For many years, my close ones have advised me to take all of the brands I’ve spun up and fold them inside a website that is just my name.
Only problem? I hate my last name. I always have. It’s helpful in the internet universe to have a unique last name, sure, but I’ve never liked how German it is (as a Jewish person who once had a boss walk in and give her an arm-at-45-degree-angle salute and say “Heil Heilbronner”). The length of my name feels detrimental to brand building, and I’ve spent 20% of my life spelling it. So, there’s a lot of resistance there.
Still, a few years ago, I decided that a searchable name was better than a random name, and I finally changed my original company name online from Boulder Ideas to SueHeilbronner.com. That logo had a giant “Sue” and a tiny “Heilbronner.” I bought the domain tellsue.com so I could use an email alias that would obviate me spelling my name when asked for my email address. Even with that all “settled,” I launched the Real Leaders Podcast, Leadership Camp, and more, all with their own brands, websites, email addresses, and all of the rest.
Frankly, it’s exhausting to have so many identities and so many web properties to manage.
A couple of months ago, I set out to find a new domain that I liked and that could work as a container for all of my brands. Tellsue.com didn’t work for a website in my opinion.
If you’ve ever tried to find an available domain name or, worse, to buy one, you know it’s arduous. I registered a raft of “sue” domains (cuesue, turntosue, persue), all made more expensive by the fact that “sue” is a legal term that connotes monetary settlements, and domains tied to money are hard to purchase at any price that makes sense if you’re not using the brand to litigate. Late at night on May 14th and about 15 registered domains in on this effort (all denigrated by many of my friends), I decided to take a shot and reach out to the owner of the domain “HeySue.com”. That domain was being redirected to a site featuring children’s music, and I figured perhaps the owner didn’t really need the redirected domain.
I loved this domain. It sounded like a phrase people would use to talk to me. It sounded upbeat and casual in the way I like to be in the world, whether I’m working or not. It was short, vocal, usable for a domain and an email address that would spare me the need to spell my last name. It had the ring of a platform. But, of course, it was not available.
I used the WhoIs database and saw an actual name and actual contact information for the owner, Suzanne Niles. I wrote the normal email about how I’d love the domain, I’d be happy to pay for it, but I wouldn’t pay that much. Would she be interested in parting with the domain? I never expected to hear back.
Seven minutes later I heard from Suzanne.
I was floored. A response! But I was still pretty pessimistic about the six-figure fee she might want for it, rendering it still out of reach for me. So I asked her for a ballpark price, and in a few minutes she wrote back:
I love what you're doing, and my first thought is you gotta have this domain -- it's perfect for your brand and feels just right, in the cosmic balance of things.
So let's break the rules ... just use the domain for now, and we'll figure out the details later. It's been sitting in my domain stable for years collecting dust, might as well let it do some good. No time limit, I won't cut it off ... pinkie promise. If/when times get better you can buy it properly for what you think it's worth.
Check it out ...
She had already redirected her site to my site. I was blown away. But she still owned it. I replied to say I would want to invest in branding and long-term use and couldn’t take this joyful offer, but I’d love to buy it if she would sell it. I asked her to name a price. She said that felt like brain damage, and as I was about to propose a $1,000 price point, something unbelievable happened.
Five minutes after she redirected the domain, she found me on GoDaddy and initiated a transfer of the domain to me. Three minutes later I sent her a $1,000 payment over Venmo.
The entire discussion lasted twenty minutes.
When I teach Conscious Leadership and attempt to wander around life with more self-awareness than I have at my low points, I hold the belief that I’m getting more and more aligned with my deepest wants in the process. With some regularity, magical moments happen that reinforce the sense that I’m going in the right direction, honoring my full-body yes, and choosing not to settle for something that feels off. This 20-minute experience felt like a pure experience of that type of alignment. Nothing had been right for years. I tried a bunch of things because I’m an entrepreneur, but they were off. Finally, when I was fully dedicated to making a massive change, the right solution arose on a quarantined night alone at home. I cannot express how happy I feel writing these next words.
My friends, you will now find everything I do on www.HeySue.com, including coaching, consulting, speaking, speaker coaching, Leadership Camp, Coaching Certification, and more. Leadership Camp will be redirected in the next week.
This newsletter, as it does today, will come from me at HeySue. Every other issue will contain what you’re used to, a thought or two on Conscious Leadership as applied to real work and real life.
I sure hope you’ll stick around, and if you know other folks who might like to receive these bi-monthly emails, send them to the site to sign up for updates.