Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, the careers of many individuals around the globe have been put on hold or even made obsolete.
Fortunately, some have taken advantage of this time and continued to expand their passions through an online environment.
During this episode of Do The Damn Thing, Laura Foy picks the brain of Genny Schwarzberg, a solopreneur who has made a career out of helping children overcome both academic and social-emotional difficulties. She regularly helps kids that are struggling with reading and spelling deficits, as well as students with organizational issues, ADHD, and even anxiety.
But how does Genny continue to accomplish all of this during COVID-19? And how did she take advantage of social media to get recognized and grow her online tutoring business?
Watch this video now to find out how Genny Did The Damn Thing!
Read the script:
Laura: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Do The Damn Thing. My name is Laura Foy, and today we are talking to Genny Schwartzberg, and we are going to learn all about her business – how she launched online, how she got it up and running. And before I even bring her on, I want to say that even just speaking to her reminds me of being home. Genny, your accent – I’m sure you get it all the time. I, too, am an East-coaster. I’m from New York. And so talking to you just makes me feel at home. Welcome so much to the show.
Genny: Thank you so much. I didn’t even realize that you were from the East Coast, so this is great.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely! Strong Island all the way!
Laura: Close enough. So let’s tell people what you do because I found it really interesting. You’ve created a business for yourself that has a life online. And you obviously meet people online. Tell me about what you do.
Genny: Sure. So it’s funny. I’m actually a full-time special education case manager. So I work all day long for a public school. We’re back into the whole swing of things when it comes to hybrid learning, the pandemic, and all of that. But after school, even before the pandemic hit us, I created my own business. I was tutoring students mainly in the areas of those having a reading deficit, spelling deficit, as well as a ton of students with organizational issues, ADHD potentially, and anxiety.
I realized I wanted to bring attention to my day as a case manager and my afternoons and evenings as a tutor more online. And I wasn’t really utilizing digital media or social media. I wasn’t bringing any attention to myself cause I was, I think, at the point, like, “What’s the point? No one cares.” But I wanted to show people what I do because I might be able to help others – other teachers and other parents working with kids who have these needs.
Laura: Awesome. And for anyone just joining us, we are talking with Genny Schwartzberg. And we will be taking live questions and comments in just a little bit.
So you touched on something interesting because I wouldn’t think of tutoring as a business, not to minimize all that you do. I wouldn’t think of it as needing an online presence or a social media presence. So what inspired you to create such a pretty strong and relevant social media presence?
Genny: Well, first of all, the fact that you even acknowledge that it’s a strong presence is very flattering to me because about a year and a half ago, when I made this decision, maybe even two years now, I made this decision to post – just like literally post once in a while. And I just saw that the more I posted, the more compliments I would receive. And I was told by a lot of friends who were in businesses outside of mine, “Do not focus on the numbers. Do not focus on the likes. Just keep offering value. Don’t worry about the numbers.”
And that’s what I did. I literally just was like, “Okay, I think this will be very helpful to people. Let me put it out there.” And little by little, as time went on, the consistency on my end went on, and the growth came. And now people are saying, “Hey Genny, what do you think about this? What do you think about that?” Asking me to do presentations and interviews.
I have to say that I want to market to people who are parents that have been watching me, whether they know me from my college days or they know me just from other people in the community, and they have a child who’s four or five or six years old. They’re seeing me and some light bulb goes off and they’re like, “I think my kid might be having a hard time reading. Let me contact Genny and ask her what she thinks my next move should be.” And that’s where I really want to be for people.
Laura: That’s awesome! And now you are based in New Jersey, but do you find that you get a lot of people nationwide, because of your social media presence, who are reaching out to you for advice?
Genny: I do. It’s pretty cool. I have made what I would call “Insta-friends” with people from California, from Florida, and from people across the whole country. And I even have a couple of Insta-friends from Europe. So it is very nice. I even have one in the Dominican Republic. It’s kind of cool.
You never know who is wanting to pose a question. They find that they can approach me. I want people to know that they can approach me. And they’re just sending their DMs. And I feel like, in turn, the tutors, the teachers out there in the world – we’re all in the same boat together. We should help each other. I’m like, “What do you need?” I’ll post something with my phone, for example, in a session. And they’re like, “Oh, can I get a copy?” But honestly, even when you throw an attachment or an email to somebody, they still might not know what to do with it once they receive it.
Do not focus on the numbers. Do not focus on the likes. Just keep offering value. Don’t worry about the numbers.
Laura: Yeah. I mean, one of the things we really have sunk our teeth into and believe in as a marketing agency is that the most important thing is to provide value. And it’s funny that you’ve kind of found that answer on your own. And now, in a marketing sense, sometimes providing value is something called a lead magnet or something where you give in exchange for something else. But it sounds like you’re really just out there, genuinely from your authentic self, providing value, and people are loving you for that. I mean, that’s a huge kudos to the kind of content you’re creating.
Genny: Thank you. I have to say that a lot of this really was motivated by the fact that I was in a membership for a really amazing mastermind. It was like a business entrepreneur lifestyle type of community for one year. And they really promoted so many key points. This was one of the key points – that you really want, as an entrepreneur, to create value and never say, “And now, what are you going to bring back to me?” You just want to throw out the goodness and let it be. And the goodness will come back to you in due time.
Laura: Absolutely. In fact, Alexandra says you’re doing a wonderful job of helping not only students but also parents as well. Is that someone you’ve worked with?
Genny: Yes. I love her. Thank you, Al.
Laura: How long did this take you in terms of getting our business set up and starting to get clients? Has it been a really long process? What was your timeline building up to where you are now?
Genny: Great question. So I have always been into having a lot of balls in the air. So I just started my 12th year in public school education. Every single year that I’ve been working full-time as a teacher, I found myself somehow doing something after school. When I was in the beginning stages, I didn’t have any tutoring clients. Nobody knew of me. I also commuted very far to work. I wasn’t living in that community at that time.
So I was always kind of like, “Oh, I really just wish I could tutor.” And then, by the time I developed a name in the community, I was back in school at nighttime. The best decision I ever made was going ahead and getting what we call a Dyslexia Certificate. This now allows me to finally have the confidence to go one-on-one with the child and remediate their reading weaknesses.
Before this, I was a bit unsteady on my feet. “How do I help this child learn how to read?” Because there’s a lot of different perspectives and philosophies. But this was a clear-cut perspective and philosophy. Now at that point, I think I was in year seven or year eight. People were like, “Hey, can you help my cousin?” So little by little, my afternoons, once I was finished with all my night school, sort of started filling up with clients to tutor. And it kept growing and growing and growing.
I think it was Easter Sunday, 2019, that I had a very interesting experience just happened to me. And I was already tutoring a ton of kids. I was like, “You know what? We’re going to go public. LLC – here we go.” And I said, “I want to do this authentically. I want to do it openly. I want people to see that I am not just under the table tutoring and drawing attention. No, I am here, and I want people to know that I’m not just a tutor, but I’m trying to help people find their way” because kids are not going anywhere. Anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities are not going anywhere.
Laura: You must feel good at the end of the day. So are you still managing both jobs? You said you’re working at the school and at your tutoring business. Is the dream one day to just focus on your entrepreneurial tutoring business?
Genny: My dream is to actually remain in both because I love what I do. That is still something at my core and I definitely want to remain there. And I like being part of the school team. The issues we see on the outside in the afternoons are still going on during the day. So I love that team capacity. And then I love the component at night time as well, where it’s just me and the student.
And then, of course, you have to set the time aside. And usually, that does happen on weekends and mornings. So it’s updating the expense reports and updating lesson plans. I mean, I have so many kids that I have to find time to efficiently and appropriately lesson plan for them. Cause that’s what I’m being paid to do.
Laura: Absolutely. Now, one of the things that I’ve gotten a lot of, as I talk to more and more entrepreneurs, whatever stage they are in their journey, is that they didn’t know necessarily how much work it was going to be. They had this fun idea and were like, “Oh, I want to do this. And I’m going to do that.” And as you get deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, the dirt and the nitty-gritty and all the things that aren’t so fun start to reveal themselves. So would you say the same is true for you, that it was like you got yourself in maybe a little deeper than you thought you were going to go?
Genny: Sure. I definitely had these high aspirations and these like really cool visions. I definitely want to be that YouTuber that has a channel with 500 videos and 500,000 followers. And everyone could be like, “Okay, click on Genny for this tool and click on Genny for that tool.” That’s when you learn that when you’re by yourself, you really need help. And I had somebody to help me.
For a young college girl, I’m really all about finding young kids, giving them a chance to work and develop their talents. And she helped create the website, my headshot, and my logo. She’s like my go-to. And I also really do rely on the younger group because they know technology better than I do. I’m not terrible, but I’m not into TikTok right now. And that’s a place where maybe I’d like to be. But I’m thinking I’d have to grow a team around me. Maybe just one or two.
And I want to try to also do things by myself. I’d love to pop out more social media content. I was actually thinking this morning, “How can I become more online, other than just the posts and the stories?” How can I create more videos? So I’m going to need a videographer,
Laura: Everyone take notes. She is now accepting applications for a videographer. You’ve got a really beautiful social media page. You’ve got a ton of followers, and you’ve got over 530 posts here. We’re going to take a look at it. So tell me: What is your strategy when you create these social media posts? They seem to all have a pretty theme and a good look. I don’t know how long you’ve been at it, but you’ve got a good response here with 1500 followers. What is your marketing or social media strategy?
Genny: So my strategy is honestly: Be consistent. Because I’m a lover of Google Calendar, I put in a regular goal. So today, there’s a little purple banner on my calendar that says “7:00 PM SM”, which stands for social media posts and engage. Every night I’m trying to really push myself, and we’re talking after working all day and I really just want to turn in the towel for the night. But I really try to push myself to get on there. And I also make sure around the 30th or the 31st of every month to take a look at my whole month ahead.
And I’ve been following Jasmine Star… opens in a new window to Jasmine Star website… – she has a social curator membership. She kind of helps me break down a few categories. Each day of the week there’s a theme. So my Monday is “All About Me.” A Tuesday is my “Why?” A Thursday is potentially “Throwback Thursday”, or like “Behind the Scenes.” So every day of the week, there’s a theme. And then I try to create photos.
Laura: I notice they love faces.
Genny: And I just try to do that throughout the week, and then pick a photo and create a caption based on that.
Laura: Nice. And do you focus more on one platform than another? I came across you on Instagram… opens in a new window to GennyofallTrades Instagram page… and I have been to your Facebook page… opens in a new window to Genny of all Trades Facebook page…. You said you want to develop a YouTube… opens in a new window to Genny Schwarzberg YouTube channel… presence. It’s not there yet, but is there one that really has your heart?
Genny: I would say that Instagram is where I began, and then I love how I linked it to my Facebook business page. And then what I have to remember more is to also send it to my LinkedIn… opens in a new window to Genny Schwarzberg LinkedIn page…. It’s not as if I’ve given it as much attention as Instagram and Facebook. And my YouTube videos are slowly getting grown. But yeah, Instagram and Facebook, I would say, are widely used on a day-to-day basis. But I have to admit that I try to go into social media, do what I have to do, engage a bit, and then quickly try to bounce. There’s just a lot of feed that I just don’t need to see or hear.
Laura: Let’s talk about coronavirus real quick. So obviously, the world has changed. It’s a different place now. How has that impacted your business? And are you taking clients virtually?
Genny: Yeah, I’m glad you asked that. So what happened was that in New Jersey, we had everything kind of close around March 13th or so. I remember it was Friday the 13th. It was my last day of work in person. And so that weekend I was told not to come back to work next week and that we didn’t know for how long.
So what I made sure to do that weekend – no St. Patrick’s day parties. I taught myself how to convert all my lessons virtually on Google Slides. I met with a few tutors that I had actually met through Instagram. And I said, “Hey, are you using Zoom for any of your students? Could you show me a few tricks?” Three or four times that weekend we met on Zoom, and I just taught myself how to teach.
And then, from March until July, I taught a hundred percent on Zoom after work. And a lot of families are really happy with that. I even had some new clients come to me virtually. And then, once the world started slowly opening up, some parents said, “You know, I really don’t think Zoom is working for my child. Can you come back?” And so then we made accommodations for outdoor tutoring.
If it’s something that doesn’t leave your mind and you think a lot about it, then you should consider doing it. Don’t let up! Otherwise, you’re going to be unhappy.
Laura: I’ve got a six-year-old. And when we were looking at e-learning, as a full-time working mother, I was like, “I don’t have time to do this,” because e-learning at that age is really parent-led. So I can understand why it works better for the older kids. Do you have an age range that you specialize in?
Genny: My kids span from Kindergarten to the ninth grade. But I was a high school teacher as well, back in my day. So whatever the child needs, I can provide. I am really here working with kids who are unsteady and unsure when it comes to their academics, which, unfortunately, lends itself to always lead into their emotions.
Their emotions are impacted by their ability to succeed academically. I am not a psychologist, but I wear that hat so much. We have to be these kids’ cheerleaders, on top of just the tutor. It’s not just, “Okay, let’s read. Okay, let’s write.” But like, “You can do this! You are doing hard things, and I’m so proud of you.” And then we have games, we have incentives, and you know, it’s a fun experience for everybody. That’s what it should be. Cause we’re asking kids, after being on screen for several hours or being in school for several hours, to now come to me for an extra hour of their day.
And then, of course, I ask them to do their homework when I’m not there. If you go to the gym once a week for an hour, we know you’re not making gains. So you have to have the parent, again, lead the way and show the example and say, “Okay, let’s read together. What word list did Genny leave for us? Let’s go ahead and practice.” Even for five minutes.
Laura: So, now you’re at the stage of your career where you’ve learned some things, and you figured out some things. There are so many people out there who have a dream or a passion or something that they’ve always thought about doing, but they haven’t quite gotten over that hump yet, where they’re like, “I’m going to do it!” So what would you say to them? Are there tools that made it easier for you? Do you just have a mindset of like: “Do it no matter what?” What kind of advice would you have for people out there who are starting in any industry?
Genny: Yeah, I would say, if it’s something that does not leave your mind that you think a lot about, then you should consider doing it. Don’t let up! Otherwise, you’re going to be unhappy. What I think will lead to the next step is figuring out – whether you write it down in your notes, on your phone, or you take out a traditional piece of paper and a pencil – write out the end goal, which is: “I want to have blank…” And then talk to somebody. Cause if you’re just kind of stuck in your head, talk to somebody that you value, that you trust, and that is successful. Not somebody who was unsuccessful or somebody who is not the right fit to have a conversation about this. And really say, “What do you think?”
I had so many conversations with other people within, more so, outside of teaching than inside of teaching. I wanted to hear from people who were doing the damn thing and say, “What do you think I should do?” And I took it in like a sponge. But again, people that I respected and I valued. And we’re not talking polling the world here. We’re talking about just a small handful of people that I built a relationship with and that I trusted.
And you know who honestly might really have helped me? My parents were my sounding board. Every week I would go over for dinner and say, “What do you think of this? What should I price this at?” And I feel like in order to succeed when you’re doing this, and you’re going through the process – having someone to whom you can say, “Hey, blah, blah, blah, blah. What do you think about this?” Or, “Mom? What do you think about that?”
If you are truly in it to win it, more ideas will come to you. You’re going to get into a comfort level. You’re going to do it. And you’re going to be happy about that. And then you’re going to say, “Okay, now what?” I want to add gifts to this. I want to add this service. I want to do that. So just talk to people that you believe in and that also believe in you and that want to see you succeed.
Laura: That’s great advice! I love that. So did you talk to other tutors or other people in the world of education, or did you talk to just other entrepreneurs whose information could translate into your field?
Genny: It was a combination. So I have a very good friend. She and I did the Orton-Gillingham tutoring… opens in a new window to Orton-Gillingham Academy website… together. She actually also really was hustling out there and tutoring herself. So she would be my sounding board for that.
So then I went to my friend who owns a hair salon. I was like, “What are you going to do for that?” So it was completely separate, but I could use a lot of her advice for myself, which was very helpful.
Laura: I think it’s great. That’s really what you have to do. You have to get a little bit from this person a little bit from that person. Take what applies to you, throw out the rest, and kind of builds your own thing. So, did you have people helping you or teaching you the social media side of things? Do you even run Facebook ads? How did you learn that? Or is it kind of just learning as you go?
Genny: Definitely learning as I go. I don’t use ads. I don’t even know the first thing about them. I mean, I know about them, but I haven’t implemented them into my business. As far as the social media, I think I was more of like the student for a while and trying to really look at other people and what they were doing on their posts. And I was like, “Okay, let me try that now.”
And it was just like putting myself out there, and there’s really no bad consequence. I mean, at least for me and what I’ve experienced. I’ve never gotten hate. I’ve never gotten bad comments. People were supportive and they were positive. So I’m like, “Okay, this is good reinforcement for me to just continue.”
Laura: I don’t know what kind of demon you have inside of you that’s going to give you any hate. I mean, all you’re doing is helping kids learn. I would hope that people have been supportive.
Genny: There are some haters out there. But thank God no one’s come my way in this instance.
Laura: Well, good. And I hope it stays that way. Cause I can’t imagine someone going onto your page and being like, “You’re just terrible because you help those kids who need help!”
Genny: And I think too, I also sometimes battle inside with the question, “How much of my personal life do I want to bring into my Instagram page?” Because my Instagram page is so heavy on tutoring, and teaching, and helping the kids. But I am also a person who enjoys my cats, and chocolate, and restaurants.
So, there’s a lot of social stuff culturally right now that I choose not to dive into. There is a part of me sometimes that wants to weigh in. And there’s a lot that I can mention. And I feel like sometimes I’m obligated to say something. But I really just try to keep it PC and really just about the kids.
It’s really just about me and about the kids. I remember posting one particular thing back when it was very heated a few months ago. Some people expressed comments that just didn’t make sense. And they were also very aggressive, and I was like, “You know, this isn’t worth it.”
If you are truly in it to win it, more ideas will come to you. You’re going to get into a comfort level. You’re going to do it. And you’re going to be happy about that. So just talk to people that you believe in, and that also believe in you, and that want to see you succeed.
Laura: I understand. We’ve got about just a few minutes left for those of you watching. We are speaking with Genny Schwartzberg from Genny of all Trades… opens in a new window to Genny of all Trades website… and we are live. So if you have anything to ask about her career or how she got to this stage in her career, please go ahead and ask those questions.
I wanted to talk to you about something you just mentioned about your personal life, and you make it about you. And that is actually one of the things that I firmly believe in as a marketing strategy. You are your brand. And the more personal you can make it and the more authentic, then people will want to know you. They don’t want to associate or even buy from a nameless and faceless conglomerate company. They want to get to know the person behind it. And that you have fears, and flaws, and cats, and all those things.
So whether or not you did it intentionally, or you just didn’t know what to post, or you post a picture of yourself – I think, in terms of what I believe is a marketing strategy, you are right on point. You’re doing what you should be. What has been your reaction from your audience when you let them in a little bit, like when you show that side of you that maybe you’re a little bit more vulnerable?
Genny: I one hundred percent agree with you. If you demonstrate and showcase more of who you are behind the scenes and what you’re into and what you like and what you don’t like, people seem to build that relatability. They build that connection more. And that’s the key, right?
You just want to build a positive rapport with your audience. And even if it’s something so basic and simple as like, “Oh, it’s National Ice Cream Day. What’s your favorite flavor?” That has nothing to do with tutoring, but you could spin anything to your practice. Or you could just literally keep it: “I love chocolate,” with whatever sprinkles or whatever mix-ins. Or you can say, “Oh, I remember back in the day we would throw end-of-the-year ice cream parties.”
You could spin anything to anything related to you. Or you could not spin it and just talk about yourself. And if somebody wants to spread the hate or comment or judge – that it’s stupid or whatever – that’s on them. People want to know who you are and you’re a person.
Laura: Absolutely. We are just about out of time. But before we go, I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell people where they can find more about you. If anyone has a child in need of these services, how can we get in touch with you?
Genny: Thank you. So my website is gennyofalltrades.org… opens in a new window to Genny of all Trades website…. Remember, my name starts with a “G,” not a “J.” This was on purpose from my parents. You can find me there. You can find me on Instagram… opens in a new window to GennyofallTrades Instagram page…, again at the same name. Facebook… opens in a new window to Genny of all Trades Facebook page… at the same name. And my LinkedIn… opens in a new window to Genny Schwarzberg
LinkedIn page… and my YouTube… opens in a new window to Genny Schwarzberg YouTube channel… are my first and last name – Genny Schwartzberg.
Laura: Awesome. We’ll have all those links in the description down below. So thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your time. And if anyone out there is not sure what to do or get started, just Do The Damn Thing!
Genny: Just Do The Damn Thing!
So please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Genny at gennyofalltrades.org… opens in a new window to Genny of all Trades website….