How We Met
I haven’t met Ky-Lee in person yet but will be later this month at the GBR Anniversary Party. We connected online back in December after I had met someone at an event who co-authored a couple of books through her publishing company.
The idea of writing a book was in the back of my mind, but I thought it was something that wouldn’t happen until a few years down the road. I had mentioned it to that someone (Thanks, Amy!!) that I was thinking of eventually writing a book. And well, great things can come out of being in the right place, at the right time. As well as telling others what your goals are.
Just a couple of weeks later, I had a call with Ky-Lee, a few lead authors of some upcoming projects and signed on to be a co-author for two books publishing in 2020.
Why You Need to Follow This Woman
Ky-Lee Hanson built Golden Brick Road Publishing with $2500 on her credit card. In less than two years, she was generating 6-figure months. I’m a big believer of following and surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and encourage you to be the best possible version of yourself.
Read on to get a heaping spoonful of advice and insight from an amazing entrepreneur.
1. How did you come up with the name Golden Brick Road Publishing? Does it have anything to do with the Wizard of Oz?
Surprisingly you are the first person to ask me that. I also mentor women in business and did that before GBR Publishing, I would use in my talks “golden opportunity” and refer to “the journey” and “our path.” I realized how much our journey in business is like that movie, and thought “gold is better than yellow”
So I began to refer to the importance of making sure we are always on the golden path / our Golden Brick Road; our best possible version of our journey.
It is surprising no one has ever mistaken us for a children’s or fiction publisher, although we now publish children’s books too, we primarily are a social change and women’s empowerment book publisher.
People quickly adapted to our brand and we are also referred to as GBR Publishing, which can stand for: Growth, Brilliance, and Reinvention, or Great Books to Read! Our statement has always been “Locking arms and helping each other down their Golden Brick Road.”
Fun fact: I was a munchkin in that play in grade 8.
2. What is the best piece of advice someone has given you regarding running a business?
Stop acting like a business operator, and start acting like a business owner. – Tony Robbins said this at a seminar I was at just as I was deciding to launch this business or not. Thanks Tony!
3. What made you want to start a publishing company?
Honestly, I didn’t want to.
I had to.
This industry is tired and has lost much sight of what publishing and journalism are about. I was a newbie author and we needed a safe space for women and emerging authors. There are a lot of shady “opportunities’ out there.
It wasn’t that I ever wanted to be a publisher, I didn’t really know what that meant and it felt way too corporate. It was placed as an obstacle in front of me that became my golden opportunity to solve. It is a natural fit for my type A, perfectionist, logistical/creative, and literal mind. And it is business, business, business!
We can’t possibly know what we are meant for until we explore everything, so my favorite past-time still is to learn about other industries.
I am a serial entrepreneur and will be branching into other industries too!
4. Did you encounter any struggles when you first started GBR publishing?
Yes, all of them. You name it, it happened. I started with no capital, I hired the wrong people, learning to work with different personality types, growth quicker than I could handle, yep, all of it!
5. How do you decide if someone is a good fit to either co-author a book you’republishing or publish their own book with you?
Intuition, and their message.
I speak with every person 1 on 1 that comes into our company or have a trusted lead that does so. We have signed 300 people in the first two years, which means we have talked to about 1500 and crossed paths with thousands more. When we have been very honest, and very clear on the work we do and plan to do, we attract the most wonderful, like-minded authors.
audiobooks, ebooks and ereaders are available, the printed word is still relevant and popular.
Why do you think books have managed to withstand the evolution of technology whereas music and videos have gone online for the most part?
There is something magical about holding a book. Reading a book is an intimate experience and I think the touch of paper makes all the difference. Plus they are art, and nice to have as decor!
7. What is a typical day like for you? Do you have a morning routine? part?
I wake from the pouncing of one of my four cats, gratefully look out my window to my rural property, brush teeth, kiss Matt, grab coffee, and get to work. I am not the best at balance, but am aiming to work on that! Check emails, morning scrum with my production team, then meetings all day, and production and marketing work in the evenings. I decided to take an all in approach to my business while it has all this demand, so right now I am deeply all in!
8. How do you keep track of all the books that are at different stages? Do you have any productivity apps/tips in particular that you recommend?
I am a Gemini, so I have two very systematic minds – haha.
I am extremely good at remembering everything for multiple projects. It is a bit crazy and my team doesn’t know how I do it! But yes, I have a full-time staff and we use Ravetree for project management, Trello for checklists, daily check-ins called scrum meetings, Slack, google drive, google calendar, my email is organized by priority with multiple accounts, and we have production tools such as briefs.
9. What are you currently reading right now?
I am publishing a book by Sonia Jhas, and a book by Mia Martina – two superstar Canadian bosswomen. I am reading outside of work, Starlight by Richard Wagamese, and about to dive into Becoming by Michelle Obama (as I am behind in a bookclub we are hosting on www.gbrsociety.com)
10. What advice would you give to women who are hesitant to start their own business?
If you are feeling called to pursue something new, such as a business, your intuition is telling you something. It is likely more a risk to stay where you are than it is to pursue something new.
And ask for help.
Our community is filled with trustworthy mentors in all areas of business. If you need a referral, I love to connect people, so ask me!
11. You host writing and business retreats on this private estate. Can you describe what the retreat is like and who they are for? Do you own this estate?
I do own it! I bought it a year ago. Everyone thought I was nuts, which means DO IT!
I am always open to exploring new ventures and events! I created The Bosswoman Intensive Retreat and the women that attended all went on to increase their income by thousands, some within the same month.
I bring together a variety of women from different sectors of business, and the guests get pampered. I love everything high-end and comfortable, luxury and relaxing while focused. Our events are going to open up to The Bosswoman Relaxation Retreats also for the high powered woman. And we are considering hosting a GBR author gala in our yard!
Our events are for women that are blocked but know it and are ready to move through it. I have coached women at all stages of their career and at various income levels. It is best though when the group is at a similar stage, as we can really get into common issues.
All of my events, online or in person, always have a 1on1 aspect to them; Except for our upcoming GBR event in Toronto on Feb 21st . . . it is going to be a little hard to do 1 on 1 with THAT many people but we sure as hell will try!
It is all about the connection.
12. I read a recent Instagram post of yours that mentioned you’ve been in business since you were 19. What was running your first business like?
I used to play business when I was 3 years old. I was writing business plans around age 8. My mom is not sure where I got this drive from, but it was from her.
At age 19 I was party planning and didn’t have the capital to do my own events so I started a service-based company in guerilla marketing for events. It was really fun and I was great at it. I built it up quite quickly and it was very stable for 5 years. Someone wanted to buy the company if I kept working it, and at the time I didn’t know what that would mean long term, and I wanted out of the event world, so we closed it up and moved to Toronto from Vancouver.
13. This month, you’ll be celebrating the 2- year anniversary of GBR. That’s very exciting. What would you say have been the biggest factors that have contributed to the success of GBR thus far?
Overbooking (as no author in history has ever been on time – haha), scaling up, hiring, being honest with clients and the public, and being 2000% focused. I have dedicated my life to this company for now, as this company is full of heart. It is an energy and support system this world needs. It truly is its own entity and has shown me what it needs, I am grateful to be its facilitator.
The biggest reason though would be not waiting, not waiting for approval, or a deal. Just moving and flowing. Creating our own opportunities and shaking up the industry!