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Squeaking By: How a Rubber Duck Helped Build Diplomatiq

Squeaking By: How a Rubber Duck Helped Build Diplomatiq

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Squeaking By: How a Rubber Duck Helped Build Diplomatiq

The entrepreneurial space can be all about new, flashy, and innovative, especially when you’re in the business of technology.

Take it from Natacha Rousseau: sometimes, the most basic tools are the best ones.

“Imagine you’re wrestling with a complex issue, and your team, your cat, your smart speaker all seem to conspire against you with their silence,” Rousseau said. “Enter the rubber duck.

“Explain the problem to it in detail. The magic happens as soon as you articulate your thoughts out loud, forcing you to slow down, clarify your ideas, and perhaps stumble upon the solution you’ve been overlooking. It’s like having a conversation with your inner genius, facilitated by a plastic bird.”

Rousseau is the founder and owner of Diplomatiq, a New York-based communications and public relations firm that focuses on technology, particularly related to climate change.

Rousseau founded the company in 2014. After spending several years working for other communications firms, she decided to set out on her own, a choice she said was “terrifying” but one she was ready to make because she’d already cut her teeth.

“I came to LA and reached out to a company called CareScore and asked about helping with their PR. They gave me a chance, and then I was on the ground learning. I learned to consult and freelance the hard way, I made a lot of mistakes, but had a great team behind me and became very successful,” Rousseau said.

CareScore referred her to other companies in their network, and from there, she was off and running.

Rousseau founded Diplomatiq on her laptop in her living room. She said the early days were very fast-paced, and she had to learn to be nimble—a skill that has served her well to this day.

Her company works in the cryptocurrency space, and the currency’s volatility often requires Rousseau to think on her feet.

“The market’s unpredictable waves directly impact our clients’ strategies and, consequently, their communication needs. During an intense market downturn we had to rapidly pivot our strategies to maintain positive engagement and trust within the community,” Rousseau said. “This period… ultimately strengthened our ability to develop agile, responsive PR strategies.”

Rousseau’s other skills were hard-won. She said as a younger woman she was very shy. A native of Belgium, English isn’t her first language, an added barrier to breaking into communications space. She credits her friends, family and colleagues with giving her the drive to break out of herself and become more proactive and engaging.

A strong network, she said, is one of the best resources for a budding entrepreneur, especially one working in communications. Lean on the people you have, but always keep an eye out for ways to expand that group – cultivate genuine relationships with media contacts, clients, and industry leaders.

And always, always try to learn more.

“The most instrumental resources in building Diplomatiq were industry-specific webinars and conferences, which were pivotal for networking and staying ahead of trends,” Rousseau said. “Tools like Cision for media outreach and Slack for team communication have been indispensable. The guidance and insight from mentors in the PR and tech fields have been invaluable, particularly those experienced in navigating the complexities of the Web3 ecosystem.”

Books, podcasts, and internet forums have also been hugely informative, she said.

Reading Priya Parker’s “The Art of Gathering” and Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist” informed her approach to her business and kept her creative in serving her clients. How I Built This with Guy Raz,” The Indicator from Planet Money,” and My First Million are all podcasts she listens to regularly for inspiration about growing her business or to help break down complex economic concepts. Lastly, there’s Reddit.

“(The entrepreneur subreddit) is the Wild West of entrepreneurial advice where you can find gems of wisdom in the most unexpected threads,” Rousseau said. “It’s like a treasure hunt for business insights with a side of memes.”

As for entrepreneurial advice, Rousseau said she subscribes to the pay-it-forward mentality – that putting her all into serving her clients and supporting others will bring good things back around for her, and for Diplomatiq.

And don’t forget your rubber duck.

“Sometimes the answers lie in the process of asking the right questions, even if it’s to an inanimate object. It teaches the value of simplicity in a world cluttered with complexity and importance of a fresh perspective,” Rousseau said. “In the unpredictable seas of startup life, you might find the wisdom you need in the most unexpected mates.”

Your Turn

Starting a business is a learning process, as Natacha Rousseau demonstrated. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that it’s okay to make mistakes – what matters is how you learn from them. Seek out resources like books, podcasts, and online forums to expand your knowledge. What resources have been most valuable to you? Let us know in the comments.

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Squeaking By: How a Rubber Duck Helped Build Diplomatiq

Squeaking By: How a Rubber Duck Helped Build Diplomatiq

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