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Following Your Career Journey, with Taylor Bradford

Following Your Career Journey, with Taylor Bradford

Episode 91: Following Your Career Journey, with Taylor Bradford

Taylor Bradford has always been curious about being her own boss, so she bought her first rental property at 24 years old. As a multi-passionate entrepreneur, she’s had the opportunity to pursue various endeavors from the fitness world to the oil and gas industry to blogging. Her brain is constantly thinking of ways to move forward and collaborate. In this week’s episode, Taylor talks about finding an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, changing her career path and wanting to be the first female owner of an NFL team.

Episode Transcript

00:00: Welcome to the Ellevate Podcast: Conversations With Women Changing the Face of Business. And now, your hosts, Kristy Wallace and Maricella Herrera.

00:14 Kristy Wallace: Happy New Year and welcome to the Ellevate Podcast. We're so excited that you're joining us here for the first podcast of 2018.

00:21 Maricella Herrera: It is so exciting. Happy New Year, everyone.

00:23 KW: This is your host, Kristy Wallace, here with Maricella Herrera. Hi, Maricella. How's it going today?

00:28 MH: Hey, Kristy. It's going well. It's a good day.

00:32 KW: It is a good day. I'm having a good day. I'm excited. I'm really excited, too, about this interview coming up with Taylor Bradford. We had a lot of fun hearing her story, which is incredibly unique and inspiring, and getting to know her a little bit better on the podcast.

00:48 MH: Yeah, she has quite a fascinating story and journey. I'm excited for this one. Well, I say that every week.

00:55 KW: I know.

00:55 MH: But...

00:56 KW: We both do, that's why we love our jobs.

00:58 MH: I mean...

00:58 KW: We've got it pretty good.

01:00 MH: Yeah.

01:00 KW: We've got it good.

01:00 MH: We got a good gig, yeah. The other day, when we did our whiskey and cheese tasting event in New York City, I kind of had to stop and think, "Wow, this is my job."

01:14 KW: Well, and don't be jealous, our listeners, because if you want some whiskey, you can check out one of our recent podcasts with Claire from Catskill Provisions and hear all about the whiskey that we had fun tasting recently at our New York City event.

01:29 MH: She's great, yeah, and the whiskey's great. And our guest today is great. And I don't know, I think I'm also just excited about the season. It's kind of a nice time of year, warm hearts.

01:39 KW: So I have to say, I really appreciate that perspective. I've been here bemoaning the cold weather, but we've got many more months of this ahead of us. And so we're gonna flip it on its head and say how excited we are for the season, the cold weather, the lights and maybe some snow, because it's a wonderful time of year.

01:58 MH: It is a wonderful time of year. That said, I, however, this has been pre-recorded, and I'm in El Salvador right now. So I probably wouldn't be saying that if I was in New York.

02:09 KW: Yeah. Alright, so what do we have today to support our conversation with Taylor? I know we always love to have audience questions or polls, other information. So what are we looking at?

02:22 MH: Well, because of the season, and because of where we're at right now, and I'm feeling all happy and cheerful, I wanted to share how the Ellevate community gives back. We ask that of our members, and this is what they said. 24% said they give money to non-profits. We know they are very generous in that way. 22% donate things, again, generous. 12% mentor young professionals. Not surprised at all. 11% volunteer regularly at charitable organizations. 10% volunteer on special occasions. 9% serve on the board of a non-profit, so really using their knowledge, their skills, their network, as part of a non-profit board. And 8% said they volunteer, but they specifically volunteer doing things where they're good at. So they're not the ones that are going to, I don't know, Habitat for Humanity, but really using their skills as professionals to help organizations.

03:24 KW: Which... I did a stint with Taproot, which is an organization in New York City. It might be beyond New York City, where it's connecting the expertise and skills with the need within non-profits. So it may be doing human resources, capacity building or marketing and brand work, but it's a great organization. You should check it out.

03:48 MH: Cool.

03:48 KW: Great. Well, let's get to the interview with Taylor. Thanks all for listening in on this first podcast of the New Year. We wish you a Happy New Year and hope your holidays were fantastic.


04:12 KW: Taylor, thank you so much for joining us today on the Ellevate podcast.

04:15 Taylor Bradford: Thank you for having me.

04:16 KW: I have to tell you, your journey is so inspiring. And personally, I love just how transparent you are about it and the impact and power of how you tell your story. So, would you mind sharing with the Ellevate podcast audience what your professional journey has looked like and how you got to where you are today?

04:39 TB: So I have quite a bit of a story, quite a bit of a journey. And I've been a saver, but I've also been so curious about just being my own boss for a really long time, and my journey kind of started when my husband and I got married. Actually, prior to that, I bought my first rental property when I was 24 years old and lived in one half of it. So I bought the whole thing, two units, lived in one half of it for free because my tenant was paying for everything, which was so incredibly cool. And so I was enamored by that kind of model. How in the world can I start making long-term decisions for myself, things that would be mailbox money for me in the future, and to set myself up so that I'm not dependent on anybody else other than what my investments are doing. And so, my journey kind of starts with that, with that first purchase. And we eventually, like I bought another one. And then I bought a house, and then we bought a couple more, and then we were like at this weird cap. And we then downsized a couple of them because they got to be too challenging, 'cause they were actually in a completely different town to where we were living, and that was a nightmare dealing with tenants in a different town, and so on and so forth.

06:06 TB: But we've been really resilient. I can say for, without a shadow of a doubt, if our journey... And I speak "our" because my husband has been a really great cheerleader and champion for what we do and the decisions that we make. But it starts with just trying. And without us trying, we would have never known if we were gonna be successful. So, I... My background, as far as my degree, my degree is Exercise Science. It's Kinesiology. Graduated from TCU in 2003 and Kinesiology was my major. I picked up a business minor which... Because I was always fascinated by business. I was an athletic trainer in college, and I really loved that. I wanted to be the first female owner of a professional football team, to actually purchase a professional football team, when I was growing up. I was like, "This is gonna help me. I'm gonna get into the sports arena, and I'm going to just get this inside track." And I still... That would still be an amazing dream 'cause I still don't think... I think they've been inherited by women, but not necessarily purchased by women yet.

07:22 TB: And so, I was an athletic trainer, and I was around athletes all the time and... But their psyche when they got injured was so much on me, personally. I was mama bear, and I wanted to make everything better, but the human body can only heal so fast. And so I had to take a gut check of myself. Can I do this for the rest of my life? I don't think that I can. This is gonna weigh me down personally so, so much. And if I'm already struggling with it, and I'm only in college still... And so I went to my advisor, and I was like, "What in the world can I do with this kinesiology major?" And he was like, "Well, I think you'd be a really great personal trainer." So, I went down that road. I was a personal trainer. I'm still a certified personal trainer. But I hung up that hat back in 2009. So between 2000 and... I started in '01, 2001 to 2009, I worked as a personal trainer. And it was a great experience. I showed up when I needed to show up and then managed the business. I created a weight management program that actually still exists today at the facility I created it for, which makes my mama bear heart happy knowing that that program still exists.

08:34 TB: And... But then the petroleum industry really kind of took off in my area. So I'm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and all of a sudden, we had all of these oil and gas people in town. And I had tenants that were coming in that were renting from me, and I didn't know what they did. But man, on paper, they said they made a lot of money. That just got my brain turning. I was really curious. And unfortunately, the first tenants that moved in did not tell me what they did. They didn't say the name of their company, so I could go out to Google and figure it out. But their daughter moved in to one of my units, and thankfully she did. So I figured out they were a land-man, and I didn't know what that meant. But I was like, "I need to know what these people do." And so, I approached, it was an older couple that had moved into my first unit, and I said, "Listen, I don't know what you do, but I'm curious. I would like to learn. So if you will teach me everything you know, I will personally train you both for free." So, they took me up on that offer, and I shadowed them, kind of interned under their company name for six months, learning everything I could learn about the oil and gas business that they were in.

09:54 TB: So they were on the research side of things. And then their company hired me, not their physical company, but the company they brokered for, hired me. And so, I started in the oil and gas industry in 2006. Picked up my first job in early 2007, and I've been in the oil and gas industry ever since. And it was all because I was curious. It was all because I feel like I've got this gumption. When I decide I'm gonna do something it's like, I'm just gonna do it. I'm gonna figure out how to do it, and I'm just gonna go. And so, I've done that even in my own businesses. So I started a blog. So the oil and gas business led me down to actually taking a job on the road full-time, which sent me out to West Texas. It was six hours from my home, and I didn't know anybody out there. I lived in a hotel for three weeks at a time. I couldn't go home but every three weeks, and I was bored out of my mind. I am such a creative person, too, and I had nothing to do. And I wasn't just gonna just watch TV all the time at night. So I decided to start a blog. And I had already had a blog at that time, but it was kind of hit or miss. My husband and I, we own a used car lot, and we were in business at the time, and we've since kind of retired that hat as well.

11:14 TB: But we had a car lot, and I was just seeing some really crazy things. Like just what customers come in and say and late nights to what happens at a car lot, that sort of thing. So I already had a blog that was like hit or miss. I didn't really know what blogging was. But I was like, "I'm gonna blog." So I started a blog in 2011, and I became a five-day-a-week blogger. And I was so enamored by the nitty-gritty of blogging. Connecting with people and learning how to run your social media. And once Pinterest came into play... Pinterest, when I first started blogging, didn't exist and then watching that kind of grow. And Facebook and then Instagram came along. All of these things. And I was so enamored by all of these cool tools that could connect me beyond my community of people that were just close to me in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and I didn't have a lot of connection in Dallas-Fort Worth. I had my personal training clients previously, and I tried to keep up with them, but I commuted to Dallas for six years, an hour away. And so their world stayed in Dallas, and my world came back to my town. And so I didn't really have a close-knit group.

12:28 TB: But I found that close-knit group. I found that community within blogging which made me feel like this is like glorified church camp all the time. I could chat like... Chat with these people all the time. And I joke that when I go to blogger conferences or social media conferences, that it is church camp, because that's like a one-time thing every year, and I get to actually be in the same space with all these people instead of just like being internet friends, which is a little creepy if you're not in that world, you know. [chuckle] But... So I was inspired by blogging, inspired by the community, and it was making... It was allowing me to grow as a creative and also as an entrepreneur, because I started seeing these openings of collaborating with brands and being able to... This could potentially put food on my table if I play my cards right, and figure it out like what's the best strategy and that sort of thing. And so I started teaching how to blog. I started teaching on my website, and I started teaching how to blog, the nitty-gritty of blogging, the nitty-gritty of social media. And it led into about 40 lessons and then I heard my first podcast. And I'd never been introduced to podcasts until that fall of 2015, and I was like, "Woah." The power of audio.

13:55 KW: I hear you.

13:55 TB: People can hear the passion in my voice about the things that I'm excited to share about. I want one of these. And so I didn't know what a podcast consisted of. I started buying some courses. I was in the business of learning all the things and teaching all the things already. So I was like, "This will be just another thing that I learn how to do." And then the spring of 2016, I enrolled myself into Marie Forleo's B-school and decided I wanted that creative entrepreneur business school mindset to give myself a chance to make this podcast, whatever it was gonna be, something. And so I went through that, but then I get out of B-school, and I'm like, okay, the blogger method of launching things is you chat with your tribe members, your close friends, and you say, "I've got this idea, what do you think?" They say, "Yeah, go for it." And then you're like, "Okay," and you hit Publish, and then you just hope. And it's like a 50-50 shot in the dark on whether or not it's gonna do anything because you didn't have a team that helped you, you didn't launch it properly, you just go.

15:05 TB: And so I've had some things do really well and some things crash and burn with that kind of mindset, but I didn't want my podcast to do that. So I found another program, Fearless Launching with Anne Samoilov, and I started her program and launched my podcast out of Fearless Launching. So I launched my show, Boss Girl Creative, July 2015. So I heard my first podcast in the Fall of '14. Anyways, I launched with three episodes on iTunes, and I've been trucking along ever since then. I just put out episode 126 this week. I've not missed a single week. I have a great community of boss girls, and I'm still actively teaching the nitty-gritty of blogging because that is my passion. I want my fellow boss girls, the bloggers, the small business owners, creative entrepreneurs to know that they can add this component to their business and be successful, and it will help them get their services out there, get their products out there, whatever it is. And so that, in a very, very long nutshell, that's my story.

16:16 KW: Well, and I love your story because... And there's a few things I wanna dig into deeper. The first is money. You start off saying how you bought your first rental property at 24. And then, you talk a lot about the financial success or failure of the choices you've made in your career. So, I mean, how did you buy your first property at 24? But then also how important is that financial independence?

16:46 TB: So at 24, I didn't know if I could or not because at that age, you don't exactly have a lot of credit history, but the market back then... And I don't really wanna give away how old I am, but the market back then, it wasn't hard to get a property. And so I had enough money for the down payment, but they were really creative with the loan. So it was an 80-15-5, so I only had to come out of pocket 5% and then I gave out... There were two loans. One of them was a traditional mortgage, 30-year at the time. Well, it's still a 30-year. I'm actually about to put that into a 15, but a 30-year mortgage. But the 15% loan, the secondary loan, was a balloon. And it would balloon at the 10-year mark, I think, is what it was. And so I knew that, "Okay, I'm gonna make that payment on the first note and then the second note, 'cause I don't want that to balloon on me, so I'm gonna work really, really hard to get that paid off way before the 30-year mark. And then I can just take that extra money and put it out against the 30-year mortgage and slowly get that paid down faster."

17:56 TB: And so it was just a creative way. I don't know... I can remember going out to some online resource. Right now, it slips my mind what it was. I don't recommend it, so I'm glad it slips my mind. But I went out and they were like, "Yeah, we can get you finance... Yada yada yada." And the day we were supposed to close, I got a phone call that said, "No deal. We can't finance you." And it put the seller in a bind because he was stacking our closing date on his own closing date for another property in another state. Oh, he was not happy. But it was out of my control. I had no clue that I was gonna be in that position where somebody's gonna say, "Just kidding. You can't buy it," on the day we were supposed to close.

18:44 TB: And so I scrambled really quickly, found a local mortgage broker in town, and was able to actually get it closed within another couple of weeks. And so we ended up moving forward. But what a nightmare to get that phone call. It was right before Thanksgiving, actually, which made it even worse finding somebody to be able to come in behind and try to get a note through the holidays. It's a very, very hard time. I don't suggest trying to buy property during the holiday season. But I knew that long term if I could make this happen, and even if I didn't, come back and live in the property in the future. And actually I live in the property now. It's kinda weird how we've cycled ourselves through this particular property. But I knew, in the future, that I could have two tenants. That once I got it paid for, that was just going to be income for me for my retirement.

19:41 KW: So, my son, who's eight, just asked me to open up a bank account for him. And the reason he did that is because I keep borrowing all of his cash, 'cause I never have cash on me. But I love him. I'm really proud of him for, at that age, thinking about where to put his money and the value of money and how to spend it. Was that something that you had as part of growing up? Because I don't... From every recent college grad I've spoken to, including myself, long-term financial planning and creating that safety net and all of that was not top of mind.

20:19 TB: So I knew, and it did. It stems from my childhood. It stems from watching my parents struggle, and I knew I didn't want that. I knew that... And I have always been a saver. My whole life, I've been a saver. And I'm sure that if we went into like a shrink or something and we started talking about money blocks and stuff, I'm sure that that's where this is coming from. But I've always been a saver, and I knew I didn't want to be in my parents' situation. So I knew I needed to change that. 'Cause I watched my parents kinda struggle, and I knew that once my dad got to retirement age, he had something. The company he worked for had a pension type thing, a retirement plan that was more than just a 401K. But my mom didn't. She was a teacher. She did have state retirement, but it wasn't... I mean, I guess it was okay. But I just saw them struggle, and I just knew when I got out of school that I didn't want that.

21:24 TB: I was gonna work my tail off to make sure that I was set up to be successful. And I can tell you, we've had some low lows. There's been times where our... The money coming in and the money going out was going way too quickly, and there were points where you just walk away and you say, "Okay, this isn't... We have to make a change." And we've done... My husband and I, we've done that a couple of times where we just got too far in over our heads doing things, trying different businesses that didn't really play out the way we wanted to. And so part of it is, like I knew growing up, I didn't want to feel like I could see my mom feeling almost on a daily basis. And so going through school, I knew, "Okay, I don't exactly know how to do this yet, but I'm going to figure it out." And I think it also helped. My husband's parents were active real estate investors themselves. They had a lot of property, rental property in the town they grew up in or he grew up in.

22:25 TB: So I had that as a bonus when we started dating. I started seeing, "Oh, maybe this is the way we can do it." And so it helped to have that knowledge of seeing his family have that already, or were slowly actually trying to get back out of it 'cause they were tired of the rental market. So I think it kinda played where I didn't want to be in my parents' position. And then seeing what his parents, how they set up, basically, their retirement with rental property and by buying low and then holding for a while and renting and then being able to sell in a seller's market, it really kinda cushioned them for their own retirement. So I think getting that from both sides, but also knowing deep down that I've been a saver. And I try to make smart decisions, but my husband, I have to say, is the person that takes a little bit more risk than I do, 'cause and... And the best I can describe this as when I was working as a trainer for a hospital system, I had a W2, and they did a 401K company match, 5% they would match. But I could contribute more than that. I don't know what the cap was, but I could contribute more than that. And so we bumped it to 7%. I was at 7% for a while.

23:53 TB: And then, I guess he had access to the how much I was submitting to the 401K every paycheck. And he would go in without me knowing, and increase my giving by 1%, like every six months or so. And so by the time I realized where my 401K was sitting and what I was contributing, I was at 18%. I would have never done that by myself because I... You know, well, 5%, that's what the company does. I don't wanna... So I'm very conservative when it comes to playing the markets, but my husband's a little bit more of a risk-taker when it comes to that, so he had us investing quite a bit. But I didn't notice 'cause I wasn't a 40-hour a week paycheck. I would have noticed had that been the case, but I... Being a personal trainer, my checks were always different, so I never really clued into the fact that I was giving that much to my 401K. [chuckle]

24:53 KW: But I think that's such an important lesson, and I love that you're telling that story and for our listeners to hear because it's... You can... 1% seems so small, but increasing it 1%, and then 1% and 1%, sometimes you don't notice it and you kind of just become used to that impact on your paycheck and long term really has an impact and it pays off. And can give you...

25:20 TB: Oh, absolutely.

25:22 KW: The flexibility and give you the possibility of doing other things. And I wanted to talk about that a little bit because it's just, your story is so powerful because you see opportunity, and you go for it. So how do you stay so tapped into what's happening and where you can grow?

25:47 TB: So a lot of it has to do with my brain is just constantly trying to move forward, and I don't like to sit still. Like my husband's always saying, "You don't sit still long enough!" And it's 'cause I'm constantly going, going, going. And sometimes, that's kind of a bad thing. There's days where I just have to completely recharge my batteries in order to keep going like that. But I'm constantly thinking about ways to collaborate or ways that I can lift myself up that makes sense for all parties involved 'cause I am definitely a part of that rising tide, like all... When the tide rises, all boats are lifted. I am of that mentality. And so if I can create something that helps people in some form or fashion, but is also rewarding to me, I'm going to seek that out. And I can say I've gotten really creative with some of these things.

26:42 TB: And for example, I went to a conference, it was called Blissdom. It doesn't exist in the States anymore. I think think they have a version of it in Canada now. It was a conference for bloggers, and I had, at one previous blogging conference that came into Dallas, I saw a company represented from my home state of Arkansas there as a sponsor. And this was back in 2011 when I attended this conference, and this was way before brands ever really latched on to the collaboration thing with bloggers and the power of influencers. And I see this girl representing a brand from my home state and I'm like, "Wow! Somebody from my home state," which I thought was the weirdest thing 'cause we were in Dallas. This is not a Texas company. This was an Arkansas company. Somebody believes in all of us here from my home state. And so I walked up to her and I said, "I have grown up eating your product. I'm so excited you're here. I would love to just chat further and make this a connection somehow." I don't even know what that really meant, but I was just like, "I am so happy to see you." And that led to an ambassadorship with the baking company that I still hold to this day. And she paid for me to go to this conference called Blissdom.

28:10 TB: And at this conference, I met this other lady. And this lady had this really cool thing. She ran a community of women bloggers. It was called, and it still is, it's called Arkansas Women Bloggers, and she was looking for a representative to run Texas. And I was like, "I could do that. I could totally do that. I don't know what it means, but I could totally be the face of Texas. Texas is kinda large, but I'm gonna make it, I'm gonna try it." And so we sat down and we started talking, and I wanted to learn more about what the mission and what the Women Bloggers is all about. And since then, we've got eight sister states. We're in Kansas. We're in Missouri and Alabama and Mississippi and Georgia, as well. And we've now have a collective called the Women Bloggers where we have a regional conference called Megaphone Summit. Like all of these things kind of blossom because I have these conversations with these people. And I just was like, "You know what, the worst they can tell me is no, and that's okay. A no is okay. You can't ever grow until you ask." And so I am constantly asking, "Well, can I do this? Can I do this? Will this person want to do this with me?" And so that's kind of how I have created the opportunities for myself is just simply asking. And I think that a lot of people just forget that. That you can simply ask, and the worst they can do is say no, and that's not the end of the world.

29:45 KW: That is so true. Thank you so much, Taylor. It was great to have you on the podcast today. I just love all of the inspiration, the insights, the courage that you've shared with us today. And best of luck with your podcast and with everything you're doing. We'd love to stay in touch.

30:01 TB: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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