Be The Best Negotiator With @JohannaVoss

Today we’re speaking with Johanna Voss of Johanna B. Voss Agency. Johanna B. Voss is a talent manager, trusted by social media influencers who want clarity on how to build their brands, grow their businesses, earn their worth and plan strategically for the future. On behalf of her clients, she’s closed close to $3.5M dollars of brand deals, partnerships and speaking engagements. Her clients have partnered with brands such as Kroger, Walmart, AARP, Little Northern Bakehouse, H&R Block and ALDI. Negotiation is something she thoroughly enjoys be it for her clients, friends or with strangers. Entering her 12th year of working for herself, she understands all about the necessary pivots entrepreneurs take along their journey. Prior to her work in the talent management space, Johanna worked on the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry for more than 7 years. Johanna is a world traveler, lived in Spain three times, can often be found cycling Colorado's mountain ranges, or asking the question "What if you...?"



[00:00:00] Jessy: Hi everyone, and welcome to the WIIM Podcast. Women in Influencer Marketing is a first of its kind exclusive networking group made up of inspirational women. This podcast is where we explore influencer marketing and get real about women in business. Find us wherever you download podcasts and of course, you can always find us at iamwiim.com. That’s iamwiim.com. 

Hey guys, and welcome back to the Women in Influencer Marketing Podcast. My name is Jesse Grossman. I’m your host and also the founder of this incredible community. I’m super happy to have you guys here today for so many reasons, number one, we have a great guest, number two, we have lots going on in our community, and number three, I just happen to fricking love podcasting. So it’s nice to just like have a conversation and know that like really awesome people like yourself are gonna be listening or else I wouldn’t be doing it. So one, to the stuff that we have coming up in the community, super exciting, we have really, really cool events. 

Depending on when this episode airs, we may have just come off of having a dinner. An IRL dinner here in New York City that we are capping it 50 people because that many people wanna show up which is mind blowing but also like kinda makes sense, I feel like people are really into in person stuff again, I know I am. 

It’s really refreshing being in person with some people and I know how enthusiastic you can get when you feel like you wanna be in a room with people that you admire and just wanna rub elbows with, so that’s what our dinner is. I’m super excited about that, we’re gonna be going on a little bit of a tour throughout a lot of different cities, not just New York.

We’re gonna be doing LA, we’re gonna be doing Chicago and we’re also talking about some other markets for these dinners and events. So keep an eye out for that, those are definitely gonna be coming up and always super fun bringing me back like pre pandemic vibes, coz we used to do events in all these cities, it’s just been a long time, so we’re bringing it back. Also, we have a really wonderful guest today and I knew that she was gonna be wonderful before we even recorded the episode, why? Cause she’s been on the podcast before, she’s a mentor as part of Wiim and she’s even taught a masterclass for us. So who am I talking about?

I’m talking about Johanna B Voss. She is a wonderful talent manager, she’s trusted by her social influencers who want clarity on how to build their brands, how to grow their business and just earn their worth, and also just plan strategically for the future. She’s closed about three and a half million dollars worth of brand deals, partnerships and speaking engagements.

And her clients have partnered with huge brands that I know you’ve heard of like Kroger, Walmart, ARP, H&R Block, Aldi, so many more to list. Negotiations there’s something she thoroughly enjoys whether it be for her clients, friends or even with strangers. 

She’s entering into her 12th year of business for herself, and she absolutely loves being an entrepreneur, we talk about that a lot in this week’s episode. I love her history, I think it’s super fascinating, so it’s worth mentioning again because prior to her work as a talent manager in the influencer marketing space, she worked on presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John Carey for more than seven years.

She’s also a world traveler, she’s lived in Spain three times. We talk a little bit about her upbringing in this episode where she has family in England which is super cool. Her mother is British and she can also often be found cycling, Colorado’s Mountain Ranges cuz she’s based in Denver. You can find her beautifully active Instagram account @JoannaVoss. And we’ll be linking all of that below. 

 I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope you also check out our events page because not only do we have dinners, we have really great virtual events coming up, too many to name it’s all @ iamwiim.com/events and iamwiim is I A M W I I M .com/events.

And my last thing to say, if you are not a member of WIIM yet, you are severely missing out and yes, I’m judging you. I’m lovingly judging you because I have witnessed the magic of being a member of this organization and I can attest to the insane amount of value that our members have gotten. They’re hiring people from WIIM, they’re getting hired from WIIM. I just talked to somebody the other day, I just reached out to catch up and she’s like, I dunno if I ever told you, did I ever tell you that my current job, like I got from WIIM? And I was like, no! And why didn’t you? Like, I love hearing those stories and she’s worked there now for a few years. So it’s so cool to hear the amount of the power in just bringing incredible people together. I feel like the word networking has such a taboo. And the reality is it’s just what I just described all that it is, is just bringing incredible people together. Being in the right place at the right time and being amongst really wonderful people is absolutely gonna influence who you are and what you do and who you do it with is a really powerful thing. 

So stick with WIIM, we got you. We got your back, and we will always be giving you things like we just send out a promo code to another industry event. We’re always giving out discounts, we’re having events, educational stuff but at our core, we’re just an incredible community and you can get to know really, really amazing people in the industry just for being a member. So I hope you check us out iamwiim.com and without further ado, let’s got into this weeks episode.

Well, I’m super excited to have you on the podcast again. This is our second time. Must have meant that you said some really interesting stuff the first time around, so thank you for that, I really appreciate it. 

[00:06:25] Johanna: Hopefully I’ll deliver something interesting and exciting today too. 

[00:06:29] Jessy: I was gonna say no pressure, but the first time is pretty good. I’m hoping that this time is gonna be even better. 

So for those listening or watching who didn’t happen to catch the first episode we’ll totally link that below. We’re also chatting before we started a recording about you did a whole masterclass, for WIIM. So we’ve found a whole library of Johanna and l what she’s got, everything in her repertoire of industry stuff.

But today we’re gonna talk about l some different stuff but before we do, I know there are definitely obviously gonna be people tuning in who this is their first time getting to know you. So, I think it would be cool this time and we didn’t really cover this in any of our last sessions together. I wanna learn a little bit more about you. How you grew up a little bit and even what you were as a kid. I think it’ll be really interesting to hear cuz of course that indicates how you became the woman you are today. So tell us a little bit more about your upbringing? 

[00:07:30] Johanna: Yeah, it’s funny thinking about it. You don’t often reflect back but when you ask this question I was like, Oh yeah, I feel it makes total sense where I am now compared to how I grew up.

So I am from Connecticut, I’m a proud Connecticutensian. Definitely a proud New Englander and East coaster born and raised and my mom’s from London, my dad’s from Boston, that always made for interesting conversations in elementary school when we were studying the Revolutionary War, I will say that.

I have two passports, dual citizenship between England and America so that’s just another little fun fact. I have a younger brother, there’s four of us, we are super tight, super close family. That is something that is carried with me through my life. It’s family and friends and my loved ones are number one in my life. Everyone knows it, all my friends know my family and vice versa, and I absolutely adore my family, my extended family, everybody. 

I’m a total book worm. I still am to this day. Some of my earliest memories are going to the library and walking out with many books as I can carry stacks of them and I would just sit and read for hours on end. To this day, it is one of the things that still brings me the most pleasure and is something that just grounds me. If I’m a little crazy and frenetic, I just get a book and I just need to lose myself in a book, and I think I’ve read 65 books so far this year. Like I legit, I’m a veracious bookworm. 

[00:08:59] Jessy: That’s insane. Okay wait, I have a question, are you more of a hold it in your hand type, turn the page book person? Not an audio, not a kindle? 

[00:09:09] Johanna: Nope, so I’ve read 67 books. I’ve decided here to track them, that is true. That is also not counting books that I’ve started and then didn’t like and I stopped reading. Which is something I now do, I don’t try and suffer through books I don’t like.

Not audio, I am not an audio learner. I’ve listened to I think one audio book and it was actually on a CD in 2004 when I was driving cross country after the general election. I used to work on political campaigns for eight years, and it was Bill Clinton’s biography book, the one that was like this big, and I think that was the only time I’ve ever listened to a book on CD.

I’m not a Kindle. I’ve never owned a Kindle. I could never, I traveled around the world for a year and I would love books from hospital hostile and read whatever was available. So yeah, I’m very much like a tangible book person. I love memoirs, I love mostly nonfiction, political biographies.

I think I’ve read like every book on every political figure. Political biographies, memoirs, biographies. I love generational sagas and memoirs. So you know, Wild Swans for example, is about three women there’s like a grandma, mom and a daughter. I love those kind of books that reflect back and forth on the cross generations. I love those sort of stories like the Chico and Orchid House.

I don’t have a favorite book, and I never re-read books. So I share that because, it was very much, I’m also pisces, so we’re very dreamy and imaginative and creative and often in our own little world, and that is still true to this day. I’m still very dreamy, I’m still very creative, I’m still very imaginative, I remember playing for hours on end in my bedroom. I had two games, I would play library and I would put those like slip cards in the back cover, which is what you used to check out and you’d get the stamp. I would put those in the books and then I would play veterinarian when I was the front desk and welcoming the pets in for their vaccines and like and stuff. So I just remember sitting for hours in my bedroom and self entertaining, and to this day, I can self entertain incredibly well. 

[00:11:11] Jessy: That’s so interesting cuz you said you have three other siblings or four other siblings? 

[00:11:14] Johanna: I have one other sibling. 

[00:11:16] Jessy: Oh, you’ve one other sibling? I obviously must heard you. Okay, I’m glad I clarified that. But still I guess my point is it’s interesting you had a sibling. I’m an only child and so I can self entertain. I don’t know, I guess it depend on the personality. How much older or younger is your sibling?

[00:11:32] Johanna: So my brother’s two years younger and we are super tight. And so, yes, I can self entertain very well, but we also had so many adventures, there was a stream next to our house, we lived at the bottom of a hill, so we would slide in the winters and snow, my friends and his friends, like all through, if you look at all the pictures, it’s like all of our friends, coz we’re only two years apart. I don’t know necessarily that our friends overlap, but we are constantly in gatherings with some of my friends and some of his friends. And into high school, I would go to parties and my friends would show up at my house to see if I was there and I wasn’t there and they would grab my brother and then my brother would roll up at a party. And even now, my friends don’t know each other and still text and stuff. 

So, could play very well by myself, but I’m also like, yeah, I had just tons of fun and adventure with my brother and my family, we would go camping, that was our vacation, we went camping for a week or two, and bike rides, we would go canoeing and just lots of like outdoor, not crazy outdoor stuff cuz it was Connecticut. It wasn’t Colorado or New Hampshire or something. But we did a lot of just outdoor fun activities. We were always, and we still are very much together, as a family and still super connected as a family unit.

[00:12:42] Jessy: So it’s really refreshing to hear that you’re so connected to your family, even to this day and I’ve been transparent on this podcast before, I’m actually like estranged from some of my family and stuff like that, and I’d love to hear from you, what do you think it is that really bonds you guys together? How have you been able to maintain such a really lovely relationship over so many years?

[00:13:05] Johanna: Yeah, I think a lot of it has stemmed from what I’ve learned and seen from my parents,right? It’s definitely one of those things where I thought it was normal, that everyone, I pen pal with a couple aunts of mine ,texts with aunts and uncles and cousins

and tend to be the one that brings different family members together, like, oh so and so cousins in town. Okay, let’s have a dinner party and invite the other cousins that are around. And my mom is super close, even though there’s miles that separate them from here to England. I’ve always been super connected to my English family.

There’s never been blowouts, there’s never been fights, there’s never people, there’s no drama, which I think is a huge help. We don’t get drunk, we don’t drink at parties. I think that helps. I’ve heard a lot of people just, it seems like a lot of times fights stem from like too much booze at a party and then someone has an issue from 20 years ago that comes back up again.

There’s lots of reasons for on paper for the family to have disagreed and somebody died and there. Like, my dad’s one of six, right? So there’s lots of siblings that are involved in sort of the passing of the torch .And yeah, we’re all just super connected, like we gather a couple times a year, everyone gets along, we all look forward to it, we all love it, we have a family group email. During Covid we started zooming, I think every other week for a year. I visited extended family in Virginia cuz I love learning, I love ancestry stuff and genealogy. I could geek out on that stuff forever.

So, I’ve met extended family, I’ve gone on trips with a cousin and meet extended family and we’ve pulled them into our covid zooms and stuff, and I still text and chat with them. So yeah, I guess I could say I just probably learned it from my parents and I guess I hit the jackpot there. 

[00:14:50] Jessy: Well, it sounds like you’re like incredibly participatory in it and in fact it almost sounds like you’re the glue in some instances, you’re like let’s get together, let’s do this, let’s do that. So certainly not like a passive role, but yes it’s takes two to tango. So it’s really nice to have lovely family members who will meet you where you are and totally do a thing with you.

So, that’s awesome. I’d love to hear also so, I remember in our last conversation you were talking about how you used to work in politics and political campaigns, and I was like, oh, tell me more, that’s so fascinating, I’m such a news junkie. So we won’t rehash that, but it’s cool to hear that again and if anyone else wants to hear more, Totally listen to our past conversations.

I think I’d also love to learn from you what you like to do outside of work today, especially living in a beautiful place like Colorado and how it informs the work that you do. Does it give you time away from work to feel more rejuvenated or does it really help you focus more or I don’t know. How does your past times and fun activities make you a better business person?

[00:15:58] Johanna: Okay, so I live in Colorado, it is gorgeous. I live in Denver, I love cities, I’ve got the mountains again, luckiest woman. I went running this morning, I work out couple days a week, I ride my bike when it’s not cold and snowing, and then when it’s cold and snowing, I go off and have winter adventures either snowshoeing or skate skiing. Which is cross country but way harder and way more fun. 

I love hosting dinner parties, I love sitting in coffee shops and exploring, I don’t know, I kinda just love random new stuff, I love adventure, that is spontaneity and random are some top values for me. Things that I’ve just learned that both in my business and in my personal life keep me fueled.

 I really love that. Like, Oh, there’s a new coffee shop, two towns over it has this cool story. I’m like, okay, cool, I’ll go sit there and work there for the morning. I know now being 43, that, that time away is what allows me to do really well when I’m in my job. I know it is so hard, especially when you’re starting to take time off cause you’re like, Oh my God, there’s so many things to do and like I could be do this and I can do.

I am not creative in certain times of the day, the week, my cycle. I’m really tuned in and connected to that, and I don’t try and push a square peg in a round hole because we’ve all sat there when you take four hours to do an email, you’re like, that literally could have taken me seven minutes and I’m so distracted or whatever.

So when I have those moments, I just walk away. I’m like, okay, what has to happen? What’s like the emergency? What am I in the middle of? And then I’ll just turn my computer off and walk away, or actually I’ll go read a book. Maybe I’ll go do something active because I know that it’s not worth just sitting there. It’s much more beneficial for me to check out.

[00:17:38] Jessy: To that exact point, I think it’s beautiful personally what you’ve created for yourself. You work for yourself, you have your own company, it seems like you’ve always had a really clear vision on what you wanna create. Maybe it’s just my perception of it but it seems like you’re like, no, I’m good. I’ve built what I want, this is the type of growth that I want, this is exactly what I’m looking for and like it’s here and I love it, it’s really exciting to see that.

My question is, It’s wonderful to hear that you’re architecting even the day to day that you’re looking to experience where like if I’m not feeling it, I’m not gonna white knuckle my way through it.

And that’s a beautiful thing to be able to do. What do you say though to those who feel pressured? To meet deadlines or to do what their boss is telling them to do and don’t necessarily have the freedom that you do, should they seek it out? Should they just acquiesce? I don’t know, what are your thoughts on those who do feel the pressure? I’m sure you feel the pressure too, so I don’t know. What do you have to say about those folks? 

[00:18:44] Johanna: Yeah, it is obviously easier for me coz I work for myself and I’m not on the rat race treadmill by any means. This is a good question.

So if you were working for someone and you’re feeling that pressure. I think having a really strong sense of self even if it’s just like using this industry as an example, so let’s say you’re in the either the agent side, the brand side or you’re working on a talent management agency. I’ll just use contracts for example, right? Find details things you have to really pay attention to if your boss is on you about getting something done, if you’re able to have a conversation and say, hey, such and such boss person coming forward with a solution and like I understand that this needs to happen. I would love to have until noon tomorrow because my best time to read agreements and make sure I don’t miss any details is in the morning. I’ve blocked my calendar for this, etcetera, etcetera versus saying, oh, I can’t do it tonight, I can’t do it tonight, I don’t wanna do it tonight. I’m much more proponent of propose a solution that is positive. Your boss wants to get the job done right, your boss doesn’t want you to mess things up, your boss wants hopefully you to be happy and be in a good work environment and work culture.

So I think if you’re feeling that pressure from above, maybe identify one or two things that are, that those pain points, and think of what the pivot is, where you can suggest something that is positive to help your boss see your perspective and understand that you’re a human and you know why you may need to do something tomorrow or maybe they’re on your case for working after hours, but maybe listen that’s when I do my best thinking, my kid’s in bed, dinner’s over, whatever, my boyfriend’s watching his show and I can have an hour, that’s actually when I do my best work.

I think communicating having a strong sense of self was, I don’t think a lot of people do, cuz we’re caught up in what everyone else thinks and wants, right? It’s hard to just sit, literally sit with yourself, but the more that you’re able to do that and understand your best standard operating procedure and then being able to communicate that in a way that is positive to whomever needs to hear that information, that would be what I would say if you’re working for someone else and filling that pressure. I hope that makes sense. 

[00:20:52] Jessy: Oh, it makes total sense. And you know what, I also just wanna add to that too. So you’re talking about having a really strong sense of self and I agree wholeheartedly with that. You know what I think people don’t talk about enough though, when I hear that, I think my initial instinct is yeah know what you’re good at. I also think that having a strong sense of self is being okay and accepting of what your weaknesses are and where you’re messy and the things that are quote unquote negative or not looked at as well. So I don’t know, I just wanna add that too, cuz I think that’s a real true sense of self.

But the step further, yeah communicate it and be confident in the way you communicate it, right? Stand firm and have a strong sense of self when you’re communicating your sense of self. I think that’s really important. So you mentioned, how you’re in beautiful Denver, Colorado and I think that of all places to feel grounded and find you know who I am deep down inside, it’s like a beautiful place to be able to fricking discover that.

I also know that you mentioned that you had an event in Denver, recently, which I wanna dig into this I feel like myself included, so many people are really amped up about doing in person events again. We’ve been locked down and quarantined and then when we weren’t, I was like, is it safe? Is it for responsible to get people together? And it sounds you had a pretty successful in person industry event, so I don’t know, tell us all about it I wanna hear more?

[00:22:31] Johanna: Yeah, so honestly, it was the legit, most badass, coolest thing I’ve ever done. And my clients will totally back me up on that, everyone was, they’re already like, when are we doing this again? We have to do this at least once a year. 

So all of my clients, seven women came to Denver from all corners of the country for four days. Everyone arrived on Wednesday and then a couple people started to bounce on Friday, a couple people had to leave on Saturday, and then the last person left on Sunday.

And we didn’t have an agenda. So originally we were planning in the fall of 2019, so three years ago, which is so crazy to think about. We were organizing something for April of 2020. I had rented a big Airbnb, people had bought tickets, everyone was coming to Denver for just a gathering, just to hang out and have a good time together.

Well, we all know how that went, that didn’t happen. So they’ve all been in my case to do something, and I was kind of like, ooh, I don’t know you have everyone, do I want people to travel? It just didn’t happen. And then probably six months ago, I thought, okay, I want this to happen, I need to pick a date because everyone’s calendar is crazy.

So, we picked this date probably six months ago. Come to Denver and I’ve been trying to be better about a couple times a year having just an everybody, okay, we’re all gonna hop on a Zoom and we’re gonna block this time off for an hour, come for the hour, come for half an hour, come for 50 minutes, come say hi, whatever works.

And so on that call, I’d ask them what do you wanna do? What do you want me to organize? Everyone just wanted to hang out and just connect and chat and get to know one another cuz not everybody knew everybody. I had met everyone but that wasn’t the case with everyone else. And so it’s mostly just like get together in person and hang out.

And one of the ideas that came up was doing a video. I don’t know how I look back and I’m like, how did this whole video thing happen? So everyone arrived on Wednesday. We had a first dinner meet and greet, hang out, delicious food at Linger in Denver. And then, thursday I hired a videographer, rented a studio, had a photographer.

We made a video that’s gonna go on my website that was so badass. I saw it last night, I had to go in and record the voiceover for one section, and I saw a clip of it, maybe about 85% done. Honestly, it gave me chills and I was getting all choked up. I think I was getting choked up because there’s so much about this world that’s intangible, right? We’re all online, it’s all digital, I’m in my office I don’t see a ton of clients often. But having that video with all of my clients there, it captured us, it’s this one shot. Speaking of agencies and brands that would hire my clients speaking about us and like what we’re all about and what we do and like come hire us and literally giving a taste of what we’re like and it just did such a great job capturing us and our personality and the fun like, oh my God, I’ve never laughed so hard.

So we did the video ,that folded into a photo shoot on Thursday. Had a dinner Thursday night together, breakfast Friday, and then we just walked around Denver and hung out. There was no, I had things planned out, but it was very loose, like, okay we’re not ready for lunch yet, but we’re gonna go do this and then we’ll actually move dinner up and have dinner earlier and go get drinks.

And everyone loved it and it. I knew it was gonna be good, I’m obsessed with my clients, I love them all, they’re all amazing. It was truly better than I could have imagined, meeting in person, being connected, I just kept hugging them and touching them and just being like, I can’t believe you’re here and I was just, it was so great to have them in Denver and to host them. And I heard a couple of them saying it was kinda like a mini conference in that, you know when you go to a conference and that the actual takeaways the best things that you scribble in your notepads, that you go back and that you do differently in your business. 

The changes that you make or the person that you hire come from those conversations in the elevator or you meet someone in line for the bathroom or you’re standing there at the lunch buffet and you’re talking to someone and that’s the conversation that you connect with and they’re like, oh no, my VA is this person or oh, there’s this Facebook group that’s super revolutionary, you’re like, hey, let me give you the name of my person who helped them with SEO or oh, here’s an app that I use to make videos for reals. It’s literally the simplest not dumb but just simplest things. It was basically four days of that.

So every conversation was impactful, people had sent me questions ahead of time to ask the group. Anonymously or they’re like, I’m just curious to know what other people are like making for ad revenue versus monetizing reels versus monetizing TikTok. There were some generic questions or were some questions specific to certain people.

So I would ask them, have these conversations start to happen? We would connect as a group, some side conversations would happen, people would then share and connect. There’s since been emails and Word documents, that have gone around of people sharing all the resources of people that they work with and who they’ve hired and not necessarily for other people to go hire all those people for just people to see like what other people are doing right behind the scenes things.

So basically the four days was all those little conversations that are so incredibly impactful. We’re all just floating and the content, oh my God, if you follow me on social literally this is all you’re gonna see for the next five years because I have so much content. 

[00:27:47] Jessy: It’s so good and I’m excited to see it when it comes out. Your whole energy changes when you talk about it, so it’s a really exciting, cool thing. How did this come be? And what do you attribute the success mostly to? I’m sure people wanna recreate this experience. 

[00:28:10] Johanna: Yeah. Well I work my butt off to organize it. 

[00:28:14] Jessy: Step one, work your ass off. 

[00:28:17] Johanna: Yeah that’s step one.

 I got a hotel to host us and get couple comp nights and some media rates, which was cool. Had a couple sponsors, people who sent me things to put in welcome packets and stuff, which was also cool. Those were just bonus fun, add-ons.

I think the thing that led to its success is, it’s our group. We all wanna hang out with each other, we all wanna support each other, we all wanna be connected with one another and we all wanna spend time with one another. And clearly it wasn’t just me because everyone else. I have one client in Denver, but everyone else rearrange their life, bought plane tickets, got on a plane, got themselves to Denver, got in the Uber. It was work.

Not just for me but for my talent to show up .And everybody was committed to that. If you’ve been following me on social or know me you know, I’m obsessed with my clients. I’m super particular about who I led into this world because of that dynamic and because of that balance. I always have the final say on if someone reaches out and I wanna work with them.

But I always check in with my other clients because they may know something. Or like, oh my God, I was on a photo shoot with this person and like they were a total diva or they’ll tell me the chatter because yes, your business matters and how well you’re doing, I work off commission, like that’s just business.

But in a much deeper sort of intangible way, your personality in who you are, how you show up your mindset, how much are you willing to be part of the group, how much are you just not wanting to contribute. We are a greater with the whole of our parts than us individually. And so it wasn’t something I would’ve been able to articulate a little while ago but probably this year I’ve been able to see us great, our greater collective power rather than, oh I’m Johanna and I represent Yvette, Ali and Lorraine.

It’s like, no, no, no. They all think about how they represent everybody else and our agency. I know not everyone has that dynamic, I have a small boutique agency that is by default originally and now it’s by design. There are other agencies who are in growth mode and wanna scale and bring on more talent managers and manage more talent.

That’s not where I’m at. It is only ever gonna be me. I’m very clear on that because if any one of ’em was like a bad apple or rude or cranky or didn’t have the right attitude, it would’ve been a completely different ball game and I never once, had to worry about that because they’re all like obsessively emailing me and texting me about like, oh my God, I can’t wait for this and that, and I can’t wait to talk to Laura about this and I wanna connect about Ali, about this.

It’s like everyone, I was the one who said, okay come to Denver, here are these dates, get on a plane. But collectively we all contributed to make it a success. 

[00:30:59] Jessy: Well, and there’s a really powerful thing for being the person who brings the right people together. Like the people who are meant to collaborate and do really cool shit together, and that’s a really powerful thing, just like getting people in the same room. That energy compounded by the amount of people that are in that room, that’s electric, you really freaking feel that. What were your goals though, going into it? Speaking of this energy, was it for them to collaborate, was it for them to generate new business or was it just to watch and learn and experiment with an event and see what happens?

[00:31:34] Johanna: It wasn’t to make new business, that was not ever like on the radar. It was to first and foremost, especially when I was thinking about it back in April of 2020. I just want everyone together, I just want everyone to connect, I hate to say network coz it’s like we all know each other, we’re all just like hanging out together.

But to strengthen their relationships with each other and I wanted them all to leave, sad to go and asking me about when the next one would be. I wanted them to leave wanting more, not to be like, okay, I’m good, I’m fulfilled, I’ve learned everything I need to know and I’m ready to leave now. That was not the case.

Everyone was like, who had to leave? Obviously, eventualy, unfortunately, they had to leave much as I tried to hold onto them and get them to stay in Denver forever. Nobody wanted to leave. Everyone’s, like, we’re still obsessively texting and DMing and messaging about ideas that happened and connections and oh, remember that conversation?

If I had to pick one thing, that was it. It was just to have that connection strengthened between all of us and to build those relationships so it wasn’t just me to each of them, but the ones that didn’t know each other to just strengthen our web of our agency and of our group and our crew.

[00:32:47] Jessy: Awesome. So you were speaking a lot about your clients and whenever you talk about them, your face lights up, I know that you are very particular about, like you said, who you let in, but for good reason cuz like once they’re in it seems like they’re all your kids, like they’re all like 

[00:33:03] Johanna: I’m totally their momager.

They call me their momager all the time and honestly, because this is the first time we were together with a group .We’re getting in the Uber I’m like, okay, is everybody here? And I would literally go down the list in my head to make sure everyone was there, I was like, I feel like your mother right now. So yes, they are my kids.

[00:33:19] Jessy: They seem like it, and all of the beautiful ways, you talk about them, you’re so proud of them and the work that they’re doing and just helping and supporting them. So I’d love to get a little bit of a behind the scenes peak into how you work with all these incredible clients, coz I know that if they’re a client of yours, like you have vetted them and like you feel so strongly about working with them. I’d love to know ,for maybe your most lucrative client, you can or cannot name who that is, it doesn’t matter. The point that I would love to dig into is what advice do you give your most lucrative client to navigate their career and meet their goals, whatever they are?

And then maybe you have another one who’s like struggling to achieve their goals, but maybe have a lot of potential. What advice would you give each of them? 

[00:34:09] Johanna: So, the first one about advice, the most lucrative client or clients is I remind them at the end of the day, it’s their brand, it’s their choice. They can say yes to a brand, they can say no to a brand that has a lot money, no money.

I’m like, no one’s judging you and nobody knows behind the scenes if you got paid or if you didn’t. I’m not judging you. I present the information to them on , okay here’s this project, if they ask, I’ll be like, yes it may be less than your rate, but here’s why I think you should do it.

Bigger picture stuff the network, the connections, the opportunity, their client portfolio, the goals where I know they wanna get to. But I often remind them, cause I imagine that perhaps sometimes as you get more successful, perhaps, especially if you hire a team and you have more salaries to pay. That people might get a little away from remembering that this is all theirs. They can say yes or no to whatever they want. They don’t have to do anything. So I often remind my top earners about that, that I’m like, do you wanna do it? Do you like it? Then do it. If it’s a project that brings you joy and you’re excited about it and it makes sense for your brand and you’ve been wanting to redo this video thing and now you have a chance to redo the video, great, go for it.

Or conversely, give them the mission. If it is a seemingly well paid project, I give them their permission to say no. If you know the agency’s being a pain in the butt, or it’s been super stressful, or the timing’s not right, I just remind ’em it’s their choice. And then the other thing too is just not to overthink it.

That’s the big thing that came up during our retreat last week, was to stop overthinking things. I have A lot of my clients who’ve been doing this for 10, 12 years who Googled what is a blog? Started their websites and their brands to put recipes, for their family and friends could find them.

 There was no visions of grandeur. This industry didn’t even really exist the way that it does right now, so that is different compared to another client of mine who was much younger and when she came in, in this space, it was an industry, it is an industry. You can study it in school. She could decide that she was gonna make a business of it versus other clients who, not like they were on the forefront they’re the deciding ones, but they were in the just by nature of them being around as long as they have, it’s been more unfolding as they ‘ve been progressing forward, and this group can learn from this group and vice versa. I think the people that started earlier in this industry didn’t start it as a business and now it’s become a business. It’s much more planning, much more long content editorial calendars and stuff like that. And now it’s much more just quick,

TikTok, I’m gonna grab my phone, ooh, I’m in a moment. Bada-bing bada-boom, okay, something, make this video, TikTok send it, grab a trending audio, done. That’s new, and so that is a piece of advice especially when you layer in type A perfectionists. Is to stop overthinking stuff. Not oh, go be trying, go do everything on TikTok but just stop overthinking.

Stop worrying about that perfection because people aren’t as particular in noticing and there’s so much more content and there’s so much more noise, now that’s two pieces of devices, you can make your own choices. This is your business and your brand, and stop overthinking it.

Then conversely, the person who maybe is having, not their best year or maybe has gotten a little bit off track. I would just revisit, I have had this conversation, I will be hopping it again, is just revisiting, what is your brand? It can change because maybe you had kids and your kids are older. Maybe your kids have left the house and now you’re empty nesters, or you got married, you got divorced, you moved. 

There’s lots of reasons to re-look at your brand and re-look at your content and just to ensure that it all makes sense. The conversations are that ,okay, what is your brand? What’s the value you’re providing? What’s the service you’re providing? Who are you serving? Okay, let’s look at your content. Are those aligning? A lot of times when they’re not, you can tell the business opportunities have dropped off and so it’s just recalibrating and maybe it’s archiving some old photos. It’s getting photos shoots back on the calendar, coming outta covid a lot of people trapped routines. We weren’t scheduled photo shoots and content creation, going out and doing things the way people were pre-covid in terms of running your business. So that was a bit of a disruptor for a lot of people.

And so just re-looking at, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not doing like a, oh, the word has totally escaped me. But just reviewing your content and just making sure it’s all still aligned, and then rejiggering to make sure you’re getting back on that track. I’ve had that conversation with clients in the past and she’s got her stuff back online and it’s great to see that her hard work has been paying off because she’s been having a banner second half of this year after chatting with her earlier this year.

So those are the conversations I would have with someone who is not having their best year. And honestly, sometimes this is a total crapshoot. We have no idea, why brands pick who they pick when you have 10 people that are all similar. So sometimes you’re also just at the whim of people’s budgets and decisions.

[00:39:12] Jessy: Totally. I appreciate that. I feel we got a good sense of it’s fun to hear a stream of thought from you and how you’d advise them and what to think about. And I don’t know if I were an influencer, I would wanna be represented by you. I feel like you’re very powerful. I mean it about the advice that you give have a ton of knowledge but also you’re very down to earth and you, you have a very grounded perspective, I think and as an influencer, I think that would mean a lot. I think in that same spirit, there’s so many people who work in influencer marketing.

It’s wild, like the title of our industry it’s called Influencer Marketing. And yet I feel like influencers aren’t enough of a focus sometimes, and here’s what I mean by that. I feel like there’s a lot of people who hire influencers, that I’ve never like actually worked directly with them, like how you have to really get a sense of how they tick and what they’re like and what they’re all about and what’s important and not important to them and stuff like that.

So you also have such a day to day intimate relationship with so many really incredible creators. Could you give us a sense of something we might not know about, what it is to be an influencer and what they do on a day to day? Just something you don’t think we know about Influencers? 

[00:40:37] Johanna: Yeah, so I think something I run into often, sweeping generalization about to happen, so brands and agencies seems a lot of times they forget these people are humans, they’ve got lives. Yes, it’s a business but perhaps they have other work, perhaps they’re homeschooling ,women being in the sandwich generation of caring for parents and kids. Maybe cross country lines and doing it internationally across different language barrier, not barriers across different languages and across different country lines and time zones and those other people in their lives.

And even if they’re single, it doesn’t exclude those people because those people have lives and families and friends, obligations and stuff. It’s just sometimes I see brands with this quick turnaround time and I’m like you don’t just want them to you love them for their content which are these professional photos.

That means they work with a photographer. So they have the photographer takes the pictures, works on them, the photographers other projects. It’s like sometimes there’s this expectation of a quick turn or you email me at four o’clock on a Friday, Mountain time, I’m like you are done working East Coast time and wanting things end of day.

And I’m like, it is end of day, there’s just sometimes these expectations that to me give light, that it is forgotten that influencers are humans and they are living their lives no matter how successful their business is. And no matter how many people they have on their team or if they’re a one woman show and that’s all they wanna do and that’s fine.

It’s just these crazy requests and expectations of turnaround time, availability and you want a recipe. You can’t just whip off a recipe like you want an original recipe. Recipe creation, figure it out. Go to the grocery store, get some ingredients, recipe tests two or three times before they have the recipe.

Check nutritional guidelines to make sure it fits within your guard meals of facts and sodium and all of the things. It’s like that takes time. And so I just so often see that part, that human element is lost in my conversations and emails I have about different projects and people reaching out to hire my talent.

[00:42:46] Jessy: I can really appreciate that. I’ve certainly witnessed it too and I don’t even know if it’s important to analyze why people lose sight of that but I don’t know, it’s just , it’s unkind too. And the amount of expectations that are placed on people and I think that this comes up a lot on this podcast which is just can people have more empathy? Can people also take a little bit more time to even just understand the process of the other party of the partnership? If it’s a real partnership is not part of it, isn’t that a component of it? 

So in that vein, it’s really exciting to see people like yourselves who are starting their own talent management companies. It’s such a cool side of influencer marketing where you can be incredibly entrepreneurial and make a killing and help influencers and facilitate deals and just have your own incredible company. In a lot of instances a marginal amount of up start costs and it’s really cool to see how successful one person can be. Don’t get me wrong it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of expertise and being really good at a lot of different things cuz you wear a lot of hats. But I would love to hear advice from you for somebody who’s starting out in talent management today.

Maybe they worked at another agency and they wanted to like, Oh so prefer to represent talent and just go out on my own and do this or maybe they’re just graduating school. But are there any things that you wish you had maybe done differently or things that you did particularly right when you were first starting out as a talent manager?

[00:44:35] Johanna: Okay, things I did right. Kind of goes back to what I was saying at the very beginning of this is a strong sense of self. I listen to my gut, I trust my gut, I have very clear pillars of what is important to me personally, professionally and I’m okay walking away from that. I know that takes work again when you’re 25 and 26 and or starting a business at whatever age, there is that element of oh my God, I just have to say yes to projects keep the lights on. I’ve been there, I get it, but this is my answer having now, lots of years 12 or so years working for myself and that wisdom.

I would recommend or offer some thought to someone who is wanting to start their own talent management agency or go off in that direction is do it on the side. Meaning, when I started my business as a nutrition coach 2011 I think, january 2011, I had put all the eggs in that basket. I wasn’t working a job to make sure the bills were getting paid and I had this on the side. So it was very, very stressful, and I think I spoke about this in the past podcast cause it is something that is advice that I would say , don’t do it that way, don’t put all that stress and having to make the job, that you wanna happen, like have to happen. Cause it just has, you just get a different relationship with the clients and the work and the projects. 

So if you wanna do talent management, do it on the side. Take on someone who’s maybe starting or just beginning or reaching out, maybe quite isn’t at the level, maybe they wouldn’t quite yet be the perfect client because they’re income of your commission doesn’t quite sustain a full-time work but do it on the side to learn and understand how this works. To go through multiple cycles, to do client projects, to have lots of brand negotiations, to understand so much of this is a no before you get to the yes.

 That takes a certain thing to, I’ve talked to a lot of people who, oh, I pitched 10 clients and or I pitched 10 brands and nothing happened, and I’m like yeah and keep going, that’s just the nature of this. I probably say no to 80 to 85% of the projects that come in for my clients and I’ve actually just done the math, they’re almost at 900 inbound inquiries for this year. That is a lot of no’s so having someone that you do, you work with on the side, where you can go through the motions and learn, and isn’t that high pressure, high stakes, I’ve launched my agency and now I have to make it work.

There’s a lot on the line. You wanna understand agreements and contracts and the different language and whitelisting and usage and what does all that mean? Because you’re representing your clients and you wanna make sure that you’re setting them up for success and that you’re not putting them in a situation where they’re like, wait I didn’t agree to have my face on a billboard.

And then you’re like, oops, I didn’t think to look about like imprint usage. Learn, mentor, shadow someone, and I don’t mean for a month, three months. I literally mean for like six months, nine months this is a marathon thing have a long term strategy .That will contribute I think much greater your to your success than just trying to wing it and scramble and figure things out on the fly.

That’s what I did, it’s mostly worked out for me. But I also was in politics for eight years and it’s a lot of the same, you ask 10 people for one person to say yes kind of thing. So I had a lot of that mindset and training which I really do think has sent me a great service to be successful at what I’m doing now and just to be an entrepreneur in general.

But a lot of people don’t do that and a lot of people are put out five emails and they’re like no one got back to me. I’m like okay, so you gotta revisit your email or you just keep at it. That’s the nature of this piece. 

[00:48:02] Jessy: Oh my God, you’re speaking my language. People who will definitely remain nameless.

I’ve been…

[00:48:08] Johanna: Oh yeah, I got some . 

[00:48:11] Jessy: Just like that, it sounds we have some names that and instances that we’re thinking of where I’m just like, dude you’re just beginning, why are you so discouraged already? Like why are you letting this get to you? I don’t know. I feel a lot of people blame things like that on generational things or who knows what.

But I just think that it’s a personality thing and it certainly contributes to how you’re raised, I do think that’s why I wanted to get into. How did you become the woman that you are today? Cause I do think our upbringings and really contribute, in a really big way of course to how much tenacity do you have? Your work ethic, how many no’s are you comfortable hearing?

And talent management is not for the faint of heart at all whatsoever. My last question to you is on the other side. So these are for people, question before is beautiful answering for people who are starting out in talent management, getting comfortable, having tenacity things like that. Is there any advice that you would give to somebody who’s well on their journey been a talent manager for a while, things that maybe they should keep in mind or think about maybe doing in a certain way that’s just helped you a lot in your business?

[00:49:34] Johanna: Yes, know your pillars. Just have that sense of self, of pillars of what’s super important to you because I think when you’re, you are successful, right? It’s like wow, I have this person who’s making X amount of money a month, a year and then you do the 20% you’re like, ooh that’s in my pocket, that sounds good.

It can be very easy to get caught up in that. I’m not gonna lie, I wanna make more money, I want more money. I have lots of financial goals and things and aspirations that I am still working towards that having someone who makes boatloads of money would help facilitate. 

But where I’m going with this is having that sense of self because if that person compromises my values, my quality of life. I don’t care how much money you’re making, you already know. I don’t know that everyone’s there, I’ve definitely said no to people who make lots of money because I’m like, oh, you’re already a pain in my butt.

And you are not following instructions. I’ve asked you to do a couple things, couple basic things, you’re not listening to me, you are infringing on my boundaries which I have articulated. Which is fine I have clients who will text me over the weekend and say, I know you’re not working as the weekend, but I just want you to know this thing that is different than me saying, please don’t call or message me or please do it by this day, and then they just blow past and do it on their own timeline without any context. And they constantly do that. I’m like, oh, this is your, this is your behavior. Yeah I don’t care how much money people are making. That to me, if you’re compromising my quality of life and I’m not excited to get an email or text from you, that’s a huge red flag. So I think it will are successful and are continuing to be successful, right? One measure of success is the income and the money and that can be a shiny object of having talent pop up, who could you do 20% on that and they could bring you in a lot of money. So I would just say continue to stay very clear and true to what works for you and how you operate, and don’t lose sight of that. 

[00:51:26] Jessy: Totally. And you, you gotta trust your gut on those things too. Especially if you’re someone like yourself, I empathize with the position you’re in. I think it’s a beautiful thing to have the amount of freedom that you have, being a solo entrepreneur, I’m a solo entrepreneur as well.

I have a couple people contractors who help. But I sometimes look at the other side, other people who have lots of colleagues and am like, it’s be nice to bounce ideas off of people or get other people’s, I need a gut check. I need you to check me on this. What is your opinion about what I’m going through?

And just a second set of eyes on things. So if you’re starting out and you’re doing it on your own, it’s you, yourself, and you so I think that it’s probably a matter of just like continuously checking in with yourself and maybe asking other people in your life. It doesn’t have to be like industry related.

In fact, maybe a fresh perspective is sometimes healthy to have with people in your life that you trust. So I think that’s such solid advice and I think it’s awesome to hear. It’s always such a pleasure having you on the show and I’m just excited to share you with even more people because I love how active you are in the group.

I know how giving you are to our members and you’ve befriended so many people who just always speak so highly of you. You’re like a great model of the type of people that we want in WIIM to be honest.

[00:52:52] Johanna: Thank you.

[00:52:53] Jessy: Very supportive, very driven, and to have been successful in your own business. It’s true but you’re girls girl. It seems like you’re very supportive of your fellow women in the industry and I think that’s a really big testament probably to how you grew up.

[00:53:08] Johanna: Yeah.

[00:53:08] Jessy: There’s some through line in there for sure. So with that being said there any final thoughts that you wanna share with our audience before we head out today?

[00:53:18] Johanna: I would say if you’re here and listening, you’ve obviously found WIIM, kudos to you because what Jesse has grown here with this community has not gone unnoticed by me. I mean just as you’ve been watching my journey, Jesse, I’ve been watching yours and I have so much gratitude for this community that you’ve curated and pulled together.

I have now connected with a couple talent managers that were just like, we’ve got our little crew that are a resource and gut check and sounding board because we do operate, in a silo and I would’ve never found these women if it wasn’t for you. I love how people are posting casting requests and like, hey, I need someone for this or that or does anyone ever connect at this brand?

 A lot of that vibe and direction has come from you, so for anyone listening do the membership, you’re in a great spot, this is a great community of people, show up participate, you definitely get what you give and when you are deciding to reach out to people for questions and want to connect and pick people’s brains, I will say come with questions, that is very helpful, someone who gets off requests to people who wanna pick my brain, I’m fine to chat with people but I will tell you it goes a lot further. If you’re here are my three questions, I would like to know specifically how you deal with this situation. Rather than tell me your journey, I’m like no because honestly, you can find it in so many other places and that to me says you’re not doing research and you’re just being a little lazy, so… 

[00:54:41] Jessy: I’m so happy that you’re bringing that up. That’s such a good point to bring up. So it’s also worth mentioning that you’re part of our mentorship program as well and I just wanted to chime in briefly to say I 1000% cosign what you’re saying right now, because look women is a networking organization, what you said first is so accurate, which is what you put into it, you get out of it, but that’s life. That’s just a life thing, that’s not exclusively a WIIM thing by any stretch of the imagination.

But also to that same point, if you are reaching out to someone like Johanna, we are gonna absolutely list your social handles and stuff and the show notes and people can reach out to you just cuz you’re a member of women you’re very present. 

When you do if and when you do have pointed questions. I love that you brought that up, we have a whole list of mentorship session guidelines because of that. Because I had heard people say, so I got on this call with this person and I’m happy to be a mentor with the WIIM but they didn’t really ask anything. Like, I, like, I’m happy to be a resource.

[00:55:54] Johanna: How do you get started? Or tell me more about what you do. And I’m like, are you serious? I’m turned off is like, don’t waste my time. But if I’m like, hey I’ve got 10, 15 minutes or whatever. Someone’s like, can I take 15 minutes? And they have great questions, I will happily chat with them for half an hour, 45 minutes. Do a follow up like that is so much more beneficial than just a generic, I didn’t really do any research and I’m being lazy. Those are annoying. 

A hundred percent. Don’t be, I hate to say don’t be something. I always like to say it in the positive, in the affirmative but first of all do research 1000%, but don’t waste their time but also don’t waste your own time. If you’re gonna meet with somebody that you admire take full advantage of that situation. What do you really, really wanna ask of that person, and maximize your time together and really take full advantage of it .

Again, I think this is it’s interesting to talk about like in the sense of a mentorship session or just like a phone call or a conversation or a coffee. But I love what you’re saying because I also think it broadly is applicable to just life and how you approach and attack your life. 

So I just wanted to chime in and cosig on that. I really appreciate you bringing that up, again, it’s been a huge pleasure having you on again. I’m such a big fan, I hope and I’m pretty sure that you know that. So for those of you who are new to knowing about the amazingness that is your agency please check her out.

She has incredible talent that she represents, we only scratched the surface of why they’re incredible and who they are, just thank you for being on again today, you’re the best. 

Thanks Jesse, I really appreciate it. I love everything you’ve curated here with WIIM and I’m super psyched to be a part of it, and it would be weird to think of a life without you and without WIIM, so thank you very much for all the work that you’ve done to even like, bring us here today.

[00:57:49] Jessy: Bring us here today, when I think of women, I think of some of our best members. You’re absolutely always on the top of that list, and best is subjective, but it’s really just because of how you show up and how you support others. 

[00:58:02] Johanna: Yeah

[00:58:02] Jessy: And how you share and if all of our members were like you, WIIM would be 10 times better than it already is. So…

[00:58:09] Johanna: Yeah. 

[00:58:10] Jessy: Thank you guys, thank you for joining today. So appreciate it and we’ll see you next week guys. Take care.

[00:58:17] Johanna: Awesome, thanks Jessie.

[00:58:18] Jessy: If you enjoyed this episode, we gotta have you back. Check out our website for more ways to get involved, including all the information you need about joining our collective. You can check out all the information at iamwiim.com. Leave us to review a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask you to do is to share this podcast.

Thanks for listening. Tune in next week.

Johanna Voss


Johanna B. Voss is a talent manager, trusted by social media influencers who want clarity on how to build their brands, grow their businesses, earn their worth and plan strategically for the future. On behalf of her clients, she’s closed close to $3.5M dollars of brand deals, partnerships and speaking engagements. Her clients have partnered with brands such as Kroger, Walmart, AARP, Little Northern Bakehouse, H&R Block and ALDI. Negotiation is something she thoroughly enjoys be it for her clients, friends or with strangers. Entering her 12th year of working for herself, she understands all about the necessary pivots entrepreneurs take along their journey.

Prior to her work in the talent management space, Johanna worked on the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry for more than 7 years. Johanna is a world traveler, lived in Spain three times, can often be found cycling Colorado’s mountain ranges, or asking the question “What if you…?” Follow her on Instagram @johannavoss.

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