Episode 072: Built to Belong with Natalie Franke

August 24, 2021

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Natalie Franke is the number one community builder and comparison stomper, and today she's here to tell you that you are Built to Belong.

She’s on a mission to encourage you that you’re built to belong

Friend, I am so excited to bring you this week’s episode. As you know, I started Chasing Simple to help combat the loneliness of entrepreneurship. And with each guest that comes onto the show, the number one struggle I hear them say they had when they first started their business is comparison. I know that I definitely used to, and still do struggle with it too, and I know that you probably do as well.

Today I am joined by the number one community cultivator and comparison stomper – Natalie Franke.

Natalie Franke Hayes is an entrepreneur, mobilization marketer, community builder, and neuroscience nerd.

As one of the Founders of the Rising Tide Society, the Head of Community at HoneyBook, and author of Built to Belong, she leads tens of thousands of creatives and small business owners while fostering a spirit of community over competition around the world.

And today, she’s joining me to talk all about the divide between our digital and physical worlds, and what we should be doing about it. And her advice? Well, it’s probably not what you think. We also talk about her brand new book, Built to Belong, and friend, this is a cannot miss book. Spoilers, but it’s definitely the recommended book in this episode.

And before I spoil anything else … let’s go ahead and dive on in. You’re listening to Chasing Simple episode 072, and I’m your host – Amanda Warfield.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Natalie Franke Hayes is an entrepreneur, mobilization marketer, community builder, and neuroscience nerd.

As one of the Founders of the Rising Tide Society, the Head of Community at HoneyBook, and author of Built to Belong, she leads tens of thousands of creatives and small business owners while fostering a spirit of community over competition around the world.

Natalie’s Website
Built to Belong Book
Natalie’s Instagram

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Rather Read? – Here’s the Transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.

Amanda: Natalie. I am so excited to have you on today. And I feel like everyone listening has to know who you are, but if someone’s living under a rock and they don’t know who you are, tell us who you are. Oh, my gosh. I’m Natalie Frank. I am one of the co-founders of the 

Natalie: Rising Tide Society and I’m Head of Community at HoneyBook and underneath all of that, I am an entrepreneur turned community builder. I was a wedding photographer for over eight years and recognize. The loneliness that so often accompanies entrepreneurship realized that so many of the ways that I was taught run a business, the ways I was encouraged to grow my platform led me ultimately to feeling disconnected from others, led me to feeling isolated and struggling with comparison and longing for connection in the chaos.

And so I’ve been on a mission for about the past six years to really reevaluate those messages and those teachings about how to run a business, how to live your life, especially as it relates to competition and to have been one of the voices championing this Community over Competition Movement ever since.

And so I wrote a book about it and that’s really, you know, where I’ve landed lately, as of late, what I’ve been up to is. Preparing for the launch of Built to Belong and the hope that we can take what I’ve learned over the last six years and the struggles that I’ve dealt with over that period as well, then use it as a roadmap to help others to get to a place where, they’re deeply connected to others and they feel a sense of purpose in their digital and in-person relationship.

Amanda: So just for everyone listening, as we are listening to this today, Built to Belong is live. It is available for you to go grab and get your hands on. So head to the show notes and make sure you go grab your copy today because I promise it’s well worth the read. It is amazing. I’ve already taken so many notes on it.

We were just talking about this before we started hitting record and it is so good. So just a side note, make sure you go grab your copy, but Natalie, one of the things I’m really passionate about similar to you is that entrepreneurship is lonely, but we’re not alone. And that is the whole premise of Chasing Simple is that when I bring guests on, we’re talking about the hard parts of entrepreneurship.

And the most common theme that we get over and over and over again, when I asked the question, what is something you really struggled with when you first started your business? It is always comparison. Every single guest that is the first thing they say. And I’ve pulled some things out of some other guests to talk about other struggles, but every time on the back end, that is the first thing people say and, that is why I am so passionate about this book and being on your launch team and having you on today, because it is so important and we all struggle with it. And there is a message in the online space where it’s very much take care of yourself and have boundaries with social media. Take time away from social media, put your phone down and all of these things, and that’s great, but. In your book in chapter six, you take things in a whole different direction that just blew my mind a little bit.

So I’m just going to kind of let you explain that because I’ll butcher your  sentiments. So if you can just run with that for a moment and explain to everyone listening, why that may not be the best move. 

Natalie: Oh, yes, let’s do it. look, I say this as someone who had heard that advice for so long for a season of my life gave that advice. And actually, even in the chapter that we’re talking about, you know, I kind of share a little bit of regret around how I used to even think about the online and offline world as two very different things. When I set out, for example, to build the Rising Tide Society, I did it under the notion that in-person community was the only community. I actually literally said, “internet friends, aren’t real friends. We need real friends. Let’s get out  into the real world.” And I  back my words in chapter six and chapter six. I addressed a little bit of why I was wrong there, but I also illuminate  kind of this underpinning that I think we need to talk about. We need to kind of get to the bottom of it.

Which is this reality that, you know, we can’t just take a vacation from our phones every time we’re struggling with comparison. And frankly it may give us temporary relief, but it that’s all it is. It’s not a problem solver. It’s not actually fixing, what’s deeply broken about how we’re engaging with others online, especially in person too, but online magnifies our insecurities and our ability to compare in such a way that it’s almost difficult to kind of connect the two. To clarify that too. It used to be before the internet, before the world that we now live in, you still compared yourself, but you compared yourself to a finite number of people that were within your small sphere. So I always say like the girl next door syndrome, we remember growing up.

If anyone else is a child of the nineties, you know, those movies. The kid next door. And the, that was your world. That was, that was who, you know, it was just the people you met in a day to day environment. That’s who you would compare yourself to. And today that’s not the case today. We don’t just compare ourselves to the people that we meet in our physical reality.

We compare ourselves to everyone all over the world. Who’s doing either what we’re doing or what we want to be doing, or what we dream to be doing, or at different stages of life. And we think, you know, about all the articles that can not say, oh, look what someone did by 20. Look what someone. 30 look at what she’s accomplished with he’s accomplished with what they’ve done.

So it’s, it’s an inundation  , at a level that we’ve never quite had to tackle, as a species.  And there are other chapters where I dive into more about the technological shifts, but the advice that’s been given so far has been we’ll just self care.  Take a break.  Unplug your phone. There’s a quote. It’s like unplugging something, we’ll fix it. And the same works for you and all that good stuff. And while again, I’m not saying that that won’t help. What I am saying is that it’s temporary. We live in a world now where we will always be somewhat connected through the internet. We will always be engaging their social media platforms. And so the problem itself, isn’t social media.

We’ve really looked at it and said, just the existence of social media is the issue. The problem is how we’re using social media. Right. The problem is how we’re engaging with these platforms. It’s whether or not we’re acknowledging that these are platforms created to make money, right? They’re they’re not just innocently floating in the ethos for us  use and connect as bystanders or, members, right? Like these platforms that are to make money. And so they want to keep us scrolling. They want to keep us consuming. They want us to be, you know, watching as many videos as humanly possible because they’re going to make more ad revenue. The more that we consume and the more that we scroll and all of the studies out there that are examining this on a psychological level are indicating that there are detrimental health.

To constantly  consuming and constantly scrolling and using social media with this passive consumer mentality. And the book, I basically address this and I say, look for so long, we’ve had a blanket statement is that people who spend more time on social media feel more lonely. And I give these stats like if all these stats in the book, but what we haven’t really done is examine how they’re using social media.

You know, you can take two people that spend an hour on social media, but perhaps one of them is like, scrolling, comparing, consuming. And the other is engaging very differently. The other shows up to social media with a plan I’m here to connect. I’m here to create I’m here to put something out into the universe, not just passively receive it and that switch of  behavior and intent can have a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves after we leave the platform and how we’re able to actually connect with others while we’re on the platform. Our ability to forge these great relationships, giving us the opportunity to really cultivate meaningful friendships and community connections on these platforms that claim their social.

That say they have social before media, but yet we’re consuming the media before we’re setting setting ourselves up to be social. And so by flipping that and really taking it one step further and implementing maybe a new way that you approach these platforms, you’re going to find yourself feeling differently.

and I know that I have certainly,  over the last year and a half of being forced to kind of deal  with this issue, headfirst.  And, you know, not being able to unplug because the work that I do and the work that so many of us do today relies on us being able to use social media and the internet.

Amanda: Yeah. And what’s funny, I’m looking at my notes and inside of this chapter, you’ve referenced a study done in 2010, which. Can we just take a second, like 2010, social media usage was so much different way back then. So this is only even more applicable now because I can think back to 2010, I was the beginning of my senior year of high school and I had Facebook on my computer.

I didn’t even really use it on my phone. Was Instagram, even a thing yet. I’m not sure like Snapchat, we didn’t have any of these crazy, super time consuming. It was still time. If it would not as much, this is even more applicable now, but. The notes I wrote down, the researchers found that direct communication on social media is associated with greater feelings of bonding, social capital, and lower levels of loneliness.

And that blows my mind. But the key piece there is that it’s the direct communication and that same study that you quoted, found that. The opposite. If you were consuming rather than connecting, it was the opposite. They had decreased social capital and increased feelings of loneliness,  all that science to back up, everything that you’re saying, and I’ve never thought about it that way, because I’ve always been the same way of I’m gonna, you know, I don’t even have social media on my phone. I put it on my iPad so that I can have boundaries with it because I do scroll and just that light switch. Oh, we can show up intentionally in a different way. And it’s not a negative thing is so different. I’m really curious how this mindset has helped you throughout the pandemic, because I know right before the pandemic started y’all were. Traveling. Right. And like you had just sold your house and were traveling and didn’t really even have like a home base at that point. So how did this all play out with you with the connectivity throughout the pandemic? 

Natalie: Listen,  I jokingly said that a lot of last year was my fault because, we chose a word for the year.

I don’t know if anyone else chooses words for the year and I chose the word home. My word of the year was home for 2020. So let that sink in for a second. And you can send me all the angry DMs that you want later after the episode. I hear you. But you’re right. What we ultimately did in 2020 is we sold our home and we just thought that that would be the year we’d go on the road. Spend it on the road with people in person, forging community and building relationships. And we did get three good months in, I shall say we, January, February and March, we were on the road driving from Maryland to Florida, across Texas, all the way to California, all the way up the coast.

We did a lot of driving, hugged. I joke and say we hugged 1200 people within days. Of the pandemic being sort of announced as a national crisis. There was a lot of hugging happening, a lot of in-person connecting and I thought that would be the entirety of 2020, and then March happened. And when March hit, as we all remember, you know, it kind of was this immediate freeze.

It was a stillness, there was a sense of, you know, sort of. Immediate stopping of all in-person activities, events, even the things like going to a grocery store without concern. being able to see one another in smile and the aisles, like everything changed because we immediately were more, more focused on stopping the spread and  our neighbors and, you know, doing what we had to do to keep ourselves our families and the ones we love safe. And so we made these big societal shifts in the matter, in a matter of days. And it truly, in a matter of days, everything we knew. Changed. And one of the key things for me is something that builds community. And connects people in person. And that’s what I’ve done. That’s literally my job, you know, asking the question okay, but what now? And what does it look like to no longer have groups meeting in person? What does it look like to take our world virtual? What does it look like to really cultivate these connections online? How in the world are we going to figure this out? And I had this conversation with my sister-in-law.  Truly in March as we’re and I’m also getting ready to write a book on community.

As a side note I had already, I had just picked my, you know, my publisher signed my book deal in the end of February. And here we are now I’m writing a book about community and there’s a pandemic where we’re no longer connecting. So talk about like, just kind of a huge, I was confronted with quite a bit. And I’m sitting down, I’ll never forget. I was talking with my sister-in-law and I, you know, I’m saying like, how is this going to impact us? Like, how are we possibly still gonna connect. Without in-person gatherings. How are we possibly going to navigate the immense isolation? We’re going to feel by being physically disconnected. And, you know, she kind of said something along the lines of don’t discount, digital togetherness. My sister-in-law has cystic fibrosis. and she is, really the inspiration behind, this part of the chapter where she illuminated for me, the reality. For most of the world, this was new.

Having to remain six feet apart for most of the world was a brand new phenomenon that we had never had to navigate before. But for members of the cystic fibrosis community, this has been the case for quite a while. If you’re not aware, members, individuals with cystic fibrosis have a chronic lung disease.

We’re ultimately, if they are within six feet of one another, they can pass different bacteria back and forth and it can actually worsen their conditions. And so they’re encouraged to stay six feet apart to protect them, which means that even at support events, even at, you know, you think about it,  the walks that we do to raise money for CF or any kind of activity where they might be able to connect with other people who understand what they’re going through.

They might be able to, you know, give a hug to somebody who’s going through a tough time with their condition, which is the case for so many other situations in our lives. They can’t do that. And so they’ve adapted such that virtual communities and connecting and community digitally has been integral to how they navigate, finding support and finding community.

And they’ve done it exceptionally well. And so she basically became in many ways, my roadmap for saying, and this is, let me tell you about this person. Let me tell you about this group. We’re talking about virtual movie nights. Let me tell you about virtual book club. Let me tell you about all these things that we’ve already been doing, but the rest of the world is just discovering today.

You know, and I think one that really reminded me that as human beings,  we, we are so incredibly adaptable and we can leverage technology. However we want to leverage it. The truth still remains that we are built to belong and we are created for connection. So even when we cannot be together, physically, even we can, I can’t give you a hug and say, I understand what you’re walking through, or I’m here for you.

The fact that we’ve created this technology now gives us this opportunity. To adapt maybe the execution of the behavior, but still remain connected even in the place of that in-person touch point. And that is so important. And then one last thing I have to add here, that’s also really important is that while the world now in this current season is starting to walk towards, a future that is reminiscent of the past a world where we are starting to get together again in person where we have a lot of folks who are vaccinated. We’re moving. I want to say we’re returning to normal because I don’t want normal. I don’t want pre pandemic. I want something better, but you get the idea. We’re moving into slowly, what we hope is a post pandemic era. And as we do that, I just want to remind everyone that we can remember the good learnings we’ve taken out of this season, because although we might be able to stand within six feet of one another, there are still many in our community who can not. And not just those with cystic fibrosis, but for a wide portion of our population, whether they’re immunocompromised, whether they have family members who are immunocompromised, whether their children can not be vaccinated.

 I just want to remind all of us, that  in the pursuit of this return, in the pursuit of moving forward, not to leave anyone behind, not to also say, okay, I’m done with the virtual. I’m never touching it again. I’m running out into in-person now and forever. Don’t make the mistake of Natalie Frank in 2016, who thought in person community was the only real community. What I want to encourage us to do is not to put down our phone and never pick it up again and say, I can’t deal with the comparisonitis, that is this monster of a mess on Instagram. But instead to say, how am I going to change my behavior with these platforms such that they do fill me up such that I can remain in deep relationships with people.

Via the internet that I can continue to widen my network and meet new friends, on these platforms. And that’s really the goal here. So it’s not to say don’t set boundaries. It’s not to say don’t put down your phone. Those things do help. And for some of us, for a time, they are exactly what we need, but what it is is taking a bigger step back and saying, okay, how do I prevent getting to that point in the first place?

How do I prevent the burnout? The comparison, the isolation that I feel after scrolling for hours on these platforms?  How do I change my behavior, such that I have a healthier daily relationship with the virtual world so that when I navigate this new integration, no longer looking at these things as two separate spaces where I exist both online and in person, but combined and dynamic integration of these two in my daily life, how do I do it with purpose?

How do we do it with others? How do I do it deeply connected and fulfilled? So that I’m not always having to take that break from the phone because maybe that break is no longer monthly. Maybe that break just needs to be the boundaries that I set the understanding of how I engage when I choose to engage. and that way it keeps burnout at bay. 

Amanda: I think that word choose is so important. And that’s something that, you know, when I’m telling people that I use my iPad instead of my phone, they’re always like, oh, so you have really strong boundaries. You never use social media. I was at it worked and I’m like, no, there are many, many Friday nights where I actively choose to go lay on the couch and scroll through reels because it’s fun. Like, there’s nothing wrong with that. But my question to you is what have you done practically, to stop chasing that divide between physical world and digital world. How do you, how do we move forward being intentional to no longer feel like we need to separate the two? 

Natalie: That’s such a good question. I think for us, it’s having a deep understanding of your why, of why you’re using them in the first place. Why you’re on Instagram or why you’re on Facebook because for each person. By the way, that applies to physical communities as well. Why are you a member of this group? Why are you attending this local event? Why are you showing up at this faith community? Why are you a part of this gym or network, like understanding the purpose beneath whatever it is that you’re engaging in really helps you to understand what the boundaries need to be, but also helps you to understand, what you’re there to give and what you’re there to gain and how that dynamic works.

And so I’ll give you a very practical example. As I mentioned for a number of years, when I would pick up Instagram, it was to scroll. It was to see what was on there and then based on what was on there, kind of figure out, okay, am I keeping up? Am I keeping up? Am I sharing about my business enough?

Am I, what do I need to adapt? What do I need to learn? How do I need to grow in this? Where do I, you know, what changes do I need to make? Oh gosh, you know, this new thing came out and I don’t know how to use it yet. And I’m panicking and trying to learn. And I know someone’s listening to this going, okay.

That was me this morning. and so if that’s you, I’m saying I’ve been there and some days I still have the tendency to lean there, but now what I do instead is I look at Instagram as for my purpose, twofold first versus to connect. and second is to serve. I see Instagram as a place where I step into that space to connect with people who are a part of my community and to serve them well.

And what that has done is it encourages me first to show up with a mindset of, you know, checking the DMS before checking the. Hopping in and literally looking at who has messaged me today and how can I make sure I’m doing my best to respond. And I can’t always respond to everyone, but that’s the intent versus what’s being created by others.

It’s how do I connect with others? And then the second kind of nuance of that, a leaning into serving for me, that’s creating. So I am a creator. Instead of consuming, I’m creating and connecting. And so the creation component might look like, identifying what people are asking in the DMS. What concerns they do have? If there is something relevant changing with the platform, not trying to stress out about how to implement it right away, but maybe becoming a voice of resource of education of, “Hey, here’s something changing.”

Let’s not panic, we’re a community we’re going to help each other out. How do you feel about this? What can we be doing? How can, and again, approaching this entirely differently. So practically on social media, it’s connecting and creating or serving, instead of just consuming and then making those shifts where I have to consciously check myself, because again, We have to remember.

These platforms are built by very brilliant Silicon valley scientists whose desires to keep us scrolling, to keep us engaged as long as possible. It’s not an innocent place where we just step in and then suddenly can say, oh, I’m going to go into my DMS every day. No, they’re going to put content at the top of your feed to catch your attention and to keep you scrolling from the very first moment.

They’re also going to delay when they tell you about notification. They wait to tell you how many people have liked and commented on your photos until you’re at a moment where they feel like you might hop off the platform because they know that you need that validation to stay on. And so it’s like this very, slightly manipulative game that is being played behind the scenes.

So again, it’s acknowledging that and kind of having to consciously check yourself every once in a while to say, Oh, okay. I’ve been scrolling.  I fell off. I’ve been scrolling and this isn’t  serving the purpose? The why of why I’m here.  So I’m going to shift, I’m going to change my behavior and then making those, conscious and cognitive behavioral changes in response to those moments.

When you notice you’ve kind of gone subconscious and are just passively consuming the content and that that’s one thing. And then in the in-person. You know, for me, it looks like when I am in person at an event, when I am in person with friends, following them, actually following people I want to connect with on these platforms, not just other businesses or thought leaders that I’m supposed to be following, but actual humans.

 I call this sort of like a quick follow check. Taking control of who you follow changes so often the way you feel about these platforms. If you’re following someone simply to compare, I forget the term, someone was saying, if you follow someone just to be jealous of them, right. Or like this there’s a term out there, you know, where you’re, you’re, you’re hate following someone, which is a horrible idea, but it’s true.

There are, there are people that all of a sudden who is following might not even be able to identify it consciously that we’re following them as pillars of comparison. Not to cheer for them or not to champion them or not, because we’re inspired by. We’ve somehow subconsciously linked our success to theirs.

And we want to know, you know, are they. Succeeding more than me, what are they doing? What are they up to? And that is such an unhealthy and toxic way to approach a relationship on a platform like social media. So look, here’s the deal with that. Either one change your behavior towards that person. And I always say,  whenever you identify someone like that become their biggest cheerleader. If you’re cheering for them, you’re not comparing with them. If you’re actually trying to help them succeed, you’re not intimidated by their success. So   there’s a nuanced sort of behavioral switch that you can do there with how you engage.

But if there isn’t that redemptive possibility, unfollow take control of that follower group that you have, that you are engaging with and fill it with humans, fill it with people you want to connect with. If you’re a business owner, there should be people in your local market or in your, , relative market. If you are, let’s say a parent, there should be other parents that you want to connect with and get to know they should be friendships that you don’t want to disappear, that you want to keep nurturing, that you want to maintain in different seasons of life. If you’re someone that’s passionate about a cause they should be causes that light you on fire, they get inspired up.

When you, when you open your phone, you’re learning, you’re growing, you’re being challenged, you’re being encouraged, but taking control of who you follow. and then there for having sort of when that feed is filled, It’s also kind of leaning you in the direction of connecting and creating and being active and engaged member.

When you do spend time on a platform rather than a passive consumer of something that might be toxic or deeply rooted to your, your insecurities or your fears. And again, those are two very different experiences with the same platform.

Amanda:  I love that your first piece of advice with that is to try to change the way you’re interacting and thinking about the person instead of just immediately and following. Cause that’s the advice I always hear. If you’re hate following someone just don’t follow them. But it’s a, band-aid just like with the, “oh, just step away from social media.” If  your struggle with comparison, it’s just a band-aid to the actual underlying problem, which is us. Not anyone else.

We are the problem. So I love it. That was your first piece of advice there. And then yeah, the recognition that social media was created for us to consume as much as possible. I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but Instagram and Facebook, it used to be that you would scroll to the bottom of a page and you would have to click, go to the next page and you would get there all these numbers of pages that you could go through.

And then they realize that if you scroll to the bottom of a page and you had to click go to the next page, at some point, you would say, eh, I’m just going to get off. And the endless scroll was invented and now you never have to consciously think, do I stay on or get off? You just keep going. And they have intentionally developed social media to keep us on there in that way.

Natalie: The endless scroll is, but one of so many things that we often can’t remember life before. I agree with you wholeheartedly. And look, I also do, I do believe in sometimes challenging what is the easy way out, because I understand that we are capable. Of tackling something harder and I’ll share something a little bit vulnerable  in this regard, you know, this is something, and I show this in the book.

This is not something that’s been easy for me. This is not something where I can say to you. Don’t just unfollow people who are leaving you feeling down, or that you’re comparing yourselves to try, try to fix. Cause again, it’s not about them. It’s about us. Like when I’m struggling with comparison, as much as I want to say, oh gosh, that person unfollow.

I have to say to myself, Natalie, Well, what is hurting in your heart t hat makes it hard for you to see her succeed? Natalie, what is, that ache? And can we deal with that first? Like, can we get to the heart problem first , within us, before we just dismiss somebody else?  And again, there are barriers to this. If someone’s just a toxic human or is doing something really terrible in the world and, you know, inciting fear and violence, of course, this is not what I’m referencing. Okay. So I want to be very clear, but I do think , in the day-to-day we, we don’t come up against that so much as we come up against in my very vulnerable example here. In the years and years and years that I struggled with infertility, the number of women who I loved in person dearly that would get pregnant and then share their success stories and share their pregnancies and share their bump photos and share their matching holiday outfits and live their  like they should.

And they want to on social media, it felt like a stab in my heart. Every single time I opened my eyes. It felt like I was witnessing somebody else get the very thing I wanted more than life itself. People that I loved, people that I celebrated, I suddenly felt like. Anytime I got to witness their joy. It was just ripping it right from my own hope and my own arms.

And I really have had to confront this head-on because I recognize unfollowing them didn’t solve the problem. Unfollowing  my friends as they got pregnant, again, didn’t fix what was hurting inside me Unfollowing their ability get pregnant, their ability to carry it. Their ability to grow their families didn’t mean that I couldn’t, it wasn’t taking it away from me.

They weren’t, the reason I was in fertile. Like it wasn’t their fault. And so I had to tackle this because frankly, I couldn’t live a life where everyone else in my world was having this beautiful thing happen. And I felt like I had to run, felt like I had to hide. I felt like I had to avoid the people that I loved simply because they were having success and I wasn’t.

And so. I don’t come from a place of saying this is easy. Don’t unfollow, engage and do the hard work I’m coming from a place of saying I have unfollowed and it didn’t heal what was hurting inside of me. I have muted people and it didn’t heal the pain. I was already going through the trauma that I was experiencing, you know? I acknowledged that, every one of our journeys is different and every one of us is facing something different in that,  comparison trigger, that point of pain is going to look differently for all of us. But I can also tell you that there is so much more that lies beneath the surface of what we see in other people’s lives and those same friends, many of whom I muted and unfollowed.

When I instead confronted that fear with vulnerability. When I instead sat down for coffee with them and said, gosh, I’m so happy for you, but can I be honest about what I’ve been struggling with? Can I tell you how we went to a fertility doctor and they won’t even treat me? They won’t even treat me because I have a brain tumor in my head and it is too much of a risk to put me on these meds.

I was told by the best, one of the best specialists on the east coast that I wasn’t even able to start fertility treatment. You know, and so I’m stuck in this place where I don’t know if I’ll be able to have biological kids and I’m so happy for you, but this has been so hard for me. Do you want to know what I was met with?

Because I wasn’t met with hatred. I wasn’t met with, oh gosh, that must suck. I was met with stories of vulnerability. On the other side I was met with, you know, I actually experienced three losses last year. And we didn’t talk about it actually. You know, I struggled with infertility and I did IVF and we didn’t talk about it.

I was met with these human beings who had dynamic and complex stories that had walked through things, had struggled through things and on social media was telling me half the story. Social media was giving me the highlight reel. It was painting a lie. And not by their intent, they were going out to do, they were celebrating a moment of victory in their lives as they should, but I was consuming it as the whole story.

I was believing that there was no depth and struggle to the human experience. On the other side of the screen, I was seeing my struggle, but seeing their perfection, right. I was making the judgment call based on the highlight reel of their lives, but, but living in the mess of my own and putting these two things as if they are equal and they are not because human beings are not highlighted.

Right. And so I say that just to challenge us again and say, lean in when you can, with vulnerability, when you catch yourself, especially in relationships you want to maintain, especially in industry friendships that you do value when you’re getting caught up in the comparison, don’t just unfollow. If there are paths to redemption, you know, if there are paths to connecting on a deeper level, if there is space for vulnerability and a safe space for vulnerability, if that’s even a possibility, I encourage you to pursue. Because their success in pregnancy didn’t mean that I was going to have a longer bout of infertility. They weren’t the reason I was struggling with infertility, but the minute I was able to open up to them, then they actually were able to maybe not make certain comments around me. They actually, I had friends that said to me, Hey, I am going to host my baby shower.

I’m sending you my invitation, but I want you to know there is no pressure to attend that I love you. And if you would prefer not to be there surrounded by baby stuff Nat, like don’t come. I still know you love me. I don’t need you living that trauma out. Like they approached it with such compassion and such empathy, you know, and, and it changed the way that I was able to then love them in return.

And that never would have happened if I just didn’t give them the opportunity. If I made that call for them, if I said, I’m not going to deal with what I’m struggling with, I’m just going to, I’m just going to mute you. I’m just going to shove you out of my life because I don’t, I don’t want that right now.

And I pushed myself further into isolation. Pushing myself further into navigating the hardest season of my life alone. And so if you’re listening to this and you’re someone that has been there in your own way has struggled with any, this is my tiny little slice of what I’ve been through, but I know you’ve been through something too.

I know you’re walking through something right now. I know that there is something that is hindering you from being able to make these connections with certain people because of the pain that you’re feeling inside. I just want to encourage you to know that you’re not alone. And I want to encourage you to remember that.

On the internet is half the story and that these are human beings just like you. And that we can’t compare our mess and our struggle and our pain to their highlights. 

Amanda: Yeah, that’s so good. And I know that I heard people say that over and over again, and it didn’t sink in for me until I sat back and looked at my own life, my own mess.

And what was actually showing up on my feed. And I wasn’t intentionally trying to create a highlight reel, but it’s just the way it is. And when I sat there, I put a post up about this the other day and I was like, Hey, you don’t see me when I’m crying on the floor. Like a little baby, because I want to eat salt and vinegar chips on my period.

Like we all have mess and social media doesn’t see that no matter how intentional we are to be favorable. So if you’re someone who like me had a really hard time, You could recognize that logically, but had a heart time actually seeing that for yourself. Think about what people aren’t seeing on your own feed on your own highlight reel, because you’re probably not intentionally keeping things from people.

It just doesn’t come up. I’m up a lot of the times, when would I ever talk about salt and vinegar cravings? That’s not something that just comes up naturally, but it is part of who I am. Yeah. Sadly a large part of who I am once a month. but in all seriousness, just take a step back and look at what your feed looks like and what your own life looks like. And that might help you connect those dots a little bit better. Cause I know I had to do that for myself personally, cause it was really easy to logically say, I know that’s not their real life, but because you can’t picture the rest of their real life, it’s hard to actually see.

Natalie:  I love that. And I think we also have to remember too, some of the stories and the hardships you walk through.

Aren’t ours to tell so much of what we experienced. Isn’t even our own struggle, but the people we love like to love is to walk through life with others. And so I think about this too, you know, in the context of when I’ve had a family member, that’s going through something really significant, a friend is struggling a loss like in a family, or, dynamic range is so wide and yet.

There are going to be experiences even beyond  our own daily life, because we do live in community with others because we are built for this belonging or a lot of the pain people feel isn’t even there is to share. So even in the,  pursuit of wanting to be as vulnerable as they can, there are stories that aren’t theirs to tell.

And yet they’re still walking , in that experience, in these different seasons of life. You know, and I look back even on the last year and a half, and I think about collectively how much we’ve endured. And I think we’ve been real really quick to ride it off. Like, we’ve been very quick to be like, okay, I see a bright light at the end of this tunnel and I’m running forward towards it without kind of reckoning, like what we’ve really lost.

And I don’t just mean like the loss of life, which is so insurmountable, but. I mean, sort of the loss of, of so much collective safety that perhaps we felt before this moment, I mean, the loss for many of, of childcare and trying to juggle it, all the loss of jobs, the loss of revenue, the loss of financial stability, the loss of health, the longterm symptoms, the fear for family,  the divide in our world, the more polarized narratives than I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

 pitting people against one another. And I bring all that up as uncomfortable as it is because. Because that is pain, that we’re kind of brushing away. That is pain. That again, like, although I’m posting on social, that I’m starting to do these things again, and I’m going to the store and I’m having lunch with a friend.

It doesn’t change the fact that, I’m still navigating what this means. I’m still worried about my little two-year-old. I’m worried about my friend who has chronic illness. I’m worried about. Family that has cystic fibrosis. I’m worried about, you know, and still kind of navigating, but what’s going to happen next.

And are we really out of the woods and I, if I’m pregnant, if I wear a mask, is someone going to be mad at me for wearing that mask in the store? Like, you know, those kind of moments of fear that we’re still all feeling on all sides of these things. And so I bring it up just to say that we can also apply this to personal and in-person, you know, life as well. Where we can walk through the world, not just taking things at face value, not just saying, this is what I see. So this is what I assume, but recognizing that each human being on the other end of an interaction, whether it’s digital or in person as a human being, sometimes that means not taking things.

So personally, when someone is mad at us for something or, you know, makes a mean comment at us in some way. And I sure haven’t my fair share of that lately. Going back into the world. Spicy people are really like, I’m getting a lot of like anger here, spice there, road rage over there, you know, just like, it’s kind of like, we’ve forgotten how to engage with one another to, to encourage you to, to kind of move through the world, whether it’s virtual or in-person with this understanding that we’re all human beings, we’re all just doing the best we can.

And many people are walking through a battle that, that doesn’t show on the outside that we can’t see whether it’s on the screen or in real life. Just to, to approach the world from that place of empathy and understanding, still set your boundaries, still guard your heart, still do all the things you need to do, to protect your space, but approach others through that lens and then understanding, you know, I think, I don’t know. I think it can go such a long way. 

Amanda: Yeah, absolutely, one hundred percent and just recognizing the we’re all human and again, we all have mess that we’re going through and yeah.  You never know what’s happening in someone’s day or life or whatever, after a random interaction. Okay. So this has been amazing. I feel like I need to go transcribe this right away and just take all the notes, but if you could leave everyone with one action step for what they can do to connect instead of consume, what would it be? Okay, so this is going to sound really elementary, but this is a little technique that has changed my entire life.

Natalie: I want you to take a moment today to think of five people. I want you to think of five people in your life, in your circle that you want to build a deeper relationship. And I’ll give you some kind of parameters here. So these could be people that either a, maybe you used to have a good relationship with.

Maybe you guys used to be really close. Maybe the last year and a half has kind of made you drift further apart, new the last 10 years, somebody from your way back, past that you think about from time to time, you’re like, I just, I would love to reconnect. Okay. So it could be an existing or old faded kind of friendship relationship. This could be someone that maybe you. And maybe you really want to invest. Maybe this is someone when you’re saying, you know, in the past I haven’t had really deep relationships or in the past I found it really hard to make adult friendships. This is an intentional friendship I want to cultivate. It can also be looking forward into the future. This could be someone that maybe you’ve just kind of brushed shoulders with or work in the same space as you know, there’s no right or wrong here for this list of five, but it could be something. You want to build a relationship with, and you haven’t yet even initiated whoever these people are. I want you to think of five people and I want you to intentionally over the next month.

For a full month intentionally, think of these five people. When you open your phone intentionally, think of these five people. When you pick up your phone in terms of texting or reaching out, I want you to put these names maybe behind your computer. And when you remember to engage, connect, support, cheer for champion, celebrate check-in on whatever that looks.

I want you to put a little.next to their name. And I want you to start intentionally focusing on loving on these five people, because here’s the deal. When we set ourselves to a goal, my, you know, my goal is I want to be, and it could be different for everyone. I understand. We all have, have different things on our plates, but for me, it’s like, you know what, three times a week, these are the folks I really want to be connecting with.

So I’m going to set out to do that. It is incredible. What can happen in one month with five relationships one month and a five is too many, go to three. If three is too many, go to one, if five isn’t enough. And you’re like, Natalie, I’m changing my whole life. And I have felt, never felt so alone and I need to do something. Here’s what I want you to do. Pick 10 and rotate through that list of ten. And you can apply this strategy. I mean, again, we’re talking kind of like heart to heart here, but y’all know I’m an entrepreneur. The same thing applies to networking. The same thing applies. I bet it was, I don’t know. I hate the word networking. That’s a whole, another episode for another podcast, but I am not a big fan of networking because it’s all about what I get out. Right. But the idea of being, what can I give that list of people? Who are you giving to in your network? Who are you giving to in your industry? Who are you giving to in your community? Who are you giving to in your friend group, who you’re giving to in your family, are you showing up and recognize? And you’ll start to see this with these different groups. Maybe it’s five people on maybe of those three people, you know, become the ones where you’re like, wow, they’re really reciprocating.

Wow. Now they’re really showing up for me too. Now this is really healthy, dynamic relationship. I’m going to keep leaning in, but my tactical advice make a list of five. Start intentionally engaging with those five track. It actually track it. When you take the time to comment, you take the time to text, track it because what’s going to happen is by the end of the month, you’re going to realize, wow, I really, I really tried that. I tested that method. I really tried that out. I committed, I engaged and here with here was the outcome. and again, you can apply this in so many different spaces, but you will be blown away by what can happen by intentionally. Seeking out to love people, well, seeking out to connect with people well, and also how it makes you feel. And how you feel at the end of that month, you know? So that would be my it’s very simple, very elementary advice, but it’s something I actually do. And I keep it on my notes in my phone with the little, you have a little notes in your phone, I keep track of it. And I rotate through every month with a few different people and I really try it.

Yeah. It makes getting on those platforms a little bit different. It changes the way I step, you know, step into a room if I spot that person, who I’m like, you know, I really want to get to know them. I really want to support that. And I really, I have a tendency to compare with that person. So what am I going to do?

I really want to cheer for them. I want them to know I’m showing up for them. And I in a crowded room of opportunities, I am saying their name. and it can, it can change everything. So that would be my advice. 

Amanda: I love that so much. That’s so great. And. I would even say that y’all should head on over to Canva, create a little wallpaper with those names on it and pop it in the back of your phone. As a reminder, you can get that way. 

Natalie: Amanda gold. Gold. I love that. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Gosh, loving people. Well, and being intentional about it is it’s, it’s the way to kind of start moving through the world. If it’s not something that’s just part of a daily practice for you. 

Amanda: Okay. I am all for this because I am such a  one. So I’m very, like, I love to check things off, but for the people who are like that doesn’t feel intentional because you’ve got to last, what do you say? 

Natalie: Well, again, we’re all different and I’m a three with ADHD unmedicated. So if I don’t have a list it’s never happening. So take that with a grain of salt. And that’s just my, that’s my reality. If I don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen. If it’s not a list with physical check marks, it’s I have no object permanence, no sense of object permanence. So once it’s gone, it’s gone. So that’s where the intent come from. Now, if that for you, doesn’t resonate and that’s just not how you roll. And if you’re a seven and you’re like, where’s the spontaneity in that? So we’re throwing out Enneagram numbers here. And you may, you may or may not. Okay, great. Good. So we’ve got, we’ve got a group full of folks that know Enneagram, let’s say you’re seven. And you’re like, Ooh, that sounds so, you know, not organic, not, you know, whatever, it’s not genuine, which I disagree.

I can still be genuine when it can be planned, but let’s say that’s how you feel. Then maybe it’s like a daily rotation. It’s like, Hey, the first five people that , pop across my path today. This is how I’m going to show up for them, right? So you can shift the strategy. You could say the first three people I connect with, it’s going to start with me saying something kind to them. I’m going to start by giving to them. I’m sure if by complimenting them, showing up for them, cheering for them, whoever those three people are in complete spontaneity, you know, whether it’s in person or online and you can shift the strategy. But again, the whole underpinning foundation here is that you’re putting people at the center of what you’re, what you’re going out to do in the world in terms of connection.

It’s not about you. About, you know, I, there’s a whole chapter of the book room. Like, you know, most of us are told to stand on a soapbox, but really we’re called to build a stage. And this idea of like, it’s not just about us shouting to the world, Hey, I’m Natalie Frank. Here’s what I do. And here’s why you should listen and you should care.

It’s like showing up and saying, oh, Hey, I see you have a problem. Here’s a solution. Or, Hey, I saw you did this great thing. Hey, I’m going to cheer for you. I’m going to show up for you. I’m gonna be there for you because the ROI on that is longterm and it’s meaningful to our lives. And. It can still be spontaneous and it can still be unplanned. And you can, you can scrap the list idea if you have different ways of, leveraging your superpower in your personality. And that’s how you roll. Great. Go for it. But the heart is having people at the center. It’s saying intentionally today, I want to, I want to connect with people. It could be at random, you know, in a, in a networking event, I’m going to the first five people that I speak to. Here’s how I’m going to show up differently. I don’t remember their names. I’m going to follow them on Instagram. I’m going to creating, creating it for yourself and how you’d like to connect. Again, it will look different for everyone. We’re all different. but I think, I think it just starts by putting people at the center.

Amanda: I love that so much. at this point I normally ask my guests about a book recommendation, but I want to use this moment to just plug Built to Belong again because guys, if you’ve loved what Natalie’s had to say, which I don’t know how you couldn’t have, we’ve barely scratched the surface in one single chapter in this book. So I highly, highly, highly recommend that you go grab a copy for yourself. I’m going to link it in the show notes, Natalie. I’m sure you have some quick link that is easy to remember that you could tell that.

Natalie: Yeah. So just Nataliefrank.com/book, or honestly, if you go to wherever books are sold, you know, we’re in Amazon, we’re at Target, Barnes and noble, Christian book, any book, all the books, wherever books are sold, you can just search for Built to Belong or my name, Natalie Frank, and you’ll find it. I highly encourage you to read the book, especially if I’m like, I think it’s a book for everybody, but especially if you’re someone who’s ever struggled with comparison or it’s just really yearning for something different. we talked about this, a ton of science, a ton of meaty data in this book, amidst stories and, you know, just like really relatable comparisons to our lives.

And so my hope is that you pick it up and you leave it a changed person and. That it just gives you what you need in this particular season, especially as we’re thinking differently about community as we’re, maybe re-emerging into groups that we once were very familiar with or we’re reframing the way we want our future to look. Thank you, Amanda. Thank you so much for having me. This has just been such an amazing conversation and I’m so great. 

Amanda: I’m so grateful that you’re here. Like I said, I am just, I’m over the moon about this book. I’m such a nerd. I love all the data that’s inside of it. And it really pulls those stories together, for me. I love stories, but I’d love that connection piece of, oh, here’s this study where they did this thing. This is what they found like that I nerd out about that so much. And yeah, everyone who’s listening. I know we’re all entrepreneurs. We’re all constantly on social media. We’re all content creators because that’s what I teach about.

So that’s why you’re here. So we’re always on these apps and. I don’t think I know that this message that Natalie is sharing is so important. So seriously go pick up bill to belong. It is a must read recommendation, Natalie. I know everyone’s going to want more from you. So outside of going to grab their copy, what else can they do?

Natalie: Yes, absolutely. So I do, as we’ve talked about, Instagram tends to be my spot on the internet where I hang out. So I’d encourage you to come on over to Instagram @NatalieFrank. And don’t just, if you’re gonna hit the follow button, don’t just hit the follow button. You can do that. Great. But I want you to DM me, send me a DM.

Let me know that you heard me on that. Today, let’s connect. Let’s get to know each other, share a fun, random fact with me. Let’s become friends. And I, you know, I’m here for you on your journey, whatever that looks like. So Instagram tends to be the place where I hang out.  But you can always also head to Nataliefrank.com or if you’re in the entrepreneurial world, highly recommend getting plugged in with rising tide.

If you can just learn more at honeybook.com/risingtide and,  that’s sort of the community arm of, of all the work that I do, 

Amanda:  Natalie. Thank you so much for being here. I am just so grateful that you’ve. Shared your story and been so vulnerable with everyone today. 

Natalie: Thank you again.

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