Episode #101: Life Update From Leah


Leah’s been devoted to so many things it’s wonderful to have her back on this week’s podcast and to hear what she’s been up to and her plans for the Summer.

As we all know, you can work yourself so hard you just burn out. Leah explains how to recognize signs of this happening and how to go about taking a break and staying healthy. Check in with Leah this week to hear more and also her plans for this summer!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Leah’s quick overview of the last years
  • The origin of Mythologie Candles
  • Preventing a burn out
  • Acute vs. chronic pain
  • It’s okay to take a break
  • Leah’s book suggestions


“This idea popped in my head about releasing candles to go with the music, because I wanted to create a multisensory experience and I just thought, wouldn’t that be cool?” – @LEAHthemusic [0:06:01]

“When you become obsessed with your fans and your followers and your customers, that’s where it becomes lucrative.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:13:23]

“And let me tell you, burnout, it doesn’t always look the way you think it looks and this is something I’m dealing with constantly.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:14:26]

“Chronic stress leads to lowering your quality of life and you can’t be in an inspired state when you’re also in a chronic state of stress and burnout.” – @LEAHthemusic [0:23:44]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

The Online Musician 3.0 — https://explodeyourfanbase.com

Book a Call With Us — http://www.CallSMA.com

The Inner Circle — https:savvymusicianacademy.com/innercircle

Leah’s Business Instagram Account — https://www.instagram.com/realleahmchenry/

Click For Full Transcript

00:21 CJ: Welcome to the Savvy Musician Show. This is CJ Ortiz. I’m the branding and mindset coach here at the Savvy Musician Academy. So delighted once again to host this podcast. If you are getting something out of this weekly podcast, let me encourage you to do something for me today. Please go to your respective podcast player, whether iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify and leave us stars and leave us a great review because it helps other people to discover this empowering show. Also, we read your comments. We read your good reports. We want to hear from you. So do me a favor and do that today.

This is a special episode today because I asked Leah to sit down and record a special message for you guys. As you know, so many things have changed in 2020 and maybe a great deal has changed in your own life in 2020. The same goes for Leah, her family, and what’s happening at the Savvy Musician Academy.

So just to give everybody an update so you know where Leah is at, what her plans are, I asked her again to sit down and she left a heartfelt, informative message that I believe is not just going to give you an update about where things are. It’s instructive as she practices what she preaches as she walks her own talk. The Savvy Musician Academy is about principles, not personalities, right? It’s not about CJ or Leah or a particular student. It’s about empowering you with the proven principles of direct marketing applied online to help you create your successful online music business.

But we also know you want to hear from Leah. We also know her example has been so inspiring to you. So again, I just said, Leah, would you mind sitting down and sharing your heart with our listeners, which she gladly did. I’m so excited to share this with you today. So without further ado, here’s Leah.

02:14 Leah: Hey, savvy musicians. It’s Leah here and I’m just happy to be here giving you a life update and just let you know what I’ve been up to, where my head is at, and things that are happening. So, I hope you are doing well, first of all. The world has been such a crazy, crazy place, and we’ve all had to try and adapt. And one thing that I’m thankful for is that so many of us now know how to be an online musician. We know how to market ourselves. We know how to create anything we want and market it to a very specific group of people who appreciate it and want to support us in an ongoing and sustainable way. And it’s been a pride and joy of mine to be able to help cultivate that, help disciple people up in that school of thought.

And I always like to say there’s many people out there that are doing a great job also and I feel like we’re all in this together helping people do this. And I think it’s interesting too because I never meant to get into this line of work, so to say. I never expected to a Savvy Musician Academy. That was me being creative, thinking outside of the box during a time where I was creating multiple sources of income for myself as an online musician, and sharing my knowledge and experience was one of the ways, out of five different ways, that we teach. And so that was me just walking the talk. It was just me sharing what I had learned and the successes I had had that helped change my family’s life and put it into a consumable piece of information.

And it started out as an ebook and then it grew into the Academy very quickly. And before we knew it, we had thousands of students and it was really quite an overwhelming thing to happen and it’s been amazing and I wouldn’t change anything about it. It just taught me so much about humans, behavior, psychology, sales, marketing, running a business, personal development, time management. It’s taught me so much and that’s been an amazing thing to be able to learn so much in a very short amount of time and having a success like that throws you into it, whether you’re ready for it or not. Leadership, I would say also and then there’s just been so many different even administrative type of things that I learned as well. Just project management and hiring, firing. All the different processes that take place in a business on a whole new level that weren’t happening in my music business. Let’s just say that.

And still to this day, my music business is mostly just me. It’s mostly just me and I have a very small team. I do a lot of outsourcing as you know, and I plan to always keep it small. I don’t plan on turning my music business into some corporation or anything. It’s always going to be a personal brand, as it should be. I’m an artist. As an artist, you don’t need a corporation, you don’t need an office, a head office in some building or something. Your home, wherever you dwell, wherever you create, that’s your office.

And so, anyway, I’m just reflecting on a lot that has happened in the last five years now. It’s just been wild. So, I am in an interesting season of life at the moment. And it’s interesting because it all started with this thing, my crowdfunding campaign last year in 2019 when I was coming up with some creative ways to sell some bundles and merchandise. And this idea popped in my head about releasing candles to go with the music, because I wanted to create a multisensory experience and I just thought, wouldn’t that be cool? I’ve never seen that done before. I don’t even know where I got the idea. I think I saw, I don’t know, a picture a candle or something.

I was like, “Oh dude.” I don’t know how to make a candle before. I’ve never made one, but it can’t be rocket science because they’ve been doing it for thousands of years. So I’m pretty sure I could figure that out. It’s super artsy fartsy. I’m totally down to try this. And that’s when my love for just being crafty or making candles, it just grew into something more than that.

I was like, “Man, I really enjoyed this process.” Coming up with specific scents to match the theme or mood of music and making it go together. This is really not only just therapeutic, but it’s creative in a whole new way that I’ve never experienced before. So anyway, that was a lot of fun putting that whole thing together. And the more I thought about it, the more I was like, “I know exactly what to do with this. And if I ever want to make a sister brand to go with me, separate from my music, but related obviously very similar influences and what I’m making, it’s all to do with the culture of my music. Same thing. If I ever want to do something with that, dang it, I know exactly what to do.

I’ve been studying all this eCommerce. I know how to build a team. I know online marketing. I know advertising. I understand the customer journey. I understand all the different things. Plus I would get to be creative in a different way. I think I got to just go for it and do that. So, I started making all these candles over the Christmas season and everything and it was like a switch that turned on in me. And you’ve heard about this probably if you listen to the other updated podcast episodes in the past, when I gave an update on how we were doing with my new brand called Mythologie Candles, and I made a decision, and it’s very similar to the decision I made when I decided to become an online musician when I decided I’m going to make six figures in my music business and nothing will stop me, no one and nothing will stop me.

I don’t care what I have to learn. I will learn it. I don’t care if it’s a steep learning curve. I don’t care if it’s painful, I will do whatever it takes because I’m going to save my family and I’m going to help us out of this financial situation and all I have is my music and the internet and that’s all I got and I don’t care what I have to do. I will do it. Well, that kind of determination sets things on fire in a good way. And something got set on fire about Mythologie Candles for me, something about it. A switch flipped on in me and I was like, “I have to do this.”

It’s really crazy time because we were just about ready to move. We weren’t even sure exactly when we were going to move because we were moving back to Canada and we weren’t exactly sure about the timing of that and I had just launched this new company and was taking preorders and thousands of orders were rolling in. I was like, “Oh my gosh.”

So, it was a really crazy beginning of the year between January and April. It was nuts for my family because not only were we trying to fulfill hundreds and hundreds of orders out of our kitchen and get them shipped and learning new processes, new software, new apps for processing physical goods that we were producing ourselves and making all these candles and pots out of our kitchen.

09:36 Leah: But then we found out we did need to move and it was just a timing thing and so we were also trying to move at the same time. No joke, it looked like a warehouse in my kitchen and my whole living room. There was boxes everywhere.

There was candles everywhere. It was insanity. And I don’t know. I was trying to go on a diet at the time too and that failed because I think my body just rejected the diet and assumed that a tiger was chasing me. So, it decided to gain weight instead of lose weight, even though I was in a deficit. So. The body does crazy things, it really does, when you’re under a lot of pressure. And I’m going to circle back to that whole concept of pressure and expectations of yourself because there’s a lot that I’m learning about myself.

And I think sometimes I’m not understanding or learning the lesson, but we’ll circle back there. So anyway, we ended up driving all the way up from Arizona. We’re back up in Canada, in Southern BC and the candle business is starting. We opened up the second preorder and it’s starting to boom. And that’s when the whole pandemic thing hit and everything shut down. It was right in the middle of that is when we really launched Mythologie Candles, that’s what I consider.

The whole … Up until now it was all just basically a test. And I want to say right up until this moment, it’s a test. Now we have only been taking orders for these candles for a total of 10 weeks now. We’re in about 10 weeks where we’ve been open for biz, taking orders. The rest of the time, it was shut down in between. We were sold out. We were not taking orders. You couldn’t give us money if you wanted. And in that nine, 10 week period now, we have crossed the six figure mark.

So we’re heading into our second set of six figures. So, that’s … Wow. We had a big celebration and it’s really strange to me because on the one hand it’s just a number and when you’re in the numbers every day and you’re doing what you know to do, it’s really no surprise at all. And I struggled with this in my crowdfunding campaigns because when you know marketing and when you know what you’re doing and you understand that these things are predictable when you have systems and processes to follow and you understand how to communicate and messaging and pricing psychology and you know all these things, it’s really not a surprise. And on the other hand, I’m going, what just happened? Somebody pinch me. What just happened? How did we already generate over $100,000 selling handmade candles originally coming out of my kitchen? How did that just happen?

So, I fluctuate between being completely amazed and also like, “Well, yes, of course.” Because that’s the nature of knowing what you’re doing, but also trying to enjoy the journey and go, “Wow. Wow. This is, this is insane.” So yeah, on that note, I have decided that I really want to take this thing to seven figures. I’ve talked about it in the past and I didn’t mean to be boastful or anything like that. It’s just, I’ve made this decision too, similarly the way I made it with my music business, I was like, “I’m going to do this no matter what and I don’t care what I have to learn. I’m going to do it.”

I’ve made the same decision with Mythologie. I said, I’m going to, I really want to take this thing to seven figures and beyond because it’s just in me to do it. I see the potential. Not just the potential of the candles, but the customers. I’m obsessed with our customers. And that is a beautiful thing. When you become obsessed with your fans and your followers and your customers, that’s where it becomes lucrative. And I’m not doing it because it’s lucrative. I’m just obsessed with them because they are so great. They are so positive. They are so receptive. They’re absolutely loving the candles we’re doing because we’re putting our heart and soul into it. There’s a lot of love going into it. I’m thinking through the details of their unboxing experience and just all this stuff, and it’s a blast and they’re appreciating it.

So because of that, I’m decided that I’m really going to go all in on that. And I’m really going to focus on that throughout the summer and that means that I can’t be focused on other things all at the same time. And here’s where I’m going to circle back now to things I had mentioned about working in seasons, because some of you have heard me speak about working in seasons. And when people ask me, “Leah, how do you do it all?” I say, “I don’t.” I don’t do it all. If I try, I burn out.

And let me tell you, burnout, it doesn’t always look the way you think it looks and this is something I’m dealing with constantly. It’s why my body rebels when I try to get it to cooperate and do things, it rebels because I’ve actually put too much on myself. There’s too much on my plate. And so my body perceives that, even though my brain feels like it can handle it, my body says no. No, Leah, you have limitations. You can’t do it all.”

And so I am learning to work in seasons even more so than I have before. And there’s a season at a time for everything. And there’s real wisdom in that. So I was just saying to my husband, Steve, that when our kids were little, life was very simple. Little kids under the age of seven, baby to seven, life is very simple with them. And it’s not that they’re not all demanding and it’s not all encompassing, but it’s very simple.

Your whole day revolves around mealtimes and nap time and bedtime. The whole day revolves around that. And it’s like, “Okay, what can I put in between those things?” So, after that point though, now that my kids are getting older, I’ve got a teenager and a couple of preteens and my youngest is five and a half. They are all very gifted in different ways and I am, as a mom, trying to facilitate all these different things and their gifts and interests and I’m trying to help facilitate and help them develop those things and so I feel like I’m going in multiple directions and I’m not even at the point where I’m driving them around all day kind of a thing because they’re not doing that right at this point.

But they are interested in very different things and because we homeschool already and we follow more of an interest led based type education, because I believe that by following your interests, you’re going to be passionate about it, you will immerse yourself in it and you’ll become an expert in that thing. Just read up on Elon Musk and why he doesn’t require anybody to have a college degree when he hires people, when he’s looking for that. Some interesting stuff.

So, because I believe that, that means I’m facilitating all their different needs. So all that to say is that it’s a very different season of life for me as a mom right now too than it was when I started my music career. And it means that for me to be all in on motherhood, that I need to be more available to them, which means I can’t be so divided all the time. And so it just comes down to seasons. It doesn’t mean that you’re giving up on things, it doesn’t mean that you have failed in things.

I went into 2020 knowing it’s going to be a rest year for me for music. I already knew that. I had a very strong sense about that going into the year that 2020 is the year I’m not making music and I’m perfectly okay with it. I worked my butt off the last two years I released two albums in two years. That’s a lot. It was a lot of promotion, a lot of crowdfunding, a lot of campaigning. It was just brutal. And now I can rest and I can be okay and be at peace with it and not feel like I’m a failure as a songwriter or something.

17:42 Leah: So, I accept that already. Now I’m realizing Mythologie Candles is where my heart is at right now and I need to follow that. I need to follow my heart there. So that means putting my energy there and going all-in on that. Now I’ll say, I have the most supportive husband in the world. He’s totally in and helping me with that and we’re at the point where the business is doing well enough that we have a commercial warehouse now. We just hired our third person to help actually manufacture the candle.

So, guess what? In the last two weeks I have not stepped foot in the warehouse physically and I have not made a candle myself. So we now have three people helping and they got their system down and it’s a beautiful thing. And so I’m learning how to build a physical team. In the past with building Savvy Musician Academy, all of our team is virtual and they’re all over the world and that’s a beautiful thing as well. But this is a different kind of business where we’re physically manufacturing things, we’re building a physical team.

So, I am able to delegate that process to these people who are just thrilled to have a job right now, and boy does that warm my heart to be able to give people jobs right now where people need them the most in a small community. And I will say, this candle business is actually, believe it or not, we’re operating out of Northern Washington. So we actually cross the border to go to work and it’s okay because some of you might not know, but I’m actually a dual citizen. I’m Canadian and American. So, it’s no problem for me to get passed through the border at the moment.

So having said that, working in seasons, that means, listen, you can’t do everything all at once. And I love the idea about how rockets work. In order to get a rocket off the ground, it’s going to take the most rocket fuel at that point to get it off the ground. And the same thing is going to go with your music or anything you’re pursuing creatively. And it’s also why I tell people, just choose one niche. You can’t, you can’t do everything. You can’t get two or three bands off the ground at the same time. You’ve got one rocket and you have one chance to get that thing off the ground.

So, you need to consolidate your efforts, consolidate your energy, and it needs to go into one thing. So, that’s where you’re going to see me this summer. So you might feel like, “Where’s Leah? I haven’t heard from her in SMA.” But really I’m around, but I’m just walking the talk. I live what I preach.

And so you’ll see me in Mythologie Candles. That’s where I’m going to be. You’ll see me doing a lot there. Not so much my face necessarily, but you can just be sure that everything going on, Leah’s doing that stuff. I might not be pressing every single button myself, but I’m certainly orchestrating a lot going on behind the scenes.

And that brings me also to talking to you about just burnout and yourself, because burnout doesn’t always look the way you think it’s going to look. And this is something that I have had to recognize and the reason why it’s brought me to really consider am I really working in seasons the way I need to or do I say that I’m working in seasons and really I’m piling stuff on myself? So burnout can look like not sleeping as well, it can look like anxiety, it can look like depression, it can like stress habits, little things that you’re doing out of stress, and it can look like a weight gain for no reason.

Your body is an incredible machine that’s trying to keep you alive and it will slow your metabolism down just so that you can survive another day because it senses danger and so there’s a difference between chronic stress and acute stress. And I was just talking about this to my husband, Steve. And I said, I sometimes think I don’t know the difference between chronic and acute. Acute is like, if you step on a nail, that pain is acute pain. It’s radiating. It can’t get more intense than it is at that moment.

But chronic pain, something you’re living with that’s a lower grade pain that’s day in and day out. Sometimes you almost forget you even have it because you’re so used to living with it every day. That’s actually happened to me with … I have a jaw pain and I don’t know where it came … I woke up one day and my jaw didn’t feel right and then I had a dentist visit and I think something got messed up at the dentist.

You have your jaw pried open for a long period of time. And I feel like I got some kind of a micro injury and that made it worse. And now I just am living with a lot of strange jaw pain and lack of mobility. Well, that pain has become chronic and low grade. So, it’s interesting the way the body works.

And so burnout can happen when you’ve had long amounts of chronic stress and you don’t even recognize it anymore. And I’ve said, I think my meter is broken. I think my stress meter is broken. I don’t even feel stressed out at all. At least I don’t perceive it anymore. And so I’m sharing with you my reality because I feel like these are things we don’t talk about enough as musicians and people, you’re taking on a lot.

If you’re becoming an online musician, you’re taking on a whole lot. You’re learning a lot, you’ve committed to a steep learning curve. You’re learning to be a marketer. You’re learning to be an entrepreneur. You’re still an artist. You’re managing and balancing your family and your personal time and your health and exercise and shopping and family drama and there’s a number of things. And sometimes it can really pile on you. And so I just want to bring attention to the fact that I go through this too, and I have to reevaluate things regularly, and I have to determine what’s the priority right now so that I can stay healthy and grow as a person.

Because chronic stress leads to disease. Chronic stress leads to lowering your quality of life and you can’t be in an inspired state when you’re also in a chronic state of stress and burnout. So, in order to get back to that state of inspiration, you’ve got to clear your plate. Take stuff off your plate. Remove the pressure. And so that’s what I’m doing. And in fact, I’m going to go so far in my music business to completely remove that pressure entirely, where I’m actually going to close my shop for the summer. I’m going to have a summer break, a summer vacation from the Leah shop. And that means I’m going to reduce my bills.

So, I’m going to pause my shop and I’m going to pause other things I’ve been doing so I can focus on one thing and completely remove the pressure. And it’s okay to do that. I think the important thing is if you are intentional about it. Always be purposeful and intentional. If you can be purposeful and intentional with it, then you’re good. You’re good. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that.

24:49 Leah: So, if you end up browsing on my stuff at some point in this and you’re like, “What happened to Leah’s shop?” That’s what happened is I’m just taking a summer break from it so I can focus on the thing where my heart is at right now and that’s Mythologie Candles and it’s already being successful, it’s become successful and I’m going to take it to a whole other level. And boy oh boy, will I be having a lot to share about that as time goes on.

Because just keep in mind, I’m branching off of the culture that I’ve already created from my music. It’s a sister brand. Now you could do this with so many things. You could do this with jewelry. Daniel Coates, one of our wonderful students, he’s done tremendous things with his jewelry line that compliments his band. And sometimes they sell more of the jewelry than their CDs at shows.

So, gosh, there’s so much you can do. And so I hope to just keep inspiring you just by being transparent and yeah, you’ve got to follow your bliss as CJ and I like to talk about. Follow your bliss. Now I will leave you with a couple of current books that I’m reading right now. I just thought you might enjoy to hear what I’m reading at the moment. And by the way, even though I won’t be … I’ll probably also take a social media break from my music too. It’s okay to take a break.

I’m all like, “Yeah, come on. You guys got to be posting more often.” But if you’re intentional and you communicate that to your fans, “Hey, taking a social media break. Here’s why, here’s what I’m doing, I’ll be back.” They totally get it. They totally understand. And sometimes you have to go into your shell and become a hermit for a little while so you can emerge with a new project, a new music, or whatever you’re doing. And that’s totally fine.

So in the meantime, I won’t be updating my music social media as much during the summer for the same reason, but I do have a new Instagram account where I’m talking more about just business in general only, which you can follow. It’s @realleahmchenry. So, we’ll put that in the show notes. Real Leah McHenry. And I’m just sharing about just business epiphanies I’m having on a regular basis. So, it’s not to do with music necessarily. It’s just building a business. So, I have to scratch a niche, right?

So anyways, let me leave you with the couple of books I’m reading at the moment that are fascinating, I’m about halfway through both of them. One is called the Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. And it’s all about the secrets of highly successful groups. Again, this may or may not be as useful to you in music marketing, but I learn from so many different sources. And in fact, the more stuff you read that may not even be relevant to music per se, the better copywriter you’re going to become, the more persuasive messenger, messaging that you will have because good copywriters draw from many different sources and use them as examples.

So, anyway, that’s just a little side note. But the Culture Code is really interesting. It’s about just what makes any group of people succeed? So, if you’re building a business and you have a team, why do certain large corporations, why is it so compelling? The Zappos where they’re billion dollar businesses. Why do people move for that job? Why do they uproot their lives to come and work there? What is it about it?

And yeah, some cool psychology stuff that I really enjoyed learning about how people influence groups too. So if you have a bad apple, for example, that’s in the first chapter, if you have a bad apple who comes in, most of the time they will spoil the bunch. The bad apple spoils the bunch, and just how their attitude will affect other people.

So they gave some examples of this experiment where there was one guy, it was a corporation where they had different groups and they were all sitting at tables, brainstorming marketing ideas or something like that. And they would have one guy come in specifically to be the bad apple and try to influence the groups. And so he would do three different things.

Either he was lazy, he was the jerk, or he was the downer. And in all three instances every time. It was like the productivity in the group decreased by at least 30%. except for this one group. In the one group it didn’t work because there was one guy in the group who basically deflected it and was able to kind of offset that bad apple vibe that he was giving the rest of the group. It was just really fascinating hearing about that and you can better believe that I had a lesson for my kids about that. We talked about not being the bad apple and being a good influence and all that.

So, I always draw interesting things out of there that are relevant to my children. And the other book that I … This one will actually be amazing for you to read if you can understand that this is not about music, but it will help you in your head space, is called Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million In No Time Flat, is a subtitle, by Michael Masterson, very famous author. Business. This is a business book. But I love this book. I think I’ll have to do another little segment just on the things I’ve learned in this book. Holy cow. I like to read with a highlighter in my hands. It helps me pay attention. Social media has trained me to be a little bit more ADD than I like.

And so I’ll sometimes read an entire page and didn’t compute anything I just read. So I find that if I read with a highlighter that actually stops that from happening and so this book is filled with my orange highlighter all over it. It’s so good. Basically one of the big takeaways I’ve gotten from this is sell. Just freaking sell and then dial it in after the fact. Hence the title. Ready, Fire, Aim. So fire, aim afterwards. Dial it in after. So that is one amazing principle. But like I said, I’ve gotten so much out of this book. I’ll come back and do an entire episode or segment just on the lessons I’ve learned. It’s so good. So, go get that one. Ready, Fire, Aim. And we’ll have show notes for you and everything.

Thank you so much for listening today. If you enjoyed this little life update and me just laying all my cards on the table, would you leave me a review or just let me know if you enjoyed this because we’re doing some different things right now and … So hey, if you don’t happen to hear from me for a little while. Just know, Leah’s up to good things and she’s learning a lot and I get to benefit from that later.

So that’s what you can know, and I’m going to do my artsy fartsy thing. I’m going to go make a lot of candles and do a lot of fun things, maybe write some songs in my downtime. And I really am going to try and take a season of simplicity and a season of just taking things off my plate, letting my body relax, letting my adrenals restore themselves and just not have so much pressure on myself. So, that’s where I’m at. Hope you have a great rest of your day and enjoy your summer as well.

Leah McHenry

It's become my absolute obsession to find out what will make musicians successful today. In the face of many obstacles, and in the vast sea of the internet, we have an opportunity that has NEVER been available to us in the history of the music business.