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Instilling Confidence in Your Students, Demystifying Strategy, and Establishing & Holding Boundaries

Erica Nash 0:00

Join me today as I have a chat with Pia Silva, founder of no BS agency mastery, about the role competence plays as a course creator, and how to instill that confidence in your students as they chase after their big goals, demystifying strategy, and establishing and holding boundaries that model responsible business ownership, but also honor student needs. This is an episode you don't want to miss.

Welcome to next level course creator. My name is Erica. And this is a podcast about creating premium online programs that participants never want to leave. If you want a program that serves the whole person satisfies participant needs, and creates brand ambassadors who tell all their friends about how awesome you are. This is for you. Listen, and as we go beyond conversion numbers, sold out lunches and five figure months to get to the heart of the matter. Taking care of the people who have already said yes, let's go.

Today's episode is going to be so good. I am joined by Pia Silva, founder of no BS agency mastery. Pa, thank you so much for saying yes. And coming on the show to have a conversation. Please tell us a little bit about your program about you in general and just the work that you do.

Pia Silva 1:26

Yes, pleasure to be here. Erica, thanks for having me. So no BS agency mastery is a program that I started about 18 months ago, based on a previous program that I had called badass your business bootcamp. I, I teach. In that program, I taught service businesses how to build their businesses. And in this iteration, I have honed in specifically on one to two person agencies, I help them scale up to 30 to $50,000 months without hiring employees while cutting their working time by up to 80%. So it's really about how to scale up while staying small and nimble.

Erica Nash 2:11

That's amazing. I am just so like, I just love the business model so much. And just the idea that you that it's possible that you can stay small and still reach those really big goals.

Pia Silva 2:23

Yes, I love that too. And it's based on my agency that I built with my husband, Steve, the two of us have an agency called worst of all design, where we build entire brands in one to three day intensives. And we charge 25 to $50,000 and up for that. And I wrote a book about it wasn't about that it was about branding. It's called badass, your brand. But I wrote this book about branding in 2017. And I shared throughout the book stories about our business, and I just had so many people who were in our industry saying, wait a second, how do you do that? Can you tell us how to do that. And that's really how this, this program came about.

Erica Nash 3:03

And it's amazing. Also, that's the best name ever for a branding agency.

Pia Silva 3:09

Thank you, I love it.

Erica Nash 3:11

So in my work as a course consultant, but also as a consumer of online courses, I see a lot of course creators create programs to assist their participants in achieving really big goals that require some big, maybe intense and uncomfortable steps, sort of like, you know, you're doing with this one to do person model with these really big numbers. And, you know, we see all the time that people fall into this sort of imposter syndrome where they might self sabotage, or hold themselves back in some other way, because they don't believe they can move forward or just because they're frozen in fear and don't really know how to get past that. So I'm really excited to dig into this with you today because you've done a TED talk or a TEDx talk, which I loved, by the way, and it was on confidence. And so I really want to dig into this idea of confidence. And really, I guess my big question is how does the confidence that you have translate into your role as a course creator? And then how do you instill that confidence into your participants or help them develop their own sense of confidence?

Pia Silva 4:18

Yeah, that's a great question and great topic in general, because you could sum up our whole program as being about helping people find their own confidence. I think it's a big reason that people are attracted to me. I've seen people mentioned me, Somebody just sent me a screenshot of somebody I don't know writing about me and their email, but they were like, she has the confidence to charge these prices. It's like, well, it's an interesting way of positioning it. But yeah, I guess that's what it's about. In order to build a really profitable agency while staying small. It's all goes back to the numbers, right? You have to be able to charge a certain amount of money and you have to be able to charge that for a project that is going to take less time. and it takes confidence to sell that because most people that I'm coaching come in with the mindset that the more they raise their prices, the more they have to deliver the and actually, the longer it should take. And I was guilty of that, too, when I was running my agency in the beginning, as I raised my prices, I felt like I had to make the timeline even longer to prove the value and to just show them, this is going to be so much work. So that's why you have to pay me this much. But confidence is really about the opposite, saying you should actually pay me more because it's going to take less time because I'm such an expert at this. So how do I translate that to my students? I think it's partially just by literal osmosis. I think it's really valuable to be around somebody who is constantly in the trainings and on the coaching calls every week, reaffirming the idea that this is not only okay, but it's something that they can do as well. And then paired with the coaching aspect, which is to constantly question people's decisions and actions that they take that are clearly based on fear, or based on an insecurity and ask them if they really feel like that, or if that's a default habit, and can we break that. So I think it's just the repetition, that's so important. It's why my program is a minimum of 12 months, because this is not, this is not an idea that you just absorb into your habits, this is something that is literally a habit that has to be built while breaking other habits of thought. And that just we all know, habits take time. So I think that's why coaching programs are so valuable and important. It's why I'm always a part of them as well, because I also need that repetition for the kinds of businesses that I'm building.

Erica Nash 6:45

Yeah, I love so much that, you know, you have created a space where there's 12 months for them to come in. And you know, maybe it takes them, you know, a month or two or whatever to go through the actual content, but then to go through the transformation that occurs, and all of the things that come along with that. So I love that you've created the space for them to be able to do that with you, and that you've committed to helping them through that, because I think that sometimes that piece is missing, where we're leading people through these really big challenging changes, and just kind of expecting them to do it on their own. And that is so so tough. So let's talk a little bit about your participants just sort of in general, if you could generalize the level of confidence of the average participant, where would you say they land on the spectrum have absolutely no confidence to just completely crushing it and having the most confidence ever?

Pia Silva 7:48

Yeah, well, I would say it's a, I would say maybe it's a split 50/50 In terms of people who come in and are super, super confident about their abilities to deliver, I do find that I attract a big chunk of people who feel really confident in their abilities to deliver the design to deliver marketing strategy, you know, brand, positioning, all these things. And usually, and this also, by the way happened to be the kinds of people I attract to my agency. So people who are really confident about their abilities, not so confident in their abilities to brand themselves, sell themselves, charge more. So what is nice about those people is that I just have to help them see that the confidence they have in those in that delivery can be translated to the confidence that they can also show in their brand and their messaging and in their sales process. And if they can tap into that other confidence, then it's going to be much easier for them to do all these processes that I'm teaching them. The other half are people who come in, and they don't actually feel that confident in their own ability to deliver. They have they, they want to be confident in it, they want to be feel like they're good at design and, and branding, and messaging and all of that. But frankly, sometimes they come into our program, and they see what other people are doing. And they feel really insecure that they don't know enough yet. And you know what, I, I love those people even more, because those are the people who don't really see their own brilliance and when I can show it to them, and when they can see it themselves. It's an incredible and much almost faster ascension. Because once they really see the value that they have to deliver. And I'll give you a perfect example of this in a minute. It's like it opens up a whole Worlds of Possibilities that they didn't even know they had. So one thing that's happened to me a few quite a few times and just happened recently was I had somebody who was came in and was really resisting the idea. She said I don't do any of that. strategy stuff, like I stick to my lane. She's actually really, really good at design and identity design. She was like, that's all I want to do. And I said, Okay, that's that's fine. Right. So as we went through this process, within a couple of months, I was reading her, her lead products, I was reading her briefs. And I just said, you know, just so you know, this is chock full of high level strategy. And she goes, she was kind of like, confused and a little like, wow, yeah, I guess I don't really know what strategy is. And I'm like, Yeah, I know, it seems like an elusive concept. But you are giving a ton of strategy here. And you have been avoiding selling strategy, because you don't think you know, strategy, but you actually just don't know what strategy is. And you think it's this some other thing that you don't know how to do, when in actuality, you're very good at it. So somebody's coming in with that kind of insecurity. And then showing them they actually know a lot about this, not only empowers them to increase the value of what they're offering, but it empowers them to show up and sell it with a totally different, you know, renewed sense of self, which is one of the most amazing transformations you can see happen to somebody right in front of your eyes.

Erica Nash 11:15

Yeah, that that is such a beautiful example. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I love that you talk about this strategy, kind of as an elusive concept, because I totally agree with you, I think that, you know, it's kind of a buzzword that we hear on social or whatever. And we have this idea of maybe what it is, and just there's nothing really concrete, though. And so we're like, oh, I don't really know. And so somebody that doesn't have the confidence, or maybe prior, I don't know, experience in business, or whatever, maybe they don't really know what they actually know. And so it's very cool that they can come into your program, and you can kind of redirect them and help them kind of reframe some of that stuff. Because that's so so valuable.

Pia Silva 12:04

Yeah, I love talking about and demystifying the idea of strategy, because strategy is something that I learned on the job over many, many years. And it actually took me a while to even feel confident in my own ability to say, Now, it's not that crazy, complicated thing that you're talking about. It's really just somebody who has who knows a lot, about a lot, and even more about one thing and is able to see the landscape, see a situation and give a plan, right? Like I would really boil strategy down to that, hey, here's where you are, that's where you want to go. And based on the vast experience, I have in a lot of different places, I'm going to pick and choose the ways and the pieces that need to go together to get you from A to B. And that is something that anybody, especially in branding, or even visual design, anybody who is thoughtfully doing it, is going through that thought process, usually, most people, especially in my industry, which is very, you know, small businesses, usually they're doing it as a means to an end, and they're not selling it as a process. And I was doing that too. Well, how am I gonna get? How am I going to explain and show this brand that I want my client to approve? Well, I have to go through this process of explaining why this brand is the way it is based on what they want and where they want to go. Guess what, that's all strategy. And so once I started realizing that I realized I could pack I could communicate that better. And I could actually sell it. Oh my gosh, actually, that's the most valuable piece of this whole, this whole thing. So I love demystifying it. I do think that people might think they're doing strategy a little early for rather, their strategy may not be as high level when they just don't have enough enough tools in their toolbox to pull out. So what I think is the I'm going off on a tangent here, but it's super, super, super important. But I think is really when people are not doing strategy that well. It's when they are pretending they're giving strategy overall, when they're actually just, you know, I've got a hammer and everything looks like a nail Case in point, I was interviewing an agency for a different business. And we were asking them for what their opinions were. And they basically said, oh, you should do Facebook ads and influencer marketing, the two things that they do. And I said, Well, that's not a strategy. Those are just the two things that you do and you're recommended we do them because that's your expertise. And what we need is the person level up who can look at, there's Facebook ads, there's influencer marketing, there's content creation, there's podcasters, but there's a bazillion things. And based on where you are and where you want to go, here are the five things or the three things well, the one thing that you should focus on that's that's the value of strategy. And I think that's the big difference sometimes from what people do or they think it's strategy versus what is really actually valuable highlight Hold strategy. Does that make sense?

Erica Nash 15:01

Yeah, no, it totally does. And like I love this idea of one of the things you said a minute ago was was knowing a lot about a lot. And then a lot about a little. And, and I think that that is just such a great way to put it. Because as you know, people come in to programs or whatever it is. Typically, they have a lot of experience. And they're like, Well, I don't have experience. And then what this one specific thing, so I'm not, I can't do that once. I can't do that. And I can't tell other people how to do that, instead of looking at all of the like the vast skills that they have amassed doing all of these different things, and how they relate to that one specific thing. So I think that is a great way to look at it. Yeah, that makes total sense. So this sort of might, you might have kind of touched on this a little bit. Talk going back to your sort of general audience, your your participants in your programs in their confidence levels. How do you support them, regardless of where they start with their confidence? How do you support them? Whenever they are facing challenges, and they are just like, on the verge of totally collapsing in that confidence and wanting to like burn it all down?

Pia Silva 16:18

Yeah. Well, tactically from like a program organization?

Erica Nash 16:23


Pia Silva 16:24

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is always improving on this, right. And I, I have where we are now, which is farther along than where we were six months ago. And I still have dreams of where it's going to be. But at this particular moment, we have kind of a couple of different layers, layers of support. So we have almost weekly calls. Most weeks, we do a weekly call, that's an opportunity to get on, on the call with me with my coach coaches. With the rest of the group get some camaraderie. We recently implemented this, we used to do this outside of that column, we do it inside of the call, we implemented something called Momentum pods that are kind of like accountability groups, but they actually meet during our call. And we did this because we found that scheduling was such an issue and people showing up and if it was just a part of our call, then people would all be there and they'd get a lot more value from it having a small pod to support you, I have found to be infinitely valuable for my members, because sometimes people don't feel comfortable raising their hand if there's 40 people on a call. But if every week, they're going into a room with five or six other colleagues, there's an opportunity for them to make sure they're being heard, and also just have that camaraderie. And then on top of that, we do keep track of where everybody is in the program, their progress, how often they're showing up into our community, how often they're showing up on our on our calls, like all of these things are being tracked. And we are saying where it could have been transition here we're getting better and better at proactively reaching out to anybody that we see either has just not been around for a little while, or they've been saying things that are sending up red flags to us. And personally reaching out to them and saying, Hey, let's hop on a 20. Let's make sure that you know what your game plan is, let's get you situated and back on track. Because I do find that in programs sometimes when people are falling behind, or they're feeling like they're not doing well, or something is happening in their lives, they tend to retreat and not show up on the calls, the very calls that are there to support them. And they need that extra personal touch to reach out and be like, Hey, we're here. And we see that something's going on for you. We just want to make sure. And sometimes that's all it takes. Because often when we send those out, the person will respond. Oh my gosh, thank goodness, I was like too embarrassed to come to the calls. And I didn't know what to say. And thank you for reaching out. Because yes, I could use some help. And that sometimes that's all it takes to get them back on track.

Erica Nash 18:51

Oh my gosh, I love that so much. I can't even tell you, that is always something that I recommend. Because I you know, like you said, sometimes it is missing that that piece of accountability and just like checking in, and just not allowing it to be like this. Oh, you said yes. And then okay, here's all the things that you need, kind of go on your way and do that. And so I love that you were just so involved in that way.

Pia Silva 19:19

And I have to say it took a lot of time to get there. And it also required me to be at a certain critical mass to be able to do that. Because it unless you're very, very small. It's really hard to have the systems and the time and the support team to do that. Right. I have some support coaches that helped me if it was just me, it was just me for a while and I was going nuts. I would think about people in the middle of the night. It'd be like, I haven't seen that person in a while. Like I'm like, message them in the middle of the night like hey, are you okay? not sustainable. So I just want to be clear that even though I wish I had had it earlier, I'm not sure it was even possible. I have until a certain juncture, your shoes for your listeners who are at different price points in their evolution?

Erica Nash 20:07

Yeah, no, thank you for sharing that. And that's totally right. And you also have to consider the mental load that comes with those check ins. Because sometimes there's really heavy things going on in people's lives. And we do, as course creators, have to take that into consideration, whenever, you know, we're kind of pushing them to do these other hard things like they may not have the capacity emotionally, in their personal lives to take that on. And so when we're reaching out, yes, it's a good thing. And absolutely, you know, like helps with them being able to continuing on the coursework. But knowing that, you know, there may be something really, really heavy on the other side that's kind of dropped in your lap. And so having to be prepared to take that on as well.

Pia Silva 20:52

Great point, because a lot of heavy things dropped in my lap over the last 18 months. Yeah

Erica Nash 20:59

But it is beautiful that you are willing to partner in with them on that. So I really love that. So it sounds like the business model that you teach inside no BS agency mastery requires very firm boundaries. On on everyone's part, would you say that? That's a correct assumption.

Pia Silva 21:20

Very correct. Yes.

Erica Nash 21:21

Okay. So how do you hold these boundaries inside your program, specifically? And then how are they How is that a benefit to your participants?

Pia Silva 21:31

Yeah, that's a great question. And something that is constantly on my mind, right, because on the one hand, I want everyone have access to me, I want to help them. If someone has an emergency, and they reach out to me, I need to respond, I feel I feel I need to respond. And I want to respond. And I want them to feel like I care as much as I do that I'm waking up in the middle of the night thinking about them. So there's that. And you're totally right, I'm teaching how to have boundaries around your business. And I need to act in the same way. I do. There have been critical points throughout this evolution where I have been very intentional about setting a new boundary that I didn't have in the beginning, right. So just not answering anything on the weekends, right? Like it's goes off on Friday, and it comes back on Monday, I've basically completely adopted that. And I've been operating in that way, this whole year, another boundary is communicating with me directly, which is a harder boundary for me to keep, because in a lot of different scenarios, they do have my Facebook DM, we are on circle now. And they can just DM me there, some of them have my personal phone number, because for whatever reason, actually, my personal phone number is all over the place. So they can just access it, or because I called them on it once a long time ago. So there are times when people will reach out to me in an emergency in those ways. And I'll just respond to them. And that's probably the biggest place where I have had a hard time holding those boundaries, especially with people that I've been working with, for, you know, over a year, some of these people I've been working with for over two years. If if one of those people has an emergency, and they text me like, I'm gonna text them back, you know, I got on a phone call with somebody within 10 minutes, because I actually was shopping in Whole Foods. And she texted me this emergency and I just started voice memo in her responses. And we ended up on a phone call while I'm waiting in line at Whole Foods. But you know, I'm waiting in line for Whole Foods to pay. What am I doing? Anyway, I'd rather she was panicking. And I'd rather just help her there. The problem with that is it sets a little bit of a precedent. But what I do what I have found the good news, especially if you're somebody listening who struggles with these boundaries, the good news is I've put these boundaries in place, you know, generally speaking, it's very clear to them that they need to go through my assistant to book a call, you know, there's there are, there are level one, level two, level three places to get help, right, the first place you go is our community like, you can always submit a question and I'll always answer your question on our group calls. But you have to wait until the group call comes around. And that's pretty clear. So that when I break that boundary, the people I'm speaking to in those particular instances, they're usually incredibly grateful. And they usually say to me, I totally understand you don't usually do this. They usually say that because I've been so vocal and clear. And I appreciate that because what they're saying to me is, don't worry, I'm not gonna start texting you, can you to get on the phone with me. And because they respect that boundary when they do have an emergency, and I can, you know, I can respond to it. I'm gonna do it, at least for now, because I still have the capability to do that. At least while I'm at Whole Foods.

Erica Nash 24:55

Right. No, that's that's amazing. And you know, I I think that truly honestly, I would say the majority, of course creators, if not all of them are in the business because they care about people, and they want to help people. And so there is kind of that fine line of serving and honoring this responsibility of doing what you said you would do, and, you know, walking with them on this journey. But also putting up those boundaries and taking care of yourself. It's one of those things, right, like I, you know, as long as those boundaries are there, and like, you know, that you're comfortable with whatever it is that you're sort of crossing your own boundary for, then it then it works. And so I love that, you know, like you said, you recognize that and that, you know that right, now you have the capacity to do that. So that, so it's okay. And I know that those people, I'm sure are incredibly grateful for your willingness to take care of them that way.

Pia Silva 25:57

Absolutely. And, and I think I'm okay with it, because the message is clear to the group, which is that all those boundaries I spoke about, but also it is modeling the kind of boundary that I want them to model in their own business. So it's it is, it would be doing them a disservice to not have all of these clear protocols in place, and to not stick to them. Because what I would be doing, for example, if I was just answering people or, you know, responding to people on the weekends, a lot, what I would be doing is telling them, I'm telling you to have these clear boundaries with your clients, but I don't have them. And that would be doing them a disservice. Right? I need to model that. So that as much as protecting my own time and energy is important. That is almost more motivation for me to set and stick to these boundaries for them, you know, 95% of the time, because that is my job as the leader of this whole group.

Erica Nash 26:58

Yeah, that's beautiful. You're totally right. I love that. So I have one last question to ask. If you could go back and chat with course creator, Pia from a year ago, what advice would you give her?

Pia Silva 27:13

So a year ago, I was at a point that I actually got a lot, think, Gosh, I was in my own program, learn, you know, with colleagues and support and coaches, because they, they kind of let me know that it wasn't out of the ordinary a year ago for me to be in a particular state of overwhelm. And that state of overwhelm was around the 30 to $50,000 a month mark. And they said, there's a particular thing that happens at that mark. And often people will plateau there, because you're big enough that you have you're you're so big that you you need to build your team, but you just got there. So you don't have any of those systems and support. And this is like a transitional period, you have money to invest, but you don't have that much money to invest. So it's like this really critical juncture. And they just said they see a lot of people kind of stay in that 30 to $45,000 a month range because of that. And so what I would say to to PA a year ago, is I would I wish I had known that earlier. And I wish I had kind of emotionally and mentally prepared for it so that I could have just gone through it without feeling like I was doing something wrong, or there was like because I was growing pretty quickly. But it felt like the wheels were coming off. And then I learned that it was my fault, right like that the wheels were coming off because of something I was doing. And only months later did I kind of get that feedback like no, that's pretty much what happens at this. This point. That's very common. And it's not because you did anything wrong. It's just you're building like an entire VISTA, business and systems and all of this, there's a lot to do. And this is the moment where you don't quite have enough support, but you have way too much to handle. So just give yourself some grace and understand it's a process is what I would have told myself. This is just the process and just be okay with the mess. You'll get through it. If you just kind of like calmly go step by step.

Erica Nash 29:22

Be okay with the mess. That's such great advice. Thank you for sharing. I know that that will serve some people really, really well. This was amazing. Your insight is so valuable and so appreciated. Thank you so much for being on the show and just having a conversation. Please share with the listeners who might not be familiar with you where they can find you and how they might be able to work with you.

Pia Silva 29:51

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you can find me at pia loves your biz, on all the platforms biz with a Z and if you You are particularly interested in like what I'm talking about when it comes to intensives and scaling up services without scaling up your your employees or your team or your overhead. You can go to no BS back-slash blueprint and you can download the blueprint to 30k months without employees.

Erica Nash 30:18

Amazing. I'm going to include all the links and handles in the show notes. So if you are interested, you can check those out. If you're not already following Pia you need to be you absolutely won't regret it, Pia thank you again. This has been wonderful.

Pia Silva 30:37

Thank you so much Erica, it's been really fun for me as well.

Erica Nash 30:42

Well, I hope today's episode brought a little clarity and community to your next level course journey. If you enjoyed listening, please consider subscribing and leaving a review. And if you'd like to connect, be sure to find me over on Instagram at Erica Nash design or on my website at Erica I would love to hear from you. Alright, you guys go forth, educate and change lives. I'll see you next time.


About Pia:

Pia Silva is a partner and brand strategist at Worstofall Design where they build entire brands in 1-3 day intensives. She’s also the founder of No BS Agency Mastery where she teaches 1-2 person branding agencies scale to $30-50k months while reducing their workload by up to 80%, all without employees. She’s a TEDx speaker, a Forbes contributor, podcast host and author of Badass Your Brand.

Find Pia @PiaLovesYourBiz on all socials and

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Learn more about working with Erica:


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