Ep389: Flavilla Fongang – Align Yourself with the Leaders, Not the Followers

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Quick take

BIO: Flavilla Fongang is a Top 5 most influential tech woman. She is the author of 99 Strategies to get customers, International Keynote Speaker, BBC Brand Strategist, Brand Growth Coach, Branding & Marketing Agency MD, TLA Black Women in Tech Founder, and Tech Brains Talk Podcast.

STORY: When Flavilla started a personal branding consultancy, she made the mistake of charging by the hour. This made her lose money, and people perceived her low rates as a reflection of her services.

LEARNING: Don’t align yourself with followers who pay less. Align yourself with leaders who will pay premium rates.


“Align yourself with the leaders, not the followers.”

Flavilla Fongang


Guest profile

Flavilla Fongang is a Top 5 most influential tech woman. She is the author of 99 Strategies to get customers, International Keynote Speaker, BBC Brand Strategist, Brand Growth Coach, Branding & Marketing Agency MD, TLA Black Women in Tech Founder, and Tech Brains Talk Podcast.

Worst investment ever

Flavilla worked in oil and gas and then later decided to become a fashion stylist who self-taught herself. She read a lot of books and learned about becoming a fashion stylist.

Flavilla then quickly realized that people were very interested in personal branding, so she became a brand consultant.

Not following her own advice

Flavilla would often advise her clients to pick a niche, but she couldn’t bring herself to pick one out of fear of losing opportunities. She was working with clients in all sorts of niches. So she became a jack of all trade.

Another huge mistake Flavilla made with her business model was charging by the hour. People would comment about how cheap she was, and cheap is not good as it’s often viewed as a reflection of your value. Now the problem with the hourly rate is that if you are very efficient and good at what you do, you lose a lot of money. This is what happened to Flavilla. She realized that she was doing it wrong and started using value-based pricing.

Lessons learned

Don’t align yourself with followers; align yourself with leaders

If you align yourself with followers, you’ll be going for the lowest bracket instead of the higher bracket. When you charge people more, they tend to trust you more and see you as the best in what you do. So leave the time-wasters who are always looking for a bargain; go for the top-notch clients who will value what you do.

Andrew’s takeaways

Sell an outcome

People are always willing to pay a lot for transformation, but they pay a small amount for knowledge. So sell an outcome.

Actionable advice

Double your price to lockout time-wasters, and you will only have people that really enjoy working with you and value what you have to offer.

No. 1 goal for the next 12 months

Flavilla’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to get herself out of the equation. She believes she’s become her own burden as much as her own strength. People love who she is and want to work with her. But she needs to get herself less involved in the management of her business.


Read full transcript

Andrew Stotz 00:02
Hello fellow risk takers and welcome to my worst investment ever stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community. We know that to win in investing, you must take risk, but to win big, you've got to reduce it. To join our community go to my worst investment ever.com right now, then you'll receive the following five free benefits first, you get the risk reduction checklist I created from the lessons I've learned from all my guests. Second, you get my weekly investment research email to help you increase your return third, you get a 25% discount on all a Stotz Academy courses for you get instant access to our Facebook community to get to know guests and fellow listeners. And finally, you get my curated list of the Top 10 podcast episodes. Fellow risk takers This is your worst podcast host Andrew Stotz from a starts investment research, and I'm here with featured guests for Villa Fong, gang villa. Are you ready to rock? I'm ready, just go. So the villa is a top five most influential tech woman. She is author of 99 strategies to get customers, international keynote speaker, BBC brand strategist, brand growth coach, branding and marketing agency, MD TLA, black woman in tech founder and tech brains talk podcast, my goodness for via take a minute and tell us a little bit about your life.

Flavilla Fongang 01:38
Hello, that's I think it's you know, sometimes I forget all the things that I do. And you know, it's amazing. So my journey started born in Paris, not a silver spoon in my mouth. You know, I grew up in the ghetto of Paris and moved to London, just out of curiosity. And I didn't speak a word of English at that point. But I think you know, behind me is my curious mind of looking for say that I've never done before and getting myself out of my comfort zone. And so naturally, I was going to London and you know, you know, arriving in London was a bit of a wakening for me here as well. There's more potential, there's so much more I can accomplish in London, which led me to move in now almost 20 years living in London, feeling myself like a Londoner, even University lovers very strong French accent. So I've done so many crazy things in my life. And like my name defines as a butterfly. I love reinventing myself.


Andrew Stotz 02:31
And what would you say is kind of your most interesting reinvention over the years.

Flavilla Fongang 02:37
I went from the work went from a world of oil and gas to water, fashion and extreme to fmcg to now being in technology and probably the best option investment basically, like probably the smartest move I've made, you know, because technology is more and more part of everything that we do. And technology has a focus in your as you know, running an agency and in branding and marketing and choosing technology gave me so much clarity and also understand that we can make an impact and support our clients who want to make an impact on a larger scale. And that's fantastic. And, you know, look at all this situation around the world. You know, technology has saved us and helped us stay connected. So that was a message and I've made

Andrew Stotz 03:17
sounds good. Well, I guess that's kind of a setup, if that's the best decision you made. Now it's time to show you a worst investment ever made. And since no one ever goes into their worst investment thinking it will be tell us a bit about the circumstances leading up to it then tell us your story. Yes, no, that's

Flavilla Fongang 03:33
also true. People don't talk enough about their failures. And they look at you and say, oh, wow, you're so lucky. I mean, there's no luck in anything that I've done. It started back that I stood up every time you know, I fell into a situation and I always say to people you even learn or you either win that's there's only two choices that you have. But really for me as I say you know I've always been vetted myself. I've started doing started a new carrier where I didn't have an experience I'm a self I self teach myself, this is what I've done. I've read books, probably as many books as you have behind you. And I read love books and you know when I want to do something I would you know, be curious. So as I mentioned I worked in oil and gas and then from that point, I was at a passion to question and decided to become a fashion stylist who self taught myself read a lot of books and learn about becoming a fashion stylist and then quickly realized you know that you know fashions that are being a fashion stylist about personal branding and I realized this element about people business so the element about business is the difference between between being a business and being a brand. Starbucks is a brand a coffee shop is a business are you commodity Are you hyper profitable business and this is when you become a brand and you know and I didn't even when I started my you know I said as a as a brand consultants really helping people around and really looking in every single direction spanning business from a plumber to you know, to soltanto life coach and so forth. And I realized that I wasn't eating my own food, I would say to people pick a niche, and I wasn't picking a niche. And, and I still didn't listen, because I think this is fear of losing, if you pick a niche, you're going to lose opportunities, which is a stupid mistake that I put in. And I realize I've made better as big as I've become from a consultant to an agency, you know, I started hiring people. But most importantly than the mistake that we made, that made recipes, my mistake is that I was charging by the hour. But the problem with hourly rate is that if you are very efficient, if you are really good at what you do, you lose a lot of money. So I would think that, for example, hulagu was maybe a couple of you know, a week or two to do that I would charge by the hour. And quickly realize that Wait a minute, you know, some people take some bigger agencies would take six months to even a year to create a logo and be paid 1 million pounds, there's obviously something wrong I'm doing right, then I can see the work of my clients, you know, thriving and making millions. And I say, wait a minute, it's not going to change in terms of how to do things. And that's really what I moved away from hourly rate to value based pricing. And that's really very important. Love a lot of businesses out there unable to measure the value of what they do. If you are in, in any industry, you think about it locally, don't ask the clients in terms of what has been this, the quantitative and qualitative impact are working with us, that will help you figure out where you are, you know, and also figure out what type of transaction to work with, against something, you know, having a focus in technology also makes us realize that if work technology companies, then they make an impact on the largest scale, so that the value that we're bringing is much, much bigger, whatever it is a FinTech company, whatever it is, ai company, they're making an impact on a larger scale. So therefore the value that we bring, by helping them tell their story, position themselves should be aligned to that. And that's where even if you're talking about like, literally yesterday, we had to pull up a strategy in two days, which can take three months. But it's better to hire as is because we deliver and that Prime service at prime delivery capability is that what makes us build the value. And I say, you know, you can ask you I say like, you know, you pay for what you get what you pay for, as you know someone who doesn't know how to do the job, they might cost you 50 pounds, or whatever it is a technical hour to figure out a situation situation where somebody is an expert, has it all figured out to take you just a minute to know exactly electrical craft cost you a million pounds in. That's one thing that really changed my mind. Doesn't matter if it takes us it Oh, you do it on two hours, but it well. Okay. So what is a very good highest video graphic designer or anybody else? And it's an executive the value of working somebody who is good at what they do.

Andrew Stotz 07:59
I wonder if you can go back in time to when you were kind of realizing that the charging by hour just doesn't work? Like was there a particular day, or moment that you can remember where you like, I'm just running as fast as I can. And I'm never going to catch up. Because I know, some of the listeners are at that point. And I'd love to hear kind of when you came to that realization.

Flavilla Fongang 08:21
Hmm, I think it came to realization when people say oh my gosh, is so cheap. Again, I said, you know, the quarter clients, okay, this is going to be I think it was like 5000 pounds, or so cheap. I think oh my gosh, because I was comparing myself to this online Freelancer Upwork charging five bucks to make a logo, but they're recycling logos, which definitely not to the level what we do. And then I realized I need to be I need to speak to other leaders. Because a lot of people work independently in the field, I need to speak to people in industry. That's why I joined an agency network. Oh, wow. And I look at the worst thing oh my goodness, and even after what we do, and they were blessed by what we did, and I think Don't be don't go alone and think that you have it all figured out. understand why people choose to work with you, again diminishes importance in his nominee company in specialized a disposition specializes in technology, but having this conversation with people in your in your piece, you know, ask them you know, or sometimes just being undercover and asking going and as we did that at the beginning, where we go on the cover and ask agencies their rate and be like, Oh my God, we are definitely cheap. And cheap is no good. Because value that you know your services. When people pay, you know, when people spend, you know, 100k or whatever it is, I spend what I'm getting the money, but I'm going to get a great service. I'm going to get top quality service, you know, and so forth. And that's what's important.

Andrew Stotz 09:48
So, let me ask you, what lessons did you learn from this experience? You know, I think it's also important to think about that person out there. That's doing Right now, you know, like, what is it that drove you and drove me and other people to say, I've got to charge by the hour? I can't charge too much. I'm afraid to you know, what? What lessons did you learn from this? Yeah,

Flavilla Fongang 10:13
what is the lesson is that condom don't align yourself with followers align yourself with leaders say, I've aligned myself with followers, so therefore I was going for the lowest bracket instead of going for the higher bracket. When you actually do charge more people still believe that you are definitely the best in breeds. As I said before luxury products, people are happy to spend, you know, 500 bucks for a bag, even if they can get exactly the same thing, or has the same purpose as a bag, you know, at discount stores. That's not what he means. No, there's also behind that, you know, I'm not just an agency leader, I'm also have an outcome with my personal brand, which I've built. That's the reason why I don't even question any of our pricing. And you can question that person, you probably know, you don't understand our value. So therefore, I'm more interested in working with you. That are is what I'm saying no more you send no more you have, you know, you don't have to be running up and down, I think 25 people waste your time and always looking for a bargain, go from a top notch will value what you do and are going to be behind you to tell you how to do your job. That's a big difference. So I have the power to say no, because I haven't made that decision and positioning from the start.

Andrew Stotz 11:22
Fantastic. Ladies and gentlemen, listen to that align yourself with the leaders, not the followers. And she gave a great example about it by talking about what I used to like look at Upwork, which is the absolute bottom of the barrel, or that's it the lowest price option. And I used to compare myself to that. And when I need to be comparing myself to the people that are charging a million dollars for the same product, you know, and if I get closer to that, then I'm going to be valuing myself where it should be. So I think that's really great learning, maybe I'll just summarize a couple of takeaways that I got from this. I mean, the first thing is like, you we want to sell outcome, you know, we want to sell result. And when someone has a problem, or they have a need, and you can solve it, you know, doesn't matter to that client, whether that took you three hours or 30 hours, they just want the result they want on time, and they want to get it done, and they're willing to pay for that result. I like to talk about, you know, in particularly in one of the spaces that I do a lot of stuff in online courses is that people pay for transformation. They pay a lot for transformation, but they pay a small amount for knowledge. And I'll give you an example, I took two courses myself, one that I got for 10 bucks, and one that I got for $1,500. And I did neither of them for a little while. And guess which one I felt guilty about and felt frustrated that I wasn't doing. It wasn't the $10 one, I can just forget that. But it was that $1,500 one. And the reason why pay was because the author of that course said, you're going to go through a transformation. And at the end of this course, you're going to be here or your money back. And I just thought, Wow, it really made me think, you know, just think about someone's in the fitness industry. You know, there's plenty of books out there that cost 10 bucks, you know, and you can get them off the shelf, and they give you everything you need. No, but that doesn't that's just knowledge, that's not transformation. So I think my big takeaway is, you know, sell outcome. You know, and I would say also, in my own experience, I find that sometimes the reason why I've underpriced things is because I'm chasing revenue, I don't want to lose that customer. I you know, get into a point where it's like, well, you know, I'd rather go low and make sure we get it and stuff like that. But you know, part of what's happened over the years is that you get more confidence and you get better at what you're doing. And then you can start to turn those things away. So I definitely, you know, recognize that and have felt that way, you know, myself and I know plenty of the listeners head. Is there anything else you would add to that?

Flavilla Fongang 14:13
I would say you know, it's one thing that I always say to people is like, if you don't ask, you don't get to be cheeky. I think that keep that mentality of you'd be very surprised. I mean, go on to help if you ask for it. So that's how you know, you're happy, we'll say the new success, you know, being good at what you do is expected. But what you do beyond that, that's really where the you know, the beauty is, you know, I

Andrew Stotz 14:33
I that's so true. And just today, I had an experience. And this experience was kind of interesting, and it reminds me a little bit of your align yourself with the leaders, not the followers and that was we had to submit a quote to a company to do a particular thing. And the reality is, the company had a choice. Either they do this themselves, or they hire us. There really isn't a competitor for what we do and we can Do it so well, that we know that they know we're the only one. So one of my team basically said, well, let's just figure out how much it costs us to do it. And so we went through all these costs, and I just looked at, oh, wait a minute, this is just getting too cheap. I mean, we're just going down the costs, switch this around and say, how much would it cost the customer to do this on their own? And, and let's understand what they're spending. And let's start at that point and say, you're going to solve this problem for 100,000. We can solve it for you know, let's say our cost of solving and let's say, if we want to lowball it, we can solve it for 40,000. But why do we need to leave the rest on the table? If we can solve it for 70,000 80,000? We're still saving them 20 or 30%? So you know, that idea of kind of making sure you're also looking at what are the alternatives for the client? is another thing that you, you know, remind me of as I listened to your story? Absolutely.

Flavilla Fongang 15:57
And I think people don't spend enough time that very basic value conversation, understanding what you know, what's going to be outcome of working with you, and how you measure that. If you say, you know, you're going to make weekend versus, you know, you estimate that you're going to make a million pound spending 10% of that, you know, to invest it, that seems like nothing. That's where the beauty is. And that conversation is so important that people just go over it. And they call that pre conceived pricing list. And that's it, when they miss out and deploy things on a lot of money on the table.

Andrew Stotz 16:29
So I want you now to think about some of my listeners, there are some listeners out there that are, you know, enterprising. And they could, you know, they they're, they've learned a lot from this. But I want them I want you to answer this question thinking about them based on what you learn from this story and what you continue to learn and what one action would you recommend our listeners take to avoid suffering the same fate? double your price? Simple.

Flavilla Fongang 16:51
Double your price over time wasters and you will only have people that really enjoy working with you and value double your price. Obviously, double your price. Don't be forget about the market. Forget about the economy forget about is people who have money are various people who are still investing this money on the table w price.

Andrew Stotz 17:11
Well, there happens to be some people in my business in this room. So I thought I would just announce that the advice that we've got is to double on price. And I love it. It's the most actionable answer I think I've had, and anybody out there can immediately do it. So okay, double our price. Chris, Chris, double our price. I love it. Yep, thumbs up from my from my room here in my office. Alright, last question. What's your number one goal for the next

Flavilla Fongang 17:39
12 months? Remember, no one goal for my next 12 months is to get myself out of the equation. So I've become my own burden as much as my own strength where people love who I am and want to work with me. So I'm kind of lead generator, because of my personality. But I need to get myself more and less involved in the management operation that's always delegated, but more than management need to be removed. So yes, so that's my thing. get myself out of the equation.

Andrew Stotz 18:08
That's an exciting one. Well, I look forward to hearing about that. 12 months from now. Yeah, that's me calling your office and there's nobody there. There's like no. I love the power of delegation. So I'm good. That's for sure. Excellent, excellent. Well, listeners, there you have it another story of loss to keep you winning. My number one goal for the next 12 months is to help you my listener, reduce risk and increase return in your life. To achieve this. I created our community at my worst investment. ever.com. I'll see you there. As we conclude the villa. I want to thank you again for coming on the show. And on behalf of Ace Dance Academy, I hereby award you alumni status returning your worst investment ever into your best teaching moment. The crowd roars now, do you have any parting words for the audience? I will say thank you very much. Merci beaucoup. That's brilliant. I read to my LinkedIn profile. antastic Well, that's a wrap on another great story to help us create, grow and protect our well fellow risk takers. This is your worst podcast hose Andrew Stotz saying. I'll see you on the upside.


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About the show & host, Andrew Stotz

Welcome to My Worst Investment Ever podcast hosted by Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, where you will hear stories of loss to keep you winning. In our community, we know that to win in investing you must take the risk, but to win big, you’ve got to reduce it.

Your Worst Podcast Host, Andrew Stotz, Ph.D., CFA, is also the CEO of A. Stotz Investment Research and A. Stotz Academy, which helps people create, grow, measure, and protect their wealth.

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