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Erin Lydon

Power Poker

Erin Lydon

@0:00 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Hello everyon. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today, I'm here with Erin Lydon. Erin, how are we doing?

@0:08 - Erin Lydon

I'm great.

@0:09 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Happy to be here. I'm excited. Very unique business that we were doing. Poker power. It's really actually engaging women and getting to poker play.

But before we get into all that, I want to know who is Aaron. Give us a little background.

@0:24 - Erin Lydon

Sure. I have an interesting background, mainly because it is not linear. And not anything in my background would make you think I would ever be running a poker company for women.

If I go back in time, I was an English major and a French minor. I went to Bates College.

I actually grew up in Maine, so stayed local for college. And I thought I wanted to be a writer.

That was really the dream that I had. I moved to Maine.

@0:56 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I went to Chicago instead of New York.

@0:58 - Erin Lydon

I should have headed to New York if I wanted to go into to writing and publishing. But two, it was a really, really tough time to find jobs in that area.

I did land an editorial assistant job, which is really the loneliest of the low. I was mostly just correcting manuscripts with a red pen and quickly realized that is not the job I wanted for the rest of my life.

I left that. I actually very serendipitously said yes to a babysitting job, which you have to understand that when you're a young woman and you're 23 and someone asks you to babysit, you usually say no, you feel like you're beyond that.

I said yes because I knew this woman was gonna have a really good pantry with amazing food and that's not what I had in my little time in the apartment in Chicago.

I said yes and it changed my life. And the reason it changed my life is she became my mentor, number one.

She also hired me to run the largest foundation in Chicago. So at a very young age, I was 25 at the time, I was promoted to be the director.

And so I was running a cancer foundation. I was fundraising for Northwestern. Memorial Hospital. And to be honest, I had a rolodex that most CEOs would be jealous of.

And anyone I called up looking for a donation who was a senior leader in Chicago would take my call.

Shortly after that, but a couple years later, Joan said to me, it's time for you to do something else, time to do more.

And she wrote my recommendation to go to business school. I only applied to Kellogg. I said, if this is meant to be, then that's where I'm going to get in.

At the time, it was the number one business school in the world. It's still pretty much is. And I went there thinking I would stay in healthcare management.

What happened is that after year one, I realized that all the people who were going to make a whole lot of money were not going into healthcare.

They were going into banking. And so I did a very quick pivot. I hadn't had a math class since I was about 17 years old.

And I turned into a finance major pretty much overnight. I then interviewed for investment banking and landed eight job offers.

And I say that because if this was 1998, it was a time when... The big banks were really eager to have women join, and I really had my pick of where I wanted to go.

I chose JP Morgan. I then moved on to New York. So I finally didn't make it to New York, but I know there's a writer anymore.

And I absolutely love this job that I had taken. My primary role was as a private banker, who I was working very closely with 100 million plus families, 100 million dollar plus families.

As they were selling their businesses, acquiring new businesses, and certainly doing legacy planning for their families and philanthropy. And that probably would have been where I would be today, and you wouldn't be talking to me.

But what happened is about five, six years into that role, I had a child, and then I had a second child.

And at that time in banking, I would like to say that pregnancy was hidden. And the reason it was hidden is that there were very few women, and there were very few women in my role that were having children.

And I really didn't know how to manage being a mom. I traveled a lot. I traveled every week. And I wasn't very good at it.

I wasn't very good at being a mom. I wasn't at all good at being a wife. And I really wasn't holding up my end at work either.

So I made the very difficult decision to leave banking and stay at home. And when I look back on that decision, it was very pivotal for me because I never imagined myself being a stay-at-home mom.

I had worked so hard to get to the success that I had. But I also didn't feel like I had any of the resources or the support system.

I had no family nearby. And I really felt like I was up against the wall without a choice. So I did stay home.

And that was great for my girls. I have two daughters who are now in college and heading on in life.

And about, I don't know, I guess five, six years into that. One of my very original JP Morgan clients reached out and said, you've got to get back.

You've got to get back. And I took on a few board leadership roles. small companies, so a public company and a private company.

And it was exactly what I needed because I was serving as an advisor. So I was very much, you know, back in the business world, talking the talk.

And that really was my jumping off point to focus on startups. And shortly after that, I went to Evil Geniuses, which is an esports, a legendary esports company.

And from there, I was asked about poker power. And that's where the story gets interesting, because when the founder of poker power told me about this idea to teach young girls, so really teenage girls to play poker, I said, that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard.

@5:39 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And I can say that because I've known her 20 years and she has lots of good ideas.

@5:43 - Erin Lydon

But I didn't think this was one of them because I knew from my days on Wall Street that women don't play poker.

And so the thought of me running a business that taught poker didn't make a lot of sense to me.

But I was really intrigued. I tend to say yes to things that I don't know how to do. And then I figure them out.

And that's exactly what happened here. So you fast forward just a little bit more. And I joined the, at the time it wasn't even a business.

We were really just an idea on the North Shore of Chicago. And I joined three weeks before the lockdown of the pandemic.

And so what I thought I was going to be doing in the type of business I had hoped I would be running changed overnight.

And we very quickly had to pivot and create a virtual curriculum that we could scale and deliver globally. And I have to remember this is when nobody knew how to share screen, nobody knew how to be entertaining in our little constraining Zoom boxes.

But we had a mandate to get this done. It was also at the time in the world that every company was looking for an engaging way to get their employees back, turning on their cameras and interacting with each other.

And so while the pandemic was very challenging, it ended up being a perfect storm for poker power and we all stopped there and we can talk more.

@7:08 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

No, that's phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. In fact, I kind of want to take a step back before we get into poker power because I think you dropped some phenomenal nuggets.

And I like what you mentioned in regards to your philanthropic work in the past in regards to CEOs would love to have your Rolodex, which is true.

I believe true philanthropic, non-profit workers, true, true fundraisers have a phenomenal way of building relationships and trustworthy relationships. How do you build a trustworthy relationship so individuals are willing to come?

Because I think that's also important for our entrepreneur to know, right? How do you build these trusting relationships for them to come back?

@7:52 - Erin Lydon

That's such a good question. I've been a leader for a long time. I started leading a business when I was 25 years old.

So it's a long time ago. The one thing that I can say I've always done is I have built those relationships and I do it because I'm not interested in the transaction.

I'm not interested in the one-time deal that we can get done. I'm very much interested in what can we build as partners.

And as you know, you know, when you're building something, there's always give and take. There's always things you can and cannot do.

I look at it really with a long vision of I am committed to working with you. I want you to get that done.

And the way we're going to get that done is by building loyalty, by helping each other out. And often one of us is going to have to give up a little more than the other to start with.

But over the long time, it's going to all even out and we're going to have a really strong partnership.

And I certainly am still in contact with many of the people who are in that original rolodex that I have.

And they're always intrigued to see, you know, what am I doing next? Because it's usually not what you expect.

But I think it's because I am so focused on my network and being really genuine. within my network that I'm able to pick up the phone or send the text nowadays.

We don't really pick up the phone and reach out to anybody.

@9:08 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Sorry, my dog's barking them. Sorry about that. So in regards to that, you know, one of the things you kind of mentioned to, you know, networking, how so far aspiring entrepreneurs, somebody that's not very aware of building networking.

How do you start to build a network?

@9:33 - Erin Lydon

Oh my goodness, this is such an important question. And it's much more than just handing your business card out or, you know, many of us now have, you know, virtual business cards that we send along to people.

That's really not it. You have to have something that you can offer to someone that is of value to them.

And that's what I have found throughout my entire time business is I have to be very quick, because most people don't have a lot of times.

You have to be very quick with your value proposition or even think about. out of your elevator speech. I remember when I was at JP Morgan, I distilled my elevator speech down to I make rich people richer.

Now, always got someone to laugh, but they also remembered it and they were curious because I wouldn't even say where I work, I wouldn't say what I do.

I just, I make rich people richer. There's always no one on this planet who's going to not say, well, how do you do that?

And while what I was doing might not apply to you or be able to work with you, I'm going to start to have a conversation with you.

And that's what you want. You want to be interesting. You want to make sure that you are exceptionally good at listening.

I have found particularly when you're at, you know, you're at a conference, you're at a networking event, unfortunately, you're going to have to say yes to those things.

You're going to have to get out there and physically be interacting with people. I think post pandemic, that's critical that you physically are there.

And then you have to really ask the questions and then listen to the answers. I have for my entire life, I have kept notes.

So I know a lot of details about what someone will say. say to me and I just jot it down.

And I'm still very much a pen and paper type of person. And that's why I can remember, you know, where you traveled last, you know, where your kids are going to school.

The things that would be interesting to you that aren't necessarily just business-related. You know, I've spent a lot of time overseas and one of the things I always realized is that deals get done because of the relationship.

And the way you build the relationship isn't by getting right to signing up the contract. There's a lot of dancing that has to happen.

You know, you've got a whole hands before you get kissed. And I really think you have to have the investment of time and energy to connect to the people that you want to have in your network.

@11:41 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Oh, man, I love everything. You know, I love your tag phrase. I make rich people a re-chir. I actually say people, I connect people a little more people.

That's my tagline. And it's true. You know, I think having that tagline having the elevator speech, you know, you're only going to get five minutes or, you know, you get two floors, folks.

You get two floors with a seat. the person that you want to work for, right? That you maybe eventually want to be in that role someday.

You have two floors to tell them exactly what you want to do. And that's it. How are you going to in those two floors, engage them and make them inspired enough to have a want to have another conversation with you?

And that's truly what Aaron is talking about in the elevator speech. I absolutely love it. And I think it's super, super important to have those kind of your back pipe, but not only for you as an individual, but for also you as a business owner, right?

Having having your business kind of elevator speech. Now, let's go ahead and move forward to actually poker power. We kind of defined how you started it, but what is it?

@12:38 - Erin Lydon

So we are an ed tech business. We are teaching women and girls how to play poker and we focus on Texas hold them.

And we're teaching the game of poker so we can really teach skills and strategies that will be beneficial in life.

And so it's simply put is, you know, we teach you how to play the game, but we also are teaching you the game of life and the way that we

do this is twofold. We have an entirely turnkey virtual curriculum. We deliver it 24-7 across 40 countries every single day.

And that's largely because of the pandemic. We were able to scale globally in a way we probably would not have contemplated had we not been forced to move the business online.

But what has happened since the pandemic has started to subside is that many of our partners both corporate and higher education.

We work with quite a few universities. They came to us and they said well we have so much fun with you virtually but we really want to play poker together and will you come on site.

And this takes us back to our origin story of that is how we used to teach poker and that's how most people think of the game.

So we have built a very robust curriculum. It's 12 lessons each is one hour. So if I deliver that virtually to you you're going to zoom room all together and then you go into the small breakout rooms and you play poker for 30 minutes on an app.

that we built. And the reason we built the app is we needed a safe space for our community to play and engage and learn.

And we also know that there really are not gender neutral poker apps in the marketplace. And so ours is the first.

And it's a teaching app. There's no real money that transacts in that app. It's truly for learning and playing with the community.

So that's the virtual business. And then the in-person business is much more of a VIP bespoke experience. And we come on site for 90 minutes.

I'm usually the one doing the keynote. So I do a keynote on why poker matters, especially for women in the workplace.

And then we do a poker 101 at the front of the room. And then everyone who's there plays at the table.

And we have one teacher for every 10 participants. So it's highly engaging, very interactive, the room erupts with energy and poker is a very social game.

There is a reason why men have Thursday night poker nights. It's not just about the poker. And women have been excluded from those arenas.

Most women have always been excluded. And they really don't think about wanting to join that table. It doesn't feel comfortable to them.

But as soon as they see that there's this opportunity to one, play a competitive game, this highly strategic, and then two, start to develop those social relationships and those networks across the poker table, it brings women back.

And then you just win a pot of chips, even though they have no real value, doesn't matter. We have video after video, we return them into reels where women are scooping all the chips back.

And it's this look of confidence that comes across their faces because they never imagined themselves playing this game. All of that then starts to translate to the workplace, which is really the North Star poker power.

I don't actually care if you ever go into a casino. I don't care if you ever played real money.

That's not what they're doing. This is about this is all about taking the strategies and the skills of the game and translating them to become better at negotiation, better at problem solving with imperfect information, better at getting comfortable taking risk.

There are a number of skills that you can hone at the poker table that directly correlate to career advancement and you know really success whatever your definition of success is.

@16:26 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know I was thinking that the exact same time you're talking about the poker I'm like man I think about all the different strategies you have to put in place.

All the risk factor you know the really kind of understanding but it's also correlates to actual true business life right which is really really cool concept.

I really do like the educational piece too. Now you mentioned you kind of started before the pandemic and then you guys had a pivot.

What was the original kind of focus before the pandemic and then what did you pivot to.

@16:54 - Erin Lydon

Yeah so prior to the pandemic we were teaching high school goals. So it was really an initiative. in the North Shore of Chicago to help young girls be better prepared, not only in the classroom, but also for that first step onto the ladder.

We know that young boys who are then going to become their male colleagues, you know, when they're 21 or 22, they grow up playing this game.

They learn it at summer camp. They learn it because grandma or uncle has taught them, and they don't even think about it.

They don't even think through the gameplay what skills they are building, because they can't actually remember not knowing how to play poker.

Girls are missing out on that opportunity, and we feel so strongly that the game is a foundational experience to have to help you become better at strategic thinking and critical thinking.

Certainly, at Taking Risk, we know that studies show that women are more risk-averse in many scenarios. Partly that's just because we don't have practice taking risk.

Boys are taking risk on the playground from kindergarten. They're pushing each other around. They're kicking the ball, and the girls are going down the slide and playing on the swings.

And we need to get girls to get the into those competitive spaces at a really young age. So that was the premise of the business.

It was challenging because most people, when they hear the word poker, they think of gambling. They think of heading and bluffing.

They think of dark, smoky basements. They think of alcohol. So all things that you probably don't want your young daughter or really your young son being around.

We, for three and a half years, we have been shifting the perspective on the word poker. And it's very deliberate.

We want poker to represent what it truly represents, which is skill building and very applicable strategies for real life.

But starting with an underage population, having to get the buy-in from the schools, the parents, that was tough. It's still tough today.

When we made the pivot because of the pandemic to focus on working women, slam dunk, they understand very quickly what the value proposition is and what's so great is that these women are learning with us.

now they're ringing at home because as I said you don't play alone. I gotta play poker with someone. They are teaching their children so we are still actually accomplishing what we had hoped to accomplish in the beginning is getting these young women before they go to college to play the game.

We just had to get the moms first. So now we have the moms, now we're getting the daughters and in fact we are now actually partnered with a non-profit in Kenya.

We chose Kenya because the the word poker doesn't really have a meaning over there. Lots of people are not familiar with it which meant it didn't have the negative stereotypes connected to it.

So we formed a partnership with a non-profit called Global Give Back Circle and we are in the process of teaching 5,000 high school and university age girls how to play the game with our 12-week curriculum.

@19:46 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

It's really extraordinary. There is a photo and I'll send it to you after the podcast.

@19:50 - Erin Lydon

There's a photo of one of our first cohorts sitting at a table. They built their own poker table, put our logo on it and all the young women are in their village outfits and be high.

I know is a ring of village elders all men and it's just the power dynamic of this picture is extraordinary because you have these very young girls who have now learned such a strategic game that's going to help them and you have all the elders behind them in awe that they know how to do something that none of those men know how to do.

@20:17 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yeah that's that is incredible you know I love your story because you went from like philanthropic work then went to the finance you know investment banking sector is and then you're now you're in this you know entrepreneur I mean you business a business advisors right at first right but this is kind of like true scaling a small business is your first time kind of in this kind of arena yeah it is my first time being in charge of a small business yeah I've done a lot of advising and I love that work but at the end of the day you know you turn it off and you go on and do other things when you are running a small company you are running a small company 24 seven and it has been extremely

@21:00 - Erin Lydon

exceptionally challenging to build a business through the pandemic. I've hired 25 people that first year and I never shook a hand.

Everyone was met over a Zoom screen. Think about how you develop a feel for someone, can I trust them?

Are they the right culture fit? All you see is their little Zoom square that you're talking to. We also had to figure out a lot of the challenges of running an entirely online business.

We needed a lot of software platforms. I think the most challenging thing we've done is build this poker app.

I always like to talk about things that are failures because I think it's so important for entrepreneurs to know that it isn't one right decision leads to the next right decision.

It really doesn't work that way. You make a lot of mistakes and you just hope through those mistakes that you're learning and growing and you still have a little money left over to spend on what will hopefully be the right decision.

But with our poker app, we partnered with a software development firm and they for the wrong ones. They could not deliver the MVP as promised.

We stuck with them longer than we should, largely because the team, my poker power team, we did not have expertise in building a poker app.

So we were very reliant on our vendor. We eventually pulled out of that relationship and found a new third party.

We've been with them now over two years. We love working with pineapple. They've been amazing. And they are the ones that brought our MVP to the market.

And we are continuing to work with them every day to add more offerings, features, functions into our app. We really see the app as the long-term strategy for this business because we have a goal of a million women.

And as much as I would love to personally sit down with a million women and teach them to play poker, it's not logistically feasible.

So what we need to use technology is our solution to reach that mission that we have. So every day we play in our app, we run tournaments for our women to practice the game where we are actually going through a major.

rebrand right now and it's part of that we're redesigning the look and the functions of the app. So that will be launching shortly.

@23:07 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Perfect and then you use the acronym MVP for the listeners at home that may be unfamiliar with that. What is that acronym?

@23:14 - Erin Lydon

Yeah, so a minimum viable product. And so that's really the first thing that you put out with an app is something that your super users, your testing population can start to play with and what you're really hoping they do is they keep breaking it because particularly when you're small business and you're building an app, you have a limited number of people who are available to go in and test the product.

Our product, the only way to test it is you actually have to play poker on it and your listeners may not realize that poker is not like chess.

It often is used in the same sentence but chess is perfectly solved. There is a proper place to put each of your pieces.

Poker doesn't work like that. Poker is there's infinite numbers of edge cases that can happen because one people bluff.

You can't you can't predict for the erratic nature of a human who may decide to bluff a hand. You also have, you know, eight, nine, 10 people at the table, all making different decisions as those cards come out.

So the card piece, as they get dealt, that's the luck piece of poker, everything else is a skill piece.

And again, that that has not been perfectly solved. And so, as we are testing our app, we are finding things that are broken or we're finding these really small scenarios that if these three things happen in a row, then the app is frozen or then the app doesn't produce the result that it should produce.

And the only way to do that is to test repetitively. So it's very time consuming. Fortunately, we have 500 super users.

We just adore these women. They are in our private Facebook group. And they are the ones that have been so loyal and so willing to give their time to us and their feedback.

Because they now all know how to play poker since we taught them. And they are the ones that are really on the ground making our app better.

We had to incentivize them a little bit with some Amazon gift cards, but then you got from the beginning because a little frustrating to play on a broken poker app.

We are now in fantastic shape and you know we play three or four games a day.

@25:13 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I love it. You know you mentioned a lot of things that have kind of been difficult about this process right?

The tringing of the vendor for the app and other things.

@25:22 - Erin Lydon

What would you say has been easy? Has there been anything easy about this process? You know selling poker is hard.

Partly because of those negative stereotypes that I mentioned. But also women don't understand why they should spend their free time or even their work allotted time.

You know often times we go in as professional development at our corporate partners. They don't really get it until they get it and the way that they really get it is playing.

And so what then when it's been really hard is pitching poker power getting the contract signed getting into the business.

But once we're there and the women experience it whether it's virtually or in real life it is that. moment of winning your first pot of chips.

It is that moment that the first time you bluff and it works. That's the easy part of poker because if I can get you to have those experiences on day one, I know you're going to come back for day two and three and four and you're going to continue to play this game.

And the retention of our customers is so foreign because you can't really get good at poker, which means you can't really translate the skills of poker to your real life until you have to make that day one experience phenomenal.

That piece is easy. I have 20 incredible women who are the teachers. They are the front line of poker power.

They have the most interaction with our community. They are the ones that tell us what we need and what the community likes and doesn't like when they're playing.

And they have a really good feedback loop for making those changes. But I think I think started the way I often describe it is you know you run into a wall every single day.

You bounce off and Once in a while you break through and those breakthroughs are honestly what keep me going.

I like challenging things. The startup world is not for everybody. You have to have tremendous stamina. I also be really optimistic because there are so many things that can go wrong.

I just think about when we went back to doing in person, well now we're at the mercy of I have a travel team, so these five women who fly around the country for us, toward the mercy of the airlines, toward the mercy of bad weather, toward the mercy of the lost Uber, we actually had to figure out how do we transport 5,000 ceramic poker chips because we have custom-made poker chips.

How do we transport those physically? They're very, very heavy. You don't imagine this, but we had to calculate what's going to be the owner's charge, the extra baggage charge, as we're shipping these chips.

So there's all these logistical decisions that happen which then affect what price you're going to charge your customers because you want to make sure you have a good

the margin and you can't just go at it like, oh, we'll figure it out. There's no will figured out.

You actually have to really do the analysis and use all the data you have. I'm a big, big fan of people capturing data.

So we have a lot of Excel spreadsheets that had poker power that we refer back to.

@28:17 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know, one of the first things you said when you were kind of on your conversation was selling poker is hard.

How do you do? How do you market poker power and how do you get out and market it and brand it in front of your consumers?

@28:31 - Erin Lydon

And then who is the ideal consumer? Yeah, our ideal consumer is really any anyone who identifies is a woman plus.

So we're very welcoming to non-binary, transgender anyone who identifies as a woman. And what we're trying to do is tap into that part of you that wants to accelerate a career, have more success in the classroom, or do something that is personally going to be really good for you.

You know, we think of ourselves as the Peloton of poker and what I. And me by that is if you get on the pail pound bike every day, you're going to do OK.

You're going to be in good shape. You're going to feel better. It usually has transformative aspects when you start to exercise every day.

Learning poker is the same thing. If I can get you to play poker every day, and for 15 minutes a day, you're making strategic decisions.

You're having to decide, do I raise? Do I fold? Do I bluff here? And you do that day after day after day.

It is going to shift how your mind approaches problems in the real world. When we meet, one of the things we learned early on is we would get referrals to CEOs, which is great.

I'm so grateful for the referrals that have come in. But those were my wrong decision makers. The person I really needed to be speaking to was the person who was the head of the employee resource groups or the head of DE&I.

Because those people during the pandemic, they had budget to spend. They had a mandate to get the employees online doing something with a camera's on.

We talked up, this is really innovative. At the time, we know we made ourselves very cost effective, and we delivered day after day after day to build those partnerships.

When I talk about poker, I never start with poker. I always start with, tell me the problems that you're facing.

And it is a one-on-one conversation. Tell me what you'd like to be better at. Because I'm almost certain one of those things you're going to tell me you want to be better at.

And explain why playing poker is going to help you negotiate better. It's going to give you more confidence. It's going to give you the courage that you need to go ask for a promotion or a raise.

And so we back into it. And then I always ask, what do you think of poker? Because I need to know what your framework is.

I can't just jump in to go assuming you have no knowledge or interest in this game, because you may.

And if you do, then I'm going to have a different conversation with you.

@30:55 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

You know, I love this because you're always talking about encouragement and this building. up individuals. Have you ever had a moment while you're building poker power of self-doubt, of like, man, did I do the, am I doing the right thing?

@31:09 - Erin Lydon

Yeah. You know, I think a lot of my doubt comes from trade-offs. You know, we have a limited budget.

So we can, you know, pie in the sky, we cannot do. And it matters a lot to me that our staff and our teachers are well employed.

You know, I am running a women's empowerment business at the end of the day. I am trying to change the world through poker, but it's for women, and it's to give women the courage and the confidence and the confidence that they need.

And so I'm always making decisions with budget for trade-offs because, you know, on the other side of, you know, the team is, we need to do marketing.

The only way we're going to scale to a million is people have to see us. They have to see us on Instagram.

They have to see us on TikTok. We have to be at conferences. We have to be in the places that people will see us and connect.

to us and be curious about what is this poker power thing. And so I think myself doubt always really just comes in the rear view of, you know, was that the best way to spend the money, was that the best way to allocate people's kind and projects that they were working on.

You can go down a rabbit hole really quickly when you're an entrepreneur because you may personally believe in something very strongly.

And in fact, it's not the right thing for the business. And I think it's hard to pull yourself out of that and say really, you know, what is that North Star?

I talk about the North Star every single week at poker power. And is this decision helping us get the count closer to a million?

If it's not, then we probably shouldn't be doing this or at least not doing it today.

@32:43 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I love it. And how do you plan to get to a million?

@32:46 - Erin Lydon

That's through our app. So it's definitely technology based. So we are going to be launching campaigns on TikTok, as I said, working with influencers.

We really haven't done any paid marketing previously. And that was strategic. when we didn't really have the funds. But two, we really had to build the business, build the foundation of the business first, build the products.

We feel we're in good shape there now with the app. Because the app is available on Google Play Store, in the Apple Store, anyone anywhere in the world can install our app.

And we very consciously put in learning modules into that app that you don't have to be in class. You can do them all by yourself 10 o'clock to learn how to play poker on our app.

And then you can play, we have bots. We have a practice module in the app where you can play game after game with anywhere from one to nine different bots.

That's a really good practice for you. And nobody's watching. Women tend, but we've seen as they tend to get embarrassed of it in the beginning, which makes sense.

We want to do a good job. We care a lot about doing a good job. And it can be intimidating to play poker when you really, you don't know the jargon, you don't know the rules.

And you don't want to make a mishand. want to call your hand poorly with other people watching. So we find that practicing with the bots is really great.

Again, that enables us to scale to that million because people are installing the app. They're having these really positive experiences on it.

And then the third step is you come to class. And so within the app, you can sign up for our virtual classes.

We offer those every single month to anyone who identifies as a woman plus. And so you can start to learn that way and really have your questions answered.

We have live teachers that are teaching those classes. And then you're ready to play in the daily games. So through marketing channels, through really continuing to increase the offerings within our app, that will be how we scale to a million.

And a little earned media doesn't hurt, for sure. And stories and being on podcast, those are always really good things too.

@34:50 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Yep, in fact, that's a great time to plug the newsletter, folks. Poater Power, where I have this information on the newsletter, please visit

You can subscribe to the newsletter. Now, This is a two-fold question for you. What advice would you have, so two different kind of catalogs.

One, what advice would you have for an aspiring entrepreneur, so kind of in your new role, then two, what advice would you have for women in the empowerment section?

@35:18 - Erin Lydon

So I think for a new entrepreneur, we've talked about network, we've talked about making sure you have that strong rule of debt.

That's number one. Because the way opportunities, whether it's opportunities to sell a product, opportunities to pitch a service, you have to have someone to pitch it to, and hopefully it's a software for a war war introduction.

Separate from that is, I always say, know your shit, but do not call me up, do not send me an email unless you have got your pitch buttoned up, and you are going to do a really good job selling me whatever it is that you're ready to sell.

I feel strong about that because you can go practice that with your friends and family. That's where you practice it.

Don't practice it on your own. me. So make sure you have really devoted the time and energy to practicing the pitch.

And then thirdly, deliver what you promised. The worst thing that can happen for a young business is that you over promise and under deliver because people don't forget and they tend not to give you second chances.

And so I would be sure that if you promise that I'm going to have such and such a product by such and such a date, make sure it's there.

So you spend the first part of being an entrepreneur, you're highly exhausted, you're sleep deprived, you're pretty stressed. But at the end of the day, you've got this vision, you've got this mission you're trying to accomplish with whatever industry you're in.

And it's yours. And I think having it be yours and having that pride in it being yours is such a great motivator when you run into those walls.

Shifting to women, I have been a thought leader on equal pay and workplace equity for a really long time.

You know, I have a TEDx talk that I did and it's still a little bit able for me to watch it because it brings back me back 20 years ago.

When I didn't know that when I received my bonus that I should have negotiated it, I just didn't know.

And the way that I learned that I should have done that is that I asked a male colleague and he received significantly more than I did and we were very similar in our books of business and what we had accomplished.

And when I asked him how he got such a high number, such high comp, he said he asked. And when I really thought about that, when it just felt like a kick in the stomach, because no one told me I was supposed to ask for more.

But when I reflect back on that, since that day, I have always asked for more. Because the worst thing that's going to happen for a woman asking for more and more more money, more time off, more flexibility, more promotion, whatever that more thing is that you deserve, the worst thing that happens is no.

And no is not never. No is just in this moment, it's a no. And I actually think those are really good for particularly young women to have.

Here are a lot more nos than yeses because it toughens you up and it gets you ready for those really hard conversations.

So I always encourage women to ask for more than they think they're going to get because your male colleagues are doing that every day.

@38:19 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

I completely agree and I think this is also true for our underrepresented community members, you know, our BIPOC community.

Truly asked for more than like you said, no is actually a good thing because at least you got it out there that you're interested in continuing to move up.

And now now it's in their ear. And as you mentioned, the worst thing they can say is no, but it's also good practice.

Like you mentioned, even going out and interviewing, having those interview skills and going out into your point. Don't call me and practice your bitch on me and let's just button up as well.

But I'm happy to give you some pointers and tips of like what can kind of help you with, right?

But again, networking, I think, is to your point, Aaron is so key too because it really truly. does allow you, you know, the whole your network is your net worth kind of thing.

And over promise under, you know, under, under promise over deliver. And that is everything you do if you're in sales, if you're in your health care, it doesn't matter what role under promise over deliver, because that's what's going to get a loyal consumer.

When you're starting thinking about the marketing funnel, right, you're trying to get people down to just knowing about your product, to purchasing your product, becoming a loyal advocate of your product, you need to be able to deliver very, very much.

So I really do appreciate that because I think that's very, very true. Now for the folks at home that are interested in learning more about poker power, where can they find you online, where can they find social mean, maybe they're interested more about airing.

@39:43 - Erin Lydon

Sure. So I'm on LinkedIn. That's the best way to connect with me really easy. For poker power, if you go to, that takes you to our homepage.

And from there, you can read all about the business. And you certainly can sign up for our virtual classes that we deliver over Zoom.

And we have ever Everything from beginners all the way to advanced lessons, so depending on what knowledge you're bringing to the table.

And then thirdly, I would say install the app. That's really the best way to get started is go to the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.

And our app is called Poker Power Play. It's very purple. They can't miss it. And you install that. And right from there, you can start with those learning modules.

There are 14 of them. They take about five minutes to complete. Each of them has a really fun quiz at the end.

So not too much high pressure, but definitely testing your knowledge. And then you could start playing against the bots.

@40:35 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

And I'm really excited about this thing. I'm going to tell my wife about it, because we actually like to, you know, she's actually much better than me.

She'll tell you about it in negotiation and Blackjack. Josh, you will not let me down for that one. But I really love this information.

In fact, this information will be on the newsletter again. So please check out the shades of Aaron, phenomenal conversation.

Really excited about what you're doing with Poker Power. I really see it kind of growing. I truly believe in what you're trying to do and trying to make it from an education perspective.

I also like the way you're trying to change the view and the perspective of poker. Like you mentioned, we're trying to get away from that Dungy Smoky kind of perception.

And I think that's exactly what the kind of community needs is this is truly a fun game and it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to involve money all the time, right?

It truly can't involve just poker chips on a Thursday night around a table. In fact, it takes me back to my mom when she used to play Bunko back in the day, that old Bunko.

So, you know, but- You found a Midwest, that's a Midwest game. I think they brought it up in the Midwest, man.

But yes, so phenomenal, phenomenal conversation.

@41:42 - Erin Lydon

Is there anything else you'd like to let the folks know before we let you go? Yeah, you know, I always tell listeners if they're feeling a little trepidation about poker, largely because you have stereotypes that might keep you from taking your seat.

It's so important for you to set those aside. No, I always say make a bet, take a seat. And plus, if you have to, but you deserve a seat at this table.

And the table is whatever you want. You deserve a seat there. And I truly believe that learning to play poker is one of the fastest ways to turbocharge success and acceleration for your career.

So I was very trepidation of play. I didn't think I was going to like this game. And it turns out I play every day now.

So I strongly encourage you to take a risk on poker power.

@42:28 - Gabriel Flores (The Shades of Entrepreneurship)

Thank you so much. Aaron, Leiden, poker power, making rich people richer. The best tagline I've heard. Oh my goodness.

I love it so much. Thank you again so much for coming on the show. For those listening, please follow me at the Shades of E on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

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