Ashley Baxter may have unlikely roots to work in tech, but here she is, and now she’s created a career out of helping others become successful.
TAMAR: Hi, everybody. Today I am with the most amazing so far. And we’ve had our little chit-chat before our podcast, Ashley Baxter. She is the coolest. I love her already. And I haven’t even met her. But I wanted to introduce her and I want to learn about her in front of the entire community. So, thank you so much for joining, tell me where you are in the planet because I still don’t even know that. And tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do, what’s going on with your life right now. All the fun things.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much for having me, to start. I also have a little secret that I probably should have told you beforehand. I’ve followed your blog for a really long time back. I think in your Mashable days, I used to follow your blog because I was in tech and copywriting and community management. So yeah, I have loved what you do for a really long time. But I’m actually in Santa Monica, California, which has been really nice. It’s gotten a little chilly over the past couple of days. Out here in sunny LA, and just live in the Silicon Beach dream at the moment and trying to stay warm.
TAMAR: So, what is it like over there right now? What’s the dynamic like because we’re still in the middle of May and we are still consider it Coronavirus chaos? I think things in my side of the world are simmering down a little bit in the context of hundreds of people had the virus. I see people still getting it but not to the same level. What is that climate like for you in the virus climate? I don’t even know how you would describe it.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah, it’s definitely been interesting. So, we actually are going to a less restricted lockdown starting tomorrow. And technically it started on Friday. So, they start to lift some of the restrictions tomorrow and our parks and some of our trails are going to open back up. But I actually just had the very first person in my close-knit circle, one of my best friends, found out that she has Coronavirus yesterday, right when everything is getting ready to open back up. So, I’m sort of the thought process right now that if things are going to start opening up, that’s fine, I totally understand it. I will probably keep myself at home for at least another month or so. And I’m just going to keep practicing distancing. It’s interesting to see some people just over this entire pandemic, and start acting as if we don’t have anything to worry about. But I think there’s a lot of value still in distancing. And that’s how I plan to continue on for the moment.
TAMAR: There are three different camps of people who have experienced the virus. There is the very, very small .001% of the people, I don’t even know if it’s .001, maybe a little more than that, who had the virus, who have had proven positive and they were symptomatic, then they had negative test results, confirmed test results. In my case, I actually have done a couple of studies, with a number of research institutions here. Einstein College, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Columbia University. And I have a letter from one of the professors saying that I am not transmitting anymore. So, I know I’m not a risk myself, and I know that I’m not a risk to other people. So, in that case, I want to go out and about and live again. But that’s a very small amount of people. And then I just want to reopen the economy because I’m sick and tired of this stuff being closed down. And I don’t care about people hurting anymore. They’re just sick like they’re done. And then there’s the Ashley Baxter camp, where I want to be responsible because I’m starting to run into people who are starting to get the second-degree, third-degree network where I’m realizing that this virus is a lot more rampant than possible and rampant than I had thought before. And I need to act responsibly. I don’t want to say that my thing is entitled. I don’t think it is entitled, but I want to be like you, to go out and about. It’s at the end of the day it comes down to optics. And until the government has an immunity badge that I can wear I am just like everybody else if you need to be careful. I’m not going out like, the only thing I really would want to do besides what I’m doing now is go to the gym, and nobody, was already opening. So, I am stuck at home and being responsible because you never know. I mean, I’m not afraid of getting sick. And I’m not afraid of getting other people sick. I wear a mask. It’s annoying, I hate wearing a mask. And I need to do what I need to do because at the end of the day, right now, that’s the example that needs to be set. So, stay indoors as much as possible. I would sometimes take walks at, usually, for me right now, it’s just a walk around my driveway. I will run but I will run very infrequently. And I think that’s the responsible way about going right now. I think that you’re being right about being cautious because until we figure out more, people are having more exposure. This is the responsible way to go.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Completely, completely.
TAMAR: Yeah. So, tell me, you followed me national which is amazing. And I’m so thankful for the fact that we’ve known each other, if you will, for as long as we have. Tell me what you do, what you’re doing, what might have been some interesting trajectory and how you’ve evolved from young girl to adulthood and what your career path looks like?
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah, for sure. So, I am not someone that most people would ever assume would be into tech. I started at a young age. I grew up in Texas and East Texas, very, very rural area. One of my favorite things to say about the town I grew up in is that we probably had more cows than we people. I grew up a little bit in the country. But I was lucky in the fact that my mom bought me a computer at a young age. And it was like 92, she bought me a big honking Packard bell desktop before I could even connect to internet. And then when AOL came out, I was able to get online and just kind of start doodling around. But I never had any clue or any idea that that was something that I could actually turn into a career. So, I went to college, I went to school, also in Texas, and decided to study Journalism and Communication, got a degree in PR, graduated and during my very first internship, I realized this is horrible. I absolutely cannot cut newspaper clippings for the rest of my life. It is to be the worst thing ever. So, I knew that even though I had a degree, I didn’t necessarily want to apply it in the ways that I had been told in school, I didn’t need to apply it. So, I just decided to get creative. And I decided, “Okay, I have this experience from school and also really comfortable with the internet because I’ve been playing online as a kid for so long.” So, I just decided to merge those two things together before I realized that I could build a career in digital marketing and took that and ran with it. I had a lot of different opportunities in companies of various sizes. But one thing I decided to do in my career that was a little bit different was instead of picking one track and one channel of digital marketing, I decided I wanted to learn about as many different channels as I possibly could. So over time and over the years and some of the jobs that I had, I hopped around a lot. And my friends made fun of me for that. But at the end of the day, I ended up fully understanding the total digital marketing ecosystem and how everything worked together and how all the channels could play off of each other, instead of just learning one single channel. And I think that is probably the catalyst for my success and the opportunities that came up for me as a part of my career.
TAMAR: I love it. I love it. I didn’t know your story is like mine. But I want to hear your story a little more and then definitely awesome.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah. So, one of the more interesting things that I got to do in my career. So, I had done black hat SEO, which I probably shouldn’t tell people that.
TAMAR: You are good because you get a holistic viewpoint of what’s the good, the bad.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah, it was interesting to say like,” Okay, this is what everyone’s not supposed to be doing.” And now I know how to do all of those things. But it was crazy because I felt some type of way about doing black hat SEO when I was doing it. I was working for a company in the credit monitoring space. And it was just like the Wild West back then. There was a lot of shady stuff before the FTC regulated it. But I got my start in SEO as a black hat. J.C. Penney, I don’t know If you remember in 2012, had scandal that popped up. I got a call to go work at J.C. Penney and manage their SEO program because I had a background in black hat. Never had anyone internal, who was managing their SEO. They just outsourced and farmed everything out to an agency. And when that happened, they realized we need someone in house tell us what happened and what we need to be doing. So, I went in house and worked at J.C. Penney. That also happened to be the same time that they took a new CEO, Ron Johnson, who tried to reimagine the company and the brand. And that was a huge failure but an amazing lesson because I managed to keep my channel profitable while a lot of the rest of the business was struggling. So that was a lot of learning.
TAMAR: Before we go into there, I just want to back up just a little bit early, hit the brakes for a second. Just for anybody who’s listening to this, who has no idea what you just said at black hat SEO. I want to really double down now, black hat SEO. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically web marketing for optimizing search engines. So, being number one on Google or being among the first couple links on Google, and being in Yahoo wherever people use searching these days. It’s usually just Google. Don’t tell anybody I just said that. And black hat SEO is doing that in a way that it’s very rapid fire. You get things done very quickly. But it’s also very unethical. And likely when Google finds you, you’re banned from the search engines. So, it’s a methodology that can work. I can’t say it’s Surefire, but it is a fire, it’s high risk. And once you’re done, once you’re caught, you’re doomed. And it’s going to take a lot of efforts to do it all again. So don’t rebuild the Empire. Don’t do it. Slowly, surely white hat. That’s the safest way to go. All right, back to you.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah, black hat. Black hat is definitely not a good long-term strategy. But the good thing of that experience, I learned a lot. I know J.C. Penney learned a lot. And they were able to rebuild the site. We rebuilt the entire site back in Google’s good graces and did reestablish rankings as well, which is not the hardest thing in the world. But it was a really good lesson. From there, I ended up moving on to AT&T. They were actually launching a new brand that was a competitor for the prepaid space. It was called Aio Wireless. I don’t know if your ad or if anyone remembers that we were only around for I think about a year before we ended up merging and then rebranding Cricket Wireless. But at that time, I went to AT&T to just help with that project and ended up leading social media strategy for EO and then also for the rebrand for Cricket which was wildly successful. It’s a super fun brand and personable, people will really connect to it. So that was a great experience. After I left AT&T that was an amazing project, I ended up moving out to Los Angeles. So away for about three and a half years now. I came out here to work for a startup that’s in the local marketing space. So, I had an amazing opportunity to consult some really large brands as a principal client success. I worked with Starbucks, Scoring, Anytime Fitness, some of those brands both in the US and the UK. But after some time, I realized that I just didn’t feel fully aligned like something still was completely unsettled in my soul. So, it’s hard to do some soul searching. And I used a lot of different modalities for that energy, healing and a couple of different ways. I also did medicine and got to a point where I realized my purpose and what really makes me happy, what makes me tick is to empower other people. So, I decided to take a marketing background and it had that holistic view of understanding many channels, and I decided to launch an agency. So that’s what I do now. That’s my primary business. I help small to medium sized business owners build fully integrated marketing plans that they can focus on executing. It helps take them from struggle where they’re just grasping at a lot of different marketing strategies and tactics, executing haphazardly, not really understanding what is working for them. And provide them with a clear path that they can just focus on executing. And it helps to find success and actually growing their business and more importantly, expanding their impact.
TAMAR: Awesome. I’m going to tell you something interesting from the beginning. One of the first things you said is that you got your first computer, your Packard Bell in 1992. My first computer was also gifted to me at the end of 1992. It was an IBM ps1. And I found it wasn’t AOL at the time was actually promoted. Odd because AOL for some reason had a dedicated product for the IBM ps1 computer which was basically prominent, which eventually married into AOL, rebranded into AOL, I’m not sure. But I fell in love with the online world. And that was really my impetus to go into tech as well. So, it’s funny because you basically did the same thing. And when you and I were both in college, there was really no digital marketing. I actually wanted to major in computer science. I was like, “I want to do something online. So let me major in computer science because I want a computer.” And that seems to be the only thing that seems to resonate. I stuck with it because I was so dedicated to it. But I was more of the communicator. I was more of the technical person, not the non-tech person on all the software engineering products. I was not the coder. I could look at code and I kind of understand it, but I don’t really understand how to build. So, I found myself working kind of a systems administrator in a digital marketing role because I was a systems administrator at a search engine marketing company, when social media marketing was starting to really kind of get a foothold. So really interesting how that dynamic like shifted and created, how AOL if you will, has raised us. I guess it’s kind of neat. We should have a story; the AOL feature, that children of AOL.
ASHLEY BAXTER: looks like seriously, I mean, even back then it was definitely the Wild West as well. Like, I was just in chat rooms, talking to people. No clue what I was doing. spending lots of time, feeling pretty certain that I was going to get arrested for downloading music from Napster.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah.
ASHLEY BAXTER: But it’s crazy though, because those were really, very formative years. And I think when kids are introduced to things earlier on, it does give them more insight into how they might want to craft their career in the future. Like I ended up studying public relations and communications. This is so horrible, but because Samantha from Sex and the City, was in PR I thought she made it look really cool. So, I said, “Oh, okay, I’m going to do that.” And then I did it. I was like, “This sucks. Let me figure out a way to make this fun.”
TAMAR: You wonder how many Mad Men watchers are into advertising and into unfulfilling advertising careers right now because of Mad Men? I will say that I was never into it. But I think the Madman house is like literally right around the corner for me, and I watched it maybe once or twice. I didn’t like it because of some of the other storylines. But when I was at Mashable, that was like the show that everybody talked about. It was like the culture dominated freaking food. When the company started getting bigger, I was working remotely and everyone was in the New York office and it was an interesting cultural shift. The dynamic was really different at that point, being the only mom in the office but neither here nor there. I was not a Mad Men person. And I think that worked against me and you wonder now because it’s not that many years later but a few years later how many people have watched it and found that I need to work in advertising because of their glamorous lives. So, I don’t know.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Completely. Sometimes it all works out for you. So, stand up. That’s what we have to believe.
TAMAR: Yeah. I mean I ended up in a perfume now coming from Tech. And now how would you if that tomboy like me who fell in love with a well-built sir on computers is working in the fragrance world. It’s, you end up where you need to be even if you’re derailed from something like the Coronavirus. The whole idea is that my story is about rising above the ashes. It’s about getting yourself climbing out of the ashes, getting yourself back on the wagon and getting back on the railroad tracks. And bring yourself forward. And I think that’s a big focus for me on this podcast to talk about those things. So no, I love it. And I love the fact that obviously part of this podcast is self-care routines. You’ve kind of made that self-care if you will, and caring for other people. And you’ve expanded that in you’ve created a movement, an agency out of it. I think that’s awesome. I love it.
ASHLEY BAXTER: It definitely didn’t always come naturally to me, though. So, self-care. It’s something that I had to learn the hard way like everyone has, we’ve all had a bad job. We’ve probably all had a job where we worked too much. But there was one period in my life where I wasn’t really sleeping. I got to a point where I realized I was drinking heavily. And that was probably my form of coping with the stress that I was feeling. And I was really inflamed, like when your entire body is just sort of puffy from inflammation. Like I’d reached that point. And I was there for a good minute, and then did a health assessment test. And it did not come back positively. I was precancerous. And so, I thought, “Okay, it is time for me to turn some things around.” And so, I really had to make a serious effort to integrate self-care into my life and also to make a decision that any situation that I may have found myself where I was discouraged from having a self-care routine, any people in my life that discouraged me from having a self-care routine had to go. Because if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t accomplish as much as we would be able to when we’re healthy. So, it hasn’t always been the easiest journey to get to a point where self-care has been a priority. But it’s been something that has been mandatory and crucial to finding success.
TAMAR: I kind of wonder about a recurring theme in doing these podcasts that we don’t really want to embrace self-care for ourselves. I don’t want to say midlife because it’s probably that I’m making myself sound really old. I don’t know what it is that ages myself really badly. So no, I like it. Women, I would say in their 30s and 40s are starting to see that as an important thing. But it’s like in our 20s and early 30s we’re not that serious about it. I mean, I don’t know how old you are. So, I can say it.
ASHLEY BAXTER: I’m 35. So, I can say for myself in my 20s it was not something that I thought about. I wanted to be skinny in my 20s, in my 30s I wanted to be fit. I want to have good lungs; I want to have good circulation. Like the approach taken to taking care of my body, recognizing, “Oh, wow, my body does a lot for me. My legs walk me around the neighborhood every single day. And if I don’t take care of them, I’m doing my entire self a disservice.” I think there’s something that shifts in perspective of self as you start to get a little bit older. That just makes what you have a little bit more, if that makes sense.
TAMAR: Yeah. And I say this in the context of speaking with women. I try to follow a lot of the health oriented subreddits particularly in the running community. I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. And I say this a lot. And I always say I’m not really a runner, but I follow them. So, Reddit, I run but I don’t run fast enough. And I’m not running that often because of the Coronavirus in my own experience with it. But I see people, like the 20 somethings, they’re just running because they want to have the fastest 5K. And then you have all these people who are like in their 30s and 40s. They’re joining the Couch to 5K subreddit. And it’s great. You get a lot of motivation from them because they’re showing their selfies and they’re running. And you see that most of the people running and who are doing this are in their 30s to 50s, even their 60s. It’s just so wholesome to see that. It’s like “Wow, I’m taking control of my life and I’m starting to recognize that I should have done this earlier.” And I always think I would love to give me a pat on the back, this invisible pat. Better late than never and it’s good. I would say you’re doing it even earlier than some other people, like they’re just not serious about it. I was depressed, and hit rock bottom before I realized that I wasn’t taking care of myself. And that happened about two years ago. I’m still in my 30s but at the same time, I’m almost over the hill. I guess they say that these days. And that’s scary for me. It’s scary to realize that, “Would my life have been different if I embraced self-care and fitness 10 years ago? Oh, yeah. But I think I needed this to happen the way it was just as you said before, where we need to be. And this is my trajectory, I needed to have nine years for some reason. I don’t know why I needed to have nine years of postpartum depression undiagnosed, unknown nine years of postpartum depression before I was exploited to the point that I needed to be having this recognized. Maybe I just I don’t know. I don’t know why but I have no regrets.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Completely, completely. If you don’t mind me asking what was your breaking point of realizing you needed to do something a little different and hitting the end of that?
TAMAR: It’s hard to say. I don’t know if this is something you can relate to. And I don’t know if people can relate to this. But I was in a part of my life where I didn’t realize that I was even there. I knew that I wasn’t happy. But I didn’t realize I couldn’t pinpoint it. I just was going through the motions through my life. And what happened was that I was taken advantage of by somebody who I became particularly close with, to the point that I felt like I needed that to validate my existence. And I started seeing psychiatrists twice a week and medication just to get by, and that relationship eventually fizzled, and it fizzled in a very hard way. It was maybe the worst possible breakup since it wasn’t violent or anything. But it was emotionally jarring, jolting. I don’t really know how to describe it. And I went through a lot of difficulty for a while. And just thinking, how can I go back to the point of, I don’t know how to describe it. As I said, it’s hard. I was already so emotionally vulnerable that I let somebody latched on. And once that latch fell apart, that latch broke, it was extremely, inordinately difficult to overcome. And then I discovered like, I was going to pull myself out of it. And then I discovered perfume. And that perfume discovery and the awakening of what you would consider a scent that you take for granted kind of brought me into this. Oh, wow. I should breathe, I should smell the roses again. And that was the impetus to start my brands right now. Something particular, that scent had actually helped me live again. Yeah, a little bit of unlikely story. But that was my story.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Thank you for sharing that. I love the idea of what you’re doing with your fragrance. So much needs to change in commerce. If you follow certain fashion years, there was an interesting interview between Naomi Campbell and Anna Wintour. Wintour was talking about the fashion beauty space, and how it’s really going to have to change now because of Coronavirus. Our values have changed as a society. So, the things that used to matter and the way they used to sell is just not going to work anymore. And everything that you’ve shared with me, that’s more about your fragrance line sounds like you’re on that cusp of the way things need to shift and the shift that will happen naturally. Because we’re just not the same consumers that we used to be.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. That’s interesting because I keep debating to myself. Do I ever launch? Yeah, it’s the perfect time to launch because this is when people don’t feel like they’re taking care of themselves. So, I am going to announce here right now that I’m soft launching. I haven’t made any public announcement, kind of sharing the link to people who want to know the link, but I will. I haven’t even done PR because part of my PR strategy, maybe I should talk to you about this separately, would have been sending, before the Coronavirus, care packages samples to the media. And when I got the virus, I obviously had to kind of put that on hold. I’ve been helping my community and I’ve been trying to get through myself, and I wouldn’t want to come into personal contact with something that might be shipped with the virus. So, when I got my package, I didn’t even touch it until I knew I could. And now that I can work, everybody’s mindset is so different. So, my PR strategy was tabled in the sense that I still want to send out to the media. And I think the media is really going to help me make or break it. But at the same time, there are people who need this right here right now. So, I want to launch an early bird, where this product would have otherwise been sent to the media. If you purchase a bottle, you will get a sample of the fragrance. And I will fulfill it sooner rather than later. So, I’m basically saying the media can get some but I’m not going to be giving as much in the media because I want to give it to people who need it right now. And because this is what it is, it’s a need-based product. Basically, it’s totally shifted from where I was going. I’m doing things completely different, kind of going by ear right now. I’m launching at a very, very busy time in the heat, like we’re still in the epicenter still. To some degree, things are changing. But we’re in the epicenter. And I guess I’m sufficiently distracted so that I’m not terribly paralyzing myself with the fear of “Oh, my God, is this going to fail or not?” So, I don’t know if this is the right way to do things. But at the same time, I want to help people today and say, PR will definitely help me as well. But I want to help the people who need it the most.
ASHLEY BAXTER: I think that’s great. I think it’s a good approach. I have a lot of conversations with clients over the past couple of months around. Is this a good time to launch something new? Is this a good time to launch an offer or product? And I think the answer is yes. It’s done the right way. And like we still have needs. I know for myself personally. I’ve had an Amazon package delivered to my house at least once a week when lock out started, little things that I needed or little pickups. And yeah, I think it’s a fantastic time to launch. I actually have a client that actually launched during Coronavirus. We took her site live. She has a clothing capsule collection of pieces that you can basically pack and just carry-on travel for two weeks without having to repeat your outfits. She was afraid to launch. She didn’t know if it’s a good time, whether it would be well received or not. But we launched it. She still got it: press, televisions, media heads. So, I do think it’s a good time to launch if that’s really rooted and grounded in purpose, actually enrich other people’s lives. Okay, that’s the key to being successful right now. Really have a purpose. It’s a fantastic time to launch.
TAMAR: Right. And I guess I we’ll see how fragrance works. Because the biggest challenge that I hear people align with my mission, “Will you buy the products, at the end of the day, you’re not smelling it?” So, if people are aligned with the mission, and they’re afraid to buy the products, because this is a crowdfunding campaign, there’s a monetary contribution, if you love the idea, you love the effort that I’ve been putting into this, and I mean this is 18 months now, then, give a contribution to the cause. But of course, I want you to get the products. It’s just a matter of “Hey, how do I buy fragrance without smelling it?” And that’s the hardest part. So right now, the Coronavirus, people think, is putting a damper on buying products in general but e-commerce is doing really well right now. I have a friend slash colleague who is telling me that her client is so busy that there’s a supply chain issue. The demand is so high that they’re not able to fulfill the supply for it and I think that’s an incredible problem to have. I almost haven’t even launched, sort of have that issue in the sense that my factory for my bottles has been converted into a PPE N95 factory. So, I have to pivot a little bit but I can’t make an excuse not to launch anymore. I need to make this happen. I’ve been putting things away for a while. And I think in general all of us have fear. But as soon as we step and overcome that fear, new fears will arise. But at the same time, we’ll be able to at least say, “Hey, we were able to do it because you’ll always regret not doing something. You won’t regret doing something.” So, yeah.
ASHLEY BAXTER: I always say new level new devil. So, there’s always going to be a good reason or a good excuse to hold off on things or not move forward. So, you just have to take the next step, knowing that regardless of the outcome and taking that next step, you’ll learn something that’s going to push you further down the path of your ultimate destination.
TAMAR: Right, that’s awesome. I love that. I will share just a little bit of a side tangent here. Since I started doing this since we started having the Coronavirus, the first thing I did literally in week one was contact a bunch of restaurants to see if they can deliver to us. And we would coordinate with the community members a big order so that it would be worth it. At that point they were still operating, people were stepping in and out. But we were quarantined. So, the rest of the world was still moving, and we were shut down. So obviously the dynamic of that didn’t lend itself to many people doing the pickups or it didn’t make sense. But at the same time, they felt bad for us because we were literally shut down before the rest of the city. And then everybody shut down and all of a sudden, because I already had the system running, all the restaurants started reaching out to me. And I was so excited that I started forging great relationships with restaurant tours all over in the area. And it was great. But that never comes without no good deed goes unpunished. It never comes without its share of critics. In one context, a lot of the restaurants don’t want to collect all the money from 30 different people if there’s 30 different families ordering. So, I would collect. And there were accusations already that I’ve been pocketing the tips.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Oh my gosh.
TAMAR: I mean, I can’t do anything without that stuff going on. And then somebody was like, “You’re doing this at no profits yourself. Maybe you should ask for profit, maybe you should ask for a little bit of money. And then he helps me because I felt very uncomfortable asking, cut phrase how I would make such a request. I got in and that was out of his good faith. He said, “You banked a lot of goodwill, maybe people will be willing to do it.” And as soon as I made that request, I got a bunch of messages, “You should be doing this for free with a full heart.” And I’m just like, “I can’t, one guy wants to pay me well” and then I’m like, “You know what? I’m about to launch a business. I’m a CEO, new business. This is my new devil. I’m getting my first new level.” I don’t know how to say it. But yeah, like I’m dealing with the devils right now. And if this is representative of what I’m going to deal with later, it’s good practice. And I don’t have any rights for anything that I’m dealing with. But yeah, everything you do, there is always like in a room with 30 people, you’ll have 45 different opinions. That’s just the nature of the beast. And I’m starting to learn that and let me do this on a personal level with people that I know face to face. Then we’ll see what happens with the unknowns but this is emotionally taxing. Very difficult, not profitable at all for me, except I feel good that I’m doing it, and it’s experience. That’s how I look at it.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Completely. And it’s something that you’re doing that’s being driven by purpose and passion. And you can never go wrong when that’s your driving motivator.
TAMAR: Yeah. All right. We’ll just jump into your self-care because you talk about your life in a way that clearly embodies this focus on yourself and focus on empowerment. So, tell me a little bit about what you do right now because you’re taking your life seriously. All of us are casual about our bodies, and all of a sudden, we realize sometime that we just need to start getting serious about ourselves. So, tell me a little bit about what you do right now. Not necessarily right now, because right now might be completely different since we’re in Corona chaos. But what would have been your normal self-care routine and what is changing now that we’re in the midst of the Coronavirus?
ASHLEY BAXTER: Yeah. Self-care for me comes in a lot of different formats. It is a way that I take care of myself and the way that I take care of my body. A lot of it is also how I treat myself and I feel like that’s an area that’s neglected a lot, especially for women. Before Corona, I definitely wasn’t prioritizing and moving my body and fitness. So, I found a gym buddy, a partner to work out with and we would get up and we’d be at a gym at 6am. Pretty much every morning during the week to get in a good workout, we would do some weightlifting and some cardio. And just starting my day with movement was a really good way to just kick things off because I knew by 8am, I would feel like I accomplished something. And that was a big change for me. And so, working out every day and also getting it early in the morning was one way that I took care of myself. Also, with the foods we eat and trying not to eat as much sugar, which is really hard because we live right down the street from a Dunkin’ Donuts. No easiest task, but just trying to eat healthy, drink a lot of water, that’s a good thing. But I’ll also say I’m single. And as a single woman, I try to date myself on occasion, just because like even in the dating world now, sometimes you’re still not properly courted. Or at least that’s how I feel. So, taking time to just date myself to really nice dinners and buy myself flowers. Sometimes just take a really long bubble bath and just soak and relax and do some of those little things for me and now I try to make it a habit to do that for myself. So, I’m not waiting for someone to take me out to a fancy dinner that I can enjoy. It’s like, “I can do that for myself.” And in times of Corona that’s gone from going out to eat to actually taking the time to cook myself a really nice dinner at home and go to the farmers market the beginning of the day and get groceries. And then come home and enjoy the process of looking at recipes and the process of looking at food, actually cooking the food and making the meal. Like that’s been a really big part of my self-care since all of this has started.
TAMAR: I love it. For me, I like to live or I have previously lived the life of one meal a day. I find it a very sustainable way to first of all be cognizant of my body and my food intake. And number two it means the outcome looks good. I look good and feel good. And all of a sudden, I have more energy to be more fit, and to work out and I had that great motivation to do all that stuff. And then this whole thing happened. And like I said, I’ve been coordinating restaurant deliveries on my driveway; also happens to work as a really excellent drive thru. It’s a contactless driveway. So, it’s basically a car drives up to a vehicle parked in my driveway. The restaurant drops it in their car, and then they drive through my back exit. It’s the best.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Oh, wow.
TAMAR: It’s really cool. Like I have a whole map. Really, it’s a nice setup. But anyway, having restaurants, it’s like you say you have Dunkin’ Donuts down the block. I have restaurants in my driveway every single day. And there are days when I won’t order because I won’t order and then there are days that “Oh, let’s give you 25% off, let’s give you 50% off.” And it was like “Oh, okay.” I’ve gained the COVID-19 in two senses of the word. In the sense that a virus that I had got me the 90 pounds. So, I am working on it. But yeah, normally on a regular day I would be a lot more diligent. I will say I feel immense gratitude knowing that I’m helping people in the community. It’s so empowering for me. And there’s elderly, there’s young people, people who have just had babies who are ordering and there’s so much happiness that I’m helping people. But I will say that my routine for my own self-care has fallen by the wayside. And I acknowledge that almost every single podcast since this started. I’m getting there. But it’s incredibly difficult because on one hand, there’s so much good that’s coming out of this and I’m putting myself behind. On the other hand, when life is really happening, when the world is spinning again, I am doing exactly what I should be doing. So, what if I take a little bit of a detour in order to help people at the expense of my own self-care and my health. I don’t think I can have regrets but I guess we can always revisit this conversation a couple more months to see where I am, I f I haven’t gained the COVID 19, we can discuss that then.
ASHLEY BAXTER: I don’t know, I feel like you have to do at least one thing for yourself every day. It could be the smallest thing ever. It could be five minutes to sit with a cup of coffee, it could be five minutes to walk outside, touch the grass, smell some fresh air, look at a flower, talk to a butterfly. I think there has to be at least one thing that you do for yourself every day, even if it’s just five minutes.
TAMAR: Yeah, thankfully, I will say that I have a goal. I had a goal since the beginning of the year. My friend Cari McGee is a real estate agent. But she’s also motivating like a motivator. And she created this Facebook group 250, at least 250 in 2020 or something like that. And her objective was we need to work, we need to exercise 250 days in 2020. And what constitutes an exercise is just doing something for 20 minutes. So, I have been so motivated to never miss a day that I did it. And that means that at 11:40 at night, in one night, because there’s only 20 minutes left of the day, I took a walk around my driveway. So, I am still doing it. I’m still showing up. I’m happy that I’m showing up. I’m not showing up to the extent that I used to. But the thing is that habit forms habits. If you’ve read the James Clear Atomic Habits book, habits can form very small very incrementally. And if you stop cold turkey, that habit is going to be very hard to reignite. It’s not the same, it definitely isn’t the same. But showing up to me knows that I’m honoring the contract, the commitment that I made to myself even if it’s not the level of the commitment that I had before. Because if I were to drop this, I would be screwed. And there we just started a WhatsApp group, my local community. And where some of the fitness, some of the gym teachers here saying, “You got to do 50 squats and 20-40 jumping jacks and 35 crunches.” And I’m just like, “I actually did, it’s called the killer workout.” I used to work out four times, seven times a day a week but four times in the gym. And going back to that I decided to do the killer workout, which is part of what I described. And it was brutal. My legs like were jelly, and I’m still kind of jelly. But I can’t go back to starting again. You work so hard. Don’t undo it. So yeah, I am showing up. It’s just not the same way I used to.
ASHLEY BAXTER: It’s still counts, though. That’s all that matters. As long as you show up. It still counts.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, let me ask one last question. If you can talk to Ashley, I guess the cow writing it. Why don’t you read, cows? The cow loving Texas girl. If you were to tell her, give her some piece of advice. What would you tell her?
ASHLEY BAXTER: I would tell her to stop overthinking everything. That would be the number one piece of advice I would give my younger self. I have had so many ideas throughout the years and so many things that I wanted to do and things where you think “Oh, that sounds neater. I should do this area would be really amazing.” I can help X number of people if I would just and I spent so much time when I was younger, overthinking every single little detail and trying to make things perfect. And I’m at a stage of my life now where I’ve started to embrace that progress is much more important than perfection. Like you just have to take that next step and move forward. But I did not understand that when I was younger. And so, I don’t have any regrets. Like I said, I think we all end up exactly where we’re supposed to see you. But I do sometimes wonder what life would look like if I would have just taken some of those steps a little bit sooner and not been so consumed with this fear of being judged or the fear of what other people would think and lots of self-doubt. So, I would definitely just move forward in the moment that I thought about things. I would stop thinking so much.
TAMAR: Yeah. I apologize for the language given that this is a G rated or it’s supposed to be a G rated. Well, I won’t say it. But one of the things that I think would be really helpful for you and I think for most of us who are overthinking things, and we care too much about potential ramifications, is the subreddit. A very good subreddit, you basically have to let it absorb in your pores or whatever you would call it, is called How to not Give a Bleep with an F word. So, there’s my D rated version, my belief how not to give a bleep. And there is really interesting, Ricky Ger. I don’t know how to pronounce his last name.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Ricky Gervais.
TAMAR: Yeah Gervais. Today, he actually has spoken at one of these awards shows. And it was literally cringe worthy because he was making such horrible jokes to this roomful of Oscar, Emmy, whatever, winning actors. It was cringe worthy because he did not care. And that is the life we need to live, the kind of like, we need to emulate. That must have been the worst, the hardest thing for most of us to even watch. Can you imagine just sitting there being a host and just literally throwing punch after punch? I mean, it was in all good, whatever.
It was all in good fun. And yet, it was so cringe worthy. That’s just one thing that I had watched there. But if you follow that particular life, I mean, you’ll be so much happier for it. Don’t let these things get to you. Don’t let it get you down. I like that. I think that’s a great way to embody your life and embrace moving forward.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Completely. And at the end of the day, it’s all about authenticity. And this especially tend to tie everything back to marketing because that’s just what I do. But in marketing, I feel like we went through a period where everything was polished and super perfect and pristine. And I think now we just live in a world where people want the truth. They just want to see things as they are, whether that’s products or people. Sloppy fluff and sugarcoating aren’t really easy to identify. So not thinking so much also just bring you back to a place of authenticity where you can just be yourself and put it out and not have to care and know that things are going to end up exactly how they’re supposed to end up on the other end of it.
TAMAR: Yeah, yeah. I love it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I really enjoyed talking to you. This is probably my longest podcast. But I think it was worth it. I hope people benefit from your story and your trajectory and what you’re doing because I think the fact is you are really a true embodiment of what this is about especially in self-care. You’re making it work and I love it.
ASHLEY BAXTER: Thank you so much for having me. This has been amazing and I am so excited for your fragrance line, and I hope that you’ll share some information on where we can find that.
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