The True Story Behind Outspoken Media


Outspoken Media, Inc. launched last week. But in the craziness that was SMX West, we didn’t have much time to get into the details. That’s what this post is dedicated to.

On October 2, Rhea Drysdale and myself (Lisa Barone) moved from warm weather climates to Troy, NY and excitedly joined We Build Pages. About a month ago, in an unstable economy and with nothing to fall back on, we resigned. Here’s why we left, how we found Rae Hoffman, and what in God’s name we were thinking when we formed Outspoken Media, Inc.

Working for Bruce Clay, Inc. changed my life. There’s no other way to say it. That job, that company, and what they taught me put me on a completely different path and opened doors I never knew existed. When I left Bruce Clay, I left because my heart knew it was time. I had moved from NY to CA for reasons that were not my own. The people at Bruce Clay made me stronger and put me in a position to move back to NY and to start a new chapter, on my terms.

That new chapter was meant to be We Build Pages. It was to be that for both me and Rhea.

lisarheapubconWhen I moved to Troy, I didn’t know Rhea Drysdale. We had met a handful of times at various conferences but I didn’t know anything about her. I didn’t know about her incredible work ethic, her passion for her clients, her insatiable need to always be doing more or the fact that she’s a closet mumbler and you never know if she’s talking to you or herself.

But after working with her for three short months, I learned all of these things. She was someone that had a completely different skill set than me, but someone who wanted similar things. Like me, she’s s a bit mouthy, she fights for things and for people, and she creates her own rules because yours just hold her back.

As passionate as we were about our new jobs, sometimes things just don’t work. Just shy of a month ago, Rhea and I made the decision to leave We Build Pages. We will forever be huge fans of Jim Boykin and we thank the team for everything they taught us, but being there didn’t fit.   So we made the hard decision to resign. In a crap economy. With nothing else planned.

And that’s when I started to panic.

But Rhea didn’t.  She suggested we talk to someone who has always helped guide us to awesome before — Rae Hoffman.

The ballsy Rae HoffmanRae’s one of those people I don’t ever remember meeting. One day I was living a normal life and the next I had the infamous Sugarrae yelling at me and threatening challenging me to be better.  And she’s recently taken on the same role with Rhea. We don’t know how or why it happened, but we know it makes us lucky. And we don’t question it.

When we told Rae what had just happened, that we had just left We Build Pages and that we needed jobs, she did what she always does, she tweeted.  But after that, she gave us the push we needed to do the very thing we knew we needed to do.

Rae is known for being ballsy. She’s known for creating her own path and doing things on her terms. That day, she challenged us to do the same.  She asked us what we wanted, why we were unhappy, and where we wanted to be.

We told her we wanted more control, the ability to fight for our clients, to do things our way, and to make our own rules. Slowly the conversation went from “who can we get to hire us?” to “what if we did something…together?”. What if the three of us combined our very different talents and used them to complement one another? Then we could get the best of both worlds — working for a company we controlled and doing it with people we trusted.

That’s the day that Outspoken Media, Inc., an Internet marketing company founded by Rhea Drysdale, Rae Hoffman and Lisa Barone, was conceived.

Today we’re in start up mode. That means when Rae IMs me at 2am with an idea, status update or a thinly veiled threat on my life, I can’t ignore her like I used to. I have to actually answer her and act on it. It means we’re all working 14 hour days on the weekends. It means that Rhea pretty much lives out of the “office” in my Troy apartment where her “desk” is actually my chaise lounge.  It means lots of calls with clients, lots of work and lots of coffee (or tea, if you’re Rhea).  It means a lot, but this company means a lot to us, too.

We have big plans for Outspoken Media and you’ll hear about all those in time. But for right now, know that we’re here, we’re taking over, and we’re not going anywhere.

We want to thank everyone who has shown us an incredible amount of support over the past few weeks. We love this community and we love that you’re excited for us. We’re excited too.  If you thought Lisa, Rhea and Rae were forces to be reckoned with individually, you don’t even know what we’re capable of now.

Together, we’re Outspoken.

Your Comments

  • Eric Lander

    “she creates her own rules because yours just hold her back” — That mentality is why Outspoken will kick ass and why the three of you will never lose the characteristics behind your work. Completely inspired by what you three are doing.

  • Nikki Pilkington

    Great story – really looking forward to seeing what you three come up with in the future! Congratulations!

  • Corey

    Congrats you guys! Looking forward to see what you all do!

  • Hunter Satterwhite

    Hey! I know you girls! Ya’ll do kick ass!

    @ericlander Attaboy! ;)

  • rishil

    I dont know whether to be scared or jealous – three seriously talented people, one company.

    I wish you guys all the good luck I can spare, and offer you my congrats!!!!

  • Leanne

    So glad to see you settling into a new home! I’ve followed your blogging for quite some time now – always appreciate the liveblogging, etc – and I’m excited to see that you’re still going to be there. :) Congrats on the new company!

  • Ken Jones

    And so the legend was born. Good luck to all three of you with this. You’re already off to a flying start. PS “neglecting her baby” I take it Graywolf wrote your author bio for you ;-)

  • Kristi

    Congrats! It sounds pretty darn exciting. I also can’t wait to read more blog posts from you, I’ve missed them the past few weeks.

  • Ryan

    Awesome story guys. I really wish you the best of luck. I made a similar decision several years ago to leave the security of a job in corporate America for the promise of having full creative control over my life and work. Took lots of 14 hour days (many of which still happen) for several years, but it’s totally worth it. When your work is your joy, life doesn’t get much better.

  • Patrick Sexton

    Wonder triplet powers… activate. Wishing you success and happiness.

  • Lisa Barone

    Thanks everyone. We’re looking forward to what’s next, too. :)

    And Rishil, I’d be scared. But that’s just me.

  • Todd Heim

    Ballsy is quitting your job in the worst economic climate since the great depression to start a brand new company. I love it! Kick butt!

  • Christina Gleason

    You guys are an inspiration… the best kind of inspiration to have when you suddenly find yourself in the position of being your own boss in a sucky economy!

  • Jeremy Wright

    Rawk and freaking roll, congrats ladies! Can’t wait to see this evolve. Huge fans of each of you (from a distance, dont’ think I’ve met any of you yet…?), and I’m sure this’ll just rawk!

    If I can ever do anything to help (dunno what that’d be, but just sayin’), lemme know :)

  • Alysson

    I’m thrilled for all three of you! You’re going to kick ass, take names and change the way people think about being “outspoken”. Well done, ladies!

  • Alysson

    Did I just call you “ladies”? My fault…that’s about as stupid as someone calling me “lady”. I plead for your forgiveness. ;)

  • Kay

    Talent + bravery + girl power = freaking awesome! Congrats!

  • Thomas Schmitz

    It was terrific to see all three of you at SMX West. To say I am excited and happy for you is an understatement. See you on Twitter!

  • Lisa Barone

    [admits to totally being a Jeremy Wright fan girl]

    Jeremy: I don’t think I’ve ever officially introduced myself but I have maybe stalked you at a WordCamp or BlogWorldExpo event or two in the past. You’re kind of awesome and make me feel inferior. ;)

    Allyson + Kay: Thanks a bunch! We have a motto of being kickass at all times. It works for us. :)

  • Sophie Wegat

    Way to go. Good luck to you all although I suspect you won’t need it!!

  • Rae Hoffman

    I’d just like to say that I look smokin’ in that picture. :)

  • Dave

    Well its called outspoken media . . .

    Doesn’t anyone else think that Lisa showed a fair amount of business immaturity?

    She left a job she loved, moved across the country, QUIT after ONE months and then started a directly competitive company? (guess there was no non-compete at WeBuildPages)

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish them well and I really liked the blogging from SMX (I couldn’t make it), but if you were a prospect and presented with a 6 or 12 month contract, wouldn’t you wonder if she would stick it out or quit or move to a competitor? Wouldn’t you also have to wonder about her ability to research a company or industry if she misjudged this much a company she moved across the country for?

    Everybody here want to ingratiate themselves to the social media divas, but doesn’t this show a bit of business immaturity?

  • Lisa Barone

    Dave: Welcome to Outspoken. ;)

    You’re totally in bounds to call me out on that. The thing is, I was at Bruce Clay for almost THREE YEARS before I left. That’s practically an eternity in Internet years. I left because I ultimately wasn’t happy and I needed to change my situation. As much respect as I have for Bruce (and Bruce and I remain close), I’m not the type to just sit and collect a paycheck. I needed something more — a new challenge, to be back on the East Coast, to be pursuing what I wanted. So, after three years, I changed jobs.

    I didn’t move across the country to stay at We Build Pages for three months (and it was three, not one!). But that’s unfortunately what unfolded. Things happen. Jobs don’t work out. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Yeah, I could have sat at my desk for a year so it “didn’t look bad” and collect a nice paycheck OR I could decide I wanted more now and not be afraid to do it on my terms. I chose the latter.

    Bottom line: I’m no flight risk. I don’t think it shows immaturity to go after what you know you want. I think it would have been more immature to sit uneasy because I was afraid to jump. It would have also been unfair to my employer.

    But again, welcome to Outspoken. I think you may fit in here. ;)

  • Rhea Drysdale

    He so chose the wrong Outspoken founder to pick on for job hopping. ;)

    I’m thinking we build the company and then jump ship for the hell of it in six months. Who’s with me?!

  • Joe Hall

    “Dave”, real immaturity is when you do things like, not sign your name on a critical public comment. I know i have stuck my foot in my mouth before, but, my name, url, and avatar are always attached!

  • Feydakin

    Congrats ladies.. I love startups and following them, so I’m looking forward to the next year or two..

    As for Dave’s comment, meh, who cares?? I quit my full time jewelry job on Christmas Eve (they knew it was coming) to get back in to marketing and doing what I love most, helping people and businesses grow.. I never have, and never will, let what someone else might think of me affect what I do or how I do it. So why should anyone else worry about those things, we know Rae certainly doesn’t :) and I’m hoping Lisa and Rhea don’t care either.

    Good luck ladies..

  • streko

    Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark.

  • Dave

    Fair enough; like I said, I don’t wish anybody ill and I liked the blogging from SMX. I, also did misread the blog in that you left a month ago not after a month, so I apologize for that.

    I just have come to think there is a ‘groupie’ effect in Internet marketing with a lot of people just wanting to ingratiate themselves to Lisa or Sugarrae, Danny, Graywolf, et al. without ever calling somebody out for fear of scorn from the ‘groupies’.

    Wish you well, it does take guts to start something new in this economy, although the brightest spot in the entire economy is probably online marketing.

  • Lisa Barone

    Dave: There is totally a groupie effect that takes place in Internet marketing and it is completely infuriating. I don’t think I’m at the level of having groupies, but if you ever see it, call it out.

    And I give you express permission (not that you need it) to knock into me whenever you disagree. It makes me like you more. :)

  • Article Marketing Man

    Lisa 2,131 followers on Twitter says you TOTALLY have groupies. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s a very important in levaraging social media, which from our previous conversations over at WBP I understand you are very into.

    Speaking of WBP, I am fascinated by what must have happened there. With so much publicity about you guys moving there, and soon after Jim changing the paid links model (which you all seemed elated by), it’s definitely piqued my interest as to what changed – surely I can’t be the only one? I look forward to hearing from Jim again at his blog or on WBP, it’s like he announced he announced he wasn’t buying links any more and promptly turned off his internets.

  • Rae Hoffman

    @Article Marketing Man

    You will find no “gossip” here or discussions saying anything other than that the team over at We Build Pages is filled with some talented people. I’ve known Jim for years, he is a good guy who not only knows the space but also steps up to the plate to donate money or support a good cause any chance he gets. Sometimes things just don’t work out and there isn’t anything else to say.

  • Bob Weber

    Lisa! Bold move for all three of you. Wish you the best!

  • Sarah

    Congrats, ladies. You’re like, kind of inspiring ;)

    Does this mean you won’t have time to make “milkshakes” with me anymore?

  • Article Marketing Man


    Not very outspoken, but understandable nonetheless. You’ll have to forgive my curiosity, if you look back over the posts at WBP over the past few months I’m sure you’ll appreciate how incredible this seems to someone who only keeps up with what is going on via the blogs.

  • RKF

    It was just over 1 year ago when Lisa & Susan contacted me to say that our 11 day old start-up had won the BC Charity contest :) More than just a little scary.

    Now it’s Lisa in the start-up … I wish you all kinds of success! We’re all confident you will hit the ground running and do well. The 14 hour days may no end as soon as you’d like, but I hope you enjoy every minute of it.

  • Kelli

    Congrats to all three of you!!! I have been following you all individually on twitter for quite some time and I would have to question myself why I wouldn’t follow three that has turned into one powerful force. It is inspiring to see you jump in with both feet (or all 6, so to speak ;) signed: “a-self-called-groupie” !!

  • Rae Hoffman

    @Article Marketing Man

    I’d appreciate getting back to the important comment on this post… did you SEE how smokin’ I look in the group picture up there? :)

  • rishil

    I am a freaking groupie – so sue me. Seriously. And I have astrong self built follower count to prove I aint an ordinary one either :P Meh.

  • Lisa Barone

    Rae: Wait – You were talking about the group picture before? Please. I look hotter than both of you combined. Get off it.

  • youfoundjake

    Glad to hear the story behind the scenes, I found the 3 of you recently through twitter, sugarrae longer from WMW, but have enjoyed reading the rants..
    I suspect there are various Web companies out there that puckered up when this announcement was made, and I wish the 3 of you the best of luck..
    top notch posting from SMX, too bad I couldn’t make it over there to meet the 3 of you..

    p.s. rae-way smokin hot, as hot as a girl can be to a happily married man.. ;P

  • Alexander

    Sure you do Lisa :) BTW Congratulations and best of luck, I´ve been following your posts since you were at bruce clay, and surely will do the same here at outspokenmedia´s blog.

  • Jeremy Wright

    Lol at making any of you guys feel/look inferior. You’re rockstars, and I’m completely positive OSM will thrive with you guys and your passion and work ethic at the helm :)

  • @teedubya

    Great stuff. I wish you three the very best of rockstardom. Especially the “hot one”. ;-P

  • Joost de Valk

    Rae, did someone already mention you look SMOKIN’ in that picture? :)

    Congrats girls, great move. I’ve just made the switch from a secure job at a big company to a startup myself, and yes, it’s scary but DAMN is it cool. If all goes well, I’ll see all of you in Florida soon, and I’ll try to get a pic in which all 3 of you look evenly hot, if the camera won’t burn before I take the pic :)

  • Sujan Patel

    Very motivating post! Good luck on your new adventure together.

  • Lea de Groot

    Come on guys – you haven’t addressed the question all of us are hanging out to hear… when are you hiring? ;)

    But for looking smokin’ in the photo? Gotta be Rhea. Redheads rule, don’t you know? :)

    Congrats and all the best on the new challenge!

  • Emily

    I know I am late with this (been caught up with stuff I guess) but I am so happy for you guys. You are awesome, and I know you’ll do fantastically well!

  • Sam Adams

    First, break every rule =)

  • Selena

    OH! and this is weird! I’m actually from ballston lake NY, I moved down to florida two years ago for school. Small world! Troy is right near my parents house :)

  • Mike Pedersen

    Love the story. I’ve been a “rebel” entrepreneur my entire life. Never had a boss. I know what it’s like to be responsible for your success and failures. It’s exhilarating to say the least. Enjoy the journey whether it be rocky or smooth. And I’m sure it’ll be both :)