Samantha Smith joins Bill on today's conversation about the unexpected journey of a Notary Public. Samantha shares her "evolution" from unemployed to thriving in balance with gainful employment and a mobile Notary entrepreneurial endeavor. With a commitment to "service first," Samantha has built community in a business that cultivates joy and revenue.
42:09 Samantha firmly believes you can serve your way to success as a Notary Public.
22:37 Sometimes the best way to recharge is to unplug.
43:31 If you're not evolving, you're dying. Keep growing!
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Bill Soroka (00:21):
Hello and welcome to the Sign and Thrive Podcast. I'm here with our very special guest today. Samantha Smith whom I met in the notary business many years ago now and is now the founder of Georgia notary network. And so much more, now a book author. And Samantha, I gotta tell you, I've been looking forward to this conversation because I find your story so inspirational, but also as a, as an example of someone who sees opportunity and opportunity in their business, opportunity to help others. And that's why I love the way that you described yourself when we were preparing for this podcast. You call yourself a listener, a learner, and a servant, which ties in. So welcome, and I'm looking forward to this conversation.
Samantha Smith (01:22):
Thank you. Good morning. And thank you for having me, most of all.
Bill Soroka (01:25):
Totally. My pleasure. So what we're gonna talk about today is a little bit about the story of you, the journey into our notary world. And I would imagine this is gonna get a lot bigger then how to sign, date and stamp a piece of paper.
Samantha Smith (01:43):
Look, I agree. And just to be here has surpassed anything that I would've ever considered coming into the industry. So I'm, I'm super grateful, super excited, and most of all anxious about what the future holds.
Bill Soroka (02:01):
Hmm. Tell me more about that.
Samantha Smith (02:05):
Well, if you had told me, when I graduated from college with all my sights set on being this Olivia Pope at the time before she was ever even a Olivia Pope, I wanted to be a PR person for local celebrity and talent and all of that. And that was before PR got to where it really is now, but something happened during high school where I said, you know what? I think I wanna go in the direction of, of like journalism. I wanna write the stories. I had a chance to watch just to date myself a little bit. I was in the 11th grade when all the, the OJ Simpson trial and all that went on. And I remember sitting in, in class and I saw how the news was spinning the story one way, spinning another way. And so I said, okay, good.
Samantha Smith (02:55):
I'm gonna be, you know, a journalist, I'm gonna do all this. And then I graduate and ended up teaching. I was in a high school. I was, I was teaching high school career development. I mean, I, the story I tell people is I didn't even like kids
Bill Soroka (05:18):
Mm-Hmm right. And we're gonna definitely dive into that a little bit more too, but I wonder, you've mentioned the word anxious twice. Mm-Hmm
Samantha Smith (05:31):
Well, coming into it, it was being a notary. What do notaries do? You know? It was the whole, it was that it wasn't, you're going to be a doctor. You're going to study medicine, you're going to study law. It was what, what is this notary thing? And, you know, there were a lot of questions, a lot of doubts. So obviously it made me nervous and especially transitioning or including the notary business with my current educational background. It just didn't make sense to most people. But for me it's always been about the service aspect of it. In addition to I'm the one that likes to take the trail was the path less troden. I like to go things that other people aren't doing or consider mainstream. And, and so the anxiousness came from, okay, now I'm a little older, can I really do this at this juncture in my life?
Samantha Smith (06:31):
And it has proven handover fist to be the perfect fit. So during those times of unemployment, it was, it was tough. It was beyond tough. Unemployment, low wages, even as a, a woman who had degrees or whatever, it was really, really tough. But the only thing I knew how to do was serve.⠀***Service was my love language, so to speak. People would ask all the time, you know, why are you out here doing this work for free? When you have children to take care of why are you out here volunteering over here when you, you know, you are losing your home. And I just had a firm belief, and I believe the guidance, the guidance from God, the guidance through prayer, that as long as I took care of other people, he was gonna take care of my family. And so that had always been my focus for serving others in the capacity that, you know, I felt would, would benefit them.
Samantha Smith (07:30):
So the notary industry was no different. Especially once I became you know, a part of the sign and thrive community, and that
Bill Soroka (08:18):
Well, that's beautiful. And I love that that mentality or that belief system drew you into Sign and Thrive. I think that's one of the things I admire about you most, it's really clear that you're here to serve and what you just said. You know, when you're losing your home and you're still volunteering when you're offering services for free, when you've, you know, you're clearly got your own challenges and struggles on the other side of that, that's like living into who you want to become in this world. And I, how has it helped serve you and your current success in what you're doing? Has it, has it panned out for you? Did that belief you had in 2014 and all that work that you did? How's it translate now or seven years later?
Samantha Smith (09:08):
It translates now because one, it's always a reminder that we never know where we're gonna gonna be. And so I don't take that lightly. It translates now because it's who I'm coming in contact with. And so it reminds me how to treat people. Nobody wants to be mishandled just because they're going through a situation or a season in life. So I'm very cautious about how I handle people and deal with people and speak to people. And most importantly, it helps me in business because I look for the opportunity to serve first. I look for the, for a way to as I've heard so many times through the community, how can I add value in this situation first? And that's all always through serving. It's always through helping someone meet a need, or most importantly, helping them find that thing on the inside of them that will allow them to move on and move up in what they're trying to do. So services is always been the foundation for me is what I've exhibited to my children, my family were servants first, and everything else is, is secondary. And I believe everything we're, we're drawn to and things and opportunities are drawn to are attracted to us because of that service.
Bill Soroka (10:31):
Yeah. that's been an experience of mine too. I think when you approach life from that way, it it's counter in intuitive, right? Yes. That, cause sometimes we're so driven by a result and I'm just gonna say money because that's the result that most people think of, right? They've got bills to pay, they've gotta make some money. So they think about the dollar first and service later. When you flip that, cuz that makes logical sense, right? Like I, I gotta make some money. I'm gonna do what I gotta do to make that money mm-hmm
Samantha Smith (11:19):
Bill Soroka (11:19):
All different counties you gotta work with. But have you found with this servant attitude and this priority of service that things do fall right into place? The, the money comes, the satisfaction, the joy in this business comes
Samantha Smith (11:36):
Most definitely. I think in the, the realm of service, as far as it business is concerned, it still goes back and starts with you. How are you showing up to these opportunities of service? How are you showing up as the businessman or the businesswoman or owner? How were you representing yourself? So it was really important to me. Once I got in and really kind of caught hold to what it was that the details were important. So just because I'm showing up as a servant, doesn't in that I should not be the consummate professional just because I'm showing up as a servant, doesn't mean that I don't answer the phone a certain way or that I don't have a certain email signature or a certain email address. I mean those little things make such a huge difference. And I, and I have people tell me all the time, you know, well, the way you do business, well, I take that as a compliment because I'm not just a notary. I'm a business owner as well as a notary. And so just because it's service doesn't mean that there isn't a level of excellence that still should be tied to it. You don't want anybody, you know, coming into your life, your home dressed a certain way, handling your documents a certain way. Even communicating with you a certain way. You don't want that experience. So my goal is to always make sure that as a business woman that I'm coming and I'm showing up a certain way in this role as the notary, even, and with Georgia's Georgia's struggles. When I come in contact with attorneys, I always present myself a certain way making it known that I'm available to them, you know, to support them. Even in my wording, in my verbiage I, I tell notaries in Georgia, while you may not be able to be a loan signing agent per se, mark at yourself as a support to the real estate process as a support to, you know, whatever processes are in place. Because that, those things, again, the little things, people notice those things and that is what's been, I think the catalyst for me to be a fairly successful in what I, what I'm doing.
Bill Soroka (13:56):
I, I love your attitude here because I think a lot of notaries in that situation, they get frustrated or they equate. If they're getting a smaller fee for a service, they equate that with flip flops and not dressing up professionally. Right. But when you rise up and you step into this and I love the words you chose earlier, the way you show up to this makes all the difference. And when you are the professional, when you show up to an appointment, 100% present, like, you know, as, and you know what you're doing and you guide them through your, this beacon of light, through the process, it really does make a difference. Have you found I'm curious about your relationships that form at the table. How does, cause you never know who you're sitting across the table from what happens in your life when you show up this way?
Samantha Smith (14:53):
So I, I I've come in contact with a lot of moms, parents, and I can see in their face some of their struggles, depending on what I'm notarizing. And so I never asked their business, but I've always been the type of person. My grandmother used to say this of, about me that you know, she'll listen and you know, that that's a whole nother story dealing with my business name, but I, I will listen. And so they end up telling me bits and pieces of their story and you can see the frustration on them. And so that's when I get to not only serve as a notary, but I get to serve as a support. So if it's here in my community and I know about resources and to, I share those things once we finish the actual business of what I'm there to notarize, I may get on the phone and say, Hey, I'm sitting with someone. Can I give them your number? They're looking for this resource or that resource. So it turns into an opportunity like that, which for me turns into a referral or a positive review
Bill Soroka (16:12):
This sounds like the perfect cycle, because this work is not always easy. Mm-Hmm,
Samantha Smith (16:54):
It's definitely where I thought, well, I know my, what my initial, why was for the business, but this is just turned into another opening and opportunity for me to serve people. And especially in a way where they know their information is protected. They know that their, they can confide in me. I, I turn into a confidant a mentor in some sense, which I, I'm not a fan of that word necessarily tied to me, but it happens. And I understand it and I, and I'm okay with it going through the layers, in helping people again, I believe that's why my story stays so fresh on my mind. I don't live in the past, but I also don't leave certain things in the past. So I know what it feels like to go apply for government assistance. I was there. I know what feels like to get turned down for job op opportunity after job opportunity, after job opportunity, I was there. And I know what it's like to have to accept a job because it's like, you know what these lights are gonna get cut off and I need to make sure my girls are, can eat and I need to make sure whatever.⠀***And so their layers are my layers, which is why I take what I do so seriously and get a little borderline offended when it's just, oh, you're just a notary or you can't be doing no, no I'm doing far more than what you think. But it, it is not something that I necessarily when people call wanting to know about the notary and they get frustrated with me, cuz I won't tell them the, the million dollar thing that's gonna make them go out and be a seven figure notary. And I'm talking about this stuff. It, it is hard for me to connect with with new notary sometimes because they don't understand it. All of this comes with it.
Bill Soroka (18:50):
Yeah. Well, and I think that's so important. So that leads me to my next question. There's I think you, and I think a lot alike on this level and some people think it's maybe too woo, woo. Right. Or it's too heart driven. Mm-Hmm
Samantha Smith (19:40):
I think so. I, I literally was just speaking with a client yesterday that I was with and we were joking. I said, well, you know, you have me on retainer and we were just joking about it cuz she, she uses me often and she just, it had this very matter of fact look and she was like, not only am I referring you, but I'm trying to figure out how to bring you on board for other opportunities and projects. And so that is that's an honor to be able to serve someone, to have a, it come back full circle in that way. And then it's, and it's exciting again, a little anxious cuz it's making me stretch a little bit and it's making me you know, learn some new things, which I love. But it's like, I just, I never imagined some of the things that I'm getting ready to do or even have done because of the notary industry.
Bill Soroka (20:40):
Yeah. It's pretty amazing. Right? Like it's I, I was in the same boat, right? Like I never became a notary to get to where I to have a, a podcast about being a notary, like never saw this coming when I first started in there, but it can be, it's a vehicle to make some pretty amazing things happen. Mm-Hmm
Samantha Smith (21:39):
Bill Soroka (21:45):
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Samantha Smith (22:37):
I do have a, a process for kinda like disengaging. I understand that service can become heavy because when I first started teaching, I would bring those babies home with me physically and emotionally. And you know, it, it can be a lot even now with the students that I come in contact with, it can be hard to separate the two. And so something that a, a former I was a former, he, he still a presence in my life, but he said, you know, always just know that when you're on, you're on, but when you're off, you're off. And so there are times where I will come in and I will literally turn off the phone. I will not engage in social media. I will take a complete break just for my own sanity and peace and to be able to recharge and things like that. And it's, it's important. I feel like too many new notaries come in and they immediately jump on a hamster wheel with social media platform. How do I do Google my business? How do I build my website? How do I get get in front of direct clients? Or how do I go to title companies? And they just get on it, get, and they never build time in to disengage from all of this, whether it's something they do for a few hours a day, whether it's something they do weekly or monthly or whatever. And they experience burnout really quickly and, or, you know, what they're done with the industry. So I've just learned through throughout my career, my life and parenting the importance of setting that time and that boundary and not asking for it, but literally taking it because it turns out to be a benefit to you and your business and the individuals that you serve.
Bill Soroka (24:24):
That is a really beautiful point and so true. You've gotta unplug to recharge. It's interesting. I wanna go a little deeper with it though, if you don't mind Samantha.
Samantha Smith (24:34):
Oh, most definitely.
Bill Soroka (24:35):
Go ahead. So let's just for an example, you're at a, an appointment death bed appointment. The mood is dark. It's a sad moment. You're listening to the story. You leave the appointment, how do you let go of that energy?
Samantha Smith (24:55):
Gotcha. I actually had an appointment like that most recently. It was a, it was an elderly mother, grandmother. And there were sign know where they were doing the power of attorney. And so we walked into the nursing home. Now she was coherent. Everything, you know, was fine. She knew what she was at, what she was doing, but she just began to well, because she thought she was going home and the family was not there to take her home. They were only there to get her to sign the papers. And you know, I'm, I'm not there, judge. I don't know what, how the family handles her on a regular basis. I don't know, but it, it literally almost brought me to tears because it made me think of my own grandmother who before her passing, she just, she wanted to come home and the family brought her home so that she could like ride around the neighborhood and see her house and all that kind of stuff before she passed.
Samantha Smith (25:49):
And so when I left that appointment, I remember getting in my car and I was doing a couple of breathing exercises, but then I also, for me, and this might not be fully disengaging, but I reached back out to the family later just to say, how's grandma doing, I wanted to update to kind of see how she was feeling. If there was anything else I could do to assist them or any resources or services I could direct them to for her. So for me sometimes the disengagement is to check in because there's some situations that you just don't walk away from mm-hmm
Bill Soroka (26:45):
Samantha Smith (26:45):
It it's, it's, it's tough to totally disconnect sometimes. But again, for me just to check in, it gives me peace that you know, all as well, even if it turns out that that a family member passed away, you know, I always, you know, provide the, I try to provide the a comfort in the fact that, you know, that person is no longer suffering or, or having any health issues. And, you know, they've been released now from, you know, any pain.
Bill Soroka (27:11):
Yeah. Yeah. I think if you're, if you're, you can't have it both ways, right. You can't act like you care at the closing table or the signing table mm-hmm
Samantha Smith (28:32):
Bill Soroka (28:33):
Samantha Smith (28:33):
Too. I look, I agree. It's⠀***it's like like a cleansing I've heard it even referred to as a cleansing breath. When you come out of a situation just kind of flushing your spirit, your mind your body of what you may have taken in while you were connected in with certain people or situations or whatever. And then just a way to center yourself in a calm down, because, you know, while we may be calm and, you know, explaining documents and all of that on the inside, we could just be, you know, just running around frantically because of what we're, you know, encountering. And so, you know, for me, the breath work is really important when, before going in and when I'm coming out of certain appointments.
Bill Soroka (29:18):
Yeah. I, I, I, in the same exact way going in, especially, you know, it's a, it can be really nerve wracking. Mm-Hmm,
Samantha Smith (29:51):
I don't, I don't
Bill Soroka (29:53):
Having a conversation.
Samantha Smith (29:54):
I not, yeah. I have a whole lot of conversation, I guess I just don't, I don't see myself as a mentor and I I've intentionally tried to distance myself from that word only because the expectations of a mentor most people's expectations are, are sometimes unreasonable and something that I know that I can't fulfill in this season of my life. The same way that, that I detach from, or I attempt to detach from certain signing appointments to just to make sure that I'm clear, you know, you have to detach in the same way. When people expect you to grow their business, they expect you to make their business successful. And I always, you know, put it back on them, you know, what are you gonna do? So I don't see myself, I don't see myself. As a mentor, I'm a cheerleader. If this, what you wanna do, I will cheer you on. I will, you know, show you some of the things I've done and share resources and information, but I I've never really seen myself as a mentor.
Bill Soroka (31:03):
It sounds when I hear you say this, I've you've used the word detachment a couple times. And I, I see where you're going with it. And to me when, with my, when I hear you say it, it sounds like you're really good at just setting really healthy boundaries for yourself and others, but that's a skill in itself. Where'd you learn to do that?
Samantha Smith (31:26):
Oh, goodness. Life
Bill Soroka (32:25):
That the is such an advanced way of thinking. And I think that's one of the the traps that a lot of us fall into, cuz we're sitting here talking about being of service, right? Mm-Hmm
Samantha Smith (33:13):
Whew. So I recently participated in a, a business core us or business talk and the thing that caught my attention was in business, you've gotta think five years ahead. And so, you know, as we are doing our service as notaries, no matter what state we're in, you know, what's the five year ahead plan as far as how your business business is gonna maneuver five years from now. So I'm looking at two things, obviously Ron, for Georgia, we don't know yet if it's going to be a thing or if it's gonna be a partial thing we don't know yet, we're still watching. So definitely the incorporation of more technology into what I do, the learning of it, the making it fit into what I have going on. I mean, will the technology be what allows me to walk away and be a full, full full-time entrepreneur who knows? So that's one of the things and then in an effort to keep it light and to have some novelty to it. I am right now pursuing a merchandise line.
Samantha Smith (34:26):
Ooh. Right now working on the trademark for it. I hope that it will be coming back soon and now I'll be able to start with that. And then finally my, my ultimate goal has always been to be the creator.
Bill Soroka (35:45):
Yeah. Well, it's, I love, it seems like every time I talk to you, you've got a very clear idea of where you're going and you're also adaptive. So even if it, if you get new information or find a new passion or a new direction that you wanna go, it sounds like you're able to forgive and let go of whatever that might be and tap into whatever's coming next. I
Samantha Smith (36:10):
Think that's, and people don't even know that she listens my business. She listens, I start did. Because I was so gung-ho on being this real estate agent. I think I remember sharing a story with you. And so my thought process was, well, let me get inside of homes in order to get closer to my dreams. So I was out here providing home cleaning services. I I've been doing it since I was, since I can remember my grand used to do it. And so the, the saying was people will pay you to cook clean and watch their kids. And that's very true. And so I've always known how to go in and if I needed to generate income, I could clean houses. I was doing it here in my area for a long time. And so she listened started as that. I was doing notary and I was doing house clean.
Samantha Smith (37:00):
Well, you know, time brings about a change
Samantha Smith (37:55):
That's when the creativity really spring up and I was able to use my my what's in my toolkit as far as education and teaching and training and the research to have these other ideas. And so I, I try to encourage notaries, what do you do now? That's amazing. Bring that into the notary business so that you can it so that it's not so difficult. Not that it won't be a challenge, but it won't be as difficult because you already got those things inside of you. So, you know, my business has evolved and I'm pretty sure it will continue to evolve as I've kind of dabble in some other stuff, but things happen. It doesn't work out, but I tried
Bill Soroka (38:39):
Samantha Smith (39:40):
Oh, yes. Those that do taxes, those that even if you still wanna, you know, do, if you wanna clean homes, that's totally fine. You know, I think people think of notary and they abandon, they abandoned, you know, opportunity. And it's really, this industry has allowed me to to find new things and new ways to be able to serve people. I mean, at first I was just serving my notary clients. And now my, my, my goal is now in the, my, my target is now in the shape of Georgia, cuz I wanna serve Georgia notaries. And so it will continue to evolve and you know, any, any person can do it regardless, you know of their background is, is really about digging inside yourself and finding that thing and saying, I'm gonna apply this to this business. And if it doesn't work, that's okay. You'll find something else.
Bill Soroka (40:41):
I've had some terrible ideas
Samantha Smith (41:43):
Bill Soroka (41:45):
So Samantha, as I expected this 20 minute conversation is now a 40 minute conversation. I just love, but let's bring it home here. If there was a last message that you'd like to leave with for our audience, what would it be?
Samantha Smith (42:04):
So I guess it'll be a little kind of a two-parter⠀***I wholeheartedly believe that you can serve your way to success and that is going to always start with you. There is nothing outside of you. That's gonna make you more successful than what's already in you. And it just depends on how you package it, how you promote it, how you shape it, how you cultivate it. I mean, I just think about some of the inventions and things that we use every day that somebody, it was in them. And so you've really gotta cultivate what's in you to be successful and define what that level of success is for you, no matter what stage you're in, no matter what your current situation is, sometimes those situations are the catalyst to help you be that success. You just, you gotta mine your own mine, your own caves, as far as you know, the treasures that are in there and, and everybody, everybody can do it again.
Samantha Smith (43:11):
If you had told me that I was gonna be a notary and I was gonna be going hard for the Georgia notaries, I would've just, you know, laughed you under the table, but it's, it all went back to service and serving others and helping provide education and and all of that. So that's the first thing. And then the second thing I literally just wrote in my journal last night, the word the, the word evolve and evolution have been really big for me over the last six or seven months, everywhere. I, every time I see it, I'll take a picture of the word when it pops up and, and a project that I'm doing now dealing with evolve and I would just encourage people embrace evolution. And I'm not talking about the, my, to the man thing, but evolution of who you are, you know, you might be, I work with individuals who are incarcerated. And so the evolution is them going from where they are to where they can be either. And then the evolution can all happen for right there in that situation. No matter what it is, we all are gonna grow. We're all gonna change, but there's something I read recently that said⠀***you either evolve or you die.
Bill Soroka (44:31):
Samantha Smith (44:31):
And so, you know, I, I would just encourage everybody to really look at what evolving looks like for them and the opportunities that will come out of that, evolving for them and just get ready for a ride, cuz it, it is really, really an amazing ride.
Bill Soroka (44:50):
Samantha, that was beautiful to thank you so much for sharing your thoughts perspective and your story along this journey. Truly appreciate it. So glad that I'm in your orbit watching this journey unfold. So thank you for being here with us on Sign and Thrive.
Samantha Smith (45:08):
Thank you. Thank you very much for for it, for the invitation. Appreciate it
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