Episode 57 of the Senior Care Industry Netcast is LIVE!

We were fortunate enough to have Nicole Will, https://willgather.com/, on the show, and she offered some great insight and #advice for other #seniorcare and #healthcare providers.

Find all episodes here: 

https://www.asnmarketingplan.com/connect-listen-watch/

Be a guest on our show: 

https://www.seniorcareindustrynetcast.com/netcast

About This Episode:

Nicole Will, Founder of willGather | Podcaster willGather: Navigating the world with your aging loved one.

EP 57: Senior Care Industry Netcast with Nicole Will, Founder of willGather 2
Nicole Will, WillGather.com

Why We’re Here

We all know and care about someone that is aging. We are here to be a resource and encouragement as you navigate with the world with your aging loved one. These times can often feel overwhelming- we’ve been there! We may not have all of the answers, but we have the questions and will create a space to explore those questions and answers. We will tell the stories, ask the questions, share the information and encourage those listening that you are not alone.

The Foundation

Our hope is to create a sense of community, inspiring a vision of life-long learning and engagement. Growing up, Nicole’s grandma was able to live with her family and became one of her closest friends. Inspired by this special relationship and passion, she went on to earn a Bachelors of Science degree in Human Services: Social Gerontology and became Activity Director Certified with NCCAP, working many years as a Director in a senior living facility overseeing their Therapeutic Recreation, Volunteer, and Spiritual Care Departments and as a private elderly care companion. She is the founder of willGather.com which is dedicated to enhancing the well-being of our aging community by connecting Activity Directors and Therapeutic Recreation Professionals with vendors, venues, and others in the senior living industry. Born into a family of story-tellers Nicole felt called to ask the questions and tell the stories. At her core, she is a collaborator and cheerleader for others by sharing the good work that they are doing in the world, and all for her favorite group of people- our elders.

Full Transcript

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry Netcast, where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes. So, let’s get to it.

In a few sentences tell us who you are and what you do.

Nicole Will:

Hi, Valerie. Thank you for having me today. I appreciate it. My name is Nicole Will and I am the founder of, WillGather and we’re multifaceted in that we have a podcast where we speak to loved ones that have aging people in their life and provide them with helpful resources and informative interviews. And we also have our website that connects our life enrichment directors, activity directors, with all of those quality of life vendors that we love, and we look for and want to have come into our facility. So, that is us and a little bit of a nutshell.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, that’s awesome. And we’ll make sure your website is here with our video so that everybody can go to your website and check it out and subscribe to your podcast and get all their resources they might want.

Nicole Will:

Awesome. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Okay. So tell us,

What is the best thing about serving aging adults?

Nicole Will:

Yeah, that’s such a good question. And I have found that this population has gone before us. We have the privilege of learning from them, all of their wisdom, their insight, and in turn it’s such a privilege to be able to pour into their lives and offer services, offer resources, to be able to, I don’t know, like give back and just be able to make their daily lives better each day. At least that’s my goal and really enrich those days for them.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That is nice.

Nicole Will:

My passion about that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. And I think we get lots of different answers, but it’s always great to come from a different perspective. And from your perspective might be a little bit different than the person that we interviewed earlier today. So, it’s really great to hear everybody’s different in what is interesting to them in their career and what is so important to them about serving aging adults.

Nicole Will:

Right. Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Everybody got a great answer. And a lot of it does revolve around listening and enjoying the rich history that our aging adults have and the stuff that they have made it through, before our generation had to make it through like a pandemic.

Nicole Will:

I know.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

They’ve already seen a lot of this stuff in their lives and, or wars or whatever. So, you know what, they’re a little tougher than us, I think in some ways.

Nicole Will:

Yeah. They can really offer some good advice about that. Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Okay. So let’s change gears a second and talk about marketing online. We have all been a little bit shoved into understanding the importance of having a great online presence. It’s challenging it’s ever changing. I know that.

So, what has been your experience with online marketing?

Nicole Will:

Yes, it is ever changing, when we started our company and had a vision for it, what social media was then, is not what it is now. And it’s really adjusting, being able to adapt. You’re right, our niche and aging is so specific that the challenge is that it’s hard to reach. How do we reach that broad audience, while being specific to what our industry is. And so we have found challenges in that those algorithms are changing, trying to discover where our clients, what networks that they’re participating in and being a part of. But also feeling there are some benefits too, we now have this world, that’s become a global world that we’re able to tap into that we might not have been able to before. And so we find that our marketing … Healthcare is challenging because my background as a director in a senior living facility, we have to abide by those privacy in that HIPAA.

Nicole Will:

And you want to share stories, but how do you do that in a way that protects that information, but also has to be relatable to the general public. And so social media, I found if I’m bringing it back to my company now has been where we do our marketing, in the sense that people buy from people. And social media gives us an avenue to connect with a lot of different people. And when I say social media, it’s the big picture of you’ve got Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn, and those different online networks where you can connect and actually be able to identify who your target market is. And so we’re able to engage with them. And I think our focus has been really deciding to make it about relationships. And so we’ve created relationships and we’ve been able to network in our marketing and really connect with people that have a similar passion that we do.

Nicole Will:

And so what we found is, there’s no better thing than when other people can cheer each other on that have the same passion. So, that has been our focus. Create those relationships, have really good networks, cheer each other on, we’re all here for the greater good of providing amazing things for our seniors. So, the challenge, there are many challenges and I feel I would never really have ever learned about SEO before, or algorithms but you do, you just dive into that world because you got to figure it out and take on that personal responsibility of learning, or hiring professionals that are really good at what they do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. You’re right, it is. It’s funny you talked about where is our audience and professionals could be on many different platforms. But I find that our seniors and even our adult children, I would be a Gen Xer, you’re not going to find me on Snapchat, but you will find my teenage daughter on there.

Nicole Will:

Me neither. Yeah, totally.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So I see people, “Oh, you should advertise on TikTok. You should advertise on Twitter. You should …” No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That is not anybody’s where we’re going to get a client. I know it’s fun. And I know it’s funny, but that’s probably not our gig. So, this is really, I think focusing on one or two platforms that you can do really well, knowing that probably Facebook, probably LinkedIn, then throw in some video and throw in some really good blog posting and things like that. And you’re probably pretty much hitting your target market. I still believe that email, email newsletters, email when it’s not abused is a really good way to get the message out still to this day.

Nicole Will:

Yeah. I agree. That is a powerful way. And it’s an individual way to connect. I got some really great advice similar to what you were saying from a professional that was really focus on those few platforms where your clients are and do that really well. I think if we tried to do everything, that’s maybe trendy or what the hottest thing is, we will be spread thin and you lose [crosstalk 00:08:06] that vision-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Spinning wheels.

Nicole Will:

… And that focus. Yes. And so I think that’s so true. That’s great to focus on those things.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Absolutely. Okay. Let’s go back to your wisdom.

Nicole Will:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

There are probably other successful leaders in this industry like yourself that have made a difference for you. Maybe a mentor or inspiration, there might be organizations, people, would you like to give a shout out to anybody who’s just made a difference for you locally, or on a national level, or whatever.

Who would you like to give a shout-out to?

Nicole Will:

Yeah, thank you. So, I’ve had two former bosses actually that … One is not with us anymore, she passed away, but she empowered me as a woman director in our senior living facility. We had a large facility and continued to want to compensate me financially at a time when that’s a little tricky in our world where budgets are tight and saw the value in that. And I think looking at comparatively what the market could bear, what my male peers were looking at. And so that was really helpful. I also had another boss who saw … It’s like, you needed someone to take that first chance on you, right? When you go from not being a director to being a director and having someone go, “I believe in you enough to know that you can do this.” And that was so helpful. And the person, really influenced my career is my grandmother, Betty.

Nicole Will:

She lived with my family when I was growing up and we got to do life with her. And I got to spend time with her and I got to see her live out her legacy. And that really shaped my life and steered me in the direction of wanting to even become educated in this industry in gerontology. And that was what really steered me in the direction to serve our seniors. So, I’m still thankful to her for that. And she’s not with us anymore either, but I think of her often and always talk about her when I reference my experience coming into this industry.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s awesome. A lot of us have an experience like that, whether it’s living with our grandparents, or knowing that they were placed and we went to visit them, or whatever. They’re our parents, the way we were raised with grandparents often, it shows a lot to us about aging in itself and then leads us down a career path. And so it’s always nice to have a grandparent who meant so much to you and give you a little direction in what you want to do. So, that’s cool. All right.

What piece of advice would you give to other senior care providers?

Nicole Will:

Aah, I know there’s so many different directions, right, we could take this. But I always come back to really focus on the people and the relationships. We’re in a people business so, whether it’s you are working in a facility, we create a life story for our residents and those families that want that engagement and how they’re going to see their loved one live out their life. And really it is a business, but it also is about those relationships. And so that is one piece. And then really, I feel when we’re in a situation where we’re connecting with other senior living professionals, again, I go back to, we have to have, for me personally, those authentic relationships and to be open to conversations and to people and to ideas. Our world is ever changing and really hearing those stories, and I love hearing how people got into the field or the businesses that they created and those ideas behind that. And so really just taking the time to develop that, those relationships and focus on those people.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep. I agree with you. We’re in a very emotional and sometimes overwhelming industry. And to get to know the people around us who are like-minded and have chosen this career path, I think understanding their story gives us a lot of, I guess, insight into what leaders they are, what caregivers they are. And that’s always very important. So, I agree with you. We’re a like-minded bunch.

Nicole Will:

Yeah. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So it’s great to know each other. Right.

Nicole Will:

I agree. I agree.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. My last question is supposed to be fun. We have one life, it could be personal, professional, could be new babies, marriages, graduations, it could be a client that’s super, super happy.

How do you like to celebrate?

Nicole Will:

So, pre-COVID? No, I know.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Anyway, we can dream a little.

Nicole Will:

Okay. Yes. So, I love … Fell to two things. I love, I’m like a foodie. I love trying new places to go out to eat. So, I would say that is my favorite thing, it’s like “Let’s try a new place.” But now, and I think previously, I tell someone, I call my best friend, or I tell my family and share that. I think there’s something to be said about people coming alongside of you and being excited with you. But I also on a personal, professional level, I write it down. I was given that advice. I write it down, those wins, because as an entrepreneur and as a person in business in general, we also have really hard days.

Nicole Will:

And so when you have those hard days, it’s so important, I’ve looked back on those wins and I’ve been like, “Okay, we’ve come so far, we’ve accomplished this and we can do it again.” Or, those carry you through, and so I do that. I think if you have people, employees, and that you’re working with, it’s so important to share those wins with them. And how do they feel valued and what motivates them? I think praising the people that you’re surrounded by. We’re a team, especially in the senior living industry. There’s a lot of people that come alongside all of us to make it happen. And so just being able to recognize that.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Oh yes, absolutely. So, yeah. I like all your ways of celebrating and the writing it down is one that I haven’t heard before. I’m sure a lot of people do it, but you’re right. It is, we as entrepreneurs, we have some days whether you own a home care agency, or you do what I do, or you do what you do. Ooh, you have some days. So, being able to look back and flip through and think, wow that was a really good time, or that was really cool, or we did this … It puts the excitement back into what you’re doing and remind you why you’re here on those tough days. So, and hopefully you have more happy and fulfilling days than tough days, but they’ll come along. It’s just part of doing business.

Nicole Will:

Yeah. They do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Well, thank you-

Nicole Will:

They do.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

… Thank you for being on the show. Thank you for helping us to understand more about you, your business and sharing your wisdom with us. So, that’s what this is all about, is senior care professionals sharing their wisdom and their experience. So, we can learn from each other and share some good news in the midst of a world that can be overwhelmed with weird news.

Nicole Will:

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for doing that and using your space to share all of that good news with other people. Thank you.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Thank you.