Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Shirley Weir; the Founder of a hugely popular online community with more than 27K members and counting. The name of this community is called Menopause Chicks and Shirley’s mission is to empower women by helping them navigate midlife with the right health information.
Shirley speaks regularly at popular events all over and in 2018, her first book called MOKITA reached #1 on Amazon in women’s health.
I invited Shirley to be a guest on my show because I wanted to talk about her Menopause Chicks brand and learn about the challenges she faced in her quest to shift people’s mindset on the subject. As well, I wanted to learn why our cultural attitude toward menopause is still so shrouded in stigma and silence.
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Hi, I'm Joelly, your branding badass, and welcome to my new podcast. Branding matters today I'm sitting down with Shirley Weir; the founder of a hugely popular online community with more than 27,000 members and counting. The name of this community is called menopause chicks. And Shirley's mission for menopause chicks is to empower women by helping us navigate midlife with the right health information. Shirley speaks regularly at popular events all over. And in 2018, her first book called Makita, reached number one on Amazon in women's health. I invited truly to be a guest on my show, because I want to talk about her menopause chicks brand and learn about the challenges she faced in her quest to shift people's mindset on this exact subject. as well. I wanted to learn why our cultural attitude toward menopause is still so shrouded in stigma and silence. Shirley, welcome to branding matters. Thanks. It's great to be here. Oh, well, it's really great to have you here. This is a little bit of a different conversation. My mission for this podcast has always been to make it different than anything else that's out there. Before we get into it. I wanted to share with our listeners how you and I connected. I'm very open about my age. I'm 54 years old. And I think it was about maybe a year ago, maybe two years ago, I was struggling with some personal health issues, let's just say and I wasn't really sure what was going on. And so I went to go see my doctor, and my doctor told me in no uncertain terms that I was menopausal. And I was horrified. Because you know that word is a taboo word in today's society. And we talked a little bit but I went home and I thought, Okay, well, I've always been wanting to take my health into my own hands. And for every problem, there's a solution, so to speak. So I started doing some research online and googling and literally just google meta pause, and you popped up and love the name menopause checks, and found this incredible Facebook group that you had at the time, I think it had 20,000 members. And I found your branding was so amazing. And it stood out. And it really spoke to me, and probably to a lot of people. And it was a subject that I felt nobody wants to talk about. And I didn't know why because I don't know why I felt all this shame when I shouldn't. And so I thought, you know, screw this and I reached out to I don't know, if you remember and we had a conversation, then I started posting about it on my social media. Because I thought let's talk about the elephant in the room. Like why is everybody so afraid? I would suspect that trying to brand a topic that is taboo but so important, especially as our generation is getting older, and we should not be ashamed of it. And I think we should talk about it freely. So that's why I want to bring you on today because I want you to talk about the challenge that you must have trying to promote and to brand this really, really important topic. I first want to talk about the name menopause chicks because I love it. Where did you come up with the name menopause chicks?Shirley Weir:
Oh, my goodness, you just like hit so many points. The name menopause chicks came to me in the shower one day, to be honest, I remember being inspired by a group of women called the Smart Cookies. They were actually an investment club and I was like smart cookie metaplastic. I don't know how I came up with it. But what worked for me was twofold. Originally, I didn't want the name menopause in the brand. And that's because the word menopause has a lot of negative energy attached to it a lot of fear for women, a lot of confusion, conflicting information and to actively as a woman that didn't work for me. But as you said in your intro, it works for Google. So I knew that I needed to have menopause in the name because that's what women are googling. I wanted something that would allow women to reclaim this phase of life. So a lot of my friends were putting up their hand in my face and saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, surely don't talk to me about menopause. I'm not there yet. or many of them would say you're not 50 yet. You know, I was 46 at the time when I started it and they were like, what are you doing talking about menopause? You're not there yet. And I was like, Oh my goodness, we need a word that we can own. And we can reclaim and I chose check because the definition for me of a menopause check is someone who is smart savvy and likes to be proactive with her own health. And so that is what I use as the criteria for being a concierge for menopause checks. You don't need to know anything. You just need to own your wisdom and that any problem in life you know how to figure it out. If you can be lead towards quality information and the right support. IJoelly Goodson Lang:
love it. It's such a great name, and it's catchy and shorten. It's awesome. Okay, so you launched onto the world stage in 2013. Is that correct? That's correct. So what was your biggest challenge back then when it came to your branding? Like when you decided you were going to do this? Well, I guess maybe we should back up and say what motivated to even start Metapod chicks?Shirley Weir:
Well, it was really born out of my own experience. So I had a marketing career for 30 years. And in my early to mid 40s, I was starting to no changes myself. I was starting to talk to my health team about what I was going through. And I wasn't really all that pleased with what I was learning personally, as well as what I was finding out online. It was confusing, it was conflicting. And I don't know about you, but it was also very overwhelming because what these changes overlapped was a very hectic, busy business, a very hectic, busy family, with two small children, an aging mother who is showing signs of dementia. I mean, if you could line up all the cards that I was trying to keep afloat, it was overwhelming in itself. And then for me not to be feeling my optimal best. And when I went online, because I thought that's where smart savvy women go exactly. I was met with too many pop up ads for how to lose my belly fat and too many programs that were 999. And so there was a glaring gap, there still is a glaring gap in women's health information. But I set out to close it to your question, what was the most challenging thing? Well, the the most challenging thing was that I didn't know what I didn't know, I thought that I was going to crack open the conversation. And that's still the tagline for menopause chicks. I thought that if I just found a way to build a community post events to get women talking about this important subject, that that would be my gift to the world. And what I quickly found out is that it's not enough to crack open the conversation, we actually have to change the conversation, we have to unlearn the generational myths that we've inherited some of the media in your window and misinformation that we've gotten from magazines and television shows over the years or not, I mean, try to find there's like a handful of TV episodes who have actually addressed this subject matter because as you said, it's not well talked about. And what I found is that when it was talked about, it was often under the umbrella of comedy. And so I really don't go too far down the comedy stream, because I think we need to keep this conversation first and foremost, back at that educational level, the same way we would when we're teaching our kids for the first time about their sexual health. That's what women need right now is access to quality content. Oh, IJoelly Goodson Lang:
totally agree. You know, I wonder if when you talk about comedy, I wonder if the reason for that is because a lot of times I think when people are uncomfortable to talk about something, they do make fun of it. So maybe humor is a way to sort of make people feel more at ease. Why do you think people are so uncomfortable with it? And what do you think it would take to bring it to the same forefront in the same way that you would something like for example, cancer? Hey, that'sUnknown:
an amazing question. And I have so many ways to answer it. First of all, look at where research dollars go into women's health, and you'll see a very small sliver of the overall pie. So that's one glaring gap that our society needs to address. Women's Health has not been on the front burner when it comes to research. Secondly, civc in Canada owns breast cancer, who really owns menopause, at menopause chicks. We want women to own it, we want to empower women. I'm a woman's health advocate, I want every individual woman to be her own best healthcare advocate, and to know how to navigate not only the phase of life, but any challenge that comes her way, the medical system, etc, etc. So those are a couple of points that I would have to say to that. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about it? It's fear based our society or decades has instilled fear around aging. So we're seeing some changes, but we still have a long way to go. Let's be honest, you and I, we are the first generation of women to turn 50 and have 50 more years to plan for that. let that soak in. Because I think there's a lot of misconceptions around menopause is just a natural part of life. And I asked Is it because 100 years ago, women only lived to be 50. If you made it to 58 You're a very old woman. So menopause was a non event only a century ago. And now We expect to live to be 100. In fact, science can easily keep us alive to 100. So we have four to five more decades of life. And so my mantra soapbox to anyone listening right now is this midlife opportunity that we're talking about right now is the chance to invest in the next four to five decades,Joelly Goodson Lang:
as we age as women. And as men, there's a lot of things that may or may not happen to us, we may or may not get Alzheimer's, hopefully we don't, we may or may not get cancer, hopefully, we know, we may not get you know, dementia or a million other things, arthritis, and you know, list is online. But every single solitary female on the planet is going to eventually reach menopause, I'm of the mindset of I want to embrace it as a part of life. It's like taxes, you can't avoid it. So why try to fight it?Unknown:
Well, and the key thing that you just said there is that we do want to embrace menopause but all simers and arthritis and cancer, those are diseases was is not a disease. It's not a health condition, right? in life. And in fact, it's a.on, the reproductive calendar of a woman's life,Joelly Goodson Lang:
let's dive in more into the branding aspect of it, you've decided you want to be the voice and you want to share this with everyone and you want to change the conversation. I would suspect it's sort of a delicate situation. And so I'm curious to know how you went about it, because your branding is great. Your Facebook page, you have over 27,000 members, you don't just get that, you know, there, there's a lot that goes into that. So can you share that?Unknown:
I don't know. No. That the key to the menopause chicks brand growing or enjoying the awareness that it does has been something that you and I have spoken about before. And that is word of mouth branding, to me is what people say about you when you're not in the room. And I have never taken out a Facebook ad to get women to join my community. It has grown organically. It's growing because other members have had a positive experience. They've had their questions answered, or maybe they felt seen or heard or understood. And then they go and tell their friends. I think the other piece that we may have mentioned that has worked in our favor from a branding perspective is that I chose a very uncrowded space to work in, there are not a lot of people doing what I do.Joelly Goodson Lang:
I know. That's interesting, though, because I've seen a couple of women on Instagram who've promoted themselves as experts. And then I also know locally in Calgary a couple as well. You just stand out when you Google. There's lots of names that come up. But I found that your brand was so powerful. And your messaging was so powerful that I was instantly attracted to and because this is all about branding, and about sharing, how do you promote a brand and especially a topic that nobody wants to talk about? How do you brand something that no one even wants to talk about? And yet you do it? So Well, I read I think you have over 2 million visits to your website. That's pretty impressive. And I agree with you. I mean, word of mouth is huge. The best advertising as advocates, right is people who talk about you and you're on social media, correct? Yeah. SoUnknown:
with Instagram, I want to create a space where my followers can have micro learning moments. So that's what I do. It's like your doom scrolling, you're not really sure what you're looking for. And if there's any moment in time, where I can give someone a tidbit, or a slice of information that they either didn't know before, or maybe they wanted, I want them to do this actually to think about something different Facebook groups, quite a different story. I've spoken to many brands like big corporate brands, and they often will say, how do you get so much engagement, we have a Facebook group and we can't get anyone to participate. And the thing I think that is our magic sauce at menopause chicks is that the Facebook group engagement, people don't want to talk to a court and people or women who are navigating this phase of life, they want to talk to somebody who is their peer, I have a certificate in peer counseling from UBC, I try to draw on those skills whenever I can, even though it's just typing through a screen, but those women feel less alone. And they feel validated in their experiences. And once you can break down those two layers, then you can get in and help them problem solve or help them find what the information or the health professional that they're looking for. It's a personal experience, even though it's all on social media.Joelly Goodson Lang:
I've had a lot of conversations with many experts from all different industries and both branding and the one commonality and you've just touched on it yourself is about creating value. So you're going on social media and you're not selling you're adding value. You know, they say if you either should entertain educate or inspire people that is phenomenal that you're on there and you're educated hating people, and you're engaging with them, and you're just giving them enough to want more. It's amazing. And I can see why that's working. And then as far as in your Facebook group goes, same thing. I'm part of it. And you know what, it's funny. I have a lot of people that I've sent to your Facebook group for that exact reason. And well, I mean, thank you in the digital world and the digital space, how do you engage people digitally, and you do it in such a great way? Because I believe you're so authentic. You're very kind. Thank I. I agree. So I don't agree. I mean, I I honestly believe that from a branding perspective, because that's so lens I'm looking at, usually people connect with people that they can relate and identify with. And so I would suspect as someone who's trying to reach an audience, what is it that you do to attract all the different personalities and all the, you know, from one end of the spectrum to the other, theUnknown:
content that we produce is going to be on a spectrum, Bernie Brown has a quote, in order to be curious about something, we have to know a little bit about it. And I was like, Oh, right. So if you don't know anything about the changes that are going to be happening to your body, no one has talked to you about perimenopause or menopause, it's gonna be really hard to jump into a conversation about it and the AHA for me in managing this community was oh, I have this many women who are coming consuming content, and they don't ever click a Like button or post a comment or anything and they are still having an experience somewhere along their learning spectrum. I can't exactly say where they're, you know if they're at the expert level yet or, or if they're still at the beginner but they are somewhere on their learning journey. And that's a success. That's a win hopefully for them.Joelly Goodson Lang:
I want to talk about your book called Makita. Can you share what Makita stands for cuz I love this. Yeah, youUnknown:
already said it. Makita means elephant in the room. And it's a word that found me It actually comes from Papa New Guinea. The Kabila tribe in Papua New Guinea's definition of Makita is something that we know exists, but we don't talk about it. And often it's a subject that gets swept under the carpet is another way of talking about, you know, elephant in the room swept under the carpet. But the interesting thing about the Kabila tribe that I just absolutely loved, and that's why I had to use it as the title of my book is that they measure the health of their tribe based on how many mosquitoes they have. Can youJoelly Goodson Lang:
elaborate on that?Unknown:
So let's bring it to you and I and I were in a relationship, which we are never talked about money. And we never talked about sex ever talked about communication, and we never talked about menopause, those would be Makita is and we wouldn't have a very healthy relationship if we never talked about those things. And so my positioning with Makita is that in order to have a healthier society, it's better if we bring these conversations out into the open. I mean, that's why we're here today.Joelly Goodson Lang:
I love that what inspired you to write this bookUnknown:
two things, I was inspired to share my own story, because I think that women like to learn through hearing about other women's stories. I was inspired by my sister who's 10 years older than I am, and she reached menopause at age 36.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Oh, wow, is that young,Unknown:
that's very young. The average age of menopause is 51.2. But my sister had cancer as a child. And we believe that the radiation killed a lot of her egg follicles. What was really fascinating about my sister's story, even though I was only in my 20s, when she was going through this is that she taught me what it means to be your own best health advocate. So she got information from her doctor that didn't sit well with her. And so she got curious, and she went to the next doctor. And then she went to the workshop. And then she went to the seminar. And she got as much information as she could checked it out with as many quality resources as she could. And then she chose the journey that was right for her. And she I'm happy to say as a healthy 64 year old today, so I wanted that to sort of be it's the first chapter in the book, and then I go on to clarify a lot of the things that you and I are talking about today, the definitions, the myths and misconceptions. The second half of the book, the objective was to teach women how to be their own best health advocate and how to build their health team. Because as you know, we have a lot of choices, but not all of us have the time the money or the resources to shop around. It kind of hopefully shortens the distance for women in terms of accessing the care and support that they need.Joelly Goodson Lang:
It's a great book I got it. Well, I mean again, I soon as I found you and found your Facebook group, I went out and bought the book and referred it to a bunch of people and I what I love about it is I do love The way you start off and you do tell your story. And then as you mentioned, you know, you're kind of like, Hey, don't take my word for it. Here's an expert. And you bring all these experts in to share their experience and their knowledge and their advice. So I almost use it as a resource book now, you know, like, it's a great book, and It reached number one on Amazon. Right? That's fantastic. Well, Shirley, thank you so much for all that you're doing and continue to do. And I'm so excited to watch you and learn from you. Especially as you take on all these challenges, because I've no doubt you're gonna make these changes. If people want to learn more about you and about menopause checks. What's the best way for them to reach you? Yeah, thankUnknown:
you for having me. This has been amazing. I could talk about branding all day, actually. I'm at menopause, menopause chicks community and find us on Facebook. It's also at menopause chicks community calm. And at menopause chicks is our handle all over social media?Joelly Goodson Lang:
And are you on all the social media platforms? Where are you? Where can we find you?Unknown:
I am predominantly on Facebook and Instagram, but I'm also on Twitter and you can find surely we're on LinkedIn.Joelly Goodson Lang:
Okay, awesome. Well, thank you again. I really appreciate it. We've actually never met in person. It's funny, we've we've talked and texted and everything else, but we've never met in person. So next time I'm out and Vancouver when we can fly again. Look forward to meeting you in person. That would be amazing. Yeah, that would be so awesome. All right. Well, thank you again, truly. And I will talk to you soon. Bye. And there you have it. Thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed the conversation and maybe even learned a few things that will help you with your branding. And most of all, I really hope you had some fun. This podcast is work in progress. So please make sure to rate and review it on whatever platform you listen to. And please subscribe to branding matters. And if you want to learn more about the branding badass, that's me. You can find me on all social media platforms under you guessed it, branding badass. Thanks again, everyone. And until next time, here's to all you badasses out there.