of subscribers, but not just that, I had one client who went from 50 subscribers a year ago and not having a business, to now having multiple six figure business, doing her first course launch, generating $40,000 on her first webinar in the first hour, with no paid advertising, Having 2000 people show up to it no advertising. It’s so incredible to me what we’re able to do with our clients and nothing makes me happier. I think I’ve always just been—I’ve always been really passionate about using your own uniqueness to your advantage. I think in this day and age that we’re living in, there’s just so many copycats. I want people to stand out for being truly who they are and authentic and the genius that everybody else has. Everyone has their own unique genius, and using that to your advantage.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I so agree with that. I love what you said earlier too, of part of your success was staying in your own lane for those first few years, of like you didn’t even know the other people in your industry. I think that’s huge because it kills our creativity when we see all these other people doing kind of similar things with a similar personality. And then we start to adapt and forget that we’re even doing that. We don’t realize it until you have a breakdown.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Exactly. You become this weird, mushed up version of yourself because you’re trying to emulate what the big wigs are doing and you’re not a big wig yet. So it’s like the beauty of being a beginner, is that you’re fresh into this and you have fresh eyes, and you can bring unique ideas to the table because I’m sure you can relate to this. It’s like every single person seems to be doing the exact same thing and have the exact same offerings and business models. If you can come in with something unique and different, oh my gosh, that’s so exciting. You have such a great opportunity.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. I think there’s almost this feeling that if we show up as our full weird, silly, whatever selves, introverted, whoever you are, then people aren’t going to like you. You have to look like this model of success. I remember when I was starting my business, there were a couple people that I had in mind, where I thought they are the successful ones. I need to dress like them, talk like them. It wasn’t even a conscious thing that I was doing. It was more of an unconscious habit of wanting to emulate them and really water down who I really was, for the fear of like well those are successful people, so that’s what people like. If I come out with too much of who I am, then that might not work. What I’ve actually found, and I’m sure that resonate with this too, is like pretty much the opposite.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: It’s polar opposite.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, totally the opposite.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yeah. The more you are you, the more you actually attract the right people. I think that’s the thing too, is that I think it’s so important to understand that if you’re putting anything out into the world that isn’t totally aligned with who you are, you’re not going to attract the people you really want to have in your tribe. And so everything that you put out there, you want it to be authentically, because those are the people that are brought in to you as a human being and really get you, and are going to be on board with you for the rest your life, because you can only keep up a façade for so long.
Melyssa Griffin: Exactly, yeah. It’s almost the equivalent of putting on the façade, attracting maybe more followers or subscribers or something that aren’t really your tribe, they don’t really care about you the way other people would if you were really yourself. It’s almost the equivalent of buying followers or something.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: 100%.
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah, just the watered down community.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yeah for sure. On a totally tactical level, I was talking about this the other day, that I would rather you have 30 people in your community who are so amped to be customers of yours for life than a million. The whole idea of buying followers or needing to be at a million followers or subscribers or whatever it might be, if you don’t have a real idea of why you want that and what that is going to actually do for the long term for you, the responsibility that comes with having that audience, of having nothing to really serve them and have any idea of why they’re there, is awful. I have friends and people that I know that have these massive followings and now are like oh crap, now what do I do? Because it builds itself up and now I don’t really know what I want to offer them. So understand that starting with something small but mighty, is way better than trying to just buy those vanity metrics, because people see right through it and you’re also not going to attract quality people who want to be there for life. You’re going to attract people who want a quick, overnight success.
Melyssa Griffin: Exactly. I completely agree. You’re amazing.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: You’re amazing.
Melyssa Griffin: Thank you. I have one more question for you. I like to ask this to all of my guests and I’m really curious what you have to say. What do you feel like is one thing that people could do to live a more meaningful and fulfilled life?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Great question. I would say that my big thing that I’ve started doing in the last six months—and six months ago I would’ve given you a different answer, so I’ll give you both. I would have said start making a gratitude list, which I know a lot of people talk about on a daily basis. I can say that for me, it changed my life because I started doing it in a time when I was going through a really rough spot in my personal life. Someone said write a gratitude list and I started doing it every single day, and it changed everything. It brought in so much abundance. Now what I would say is a piece of advice that I actually got from a mentor. They said, “Have you ever stopped to write down what you’re proud of yourself for?” I said, “No, why would I do that?” They’re like, “Well, because I think you’d be surprised, because you’re running so fast for something, but you haven’t stopped to say look what you’ve already done.” And so they challenged me to sit down to write everything I was proud of myself for, for the last three years. I’ve never procrastinated more in my life. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And so now what I do is I do my gratitude list every night and I also write down five things I’m proud of myself for during that day. It’s not like these massive, monumental things, I’m proud of you for being so vulnerable and honest on Melyssa’s podcasts, I’m proud of you for sending that email, I’m proud of you for having that really tough conversation. You’ve grown so much. So talking to yourself like “good for you, you’ve got this”, makes a huge difference. I really do think that wins create wins. I think the more that you can recognize your wins and give yourself that credit, the more that you’re able to create from a really fulfilled, full cup, meaningful place. So I think creating something every day or some sort of practice every day where you’re able to say “I’m proud of you for”, listing them out, and really recognizing how accomplished you actually are.
Melyssa Griffin: I was getting goosebumps when you were saying that. That’s such a beautiful idea. I love that. I feel like that should become the new add on to a gratitude list, I’m proud of you. I’m going to try that.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: You should. It’s amazing. It’s amazing what will come up. You’re like, “Oh wow, I do. I do have a lot to be proud of.”
Melyssa Griffin: Yeah. That seems like such a great practice to help you slow down too, and just appreciate what’s there.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Yes for sure.
Melyssa Griffin: Okay. I’m sure people are going to want to know a lot more about you, Sunny. Where can they go to learn more?
Sunny Lenarduzzi: You can go to sunnylenarduzzi.com. And of course, you can head to youtube.com/sunnylenarduzzi for a ton of info on how to build your business by leveraging video online.
Melyssa Griffin: Amazing. I will link those up right below this episode at pursuitwithpurpose.com. Thank you, Sunny.
Sunny Lenarduzzi: Thank you so much.
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