Life can put barriers in your path to success. It is up to you how you start hurdling obstacles to success. Our guest this episode knows you need both focus and inner strength if you want more out of life. In this episode, Jen Du Plessis talks to Bernadette Pannier, entrepreneur and founder of Bernadette Pannier Consulting. Bernadette talks about her career in sales and how her husband’s illness helped her become a successful entrepreneur, and made her a better wife and person. Tune in and be inspired by Bernadette’s story.
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Focus And Inner Strength: Hurdling Obstacles To Success With Bernadette Pannier
My guest is Bernadette Pannier. She is the owner of Bernadette Pannier Consulting. A little bit of background about her. Welcome to the show Bernadette, happy to have you.
Thank you for letting me be here. I’m so excited.
I am too. Bernadette was in the corporate world hustling in sales. Helping the corporations she worked with to improve their sales and sales organization and also some conversions and lead gen. A lot of that was done online. The reason that I brought her in here is because that’s what she does well. She coaches people who are looking to expand their brand on social media. We hear this quite often in Clubhouse and online but what we’re going to be talking about in this episode is a little bit about that.
More specifically, we’re going to be talking about her transition out of the corporate world into making an impact and being significant for people, which is what this podcast is all about. Cracking and breaking through glass ceilings that we all experience in our lives, whether they’re financial, physical, emotional or whatever the case may be. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer in January of 2020. How that affected her life and how that has taken her to where she is now. Bernadette, welcome to our show. Tell us a little bit about your past in the corporate world. Let’s look at this success that you had and then we’ll talk about the transition into significance.
I was young in my twenties and I wanted a job that was going to be exciting and fun. I was offered a sales position in my early twenties and I was reasonably good at closing deals. I was comfortable negotiating money. I was comfortable introducing myself to other people and getting out there and finding new clients. I decided that was going to be my path, that’s my career. I decided that’s what I was going to do.
By the time I was in my 30s, I tease and tell a lot of people that if you’ve driven in it, floated in it, and shopped in it, I’ve probably sold it. As a salesperson, one of the beauties of being in sales is that you really do get to sell a lot of things and you can move around in your career. It’s not necessarily frowned upon if you move from place to place every couple of years. It was early 2013, I was working for a telecom company. They told me that if I wanted to continue working for them, I needed to move from Orlando, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia.
I was in my mid-30s and I had lived nowhere other than Central Florida. I was thinking about this. I had lived in the same 30 miles my entire life except for college. I took a leap of faith and thought, “When else am I not going to be married or in a relationship or not have children? I can do this and it’ll be an exciting adventure. If it doesn’t work out, I can try something else.” I was in Atlanta, not even 90 days and that telecom company laid me off. It was the first time I had ever been laid off as an adult. It was the first time I had to make some very adult decisions. Adulting happened in those 90 days and it was overwhelming. I was very worried. I called my father and said, “I don’t know what to do.”One of the beauties of being in sales is that you really do get to sell a lot of things and you can move around in your career. Click To Tweet
He said, “You have two choices. You either move forward or you move backward and I would prefer if you wouldn’t look backward.” I stayed in Atlanta and made a life. I had no friends and family that lived here. I was only working and I worked in a remote position in telecom from my car. Before remote learning and working was cool, as telecom salespeople, you worked out of your vehicle. You had your laptop, your hotspot, and that’s what I did. I ate lunch under the shade of a tree in a parking lot with the other squirrels. I made a life out of it.
That’s where you started. You were in the corporate world and that’s the success piece of this. In this episode, if you’re reading and it’s your first time, first of all, thank you for joining us and spending time with us. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that it’s everything from success to significance. It’s not always just a bridge, which I know is something you talk about. It’s not just a bridge that, “I was successful and now I want to do something significant,” but it’s everything in between. The transition, the bridge, why are we doing that? January 2020 comes around, you’re moving along, you’re married now and your family is starting to happen. All those things are happening and now you get the news. Tell us about what really changed your life?
I have started to learn that being a female in sales was very difficult and it was starting to wear on me. I had started to think about other options for myself as I was rolling towards my 40s. January 29th, 2020, changed everything. My husband had a headache that would not shake and we made the decision to go to the doctor. The doctor led us to the ER. The ER got us admitted, and within 36 hours, he was having brain surgery.
They had found two very large tumors in his brain, and then about 5 or 6 smaller ones. They had seen a lot of tumors and lesions all through his body. They said, “The two in his brain have to come out because they’re causing a lot of trouble.” He was having a hard time speaking. There was a lot of pain involved. It was causing a lot of effects. I could not wrap my head around the fact that my very healthy racing husband, who still tries, but he used to run 26 races a year between half marathons and marathons and those mud races and things. This healthy man who has never had a problem in his life had potential cancer in his brain.
In the midst of me, being a wife and caring for him, and being a support inside that hospital, I was also trying to work. The first thing I asked for to be packed up and brought to the hospital was my work laptop. At the time, I was like, “I still have to work because I have a job and I have to take care of him.” For the five days, he was in the hospital, I was working from my laptop and fielding phone calls of my potential clients and my clients, and the leadership team that I was working for. It was chaos.
I was working on no sleep. He was having complications and I wasn’t doing well with it. I say to a lot of my other female entrepreneurs and my friends, “Multitasking means that you’re doing everything badly.” You need to make sure you focus on the one thing in front of you. I wasn’t being a good supportive wife and employee at that moment. I was trying to manage this crisis.
By the time he got home, it came to my attention that the company that I was working for did not really care he was sick. I was getting more emails and phone calls about the, “Where are your numbers? Where are your sales? You’re not doing your activities. You’re not this. You’re not that.” “I just had a husband that had brain surgery that we now know is stage four cancer, and can you give me a moment?”
No kidding. You and I talked about this when we first met because my husband had gone through something similar with the brain. You shared some techniques for me to work on and that’s still an issue, that’s for sure. One of the things that I coach on is priority management. Not multitasking but being present and doing priority management. You got jolted into, “I got to get my priorities straight because I’m not liking what I’m doing. I’m feeling like I have to fight for it,” and that’s typical for most women in a lot of businesses. I have to really fight hard. Be the best that I can be every single day, and be perfect in order to be seen and respected and that people see and they recognize me. You, all of a sudden, had to make your priorities change.
Imagine his recovery that once he got home, you had to be there as well. Is that what started the change? Other than the fact that you had a company that was saying, “Where in the heck are your numbers?” You were thinking, “Why don’t you care?” Was it instantly that you said, “I’m out?” Was it a little progression that it got worse and worse that it started making you think about that? Walk us through that thought process there and what that timeline looks like.
It was February 15th, and the only reason I know that is because, on February 14th, my husband and I were able to see Tony Bennett in concert. He was a little wobbly still, but I wanted to get him out. When we woke up the next morning, I had woken up to a ton of emails and complaints. I rolled over and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m not taking care of you the way I need to. I’m not taking care of myself the way I need to. No amount of money is worth this stress.”
I have made in my career, millions and millions of dollars for other people and at no point with all the awards and all the attagirls, was I really a value to them. I was just a number on a bottom line on a spreadsheet. I knew in my heart of hearts, that I could go out and make millions of dollars for myself teaching the things that I was good at. I looked at him on February 15th and said, “That’s it, I’m done.”
He said, “You go do what you need to do. I trust you. I know that you’ll be successful at it and I know one day we’re going to look back at this in a shorter time than you thought and we’re going to have money in the bank and freedom and you’ll do fine. I have all the faith in the world.” I said, “Holy bananas. I married such a good man.” He didn’t even hesitate. That’s what it was. It was not even 30 days from then, I had two of my own clients.
By the end of March, I had replaced the income I was making in the corporate world. By June of that year, I had doubled my income. I cleared 2020, not only doubling the money that I would have made in the corporate world but almost tripling it. I was doing something that I loved. I was able to care for him and teach something that I wanted to teach to clients that I knew appreciated that. I’m one of the few people that will sit here and tell everyone, I’m so grateful for the pandemic.Multitasking means that you're doing everything badly. You need to make sure you focus on the one thing in front of you. Click To Tweet
I am too. I get it.
It gave me an opportunity that I would have never had had it not been going on. I was able to become a global salesperson with my own company. I have global clients because of the pandemic. That might not have in this situation had we were all still in person and doing things and nobody wanted to get on camera with me overseas.
You probably would have done what most people do as entrepreneurs, just work in your general area, go to networking, do those types of things. Obviously, the pandemic was good for you. You were able to take care of him. I know one of the things that you focus on is this bridge and helping people bridge businesses, or get out of the corporate world if that’s what they want to do. This entire podcast is about those types of transitions that people have and how they get to do the things that they want to make an impact, which is why I named the book Impact. Also, making a significance in the world and leave their mark in the world. What are you doing now to create that significance for your clients?
I call it the Bridge to Freedom and it’s a piece in my coaching that is a physical chapter in my coaching program. That freedom can be different for everybody. It can be financial freedom, time or so many different things. For me, what I want everyone to know is that while there are plenty of people out there that are entrepreneurs and have ideas to sell, widgets to sell, and they’re creative, not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur to have that bridge to freedom. Sometimes it’s just managing your life in a better way and learning the skills to be able to not be so time-sucked and prioritizing those situations.
You and I had talked about this and we touched on it a little bit again, multitasking is dangerous. Focus on the thing in front of you and then move on to the next task. You will be quicker at it, more efficient, and be better at it. Those tasks will become better because of those things. I’ve gone back and looked at moments where I’m texting and emailing at the same time and both of them look crazy. If I just stopped and sent the email and then responded to the text, it would have looked better.
You get more done. People say all the time, “How do you get so many things done, Jen?” It is the priority management, that single-tasking that’s so important for people. Who is your mentor? Who are you surrounded with that helped you through this process? We’re still in the pandemic, people are still working from home. There’re still those types of things going on. Who did you surround yourself with so that you didn’t feel so isolated? Here you are taking care of your husband. No one can come by your house, even if they’re not sick, there’s a concern for your husband’s health because he’s got an underlying condition. Here you are, all by yourselves, and you’re trying to work on your business and take care of him. Who did you surround yourself with to help you stay motivated, mentored, and figure out how to put things together?
I am very lucky in my world that not only do I have strong blood-related females in my life but that I have acquired strong supportive women over these last few years. My number one support, 100%, was my mom. Even though my parents could not cross the state line, come care for us, help us, and be there, my mother was always there. That was so important for me because as a wife, I needed another wife to talk to that had gone through cancer.
My father had cancer and survived and I needed that. I needed to talk things out with her. I was also very lucky that I have supportive women here in Atlanta. Our neighborhood rallied around us like I’ve never seen before. I know all of my neighbors now. They would drop off pizza, wine, fruit, and they’ve shown up for birthdays and anniversaries and big moments for us and sat out in the front yard. They stayed 25 feet away but wanted to make sure that we knew they were there for us.
I have female mentors in my life that have been there for me prior to this moment, and then really dug in deep during this moment of mine. It was very helpful to have other women around because going through this process as a young wife is very lonely. When we walk into a room, we are usually the youngest couple in it when it comes to the type of cancer he has. There isn’t a lot of bonding that can happen with somebody who’s 25 or 35 years older than you because they don’t have the life we have.
We had only been married for a few years, we had not started a family. We were new in this situation. We were still working out our marriage when he got sick. I was lucky. I tell people that it would have been hard to go through that time without the pandemic. The only difference would have been is we would have had people that were allowed to be in the house, be around us, help me with transport, and things like that.
You’re right, I was in a situation where it didn’t matter. You couldn’t touch us, help us, or come into the home. He couldn’t be left alone. I was always here. While I’m so grateful because we had all this time, it was a very isolating and lonely situation. On top of all of that, as humans, we need touch. In my moments of crisis when I’m crying like big girls do in the shower, at one point, it was almost six months when I realized, no one other than my husband had hugged me and that’s huge.
You surrounded yourself with some mentors and could reach out to them from a business perspective, not only just the personal side, but a business perspective to help guide you like, “I want to make this happen.” Where did you find the strength for yourself?
I don’t know. I just kept going. I silo and I don’t recommend it but I do. I said this to a friend because she was like, “What do you mean you silo?” I said, “My rice, my barley, and my corn do not intermingle. They still might make bourbon at the end of the day, but they don’t commingle the things.” When I was in my care for my husband silo, that’s all I was focused on. When I was focusing on business, that’s all I was focusing on. When I was focusing on fun, that was all I was focusing on. I tried not to let them commingle.The definition of “entrepreneur” in the dictionary is somebody who quit their 40-hour week job to work 80. Click To Tweet
I did everything I could to make memories. We traveled probably more in the pandemic than we did the year prior. We never left the southeast. I never traveled more than six hours away from the house but I would rent us places for 2, 3 weeks at a time and we would go to the beach, the mountains, or do something else because I could still work as long as I had power and Wi-Fi. If he was in between radiation or chemo treatments, I would pack us up and we would go.
There’s always a silver lining in a lot of things that we experience. Now, do you help your clients do the same thing, or do you help your clients who have already made the transition, saying, “How do I make money online to ensure that I have income coming in?” This could be a side hustle for someone as well.
One hundred percent. I have different types of clients. I have my sole entrepreneurs that need to learn how to sell online. It’s new to them. Maybe they opened up a LinkedIn or an Instagram account and then they never did anything with it. They know that there’re clients out there, they just don’t know how to do that. I have clients that I teach the basics of online social media selling, content creation, branding yourself, keeping the conversation going, becoming a subject matter expert in your industry, and funneling those appropriate clients back into your social media, and driving them to a call to action.
Whether that’s a sales funnel, a link, a booking link, or whatever that might be. I then have my micro-business owners that maybe they now have a team underneath them. Maybe that’s only one person, maybe it’s five, that are trying to navigate the process of offloading their work to someone that they’ve hired, which can be very overwhelming and very scary for entrepreneurs because this is your baby.
Although you became an entrepreneur, you didn’t have to work so hard. It’s always funny that I hear that. It’s like, “Didn’t you become an entrepreneur to have that freedom and not work so hard, and yet, you’re working more than you did when you had your job?” You’re just over broke.
Somebody said to me that the definition of entrepreneurs in the dictionary is, “Somebody who quit their 40-hour week job to work 80.”
That’s exactly it. They’re making that transition, trying to get people to do other things. You’re teaching their teams, interjecting, and helping them be able to do that part of their business to keep that exposure out there.
A lot of it is about coming up with a process, almost like a playbook in some way. They can onboard their people very effectively and quickly so that they can go out there and sell and hustle and do what they need to do. As an owner of a company, you can do that, you can be an owner. Most of those conversations are me coming up with a process, implementing that process for them, and showing them how to continue. “We’re going to continue this process over and over again.”
The third piece of my business is going into those enterprise clients or those people that are making $2 million, $3 million, $4 million, or more. They now have teams of 5 or 10 of sales teams, but they still need to make sure that their sales team members are being onboarded and having continual training. Maybe there’s software that they’ve implemented now, and they don’t know how to train on that software.
They need someone to come in that has that software background to be able to explain and train ongoing sales team members as they’re building those teams out. All three of those at the bottom line are the same thing. Get your processes in place, continue your training constantly, and growth will happen. That’s what it comes down to. I teach people lead generation, process, and revenue. It’s not easy but you need it to survive. If you’re not making sales calls and you’re not closing sales on those calls, you’re never going to make money.
I spent 38 years in sales. A sales manager of mine years ago said to all of us one time way back, “Don’t focus on the ant with the magnifying glass as the big semi comes by you.” Focusing on the wrong things instead of the little things. Tell us about your life now. That’s a little bit about what you do in your business but I want to get back to, what you have realized in this process that was already sitting there fermenting and probably would have happened but not in the way that it did. What have you realized about that and what does your life feel like now?
I realized that I am stronger than I ever give myself credit for. I also realized that it turns out that I am capable of not only loving someone else but loving myself. Even more, what I learned is that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s actually a sign of strength being able to ask for help. “I need this, can you please help me?” It was very scary because I came from a corporate world, where asking for help was definitely a sign of weakness. I’ve learned that’s not weak. That is so strong. It is so strong to ask for help and it’s needed because no one knows everything. No one has everything that they need.
Help could be so many things. Help could be, “Can someone please mow my yard? I can’t get to it this week.” “Can someone please teach me this thing? I don’t know how to do this but I need to learn it.” That’s really what’s come out of this for me and as I’ve written one book that’s coming out and I’m in the process of writing another one that will be out at the beginning of 2022. That’s what I want other women to understand is you do have the ability to be as strong as you need to be in the moments that you need to be them, but please ask for help. If you aren’t asking, failure is around the corner. You need to know that asking is much more powerful than you think it is.It's okay to ask for help. It's actually a sign of strength. Click To Tweet
Asking helps you get to where you want to go faster. That’s part of it, too. No questions. Tell us about the name of your book that is coming out and when is it coming out?
It’ll be out in the fall of 2021 and it’s called Manifesting Queen. It’s a collaborative book that I’m part of that I’m very excited about. My piece of the book is about how I manifested the first twelve months of my career, and what that outcome has been for us, and the life that I am able to lead now because of it.
I love the name of it. It’s several women that have come together and saying how they have manifested certain things in their lives that they were seeking. That’s wonderful. Later in 2021, you’re going to be coming out with something that will be your own book that’s your story about what’s happened in your life and how you’ve turned that around as well.
Yes, and that one’s a real piece for me. It will be a shorter story but it is more personal. The title that I’m playing with is, His Journey, My Story: How a Cancer Diagnosis, a Pandemic, and Becoming My Own CEO Made Me a Better Wife. At the end of all of this, I’m a better wife to my husband now than I was before.
You have your light shining on the proper thing, the priority. It’s so common for solopreneurs, business owners, entrepreneurs to shine their light on their business and not on their families. That’s what my entire coaching program is about. I totally get that concept to know that but it’s sad that it takes something so dramatic for people to say that because that’s the message that I’ve been getting out into the world, “Don’t wait for that to happen,” because I had it happen to me. It wasn’t until it happened that I said, “That’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Same thing with you.
Hopefully, our messages will get out to more and more people. Of course, yours was more external. You didn’t have control over it. I had total control over my situation but if the cancer didn’t happen with your husband, you would have come to that conclusion, probably not as quickly as you did. Look how much you would have left on the table from a personal, as well as a monetary perspective. That’s a beautiful story. Thank you. I love the name of the book. It’s long but it’s a good name of the book. I love that because it’s true. It’s exactly what happened to you. Is there a mantra, a quote, or a poem that drives your life?
Yes. It’s called, “Luck is not a business plan.”Get your processes in place, continue your training constantly and growth will happen. Click To Tweet
That’s good. That’s true. If you’re reading this episode, just remember that luck is not a business plan and that you have to manifest it through hard work, not yoga. It is a lot of work.
Manifesting is not a white candle woo-wooing yourself every morning in a mirror. Manifestation is hard work.
It is, but it also includes some of the woo-woo, which is having a positive outlook, really believing in yourself. There are a lot of little pieces to it but it definitely is hard work. You can’t just sit in a room and hope for everything to happen. I love that, “Luck is not a business plan.” We’ll remember that and we want to say thank you so much for joining us. If someone wants to reach out to you what is the best way for them to contact you?
The best place is to find me online. I’m on Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. It’s Bernadette Barone Pannier. It’s @BernadettePannier.co on Instagram. The rest of it’s my name. I’m not hiding. You can find me anywhere on social media.
Good. I want to say thank you so much for being on our show and we wish all the best for your husband in his continued recovery and the best for you in your business as you continue to grow and learn all about yourself in this journey that you’re on. Thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you so much for having me.
Absolutely. All right everyone, thank you again for joining us on this episode. We hope that you have enjoyed this. Please take a few minutes to give us a great five-star rating and make some comments down there. Write a review on what you heard from Bernadette or what you’ve been gaining from this podcast so that we can continue to get your feedback and learn about what you’re looking to find on these shows, and we will talk to you soon.
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About Bernadette Pannier
Bernadette went from hustling in a corporate world for money to living her dream life. With 20 years in enterprise sales. She is a leader in building strategic brand development plans and implementing them. Having won several President Club Awards, Who’s Who Under 40, and Top Sales Team 4 years in a row. Growing revenue for companies was what she did best. But, Bernadette wanted more. Driven by her husband’s Cancer diagnosis in January 2020, Bernadette created her first online course, it was so successful it allowed her to leave the corporate world. She now enjoys training other female business owners how to make more money using social media. Not only is she impactful to dozens of others she has taught but she knows putting the money in micro business’ is more impactful to the world. She has successfully developed and implemented a plan from her years in the enterprise sales world. She has dozens of clients with success in increasing revenue, increasing their client roaster, and increasing their bottom line.Bernadette and her husband lived through a year of heartache, fighting for his life, and loneliness. She put all her time into manifesting the health of her husband. Derek is now living, thriving and helping her continue her dream. Bernadette now wants the same for her clients all over the globe. Manifesting their dreams for a better life, a “bridge to freedom” She and her husband now travel the world making memories and working together.
She firmly believes everyone has knowledge that can be packaged into a course that makes premium sales every day. You don’t have to be an expert, in fact, all you have to do is be able to teach what you already know and make a difference in the lives of your clients.
Building your “bridge to freedom” won’t take as much time as you think it can. But, it will take work! She worked hard did the research and knew what she could sell. Bernadette took a crisis moment in a 2020 world and told Cancer “Not Today!” That strength is what she uses to approach each client!