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What The Skimm founders and beef blogger Amanda Radke can teach us about telling our stories in 2020

Rebecca Shaw for Progressive Dairy Published on 19 June 2020

Editor’s note: This article is the latest in a series from Rebecca Shaw about female entrepreneurs.

The year 2020 will go down in history books.



We’ll all have our own version when telling future generations about living through and rising above the havoc COVID-19 caused for our families, businesses and neighborhoods or the nationwide protests and heartache following the death of George Floyd. Whatever that story may be, whatever your view may be, how well will you tell it? How will you utilize the power of your voice and the tried-and-true art of storytelling to serve the dairy industry, your communities and our world better?

Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, female entrepreneurs and founders of The Skimm, turned an idea called Project TBD, which included no back-up plan and $4,000, into a platform that is now communicating daily with over 7 million subscribers. Here are the top three lessons I’ve learned from them, which I apply to my professional and personal storytelling.

1. Focused content. Have a clear vision of what it is you want to talk about. I’ve been taught this lesson many, many times in my career journey. If you do that, your audience will continue to follow you to consume what you have to say. I follow The Skimm because I know they’ll give me an update on the hottest news, information on political candidates and business advice. By following them, I feel more armed to engage in conversation discussing the world we live in today.

2. Know who you’re talking to. When thinking about the audience you want to reach, it’s in the same lane as “you don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea,” or “a jack-of-all-trades,” or “good at everything, but not great at anything.” Carly and Danielle reach 7 million subscribers by understanding their target audience of female millennials and how they like to consume their news.

3. Be authentic. Remember, no one is for everyone. There will likely be people who read this that won’t like The Skimm, or my opinion, and that’s OK! But, what everyone can take away is that without authenticity and genuine intention, your words fall on deaf ears.


I asked Amanda Radke, a well-known rancher, beef blogger and speaker, what 2020 has taught her about telling a strong and impactful story. She responded:

As 2020 continues to unfold, it seems like there has been immense pressure to become an ‘expert’ on all topics and a push to use your platform to voice your opinion on every hot topic of the moment.

What I’ve realized is that it’s okay to take a step back, to really listen, to hear all sides, to evaluate information and to seek voices outside of your own vacuum. And, then when we do decide to speak, it carries weight because it’s thoughtful, researched, rational and unifying.

My default on social media has always been, and will always continue to be, to lead with kindness and facts, and ignore the rest. It’s my goal to be an authentic storyteller who unites producers to consumers, from my ranch in South Dakota to the urban families in the big cities. And, what I’ve discovered is we have much more in common than what we may have previously thought.

As we wrap up Dairy Month, I’d like to leave you all with a major homework assignment: Reflect, listen, learn and apply. The need to do this has never been clearer. Take what 2020 has thrown at you and learn from it. Grow from it. Use it to tell the most intense, impactful and breathtaking story you’ve ever told. Our future generations will thank us for it.  end mark

Resources to learn more about the entrepreneurs featured in this blog:


PHOTO: Well-known beef industry blogger Amanda Radke says 2020 has shown her she doesn’t need to rush to respond to all topics and instead take the time to listen to all sides and form a thoughtful response. Photo provided by Amanda Radke.

Rebecca Shaw
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