Vondell Burns

Vondell Burns is the Founder and CEO of Thankless Production LLC. Her business offers education and professional services to aspiring entrepreneurs. Thankless Production provides a range of professional services and educational opportunities to creative entrepreneurs who prefer to focus on their vision while outsourcing marketing, business management, and content production.

Vondell specializes in coaching entrepreneurs who may be facing obstacles such as imposter syndrome or the illusion of time. She seeks to reveal how to bridge these gaps and answer the unanswered questions so you can grow and scale your business idea. She also offers strategy and brand consultations and organizes and leads weekly virtual coaching calls to help her clients transform their ideas into reality.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Vondell Burns’ entrepreneurial journey and background
  • Why discovering resources is the first step in the process of developing your big idea
  • Who are Vondell’s ideal clients?
  • Why it’s essential to take each step one at a time to reach your goals and scale your business
  • Why you should use your launch as a catalyst
  • How to demystify your process and focus on your ultimate goals
  • Vondell explains why creatives must incorporate accountability and follow through
  • Getting over imposter syndrome and not letting it get in your way
  • Vondell shares additional resources for navigating obstacles

In this episode…

Most entrepreneurs need some guidance when pursuing their grand ideas. But where can you get that kind of direction? Taking the right first steps at the onset is key. How can you make each step of the process empower you and drive you forward?

Vondell Burns has been in your shoes and knows what it takes to get started in the right direction. She knows that aspiring entrepreneurs need guidance in pursuing their grand ideas. She encourages these creatives to demystify the process of launching a project. All great entrepreneurs had their beginnings and took their first steps. Creative individuals often develop an outstanding idea but then struggle to move forward. Once you recognize the obstacles that are getting in your way, you can learn how to navigate them. Trusting the process and letting each step empower you will drive you forward.

In today’s episode of The Same Day Podcast, Mat Zalk meets with the Founder and CEO of Thankless Production, Vondell Burns, to discuss strategies to assist entrepreneurs in the launch stage of their projects. Mat and Vondell explore methods for overcoming obstacles in the launching process, using your launch as a catalyst, and not letting imposter syndrome get in your way.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.

Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.

They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.

That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.

To learn more about their services, go to https://keyrenterpmc.com/ or send them an email at [email protected].

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:05

Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship. Now to the show at hand.

Mat Zalk 0:20

Mat Zalk. I’m the host of The Same Day Podcast where I connect with top business leaders and real estate experts. Past guests on our show include Lee Easton of Aerovision, Kurt Volker is an investor client of key renters, Mike Bhatia tento capital, and Chip Gaberino, who’s a local restaurateur and real estate entrepreneur. Today’s episode is brought to you by key renter property management and key rental property management. We’re a full-service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets. We help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management Vondell you don’t know this, but we have a couple of clients Ryan and Jason out of the Bay Area that we helped turn a 14-unit nonperforming property into 100 plus unit portfolio. We’ve helped them renovate and acquire stuff. We’re actually currently renovating a bunch of their properties right now. So super exciting work that we’re doing here in Tulsa. That’s why it doesn’t matter what rental you have single-family homes, condos, townhomes apartments, we have the right management solutions for you go to Kieran or pmc.com or email us at info at key renter pmc.com. Again, a huge shout out to Mike Bosch who is the person that introduced Bundela and I attend to capital is where he is. And he’s doing great work checkout attend tow capital.com Vondell Burns, to our to turn our attention to our guest today is the founder and CEO of Thankless Production, LLC. The business behind the arts Vondell is a natural-born entrepreneur, with her mom having set the example of entrepreneurship for her early on Thankless Productions, focusing on a bunch of cool stuff. One is the prozone process. And Episode Two is coming out in a little bit. Vondell has been working on pulling back the curtain on the creative process and answering the unanswered questions like how do you secure venues? Or how do you get how do you put together a showcase where you don’t have a budget? And that is really I mean, you have creative people that are doing amazing things, they’ve got the vision for what’s happening, but they can’t always put it together in terms of execution. And so Vondell is helping them kind of bridge that gap. So that is obviously the necessary piece when you want to do something that’s monetizable. And then she’s working on a virtual accelerator currently being done live but in the future on demand. And that launches all in of this year 2022. It’s essentially an accelerator program for creative entrepreneurs who may be allowing impostor syndrome and the Illusion of Time to keep them from launching their creative projects. So excited to have you on Vondell, I’m really, I think the service that you’re providing is an amazing service for people that are creative, but just can’t, can’t kind of put the business side together unnecessarily. And I may be oversimplifying it, but I know people like that in my life in a huge way. They’ve got brilliant, brilliant ideas, but ideas are only part of the the the whole thing, you know, making a successful business and you coming in and doing kind of or helping people, coaching people on doing the business side of things is so important. But I want to start off first, tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey, where you got the entrepreneurial bug from?

Vondell Burns 3:22

Yes, well, first off, thank you so much for such an incredible intro. I’m really excited to be here and chatting with you today. So as Matt said, the journey towards entrepreneurship started quite young, I can remember my early days in elementary school looking at the example of my mom, who was an entrepreneur, we had a childcare in our home and she also had a store selling products. And she kind of instilled in me this notion of you need to work for what you want, establish this acronym for getting money through the sell of products. And I had to be creative around what those products were with little budget early. So what did I do, I looked around saw that I had gel pen followed I had glue, and got creative and was selling things like tattoos or rulers created out of things that I had in my possession currently. And I took that mindset and I kind of do that, still to this day, encouraging entrepreneurs to first look to the resources that they have and start without having everything figured out without the notion of having to scale but looking at what they have present-day and starting. That’s the premise of let’s launch that permissive pros on process really uncovering how to use the resources at your disposal to get off the ground. And so that bug was placed in me very early. I did grow up in the Midwest and ultimately started my career at Howard University where I went to school of business studied marketing and

And the school of business was known for kind of pipelining people to Wall Street. That’s where I got my skills developed. But I think intrinsically, I was still motivated by creativity and creative entrepreneurship. I had a lot of friends and Fine Arts and Communications. And they had product projects that kept me busy outside of the classroom. So things like music videos, and short films, having all the vision behind what they wanted it to look like and feel like needing somebody to help them put all the pieces together. And so that’s where I would say, I got my start really producing and being the engine behind creative projects, that was really rooted in my experience at Howard. And then I transitioned to full-time employment on Wall Street, I was working at an investment bank, most of my career there was on the strategy and brand team. So a lot of the work that I was doing while in a bank was still very creative. I was a producer there in the briefs, and doing all of that really finding my stride within that industry. But on the side, I had a nonprofit called torch. And that was focused on arts entrepreneurship. So I always had that pool that was bringing me back towards creatives in the think it was, yeah, it was 2019. When I made the decision that 2020 was going to be the year that I left my full-time job cushy job in New York and pursued Creative Entrepreneurship full time while traveling the world. This is like the map that I’ve laid out for myself. And I had the support of the firm that I was working at. And you know, I couldn’t have predicted a global pandemic at that time would drastically alter my ability to travel and kind of pursue it. But-

Mat Zalk 6:47

I can’t believe you didn’t see that coming.

Vondell Burns 6:49

-didn’t see it that way is, you know, I was a part of a camp of people who was really able to use that, that time period to the best of my ability. And to my advantage, right, like at the end of the day, I was launching a business that was Thankless Production that I was going full steam with, in an effort to one work with my ideal client, which was creative entrepreneurs on an individual basis. And then two, I really wanted to get back into production in the creative side of things will time. And what happened during 2020 was the world with digital world with virtual and so there was a huge market for my skill set at that time creating events pre-recorded content, helping creative entrepreneurs who now had the time to focus in on their hobbies and turn them into hustles. So it was a blessing in disguise. I hate saying that about this tragic event. But it really did create an avenue for entrepreneurs like myself to really partner with other creative entrepreneurs that were taking on us of this time period in our country’s history or so.

Mat Zalk 8:00

There there are people in my in my life that will remain anonymous for now. I don’t want them to, I don’t want them to know that we’re talking about them right now. Their idea people, they have a million ideas. Many of the ideas are honestly you, they tell them to you knew Oh, that’s actually a great idea. But they lacked the ability to move forward and kind of just come from the 40,000-foot level to the you know, the first step. And our motto and key Roger because we’ve improved it we’re in property management, we do process. It’s all process and systems. It’s a tiny 1000 little tiny steps. And we always say step by step because we need to improve things, step by step looking to get things done step by step, there’s a logical order to everything. But what do you tell creatives? How do you get them from the 40,000 foot view down to the first step of just executing that idea, which may eventually turn into failure? And they need to know that sooner rather than later? Or maybe the next, you know, billion-dollar idea? What’s the very first thing you do? Of course?

Vondell Burns 8:58

Well, I think the first thing that I’m really good about doing is not demonizing the fact that you are a visionary thing totally, that in and of itself is a skill that some process and operations-oriented people just don’t have the ability to think big and dream big is a gift. So I first meet you where you’re at and that, you know, I’m looking for creatives and visionaries that may not be able to wrap their head around process and operations because that’s my superpower. Right? And so I first kind of meet that that visionary with a sense of it’s okay, but you you can’t do all things right. I then have to be realistic and meet them where they’re at when it comes to what they’re able to do resource-wise right. And that typically ends up sectioning out the clients that I work with quite quickly. Are you the type of entrepreneur that has the capacity to do it yourself and or the ability to do it yourself? Are you the type of entrepreneur that has the resources and, for lack of better words, have the money to outsource it delegate. Depending on where you’re at, I kind of pivot to what my advice would be on how we would work together. But it’s all rooted in first. Understanding that you will get the view of kind of what needs to be done, and then the assessment on if that’s you, that can do it, or we’re paying other people to do it. It’s kind of phase two. But I do think anybody that works with me, comes out with a baseline of what has to be done in order to get the vision off the ground. And then it’s up to you to kind of put the resources together to actually execute.

Mat Zalk 10:40

And do you do? proselytize is the wrong word. But I mean, are you a proponent of EOS or scaling up or any of that kind of process, those hardcore process things that that talk about rhythm, Cadence, and 90 day goals and all that other stuff?

Vondell Burns 10:57

100%. So I don’t want to scare people away. By first starting in on scale, I think there are phases. And usually the clients that come to me that are maybe battling with impostor syndrome, or the Illusion of Time need to first get over the hurdle of doing something at all right prior to then shifting the gears towards scale. And I use myself as a case study, right? If I had come out the gate, worried about how I was going to reach a million clients, first, how I was going to get my social media counted 10,000, and all of these things prior to just doing the work, grassroots efforts, you know, having these cohorts with five, six clients, or, you know, really thinking through scale, I would have never started. And so my MO is actually targeting people who are literally just looking to launch right and use it as the catalyst for continuous improvement. So that by the time you do scale, you actually have done the testing and seeing what works for your ideal customer.

Mat Zalk 12:06

So many creatives I find are the they idealize the perfect and, you know, my philosophy has always been done is better than perfect. I just want something to go live. How do you bring those people back? I mean, I just think about the creatives in my life. Very, very smart. But kind of fly up here I say, the 40,000-foot level and they want they want this idealized version of of the future based on their product, or whatever it is, how do you bring them back to the idea that at some level, you just have to launch and it’s not going to be perfect? It won’t be where you are in a year. But you’ve got to get something kind of on paper on the web, whatever it is, how do you navigate that?

Vondell Burns  12:47

Definitely, I think it’s about demystifying the process, right? And making sure that there are examples of people who now visibly have reached that 50,000-foot, like we got the goal, but showing them that they started 10 years ago, in an office in front of an audience of 10. You know, and so I do think it’s, there is this phase, when I work with people who had that 50,000-foot view of like, let’s unlearn some things. Let’s walk through what it actually looks like to achieve success at scale, and where people who have achieved that success started from, and that can be as simple I usually start with an intake and all my clients. So like, Who do you look up to in the industry that’s doing what you like to do, and kind of getting that key information around their motivations and what they’re aspiring to be, and walking them through the journey of some of those people to really make sure that they’re clear that they started from somewhere. I do like to tell people that you know, at the end of the day, I don’t work with everyone. And there’s a reason why like I do have to index on people that have this ability to unlearn and to accept that there is a starting point. And if after a few conversations, we kind of mutually agree that that isn’t within the realm of what you want to explore. It’s a mutual agreement, and maybe I’m not the best coach for you. But that’s something that I take very seriously before signing on the line. Like we have an opportunity to learn each other in like sport, if it’s a good fit for you with no pressure and no strings attached just to make sure we’re both getting the best out of the experience together.

Mat Zalk 14:26

Can you talk about a current client or a former client that’s that you’ve taken from kind of the visionary into an actual product? Or a monetizable idea?

Vondell Burns 14:37

Yeah, sure. So I think one of the most visible ones that I love to bring up is the founder and CEO of Soul Vitamin. Her name is Sonali, and she is such a visionary. The idea of coming out with so though vitamins is all about kind of highlight and creative entrepreneurs in the things that might have their soul for lack of better words. What’s your soul? Vitamin is the tagline.

Mat Zalk 15:05

I love that. I love that. Your Soul Vitamin.

Vondell Burns 15:09

Your daily pills. Yeah. And so thinking about people or, you know, habits or rituals as what you consider a sole vitamin is kind of the premise of what she’s talking about in her podcast. And the vision for the podcast at the onset was huge, right? This is somebody who, at the time of us working together, she’s full-time investment banker, I mean, investment banker, the creative side of anything, she’s fully investment banking, and was looking to make this transition into full-time creative entrepreneurship, and wanted to make a huge splash with this talk show that was gonna reach the masses and like, spill out all the merch upon launch, right? And I’m telling her, like, hey, let’s get this thing in front of some people get some feedback. Right. Right. Right. So you can actually see an example. So her podcast launched on YouTube. And-

Mat Zalk 16:11

Is that just Soul Vitamin on Google?

Vondell Burns 16:13

Yeah. And, I continue to like after? And it was this exercise of first getting her to agree to do it virtually. Right? That was a huge thing. It’s like, No, I want it to be in like a studio with like, cameras and all like bull makeup. And, like, actually, from what you’re launching live, let’s take this low tech oath, get out your laptop. Right? You know, I can tell you what you’re wearing, like to buy which camera that’ll work. You know, I can facilitate, you know, the interactions with the it was even thinking like, when it came to who she wanted to bring on the show whether or not you’re going like Ailis versus I need-

Mat Zalk 16:53

Oprah.

Vondell Burns 16:56

Paul Stages.

Mat Zalk 16:57

I mean, George Clooney. Hello. Right.

Vondell Burns 17:01

Right. So I think that was really awesome. I was like, actually, we can start with your friends you have, you know, I can be one of your first guests. And we can test out even if you’re able and comfortable to ask me questions, right? Like, let’s take steps towards not only getting your reps in as a host, getting you comfortable in front of the camera, testing out your brand, ID and being okay, switching that in front of your smaller audience first, right. All of that, I think was was huge in in getting her out of her own way. And now she’s at the process of doing live recordings in Studio, you know, live. So it’s been an amazing evolution to see what just starting prompts. And then also one of the things that I teach my clients is kind of go out and announce the deadline announced the date given prior to you making moves towards it, so that you’re held accountable. Right. And so that was something that was huge. And just making sure we were staying on our timeline and making sure there was momentum towards what was what was actually happening behind the scenes.

Mat Zalk 18:12

I mean, so much it reminds me of like looking at your room when you’re a kid and it’s just full of toys and your clothes are everywhere. And your if you can just say look, I know this is a two hour fiasco here that I’ve got to clean this thing up. But I’m going to devote five minutes, five minutes a day for the next couple of days, five minutes turns into half an hour, 40 minutes, you see the progress, you feel it and it creates a new compulsion to keep going. I’m starting with an MVP, and just and then scaling from there. In fact, beautiful. So what is so what is she right now? So vitamins? Where does she stand in the in the process of reaching her ultimate dream of being in studio with makeup and all the lights?

Yeah, so she just wrapped her first series that we did virtually so I can do on my core, she then brought me on to produce her virtual series, being the last episode of that kind of went out, I think two weeks ago or so. So we’re still fully in the marketing phase and just getting eyes on that. But simultaneously, she’s recorded the live version. So we’re she’s in studio and having more of a conversation with self about her background, because the reality is no one knows who she is yet. And I do think that this aspect of introducing herself to the world is important. Even though the initial premise of Soul Vitamins was more so her profile and other people it’s like who are you and why do we care that you’re doing this? So this next series that she’s doing is more so tapping into her motivations as an investment banker turned full time creative entrepreneur. So really excited to unveil that soon. But currently in the process of teasing that out, and I tell her like all of the things that she kind of came in guns out aspirationally wanting for herself in this series are fully fully within reach. But I do think she’s done an incredible job of like, one foot in front of the other, let’s do this in phases and kind of build the momentum from there.

And what if somebody’s MVP is something that requires a ton of resource? I mean, what if you need to actually develop a website and have back-end infrastructure and, and have an operations team? And our whole thing like, how do you? How do you think about MVPs? When even the MVP is a larger market, just a larger beast?

Vondell Burns 20:34

Right? So I do think the category of MVP, it does play a pretty significant role. And in the creative space, it’s one realizing that a lot of creatives aren’t even wired to think of their product or service as an MVP. Some of the creatives that I’m working with aren’t even thinking of their creation as a business. Right? Some people are just intrinsically trying to reaction. Yeah, right. Yeah. So I do think that there is this aspect of range that I do work with from a client perspective. But if you’re on that farther in where you’re already at the process of looking to scale and things like that, that’s where I tap into, like my extensive network built over the years in the industry, and kind of the big guns come out, right, the connections have been established. And one thing about working with me is, you know, I feel like everybody has a degree of separation away. One of the things that we learned a skill set within the B school is like LinkedIn is the biggest tool, those connections via Howard or GS in depth really coming into play, when you are in need of those partnerships and collaborations that’ll take you to the next level. So I do think that aspect of networking, comes out and is actually a part of the milestones that we cover in the course, a week is dedicated alone to building those partnerships, networking, and making sure that you’re in a position to scale once you’re ready to.

Mat Zalk 22:03

Right. So much of entrepreneurship is just getting the next thing done. Because at the next step, you’re gonna find challenge and being able to get through that challenge. I mean, it’s in my mind called Grit. I mean, it’s just being able to persevere, find a way, when you hit that dead end in the maze, backtrack a little bit, go right, go left and make a new Forge, forge a new path ahead. And that’s just that ability to kind of, I don’t know, get off the horse to get back on the horse that through you, or whatever it is, just is that grit that you need to be an entrepreneur. And I think that’s a critical, that’s a critical skill set that can be taught just, you know, get to a whiteboard, what worked, what didn’t, how do we get back to a place that we were working? And then you know, kind of make it to the next to the next hurdle, the next plateau? if you will? Tell me, what are you reading? What are you ingesting content-wise podcasts, audiobooks, whatever that’s that is both related to your primary, you know, occupation, now Thankless Production? And also just personal stuff that you enjoy on the side?

Vondell Burns 23:07

Yeah, sure. So I always have a couple of books I’m repeat. This index is awesome. The main audience of people that ended up coming my way are people who battled with impostor syndrome and Illusion of Time. And I say, those two things, because those are ongoing. I guess they never really go away never brings back this newer, more aggressive imposter in your life as you climb each level. So I tell people, like I’m always working with people that are like one level, for lack of better words behind the current state that I’m in presently. And as I grow as a new impostor emerges, and I have to remind myself write some books that I recommend for reminding yourself to keep going. The Art of War, or The War of Art, excuse me. I really, really recommend The War of Art for people who struggle with impostor syndrome and the illusion of time understanding that resistance is like, the biggest barrier. And the resistance that we experienced towards making moves or The War of Art is the Steven Pressfield. And it talks about this, you know, invisible force called resistance that kind of gets in the way of us making moves on our goals, our creative passions. Do you think just a gentle reminder that resistance is ownable and defeatable is a great read to keep on the shelf? It’s super short. For the Illusion of Time aspect. I like to revisit atomic habits. I modeled one of the tools that I give to the creative entrepreneurs that I work with copy Higher Self habits tracker, after the instruct and instruction that we get through the book atomic habits to really look at the goal that you have for yourself a few years out or month out or whatever in the future and back into what that means you need to do in your present-day to reach that goal. And understanding that each day is a mosaic for your life. And every habit that you’re setting, no matter how small, kind of comes together to form this broader picture. That is your life. I think that’s a constant reminder for me that you don’t have to wake up and have completely transformed every aspect you are right. The first day by changing those little things really matter. So I think those are the two that are going to constantly surface for me. And then another one that I don’t think is talked about as much but should be is a book called Outwitting the Devil. So Outwitting the Devil In a similar vein, so this is by our favorite Napoleon Hill, um, it’s in the same vein of like, defeating that internal thing that is, in some way getting in the way of you making moves. And the premise of this one is like, he makes the claim that he had a conversation with the devil around just like everything that could potentially be keeping him from living his best potential or like living his fullest life. And you kind of see how the devil in this in this work is working, actively working against you, and your ability to create whatever you’re meant to create. And so he kind of lays out all of these things that you should be on the lookout for. And once you have identified, you know, some of these tricks or tools, as tricks and tools, you can effectively have it think it’s just a nice reminder on how to navigate some of those moments of self-doubt, or impostor syndrome or things like that.

Mat Zalk 27:17

Beautiful, the atomic habits by James clear reminds me of another book that I love called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. And it’s about, you know, the pathway to developing those habits. And, you know, you can, your habit is just something that you do, because your brain can can can take a load off energy-wise, by just going the same route every day to work or whatever. And if you actively change that, you know, 21 days of doing something will kind of instill that new habit, you can change that anything in life, if you if you don’t like mornings, you can go to bed early, and you know, put your shoes and your clothes by the bed early in the morning. So when you wake up, it’s a little bit less, there’s less resistance to getting up early, and you can change habits. I love that. I think that’s I mean, in general habits can be changed. You don’t have to do everything at the same time. And there are little tips and tricks. I learned the Napoleon Hill book, Outwitting the Devil that you can, that you can know of so you can avoid them and make more progress. I love it. We’ve got Vondell Burns here with us today of Thankless Production on a shout-out a couple of additional things. She’s launching her virtual accelerator for creative entrepreneurs, who again to what we were just talking about that don’t want to let impostor syndrome and the Illusion of Time keep them any more from launching their creative projects, their dreams, faithless production.com forward slash community stash resources. And again, thankless.production.com is the main website, you can find everything else there. And then also the pros of process Episode Two is dropping on July 12. And that is talking about how you can actually take steps to do things that you might not have been able to do so far right? Answering unanswered questions like, you know, how do you take the first step? How do you secure a venue? How do you showcase something when you don’t have the budget to do it? But everything else runs out? Where can people find you if they want to learn more about the stuff that you’re working on?

Vondell Burns 29:18

Yeah, so thanks for shouting out the website, www dot Thankless Production.com Um, I also encourage people to follow us on Instagram and YouTube. So I’ll be promoting where a lot of content will be published through Instagram. That’s Thankless Pro. And then the YouTube is also Thankless Pro and that’s where the pros on process series will be featured. Otherwise, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on all social media platforms if you want to connect more personally, but I think those are the main ones to keep in touch around the business.

Mat Zalk 29:49

Vondell you are a hero, a local entrepreneur in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We appreciate you being on.

Vondell Burns 29:53

Thank you so much.

Outro 29:59

Thanks for listening to The Same Day Podcast tune in to a new show each week and be sure to subscribe to get future episodes