Have you ever met someone with so much drive and grit who has conquered just about every challenge that has come her way? We sure have! Her name is Natalie Franke, the creative behind Rising Tide Society who not only has an impressive background but who also has a genuine heart of gold. As an entrepreneur, Natalie recognized a problem and created a solution for not only herself but for many others going through the same experiences. Read on to find out how Natalie is cultivating and nurturing the mentality of “community over competition” for business owners with Rising Tide Society, not only across the United States but all across the world.
Hi, Natalie! Please introduce yourself! What was the inspiration and intention behind Rising Tide Society and how has it evolved since you first started?
I’m a photographer, community builder, serial entrepreneur, and social media maven with a deep desire to make an impact. A huge nerd at heart, I studied Visual Studies at UPenn and fell in love with neuroscience. By the time I graduated from college, I was determined to build a business and take the path less traveled. Friends were getting full-time jobs, and all I wanted was the challenge of building something that I could call my own…even if that meant risking failure.
Within two years of leaving school, I had built a six figure photography business and was beginning to understand the toll that entrepreneurship takes on all of us. Working alone, hustling every day, and living in the space between isolation and overwhelmed—I had reached a breaking point. On an early spring night, over a glass of wine and an honest dinner conversation with friends—we started to question whether there was a better way. After months of struggling and feeling inadequate, we placed our insecurities on the table, and the Rising Tide Society was born.
We launched twelve coffee-style meetings that quickly grew to one hundred, to two hundred, to over four hundred meetings that now span the world. Our vision was to break down barriers by getting people in person to build meaningful relationships…our hope was to ensure that no entrepreneur ever had to build a business alone. We foster a mindset of “community over competition” and truly believe that we are stronger together.
“Our vision was to break down
barriers by getting people in person
to build meaningful relationships…
to ensure that no entrepreneur
ever had to build a business alone.”
What is your role in the company and what does an average work day look like for you?
Currently, I serve as the Head of Community. My day consists of cracking the code to grassroots growth while building, scaling, and empowering a team of world changers. I mobilize the community by providing educational resources and support to hundreds of local chapters and tens of thousands of members. Rarely am I in the same place for long—traveling has become a big part of my job as well. Some days, I also remember to eat lunch and get my inbox into the single digits… Kidding! I wake up every day and strive to build a community that creates opportunity and unites people in meaningful ways.
We love that you nurture the concept of “community over competition” in the creative world. What motivated you to be so passionate about this concept and how does Rising Tide Society work as a team of hundreds of volunteer chapter leaders, regional directors, and contributors?
This mission is very personal to me. I was raised by a single mom and started working at a young age…I’ve built a few businesses, chased several different definitions of success, and faced the impossible task of always trying to measure up. It is easy to get wrapped up in the comparison game in a world where every waking moment revolves around a phone or a computer.
The Rising Tide Society is overwhelmingly a volunteer organization. Our content is user generated and submitted to us by members. We have over 500 chapter leaders and co-leaders who are responsible for growing the community on the local level. Our Creative Council serves as the visionary body of trusted advisors, and our Regional Directors stand as the foundation for ongoing education and upcoming events. You can learn more about our team, here.
“I wake up every day and strive
to build a community that creates
opportunity and unites people
in meaningful ways.”
You have a very intriguing degree in Visual Studies from UPenn. Tell us more about that and how have you utilized that in your career?
Is this your way of calling me a nerd? Kidding. I wear it like a badge of honor #geeksunite. I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Visual Studies – specifically in the psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience of seeing! Most of my courses throughout my undergraduate career were spent reading Descartes, learning about the visual cortex, and exploring various aspects of our sensory perception.
I chose this degree because I was concerned about the portrayal of the female body in modern media. The proliferation of highly edited, virtually plastic photographs in the fashion and advertising industries impresses an unrealistic expectation of femininity on the general public, which leads to potentially disastrous consequences for the individual and society.
Learning about vision, psychology and neuroscience introduced me to the world where art and science collide. It showed me that imagery, as I’ve mention above, can make a significant impact on our perception of the self. It can influence consumer purchasing decisions, levels of brand loyalty, and even share our satisfaction.
Tell us about the “TuesdaysTogether” meet-ups. Where did that idea come from and how has it blossomed?
To foster a community over competition mindset, the idea of TuesdaysTogether was born. A gathering on the second Tuesday of every month where creatives + entrepreneurs gather together for coffee and conversation. Our leaders create an open space for idea sharing and goal building around a central educational topic. We first launched these meet-ups in May of 2015 with a handful of cities on the East Coast that has expanded to over 400 chapters in cities around the world.
In addition to RTS, you are the Head of Community for HoneyBook. What are your top three tips for balancing multiple roles/jobs? How do you stay organized while balancing work and life outside the office?
I’m organized by nature, however as an adult—I quickly had to relearn how to balance multiple facets of my life as things got busier. Three quick tips:
- Make Lists: As simple as it sounds, having a running list of what I need to accomplish on a day to day basis is the foundation of my productivity and organization. By having the ability to cross off items that I’ve completed, I create a positive feedback loop that encourages efficiency and reinforces forward motion.
- Live by Your Calendar: If you want to make time for something, you have to schedule it into your life. That includes date night, the gym, church, or meal prep. As my schedule has become more packed, I’ve started practicing a strict routine of living by my calendar. It has proven to be a game changer.
- Invest in Systems That Make Life Easier: I used to be a DIY kind of entrepreneur. I would build my personal systems and eventually, there were so many spreadsheets, docs, and scattered processes that the system itself was holding me back. It’s one of the reasons I’m passionate about companies like HoneyBook and Planoly. If you have the ability to find a tool that automates and organizes your life—invest in it.
“I’m passionate about companies
like HoneyBook and Planoly.
If you have the ability to find a tool
that automates and organizes
your life—invest in it.”
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners?
There are two things I want to stress here—the first is to work hard and the second is to build a community around your business.
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, and that is okay. I see a lot of people jump into small business ownership only to discover that the endless cycle of hustle and hardship isn’t right for them. If you’re hoping to create or grow a business, you need to be ready to put in the work.
I read a quote recently that said: ‘It takes ten years of practice to become an overnight success.’ Don’t get discouraged if building a business is taking longer than you thought it would. Don’t compare yourself to people on the internet—focus on your company and stay in your lane. Be prepared to fail and do it quickly. The most successful entrepreneurs I know have picked themselves back up many times. They all have different strengths, but they have one thing in common…a relentless grit and perseverance to succeed. I believe that’s the key. Work hard, and it will pay off.
You also need to find a way to build a community around your business and brand. No entrepreneur should build a business alone. It’s crucial to find people who can give you valuable feedback and support when you need it. The Rising Tide Society was built out of this need to cultivate community, and I can’t imagine my life without it.