Meet Kay Snels, a pretty damn impressive woman.
A former employee of UBER and BossBabe, Kay is now an entrepreneur with an incredible track record in marketing, and she stopped by FastForwardAmy HQ to share her wisdom on all things mindset, money, and starting a business.
Kay started her career at UBER in 2015, and grew with the company, eventually leading a team of 8 people as marketing manager. She then worked at BossBabe, where she built & led the global marketing team and strategy behind the company. Kay grew BossBabe’s Instagram following to 2.2 million, 10x podcast downloads, and closed a year-long partnership with ELLE.
Listen to the podcast episode with Kay here.
Find Kay here:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaysnels in English and http://instagram.com/snelskay in Dutch
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaysnels/
- Subscribe to her newsletter in Dutch or English.
Do you want to read or listen to the episode we recorded together? Have a listen here.
If you work at a startup, you wear lots of hats
And no, I’m not talking about fashion. When Kay worked at BossBabe, her role was super varied, as is always the case in a fast-moving startup. I asked Kay exactly what her job involved at the company. “My role was to save the CEO 20 hours a week – because that time is the most valuable to the company,” she explains. “Not marketing and sales KPIs, but saving the founder time.” Kay took on all the marketing and launches, and worked on BossBabe’s social media presence and podcast, as well as strategizing awesome new brand collaborations. Her role also involved hiring a bunch of other people to support the team’s work.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m currently in the process of building teams for both of my companies: FastForwardAmy and Alfavrouwen. When you’re the CEO of your own company, you probably have to think about hiring, which can be a super tricky thing. I’m an entrepreneur and I’m used to being someone with the vision, so in the past I found it hard to imagine someone being excited about doing the work I want to avoid, like admin. “It’s about finding the people who compliment you,” is the advice that Kay gives me. “You need to find people who match your vision, and who have their own zone of genius.” That way, you can spend your time focusing on your own zone of genius.
Kay’s tip for finding those people is to think about where they might be now. Let’s say you want someone with a specific skill set. Where would they have developed and gained those skills? Which company would they be working at right now? When Kay was working at BossBabe, this method helped her identify possible new hires.
And once you hire those people? Learn to let go.
“Do you work in the business, or on the business – that’s the famous quote, right?” says Kay. “If you don’t let go of control, you’ll always work in the business.”
Learn to manage your energy
We always talk about managing your time, right, but actually, it’s managing your energy that’s the important thing.
“One thing that I pride myself on is the balance,” says Kay. “I set really clear boundaries on when I’m working, and when I’m not working. The key to success is prioritizing.”
It’s easy to set boundaries for yourself, but then realise they’re not realistic because you’re not getting all the important stuff done. Prioritizing helps you get to the bottom of what needs doing, and which are your most critical tasks. And once you’ve figured that out? Communicate those boundaries!
“If you’re not communicating to others effectively, there’s still a chance you get overwhelmed,” warns Kay. “You need that line of communication and expectation management – prioritization and communication go hand in hand in order for you not to get overwhelmed.”
Communication is a crucial part of success, whether you’re a freelancer working alone, or managing a team as Kay has done at various companies. “You need to get to know everyone on a personal level, and understand how they measure success,” explains Kay. “That way, you know how you can help them reach that success, which in turn helps YOU become successful.”
The Belgian vs American mindset
We hear so much about the American mindset when it comes to online business, but that mindset isn’t always so common in Europe. “In Belgium, we’re trained to be super humble – which is a beautiful trait that we need to use to our advantage,” says Kay. “But we can’t let it hold us back. Share your wins, and be okay with doing that!”
The change in mindset is something that comes with time, and with seeing others pave the way ahead of you. Belgian entrepreneurs like me, Jessica and Kay are already on that journey. “In one year from now, people from Belgium will have done the mindset work and will have shown that there isn’t this big difference between the Belgian and the American mindset – let’s manifest that!” says Kay.
There are a lot of limiting beliefs that come from being humble, and that can sometimes hold us back in business, which obviously we don’t want. “Some people have more privilege than others, but with mindset work, we’re all able to create a different reality for ourselves that’s more successful than you’d ever think is possible,” says Kay. “What I really want Belgians to know is that you can do anything you set your mind to!”
The same goes for the hustle mentality.
Every minute on Instagram you see an ad telling you you’re going to be a 7 figure entrepreneur in 5 seconds. “That’s funny to me, because it’s obviously not true,” says Kay. “It’s unhealthy for people to think that you can be an overnight success, or that you can click on an ad and find out all the principles you need to know.”
The hustle mentality isn’t healthy, and it puts unnecessary pressure on us. It’s not a race to the top. “The hustle mentality burns you out really quickly, and it’s not going to give you longevity, which is what you will need to stay in business,” Kay points out.
Build an awesome routine – and stick to it
Part of Kay’s success in managing a million tasks and responsibilities at once is routine.
Her advice? “I’m going to share a lot of clichés, but the reason why clichés exist is because they’re true. I really want people to stop reading 500 pages and downloading 300 sheets of tips, and really just stick to the basic principles: feed your body and feed your mind,” Kay says.
I often hear entrepreneurs – especially when they’re starting out – say that because they work for themselves, they can just do stuff whenever they want. But that’s a kinda dangerous road to go down, because everybody needs routine to operate at their highest level, and without it, we get distracted.
Kay suggests starting with getting a good night’s rest: “I try to sleep 9 hours a night,” she says. “It’s different for everyone, but for me, sleep is important. If I’m at a restaurant, I leave early and make sure that I commit to those 9 hours. Anything less, and I’m not performing my best.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to self care and taking care of your body, but when you figure out what works for you, make sure you STICK to it!
And don’t forget to feed your brain, too. For Kay, it’s reading and meditating. “I’ve also started going on walks,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be long – it can be just 15 minutes – but make sure you don’t look at your phone. Notifications come in, and you’re not feeding your mind. You’re just getting distracted.”
The most important thing? If you do find yourself falling out of your routine, like many of us did at the start of the Corona crisis, snap back into it as quickly as you can. There’s no use wasting time feeling shitty and guilty for not sticking to routine – just get back in the game asap.
For workdays themselves, it’s all about being smart. If you’ve been following me for a while and listening to my podcast, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the CBA method: Catch, Batch, Act. It’s all about grouping your to-do list into types of tasks, and completing them in batches when you’re most ‘in the zone’.
Kay likes to work with theme days, where she batches her tasks and completes similar tasks on the same day. “I have one day where I do all my creative work – email, stories, concepts. I do all of that on one day and it really helps me to structure my week a lot,” she says. “I also started applying this rule: I only do meetings on Tuesdays. I try to stick to at least 80% of my meetings on that day. It’s so great because it means I’m not constantly context switching between other people’s priorities.”
The one thing you should know about marketing
Kay is basically a marketing genius. One look at what she achieved at UBER and BossBabe tells you that she’s a woman who knows her shit. So what’s the ONE thing she wishes all of us knew about marketing?
“I wish everyone knew all marketing is all the same,” says Kay.
We see so many types of marketing around: social media marketing, brand marketing, content marketing, word of mouth marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing… but according to Kay, it’s all the same.
“There’s been this big focus on growth marketing, also from a compensation point of view,” she explains. “Big companies like Netflix want to compensate a growth marketer so much more than a brand marketer or a creative marketer function. To me, that’s bullshit! It’s all the same function and it all goes hand in hand.”
Kay explains that when you focus on growth marketing without brand marketing and the artistic side of things, you get those disgusting Facebook ads, that are really sleazy and turn people off. “You see that and you’re like, wow, this is really a detriment to your brand, and I don’t trust you and your brand anymore.”
Kay is a brand marketer with a growth marketing skill set. Her main purpose within a company? To figure out that company’s identity.
She focuses on getting to the core of the answers to these questions:
- What are your company’s values?
- What does your company stand for?
- Who should you partner with to communicate this?
- Which partnerships would create value for your future customers?
- How do you get people to trust you?
Kay uses my podcast The FastForwardAmy Show as an example. “Your podcast is your sub-brand,” she explains. “It’s about being real, raw and honest, and it complements and feeds into your main brand FastForwardAmy. So think about what your value is, who you want to attract, and why people will come to you.”
It’s also about thinking long-term, and not just focusing on the road immediately in front of you. “I wish big companies could see that it’s all about the long game,” says Kay. “You need to think about the brand. It’s not about hacky Shopify and Facebook ad integrations… that’s not what your brand is going to be about.”
Crushing limiting beliefs
It’s always easier to give advice than it is to follow it, and this is something that Kay has seen for herself first-hand.
“Teaching money mindset and applying money mindset are two very different things,” she says. “Sometimes you can help other people and guide them through something, but then you realise you need to step into the next level of abundance yourself.”
For Kay, the limiting belief she’s been working on crushing relates to money mindset. Her background is in corporate jobs and well-paying roles, so the questions she asks herself are “can I really make money? Can I replace my previous salary? Can I also double and triple that?”
Coming from her background, Kay also knows that she can go back to a big company like Google, Facebook or Netflix, and get a job if she wants to. So her worst-case scenario is actually pretty nice. If you’ve been following along with the podcast for a while, I discussed this in a recent episode.
If you’re struggling with limiting beliefs and fear of failure, take a minute to examine what that actually looks like. Often, the worst-case scenario isn’t even that bad… We experience a fear of loss, but we forget to see the bigger picture of what we have to gain. Most of us feel like the loss of 1000 euros is a lot worse than the chance of earning 1000 euros, which can sometimes mean we don’t want to risk trying.
In the spirit of challenging her limiting beliefs, Kay shared what she’s working on at the moment: a marketing course in partnership with people like me and Jessica who are experts in their own specialities, like coaching, ecommerce, and anything else. Keep your eyes out later this year, because Kay’s working on this project at the moment…
Kay pointed out that we see all these motivational posts in our Instagram feeds and you share them and believe them, but then you run into that situation in real life and realise it’s something that you have to work on. For Kay, it’s about letting people in: as she points out, “you’re never going to execute your idea if you never share it!” And it’s not about NOT feeling fear, because fear is a natural response. It’s about embracing that fear and working through it.
Kay’s fear stems from having such an amazing track record in Silicon Valley, and the expectations that come with that. “I have this clear story in my head – she’s from Silicon Valley and she’s done all this stuff, so what if this thing fails? But actually, if people don’t buy, it’s about finding out why, and working out why, and losing that fear of perfection.” We’ve all been there…
Kay’s advice for future generations
It’s always easy to look at the past and see things we’d have done differently. If Kay could talk to her 16 year old self right now, she'd tell her to start a business. “In the beginning of your life, before you graduate college, there’s so much time! You have 3 month long summer vacations, and you’re living at home, so your overhead – your costs – is super low. Try and launch a brand from your living room at your parents’ place,” suggests Kay. High school students reading this: you’ve been warned!
Final wisdom: Kay’s favourite quote
BossBabe is known for the kickass motivational quotes it shares on Instagram every day, so it’s only fitting to ask Kay for her own favourite quote.
“Access to my energy is a privilege.”
“It’s a pretty cool one,” says Kay, “because it helps you set boundaries with people, whether that’s semi-toxic relationships with family members, or with clients or employees. Protecting your energy is very important because that’s what’s going to keep you happy.”
If you’re now craving all things Kay, you can find out more about what she’s working on over at https://fastforwardamy.com/kaysnels. Do you dream of building a 6 figure business? If so, I’ve got something that will help you out: my 6 Figure Freedom Framework, full of everything you need to know to make that 100k and more.