What’s interesting about organically-grown tribes is that they almost never start out exactly the way they turn out to be. Before becoming this massive community for women, Leader of the Pax actually started as a website for dog moms to get support on how to groom their dogs and how to best feed them. From there, Dr. Nikki Sammet built it into an Insta-famous, eclectic tribe of women who are looking to either start a business, have a brilliant idea but don’t know how to get going, or who already have something established and need some mindset work. She still attracts dog owners, but dogs are no longer required. Listen in to get a feel of how building a tribe organically from your passion feels like as Nikki joins Mitch Russo on the podcast.
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Leader Of The Pax: Empowering Women To Turn Their Passion Into Profit With Nikki Sammet
Our guest is Dr. Nikki Sammet, a psychologist, woman’s business coach, life coach, social influencer, speaker, the persona behind Pax the Dood, and the host of the Leader of the Pax podcast. She has a Master’s Degree in Leadership Development and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Nikki, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. I’m excited to be here. It’s such an honor. I know all about your background. Being in your presence is such a joy.
Thank you. That’s so sweet of you to say. I got to ask a question here, does it take a PhD in Clinical Psychology to build a tribe?
No, it does not. Getting a PhD for me was about self-confidence and understanding more about human psychology. That has helped me connect with more people and understand them, but it doesn’t take a PhD
That’s good because I don’t have one and I bet that most of the readers don’t have one either. I am humbled to be in your presence as well because I don’t think I could endure the level of education you went through.
I don’t think I could ever do it again myself.
I’m quite proud of my education. I have dropped out of some of the finest universities in this country. I feel like I have a great grounding for what we’re going to talk about.Leaders enjoy being around people and helping them become the highest version of themselves. Click To Tweet
The thing about education is it doesn’t have to be “academic.” Education can come from life experience and from the community like what we’re going to talk a lot about. I’m excited to get into it at all.
I had an influential mentor many years ago tell me something pivotal that I never forgot. He said, “Don’t ever let school get in the way of your education.” We probably know by now and readers know this as well, is that the greatest school of all is the school of life. What our goal is with this show and with speaking to you is to help others get past the limitations that they perceive and build a community that will be loyal to them and their mission, lead that community, and grow as an individual. Our core goal as individuals is to grow. Don’t you agree?
Absolutely, and community is key to that. Whether that is building a business or needing support, community is everything.
Tell us the story of how you got your tribe started.
It’s a funny story and it stemmed from my disinterest in social media. I found that I was constantly comparing myself to other people. Every time I was using my own personal account, I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I started my dissertation in my PhD on how social media impacts Millennial women. An interesting thing happened at the same time that I was starting this project. We got our dog Pax and he has such a good personality. He was cute and I fell in love with this dog. I started taking pictures of him and writing captions. In my past, I used to draw cartoons and I loved photography. It was a natural progression for me to be posting about him. I started an Instagram account and what I noticed was is there was such a stark difference between my time on my personal account and the time that I spent on Pax’s account.
Not only did I grow in terms of my own skills and my interests, but so did my relationships. I was in engagement pods with sixteen other dog moms across the country in Canada and even internationally. We all would talk every single day about life and then also about our dogs. There was such a genuine interest that came from spending time on this account. All of the individuals that started to follow him, I loved spending time with them and it snowballed. I then became interested in how to do this for real and how to grow a social media account. All of a sudden, it was 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, and now it’s around 70,000 at this point.
I would never have imagined that happening of using this free platform. It turned my life around. It changed many things for me. The biggest thing I learned from all of this was the power of community. Not only did I feel support from other women who are going through similar things, but then it transpired into my actual business. I’m realizing how many other people felt the same way and that I could also help them. That’s not limited to dog moms, but also in entrepreneurism, business, mental health, and so forth.
It took off and then I started Leader of the Pax which then became a website originally for dog moms to get support on how to groom their dogs and what the best type of food to feed them. I had a Facebook group as well, that I had a bunch of women in. When I started it, I had about 100 women who joined. We would talk every day through posts, ask questions, and then the evolution and the pivots kept coming because I kept receiving different information of what people needed from me. Who would have thought that getting a dog would then completely right my career path here? It’s been an amazing journey.
What I love about your story so far is how organic everything happened. It wasn’t like you wrote a business plan, set goals, began the process, and hired a team. You wanted to post pictures of your adorable puppy and it exploded from there. Now that it has evolved, tell us a little bit more about your tribe. Does it include men? Does it include business people who don’t have dogs? Is it purely for doggy moms?
What I’m doing with Leader of the Pax is I’m empowering women to turn their passion into profit. Whether that means is they have a dog bandana business, they’re passionate about it, and they want to turn it into a profit, or they are a mental health practitioner who wants to start an online platform of courses to help in healing, mindfulness, and different types of therapeutic modalities. I’m helping women in lots of different ways. I do have male following. My clientele is mostly female and I do attract women who have dogs.
I was talking to a potential client and she said that she had a dog. She saw that my account also had a dog. She liked that and it was a relation. She reached out to me, but it had nothing to do with a dog business than being a dog mom. There’s a connection there. It’s like when you have something that you can bond with somebody about, but it’s eclectic. Predominantly, it’s women who are looking to either start a business, have a brilliant idea but don’t know how to get going, or it’s those who are already has something established and need some mindset work. Those are who I’m working with a lot. They may have a dog or they may not.
We know about your Instagram success. Let’s get down to the tribe itself. How many people do you feel you’re actively leading as a tribe leader?
With the Instagram account, this is where I believe the world is a social network. I take my time interacting with each and every one of these individuals. I know they’re taking the time to interact with me. On Pax account, we’re around 70,000. I do feel I’m leading them because I choose to be authentic with what I am posting, whether that’s brand promotions that I’m doing or topics that I’m writing about. I do a blend of my own Leader of the Pax business within Pax’s as account. In my actual business, it’s probably around 1,200. These are all online communities. That’s what I strive to build community everywhere I go. I’m part of a large prenatal yoga community here in San Diego. When there’s a new person come in, I love to get their phone number and introduce myself. I love the feeling of walking away from every single class with a phone number to have a new date with somebody, and knowing that bringing more people involved to my life can bring benefit to me and to them. I don’t know if there’s an exact number but I can tell you that it’s expanding.
You are an extrovert. Do you believe that that’s a characteristic that someone has to have or be to lead a tribe?Following your genuine interest will turn into financial gain. Not tomorrow, but it will end up eventually happening if you stay consistent. Click To Tweet
No, I don’t. I believe in servant leadership which I learned in my graduate program, leading from any chair, and being able to be behind the scenes. I don’t think leaders have to be completely boisterous and always have to be the voice. A lot of times, the community can drive things together in a team-oriented way. Leaders have connective energy that enjoys being around people and helping them become the highest version of themselves. That’s what I would say in terms of extroversion. If I did my NBTI again, my extroversion would probably be much less than it was as I grew up. I have found that I’m much more introspective and reflective. I like my own space a lot more, and my personal tribe is much smaller than it used to be. I like it that way.
I hate to inform you, but you’re growing up and that’s what happens when you get to be an adult and mature as an adult. You narrow the band of people who you care about because you want to spend more time with them. I am the same way. I do feel I’m an extrovert, but I also know introverts who act like extroverts when they have to. That’s why I wanted to ask the question. I do appreciate your answer. You have about roughly 800 people that you’re actively leading. How long did it take to get to that point?
The Pax the Dood account took me about two years to get to the point of being at that level. There were lots of things that went into it. If anyone is unfamiliar with growing a social media account, it takes a lot of time, energy and engagement. It is a full-time job. I was balancing it while I was in graduate school and another job, but it was something that I was super passionate about. With Leader of the Pax, I’m a little over 1,000 at this point. That’s probably taken me about eight months. I would also add in that Pax’s account and my tribe grew quicker there because I was fully focused on that one lane. Now I have been diversifying my business, which means I’m not able to put 100% into every single aspect. It does take time.
You mentioned social media several times and I also am anticipating that some of our readers are unsuccessful at building a social media following. It’s hard. I’ve been spending years at it and I don’t have anywhere near the following that you do. What role does a VA or a third-party play in building social media? Did you use third parties to help you or did you do it completely by yourself? Is that required for a tribe leader?
I have not used any third parties for any of the accounts that I’ve built. I’ve been all organic and all myself. There are a time and a place. I fully embrace asking for help and leveraging other people’s talents and time, that way you can focus on other areas of your business. In terms of social media, the challenges in hiring a VA are it’s not authentic. It’s not your voice. It’s not going to come across as you connecting with your audience. That’s important when building a social account. There are millions and millions of accounts. How do you stand out? You just be yourself. If you’re hiring somebody else to write your content, that may not be advantageous for you.
On the flip side, there are many influencers who are using a VA or a third party to do the end work. Let’s say that I would write all the content, have the right picture, have all the things that I know I want to do, and then that person would hire a team to post and to engage back with the following. I do think you get to a point, especially if your business is expanding, that you do have to hire a team. I know that all the large individuals that I follow that do have a huge social following use teams. You cannot do it alone. I have to set aside time to respond to comments and I don’t get to all of them. I don’t get to all of my direct messages. If I had a team, that would be helpful. To answer your question succinctly, it’s a yes and no. It depends on the timing of your business, where you’re at in business, and how you want to engage. In the beginning, I would never hire anybody else to grow an account. It needs to be you.
I agree with that because it needs to be your personality like you described. What software or services do you use to help you grow your social media status?
A couple of different things that I have always told clients when working on social media is number one, we want to stay authentic. We want to be as organic, genuine, and as ourselves as possible. Having these superficial photos is getting old. We all know that it’s fake. However, having strong photo quality and having clarity within your photos and with your writing is important because people are looking at your page for three seconds, and then deciding if they want to keep scrolling. It takes ten seconds for them to go, “I’m going to follow this person.” A couple of tools that I’ve used for the past couple of years are editing tools like Lightroom which is part of Photoshop. I use Canva for graphics and fun things. For all of my Leader of the Pax stuff, in terms of my podcast, when I put things out, I use a tool called Wave, which allows me to take snippets of the recording and post it.
A great tool that I would recommend anyone to use are Google Doc or Google Sheet, or some sort of planning device. It can get a little overwhelming to try and post every single day and have content readily available. Having an editorial calendar that you can put into a spreadsheet and see what you’re going to post ahead of time has been helpful for me as well. It’s the analytics that comes in. I do hesitate to always dive into analytics with clients because they can get in your head like, “This post did better than this post. My following count dropped this week.” I don’t think it matters. What matters is that you enjoy what you’re posting, it comes from your soul, and it resonates with you because then it will resonate with other people.
The final element, which I know that you are, is consistency. It requires consistency with any sort of social media work. If you’re not consistent, it’s amazing how quickly the whole thing can fall over because people got to see you every day in order to connect with you.
A big piece of this is why it’s hard to do because it is about consistency. The advice that I’d have for that is having batch planning, sitting down and doing a day of posts, preparing yourself for what that is. If you’re unable to do that, every day or every other day whenever you’re posting, it can be organic. It can be something that you learned that day that you want to share. It doesn’t have to be pre-planned. It can be very fluid. To add on for educational purposes, for those who are looking to grow their social media is I did a lot of research on how to grow a social media account. I looked up how hashtags worked. I looked up accounts to tag. I then would connect with those accounts and learn how they post. I would talk to them. That’s also something that you can do. Start collaborating, connecting, and reach out to these people on your social network.
I’ve come to the conclusion that without social media, unless you are directly connected to the members of your tribe, it’s going to be hard to keep people engaged. I appreciate what you’re saying. Our entire culture revolves around growing a company, being in business, and generating revenue. How do you monetize your tribe or your community?
In the beginning, you don’t. You put a lot of free content out. You start to do a lot of market research, figure out what people like, what people don’t like. You learn what you like and what you don’t like. I remember in the beginning, I was doing coaching. That had nothing to do with my sole purpose, but I was doing it, and I learned as I went along with the ride. In terms of monetization, whether it’s through social media or growing a business in general, number one, start with your own passion for what you’re interested in doing. I believe that following your genuine interest will turn into financial gain. Not tomorrow, but it will end up eventually happening if you stay consistent.
What I’ve done is the way that I started and was able to leave my corporate job was, I first was getting brand collaborations and was getting paid for them. I learned how to negotiate with brands. I worked at a pet influencer management company for a few months as a consultant. I learned the industry and how to start working with these brands. I collaborate and negotiate with the brands. I only worked with products and services that I appreciated. That’s where it began. For those who have 1,000 followers, you can still work with brands. You don’t have to have 60,000 followers or 100,000 followers to begin monetizing your account.Follow your passion, grow your company, and build your tribe. Click To Tweet
Influencer marketing is huge and it’s a great place to begin this journey. I started with brand promotions. What happened was individuals reached out to me and were curious about how I grew my account. I started a coaching business from there and I had a bunch of clients that I taught how to grow their accounts. I turned that into a coaching business. I had many other dreams and I have so many other places I wanted to go, and then life happens. It zigzagged in another direction. I stopped doing my one-on-one coaching with influencers as I realized it wasn’t something that I was super passionate about. What I was more passionate about was helping women not necessarily become influencers, but start a business based on passion. I started marketing and doing that. I’m not always necessarily putting myself out there with email campaigns and funnel clicks. I’m not doing a lot of that. A lot of it is very organic from my own posts, blog posts or my podcasts. People are coming to me. I first started with brand promotions and then I went into coaching. It was based on the need of what other people were looking for and what my talents and skillset had to offer.
What I’m hearing is that if you’re not in the game, you don’t get to play. What you have done is get in the game, even if it was accidentally, by taking some snaps of your puppy, which later became something important to you and to your followers as well. How can others take their first step or their next step to build or grow their own tribe?
First was getting out of your own way. A lot of people feel uncomfortable sharing their truth, showing up, or being vulnerable especially on the internet because anybody can say anything and you can be anyone. It is challenging to put yourself out there. There’s a lot of comparison that goes on. The number one thing I get from new clients is, “How do I do this when this person’s already doing this? Their pictures are so great. She writes so well.” It’s a battle that we have to face all the time. To take the first step is to follow your interest. Post what you want, write about what you want, and connect with the clients that you’re interested in.
If you don’t know, then you just start. You just do it. What I’m trying to do is I’m adopting it and I’m seeing if it fits. Whenever I have an idea, instead of negating it, I’m implementing it and see what happens. I’m trusting myself because every time I do it, I get either an accolade for it or it’s like, “That did not work.” What you have to do is to try. The easiest way to start is to start with something that you like. That wasn’t scary for me to take pictures of Pax, post him, and write about things that he was doing because I liked it. If you’re doing something that’s incongruent to who you are and what you want to do, that may be a little bit more challenging for you to step forward. If you’re following your genuine interest, it’s going with the flow. You’re able to take the next step.
Dr. Nikki Sammet says, “Follow your passion, grow your company, and build your tribe.” Thank you for appearing on the show. Readers, take action and implement it. You’re getting the recipe. Go bake that cake. I’ll talk to you soon.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Dr. Nikki Sammet
- Leader of the Pax – iTunes
- Facebook – Pax the Dood
- @PaxTheDood – Instagram
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