The Power of Language and How it Can Transform your Business with Renee Dalo

By Paul Santiago

Episode transcript:

PAUL SANTIAGO: Thank you for being on the show. I really appreciate it, Renee.

RENEE DALO: I’m so happy to be here. This is going to be great.

PS: How long have we known each other? We’ve known each other–

RD: For so long.

PS: Yeah, but it’s just from a distance all the time.

RD: We’re at the same networking events all the time.

PS: Yeah, we just never get to chat, so this perfect for me.

RD: Yeah, we never have a sit-down.

PS: I’ve always wanted to talk to you, because you’re always the most colorful person in the room.

RD: Oh, you’re so sweet.

PS: And always catches my attention.

RD: I love that, thank you.

PS: So yeah, of course. And thank you for being here, really appreciate it. Before we start, I would love it if you tell the listeners and the viewers something about yourself that they would probably be surprised to know.

RD: So I have been to every state in the contiguous US at least once, if not twice. Because when I was younger, I was a musical theater actor, and so I toured the country in a bunch of shows. So I’ve literally been everywhere except for Hawaii now. But I can’t really tell you where anything is, because all I’ve ever seen is the inside of the tour van and the inside of the theater. So super well traveled, minimally.

PS: Nice. But you’ve tried to hit the touristy spots of every–

RD: Yeah. When we were in Memphis, we didn’t have time to go to Graceland. I’ve driven by the sign that says “Grand Canyon” four times. This is just life on the road. You’re always off to do another show and you’re always off to do something else. So I always joke with my husband that eventually I’m going to make him get an RV and show me all the things I missed in my twenties. Even though I was right there, it’s just we couldn’t go.

PS: We’ve always thought about renting an RV, but me and Stella, my wife, we’re not really outdoorsy people.

RD: Oh yeah, no, I’m not an RV person. I’m a Four Seasons person. I’m a room service, down comforter person for sure. Stella and I are the same, I think, in that, and you as well. But something about, I just feel like getting an RV and seeing the country is the way you do that particular thing.

PS: Yeah, it’s easier. And it’s probably the most American thing you could ever do, going around the country, right?

RD: Yeah, I agree, yeah.

PS: And it always confuses me, because I always felt like the most American thing you could do is just hop on a plane and just fly and travel. But no, it’s just getting into the nitty gritty, and do it like Walter White.

RD: I don’t think we’re going to make any meth.

PS: Okay, hopefully not.

RD: That’s next level, I’m not going to do that particular thing.

PS: Okay, so I’m always curious about how people start out, and I really want to know what your origin story is. How you started, and what got you into this industry. And also, what you’re up to right now.

RD: Sure, so how did I go from being a musical theater actress to a wedding planner? So when you’re an actor, especially in New York City, a lot of times you’re working hospitality as a side job, and that was very true for me. I worked in a lot of fine dining restaurants in New York City. And then when I moved to LA, decided didn’t really want to do musicals anymore, kind of didn’t want to live out of a suitcase anymore. That life, really, it was great while it was, but then I was approaching 30 years old, and I thought, “I kind of want to lay down some roots somewhere.” And I thought LA would be as good a place as any.

So I got a job in hospitality. I opened a restaurant, which is one of the restaurants at The Grove, which is a big outdoor mall here. It was a big deal to open this place, they built it from scratch. And I was part of that opening crew. And in the time that I worked there, I went from hostess to waiter to bartender to banquet server, banquet captain, banquet manager.

And so what ended up happening is that I was running the banquet rooms at this restaurant, they were six rooms, and I was one of the people that ran them. And I ended up doing a lot of weddings that way, because it wasn’t a luxury venue by any stretch, but people would have weddings there, and they would always give them to me because, “Oh, Renee can do the weddings, she’s good at that, she’s good at the weddings.”

At the same time, that was in my season of life where all of my friends were getting married. So I planned a lot of weddings as a hobby right around that same time, because they were like, “Well, you’re doing it at work, and you seem good at this. Can you help me?”

So what ended up being– I planned my best friend’s wedding 12 years ago with $7000, like no money whatsoever, like nothing. What ended up happening is that people who were at that wedding, or people who knew my friend would say, “Oh.” I would get random emails from people that were like, “Oh, can you help me plan my wedding? I was at this wedding,” or, “I heard you do this.”

And so I created a business before I even realized what I was doing, because I was getting emails and referrals from people that I didn’t know. I remember one time, I got an email from this girl who said, “Jeanette sent me to you.” And I was like, “Who the hell’s Jeanette? I don’t know this person.” So I realized that I liked it, and I was good at it, and people were coming to me for it, and so I probably should do it.

And then it was a few years after that that I really started my business now, which is Moxie Bright Events. So it took me a few years to get really clear that it’s a business that you could run and make a living. But I’ve been doing it for so long at that point, that it seemed silly that I wasn’t doing it professionally. But that’s what I did.

After I got married, my own wedding planner, because I got married in Philadelphia, said to me, “I don’t understand why you’re not a wedding planner in Los Angeles.” And I was like, “Well, there’s so many.” And she was like, “So who cares?” And it was that weird– sometimes you just need that one person to say the one right thing to you. And it’s so simple, but having Erin say to me, “Who cares? Just go do it. It doesn’t matter if other people are doing it too.” I was like, “Oh, you’re right.” So yeah, it sounds silly, but it kind of just happened.

PS: Yeah, all you need is that one person to push you. And fortunately for us, it’s someone close to us, so it’s easier to be like, “Oh, okay, I’ll give it a shot.” Because they know you already.

RD: Yeah. She said, “You needed me less than any client I’ve ever had. I don’t know why you don’t do this professionally.” And I was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” But again, this brings me back to what we’re talking about today, is I had a lot of limiting beliefs about myself and about this work, and I had to work through those in order to be able to do this at the level that I’m doing it now.

PS: It’s funny, because when you said your friend got married for $7000, which is pretty much nothing.

RD: Nothing.

PS: Stella and I got married, our budget was $6000.

RD: I love that. Well, how long ago was it though?

PS: I have to answer this correctly. It was 10 years ago.

RD: Yeah, see? My friend was 12 years ago. So back then, you could make something of that a little bit, a little bit more than you can today.

PS: Well, it was bare bones. We got married in a church, and our reception was at an Indian restaurant, an Indian buffet, which is $10 per person or something like that.

RD: Oh yeah. This wedding that I did for $7000 was in a photography studio. The power went out, because I didn’t know enough to check the power. So when we plugged in all the lights and the DJ plugged in, all the power went out. And the DJ came up to me during the ceremony and whispered in my ear, “Do you want to have lights, or do you want to have music?” And I was like, “What are you talking about?” And he’s like, “We have a power outage.” And I just started crying, because I was like, “I don’t know.” Now, I would check the power. But it was so bare bones, minimal, minimal everything. We had a craft services caterer do dinner, it was crafty. It’s so funny.

PS: Those things make you really, really stronger when it comes to accepting challenges as soon as you start out. How do you feel about that? When you start out your business, should you take more risks when you start up? Or should you take more risks when you’re a little bit more confident?

RD: I think we should always be taking risks. I think if you own a business, I believe that inherently, you are a risk taker. I just think entrepreneurs have to have that little bit of– we have a little bit of crazy up in our brains where we think, “I’m going to try this.” And I think that if you are someone who really loves safety, maybe owning a business is not for you, because there’s not a lot of safety happening all the time. I think at the beginning, you’ve got to throw yourself into the fire.

Honestly, at this point, I tell my clients or potential clients, there’s nothing that rattles me. Your venue, God forbid, could burn down around us and I’m still not going to yell. Nothing gets to me, I’ve seen it. But the only reason I can say that is because I had a wedding where the power went out my very first wedding. So once you’ve lived through it and nothing bad happens, you figure it out, nothing can rattle you. But at the beginning, I think, just starting is a risk, right? So calculated risks, of course. Smart risks, hopefully. But you’ve got to take risks, there’s no way around it, I think.

PS: Yeah, because once you take risks, I guess your senses are sharper, you’re more aware of what’s happening around you. For us, when we started out, we had our first fist fight in a wedding on our third wedding, and it was the groom and his groomsman in the bathroom.

RD: Of course it was.

PS: Yeah. So after 10 years of doing this, after nine years of doing this, I’d be like, I know exactly what to do and how to handle a fist fight, or prevent someone from– yeah.

RD: Oh man. Courage is a muscle. Everyone thinks courage is some value that, oh, this person is courageous, they’re brave. That’s just a muscle. If you never exercise it, it’s going to atrophy just like anything else. So jumping into that fist fight, or knowing enough to not jump into that fist fight, that’s the things you learn on the job. There’s no other way to learn this job, I think.

PS: And I feel like for people who are starting out, well, at least for me, when I was starting out, I didn’t really have anyone to ask, or have anyone to mentor me about these things, what to expect. So I feel like when you’re starting out also, make sure that you approach the people who have been longer in the industry, just so they could give you tips. Because I feel like people want to see other people succeed, at least the good business owners, right?

RD: Oh yeah. And I think too, the climate is so different now. When I was starting, yes, I did have support, I did have a mentor, I had some really good friends. But there wasn’t all the podcasts and the blogs and the education, the online education. There’s so many other ways to get knowledge nowadays. Yeah, find a mentor, and then really listen to them. Intern with someone and follow them around, soak it up, don’t just take it for granted. Because sometimes the best business people aren’t necessarily the best educators, but they still have a lot to share. But you just have to be the person that’s super aware of them and what they’re doing and how they are presenting themselves in the world.

PS: I love that, I love that, because that’s actually my main problem right now. I know a lot about business, but I guess I don’t know how to say it or how to ask people online. If I’m in a Facebook group, I ask them about something, and they react differently, and then I reread it, I’m like, “Oh crap, I said it wrong,” or something like that. Now my question is since we’re already talking about this, and you’ve been saying that you tell your clients, “Nothing can faze me, the building would be burning down.” So the way you say stuff, I feel like it’s really important, right? So our topic for today is the power of language in your business. So why does the language really matter in our business?

RD: I think it’s two things. So one, obviously we’re using language all day long. I used to call this the power of words in your business, because I think words gets it down to the base level, right? Because we’re communicating all day long, we’re communicating when we talk to each other, but especially via email, and especially on our websites, there’s words everywhere, right? So we have to choose them carefully.

And what I know about modern life, because I know, and I do it myself, is that I try to be super casual and approachable and friendly. But oftentimes, what that means, especially for women listening, it means that we sometimes use a lot of unintentional subconscious limiting language, right? And what I mean by that is if you’re ever talking to someone, just about anything in life, and you say something that’s kind of a bummer, or you say something not great, and they go, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry.” And it’s a weird phrase, right? That we use. We use “I’m sorry” a lot for things that we have no control over, nothing to do with, no jurisdiction over. We just say “oh, I’m sorry” as a way to express empathy, right? But it’s a weird phrase, because you’re taking responsibility for something that isn’t yours. And it’s just one of the many ways. If you ever answer a client email, how many times, just off the top of your head, have you answered a client email with, “Oh, so sorry, sorry for getting back to you so late.”

PS: We don’t say sorry, we say “apology”. We apologize.

RD: Yeah, which is great. When I first started talking about this, I went through my Gmail, my business account is a Gmail for business account. In there, you can search your mail, and I searched the word “sorry” just to see what would come up. And it was hundreds of emails, hundreds of times I had said. And in most of the time, it was like, “Sorry for not getting back to you within an hour.” I was apologizing for something that was ridiculous. “So sorry it took me a minute to research this.” What? No, that’s my job. So the language we use matters, because we are subconsciously giving our clients and other vendors and everyone we talk to, we’re letting them see who we are through the words we use. And if we’re starting with “sorry, I’m so sorry”, it already puts you in a position subconsciously, their trust is eroding in you, right? They’re thinking, “Oh, this person, they didn’t get back to me? Oh, they think they were late getting back to me?”

It’s these little things, it’s super micro, but it’s the reason I always want to talk about it, because I think so many of these little tiny things that we do, when you add them up, end up really coloring how someone else looks at you, how they view you. And if we can make these tiny changes, then over time, it’s going to have the most impact, because it’ll start just becoming the way you talk. Like you said, we don’t use “sorry”, we say “apologies”. That is a different thing, those two words mean very different things when you’re taking them in as the person who they’re being said to.

PS: So it’s so funny, because I use “I’m sorry” a lot when I email, right? And I know this person who’s a grammar Nazi. Stella, my wife.

RD: I’m a grammar Nazi, too.

PS: So she’s like, “Never say you’re sorry. Always say apologize, apologies.” My goal is, since English is our second language, I want people to know that we know how to speak proper English. No offense to the Californians, but California English, there’s California English. Water is “waa-d’r” here. So there’s a thing. And it took me three years to adapt to the California English, because I wanted to make sure that, at least in my head, it’s a little bit more flawless, and eliminate my accent just so I could blend in a little bit more. But just heading towards the proper English, which is British English, I don’t know, without the accent, just the correct pronunciation.

RD: Right. I’m from New York City, so my actual accent is ridiculous, you would laugh. The accent I was born with is crazy. And I do the same thing, I work very hard on not sounding like I’m from any particular place.

PS: So I think me too, my Filipino accent is wow, once you hear it, you’re like, “Oh, wow.” So that’s the thing. I feel like heading towards the proper English would benefit your business as well, you as a person. Because now, more than ever, social media has evolved into this thing where people spend a little bit of their time with, now it’s just everywhere. People, when they’re not doing anything, once they’re on their phone, you know they’re on social media.

RD: Oh, for sure.

PS: And the way they talk reflects their personality now.

RD: Have you ever gotten an email from a vendor or from a client where they’re using text talk? Where it’s like, “C-Y-A,” and you’re like, “C-Y-A? Cya. See ya. Okay, got it.” Honestly, me, Renee, when I get language like that, I always think, oh, this person must not be very smart. That is just where I go to.

And so consider, if you’re listening, and you’re someone who emails in text speak, maybe that’s how you’re being perceived, right? We all have these predispositions to how we think of someone when we hear them talk or when we read what they write.

So I love that you said you’re really trying to go with the correct English, because you want people to take you seriously. You want people to know that you’re smart and you’re capable, and so therefore that translates to you in proper English. For me, what I want to communicate with my emails and my language in general is that I’m capable and that I’m in charge, right? Because I’m a wedding planner. So for me, my emails can’t be too soft, because otherwise I don’t think I’m sending the right message. One of my clients left me a review last week. Can I cuss?

PS: Sure, yeah.

RD: She said in the review, “Renee is a badass.” And I honestly walked around all proud all day that I was like, “I’m a badass.” Because as a wedding planner, I am the captain of the ship, right? So my emails have to come from a place of authority. So if I’m sending emails that are like, “I just wanted you to read this timeline. I don’t know, I think that they think that maybe we should do it this way, but I don’t know, what do you think?” And just like, “Let me know when you get it,” and then like, “Just no big deal, whenever you have a sec.” If I sent emails in that tone, no one would ever respect me or take me seriously or listen to me.

So my emails, my communication, has to be pretty clear and direct, and dare I say, almost masculine. And I don’t use a lot of phrases like “I think”. At least I try not to. I know I say that more when I’m speaking, I say, “Oh, I think da da da.” But I hardly ever say “actually, I think”, because that also makes it sound like I’m surprised by my own thoughts. “Oh, I had a thought, actually. Get ready, I had a thought, guys.”

I try not to say the phrase “does that make sense?” Because what I have found with “does that make sense” is, especially when it’s a client email, right? So a client will email me 12 questions in a row, right? Which is pretty typical for me. And I’ll answer every single question. And if at the end, I say “does that make sense”, and I read this in a book and it stuck with me, so “does that make sense”, it’s saying two things. It’s saying to the person you’re communicating to, “Are you smart enough to understand what I’ve just said?” Which is insulting, right? Or, “Am I so crazy nuts that I can’t communicate properly what I’m trying to get across to you?” So I have now really tried to get rid of “does that make sense”. Instead, what I say is, “Look forward your thoughts on this.” Or simply, “Thoughts?” Question mark. What are your thoughts on the things I just explained? Right? Because we have to be really clear on what we want people to take away from the interactions that they’re having with us, right?

I know that I in the past had tended to overexplain something, feel weird about it, and then say, “Oh, that was too much of an explanation, I know, but hopefully it made sense.” Well, if you don’t think you’re making sense, rewrite the email. Just rewrite the email. We don’t need all of the fancy rigmarole. But I do think with social media, like you said, I think we’re moving toward a place with our language, just as a culture, where we’re super getting super casual.
PS: Super casual.

RD: And I don’t know that I hate it, I definitely don’t hate it. But I also wonder, I don’t know, on some people’s Instagrams, like Jenna Kutcher for example. Do you follow Jenna?

PS: Yes.

RD: Jenna writes these really beautiful captions to her Instagram pictures. And they’re frequently paragraphs, right? And they’re like a little mini blog post, and she’s always really expressive. And I think that is her authentic voice, I don’t think someone else is writing that for her. I think that’s how she feels, what she wants to communicate that day.

But I also can sense that some other accounts who follow, and the reason I mention her is because she’s a huge account. Some other accounts that I also follow who are smaller, who are looking to others maybe for guidance, are using that same sort of authentic speak as, quote, unquote, air quotes “authentic speak”, and I wonder if it is authentic to them. Because I think we all have our own voice. I know when I write something that sounds like me, it gets better responses from people, people can hear it in my voice. I think if we’re all moving toward this casual social media authentic-y speak, that it’s all going to sound like the same voice.

PS: So before we move forward, let me go back to when you said “does that make sense”, that phrase. Is there a deeper impact when you email it, as opposed to saying it to someone’s face? Or is it–? Okay.

RD: Yeah, I think so. I think the words that we write have a lot more weight than we give it credit for. Because 99% of the time, my communication with my clients is email. And that’s the way I run my business. So I’m not dying to jump on the phone with people. Which is funny, because I’m a podcaster, and you would think that I love talking. And I do, but something about getting my workday interrupted with a phone call is really off-putting to me, I just want to get my work done. So more often than not, I’m emailing.

I feel like if you say it in person, if you say “does that make sense” in person, that you’re possibly reacting off a visual cue, right? If someone’s looking at you like I’m looking at you now, obviously it doesn’t make sense. They’re telling you with their face, “I am confused.” So it’s easy to say, “Does that make sense? What part should I go back over?” But if your emailing “does that make sense”, you have no visual cue. What you’re hoping is they’ve read the email and you haven’t confused them, but you don’t need to say it in that way. “Does that make sense” is a really triggering thing for me. When I read that a while ago, I was like, “Oh my God, I do that.” The other one is the word “just”. “I’m just a wedding planner.” How many times have you heard someone say that, when you say, “What do you do?” “Oh, I’m just a DJ. I’m just a…”

PS: Yeah.

RD: It’s so damaging.

PS: It is. It’s very like you’re not really proud of what you’re doing. Some people, when they say that, they actually mean it. So that’s okay, right? Whenever he says, “I’m just a doctor.” No?

RD: Can you imagine? “I’m just a doctor?” Have you ever? I believe this is a systematic problem with the wedding industry, because I know for a fact within the world of events, weddings are sort of looked down upon as not as serious, not as lucrative, not as whatever. Which I think is a bunch of BS. but I know that in the wedding indistry, because I talk to so many other vendors, I think we all suffer from a little bit of impostor syndrome. And I think that’s where that comes out, right? When you’re talking to someone, and they say, “Oh, I’m just a blah blah blah,” I’m always the idiot in the group who is like, “You are not just anything. You are amazing.”

PS: Oh, good for you.

RD: I’ve been calling it out, right? To be like, “How dare you say that about yourself?” But I think when we feel self-conscious, when we feel not enough, when we have the impostor syndrome, it comes out in these little ways.

PS: So here’s my struggle going back to “does that make sense”. Because the first time I heard that, I’m like, “Is this person mocking me? Do they think that I’m an idiot?”

RD: Exactly.

PS: And then I realize that everyone is using it, because I’m trying to mold my California English. And I’ve been using it for quite a while. And so I was actually talking to one of my guys, we were at a shoot, and I was trying to explain it to him, what we’re going to do. Instead of me saying, “Does that make sense?” I asked him, “Okay, do you understand what I said?” Is there a difference? Because with “do you understand what I said”, I actually wanted to make sure that he understands, because we’re parting ways, and he’s going to reception, I’m going to the– is there a difference?

RD: I would probably, in the future, say, “Do you have any questions for me?” Because it’s more open-ended and it gives them more agency to participate, right? Because “does that make sense” is yes or no. “Do you understand what I said” is yes or no.

PS: And then he never understood.

RD: He didn’t. See? “Do you have any questions?”

PS: Okay.

RD: And oftentimes, especially when I’m dealing with my assistants and stuff, if it is something that is different, unusual, anything out of the normal, I will say, “Repeat it back to me.” Because I’d rather have them take ownership of it, even if it’s wrong, right? Even if what they’re repeating back to me isn’t right. And then I can go, “No, that part’s not right,” and sort of help them and educate them in that moment. Because I think we can be asking better questions, I know we can all be asking better questions of people. But I think “does that make sense” needs to be fully retired, just get it right out of there.

PS: Yeah, there’s a lot of words, phrases that shouldn’t be used, coming from me observing.

RD: What else do you think? What else shouldn’t be used?

PS: Man, right off the top of my head. I’ll think of something. But there’s a bunch of words that irritate me when someone says it, then I’m like, “You’re not using it right.” Because we came here 2008, so I was 28 years old when we came here.

RD: Oh, I did not know that.

PS: Yeah, so that’s why I spent three years talking to people on Yelp, the telemarketers, I would just talk to them on the phone. Stella said, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m trying to practice my English.”

RD: Oh, I love that.

PS: So I was just trying to convince them that I’m from here. So, okay.

RD: That makes me so happy, I love that.

PS: So now here’s another struggle of mine. My authentic language, the way I talk to people, is different from my business language. Because we came from Filipino to English to California English, and now California English, we kind of need to dial it down a little bit more, because we’re trying to cater to, I guess the higher end market, who doesn’t talk like that. So my question is what’s the difference between using authentic language, as opposed to speaking or writing off the cuff?

RD: I love this. So oftentimes on social media, I will see fellow wedding vendors who I know wrote a caption off the top of their head. And the reason I always know it is because they frequently assume that the reader understands where they’re coming from, understands the wavelength that they’re already on.

So sometimes the off-the-cuff ones sort of tend to start in the middle of a thought, or I’ll read it and go, what are they talking about? I remember, this is a a while ago, someone posted a photo, it was a candid photo of a fire pit, right? But the caption said, “This place would be great for a rehearsal dinner.” But it was a fire pit. And I stared at it for a few minutes and I was like, what is happening? It was geotagged with a location, so in theory the person posting wanted to communicate that this location would be great for a rehearsal dinner because of this cozy fire pit. But what we needed as the reader was the whole thought. We needed you to start us at A and end at Z.

“One of the things my clients always ask me for is a cozy spot for their rehearsal dinner where people can really gather around and talk. And this restaurant, with this cozy fire pit, has that for you,” right? So that’s the way, you have to sort of connect all the dots for people.

When we write something off the cuff, especially Instagram captions, I think sometimes people think, “Oh, when I see this image, it makes me think of the following thing that I’m going to put in this off-the-cuff caption.” And then you read it and you’re like, “I have no idea what they’re talking about.” Because we’re not in your brain. You have to draw the full picture for people, you have to connect all of it together. But you still have to do it in your authentic voice in a way that doesn’t seem so business-y. Because I’m sure you follow those more business-minded accounts that are like very stilted language and everything sounds like business, and you’re like, “Well, that’s no fun,” right?

So on social media, what the people want to see is the person behind the brand, so they want to hear from you and Stella. They don’t want the voice of “Boffo Video does good video.” So it’s a really specific new skill set that we all have to have because it’s part of our businesses now.

PS: I’ve tried so hard to stop saying “I can’t”. Those things, it’s so hard, because you see it on social media. And I have to be honest, if I were to just speak my authentic language, I probably wouldn’t even post anything, because I’m too lazy. But I have to. So whenever I’m on social media, the first five posts I scroll through, I absorb the way they speak, and that’s what I just type.

RD: One of the things I think we can all be doing for our businesses is really drill down how your business sounds, right? How your business, what your business cares about. So for Moxie Bright, which is my wedding planning business, we really care about hospitality, we really care about taking care of guests, we really care about those moments at a wedding that you can’t even predict that are going to happen, that are going to be awesome.

So a lot of times when I post something on my Instagram, I’m calling out those moments, right? I’m calling out that moment of amazing service or I’m calling out this moment of friendship between the bride and her bridal tribe. I am specifically angling because it’s coming from my head, my viewpoint, what’s important to me, right? So I’m always putting it through that lens. I feel like if someone else were to look at the same images on my Instagram, they’d probably come up with a million different captions, because of what’s happening in their brain, what’s important to them, and what goes through their lens.

When I’m doing posts for my education brand, for my online courses and stuff, that’s a completely different language, because I’m talking to different people, I’m talking to other wedding planners, I’m talking to them about making more money, about being better at their jobs. It’s a completely different audience, and it has to be a completely different language.

Now for me, right now those are on the same account, right? So you can literally look through my Instagram and think, “Oh, here she’s talking to clients, here she’s talking to other wedding pros.” But for instance, I call my students rockstars. So if you’re a student in one of my classes, I’m going to address you as, “Hey, rockstar,” no matter what. I don’t know how it started, it felt right and I went with it, and now it’s a thing. And I think to that, you have to honor that too, what feels right? I’m definitely not someone who’s hashtag blessed, right? You’re not going to see that on my account, it’s just not my thing. You’re more likely to see an F-bomb on my account with a (makes explosion sound) emoji.

PS: Yeah, that’s the thing. I guess it’s just so hard to come up with an original idea, I mean an original text, in such a short span of time. Because I feel like people who post on social media, at least the ones who are really good at it, schedule everything.

RD: Oh yeah.

PS: And I suck at it, because you know what I’m really good at scheduling? Podcasts. Everything else, I suck at.

RD: See? There you go. Scheduling is much easier, because then you’re not having to come up with a caption on the fly. I use Planoly, and I schedule at least two weeks out if I can. I took a social media break this year, I didn’t post at all for the month of June. I just wasn’t feeling it. And I was like, “I’m not going to force myself. The world’s not going to end if I don’t put up a square every day.” And I didn’t do it. And then I got back to it when it was time. And then I was able to be like, “Okay, let’s write some fresh captions.” For me, I don’t stress so much about the caption. It could be because my background, I have a background as a writer as well. But I look at the picture and I go, “What is this? Oh, okay.” Sometimes it’s so simple.

I think my post today was a wedding bouquet from two years ago, and I think I wrote, “Never tired of this gorgeous bouquet from Shindig Chic.” That’s it, because it doesn’t always have to change the world. Sometimes it’s just appreciation for this beautiful thing. And that’s okay, too. You don’t have to write the mini blog posts that Jenna Kutcher is writing.

By the way, Jenna Kutcher is writing those from a sales language perspective. She’s writing those to convert. She’s selling things. Even if you don’t think she’s selling anything on that post, girl’s still selling something, because she’s got an entire empire full of things to sell. So if what you’re doing as a service provider is wanting to get people to contact you, right? Wanting someone to like you enough to reach out. Then all you really have to worry about is talking to the right people, being your true self, and hopefully the right people will be attracted to you. Because you’re not trying to sell a course or preset filter. She’s got a ton of products.

PS: Oh yeah. And she’s really good at posting something and asking, “How’s your day going?” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, she’s talking to me.”

RD: And at the end, you’re like, “I think I need her podcast course.” And you don’t know what happened. You don’t know how it happened. She’s very persuasive.

PS: She’s really good at that.

RD: That’s a whole other language. We don’t need that. If that’s not your goal, that’s not what you need. You just need to be putting things out there that are authentically you. I post a lot of photos of food on my Moxie Bright account, because I love food, my clients love food. And I’ve had people say to me, “You post a lot of food.” I’m like, “Uh huh, okay, thanks for noticing.” What, am I not supposed to post the things I like? I’m going to post what I like.

PS: Yeah, it speaks to your followers, it speaks to your tribe.

RD: Yeah, but I also like it. If my followers decided suddenly they liked, I don’t know, what’s something I don’t like? Country music. I don’t really love country music. But if they were super into it, I still wouldn’t be posting it. Because I’m just like, “Not my thing,” right? I can’t talk about something I don’t know anything about. I feel bad now that I said I don’t like country music. I like some country music, you guys.

PS: To be honest, when I started editing wedding videos here, and some of the clients, it was like, “Oh, we want Brad Paisley.” Before the whole copyright thing, I fell in love with country music.

RD: Did you?

PS: Yes, but I’m not deep into it. I’m kind of like you. I appreciate country music.

RD: I like all the girl singers. So if there’s a girl singer, like Martina McBride, I’m into her, love her. Faith Hill, love her. Any girl who can sing, I’m in. But no, the guys, I don’t know anything about.

PS: Okay. I’m the reverse. Well, you know what? I know Shania Twain. Because I’m Filipino, so we sing a lot. So now my question for you now is, since we were talking about “I can’t” or “slay, girl” or whatever. Because for me, on Instagram, it’s me who’s talking. Stella, she sucks at social media, she doesn’t want to do that, because she hates being on social media, so I do all of the captions and stuff. So when there’s, “Oh, wow” or something like that that’s weird, it’s never going to be her, it’s just always me.

RD: I love it.

PS: My question is how can we stop using limiting language in our business and life? How do I get to stop?

RD: Well, I think first, you have to have the awareness that you’re even doing it. So a lot of times after I talk about this topic, I’ve presented this at conferences and stuff, I’ll get emails months later from someone who’s like, “I was at your talk, and I went through my email, and oh my God, I’ve been saying ‘sorry’ and ‘just’, and I’ve been doing it all.” And I’m like, “Yeah girl, you got to figure it out.” You have to first understand that it’s happening, right?

There are some, especially when you’re writing, there are some tools. So if you use Google Chrome, which you should all be using, because I love it, there is a plugin. The name of the plugin is called Just Not Sorry, which is great. And it literally will underline for you in your emails if you’re using any word that is a limiting language word.

But the other thing that’s fun too is that sometimes you actually are apologizing for something, and sometimes you’re like, “Oh, so sorry, this email got missed” or whatever, it’ll still underline it. It doesn’t necessarily understand the context. But it will tell you, “Hey, are you sure you want to use the word ‘just’ here?”

“Just” is a big one. “Just” is the one that people go, “I don’t use that,” and then weeks later they say, “Oh my God, yes I do, it’s everywhere.” Of course it’s everywhere. Because it’s our culture, right? It’s in our vernacular to use these words that make us sound soft and approachable and agreeable and easygoing like everyone wants to be, especially in California, super chill all the time. And I get it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has a place in your business.

Because you have to understand, you have to determine and figure out for yourself how you want to be perceived, right? Because a lot of times, I’ll talk to, especially groups of women, and I hate to keep saying that, but as a woman, it’s a big deal for me. And they’ll say, “Well, I don’t really have control over how I’m perceived.” Absolutely false. You 100% have control over how you’re perceived. You can script that for yourself. You can make that happen for yourself. But first you have to have the awareness of it.

So one, awareness. Two, tools like Google Chrome plugin. Three, start noticing it in other people, too. And it might make you less liked for a minute to be like, “You just said,” call out your friend, be like, “I thought we weren’t doing that anymore.” Because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere, and so it isn’t just a quick fix, it is an ongoing thing.

The other thing that I did for my assistant and for anyone who’s in my inbox is I have a little, small document of “these are words we don’t use”. This is language Moxie Bright does not use, right? And even in my interactions with my clients on their wedding day, in my employee handbook, there is a list of things we don’t say.

So if someone were to come up to one of my assistants, a guest on the day of the wedding, and ask them a question, and if they don’t know the answer, they’re not allowed to say, “I don’t know.” What they’re supposed to say is, “Let me find out.” And that’s the biggest example I can always give. It’s taking that negative “I don’t know” and turning it into something open and curious and positive, which was, “Let me find out. I’ll go find out for you,” right? So that person is then taking ownership of whatever the situation is. They are coming to someone else who might know more, finding out the answer.

Saying “I don’t know” is closing a door. That’s like what you said, we don’t want to say “I can’t”, right? I can’t. Well, maybe you can’t right now because you don’t have the right information, right? So what do you say instead of “I can’t”? Are you retraining yourself to think a new thing?

PS: Well, the “I can’t” that I’m talking about is the RuPaul Drag Race “I can’t”.

RD: Oh.

PS: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. But if we’re talking about the “I can’t” that you’re talking about, I usually say, “I’ll see what I can do.”

RD: Yeah, I’ll see what I can do, exactly. Perfect, it’s perfect.

PS: “I can’t.”

RD: I need to watch RuPaul’s, I haven’t watched RuPaul’s Drag Race yet. But it’s come up a lot lately, and so I feel like the universe is telling me to watch it.

PS: Oh, they have a really, really extensive vocabulary of all the really fun phrases that people use.

RD: Someone referenced a death drop to me the other day, and I was like, “I don’t know what a death drop is.” And then I Googled it, it was like, “Oh, that looks painful.”

PS: Yeah. I’ve seen comments that say “typing from heaven because I’m dead right now” or something like that, because the thing is so beautiful. So now I really want to ask you about this, because that kind of language attracts a certain kind of tribe, a certain kind of group, right?

RD: Totally.

PS: If I want to charge more and target the more luxurious market, should I continue saying that? If I were someone who does that.

RD: I think if it’s authentic, you should.

PS: Okay.

RD: I think in our industry, we have a really effed up thing about luxury, I believe. Every luxury client I’ve ever had has not come to me from social media. They have come from 100% personal referral from someone who’s a friend of theirs. There’s a little tight-knit Beverly Hills group that I work with all the time. Some clients, I’ve done all of their events, and then they refer me to their best friends, and that’s how it works. Those people never read my reviews. They don’t care. They want a personal referral, and they want you to show up and be professional. I think this marketing to luxury market doesn’t really work. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but I think be your authentic self.

Listen, if you are– let’s just say I start watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, and I feel compelled to post about it, I’m probably going to use that language because it’s fun, right? It doesn’t mean that that’s who I am as a human every day of the year, and I have to say “slay” on all my posts, right? But I think it’s fun to let people in to see who you are a little more.

I’m a huge fan of the Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek, which everyone, have to watch it immediately if you have not watched it. So lately, all of my Insta stories have had GIFs of the character David Rose making faces, and I’ve never explained it, I’ve never said, “I’m a huge fan, and so this speaks to me now.” I’m just doing it. And I’ve got people message me on Instagram, “Oh my God, you watch that show, too?” I’m like, “Yeah, of course I do.” But it’s a way to let people in authentically without having to have a big deal about it. I’m sure the moment will pass in a few months, I’ll be moved on to some other show, it’s fine. But it’s like you have to be able to play. And if you want to use “slay” one day, then you slay.

But as far as a luxury market, I don’t think they’re looking for anything specific. I think they’re looking for people who are really good at their job, who their friends have already worked with.

PS: Okay. I was thinking about that.

RD: I don’t know how to tell you to break in. Everyone’s like, “How did you get that first Beverly Hills client?” I’m like, “Through her yoga teacher.” Through her private fancy yoga teacher. So you just don’t know.

PS: So let me know what you think, too. Because I feel like as long as you’re authentic, social media caters to, especially if you want to target higher paying clients, right? Social media caters to the people around you. And if the vendors who know these luxury market clients like your personality, then it’s an easier sell, right?

RD: Absolutely.

PS: Instead of targeting the luxury people.

RD: Yeah. Think of it this way. It’s like dating, right? If you want to impress someone, you put your best foot forward. So this is a different example, but I’ll use it anyway. My friend who is the private yoga teacher, she works with very high-end clients. Russell Crowe used to be a client of hers. She used to go to his home and teach him yoga. And one day he was looking for a masseuse. And she texted me and said, “Who do we know who’d be good for Russell to get a massage?” Right? Because it has to be the right person.

At that level, when you’re talking about that person, that level of celebrity, that level of luxury, it can’t just be the person we saw on Instagram who we think might be cool. It has to be the right person. When we went through a list of people that we knew, and she was like, “No, that girl drives a– no, that girl’s bad, she’ll talk too much,” or, “Oh no, that guy has a weird energy,” right? There’s nothing you can do at that point. You just have to be who you are, and you’ll be right for someone.

And it’s the same with your language. You just have to talk the way you talk authentically in full complete thoughts ideally on social, and the right people will be attracted to you.

And you know what? The other cool thing is you’ll repel the wrong people. I think we spend a lot of time worrying about who we’re attracting, but sometimes I’m like, “Who am I unattracting? Who am I sending away?” Good for that too, right? Because just in using not only limiting language, but inclusive language, right? If you’re only posting the same kind of couple all the time, right? Perhaps you’re sending a message that you’re not open to working with everyone. Same thing with your language. If you’re only ever talking about brides and grooms, brides and grooms, brides and grooms, you’re leaving out a whole other section of people who are getting married.

PS: So it’s pretty much just curating. When it comes to business, you just make sure you curate. Be yourself, but you curate.

RD: Yeah. Curate inasmuch as you feel comfortable curating. I’m certainly not someone who wants, you see those Instagram accounts of “everything’s pink and white”. And you’re like, “How are you doing that? That’s so much effort.” I’m not about that life, I don’t have that kind of time.

But definitely curating your words is so important to me, because I know that none of us are spending enough time thinking about it. We’re all just going off the cuff and saying what we think, and saying what we feel, and writing what we feel. And in the end, we’re ending up too much in our feelings, and too much in our apologies, and too much in our self-doubt, and not enough standing in our power with our words, and really, intentionally communicating clearly and effectively and efficiently and with authority, what we mean.

PS: Okay. I like that, because I feel like social media has changed the way. Before, when we started out, the “about us” page is the only page that tells about you. Now, social media. In the “about us” page, you’re like, “I like riding horses and eating hamburgers.” Now everything is out there.

RD: It’s true.

PS: People are addicted that they can’t stop just shooting out information about themselves, that I feel like when it comes to curating, when we talk about curating, at least for me, I feel like curating is cleaning up. You invite someone to go to your house, and the first thing, once they open the door and see your living room, you’re like, “Shit, there’s so much stuff on the floor and I need to clean up.” So curating is kind of like that. Just make sure that when people Google you, they see a really nice-looking– doesn’t have to be perfect, but just clean.

RD: Yeah. I love that you said, too, about the curating. I feel like when we say the word “curating”, people are automatically like, “Ew, I don’t want to.” But what I hear in what you’re saying, obviously correct me if this is incorrect, is that you feel like there is a fine line between sharing who you authentically are and who you want to work with, and the kind of work you want to put out there. And then there’s people who really overshare, right? And they’re telling you, or the people who go on Insta story and Insta story their entire day every day, they’re living in some weird reality show that they’ve made for themselves, where this is their breakfast, and then they’re walking the dog, and then they’re answering emails, and then they’re getting a haircut. And it’s like whoa, hold on.

What I like to think of for these things, because I’m certainly not someone who wants to Insta story my entire life. I was an actor, I got that amount of attention back in the day, I’m good. I always think if I want to share something that seems kind of tricky or seems kind of maybe challenging, or I don’t know. I just always think, is this thing that I’m sharing, is it something that is a wound, an open wound, or is it a scar? Have I learned something from it, right? If it’s like a client cancelled their wedding, and we’re in the thick of cancelling it, and emotions are high, I’m certainly not going to go on Insta story and be like, “Here’s how to cancel your wedding.” No, there is a time and a place, right? You have to talk about that once the moment has passed, when it is a scar.

The people who overshare, the people who do that thing where you’re like, “That is aggressively TMI, I don’t need to know all that,” I think they’re operating from a different place where they’re not. And that’s what I think we mean by curating. Come at it from a place of what is it that I want to share and teach and educate, or just simply communicate about, and not from a place of, “This just happened, and I’m gonna sound off on it,” right?

PS: Yeah. So I was talking to a social media expert, I was talking to someone, and we were talking about– because when I post something on social media, especially the stories, because I always believe that Instagram feed has to be clean, that’s about your company. And your stories is where you get dirty. And by dirty, I don’t mean sending–

RD: Yeah, you can play a little fast and loose with the stories.

PS: Yeah, but then when I post something on stories, I just go about my day, right? I take photos of a tree or, “Oh, I’m going to this restaurant.” But I never post until the next day. Because I want it to be purposeful. “Oh my gosh, that experience at the restaurant is the highlight of my day,” and that’s the only thing I’m going to post. So I feel like people need to learn to step back, because the pressure of posting something right now is just tremendous that it’s not really healthy anymore.

RD: I agree.

PS: And I feel like I should have one episode, podcast episode about mental health, because it’s just so draining. Especially for me, because I’m not really a very public kind of guy. If I had a choice, I’d probably not post anything. But the pressure of trying to put something out there, yeah.

RD: Yeah, I agree with you. Posting while you’re in the moment of something takes you out of the moment. You’re no longer in the moment, you’re now looking at it from a distance, going, “How are people going to react? Oh, what should I say about this moment?” Just be in the moment, man, just post later. I tend not to post when I’m at networking events like the ones you and I have gone to for so many years together, because I don’t want people know where I am. There is a weird part of me that is like, “If someone were to follow me around, they could, if I were posting in real time.” And I know that sounds very paranoid, but that’s just how we are, that’s how I am today.

PS: I actually saw and read an article, oh, I think it was online, a forum, and I started implementing it. When we go on vacation, I wait two days before I post something. Because we’re on our way back, and we just started our vacation online, just so no one’s going to know that oh, their house is empty, no one’s in the house, stuff like that. It’s me being paranoid.

RD: But then again, these are all things we have to think about when we’re talking about our businesses and our social media. It’s such a different world now than when we started.

PS: Yeah. So now my question for you is, if I want to change my copy, my language, how do I go about that for my business?

RD: So first, I think you have to drill down what your core values are as a business. Mine are online, you can look at my core values on Moxie Bright, on the website, on the “about me” page. But I think once you have those core values, even if you don’t publish them, even if you just write them down for yourself, right? Then make sure that all your language points to that.

For me, I always want my language to be really uplifting, outgoing. I don’t like passive voice. So if you don’t know that means, not you, but if your listeners don’t know what that means, active voice is like, “I am eating a sandwich.” Passive voice is “I am going to eat a sandwich”, right? I always want to be in the active voice. I want all my copy, all my Instagram captions, even if I’m talking about something that happened in the past, I still want my reaction to it, my comment on the image, to be in active voice, because it’s important to me. It’s one of the things, one of my pet peeves. Even when I listen to podcasts, when people say, “We’re going to talk about blah blah blah.” Just talk about it. You’re already here, we’re in it, just do it, right? That’s just my impatient New Yorker, I think, coming out. But so that’s something that’s important to me.

It’s important to me to not use limiting language. It’s important to me to communicate in a voice that allows people to easily feel comfortable with me being in charge. Because again, that speaks to what I’m doing for a living. If I were someone in a more creative primarily field, maybe if I were an interior designer, or maybe if I were a photographer, maybe my language would be a little more creative, a little more flowery, because you want to communicate that I have that sort of creative spirit. I’m not so concerned with that for what I’m doing currently. I more just want to be seen as an authority. Because it helps my clients trust me, and then it automatically takes out so many problems in the long run, because they’re like, “Oh, Renee’s got this,” right? Because all of my language and my demeanor speaks to that.

So that’s what important to me. It doesn’t have to be important to other people. But that’s one of the reasons that I’m so passionate about this topic, is that I find it so prevalent in our industry. I’ve been at so many networking events standing next to someone, and someone says, “What do you do?” And they go, “I’m just a wedding planner.” And it makes all my skin crawl right off, right? I’m like, “You’re not just anything. You’re a business person, you’re a CEO, you’re the president of your company, you’re the founder, you’re the creative force behind your company.” We’re so much more than the titles we give ourselves. Because everyone wants to be modest and humble.

And I get it, you don’t want to be a jerk. But also, you have to own your shit, you have to own your own expertise. Because as a business owner, nobody’s going to give that to you, right? No outside force is going to come in and say, “Paul, you’re the CEO now.” And you’re going to go, “Oh my God, am I? I made it.” It’s like, “No, we’re making it ourselves,” right? So it might sound arrogant sometimes, and you don’t have to say it all the time, but you have to believe it. You have to believe that you are the CEO, whatever inflated title you think is too much, you have to behave as though that’s true.

PS: I love that, because for us, we’ve been doing this for nine years, our business has been existing for nine years. And we’ve never seen ourselves as the owners, right? So for the nine years, we’ve been just slaving away, making sure that we have work for everyone and blah blah blah. But then, just one moment, we were talking to our friends, and they’re like, “You’re the CEO, you have to do CEO shit. You can’t just do secretary stuff, just hire a secretary. Do owner stuff.” And the way that you say that to yourself, it makes you feel more empowered. People who say that they’re just wedding planners, and they go to conventions, you’re not just the wedding planner, you’re already at a convention, that means you’re serious. This is a real, real business. So yeah, people have to own up to–

RD: Yeah.

PS: Yeah. I love that.

RD: You have to change your mindset, and you have to learn. It’s going to sound so woo-woo, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I believe it. You have to vibrate at a higher frequency for stuff like that. You just have to let yourself be up here unapologetically. And because, listen, at the end of the day, our businesses are our babies, and we are solely in charge of them. So if something in your business isn’t working, it’s our responsibility to fix it. And sometimes, it literally just is– the mindset is off. Your mindset isn’t working in your favor, right? And but again, this mindset is pervasive, it comes out in our language.

So when I hear someone say, “I’m just a wedding planner,” I’m thinking, oh, what’s going on with them, right? Do they not have a supportive spouse, maybe? Maybe their spouse is saying, “Well, this little thing you’re doing is just for now.” Maybe they are not natural leaders. Maybe they have to work on their leadership for their team. Maybe they just have to change their mindset around money, right?

We didn’t even get around the topic of language around money, but it’s the same deal. It’s learning to control the language that you have around all of these things. Because once you start acknowledging it and changing it, then it becomes second nature, and you don’t have to say to yourself, “Oh, I said ‘just’ again.” Right? Now, when I say “just”, I think, oh, did I say it? As opposed to I’m always saying it, and I’m training myself out of it.

PS: Yeah, I love that. So my last questions, it’s plural because– it’s actually just one question.

RD: Okay.

PS: So it’s basically what language should you use for rejection when you feel like the couple doesn’t really fit with you? For example, I saw last night, I saw online, someone asked, “So what do I tell the couple if I see a lot of red flags?” Before they sign, how do I talk to them and say “eh”?

RD: I, in the past, have said– well, first of all, I don’t give anyone any sort of pricing or any information until I’ve spoken to them. And I firmly believe that that is the way everyone should be doing this, because what we do is so personal that it’s really hard. It’d be hard for me to send out a price sheet and have someone be like, “I choose you.” You’ll be like, “Wait a minute, who are you? What is even your deal? I don’t know if I want to work with you.”

So first, we have a conversation. And if I see a lot of red flags, oftentimes I won’t send them a proposal. What I’ll send instead is an email that I think I have in my canned email that’s letting them down easy. And I just say, “It’s been really lovely speaking with you and getting to know you. Based on what you told me in our conversation, I don’t think that I’m the right fit for you.” And I don’t necessarily give them reasons, right? Because it doesn’t matter, because they’re not going to change. Or more accurately, nothing that they can say at that point will change my mind that I don’t want to work with them, right?

So I had a client, or not a client, but a potential client, many years ago, describe herself as a bridezilla six times during the consult. And she would say it and then laugh, like haha, like it was the funniest thing. I never laughed, I was just taking notes. And she didn’t have her fiance on the call. She never even told me his name. She never referenced him, like “my fiance Joe”. She just said “my fiance” as if that were his name. By the end, I said, “I’m sorry, you never gave me his name.” And she goes, “I didn’t?” And I said, “No.” She was, “That’s funny,” and then went into something else. And I was like, it just was clearly not for me.

So I wrote her an email and I said, “It was really lovely getting to know you. Based on our conversation, I don’t think I’m the right fit for you. Here’s who I’d recommend for you.” And I always send at least two referrals to people that I really genuinely think could handle that situation, right? That I think they’d be a better fit for. And I don’t necessarily feel the need to overly explain myself. In that particular case, she did write back and asked why. And I said, “One of the things I love as a wedding planner is working equally with both halves of the couple, no matter what that couple looks like. And because your fiance wasn’t on the call and didn’t seem very present in the proceedings, I just know that it’s ultimately not going to be a good fit for me.” And I never heard from her again.

So I think when you’re strong in your convictions and you know your core values, and you know the people you want to work with, it’s much easier to say no to the ones you don’t. But I also don’t think we need to be writing diary entries about how much we don’t want to work with them. I think that’s when it pays to be super almost masculine in your responses, just like it’s a hard line, right? Because the other thing you can say is like, “I don’t think we’d be a good fit because you said something about being a bridezilla.” And then she’d be like, “Well, I was just kidding,” and blah blah blah.

PS: That’s it.

RD: Then you’re opening it up for more drama. It’s a no.

PS: Okay.

RD: It’s hard though, hard to do that.

PS: It’s super hard. I feel like the person who posted that online, he was just afraid to piss him off or break their heart.

RD: Yeah, of course, you don’t want to be a bad person. And also, not all of us are in a position to say no to the money. But then again, once you have a bad client that you’ve taken for money, you always realize that’s bad money. You don’t want that money anyway.

PS: I think it’s good that people have us, people like us to tell them that it’s money now, but it’s going to be a headache in a few months.

RD: I feel like everyone has to do it once, and then they go, “Oh yeah, that was bad.” Yeah, that was bad.

PS: Okay, so the last one, the very last one, because I said language for rejection, right?

RD: Yes.

PS: What language– how do you say– how do you deal with a really livid couple when you did something wrong? Or you didn’t do anything wrong, and they’re super mad, how do you talk to them?

RD: So I always try to figure out where they’re coming from. Oftentimes, it is not about us, and the hardest thing as a business owner is to not take things personally. Weddings are emotional, right? A lot of times, we are getting the brunt of something that happened with someone else. And I know as a wedding planner especially, so many times I’ll get an email that’s like, “We’re behind and da da da da, and this and that.” And I have to read it and go okay, this person feels panicked, because they think something’s not happening that should.

I always deal with the facts first. I take the emotion right out of it. In fact, sometimes I actually ignore the emotion, right? Especially if they’re coming at me hot, I’m just like, “Okay, what are the facts here? The facts are this person feels scared, this person thinks that A, B and C was not done. That is incorrect, A, B and C is done, here’s the proof of when it was done. What else can I help you with?” I always try to move it forward, especially because my clients, or some other brides or grooms or whomever, tend to get a little worked up.

Sometimes I always tend to just go okay, don’t take it emotionally. Sometimes you got to close the email, walk around the house a little bit, walk around your office, burn it off, come back and be like, okay, what are they really saying, right? Because it’s hard when someone’s like, “You didn’t do something.” If they’re pointing fingers, “You’re bad at your job.” And they might not have said that, but that’s the tone, right? It’s hard to divorce yourself from that and be like, “Okay, well, that’s their opinion. Let’s deal with the facts.”

And listen, if you didn’t do something that needed to get done, or there was a misstep, of course apologize, absolutely apologize. And oftentimes, what I try to do is I make it right and then apologize. Fix it before you even– fix it, just whatever it is, fix it. And then go back and say, “You know what? You’re right, that did not get done, but it is done now, and here is the outcome.” Because basically, all those emails are, all those communications are, is them throwing up a flare going, “Oh my God, something’s really bad, we have to fix it.” And so your job is to just fix it. Just fix it, fix it first.

The other thing with communication, and you didn’t ask this, but I’ll just say it now. So many times, our clients are frustrated with us because they don’t know what we’re doing. And oftentimes it’s easily fixed by just saying, “I got this email, I’m working on it, I will let you know as soon as I have an answer.”

PS: I love that.

RD: It sounds so simple and dumb, but sometimes that is literally just what they need.

PS: Okay. Because there are times when we have a client request, but then we’re so busy.

RD: Totally.

PS: And then Stella is like, “What do I tell them?”

RD: I got this email, I’m working on it. I will get back to you soon with an answer.

PS: That’s beautiful.

RD: Because it just saves you a little bit of time, and then they’re like, “I’m acknowledged.” That’s generally all they want to be.

PS: Yeah. So here’s a quick tip to the listeners. Whenever we get an email, if the client’s not satisfied, or there’s something wrong, or very…accusational? Accusatory? When they’re accusing us of something we didn’t do, what Stella does is she types the email down in Google Docs or something. Never type anything in the email itself, because you might send it, and it’s just going to be more headache.

RD: Hard to unsend, yeah. Even with that handy “unsend” button, it’s still like well, they probably opened it by now. Things are immediate, yeah.

PS: So but yeah, any last words, any quick tips for the listeners about their verbiage or–?

RD: I would say if you are listening to this and you’re like, “Oh my God, I do all these things,” there is a great book called Playing Big by Tara Mohr. I think it’s geared toward women, but who cares? And it’s not just about this topic. Language is just one of the chapters in the book. But it is a transformative book that will really help change your mindset around “are you playing small in your life, in your business, or are you playing big”, right? Like we talked about. Are you acting, are you doing CEO level shit, right? Or are you the secretary? So I can’t recommend enough, Playing Big by Tara Mohr.

PS: Playing Big.

RD: And get that Google plugin so you can get those bad words out of your emails.

PS: I’ll put all the links to the show notes for sure.

RD: Perfect.

PS: And talking about show notes, let’s tell the listeners and the viewers how to reach you if they have any questions, and if you have anything going on right now.

RD: Oh, I have so much going on. Everyone always has so much going on, right? So you can find me mostly on Instagram, @moxiebrightevents, M-O-X-I-E, the word “bright”, the word “events”. If you’re interested in my wedding planning, that’s over at If you’re a wedding planner and you are interested in online education, that’s at I also have a new podcast launching September fifth, I don’t know when we’re going live but this one, but in a few weeks, we’ll have a new podcast called Talk with Renee Dalo, and that has its own Instagram. Guess what it is? @talkwithreneedalo. But I’m all over the place, y’all. If you’re coming to Wedding MBA, you can hear me, I’m speaking twice this year in Vegas. And if you hang out with Paul, you can see me at networking events.

PS: Yup, and you’ll see me at Wedding MBA too, just hanging out by the bar.

RD: Yay, nice. I will be at the bar in between my talks.

PS: I feel like now that I know that you’re musical theater, I feel like when I see you, we need to have a song together. Because I’m not formally trained, but I just love theater and musical brides.

RD: We can go to karaoke anytime, my friend.

PS: Oh yes, that would be lovely.

RD: In Vegas, maybe.

PS: Oh my God, I didn’t know there was– oh, nice.

RD: There’s got to be one, right?

PS: I’m pretty sure there will be.

RD: They have everything there.

PS: So Renee, you’ve been an inspiration to me and my wife. Just seeing you and your presence is more than enough to remind us that being ourselves is the right thing to do. And I admire your passion, I admire your drive. And we need more people like you in the industry, because now it’s being filled with fakers and takers. So from the bottom of my heart–

RD: Fakers and takers, I love that.

PS: Yeah. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.

RD: Thank you, this was amazing. Thanks for having me.

PS: All the best to you.

RD: Thank you, same to you.

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The Wedding Bossness Podcast hosted by Paul Santiago




Special thanks to Ning Wong for the sexy headshot

Music credits: Season 1 : Isaac Joel – Azophi, Isaac Joel – Adler, Isaac Joel – Obliqua and Isaac Joel – Clavius from Season 2 : Yung Koolade – Rise, Isaac Joel – Two Leaf Anemone, Yung Koolade – Shee give me that good love from

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