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Wendy Aarons: Author

In this episode of The Art of Sway podcast, Danielle interviews Wendi Aarons, an award-winning blogger-turned-author whose work has appeared online and in published anthologies. Wendi is the author of a middle grade book, Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian, and a brand-new comic memoir titled I’m Wearing Tunics Now. She also speaks on and teaches humor writing to both children and adults.

This is a great conversation that covers all sorts of territory: Danielle and Wendi’s shared learning experiences at early blogging conferences, how Wendi found success as a humor writer after starting out online, the power of giving less f-words as you age, and how Gen X will sadly never be recognized for kick-starting the influencer marketing industry.

A few standout moments to be listening for:

  • (02:41, Danielle): “One of the first things I want to talk to you about are the relationships as Gen X women that we formed online. As I was reading your book, and reading about your journey, I was reminded of when we started going to blog conferences and connecting with women online. We were really the first generation of women to do this. ”
  • (08:55, Wendi): “It was almost like we all got our MBAs. We had lessons in public speaking and monetizing. These were all things that we taught each other, or learned by doing, that we never would’ve had in our regular lives. ”
  • (26:12, Wendi): “On finally getting published in a traditional magazine and The Wall Street Journal: “I think we all did that, we all adapted, and just didn’t take the traditional path to getting our work seen.””

Episode 11: Wendi Aarons Transcript

Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway, this is a podcast that brings you inside the world of marketing through the lens of influence, I’m your host, Danielle Wiley. Each week through candid conversations with industry insiders, we will uncover how influencer marketing is making an impact across all consumer buying habits, and is changing the way we talk to each other, let’s dive in. I have to say, it is always fun to talk to a comedian, I loved reminiscing with Wendy about blog conferences, and that one year with all of the X-rated swag. We also talked about how freeing it is as a Gen Xer to just really no longer care what anyone else thinks about what we’re doing. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Danielle Wiley: Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, US Weekly Fashion Police, Scary Mommy, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, and various other outlets. She’s the author of the middle grade book, Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian, and the humorous memoir, I’m Wearing Tunics Now, and a contributor to many anthologies. Her humor pieces have been performed by award-winning actresses, including Uzo Aduba, Sharon Horgan, and Alison Brie of Glow. Wendi’s eponymous blog was named Funniest Parenting Blog by Parents Magazine, and she was named Most Entertaining Writer at the Mom 2.0 Influencer Conference. She both speaks on and teaches humor writing to both children and adults, and lives in Austin with her family.

Danielle Wiley: Hi Wendi, and welcome to The Art of Sway. I’m really excited to have you on, we’ve kind of circled each other at various blog conferences, and have a ton of the same friends. I don’t know that we’ve spent a huge amount of time together, but this is really exciting, and you are having kind of an epic year. You have a middle grade book that just came out, Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian, which I wish had been around when I was that age. And then selfishly, the book I’m most excited about, that I actually got to devour last weekend, is not coming out until the end of October, but it’s called, I’m Wearing Tunics Now, and that’s primarily why I wanted to speak to you today. So thank you for coming on, it’s great to have you.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, so nice to see you. And thank you for wearing a tunic, I appreciate you staying on brand for me.

Danielle Wiley: Any chance to dress up in a costume, I will take it. Although this is not much of a costume, it’s kind of become my every day wear.

Wendi Aarons: Yes, as it should be.

Danielle Wiley: Yes. So one of the first things I wanted to talk to you about are these relationships as Gen X women that we have formed online. As I was reading your book, and reading about your journey, and starting to go to blog conferences, and connecting with women online, I started thinking about the fact that we were really the first generation of women to do this. I mean, for our kids certainly, and women younger than us, it’s kind of standard to meet people… I mean, we didn’t even have Tinder back in the day, but now everyone’s meeting everyone online, whether it’s for a relationship, a hookup, or a friendship. But for us it was really kind of unusual. And I guess just talk to me a little bit about your feelings about that, and how you kind of came into it, and if it seemed strange to you, or you just evolved into that.

Wendi Aarons: Well, I’ll say first off the top, I remember talking with you, I think it was at a Mom 2.0, And we were standing outside a tent where you could get your aura reading taken, because that’s what blog conferences had. And you were talking about your daughter, who had started in mail art Instagram. I have a very strange memory sometimes, so I don’t remember.

Danielle Wiley: So she was in fourth grade, and she started this mail art Instagram, and ended up with over 50,000 followers at one point. It was crazy for a nine year old, and we made her keep it anonymous because she was nine years old. But we were just like, “What is happening?” That was long time ago.

Wendi Aarons: I’m still clawing my way towards 5,000 followers after 35 years.

Danielle Wiley: I don’t think I’m even at a thousand.

Wendi Aarons: But yeah, I write a lot about this question you just asked in I’m Wearing Tunics Now, and it details my journey. And I hate saying journey, but from being 30 years old up until my fifties. About how my first days of motherhood, the first years of motherhood, were so lonely. And I was a rebel without a cause when I was in the grade school years with the other moms, and I didn’t think we had that much in common, and I never really found anybody I clicked with, so it was starting to write and starting a blog that led me to meet the women that I really was meant to be friends with. And like you said, we’re the first generation to do that, it wasn’t really something my mom would’ve done, or could’ve done. And now my kids have friends all over the world that they’ve met online, but it was so unique to us.

Wendi Aarons: So I met friends who would read my blog, and the really great part, and I write about this in the book, is how they liked me because of my writing voice, and the personality and humor I was showing. And I was showing that on the page, and not as much in real life, so they connected to that part of me that I hadn’t even really acknowledged or developed yet. So they didn’t like me because of who my kids were, or they didn’t just see my identity as Sam and Jack’s mom, they saw who I was on the inside. And as I’ve gotten older that writing personality has dovetailed more with my real personality that I’ve been letting show more, because I don’t really give a shit since I’m old. But it’s just been interesting, I met a lot of women like that at those early blogging conferences who were perhaps very unable to use their voice in their day-to-day real life, quote, unquote.

Wendi Aarons: And then they found their group of people who let them express themselves and develop their personality, like they always wished they could. Because we can’t pick who the other moms at school are going to be, and one thing I said was, “I was in a Texas cul-de-sac, and didn’t fit in with the other moms at school.” But it could have happened if I was in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, or at a private school in Paris, you just don’t know, it’s a luck of the draw, you’re just with other women who’ve reproduced around the same time you did, and all of a sudden you’re stuck in this school group. So plenty of women meet their best friends for life with other moms, it just didn’t happen to me. So I was thrilled that blogging in that time in our lives gave us that opportunity to do something that wasn’t dependent on where we lived.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah. And I mean, I remember just how isolating, and lonely, and hard it is having a baby. And to be able to find people who are going through that exact… So many of the women that I met have sons. I mean, my daughter’s older, but I think my son was when I really got into blogging, and I can’t tell you how many women I’m still friends with, or connected with, who have sons who are just about 17.

Danielle Wiley: Everyone had these little baby boys at the same time, and we’re going through this, and now they’re all applying to colleges, and going to college, and it’s amazing how this journey has followed us from those early terrible days of feeling like you’re never going to have time for a shower again, to wondering if your kid’s going to say hello to you today or not. So I loved reading some of those tidbits in your book about the early blog conferences, I was trying to figure out, we both did Voices of the Year, and I could have sworn I did mine in Chicago. And I don’t know if we did ours the same year, but that I was looking at photos, I was trying to go through photos of my Facebook, and I feel like maybe I did it in San Francisco a year before you, but we were both early voices.

Wendi Aarons: I didn’t go to that one, I’ve heard of many stories of the San Francisco one, but I don’t remember you being in Chicago. I was 2009, and I think there was another Chicago one later on too.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I think I was the first year of the Voices of the Year, which was 2008. But that was a crazy experience, that Voices of the Year, because to your point, you’re sitting alone, and you’re writing these words out, and certainly you’re connecting with other women who are seeing the real you. But to be standing on this big stage in front… I mean, I speak at conferences quite frequently, but this was a giant show, I felt like a rock star. It just felt different, it wasn’t like speaking in a conference room, it was a giant auditorium with the lights off. And to be reading your words on this stage, it was a wild experience.

Wendi Aarons: It really was. And I didn’t write this, I actually just had this thought while you were talking, but it was almost like we all got our MBAs. We had these lessons speaking in public, and monetizing, and all of these things that we just taught each other, or learned by doing, or had these opportunities presented to us that we never would’ve had in our regular lives. So like you said, you’ve now spoken at conferences, and other presentations and everything, and did you get those skills you think from the early blogging days, from doing Voice of the Year?

Danielle Wiley: Probably not, I was a drama geek in high school. So probably from doing Bye Bye Birdie in 10th grade, or something like that.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah. I don’t have the performing gene, I have zero performing gene, so getting up there was terrifying. And after you do it, and you do well at it, it’s just such a empowering feeling. But it was doing Voices of the Year that year that led to me starting to produce and direct Listen to Your mother in Austin. My friend [inaudible 00:09:58] that she started.

Wendi Aarons: And that was yet another way of putting myself out there, and it led to me meeting so many writers and other women in my hometown. So that was wonderful, because it was another way to meet people that weren’t moms at school, and to express myself, and to facilitate them expressing themselves. So everything in blogging… You know Laura Mayes?

Danielle Wiley: Yeah.

Wendi Aarons: The founder of Mom 2.0. She said to me once, “Start a blog and see what happens.” And it’s true, because there’s so many stepping stones. I mean, I could point to a particular blog post, and who I met from that blog post, and where that led, and why I’m doing what I’m doing now, it’s just amazing. I don’t know if people get that opportunity anymore, but I’m so glad we did.

Danielle Wiley: I was just going to ask that, because when we started… I feel like every question I’m asking you is like, “Because we’re old.”

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, that’s fine. That’s again, on brand.

Danielle Wiley: We started our blogs, I remember I went to the second ever Blogher, so what was that, 2006? And they were just talking about they were going to start allowing people to have banner ads on their blogs, and it was this giant controversy, and everyone was flipping out about it. But I mean, the fact is, is that when we started blogs, starting a blog for the purpose of monetization was not… I mean, I started mine as a way to just get my feelings out, and because I like writing, and writing articles, and submitting them to various publications was just kind of a beat down, and I had another full-time job, and I just wanted an outlet. Monetizing it was not on the radar at all for me, so I don’t know if when you start it for the purpose of monetization, if that community piece kind of falls by the wayside a little bit.

Wendi Aarons: I think it must. And I saw even the generation coming up after us, where they would launch their blog, and already have all of that monetization in place, and they’d have their social handles in place instead of learning on the fly like we did. And I tend to think that their blogs are more like the star and the followers, the star and the fans, it’s not as much of a community as we had, because we were all just in the same place. If somebody left a comment on my blog, the first thing I do is click on their link and go read their blog, because that’s all I wanted was connection and to find other people like me. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong on that, but I don’t think the generation…

Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s still community, but certainly not within the blog space as much. I mean, people aren’t leaving comments on blogs anymore, that’s how we met each other, and how we connected. And I mean, there’s certainly communication and connection happening within Instagram, or still on Twitter, or on these other platforms, but it’s gotten distributed out and diluted a bit.

Wendi Aarons: A well-thought-out, witty comment of yesteryear is now maybe a poop emoji. Or fighting, it’s all so much fighting, and we didn’t really have that then.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So that Chicago Blogher, where you were at Voices of the Year, that was the sex toys. I feel like that was… I don’t know, it was almost the year that it jumped the shark for me, because it became less about people connecting and getting together, and it was very commercialized. I think that was the year that it became very apparent, that this was a thing with a lot of money, and suddenly there was this giant expo hall, and Trojan was a sponsor, and people were throwing vibrators everywhere, and shoving each other out of the way to get them. And I think [inaudible 00:13:30] baby was elbowed in the head while someone was trying to grab a sex toy, it was kind of chaos.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, that was my first one that I’d attended, and it was just wild. It was fun, but also I had never seen anything like that before. And I say in my book, the brands were working over time to connect with the proto influencers, because all of a sudden mommy bloggers, which they would say, were a big thing that could help them, so they all showed up. And I think the organizers of Blogher did a really good job with capitalizing on the moment, and using those people to come in, and pay, and advertise, and then put that money into the conference, as far as all of the parties and everything. I went to one of the last Bloghers in Orlando a couple years ago, and it was absolutely different.

Danielle Wiley: I was there too.

Wendi Aarons: There were no parties, it was very different, so I’m glad that we had that chance to experience it at its height.

Danielle Wiley: It was a moment in time, absolutely. And I mean, it’s funny, I look at my Facebook memories, and just so excited to see all my friends tomorrow, just started packing, and just that excitement, and being able to connect with people. And I often say that there’s nothing as empowering as showing up at a mostly women blogging conference, nowhere in life do you show up and people are like, “You look amazing, oh my God.” And the hugs, it’s so affirming, and filling of the bucket.

Wendi Aarons: No, it is. And I say this in the book, I had my friends in place already by the time… I hadn’t ever met them in real life, but we had been talking, and emailing, and all of that, I don’t even think we had texting back then. So by the time I showed up to the first conference, it was like we’d known each other forever, and that’s such a rare thing, you don’t get that very often.

Danielle Wiley: No, you really don’t. I didn’t kind of preview this question, so if you need a minute to think about it, but I think a lot about the fact that as… I can’t say mommy blogger, it just hurts me. But as mom bloggers, we kind of created this monetization, and kind of created the influencer ecosphere and the creator economy, we were the first ones to do that. And now of course it’s just become its own big, giant thing, and typical Gen X fashion I feel like it’s been forgotten, that we were the first ones to do it. And I read a lot of articles where folks are acting like this is a phenomenon that just started a couple of years ago, and that these young influencers living in these TikTok houses in LA, and having these flashy lifestyles were the first influencers out there. And I always kind of feel like being like, “What about of us? We started it.” Have you noticed that?

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, a hundred percent. And it’s fascinating to me, and I’m sure somebody’s researched it, or studied it more than I have, but back when we were blogging there was hardly anybody doing it. So if I wrote something funny, it’d probably get a decent amount of attention. But now with everybody able to share, not even people who consider themselves influencers, but if you go on TikTok, and Instagram Video, there’s some woman who’s a nurse I think, and she has millions and millions of views for just dancing, and funny videos. And it’s a little bit daunting to see how creative everybody is, when we started I’m like, “Well, I’m really special, because I got this many likes, and my blogs are so funny.” But now you’re like, “Oh my God, everybody is funny.” And the TikTok houses, they’re making millions of dollars.

Wendi Aarons: My son Jack goes to a health club not far from our home here, we live outside of Austin, and he’s been playing basketball with this kid all summer. And he said the other day there was a middle school there for an event, and they saw this friend of Jack’s, and they mobbed him because it turns out he’s this huge YouTube star who has 25 million followers on YouTube. And Jack didn’t even know it, and Jack’s 18. But it’s mind-boggling that somebody who I’d never heard of, I’m sure you’ve never heard of him, but can have that huge of a following. And I looked him up, and they say he’s reported to make half a million dollars a year, he’s 23 years old, so I can’t understand it. But we, definitely to your point, don’t get credit for starting it.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, we never got the 25 million followers, and the half a million dollars a year. It’s just unfair all around.

Wendi Aarons: It’s all so unfair, we always get screwed.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah. So we were talking a little bit about before we started recording how I got this tunic a long time ago, and nothing else I bought that year would possibly fit me. But because this is a tunic, it’s very forgiving.

Wendi Aarons: Tunics fit everything, yeah.

Danielle Wiley: They fix everything, they fit your whole life. And because it’s the time of my life that I’m in right now, it’s kind of hard to not be thinking all the time about being older, and perimenopause, and everything changing, and just feeling so out of sorts. But at the same time, and I really love this about your book, there’s certainly that discomfort, and just feeling like things are different, and you’ve kind of lost control of your body, and your emotions, and everything. But there’s also to your point, just that having no more fucks left to give about anything, and just living your life like, “Hey, this is me, take it or leave it.” And how empowering that is. I don’t know if you wanted to talk a little bit about… Using that word again, your journey.

Wendi Aarons: My journey. Both you and I, of course we still really have fucks to give about many things, like our kids going to college, and all of that stuff. But it’s more of the external things, it’s the worrying if I’m wearing flattering pants when I’m walking through the grocery store, I don’t give a shit about that. And for most of my life, I did give a shit about that, I was always so self-conscious about what strangers, or strange men more specifically, would think about how I looked. And then I finally got to the realization that they don’t care what I look like, and even if they did care, I don’t care what they think, and it’s such an empowering mind shift to not worry about it.

Wendi Aarons: I write an anecdote in the book about going to Vegas with two friends a couple years ago. And you’ve been to Vegas. I mean, you get harassed, and there’s drunk men wandering around, and I was even harassed when I was holding my husband’s hand one time, because it’s so gross. But this time nobody even looked in our direction, and I could have just been a little upset, and had an ego crash, but instead I’m like, “This is amazing.” This time in Vegas with nobody paying attention to us, it was empowering instead of embarrassing, because I could just walk around. And as I say in the book, I felt like a man taking up space unapologetically, I didn’t have to, “Excuse me.” And try to sidle my way around. I’m like, “I don’t give a shit.”

Wendi Aarons: I was a little bit worried I was going to get punched, because I was just strutting around, and had a couple drinks in me. But I’m like, “I’m here. I’m walking where I want to walk, and doing what I want to do.” I really wish more women our age would accept that, and embrace it. And we might be invisible to some, but use it to your advantage, it’s a great feeling. I will say, this isn’t in the book, but a few years ago I was in Vegas again with a friend, and we went to a club, and we sat down, and the bouncer saw us and came over and had us stand up, and then he escorted us over to a dark corner of the club where nobody else was, which was humiliating. But then I’m like, “Oh, this is the funniest story.” So I did write a blog post about it. But I’m like, “Oh my God, we’re too hideous for the 25 year olds in bandage dresses.”

Wendi Aarons: But you have to laugh at it, otherwise what’s the alternative? Just sink into your sadness, and run out. When you start to feel invisible, or you realize that men, or other women if you’re not into men, aren’t looking your way anymore, it’s really empowering and it’s freeing. The alternative is to run out and get a bunch of procedures, or starve yourself, we’ve all seen that woman that is 50 and she’s trying to look 20. And it’s not always a good look, because she’s not being authentic, she’s trying to recreate her youth. And to me that’s a fool’s errand, embrace the age you are, you have already been 20 once, you shouldn’t try to be it again.

Danielle Wiley: I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately, and I don’t know if it all started with the whole coastal grandma thing, but there seems to be this growing appreciation for aging gracefully, and being okay with it. And I mean, from Jane Fonda letting her hair go gray, it took until she was 80 but…

Wendi Aarons: Yes, exactly.

Danielle Wiley: I don’t know, there was something kind of making the rounds on Instagram over this weekend, about appreciating how you’re aging, and not trying to fight it. And coming into your own, and being like, “This is me, and this is what I look like. Take it or leave it.” And being okay with it, and feeling empowered by it rather than beaten down.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, I agree completely. And to reinforce how I feel about it, I saw Paulina Porizkova, the supermodel, she’s been posting unfiltered pictures on Instagram, and she’s still a million times more attractive than I ever will be, or could be. But she’s getting troll comments, about being so old, and you look horrible now. And if she can’t even win… And she to her credit is embracing her age and what she looks like, so it’s ridiculous. Again, a fool’s errand if any of us ever tried to do that, so why? And men don’t do it, they’re not running out. My sister just posted a picture from her 30th high school reunion, and I glanced at it, I’m like, “Who are all these old guys, all these old bald guys?” I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s who she graduated with.” And they’re not out there getting Botox, and trying face creams and all of that, maybe some, but I doubt it.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, very few. Quickly before we wrap up I wanted to talk a little bit about the fact that you started with this offline writing career, and then transitioned to an online writing career. And now it’s kind of come full circle a little bit, and gone back to offline with these two books that you have coming out, the one that’s already out, and then your next book coming out this fall. And you’ve also written for print publications, and it’s kind of interesting to me to have done the offline to online, back to offline, and I wonder how that feels, and what you think.

Wendi Aarons: My offline writing was advertising copywriting for the most part, and I loved it, I really loved advertising. And I was laid off when I was five months pregnant, which sort of sent me into the tailspin I write about in the book. I never wanted to be a stay at home mom and suddenly I was a stay at home mom, and I wasn’t able to find a job that would pay for childcare or anything, so I wound up just kind of living the mom life, and started my blog. And that has led to more opportunities for writing, and it became a writing practice, because I probably stupidly thought I have to get a blog post out every Monday or people will get upset. I really treated it like a job, like, “These people are waiting to hear what I have to say on Monday, or they’re waiting for my Blogher recap.”

Danielle Wiley: We all were back in the day. I think that’s something that’s changed, but I don’t think you were blowing smoke up your own ass, I think that was true.

Wendi Aarons: But it wound up being a really good writing practice, and it made me get much better at my writing. I’ve written satire and humor for many years, and I’ve been getting better at that, I’ve been placing it in more places like The New Yorker. But also because of the friends I met online through my blog and through other things, I love to collaborate. So I’ve been collaborating with many of them, and that’s led to placing even more pieces, and meeting more people. And the transition to… Well, let me say one quick thing. You had mentioned earlier how it was really hard to get into traditional media, and I remember pitching Parents Magazine, and looking through the magazine, and getting the name and all of that, and emailing them, and getting absolutely nowhere. And then I started my blog, and in 2013 Parents Magazine named me Most Funny Mom Blog.

Wendi Aarons: So I was in the magazine, but not because of the traditional path, it was because of how I just did my own thing and got recognized for it. So I think we all did that, we all adapted, and just didn’t take the traditional path to getting our work seen. Another incident was when I was following a Wall Street Journal reporter on Twitter, and we had become friendly, because my big rule on Twitter is it’s like a cocktail party, and you don’t run in and just yell about yourself and then run away. You engage, I’m there to connect and to network. So I’d already chatted with her about other things, and we had a friendly relationship. And one day she tweeted something about how she really loved Diet Coke, so I DM’d her, I’m like, “I’m just sending you this piece I wrote, because I think you’ll find it funny.”

Wendi Aarons: And it’s a piece called I Love Diet Coke, that’s what I read at Voices of the Year, which was again, ridiculous, but it’s very funny. So she read it and messaged me back, and said, “This is hilarious, I just sent it to my editor and it’s running in The Wall Street Journal.” Because Coke had just bought Pepsi, or there was something going on, I don’t know what it was. But again, if I had tried my damnedest for years and years to get into The Wall Street Journal I probably wouldn’t have, but because I kind of took this other route and used the voice that I’d been developing on my own, and did a good job at it, and saw the opportunity to send it to her because of that. And again, I sent it just because I thought she’d like it, not because I was asking for anything, but that led to it being in The Wall Street Journal.

Wendi Aarons: And she’s now a good friend, and is throwing my New York book party for me. So we’ve been online for so long, you can kind of trace the evolution, I met her because I met him that year. And I talk in the book about connecting and making friends, and I still do that. We don’t go to the blog conferences anymore, but you can still do that in your real relationships. If you meet a woman who likes writing about historical romances and you have a friend that does that also, introduce them to each other, it’s easy, and it’s just a good thing to put out into the universe.

Danielle Wiley: I love that part of your book, you talked about how you love being a connector, and introducing people to each other. And I think more people should do it, it’s kind of a superpower, and I admire that.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, it feels good. But I didn’t answer your question completely, but it was at a Mom 2.0 Conference a couple years ago before the pandemic, and a book editor was there to speak on a panel, and that was the year I was up on stage. And the Mom 2.0 Conferences have the Iris Awards. And I don’t know if you know this, but I’ve been the writer of the show for the past three or four years, so I write the script. And that year I got up because I was presenting an award, and I was tipsy to the point of almost falling off the stage, but that’s not what’s important. But I was tipsy, and being funny, and had a good crowd reaction.

Wendi Aarons: And I had met this editor there, and couple weeks after the conference she emailed me and said, “I had a dream that you wrote a book, and I don’t know what it was about, but it was really funny.” So then I said, “Oh, maybe I should write a book.” And that led to Tunics, and she didn’t end up being the publisher, but I wouldn’t have written a book unless she had kind of asked me about it. So again, it all goes back to the conferences I guess for me, because that was me just being authentic, and goofy, and weird. And she happened to recognize that, and read some of my writing, and liked it enough to bring up a real book idea.

Danielle Wiley: Well, and I think it also gets back to just being out there, and not caring anymore. I mean, if you weren’t out there just doing your thing, and not caring what anyone thought, the opportunity wouldn’t have presented itself, conference or not.

Wendi Aarons: Exactly. And I walked on stage kind of drunk, wearing a beauty pageant sash and a crown, and being an idiot, but again, why not, why hide that? There’s no point anymore. And if I’d gone out there and done a straight talk like I was talking to lawyers or something, I wouldn’t have made an impression.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, note to self, wear sash to next conference. So just to close this up, we have a question that we ask all of our guests, and it’s what is the commercial you remember most from your childhood?

Wendi Aarons: I’ve been thinking about this, and I just talked with my husband about it this morning. And we both know the one that I really remember, and he’s like, “Don’t say that one.” But I will of course. But the one I really remember, and I wasn’t a kid, but it was an Ikea ad about a family that moved to a new neighborhood, and the kid is just miserable.

Wendi Aarons: And he’s like, “Hi, I’m new here, got any dorks my age?” And that becomes something Chris and I always say when we’re starting a new thing, just walk in and say, “I’m new here, got any dorks my age?” My but the awful one that I always bring up, and I bring it up whenever we’re traveling, and we go through customs. But there’s this ad from when we were kids, and it’s this slovenly guy going through airport customs, and they say, “Do you have anything to declare?” And he says, “Yeah, diarrhea.” And it’s just terrible, it’s an ad for Pepto-Bismol. But every time we fly and we go through customs, Chris will look over and see my face, because I just have that little smile on my face. He’s like, “Don’t you dare say it.”

Danielle Wiley: Well I mean, getting back to the theme of not caring what anyone thinks, I really think you must say it next time.

Wendi Aarons: I don’t know, I don’t know if I want to risk being sent to customs detention for being so weird.

Danielle Wiley: Well, thank you so much, this was delightful. And if folks want to find you, you are at @WendiAarons, and that’s Wendi with an I. So at @WendiAarons on both Instagram and Twitter, and your website is Thank you so much, Wendi, for joining us today.

Wendi Aarons: Yeah, thank you for having me, this was really fun.

Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.