Founder and CEO of Ellen Yin Media Ellen Yin also hosts the podcast titled From The Cubicle to CEO, as well as the Cubicle to CEO online membership program. Through the program, service-based entrepreneurs can use “a step by step client attraction system to make their first $10K month—WITHOUT a large audience or complicated marketing strategies.”
With Cubicle to CEO, Ellen Yin offers a simple and hassle-free way for service-based business to add more consistent clients. She also runs a “boutique social media marketing agency with a proven record for generating visibility & leads on repeat to grow your business.”
Through Cubicle to CEO, Ellen Yin has helped several clients. These clients include “multi-million-dollar brands, Fortune 500 executives, best-selling authors, TV personalities, e-commerce startups,” among many others. Likewise, her success has landed her media features on MTV, as well as significant publications like Glamour magazine, The Penny Hoarder, Women’s Health, and Her Campus.
Aside from Cubicle to CEO, Ellen Yin also works “with businesses to accelerate their growth through lead generation and increased online brand awareness,” through Ellen Yin Media LLC. Clients can avail of her services, including “social media strategy, Facebook ads, email marketing, influencer marketing, community management.”
I really believe that YOU have to make yourself available for opportunities to present themselves by putting yourself in the right place at the right time — “jump and the net will appear”, as they say. Ellen Yin, Cubicle to CEO
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Ellen Yin: Although my entire professional career has been in marketing, I actually graduated college with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. My first job post-grad was a self-created marketing & PR role at a fitness company I had connected with through Instagram. They weren’t hiring when we first met, but I pitched myself for an unpaid internship my junior year of college and that turned into a full-time paid offer upon graduation.
That first job launched me into the world of marketing, and I eventually ended up on the marketing team of a large healthcare company. That was my first and last corporate job — I only lasted 10 months in a cubicle before I quit my job without a backup plan at the end of 2017. I am a self-professed “accidental entrepreneur” who always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but never had the intention of starting my own business until I landed my first freelance client about a month after I had quit my job. I decided right then to stop applying for new jobs and to go acquire new clients instead.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Ellen Yin: I really believe that YOU have to make yourself available for opportunities to present themselves by putting yourself in the right place at the right time — “jump and the net will appear”, as they say. When I quit my corporate job and found myself with lots of white space in my schedule, ironically it was a co-worker at the company I had just left who reached out after hearing through the grapevine that I was experienced in Instagram marketing. He and his wife owned two local coffee stands and needed help rebranding and growing their Instagram account, so I took them on as my first client for $300/month. My “Aha moment” was realizing that I could monetize my existing skills and knowledge and turn them into a service that I could sell. I knew if I could land this one client, then I could repeat the process and land another, bigger account. That’s exactly what I did and within my first 12 months in business, we had scaled to a 6 figure social media marketing agency. We’ve continued to double in revenue every year since.
The client acquisition system I created and now teach from what I learned during that period of rebuilding actually led me to pivot my business to primarily digital products + media now.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Ellen Yin: About a year into starting my business, my largest retainer client ended our contract when they replaced my role with an internal employee position. They gave me the option to take that employee role, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to working for someone else, so I had to walk away. Overnight, my revenue dwindled to almost nothing, so I had to start the new year from ground zero. Turns out it was the best thing that could have happened because by losing everything, I never put myself in a position for all my revenue to depend on one client again. The client acquisition system I created and now teach from what I learned during that period of rebuilding actually led me to pivot my business to primarily digital products + media now.
Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Ellen Yin: It’s been three years since I made my leap into entrepreneurship, and I’ve had the opportunity to help over 6,000 entrepreneurs grow their businesses through our results-driven online courses + agency services. Our big focus is helping our members reach the milestone of making their first $10K month; it’s been so exciting to witness that achievement for many of our members over the last two years.
I also host an award-winning podcast, Cubicle to CEO, which features the voices and stories of other successful female founders. Our show has been downloaded in over 100 countries worldwide, which still blows my mind.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Ellen Yin: I remember one time accidentally posting an Instagram story for my personal account to a client’s account because I forgot which account I was logged into. Luckily I caught it right away and was able to delete and repost to my own account, but it definitely taught me the importance of SYSTEMS. Making sure you have a standard operating procedure and written processes for tasks to ensure that there is a quality check!
Investing time, money, and energy into my continual education and self-growth has been pivotal to my success as a leader. Ellen Yin
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Not every investment will give you the result you intended, but sometimes that can be a blessing in disguise.
I invested in a brand partnerships agency that fell short on delivery, but it was worth every penny because I met an amazing consultant turned friend through their network that is now my publicist! That relationship would have never materialized had I not worked with the agency.
- Delegate authority, not just tasks.
As a leader, it’s your job to communicate clear success metrics for each role on your team and empower your team members to achieve those goals you set for them by giving them the right information, support, AND authority to actually make decisions. It’s not enough to just delegate tasks to someone if they don’t have the authority to fully own the process and make any decisions. If you make all the decisions in your business, you become the bottleneck.
- Establish an open door policy from day one.
One of the biggest factors that has played into the strength of our team culture is making sure my team members feel heard from day one. We create a habit from the beginning of openly giving and receiving feedback. For example, after their first week on the job, new hires are expected to share with me one thing I could do better as a leader to support them in their role. By breaking down barriers and showing it’s normal and healthy to have these discussions, it removes the fear of speaking up or letting things bottle up.
- Never stop learning
Investing time, money, and energy into my continual education and self-growth has been pivotal to my success as a leader. I make it a priority to always leave room in the budget for investing in mentors, programs, events, books etc. I’ve done this since month one of my business, spending $50 of my first $300 project to join a membership to improve my skill set. This year, I just invested $15,000 in a year-long high level mastermind. Do what you can with what you have for the stage of business you’re in, but never stop learning.
- Your business cannot depend on you alone
The biggest shift I’m making in my journey from six figure to seven figure business owner is to understand systems and how I need to remove myself from as many of the day to day tasks in my business as possible in order to thrive in my role as visionary/leader. Instead of asking myself the question “how do I do this?”, I now ask myself “who on my team can own this process, and what tools do they need to create a duplicable system for success?”
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Ellen Yin: Follow me and Cubicle to CEO here:
The Cubicle to CEO Podcast
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!