This year’s first Influencer of the Quarter, Susan McNeill, is the living example of a successful woman entrepreneur. Next to running her real style for real people blog “Susan Said What?!“, Susan has co-founded a non-profit, co-started a game company, authored a book, and is a wife and mother. She’s living out the dreams that so many of us have yet to pursue.
It’s January, a new start to getting your life together, being intentional and pursuing your dreams so we decided to pick Susan’s brain and learn more about her entrepreneur roots, tips and tricks!
1. Your “About Me” section shows that you have a lot of experience writing. When did you first start to write and how has that passion affected your life?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write! High school yearbook editor, college newspaper reporter… it’s just part of who I am. After graduating college (majoring in English with a concentration in Journalism) I began a career in advertising and have never looked back.
Sharing my lifelong love of the written word even led to the founding of my personal “passion project,” the literacy organization I co-founded, Success Won’t Wait (SWW). SWW is a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to providing free books to kids, teens and adults worldwide. Since 2002, we have collected and distributed over 1 million books!
2. What inspired you to start your educational game company?
In 2004, my oh-so-clever husband came up with the idea for a word game. My family loves games, so naturally, we started a game company!
In just 10 years, our firm boasted several multi-award winning games including the best-selling word game You’ve been Sentenced! Our products were sold nationwide at major retailers such as Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, and Kohl’s, plus at thousands of small, independent toy, game and book stores. Our games were showcased on TODAY, in Entrepreneur magazine, and even on The Tonight Show. It was an exciting chapter in our lives!
3. It seems like you’ve done a lot entrepreneurial work in your life. What’s the best piece of advice for a woman who wants to start her own project or company?
There’s a saying that I absolutely love: “The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan.” It’s so true! Everyone has ideas. But, most of us never act on them. Instead, we talk about “someday.” Yet somehow, someday never comes.
Put those ideas on paper! Do your research. Then, create a plan that will take you from Point A to Point B. If you have questions or need help, SCORE (Society of Retired Executives) is a wonderful, free resource for business advice. And, don’t forget to include specific action items and give yourself deadlines in order to stay on track.
5. Who is the person that you’re writing for with Susan Said… What?!
My readers are so varied! But, the one trait they share is a love of great style – which could include anything from a stunning silk scarf, to a hand thrown pottery bowl, to a Medieval knot garden.
6. What is the focus of your blog and how did you decide to write about that focus?
Susan Said… WHAT?! is about real style for real people. Although I adore occasionally showcasing the drama of runway fashion and lust worthy, multi-million dollar properties for fun, I find that my readers are more interested in fashion, beauty, and home style that they can incorporate into their own daily lives.
So, I focus on relatable ready-to-wear pieces, splurge vs. steal items, and inspirational ideas that anyone can adopt. I jokingly call myself “the fashionista in the car pool lane.”
7. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
It was actually my husband’s idea! I was writing for Style on a WHIM (the corporate blog for the Whimsy Worldwide jewelry firm). And, my husband kept asking why I wasn’t writing for a site of my own.
One morning, as he persisted, he suggested the name. And, it really struck a nerve! After a few weeks, I decided to take the plunge. Nine years later, here I am.
8. How did you hear of Apollo Box?
I was approached by Apollo Box to become a Brand Ambassador in 2017. Since I was unfamiliar with the company, I did a bit of research. And, I was floored. Apollo Box has such an amazing collection of products – I’m 100% hooked!
9. What is one of your favorite Apollo Box items?
One of my top picks is a gorgeous Crystal Necklace with Pearls from Nature’s Bounty. This necklace has an unusual A-shaped design, which is infinitely more interesting than a simple lariat or Y shaped piece. And, the color! It’s one of my faves and always garners compliments.
10. How would you describe Apollo Box to your readers?
Shopping at Apollo Box is like a treasure hunt – you simply never know exactly what you are going to find. But, you won’t find it anywhere else.
11. What legacy would you like to leave?
It sounds trite, but my three children really are my greatest legacy. They are all such amazing, wonderful people, living life with creativity and purpose. I think (I hope!) that as parents, the example we’ve set – working hard, giving back, and leaving the world more beautiful — has rubbed off.