Why Celebrated News Anchor Lynn Smith Left TV to Build Her Own Media Business

Welcome to another episode of The Female Founder with Bridget Fitzpatrick, Co-founder of ASBN and the CBT Automotive Network. The Female Founder is a show all about helping women grow their businesses and reach their full potential. Each episode will highlight inspiring stories and advice from female entrepreneurs to help you build and grow your business. This show is designed to inspire and motivate other female founders to be the best entrepreneurs they can be.

Today’s guest is former news anchor Lynn Smith. You might recognize her from some of the biggest newsrooms across the country, including NBC News, MSNBC, CNN, and HLN where she worked in front of and behind the camera. During her long career in journalism, Lynn has interviewed some of the biggest names in news and entertainment and hosted shows like Weekend Express and On The Story. She recently took a huge leap and said goodbye to the TV world to help others with her own company, Rylan Media, serving as a media consultant advising CEOs and business leaders on how to get their message out clearly and concisely on camera.

In an interview with Us Weekly, Lynn said, “I’ve watched clients go from fearful and unsure of themselves on camera to crushing an appearance on the biggest news outlets in the world.” In this episode, Lynn discusses her career pivot from news anchor to Founder and CEO of Rylan Media.

Are you interested in working with Lynn? Book your discovery call here!

Transcription: 

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Lynn, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

Lynn Smith:
Oh, it’s so good to be here, Bridget. Thanks for having me.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes. Now, I would love to jump right into it. Now, you left the TV world to become an entrepreneur. Talk to us about that change and how you came up with that, or how did you do it?

Lynn Smith:
Well, everyone who’s an entrepreneur knows it’s the scariest thing that you’ll ever do, but it’s the most fulfilling thing you can possibly ever do. This has been maybe the most impressive year of growth for myself separate from the business, just learning how to overcome failures and how to fight for your successes, how to earn your yeses rather than taking nos for an answer. And I’ve been able to be the mom that I want to be in the process. And I think a lot of women in the pandemic realized if they weren’t doing what really made an impact in their work, they wanted to make a change. And that’s what I decided to do.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Great. Now, when you were telling your friends and family about your change, did they think you were crazy?

Lynn Smith:
Crazy.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Or how did they take that?

Lynn Smith:
“Are you sure you want to do that? Have you planned for that?” And I will say, becoming an entrepreneur is not something that one day you wake up, “I’m going to start my own company.”

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Lynn Smith:
It’s about as hard work that you’re ever going to put in in your career.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Lynn Smith:
And I’ve worked hard as an anchor. I worked an overnight shift, I’ve worked holidays, I go into work at 4:00 in the morning. But becoming an entrepreneur, you have to really intentionally plan your business to set it up for success. And so I spent a lot of time developing Rylan Media and practicing this new life for myself before I even made the change. And that’s something that I think is really important for a lot of female founders out there. Don’t just jump in headfirst, really make a plan.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes, I love that advice. Great advice. Now let’s talk about, you have two beautiful boys. How do you balance the juggle of entrepreneurship and business life?

Lynn Smith:
And they were the reason I wanted to make the switch. I wanted to be able to be the mom I wanted to be and then also still have a career. And so I really set limits in my business. I made sure that no one could schedule anything on my calendar before 10:00 AM.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Nice.

Lynn Smith:
And no one can schedule anything after 3:00 PM. Now, do I make exceptions? Of course I do. Do I travel for work? Of course I do, but I set limits and I try and really stick to them so I can give them what they need. Now, does that mean I work a 20-hour week? Absolutely not. That means that I work when they’re going to sleep, I work after, in the middle of the night, or I work before they wake up, and therefore I’m able to have the business and the motherhood experience that I wanted.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. Great way to balance that. Now, do you have a mentor or somebody that you look up to? And if so, how have they encouraged you?

Lynn Smith:
I’ve had many. I’ve been lucky enough to have many mentors over my career. One in particular I have called upon throughout my career to say, “Can I just ping this off of you and just get some feedback?” And so when I was making this change I got a lot of, “Are you sure you thought this through?” Because you can’t walk away from television and say, “Oops, let me switch that decision back.” And now that I have gone through with it and that the company has thankfully been successful, I get a lot of, “Way to go, way to take that leap of faith.” You have to be able to bet on yourself. And when you do and believe in yourself, you really can do anything.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Absolutely.

Lynn Smith:
That’s the thing that I really took away from becoming an entrepreneur.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I love that. Now, let’s go back to the news days once again. It was heavily dominated by men. Do you recall any times that you feel like you may have been treated unfairly because you were a woman?

Lynn Smith:
I think just not taken seriously, especially when I was younger. So I started when I was 26, and I always was just never old enough. And you know what’s funny about being a woman in the news business, you’re never old enough and then you’re too old.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Lynn Smith:
There’s never that sweet spot in between of, “Oh, okay, now I’m just right.” I had people put glasses on me for a broadcast because they thought that it made me look older and more respected. So the way I handled that was, “Just watch, just watch. I’ll just do what I do. I don’t care what anybody thinks, just watch. And if I fail, I’ll pick myself back up and I’ll dust myself off and I’ll keep going.”

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Good for you. That is great. Now, there are challenging days being an entrepreneur, of course. How do you manage those challenging days?

Lynn Smith:
I have this conversation with friends a lot, sometimes it’s day by day and sometimes it’s hour by hour and sometimes it’s minute by minute. And I’ve had days where it’s complete chaos with the children. I don’t have full-time child care. I’m juggling a million different things. And then I’m in my car trying to upload a client appearance to pitch them somewhere else and I’m just thinking, “Minute to minute, minute to minute.” And that gives me a bit of an inner piece when it comes to it. And I think also a lifestyle change that I made. I moved out of a big city, I moved into a small town to live this quieter life. So when work and motherhood is really chaotic I’m able to say … I have a little bit of peace in my surroundings.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
That is great. Now, you coach people every day on overcoming their fears.

Lynn Smith:
Yeah.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
What is your biggest fear and how do you overcome it?

Lynn Smith:
I talk all the time about what my biggest fear was. It was public speaking.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Oh.

Lynn Smith:
Which everybody assumed I would be good at. And I was terrible at it, because the camera’s my crutch. I look into a camera like here and I’m like, “Hey, this is so much more comfortable for me.” But then when I’m standing in front of a group of 1,000 people it’s completely different. You’re staring into people’s faces. So how I overcame it is I said it out loud. And I have all of my clients do this. What do you think your perceived weakness is? What are your fears? And let’s talk them through. Because you’ll find that once you actually say it out loud, it gives it so much less power. I worked on my public speaking. It’s turned into a superpower that I’m able to use in my business now by being a keynote speaker, but not without overcoming the fact that I wasn’t good at it, but admitting it helped change that.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Well, thanks for sharing that. That’s great. What characteristics do you think it takes to be an entrepreneur?

Lynn Smith:
I think it’s grit and tenacity and resiliency.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Lynn Smith:
I have a motto that I try and live by that’s, “Just keep going.” And a friend of mine sent it to me in a text message during a really hard time in my life in my 30s, and it just clicked. Just keep going. When things seem challenging and it’s not going to turn around, what’s this month going to be? Is this month going to be like last month? Is this going to work out the way that I’m expecting it to work out? Just keep going, just keep going. And I use this in my media training as well. Somebody asks you a question that you don’t know, just keep going. It’s okay to pivot. Pivot to something else. But that has carried me through.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, let’s talk about your training. Can you talk to us about Rylan Media and how you’re helping small business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs?

Lynn Smith:
It’s really been so much fun. As you said, it’s so exciting for me to see a client who wasn’t sure about what to say, what to do, and then all of a sudden they’re appearing, I had a client this morning on CNBC and I was watching and I was just like, “Yes, yes.” And then I picked up the phone to call him and he’s like, “Was that okay?” I was like, “Was that okay? That was amazing. You just killed it on Squawk Box.” So I work with experts, entrepreneurs, CEOs to help them to really talk in soundbites, say something that matters, have valuable takeaways, and then know how to do that through a lens of a camera. It’s not comfortable, right?

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Lynn Smith:
And so we live in a time where yes, this is for media appearances, but it’s turned into, many of my clients are using this to sell to potential customers. Because right now we’re doing a Zoom call and they have to pitch their client or their potential client on why they should buy this. But you have to do it into that tiny lens, it’s just not natural. It’s a skillset that needs to be learned. So we work on pillars of confidence, how to grow that confidence, and how to connect to the lens. That’s the key.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
So much of our life is geared towards the camera now.

Lynn Smith:
Everything, everything. Even job interviews or when you have to present to your managers, we’re not going into the board room. I say video is the new board room. And then on top of that, it’s content. We need to be able as business owners to create content to give people value. You have to have people really trust you before they invest in you. And we’re doing that socially.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, you were recently featured in Us Weekly, which is so exciting. Congratulations.

Lynn Smith:
Thank you.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, you mentioned the Green Room, a new project you’re working on. Can you talk to us about that?

Lynn Smith:
So I started the Green Room newsletter on LinkedIn, and it was my insider tips on media training and what makes someone a great guest, and I do LinkedIn Lives. And my one-on-one clients just wanted to continue to work together and continue to do more growth opportunities. So the Green Room was born from the idea of, if I can train 15 to 20 people at once and then get them to a place where they have a pitch in hand that has their expertise as applicable and then we can put them in front of bookers, then we would look to get them a national media appearance by the end of what the Green Room’s going to be, 12 weeks. So they get all of my media training and then also the opportunity to potentially be booked.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
So exciting.

Lynn Smith:
Yeah.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yes, congrats on that.

Lynn Smith:
Thank you, we’re so excited.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, you’re doing so much, got the kids, the businesses. How do you keep from becoming overwhelmed? Or if you do, how do you manage that?

Lynn Smith:
That is something that I was warned about in becoming an entrepreneur. If you do too much, then everything will fail. You focus on what is important. And I have a podcast with Munchkin, I have to be able to deliver with them. I have to be able to deliver with my clients. And I also, and I know a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this, we need to be able to say no. So I set up this needs, wants, and can’ts bucket. I have the needs. I need to deliver for my family and my clients. I need to be able to get my work done, and here’s what the work is. I am a list person. Then I have my wants. I want to be able to go out to dinner with girlfriends, or I want to be able to take on a new client. I might not be able to until fall or winter, we will work that out. I want to do that.
And then there are my can’ts, and that’s where I say a hard no. I can’t be room mom. I wish I could be room mom. It’s not the stage in my career yet. I am able to say no, because I’ve set up that can’ts bucket. And so that’s given me the framework for how I can try and get it all done, even though it doesn’t all get done.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now, if there was one piece of advice you could give yourself five years ago looking to now, what would that be?

Lynn Smith:
I think it would be that you are believing in yourself the way others believe in you. And I say this because my husband, I always used to say to him, “I don’t have any other skill set. I’m an anchor. I don’t have …” And he’s like, “Are you kidding me? You can take this and do this.” And I started to believe in myself the way he believed in me, and that helped me to gain the confidence myself. And I talk about this in my book, I have a book, Confidence Quotient, that I’m a confident person in progress. I’m struggling with everything like everybody else is. I go onto stage and I have to talk myself out of my own head like everybody does. But if you use these strategies, it is possible to overcome that and increase your self-confidence. And so being able to have those people around you that do believe in you, listen to them.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Great advice, great advice. I need to do that myself.

Lynn Smith:
I need to do it myself too. I need to take my own advice on those days.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Now let’s look ahead five years. Where do you see Lynn Smith and all that you’re doing?

Lynn Smith:
I wish that I had a good answer for that, because I would have never even in a million years predicted that I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. Had it not been for COVID and really reassessing everything, I would not be sitting here today. I’d be sitting on a set likely. And so I almost am more excited about not knowing what’s going to happen in five years. Even in the last year, so I launched Rylan Media a year ago in June, I had no idea of what was going to transpire. I didn’t even know that I was going to be doing a podcast with Munchkin, which is my favorite. I use their sippy cups and now I get to work with them.
I would have never imagined the relationship that I have with the client that just appeared on CNBC that came on a year ago. It was just this month a year ago that we started working together. And so I’m excited to not know, because everything in every single year, I can’t wait to see what the ups and the downs are. We know as entrepreneurs there are downs.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah.

Lynn Smith:
They’re almost as important as the ups.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
They are.

Lynn Smith:
Because when you come through that down, the up is so much better and it’s so much more well informed.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Mm-hmm. Yeah. They’re not a setback, they’re a setup usually. Usually.

Lynn Smith:
That’s right. I’m stealing that. Can I steal that?

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
I stole it from somebody, so why not? Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I loved talking with you and I hope I can have you on again for an update maybe sooner than five years, but maybe soon to talk about how things are going.

Lynn Smith:
I would love it. Thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.

Bridget Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, thank you.


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