How a Quadriplegic Become A Social Media Star

Well today we’re interviewing Susanne Whited, and Susanne helps business owners with marketing programs that are effective and easy to execute so they can attract more clients, and so you’re thinking, “Okay, social media person, awesome.” But, Susanne’s story’s a little different because Susanne is a quadriplegic. And so she types and does her social media just with one knuckle. And beyond that she’s raising a small child on her own as a quadriplegic. So that’s quite a story to tell and it was a really interesting interview.

Jasper: Okay, so Susanne you are known online as “The Quad Mom” and probably what people know you best for is managing somehow, and perhaps you could tell us how exactly, to juggle running your own business and looking after three kids all while being quadriplegic, which would be enough in most people’s experience to cope with. Tell us first a bit about what it is that you do as a business and then perhaps you could tell us your story and how you really got to where you are now.

Susanne: Well, in a nutshell my business, My Business Tweets, I work to help small business owners find marketing solutions, and implement them. I was actually paralyzed in a car accident back in the middle ages of 1996 when my two children that I had at that time were seven and six months old.

Jasper: Right.

Susanne: And so my focus in rehab was actually motherhood. And I did not work for about three years after my accident. I ended up contracting the flesh eating disease which put me in the hospital for about a year and a half after my rehab. So, for the first two years of my daughter, who is now 19, her life, I was in the hospital.

Jasper: What did you do before the accident?

Susanne: I was a dancer.

Jasper: Oh right, really?

Susanne: So you can’t go back to that when you can’t walk. And when I did rehab they kept pushing, “Oh you need to get on computers. You need to get on computers.” And I was just like, “You know what? I really don’t have any interest at all in computers.” And I really didn’t. All I focused on was, “Here I am a young mom with two young children, and that’s my focus.”

Jasper: I guess that’s the thing, isn’t it? Because if your life had been something so physical like dance and then suddenly you’ve got to do something that I guess is really mental type stuff, it’s all thinking based stuff instead, that’s quite a shift isn’t it? On top of having to cope with the actual physical rehab of getting back into physical fitness. So how did you sort of really think where you were going to go?

Susanne: Well after I had stabilized for my health issues like I said it was about three years that I did not work. Then I went back into the workforce as a telemarketer. I called for a mortgage company, it was how I started, and then I called a friend of mine while I was at work. And she says, “Are you looking for a day job?” And I’m like, “Of course I’m looking for a day job. I don’t want to work at night. I’ve got kids.” And she’s like, “I work at the Better Business Bureau here in town. They’re looking for somebody to set appointments. Do you want to come find out more about it?” And so I did. And I worked there for 11.5 years.

Jasper: Right. Wow. Okay.

Susanne: And what I learned while I was working there that apparently I have a computer super power. And it just has to do with software. When you put a new program in front of me and very minimal instruction I just pick up on how to run it really really quickly. Vimeo, Twitter, Facebook, as I told you earlier, this is my very first Skype call ever. But all I did was I logged in, it said, “Test it.” And I tested it and then I just asked you a question, “How do I make sure the videos off? Oh yes, yes it works fine.” So now I’m going to start making Skype calls. I’m going to be like, “Woo hoo! I’m going to be a Skype person too!”

Jasper: Yes. Cool yes, definitely.

Susanne: But I get really really excited when I get to learn new stuff. And so when I got pregnant with my third child, which is my daughter Micah, she was unexpected. She’s what I call my oops baby. I wanted to get away from working for someone else and have the flexibility of working at home. And so that’s when I started my business Tweets. I originally started just planning to be a Twitter person for companies because I love it so much.

Jasper: Right, right, what’s so great about Twitter, do you think?

Susanne: It’s great for someone like me who loves to ingest a lot of information in a short period of time. It’s a headline and a link. And I can go through literally thousands of tweets in a day. And if it’s not interesting enough to click on I don’t go any further. But I’ve read all those headlines and because I’m following news channels when somebody says, “Oh did you hear about this?” Well of course I did. And even if I didn’t read anymore there’s been enough headlines about it, that I’ve got a really good gist of what’s going on.

Jasper: Sure, sure.

Susanne: So, that’s why I love Twitter. But when I decided that this would be my primary full time business because I had been the outreach marketing manager at the Better Business Bureau, I decided that I really needed to expand more into other forms of marketing.

Jasper: Right. I guess the Better Business Bureau experience must have been quite useful in terms of giving you quite a good place to start anyway in terms of finding clients.

Susanne: Oh yes and that’s the nice thing about working for some place for 11.5 years. I had a lot of contacts in the business world.

Jasper: Yes, no exactly yes. Are most of your clients sort of local to where you are? Because you’re based in Colorado Springs, aren’t you? So, are they mainly local or do you work with people all over the country?

Susanne: I do work with people all over the country. I have started mainly here in Colorado Springs because then I get the one on one, “Hey do you remember me?” That kind of thing. But I’ve started offering, I put one of my products online, as an online course. So that I can start working with people all across the country.

Jasper: Awesome. Yes, that’s the key thing is building the list, isn’t it?

Susanne: It is, and I just started my newsletter in June, and I’ve already got almost a 100 people on it. So I’m very very excited. I think that’s great for a month and a half.

Jasper: Not bad at all, yes absolutely. And hopefully once this goes out you’ll get a lot more because we’ll put a link to your site on the blog post version of this podcast. So hopefully you’ll get a whole lot more.

Susanne: That would be wonderful.

Jasper: So, what is it like then sort of coping with running your own business and looking after your kids as well? How do you actually manage your life? I mean a lot of it, it’s hard for a lot of mothers to manage running a business and kids, let alone without any disability or anything. So, how do you actually work in that?

Susanne: Well I’m fortunate that my older two are old enough that they’re not really an issue. Mika though is two now and so she is just a crazy baby. She gets into everything. She gets a hold of paper and immediately shreds it. And what I have learned as a quadriplegic is if it’s accessible to me it’s accessible to her.

Jasper: Oh right, yes.

Susanne: All of my doors have lever door handles, so she’s been able to open every door in the house except for the sliding glass door since she was about 15 months old. All of my tables I keep going up higher and higher and higher, and pretty soon it’s going to be where I just can’t reach anything at all to get any work done. So I’m hoping this gets over soon.

Jasper: Right, yes, yes.

Susanne: I look at other people’s babies and I’m like, “Oh they seem better behaved.” But they’re probably not at home.

Jasper: That’s right. Absolutely.

Susanne: And I’m actually very fortunate that I don’t require a lot of adaptive equipment for my computer. I don’t use a smart phone or even a tablet. The touch screens are really really hard for me because my fingers do not move. But I use a track ball instead of a mouse. And I type with one knuckle. And I’m really really fast.

Jasper: Right, interesting.

Susanne: And if I’ve got text to read, occasionally if I do a website for somebody and they’ve got some marketing material, maybe a flyer that they have done, I’ve got Dragon Dictate, so I can just read it into my computer and it types it up faster than of course I will be able to do it.

Jasper: Yes sure that’s a very useful piece of software then, isn’t it?

Susanne: And then I have a helper that comes over a couple of days of week for when I’ve got appointments that I can’t have a baby running around for.

Jasper: Right I see, yes.

Susanne: So, if I’ve got a video that I’m shooting that I’m doing live, she keeps her occupied so that I can shoot the video. Or for example, for this interview right now, they’re off upstairs playing around so that we don’t hear her running around in the background.

Jasper: Right, yes. Meredith has problems with dogs in the background.

Susanne: I put the dogs in the front yard. And the biggest thing I can say is you need to plan. For me everything takes a little bit longer. Getting up and going to an event. It takes me longer to get dressed. It takes me longer to put my makeup on, if I even bother because it takes so long. I usually take public transportation to where I’m going. So it’s not, “Hey here’s a 15 minute quick drive.” Well you know what, that 15 minute drive for you might be 45 or an hour for me on a bus.

Jasper: Right, yes of course.

Susanne: And so planning is my key to success.

Favorite Resources
Biography of A Space Tyrant by Piers Anthony
Online Resources: Google Dragon Dictation

Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.

ForProfilesGuest: Susanne Whited – My Business Tweets

Website:My Business Tweets

Susanne helps business owners plan marketing programs that are effective and easy to execute so they can attract more clients. She will help you set your goals for your business and your overall marketing, identify the customers most likely to purchase your products and/or services and pinpoint what makes your business a bargain at any price.

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