I KNEW I NEEDED SOMETHING I COULD CONTROL THAT COULND'T BE TAKEN AWAY UNLESS I CHOSE TO SELL IT.
AS TOLD BY OUR FOUNDER
Since starting this company in 2018, I've sat behind five different desks. Some were made of wood, some were folding tables and at one point my desk was a footstool. I'm feeling nostalgic today. It's January 2021 during the height of a deadly global pandemic and I'm looking back at the last two years and thinking of how we've grown.
Whatever You Say Productions is a company built by women, for everyone. And if it weren't for the strong young women in my life this company simply wouldn't exist. Let's go back to the beginning and you'll see why I'm nostalgic.
It was 2018 and my job security was slipping through my fingers. I came to New York City in the winter of 2014. I was a bumbling, fumbling 24 year old whose resume read, "Nanny." But over the next four years I built the kind of career that's highlighted in movies - skyrocketing from receptionist to Director using charm, resourcefulness, obsession and the stereotypical sacrifice of time with family, a balanced diet and zero sleep. I was on top...until I wasn't. If it weren't for my fall, WYSP wouldn't be here. I talk about it in an episode of our podcast, "When I Knew" poetically titled, "When I Knew I was being fired" but by the time 2018 hit, the career and life I had manifested out of thin air was turning from a solid block of ice into dry ice. I could still see it but I couldn't hold onto it no matter how hard I tried.
I spent close to four months unemployed and when TV shows and movies dried up, I started listening to podcasts. I was frustrated. Women in media were so marginalized. There were the scholars, the political commentators, the sex-obsessed, the moms, the serial daters and the home cooks. But you couldn't find all of those women on one show and if you know any women, then you know that many of us are all of those things at one point. I almost gave up trying to find one I liked when I thought, "I should just do this myself." I decided that Politics would be my main focus with a dash of dating. Trump had just won and he was all anyone could talk about...everyone except young women (aside from Tomi.) As an experiment I tried to engaged some of my girlfriends in political conversations and my success rate was solidly one in ten. Why? Because unless you had dedicated your studies or free time to US Political History, sharing opinions and prediction on the topic was overwhelming and intimidating. I needed to change that and that's when Addriana came into the picture. I woke up one morning decided to go for it and she knew exactly what I need in terms of tech, structure and everything behind the scenes. "Dicks & Politics" aired in November 2018 and shortly thereafter, WYSP was formed.
If you're thinking of doing anything either professionally or personally and you think you can do it without Abby, you're an idiot. I had started a couple of small businesses prior to my time in NYC but none of them grew as quickly and were as successful as WYSP. Addriana had the tech and marketing covered but strategy and growth was where I was in over my head. This had to be impactful and profitable and with our competition hot on our heels and quick to churn out similar content to ours, I was overwhelmed and knew I needed an "under reactor" in my ear to keep me focused on the goal - high quality, unfiltered content from real people who had the education, experience and chops to back up what they were saying. Abby was and still is one of the most critical components of the WYSP machine and she now handles PR and strategy.
I OWN THE COMPANY AND COME UP WITH THE IDEAS. ABBY FILLS THE GAS TANK, YANKS THE REIGNS AND FLIES OVER MY HEAD WHEN SHE HAS TO. MOST CEO'S DON'T APPRECIATE A CSO THAT CALLS THE SHOTS BUT I LOVE IT. THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME WEAK. IT MAKES ME WISE ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT I AM STILL LEARNING.
It's New Years Eve 2019 and in two months our audience had grown from zero to thousands around the globe and we had three podcasts: "Dicks & Politics," "Mikroscope," and "When I Knew." We wanted to focus on Politics, Pop Culture, Sociology, Environmental Science and Psychology because that was what mattered to our journalists. We had the talent but we needed help at the executive level. I'll never forget sitting in my living room with Addriana. It was one thirty in the morning and we were burnt out. That was when we called in Keri to compliment Abby and get our operations and legal documents organized. Keri then became our head of HR - a major need and inexcusable flaw at every single organization I had ever worked for. I wanted our HR resource to be just that; a resource. Not a, "I'm on your side" good cop bad cop who will eventually screw over the employee in need of help. I told Keri from the start that unless someone was in danger, whatever was discussed stayed between them. I also implemented a Mental Health clause into everyone's contracts which protected people from losing their position due to family emergencies, mental health "bad days," sick days and parenting leave. I also offered three months off for new parents of either gender (when/if gender if relevant) and we've never revoked those standards.
It's now the Spring of 2019 and we're covering Politics, Sports, Gaming, Entertainment, The Arts, The LBGTQ+ Community, The Trans Community, Environmental Science, Human Interest and Cuisine.
BEFORE WE KNEW IT, OUR GLOBAL REACH HIT 1.7M+, WE HAD SEVEN PODCASTS AND A FULL EXECUTIVE SUITE.
We needed help with everything and thats when we hired Sarah. She started off as my assistant and as of 2021, she's our Chief Creative Officer. When Addriana stepped down at the end of 2019, Sarah stepped up to takeover all of our audio engineering and was the only person willing to answer their phone at 4 am when I was having an "epiphany."
HERE WE ARE TWO AND A HALF YEARS LATER. OUR REACH AND PLAYS CONTINUE TO RISE ACROSS EVERY PLATFORM YEAR OVER YEAR AND WE'RE NOT STOPPING.
The demand for genuine content from real people who don't filter their opinions or curate their social media content is at an indisputable fever-high. I have always encouraged our journalists to be themselves on and off the air. I have never not once had to defend them against listeners who are intolerant because we don't attract that type of crowd. Our audience gets it - we're all human, live and let live and don't be an asshole.
IT'S EMPOWERING AND REFRESHING TO OWN A COMPANY WHERE PEOPLE CAN BE AUTHENTIC AND IT DOESN'T RISK THIER CREDIBILITY, SAFETY OR CREATIVITY. THAT'S WHY WE RETAIN TOP TALENT. FORTUNE 500'S SHOULD TAKE NOTES.
Our formula works and the numbers back that up. We've collaborated and worked with incredible people - Dana Powell from "Modern Family" and "Bridesmaids" who hosted season one of, "When I Knew" with me. Radio & TV Personality Daryn Carp has been on our shows a few times. We welcomed Honey Davenport from RuPaul's Drag Race to "Fifi's Fun House" and we've worked with top professors, professional athletes and scientists. As for our journalists - they were all friends of mine who rose to the challenge of reporting on the latest without using click bait, scare tactics or embellishments. WYSP still to this day has never paid for advertising. Our growth is 100% organic through word of mouth and that is absolutely a testament to our team and our content. We're beyond grateful for our listeners who got us here.
I've learned that you have to put one foot in front of the other and if you feel like sprinting; sprint! By the time the summer of 2019 rolled around, my career prospects in NYC had dried up and I chose to pack up my life, swallow my pride and return home to the countryside of New England where I grew up. It wasn't easy. It wasn't fun. However, I was lucky to meet Katie who gave our analytics dashboard a makeover and we could finally see just how much we had grown over the years. Somewhere between then and now, I met my husband and as I am writing this story I am 19 weeks pregnant with our first child, days away from launching a retail brand and still loving every moment of nurturing WYSP as my full time job. I think this desk is my favorite so far. It's better than a folding table and more comfortable than a footstool!
You may be wondering what happened to "Dicks & Politics." Well, we rebranded in 2019 and that show is now called, "At The Newsstand" which airs every Wednesday. But I couldn't let it go so I brought D&P back and we'll be covering the end of Trump and the beginning of Biden. We have to! Thats how this whole thing started...a young women overwhelmed by politics in a world run by dicks who thought, "I should just do this myself!"