Balancing Family, Marriage, and a Live Streaming Business

The incredible Stephanie Liu sits down with me to uncover how she Got Stern and balanced here incredibly busy life, career, and family.

Stephanie delivers VALUE like no one else I have met.

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Lights, Camera, LIVE is one of the best courses available on the tech and strategies to use to bring your Live Streaming to the next level of influence and profits.

Darrell Stern:
To really succeed, you’ve got to get stern. We are going to talk to all of our amazing guests about how they do just that. This is Darrell Stern, live from Denver, Colorado, with The Other Stern Show.

Darrell Stern:
All right, hey. This is season two, episode two, of The Other Stern Show, live from Denver, Colorado. I am honored to have my second guest here of our second season on the show. She is all over the world in terms of being the live streaming champion. In other words, going live on Facebook. Going live on all these other platforms, and learning, and teaching people. Being a mentor to people, as to how to use this new thing called live streaming. Maybe it’s not so new. It’s about two and a half years old-ish.

Darrell Stern:
But still, it’s relatively new to most of us, and how to really capture that. So please welcome the amazing, the queen of live video, to the show, Stephanie Liu. How are you today?

Stephanie Liu:
I am doing absolutely amazing. How are you, Darrell?

Darrell Stern:
I’m fantastic. You know, I have been watching … I know we did an interview years ago. But I see you, just you’re so consistent. I get your chat bot message every day. “Stephanie is going live. Stephanie’s going live. Here’s the next show. Here’s the next show”. You’re so on it in terms of that consistency. Then also in terms of the technology of it all. Using software that puts you in a sub-window inside of some other window, with background graphics and all kinds of amazing stuff.

Darrell Stern:
You just jumped right onto this, and just mastered it so well, with such professionalism and grace. That you really have taken live streaming to the next level. It’s really that whole experience, you know? This thing of going live. When you first heard about it, you first said, “Wow, I can go live”, what did you think? How did that start to change how you thought about social media? Because I know you’d been doing that for a long long time. How did that start to take shape?

Darrell Stern:
What was your very first experience like? Was it like, “Oh my god. How does this work? What is this?”?

Stephanie Liu:
My gosh. You know, when I first started live-streaming about three years ago, I think it was just, I really wanted to play around with it, and take a look at the features and the functionalities. But I also took notice of what other people were doing. I noticed, Darrell, that when people were live streaming, they would just use their phone.

Stephanie Liu:
It got to a point where people would be fumbling in the very beginning of their show. “Is this on? Can you see me?”. Then they wouldn’t realize that there was a delay. I knew that that was delivering a poor viewer experience. So when I was practising on my own, on a private Facebook page, I wanted to go out with a bang. That’s why you see so much detail that’s put into Lights Camera Live, with me sitting inside of a desktop and all of that stuff.

Stephanie Liu:
It took me a while to figure it out. I wish it could have taken me a weekend to put it together. But it probably took me two or three months, lots of Googling, hanging out on YouTube. Reaching out to other Twitch content creators, and asking them how they did things in OBS Studio. When I realized how much time it took me, that’s when I realized, “Okay. Now that I have a process, now that I have a system, let’s test it out”. Started going live, and I found that as an introvert, I really thrive off of audience engagement.

Stephanie Liu:
Compared to anything else that’s on social media, where you’re just passively waiting for likes and comments, live video is one of the ways that you can really keep your brand top of mind and tip of the tongue, and really have people feel as if they’re connected and a part of your community.

Darrell Stern:
First off, you saying the word, “Introvert”, is just about the furthest ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard coming out of anybody’s mouth. Because you are so on fire every time you go live.

Darrell Stern:
But okay, so psychologically speaking, that was kind of a challenge too. You’re saying that you are an introvert. But the other part that I love is, I’ve always said, Stephanie, that marketing is theatre. In theatre, we rehearse, right? We rehearse, we stage, we direct. There are the sets, the lights. All these things that go into it. You really transformed the live, the going live landscape, into a full-scale Hollywood production. I love that about what you’re doing.

Darrell Stern:
One of the things I gathered that you would say to suggest to people is, “Look”, obviously you can take your course. Which, I recommend everybody sign up for. All of your materials. But it takes a little bit of a rehearsal, right? It takes a little bit of preparation in terms of, “Let’s make sure that this is professional. That I’m not fumbling around”. You know what I’m saying. That I understand how the technology works as well, correct?

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah. I mean, a lot of it is, when you first start live streaming, you could figure out the buttons and what buttons to push. But the magic is really knowing how to keep an audience captivated and mesmerized throughout your entire show. How do you deliver your content? How do you split between delivering content and engaging with your audience at the same time, but still reach your desired outcome, right?

Stephanie Liu:
Because most people when they first started live streaming, they were like, “Hey, this is something new”. Or like any, fill in the blank. Any new shiny object that’s out there, they’re like, “I’m just going to try this”. Then they’ll fiddle around for a good five minutes. Then the magic fades, right? Because then everyone sees that everyone else is doing it. They’re like, “Oh man, all right. If they don’t have a purpose for this, then I’m just going to go ahead and block it out”, and it becomes the next banner ad.

Stephanie Liu:
Having an understanding of how you want your show to look like. How you want it to feel like. How you want people to walk away after they’re done tuning into the show, is really a lot of the production and the planning.

Darrell Stern:
That’s amazing. Now did you ever think to look at broadcasters? Let’s say Howard Stern, or Ross Brand had a show. Or other radio DJs. Because some of these radio DJs are on the air from, let’s say 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM every day. You know what I’m saying? They have to do four hours of, let’s call it, it’s live radio. It’s live streaming, whatever.

Darrell Stern:
Did you ever look to that to say, “Okay, this is really live broadcasting. It’s putting on a show. How do people conduct interviews? How is it done on, let’s say The Tonight Show?”? How did you research and figure out how to make the show format work? Did you ever look at other media, such as radio broadcasting and all of that?

Stephanie Liu:
You know, I think it’s one of those things where I didn’t purposely reverse engineer it. I just knew that there were certain shows that I liked. I liked watching Oprah. I liked watching Ellen. Both of those was very much about, how do you want to make your audience feel? Because it was more of a visual thing that I could take a look at, it was much easier for me just to see the queues for it, versus broadcasting and on the radio.

Stephanie Liu:
I mean, I’ll be perfectly honest with you. Since I work from home, I don’t really listen to the radio as much. I remember I used to listen to the radio when I was driving to work, or driving to the agency. But these days it’s really, I get up, get my coffee, and then I go straight to work. If anything, I’m probably watching something behind the scenes, just to see how they’re engaging.

Stephanie Liu:
If anything, Darrell, it’s really taking a look at the other content creators and seeing, “Okay. I like that”, or, “I don’t like that. How would I remix it and make it more my own?”. That way it feels a lot more authentic.

Darrell Stern:
Got it. There’s all this talk about Facebook algorithms changing, and people are complaining about, engagement is down. “I can’t get any attention from what I’m doing”. But when you really take the time, wouldn’t you agree, to craft this idea of, “I’m going to ask people questions. I’m going to get their input on an idea”, or something like that. There’s something along the lines that, that is the art and science of, “Engagement”.

Darrell Stern:
I always say there are six emotional buttons on the bottom of Facebook. Like, Love, Angry, Sad, you know, whatever they are. Wow. We should create something that will make people go, “Love it”. Show them something they would love. Or show them something that would make them sad. Or show …

Darrell Stern:
Talk to me about, what has been your most engaging experience? What was a show or a live that you did, where people just, wow? They were just making comments and comments and comments. What was that topic, and what were you doing to drive that conversation?

Stephanie Liu:
You know, there’s just been so many episodes of my own for Lights Camera Live. I can’t really pinpoint it to just one. If anything, I’d say that if it’s a tutorial where I’m just geeking out on something completely new. Let’s say Snapchat’s new snap camera and the fact that I can tie it into E-Cam. Or any live streaming platform.

Stephanie Liu:
Just seeing people get excited as much as I am, and we’re learning together for the very first time. That’s generally when I see the most engagement from them. They feed off of my excitement. I feed off of their excitement. You see the reactions blowing up on there.

Stephanie Liu:
But really, I would say that when a show focuses on the end-user and it helps them solve a problem, that’s when they get really excited. Because they’re just like, “Man, I have been waiting to solve this darn thing. Yes, I could probably Google, and go on YouTube. But if I could just hang out with Stephanie for the next 30 minutes and get her feedback, and really tap into her in real-time, then, by all means, I’m going to take advantage of that”.

Stephanie Liu:
It’s smart of them, right? Because you think about consultants, and how much we charge hourly? I mean, you’re getting free advice for a good 45 minutes to an hour. So you might as well watch the show.

Darrell Stern:
Amazing. I see so many people joining groups, where then they can practice going live. Or they go on some group show and all of that. But then I ask them about their personal lives, and they’re barely making any money. Or they think that maybe joining this group and getting on somebody’s show or something is a way towards business.

Darrell Stern:
But behind the scenes, you run a very successful social media marketing agency, where you help major brands and companies do this kind of thing. How have you benefited, I mean I’ll say it out loud, monetarily? How has this drifted into people going into buying your course?

Darrell Stern:
The other part of that question is, Gary Vee talks about, “Punch, punch, punch, jab”. We’re giving. We’re giving. We’re giving. We’re giving everything away. We’re helping people. Then there’s the jab. There’s that part where we’re going to come out and say, “I’ve got a course. I’ve got an offer for you guys”. You know what I’m saying. Where have you found that balance, in terms of then saying, “Guess what? There are more ways to work with me. I have a course”? Where do you tie that in, and how has that worked for you?

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah, so what I found early on when I started live streaming was that because my background is in the ad agency experience, it actually turned out that I was still connected, or friends with old clients, or old co-workers and whatnot. If you know, I mean if you remember, when you live stream, everyone that you’re connected to that are friends with you, if you’re sharing it to that page, your personal profile, then they get notified.

Stephanie Liu:
So when I first started they were like, “Oh, wow. Stephanie is doing this new thing”. It brought me to their top of mine. If they knew of any projects that needed a consultant or needed someone to step in and help them with a project, I was the first one that they would recommend. That’s definitely how it helped me.

Stephanie Liu:
I’ve always had that saying. Whereas soon as I’m done with the live broadcast, I always get a new referral. Maybe that’s just my mantra, and that’s just maybe my law of attraction. But it happens. Every single time, someone will reach out and say, “How can I work with you?”.

Stephanie Liu:
On the agency side of things, I have a criteria that I look for in clients. You and I were chatting about this. I like to work with clients that are leaving a legacy, and doing something very positive to impact the world. That’s kind of my filter these days.

Stephanie Liu:
But even with live streaming, sometimes I’ll get viewers that will ask me about my live streaming setup. What mic do I use, and yada yada yada? When they ask me questions like that, Darrell, I let them figure it out on their own after I’ve given them a little bit of it, right? I don’t go into the hard sell of, “Oh, and if you want my course, then go buy my course”.

Stephanie Liu:
My course, I actually kind of position it as a high-end signature program, where it’s group coaching. It’s not just, you get the course. But you will have direct access to me for six weeks, with full office hours. You get a hot seat to go through your show. Pre-promotion plan. Work out all of the tech. Then you still have someone that’s cheering you on after you launch your show.

Stephanie Liu:
That’s where I kind of divvy it up, right? Where it’s like, “Here’s the show. If you want to work with me, this is what I do on the agency side of things. But if you want to be in my mastermind, in this group coaching, then that only opens up once a year”. That creates this whole fervor of, “When are you going to launch again?”.

Darrell Stern:
I love it. I love it. What a great way to look at the way to bring people into your world. That it’s not just, “Hey, yeah. Go get my $297 …”. Because I see so many people underselling, and I don’t know, putting themselves on the bottom rung, and not scaling up. Whereas you set up an environment where people are in a fervor asking you, “When does the program start again?”, and you specifically have a launch date and all that. I love that, and you’ve built that up obviously, by being so consistent with the show and the format and all of that.

Darrell Stern:
Now we’re going to move into the next part of the show. Which is where we talk about where we get stern. I’ve discovered a lot about how, when you set boundaries when you know what you do and what you don’t do. You talked a little bit about how “I don’t give them my whole course”. Or, “I don’t sit there in a chat room, explaining to people how to use what microphone. I give them little tips and then set them on their way. They’ll come back when they’re ready to come back”.

Darrell Stern:
Let’s talk about you now, on the other side of this. You’re a mom, right? You have two young kids. You’ve got a husband. You’ve got all this other kind of stuff. How do you get stern, in terms of separating out, “Okay, it’s family time. It’s Mom time”, and balancing that all out? So that then the kids aren’t saying, “Mom’s always at the computer with all this equipment. We want more Mom time”.

Darrell Stern:
Where do you set your boundaries in terms of, “Okay. I shut it off”? Maybe it’s in one room of the house and you lock the door, and that’s it for the day, with the live streaming and the … You know what I’m saying. With business. Where do you set your boundaries? How do you get stern between separating out your business life and your family?

Stephanie Liu:
You know, when I had my daughter back in 2015, it was one of those things where I realized, “You know what? Working 50 plus hours in a week and missing the sunshine isn’t probably what I envisioned when I thought of the idea of starting a family, right?”. When I went back to work after maternity leave, my founders were so in tune with where my head and where my heart was at, that they gave me the flexibility to just not work on Wednesdays. So then I go to work four days a week.

Stephanie Liu:
By doing so, that meant Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I had to be really really productive. There is no lull time whatsoever. Because then I’ll have Wednesdays off to bond with my daughter.

Stephanie Liu:
Ever since that, I’ve always taken Wednesdays off. Wednesdays we kind of dub in my family as, Whatever We Want Wednesdays. That’s when my daughter says, “Let’s go to the zoo”, or, “Let’s go to the beach” because we live here in beautiful sunny San Diego. I respect that, right? That is my precious time. Whenever I am talking to a client, whenever I’m on a discovery call, I lay out the rules. I get really stern on the fact that Wednesdays are my day off.

Stephanie Liu:
If you try to email me on Wednesdays, you will get an out of office message that says, “Our office is closed on Wednesday. I’ll return your email as soon as I can”. They are so understanding of that. All of my clients are so understanding of that. I think if I ever came across someone who was like, “No. Well, this is a really big thing right now, so I need you to work on a Wednesday”, it’s like, “It doesn’t work that way”.

Stephanie Liu:
Because when you run your own business, you get to pick and choose who your clients are going to be. You get to pick and choose your schedule with what makes sense. As long as you’re still delivering, or even over-delivering for your clients, that should function. So that’s what I do. I have Wednesdays.

Stephanie Liu:
As far as family goes, we have family date nights. My daughter’s old enough to know that, “It’s Friday. It’s family date night. Let’s go all out for dinner”. That’s what keeps me sane, and keeps me reminded of what it is that I’m truly working for. Yes, I love the viewers. Yes, I love the clients. But there’s a reason why I’m doing this. It’s because I can spend time with my family and be the parent, the mom, the wife that I’ve always wanted to be.

Darrell Stern:
That’s amazing. I love it. I mean, it’s funny. Because people in Europe, they don’t work nearly as hard as we do. It’s amazing that you’ve been able to craft that life.

Darrell Stern:
Now let’s move on into feeding the family, right? Food and diet and nutrition and all that. We’re so busy that we just end up grabbing food or whatever, or whatever. Not just on Wednesdays, but during the week and around the week. Is the husband cooking? Are you cooking? Where are you in terms of nutrition and the kids, and where do you set boundaries in terms of that? So that the work and all the busyness doesn’t take over how good you’re taking care of yourself?

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah, well you know, we’re fortunate that in our area, we have this thing called Instacart. I could actually order groceries from a Costco, Vaughn’s, or any of our local groceries, and then have it delivered to the house. That saves me a ton of time. Because if I were to take my daughter with me, then we might go down certain aisles that we shouldn’t go to.

Stephanie Liu:
Stocking up on healthy food is always important. That’s what helps us a lot. Since my husband works from home too, he and I, one of us will go out and grab lunch and bring it back to the house.

Stephanie Liu:
As far as cooking goes, we’ll switch off every now and then. I would say an instant pot is kind of the marriage saver, because I could literally, Darrell, I can make piaya in five minutes. It’s a blessing.

Darrell Stern:
I love it, I love it. I’m actually Googling Instacart right now. I’m like, “I want this life that you have”. This sounds tremendous and amazing and all that. Let’s see. We talked about diet and nutrition. We talked about family life and all that.

Darrell Stern:
Now in business, as you have grown, there might be people that have approached you, “Well I want to be a guest on your show”, right? Or, “I want you to do this”. Or, “Can I get a discount on that?”. Or like you said, I really have a deep interview process into who I work within my agency. How do you get stern in terms of setting your boundaries as to who has access, you know what I’m saying, to you?

Darrell Stern:
Because as you do this more and more and more, and you get more popular on social media, I know that, I was just with Virginia [Solace Costillio 00:19:45]. She tells me, she erases the Facebook app, chat, what’s it. Erases it from her phone. Shuts the thing off for days, or whatever time. So then there aren’t 50 million updates coming at you, and buzzes and blinks and all that kind of stuff.

Darrell Stern:
Where do you set your boundary in terms of communicating with people? Then also, establishing what route, or how … You know what I’m saying. Deeply they would be involved with the people in the audience and all that kind of stuff. So it remains professional, but yet approachable, and doesn’t turn anybody off.

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah. You know, I would say that for Lights Camera Live, really for the interview styles where I bring on the guest, I only bring on a guest if my audience has said, “I’m interested in learning more about X”. When they say that they’re more interested in learning about LinkedIn Video, or Facebook Stories, that’s when I’ll go ahead and look for an actual guest to fill in that specific need.

Stephanie Liu:
Because it’s not just for me, just to randomly bring people on there. If I want to get that engagement, if I want people to feel as if the show is going to give them exclusive access to experts, then I have to deliver on the content and fill the need that people are looking for. So that’s usually how I vet the people that are coming onto the show, right?

Stephanie Liu:
If someone says, “Hey Stephanie, I wrote a book on cryptocurrency, and I want to be on your show”, I’m like, “You know, my audience isn’t really interested in that. Unless you’re able to go ahead and give me a pitch or position it in an angle that would really help them out”. Right? That’s usually what I kind of go through.

Stephanie Liu:
Then as far as me being busy, and how to shut off the fire hose? What’s nice about being a planner, Darrell, is that when I got my 2019 planner, the first thing that I did to make sure that I had the work-life balance, or that harmony, really blocked out birthdays, family vacations, anniversaries. Things of that sort. That really helped me make sure, “Okay, this is when I need the downtime”.

Stephanie Liu:
Then I started putting in clients’ big events. Or my speaking engagements. Once I had that, I really understood, “These are the months that I’m going to be really busy”. You had even mentioned during the pre-show, you were like, “Dude, you’ve been everywhere”. It’s like, “Yeah”. Because January through June is the first half of the year, and that’s usually when I’m grinding. But then when it comes to July, it’s all Comic-Con for me, right? No new clients during Comic-Con, or any of that stuff.

Stephanie Liu:
When I have these peaks and these valleys, I usually just, I tell everyone. I put it in my Facebook Stories and my Instagram Stories. I’ll put it in the group. I’ll even put it in my email signature that says, “Hey, just an FYI. I’m preparing for the Social Media Marketing World, so I might be slow to respond”.

Stephanie Liu:
Because people might know that, “Okay, she’s going to be speaking at a conference”. But they don’t know that I need a lot of mental space. A lot of freeway to just ramp up for it. It’s not one of those things where it’s like, “Oh, this conference is in two weeks. I could totally just hit her with a new project”. No.

Darrell Stern:
Right. There’s a lot of preparation in that. Also, you’ve established with your audience, with people, “Hey, Stephanie’s not available right now”. You know, “This is what I’m doing right now”, and all of that”. I love that.

Darrell Stern:
You teach, you live stream and interview people about social media. Obviously you teach how to use live streaming and all of that. That is linear. It’s pretty linear. You’re doing it to teach it. When somebody else comes to you and they’re a coach, or maybe they’re an auto mechanic, or maybe they wrote a book or whatever, where do you start to see if live streaming is even where they should be? Or maybe they should just, what I’m saying. Do YouTube channels, or do other things with video. Or just upload videos to LinkedIn or whatever.

Darrell Stern:
What do you think, what types of businesses and all that are best suited in the live streaming world? Which ones are, “Eh, I don’t think that’s really what you need to be focusing on”?

Stephanie Liu:
You know, honestly, I think that any business could leverage live video, as long as they’re solving a problem. Because if you’re just like, “No, your business probably wouldn’t be good for live video”, then essentially you’re saying your business wouldn’t be good for social media. I’ve seen lawyers, like Mitch Jackson, totally crush it in terms of leveraging live video to build his clientele, as well as to attract speaking engagements.

Stephanie Liu:
I’ve had one of my students who does permanent makeup. She’s able to engage with students who go through her micro-blading certification program and still engage with them in a private Facebook group. As far as people wondering, “Is my business good for live video?”, chances are, if you’re able to write top 10 frequently asked questions about your business, your product, or your service, you can turn that into a live video.

Darrell Stern:
I love that. Because that goes right in line with what one of my philosophies is. Which is what you can teach, what you can demonstrate, what you know is your marketing. The greatest crime we can commit is just not sharing our knowledge. Keeping it to ourselves, and not putting it out there. Stephanie, you are amazing. I hope everybody goes and checks out all of your materials and all of your things, and signs up for your amazing courses and all the things that you have available.

Darrell Stern:
What’s next for you? Where is this going next? Where next are you speaking? What’s next for you? What are you looking for? What are some things that you really want to accomplish in the rest of this year?

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah, you know, so the next conference that I’m preparing for is the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference in St Louis. It’s from April 15th to the 18th. I have a jampacked schedule there. I’ll be debuting a new workshop. It’s a three-hour workshop, and the format is about remote live producers.

Stephanie Liu:
Let’s say you are an entrepreneur, or you’re a CEO, and you want to dip into live video but you don’t have the team or the resources to actually take the time to learn how to live stream, buy the lights, buy the gear, etc. Well, you could actually take advantage of hiring a remote live producer, where they put together what your strategy is going to be. You run the show. All you really have to do, Darrell, is just hop on Zoom or hop on Skype, and then they run the show for you, and you deliver the content.

Stephanie Liu:
From there, they’ll chop and repurpose that content for your social media strategy. That’s my workshop. That’s part one of it. Because I feel like even live streamers who are interested in making a side hustle, they could actually offer a service like remote live producer and produce shows for other people. In fact, you know, I’ve been doing that for a couple of clients this year, and it’s worked out tremendously. That’s one big thing. That’s the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference. Again, that’s going to be in April. Super pumped for that.

Stephanie Liu:
Then I’ll be at Social Media Week Lima. That’s in Ohio. That’ll be cool. Then after that, it’s really just, I want to travel. I want to travel. I think my husband and I, I think we’re planning to go to Japan and Taiwan. So that’s something that I’m actually most excited about this year.

Darrell Stern:
That’s amazing. I love it. You’re opening up new worlds to people, and showing them new ways that they can both use this live streaming platform, but also teach some other things they can do as a business. Using all that. I wish you all the luck and success. Where can people find you online? Where can people find your programs?

Stephanie Liu:
Yeah, so programs and content you can definitely find at lightscameralive.com.

If you really wanted to go ahead and engage with me, then the best way is to join the Social Media Strategist group on Facebook.

Just type in Social Media Strategist, and you’ll find a picture of me. Then just join the group, and you’ll be surrounded by other like-minded individuals that are interested in social media, as well as live video.

Darrell Stern:
Well thank-you very much, Stephanie, for getting stern with me and coming on the show. I love you to death. I can’t wait to get your next chat bot message saying you’re going to go live again, and you’re going to bring us even more amazing content. Thank you very much.

Stephanie Liu:
I love it. Thank you so much, Darrell.

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