313 Finding Business Niche after Brain Injury – Winnie Anderson

Award winning copywriter, bestselling author Winnie Anderson's Story:

  • How an Injury Became a Blessing…
  • Know What You are Good at and Become an Expert
  • Finding Business Niche after Brain Injury
  • Do You Know Your Unique Gift and Brand?
  • The Journey of Finding Best Business Idea

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More about our featured guest Winnie Anderson

At 35 a distracted driver turned then HR Director Winnie Anderson into a brain injury patient. She’s now an award-winning copywriter, best-selling author, and a business development strategist who helps entrepreneurs who hate selling embrace their uniqueness, stand up as an authority, and inspire their clients to say yes faster.


Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to today's show, your dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas and practical solutions to help you relaunch and become known in your niche. And if you are a daily listener, welcome back to this show. And if you are a new here, just know that you are among friends. And this is what you can expect: Unique insights, a-ha moments and actionable information from self-made successes as they share their come-from-behind victories and the things that they've done and are doing that are helping them to be seen as the authority and the go-to person.

[00:42] Joel: Now, our promotional partner today is My Virtual Sales Force, myvirtualsalesforce.com. And they are a perfect fit for the ReLaunch show and for the ReLaunch audience because they take the worry out of the hiring, the firing and the training details, so you can focus on what drives your business growth. More on Brandon and My Virtual Sales Force a little later on in today's show.

[01:15] Joel: Joining us is award-winning copywriter, business development strategist and best selling author, Winnie Anderson. And Winnie's book titles include “Stand Out and Attract Great Clients,” “Faith from 9 to 5,” and her latest hot off the press book is “Help Clients Buy”, give clients what they need to navigate their buying journey, and say “yes” to you faster. Winnie, welcome. Welcome to ReLaunch. Winnie Anderson is on Relaunch today. Winnie, welcome. Welcome to today's show.

[01:53] Winnie Anderson: Thank you so much, Joel and Dr. Pei. I'm just so thrilled to be here with you.

[01:57] Joel: This is gonna be exciting, we are excited to have you on and congratulations on getting that third book just about ready for printing on the press. We're excited for that's gonna be a great book, gonna be a great book, of course.

[02:12] Winnie Anderson: Thank you, thank you very much.

[02:13] Joel: Absolutely. Winnie, this show is highly practical because it is all about the relaunch and how you did it and it's also about becoming known in your niche. Again, how you did it? And well we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our lives. I generally ask our guests to zero in on the relaunch that has been the most transformational for them. And then we just unfold the story from there and we'll do that with you here in just a few minutes if that's okay. But before we get into that if we can start off today's show with a quick piece of take away gold. Winnie, let me ask you this, based on your experience what would you say is the number one challenge that entrepreneurs are faced with when it comes to the idea of attracting great clients or even attracting ideal clients, what do you think?

[03:07] Winnie Anderson: Yeah, it's probably embracing their unique difference and really owning it.

[03:13] Joel: What does that mean exactly? Can you expand a little bit?

[03:17] Winnie Anderson: Yeah, when any buyer is looking for a solution and a solution provider, the one thing that they are always thinking about is why you? And I struggled with it, my clients have struggled with it, when I worked at an agency, the agency struggled with it. Why and how are you different and why should I work with you? That's really what the buyer is always thinking and if you can't communicate that powerfully and effectively, then you're just not not gonna attract the kinds of clients you want, and you're probably gonna experience some level of struggle.

[03:55] Joel: See, you're sharing that right, at the get-go, because really when you are able to communicate that effectively, that helps you become known in your niche, which is we all know is the secret sauce to becoming widely successful.

[04:12] Pei: Definitely. And I think she just listed the two powerful words: One is embracing and owning that what's unique, that only your brand delivers.

[04:26] Joel: So, let's try to remember to revisit that idea and that topic a little bit later on in today's show. But right now let's back up a little bit and let's talk about Winnie's relaunch. We've all been through numerous ones that I know you have a pretty, a pretty traumatic story that changed the direction of a lot things pretty much, so go ahead and just kinda walk us right in there, if you would, please.

[04:52] Winnie Anderson: I will and because actually, I've been thinking a lot about talking to you guys today and that difference that I mentioned is all tied into the relaunch that I experienced, and it really is interwoven. So, in 1999, I was recently married, recently graduated from grad school, the top of the class, the top 10% and feeling pretty good about myself. Had relaunched a career and moved from the casino gaming industry that I had a great success in and moved over to the non-profit industry, promoted three times in 18 months. And I was on the way to the gym one day, backing out of the driveway on an incredibly beautiful spring day, sunny but just a touch of cold, really gave promise for what was to come, and that's the last memory that I have that day of actually seeing something beautiful, because at some point, my very next memory is this noise in my ear going…

[06:02] Winnie Anderson: And, I have no visual memory of what was causing that, but I remember saying, “What are you doing?” And a very shocked voice said, “I'm cutting you out of your jacket.” And I said, “Well, stop it. It's my favorite one.” And then, I proceeded to pass back out. I had been in a traumatic car accident. I had been stopped and a distracted driver literally ran over my vehicle, just smashed right into it, and hit me so hard, I moved in… I drifted into oncoming traffic where I was hit again, head-on.

[06:37] Pei: Oh!

[06:37] Winnie Anderson: And, I went from…

[06:39] Joel: So, you were hit. You were hit twice. It was…

[06:42] Winnie Anderson: Right.

[06:42] Joel: Okay.

[06:43] Pei: Yeah. Yeah. I was like a pinball machine.

[06:45] Joel: Okay.

[06:45] Winnie Anderson: I went from being the top of my class to director of Human Resources, about to be promoted a fourth time to Assistant Executive Director for the non-profit I worked at. Six months, recently married to my second husband, and I suddenly didn't know how to tie my own shoes.

[07:03] Joel: Oh my good… What age were you when this happened?

[07:06] Winnie Anderson: I was 36.

[07:07] Joel: Okay.

[07:07] Pei: How long were you in the hospital?

[07:10] Winnie Anderson: I was in for a week. And, I think that, you know, big surgeries are done outpatient today.

[07:18] Pei: Yeah, yeah.

[07:18] Winnie Anderson: I must have been pretty bad. [chuckle] Yeah, yeah. So, that completely changed my life, obviously. I was left with many injuries, but the worst thing, the traumatic brain injury that I have. That is, if you touch your head just behind and to the right, up near the top of your skull, the forehead area, that's where my primary injury is. And, I was left with a lot of damage in what's called the executive functioning area. Well, I was an executive and I functioned, and suddenly, I couldn't. So, I'm the kind of person that you play the hands that you're dealt.

[08:02] Joel: Okay.

[08:02] Winnie Anderson: And, okay, so this is my new hand. I can't whine about it. I can't cry about it. It just, I've got to move on. And suddenly, getting well became really my full time job. I had to quit, so I could focus on my many, many, many doctors' appointments. And, one of the biggest problems that I had was that area of the brain controls impulse control. And, the impulse that I had problems controlling were my emotions. I was a tough cookie. I am a Jersey girl. I grew up at the South Jersey Shore area.

[08:41] Joel: Okay.

[08:42] Winnie Anderson: And, I'm proud of it. I'm a very proud. I grew up on, literally, the wrong side of town in a very rural area of South Jersey. And, you know? We're not called “Jersey girls” for nothing and suddenly, I could not control my emotions. So, I would go…

[08:59] Joel: What does that mean exactly?

[09:01] Winnie Anderson: Okay. So, I was very calm always. You have a problem? Fine. That's fine. Bring it to me. I can solve it. I would go from zero to furious, instantaneously. And…

[09:16] Joel: Okay.

[09:17] Pei: Is it something that maybe…

[09:20] Winnie Anderson: Ridiculous.

[09:20] Pei: Oh, wow!

[09:21] Joel: So, something trivial?

[09:22] Pei: Okay.

[09:23] Winnie Anderson: Something that would make you go…

[09:25] Pei: What?

[09:26] Winnie Anderson: You know? Right, exactly. Something you'd go, “Man, that's annoying.” Suddenly, I was raging.

[09:31] Pei: Wow!

[09:32] Winnie Anderson: And same thing, if I saw something that touched my heart, instead of going, “Aw”, I would boo-hoo uncontrollably. I mean, sobbing. And, you can't exactly have a director of HR who can't control herself.

[09:49] Pei: Did the doctor predict that? I mean, did it take long for you to realize that?

[09:53] Winnie Anderson: No. Well, I'm glad you mentioned that, Dr. Pei, because one of the problems with a brain injury is that often, you don't realize what's “wrong with you” until you try to re-enter your normal life. And, that's when you discover the many problems that you have. And, that's exactly when I discovered it. My first day back from work, I'd been off for two weeks. And, my first day back at work, this sweet little receptionist that we had, came in and mentioned… I worked at the Red Cross. So, she said the ice machine is broken now. You can imagine when you have a blood collection facility and the ice machine is broken, this really is a problem. But okay, you just call somebody. So, she comes to my door and she tells me that. And, I said something so horrible to her, I don't even wanna repeat it. It was just so painful and bad…

[10:50] Pei: Aw.

[10:50] Winnie Anderson: And, it was just so mean. And, my assistant was sitting in the office with me and her, the look on her face was just… ‘Cause it was just so not me. It was just so not me. And I said to my assistant, “I think I have a problem.”

[11:08] Pei: Wow!

[11:08] Winnie Anderson: So, that's what really led me to go and seek help in a neurologist, a psychologist. I had a team of doctors. So, the recovery was long and hard and frustrating in many ways. The biggest issue was the loss of self-image that I had. I was an executive. I had a great job. I had been promoted rapidly. I was smart. But so much of your self-identity is attached to your brain functioning.

[11:45] Joel: Right.

[11:46] Pei: Yeah.

[11:47] Winnie Anderson: And…

[11:47] Pei: You were in a leadership position and you're proud of being that calm, the solution provider. Yeah.

[11:59] Winnie Anderson: Right. I literally could not tie my own shoes. So, as I started my very lengthy recovery process and…

[12:08] Joel: How long did it take, by the way?

[12:10] Pei: Well, you know…

[12:12] Joel: Initially, initially, 'cause I'm sure…

[12:13] Winnie Anderson: Yeah, and initially, there were six months of intensive, everyday multiple doctor appointments.

[12:19] Joel: Okay.

[12:21] Winnie Anderson: The average length of recovery for a traumatic brain injury is 15 years and I just hit the 16th year. And I feel fantastic, the best I ever have.

[12:34] Joel: That's wonderful.

[12:35] Winnie Anderson: And remember back in 1999, the best thinking was that once you damaged your brain, your brain was damaged. It wasn't coming back. There was no neuroplasticity. There was no rejuvenation. There was… Learning how to manage your injury. And when I discovered that I could no longer perform basic math, and I mean that literally, I could not add and subtract. And I had managed budgets of multiple millions of dollars…

[13:06] Pei: Right.

[13:07] Winnie Anderson: You can imagine how frustrated I became. And, my poor husband, he got a call at the grocery store, “The woman you just married is not who is gonna come home to you.”

[13:24] Pei: I was gonna say about that, not just your professional world has turned upside down, but, and your physical, but then, your relationship too. You're new to this marriage. And, if you have emotional impulses, and even with… Even you try to keep calm, it's still gonna affect how you communicate.

[13:51] Winnie Anderson: Yes, it is, because, it was one extreme or the other. It was fury or tears. So, my poor husband was like on pins and needles. You know, egg shells, dealing with me. And, it was so incredible to be in the moment, because you would have this experience where you knew you were out of control, but you couldn't reel yourself in. I could hear myself internally as a calm person, but it was the external that did not match. And, it was just shocking to me and to other people, Dr. Pei, exactly. Because, one of the things my doctors… One of my doctors said to me was, “There's gonna come a day when you're gonna wish the accident left you with a gigantic scar on your face.” And, he's right, many times I wished that. Because, when you're dealing with a “invisible disability”, nobody cuts you any slack.

[14:50] Pei: Yeah.


[14:51] Winnie Anderson: They don't believe you when you say, “What did you say? I don't remember what you just said.” Or, when you repeat yourself constantly, they're like, “You just said that three minutes ago.”

[15:00] Joel: Well, that's the truth, 'cause I have an invisible disability, Winnie, so, I can completely relate with you. I am going to… I'm just getting ready to ask you. I'm gonna fast forward the conversation a little bit. I'm gonna ask you about some of the things that you either learned or relearned about your potential, your possibility, and also your value. But before we do that, process that just for a few seconds and we are going to hear from our sponsor. And we will be right back with Winnie Anderson.

[15:36] Joel: All right. Winnie, So, you've had time to think about this. So, fill us in on some of the things that you learned or relearned about Winnie, about the woman that you really were or are.

[15:51] Winnie Anderson: You know, I tell people now that the accident was the greatest gift that God's ever given me. And I mean that in all sincerity. Because in having that giant whack on the head, I found the person that I was. And when you work for other people, you modify your personality to adapt to the organization.

[16:19] Pei: Right, right.

[16:20] Winnie Anderson: You do. And there were so many miracles associated with my recovery in general. One of them is my greatest skills were not lost in the accident. I could still write and I could still communicate orally. I could still… I was teaching seminars six months after the accident. And no one knew that I had been in a car accident if I did not tell them. So, as I started my recovery process though, it was like I had tried to shut a closet door on a very stuffed closet and I had a lot of skeletons that were falling out. And so, as I was re-entering my life, I was pushing myself to do better. But these emotional bags, just like Marly's ghost, with the chains wrapped around him, I was struggling to really fully step into my potential. And one, as I got more and more frustrated, I was thinking about, “What is this? What is really holding me back?” And believe it or not, this might seem completely shocking to you, but I had to acknowledge that I had been abused as a child, I was emotionally abused. And I didn't realize that the strategies that I had employed to deal with that abuse successfully and survive and do as well as I did, were no longer serving me. And I had to face that, and I had to drop them and adopt new strategies.

[18:03] Joel: So, let me ask you this. And thank you by the way, Winnie, for sharing that with us on this show. I'm not gonna pretend to understand what it was like or what it's still like to be you, I wouldn't insult you that way, but, so, how difficult and how were you able to drop whatever coping mechanisms or ways of dealing with things that got you up until then? How were you able to drop what you might have even come to rely upon and start to relaunch, if you will, using new ways of thinking, living, managing yourself and your career?

[18:49] Winnie Anderson: One was that I acknowledged it. So, just becoming aware that that old baggage was still dragging around behind me and recognizing that what had happened was, that's a wound. I believe there are six wounds that we all experience, or we, any one of them, I had all six. But abuse is a wound. And when you have an emotional wound like that, the depth of the wound, I believe, this is how needs are created. That the need is like a salve to soothe that wound. And I developed a certain set of needs around that wound. One was, I needed attention, because I wasn't getting it from my parents. I needed a certain level of security. I didn't get that from my parents. So I was looking outside of myself for something that my parents should have given me and did not.

[19:45] Winnie Anderson: So once I recognized that fear of being yelled at and called “stupid” and all of that, caused me to then not step fully into who I am as a person. I was very compartmentalized, that I then recognized that, it is safe for me to do this. It is okay. Where at home, as a child, it wasn't safe to be different. It wasn't safe to step out. So those messages, those tapes, they were old tapes. I was literally letting the past control my present and my future. And when I could recognize that as… I could've let the accident do that. I couldn't do it anymore. I just… I said no. That is literally the past. It is now safe for me to be who I am. People who don't like it, they don't have to buy. They can change the channel. They can go to another blog. They can read another book. And that was real. I mean, it took therapy, it took a lot of book reading, it took at lot of self-reflection. But that was really what did it for me, that I recognized that my past is not my present, and it's never gonna be my future.

[21:06] Pei: Wow! I can just imagine that confidence and peace comes with that realization, “This is my message and if it doesn't work for you, there's something else. But there will be people that resonate with what I have to say.” I love that.

[21:25] Joel: Winnie, we have about five minutes left in the show. What was the catalyst that moved you to wanna write, wanna share your story, and then also want to share solutions with entrepreneurs and business owners and to be that go-to person? What was the catalyst? You might have had the idea for a long time, like a lot of authors do…

[21:49] Winnie Anderson: I did.

[21:49] Joel: But something happened that made you put thought on paper. So, what was it?

[21:54] Winnie Anderson: Yeah, and again, it's connected to the accident, too. I discovered that I wanted a life that corporate America couldn't give me. And I wanted to be at home and do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. But I knew I needed to get this message out to a large number of people and writing was going to allow me to do that. And I think of writing non-fiction books, how-tos, I think of that as teaching in print. And I've been teaching since 1983. I've been a professional trainer for that long and so it's the natural extension of what I do and allows me to reach more people.

[22:37] Joel: Awesome.

[22:39] Pei: And also, with the people who are ReLaunch listeners, they also wanna learn about strategies or tips on how to position you and once you embrace and own your message, how do you… What would be your best tip on gaining that visibility to attract the people that you do wanna attract?

[23:06] Winnie Anderson: One is work within your own comfort level and push yourself a little bit farther. So, speaking is great, but if you would sooner die, then don't do it. But figure out some way that's going to allow you to leverage your existing skills, push you just a little bit. I have a friend who is brilliant. She's my accountability partner. Brilliant. She is also terrified of speaking. So I said, “Well, listen, why don't we put together a little product and a book.” Now that, she was all over because she loves writing and feels great about it. But I'm not gonna make her… There's no “should” in marketing. There's no police. So that's what I would say is, “Look what you love to do and then ramp it up, but don't follow someone else's model because they're shooting all over you.”

[23:59] Pei: Love it.

[24:01] Joel: Very, very good. Okay. One more time. Your book titles, you have two that are out, and one that is hot off the press. It's either just about to be released or just has been released, depending on when this show will hit iTunes and when people are listening, but what are the two existing titles again? I don't want to missay them.

[24:24] Winnie Anderson: My first book was “Faith from 9 to 5” and that was endorsed by Ken Blanchard, the legendary author and management guru. And the other one is “Stand Out and Attract Great Clients” and the next book is “Help Clients Buy” and it's all around my philosophy that you can't sell anybody anything, you can only help them make a decision that's good for them.

[24:46] Joel: Absolutely. That reminds me of a quote that my mentor and friend said, Zig Ziglar, he would say that, “You need to be… Act like you're… ” Hold on, I'm getting this wrong, “Be the assistant buyer for your customer.”

[25:02] Winnie Anderson: There you go. Yeah.

[25:03] Joel: Is what he would say. So very good. Winnie Anderson is our guest today on ReLaunch. Of course, we will have all of the links to her books and the social media hotspots available in the notes that accompany this episode. Really appreciate you being on today's show, Winnie, and we wish you all the very best. Thank you.

[25:27] Winnie Anderson: Thank you, Dr. Pei and Joel.

[25:29] Joel: Have a wonderful…

[25:30] Pei: Thank you.

[25:30] Joel: Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.

Connect with Winnie on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and her website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


  1. Cheyenne on May 16, 2017 at 4:22 am

    Really trshtwortuy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked marked your site and am about to email it to a few friends of mine that I know would enjoy reading..

  2. Lisa Robbin Young on May 15, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Winnie! I’m so jealous. Love this show and I’m happy and proud for you to hear you on it! You and i have known each other for a few years and I never knew that much about your brain injury. So awesome to hear how you’ve overcome. You’re on fire sister!

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