Shayda Torabi is a born and raised Austinite, and you may recognize her from her work in the WordPress community. She holds the position as Director of Marketing for WordPress agency WebDevStudios, and she was recently named one of the top women in WordPress to watch by GoDaddy. In her free time, she runs With Shayda, a healthy food and fitness lifestyle blog. I met Shayda through the influencer events I’ve hosted, and truly love Shayda’s contagious energy.
When I first saw your blog Dine with Shayda back in 2015, the one thing that caught my eye was that you had a great brand. What was your inspiration for the brand and your initial goal when you started blogging?
I appreciate you acknowledging that! My professional background is in marketing and branding, so I always felt strongly about curating a specific look and feel for not only my content but how I would present that content.
To back up a little bit, I work full time in the WordPress industry, and have for the past seven years. So, blogging wasn't new to me, but this so far has been the most consistent and longest running blog/project I've started. At the time of starting my blog, I was global events manager for a hyper growth WordPress company and my job was to go to different cities and host dinners for our partners and clients. My blog started out with me just trying to figure out the best restaurants and food each city had to offer, and my dinner parties became such a hit people started asking if they could dine with me during these business trips. I was doing that for a few months before getting nudged by a coworker to start documenting everything in the form of a blog, hence Dine With Shayda.
I think the inspiration for the blog was a few things: 1) I was working in WordPress and it gave me something to tinker with in a space that was my own. 2) It was a fun challenge to take advantage of these business trips to find the best-of-the-best experiences. Life is short, and I was grateful for the experience to pursue good food and good company as part of my job. 3) As a marketer I am naturally more creative, so I enjoy having a project I can own and really use to express my creativity. The honest truth is, I never expected it to grow to what it is today; I sincerely just wanted a place to document my experiences, almost as a time capsule of my life. But I think it’s grown to be successful because of how I established my brand early on. I now speak publicly at events on the importance of personal branding and think there are things all of us can implement to make our personal brand memorable.
Now you've rebranded to With Shayda and you cover more lifestyle content. Why the change and how has your content shifted?
I rebranded earlier this year because social media, mine in particular, has always been personal for me. When you engage with my content you're getting 100% me. The policed and unpolished me. And as me, I do so much more than eating food. I work out, take care of my body, go on trips with my family, work a full time job. I just have so many more dynamic pieces to my life that I wasn't talking about and I wanted that to change. I wanted to have a healthy relationship with social media and be true to myself in the truest way I knew how, which was to talk openly about my personal journey and all aspects of it. I think social media is a powerful tool and storytelling has always been something I gravitate toward, and I love sharing my story with others because talking about what I'm going through as openly and honestly as possible keeps me accountable. I think the biggest shift is I didn't realize I was going on this life journey of self-discovery. In the process, I began sharing that with others and they were resonating with it—and I just wanted to keep it going. It motivates me to motivate others, which in return creates this beautiful cycle of empowerment. I am all about choosing to live your best life now. Why wait for New Year’s resolutions, or after x day to start doing y for yourself. The time is now, life is short, live fearlessly!
I feel like I see you everywhere, and you know so many people because you've leveraged your outgoing personality to build relationships. What's your advice for people who want to build their confidence and their networking skills?
Be you and be true to yourself. My content is all about education: educating yourself on what makes you happy, what causes you discomfort, what motivates you. That can come in the form of taking a personality test and realizing your strengths, or playing around with a diet to see what your body reacts to. I ultimately just want you to be the best version of you. If you are not outgoing and the thought of networking sounds overwhelming to you, I see that you have two options: Evaluate why you dislike something, and ask if there are ways it could become more enjoyable for you. If it truly causes you pain then it may not be for you. But also ask yourself “Why?” Maybe you launched a new business and networking with a particular group is the key you need to unlock the next steps for your business. I often times end up doing things I don't necessarily want to do because I’m asking myself “Why I'm doing it in the first place?” If there's a good reason for it, then I end up doing it. My personal mantra is "Just ****ing do it." What's the worst thing that could happen? And that rule applies to dating, career, networking, etc. The key is to remember your life is in your control, and the outcome you want is achievable. You just have to believe in yourself enough to trust that you know what's best for you. And if you don't, then practice exploring what that looks like. It’s different for everyone!
I know you and your sister, Syndey Torabi, do a lot of things together. What are you favorite activities around Austin?
Sydney is my partner in crime. We live together now and we really love this city and are proud to call it our home. Sydney is also a blogger, as well as a personal trainer, and she coaches at my home gym Athletic Outcomes. She's a big inspiration for me and is the reason I started going on this fitness and wellness journey. Because she's a blogger, we inevitably get invited to the same events. I enjoy being able to network with her and also create content with her. We love exploring Austin as locals and enjoy spending time at the greenbelt and Town Lake, and finding the best workouts and healthy food spots in the city.
What are some projects you're working in the next year that you're looking forward to?
Sydney and I actually just launched our own business, RESTART CBD. It has been an exciting endeavor we are excited to talk more openly about! I think CBD still has a bit of a stigma to it, so it's important for us to not only create a great product, but also help educate people about the powers and benefits of cannabis. We're in the early stages, so more to come, but that's been a really fun thing we recently launched. Aside from that, I'm just looking forward to seeing how With Shayda is going to grow. It's easier, or maybe harder, for me because my brand is me. I'm excited for the goals that I have in place for myself; working toward things like personal fitness records, going to new cities and countries, and just connecting with more and more of YOU!
When it comes to digital marketing, what do a lot of brands get wrong and what should small businesses prioritize now? What are your thoughts on mobile technology?
I have a few thoughts. First, seventy-two percent of internet traffic will be mobile in 2019. What that means to me is that as a small business, you need to make sure you have a mobile strategy that expands beyond social media. Is your website mobile friendly? Is it responsive? What is the mobile experience and can people access your key information when they hit your site on their phones? I think that's a huge miss for most small businesses right now because they think they have a website and they're great, but if they're a restaurant and I can't see the menu easily on my phone, we have a problem.
I think another thing that small businesses should take advantage of is content marketing. It's inexpensive, and a recent statistic says "sixty-three percent of content marketing costs less than traditional creative marketing and drives three times more leads." Whether that looks like social media, or blog content, or YouTube content is up to you and what will resonate with your audience. Content is cheap to make, so focus on that, plus you get HUGE SEO benefits! An easy way to take advantage of content is to see what type of user-generated content exists currently, or figure out a way to generate that content through promotion of a unique hashtag specific to your brand or business, or by working with influencers like myself who can come in and create content and amplify it on our channels.
What are some of your favorite books, podcasts, shows, etc? I'd love to know what media you consume for fun and for work!
I wish I had time to read more but I end up starting two to three books and reading them in pieces. Right now I have Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris on my desk, as well as Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuck. I'm really motivated by self-help books because I love hearing other people’s hacks for how they got to where they are. In the same vein, I love podcasts like How I Built This. The one on RX Bar founder Peter Rahal is especially motivating. Another favorite lately is The Influencer Podcast with Julie Solomon. She connects with top influencers who are good at their craft and invites them to share their stories. It’s just so fascinating to learn the ins and outs of a relatively new marketing sub-genre called influencer marketing. Also, guilty pleasure: I love binging Netflix and HBO original content. Right now my jam is Insecure on HBO!
What's the best piece of advice that's been shared with you?
I remember asking a friend recently how she balances it all and she said, you just do it. That struck me because I generally tell others to face their fears and to just do it because what's the worst that could happen. But to elaborate on that, it's more than just doing it. It's a state of mind that you are fearing less. If you live your life wondering about the what-if's, you're gonna miss out on what you could have. And so it plays very well into the mantras I say to myself: "you're stronger than you say you are" and "mind over matter." My hope is that we learn how to speak in the kindest ways to ourselves. Find out what motivates you and build mantras that speak to that. Write it on your mirror, text it to yourself, whatever it takes to put that goodness in front of you so you can remind yourself that you are a boss. This is your one and only life, after all!
Your brand is about living your best life. What does a perfect day look like for you?
I'm blessed because I've gotten my life to a state where I get to have perfect days more frequently than not. It's definitely a state of mind versus actually having a "perfect day." Sometimes a perfect day looks like waking up on time for my workout, and some days it looks like sleeping in and giving my body a rest. My perfect day is me living my truth regardless of what other people think I should be doing. It involves me asking, am I being honest with myself? Did I listen to my body? Did I get some sort of activity? Did I laugh? Did I see my family or friends? Those are all aspects to a perfect day for me, but the most perfect day is living a life where I'm doing everything I can to make the most of what I've got.
What sorts of opportunities have you had by being a blogger?
I'm really fortunate for the brand I've built. I realize that I did build the brand, but I'm still in shock sometimes when bigger brands want to work with me because I am just a regular girl who happens to put her life on the internet. But I'm grateful for everything I've gotten to do over the past few years running this blog. Opportunities have ranged from hosting major events, such as getting to emcee Austin Ice Cream Festival, to being put up in a penthouse suite in Dallas by Westin for a wellness weekend, and to getting invited to work with brands that I love, including Soul Cycle, JuiceLand and Texas Monthly. I think the biggest opportunity is just having a platform that I get to share my day-to-day life with others, which in return has given me some of the best friendships and coolest experiences that money simply can't afford.
Ask Shayda about her favorite workout, or how to stay healthy when traveling on the road, and follow her journeys daily on Instagram @withshayda.