Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

I Don't Think I Would Have Made It: Susan McVea on the Podcast That Saved Her Life

How 'The School of Greatness' led her out of a breakdown and into a six-figure coaching business.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Susan McVea, CEO of Susan McVea Consulting Inc. and founder of the “Master the Sales Game” podcast. It was condensed by The Oracles.

Susan McVea

Who was your biggest influence growing up?

Susan McVea: Oprah is my biggest influence outside of my parents and family. Growing up, I’d race home every day to watch her on television after school. I learned my biggest life lessons from Oprah and her guests, from how to defend against an attack (never let them take you to another location!) to how to become a millionaire. Most important of all, I learned how to impact others by being generous in spirit and knowledge.

I’m grateful that I had the chance to attend an Oprah event with my sister last year. It was surreal to see her in person and how she transforms the room. She still inspires me to be and do my best in service of others and never stop learning along the way.

What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?

Susan McVea: I run a boutique coaching company that helps ambitious service-based entrepreneurs sell with more ease and double their results — without doubling the work. As a sales expert, you’d probably expect me to say that’s what I’m most skilled at, but sales is about communication. I’ve always been great at listening and understanding human behavior and am deeply fascinated by why people do what they do.

My superpower is hearing what’s left unsaid, which is often more important than what’s said. It’s harder to listen than to speak, which is why many people struggle with communication. Listening helps us connect more deeply with each other. When you feel heard, you feel valued. This is the foundation of building connections and relationships and securing clients. It’s how I’ve personally sold $40 million, even as an unlikely salesperson.

How did your business get started?

Susan McVea: My business started entirely by accident. I had just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was going through aggressive physical treatments, including needling therapies. After suffering a breakdown that ended a long, successful career, I was left to put myself back together, with no idea where to start.

This journey turned into a deep desire to serve others and feel useful again, which quickly transformed into a full-fledged business. To fund our annual family vacations to Disneyland, I imagined going back to the corporate world and helping clients on the side. Before I knew it, my consulting practice had a waitlist, and I realized that I was on to something bigger than a side hustle. I soon went from over $600 million in corporate sales to a six-figure business.

What podcast changed your mindset or life?

Susan McVea: The School of Greatness” by Lewis Howes saved my life. Leaving behind my corporate identity was difficult. I was struggling with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain and didn’t know who I was or what was next for my life.

I found podcasts to keep me company on my daily walks and studied each episode. Howes’s personal story and those of his guests helped me see my breakdown in a new light. In particular, motivational speaker Lisa Nichols gave me permission to start over and rebuild my life. If I hadn’t found this podcast, my business wouldn’t exist. Actually, I don’t think that I would have made it.

What was your biggest challenge starting in business? How did you overcome it?

Susan McVea: Looking back, it seems wild that I achieved success so quickly. My schedule was inconsistent due to my health and need for more rest, so I couldn’t spend hours on my business. On top of that, I knew virtually nothing about setting up an online-based business.

I realized that I needed to focus on what I knew without overcomplicating things. I focused on serving one person at a time by creating connections and building relationships using online tools like Zoom.

What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?

Susan McVea: Thinking that you’re the only leader in your business. Leadership isn’t about your job title. If you can’t help your team step up as leaders themselves, everything will be much harder than it needs to be. You want to build an army of generals, not just soldiers.

It takes more than standard operating procedures to cultivate this kind of culture, but the upside is huge. Instead of putting out fires and constantly micromanaging, you begin to share responsibility and ownership of results with your team. That’s how you help everyone win.

How do you identify a good business partner?

Susan McVea: The foundation of a good partnership is shared vision, values, and mission. Otherwise, you have two captains steering the ship in different directions. Find someone with complementary skills or experiences and a different personality than yours to avoid “groupthink.”

You don’t want a “yes person” — you want someone who will challenge your ideas, play devil’s advocate, and identify the home runs with you. Above all, make sure you trust each other’s integrity. Business is full of ups and downs, and you shouldn’t be wary of the person walking the journey with you.

Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?

Susan McVea: Focusing on quality over quantity. I’ve always wanted to serve others and provide solutions to big problems. This desire allows me to be more impactful with my time, so I can prioritize my health and family while cultivating relationships and serving my community and clients.

When you create space to do more of whatever moves the needle in your business, whether it’s networking or sales, you’ll see faster results. This includes tracking your results for the activities you invest in, even though it may seem tedious. I’ve experienced burnout before, and this habit helps me create more impact without working more than eight hours a day.

What are three things you would like to be doing in three years?

Susan McVea: Giving back is a big part of why I do what I do. One of my goals is to help fund a school for Village Impact, a charity run by Stu McLaren and his wife, Amy. I’d love to take my family to Kenya to build a school with them.

Another goal is helping at least 1,500 amazing clients make an additional $100 million by teaching them to sell without the sleaze through my signature program, “Sell With More Ease.” Finally, I want to go on extended vacations with my husband and kids, instead of just a week at a time, to swim in the ocean, read books, and have drinks on the beach.

What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?

Susan McVea: I’m on a mission to create more millionaires in the world — especially females — and a mentality of wealth and abundance. After working in finance for so long, I’ve seen how money provides choices. Access to more money can create a massive ripple effect in the world and change our communities, especially for women.

I also want to be known for cultivating joy and gratitude and living through faith, for providing world-class sales coaching, and more importantly, for improving the lives of millions by helping my clients use their gifts to make the world a brighter place.

Connect with Susan McVea on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit her website.

The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks