We can have the best of intentions, but if we can’t make
healthy habits stick, the results will always be the same.
Apply this to any habit you might be trying to create: updating social media on a regular basis, finding time to focus on writing, sending invoices every week, working out 3x per week, drinking more water.
Flossing every night.
Yes, at 46 years old, I had still not been able to create a nightly habit of flossing. I make my preschooler do it every night, and so, feeling guilty at not being a proper role model, and being sick of every single 6 month dentist visit ending in a lecture, this stubborn girl finally made it happen.
Well, what do stubborn people often need? To prove
After my last dentist visit six months ago, I issued myself
a data-driven challenge:
I will floss every
night until my next dental visit and see if she can tell the difference.
This was purely a scientific experiment, a competition in which I would know if I was right or wrong.
In order to not “skew the results,” I had to do it every
night. Even when I didn’t feel like it. Even when I was tired. Even when I
thought I could cheat.
“You can’t prove the theory right or wrong with biased
data,” I told myself. See, stubbornness
has it benefits.
And what happened? I stayed mum at my recent dentist visit.
After cleaning, the hygienist remarked, “Wow, your gums are in great shape. No
bleeding! Things look really healthy in there.”
So… I had proved that flossing does make a difference.
But more than: After doing something for approximately 182
days, for whatever reason, solidified this habit. I literally cannot go to
sleep now without flossing!
When you look at a habit as a scientific experiment or a
challenge, this can awaken a more logical side of your brain (totally not a neuroscientist here, but this
is my theory). For me, I activated my curiosity and competitiveness. If I
could prove once and for all whether flossing every night really impacted my
dental health, then I could put this issue to bed forever.
Next time you want to create a habit in your life, think about it as a personal challenge. Approach it logically, gather the data and aim to prove someone WRONG. (Tweet this!)
We very rarely, if ever, get to make a major life decision
and live with it as reality – before it is undone. We often wish we could “try
decisions on” and then turn back the clock if we change our minds.
Why? Because it’s one
thing to talk about a choice and quite another to actually DO IT.
This is a rather personal story about what it’s like to feel
a real decision and then have it unmade.
In 2011, I found out I was pregnant. It was completely unexpected, as I just happened to go to the doctor for my annual physical and told him I was late. “Let’s run a pregnancy test to be sure.”
I half-listened to the doctor’s voicemail, knowing it would
be negative. “Your test came back
positive. You’re very early, about 5 weeks, I’d say, but congratulations. Let’s
talk about next steps.”
You must understand the current state of affairs. My husband and I had talked about kids but were not even close to a final decision. I’d had a major health crisis a few years prior and, in the aftermath, we leaned toward no kids. Still, I always wondered what it would be like. Sweet cuddles and fun adventures balanced with sleep-deprivation and no more freedom to take off at a moment’s notice.
But there was no way to predict how I would actually feel if/when it happened.
Until it was real.
I vividly remember driving to lunch to meet a friend that
day with a new found sense of safety to do the speed limit. And wondering, “How
do I do this? Who do I tell first?”
Mind you, I had left my husband a message that I had
something to talk to him about at home. But no way was I going to drop this
bomb over voicemail.
At lunch, it felt weird to tell my good friend, but good to
share it with someone. Me. A pregnant
woman?! Between our shock, we giggled.
As the excruciating hours passed before my husband got home, I settled into the idea. No more imagining. This was happening. How did I feel? I sat with my emotions in this new reality for about 8 hours before my husband knew anything. Panic. Excitement. Shock. But the overwhelming emotion? Joy. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Then later that afternoon…
Some light bleeding. Maybe this decision was being undone
right before my eyes? Fear. Dread.
My husband came home and I told him. But with a caveat that
“this might all be going south.” He reeled
from the shock but also expressed concern about me.
And then….it all unraveled.
Light bleeding turned to heavy turned to emergency doctor calls and then
finally, that last callback where a total stranger, the on-call doctor, said out
loud what I dreaded to hear.
Two days later, an exam at the doctor’s confirmed it. There had been a very early pregnancy but it was over now. No baby.
The decision had been undone.
But it gave me what I needed to be sure about my choice. And now we have a beautiful almost 5 year old boy.
This story is not just about the 48 hour pregnancy. It’s about how we make decisions.
And what we really want when we have to make especially tough ones is to understand how our final choice will make us feel.(TWEET THIS!)
We rarely get visceral certainty. We can only speculate with
what we know right now. We really wish we could marry that guy, start that
business or take that job and get a taste of it before we truly commit.
We often cannot.
We have to examine
both choices from two angles:
How will I feel if I do make that choice?
How will I feel if I don’t make that choice?
You don’t often get the luxury of emotionally and physically
stepping into that reality before you decide. So you have to do your best to
imagine. But even that can trick your brain, because I’m telling you, the
emotions I felt that day were not even close to what I imagined.
So what can we do? Short of being able to go back in time…
Gather the right information. Get enough data to make a balanced, informed choice… but then stop. There comes a point where you start simply seeking data that confirms what you already want to do!
Use pro and con lists wisely. Such lists are okay as inputs, but they’re not a useful decisioning tool, so say Chip and Dan Heath in their book Decisive. We often construct those lists with an existing bias. And sometimes that one pro is worth way more than all of those cons (or vice versa!)
Get a similar perspective. Talk to people who’ve been through it and probe about their before and after. Especially if they possess a similar worldview to yours. But remember, they are not you. You are not them.
Trust your gut on how you may react if it happens….and if it does not. When you tell yourself “This is happening” or “This is not happening” take note of your physiology and mood. Sometimes, you actually already know!
Ask others to notice for you: When you describe the dilemma, ask your friends to notice how you talk: voice pitch, facial expressions, body language They may tell you that you are already pointing out all the negatives of one option, or that your face lights up for the other.
Make all things equal. Great for deciding between two options. Ask yourself what you would do if most things were equal. For example, when faced with two different kindergartens for our son, one close to our house, one 20 minutes away. I asked myself, “Which would I choose if the commute were not a factor?” When put in those terms, I didn’t even hesitate, which told me what I needed to know. We made the decision to put up with the longer commute.
Take the leap. Or don’t. At a certain point, just decide. You only know what you know right now, so stop trying to predict the future. While it is true that we often regret more of the things we did not do, than those we did do, you just need to make a call. Often, we can adapt to whatever decisions we make.
P.S. While this post is about making decisions, if the topic brought up anything difficult for you around miscarriage, please find some resources right here:
If you’re a coach, consultant or service provider of any kind, you may falsely believe that you have to accept a life of feast or famine. I mean, you never know when or if your next client will land on your doorstep, right? How can you possibly PLAN to reach your revenue number each quarter?
Easy. Create a sales process and build a sales pipeline for a consistent flow of new clients who pay you what you’re worth.
Today I’m interviewing sales coach Leah Neaderthal. Leah is the founder of Smart Gets Paid and a business coach for women (but guys, you’ll want to tune in, too, if you want to close more deals). I adore her so much, I can’t sand it.
Her signature course, SIGNED, teaches you how to build a repeatable sales process, get paid what they’re worth, negotiate better and close more deals (I’ve taken the course and it’s been a game-changer…more on how you can get a special discount below!)
Grab a pen and take notes. Seriously. That is, if you want to book more clients at higher rates. If you don’t, you can go binge watch Game of Thrones.
But…if you want to build a healthy sales pipeline so you can stop worrying about revenue, have better sales conversations, and book more of the right clients (so you make more money. not do more work), please click below to watch the interview!
* What holds people back in business, especially women (2:26) * 2 reasons why talented, smart people struggle with making sales (6:22) * Top myths holding you back from closing more deals and getting paid more (9:36) * What is a sales process and why do you absolutely need one (12:30) * Why you must “lead the client” because they don’t know how to buy from you (13:30) * What she says to those who say they don’t “need” a sales process – so good! (15:55) * How to manage your sales pipeline and why you need “pipeline coverage” (17:34) * No active deals currently in your pipeline? Here’s where to start! (20:04) * How to get paid what you’re worth and protect your price in the sales process (26:41) * How value-based pricing creates a better client relationship (29:10) * How to protect your price during tense negotiations (31:40) * The single best antidote to protecting your price (36:36) * The 2 crucial tools you need to effectively manage your sales process (38:05)
Don’t fear sales. Not everyone is born being good at it, but it can be learned. As Leah says so well,
“If your work creates value and people can benefit from it, it’s your responsibility to share it” (TWEET THIS!)
PS: Want to learn more about SIGNED to close more deals with better clients?
Just contact me, and I’ll introduce you two. Leah doesn’t accept everyone into the course, so jump on a call with her to discuss your goals and see if it’s the right fit for you.
After taking SIGNED, I used Leah’s techniques and templates to craft a strong proposal and boldly DOUBLE my engagement price by adding more value without adding more work. The client agreed without blinking an eye. Scouts honor. – Me!
Love running your own business, but overwhelmed by marketing and sales? There are so many options out there, it can be dizzying, even for a marketer like me.
But rest easy, friend. You’re about to get your whole world in order!
Today I’m interviewing marketing consultant Elizabeth Case of Yellow Dog Consulting.Elizabeth has been a long time sales and marketing pro and her firm helps small business owners manage their marketing and get more business.
Specifically, Elizabeth, “works with small business owners who love what they do, but the sales and marketing part of their job sucks their will to live.”
If this sounds like you, get ready to learn how to avoid overwhelm, how to build a realistic marketing plan, and which systems to put in place to make it all easier with marketing consultant.
Grab a pen and take notes. This is straight talk, and solid action.
If you want to get a better handle on your marketing plan and business development efforts for a steady stream of clients, please click below to watch the video interview!
* The mistakes you’re making that cause overwhelm (3:30)
* Why Elizabeth runs a successful business –and refuses to join Facebook. And why that hasn’t hurt her success one bit (5:54)
* Why you absolutely need to have an email newsletter (7:20)
* The go-to systems and processes you need in place, especially if you’re time or budget-strapped (11:49)
* Why a good follow-up system is VITAL to your success – and how to build one (13:09)
* What should be in your marketing plan to make it effective and realistic + the 3 most important things you need to make your marketing work (17:27)
* Her most important gem of wisdom for business success (25:40)
There is a lot of marketing you can do, but you don’t have to do it ALL. (TWEET THIS!)
Be careful about giving advice. It can come back to haunt you.
My almost 4-year-old burned me pretty badly the other day.
The modern world does not do us any favors when it comes to presence and focus. I work very intentionally with my son to help him avoid overwhelm and concentrate on one task at a time. When he starts flipping through another book while I’m reading one to him, I gently take it from his hands. When he jumps from one game to another, I stop him and we make a game out of putting the first one away. When I’m speaking to him, I encourage him to look me in the eye and put down whatever he’s working on to ensure he’s listening.
“We have to focus on one thing at a time,” is my mantra for him.
The other day, we missed the freeway exit for his swim class. When he asked why we were going on little detour, I said, “Mommy missed our exit, honey. I wasn’t focusing, was I?” He nodded.
A few days later, I was driving him to preschool, my mind abuzz with the day’s to-do list. Sure enough, we drove straight through the light instead of turning right and had to double-back.
“Why are we turning around?” he asked.
“Because I got distracted and didn’t turn when I was supposed to.”
He gave me a stern look, “You weren’t focusing, Mommy.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Multitasking is a myth.Science proves that we don’t really do tasks simultaneously: We’re just switching focus. And it takes longer to complete tasks that way because of stopping and starting. Efficiency goes out the window.
And yet, God love us, we still try.
When it comes to promoting your work, you may be tempted to try a million different tactics to see what sticks. After all, there’s a lot out there, right? We live in an age of marketing overwhelm.
You’re right to test and tweak. But not all at the same time! The truth is that you’ll just do a lot of things really badly – and not see results.
Quality over quantity wins. Every. Single. Time.
It’s better to focus on doing a few things really well, mastering them, if you want to see results for your revenue, visibility and impact.
To help you tackle your focus challenges and breathe easier while getting more results, please download a FREE taste from my upcoming MOMENTUM Pro self-study program by clicking the button below. This Playbook is titled Simplify Your Marketing Plan and it’s all about how to streamline and focus for results. I promise: You don’t have to do it all!
If you like this playbook and want a more streamlined, non-overwhelming, completely do-able way to master your marketing, check out MOMENTUM Pro! It’s all about focus, providing a step-by-step system to take one action at a time and gain clients, visibility and revenue.
Don’t stress. It’s okay if you’re in full-on holiday cray-cray time. But as you make space to do this, perhaps sharing my experience will help you.
This past week, I embarked on an annual planning session. I tucked away for two days, turned off email (kind of) and all distractions, and got to work on my business and personal goals for the year.
PS: I did this as an experimental virtual mini-retreat with several other rockstar solopreneurs. Whoa, the power of accountability and not going at it alone! This may become a full-blown REAL retreat in the mountains next year, if you’re interested. Stay tuned!
First, I revisited last year. You must celebrate what went right before you beat yourself up about what went wrong!
I carefully reviewed my goals and themes for the year. Some of them, I knocked out of the park – HURRAH! So I explored why.
Some of my goals were not quite achieved. Meh.
And a few of those goals fizzled. Epic fail. Not even close. I explored the lessons I could learn so I could improve. Some say there is no such thing as failure, but everything is a learning opportunity. Yes. But let’s get real. It still stings!
As you, too, evaluate your year and look back, you may want to do what I did.
Ask yourself: Do you want to do this again or try this again next year? And more importantly, does the goal still resonate or should you just let it go?
But most importantly I revisited my Purpose. And I committed to planning to that. Not to what others define as success. Not to some mythical standard that I think I’m supposed to reach. Not to what society even expects.
Here’s my purpose statement, in case you’re interested. I worked with a brilliant strengths coach this past year to come to this and then asked a gifted writer friend to polish and articulate it – and the results surprised even me!
My purpose is to…
– INSPIRE. I inspire people to start amazing projects and businesses rooted in empathy that create a positive ripple in the world.
– ACTIVATE. I shift people from thinking/feeling (nice thoughts, good intentions) into action (actual, concrete progress).
– AMPLIFY. I work with influential people (writers, entrepreneurs, activists) to help them amplify their voices, share their messages with thousands of people, and create an even bigger social impact.
My purpose is to…
Teach people that you can do incredible good in the world—no matter who you are.
You can be a firefighter, be a monk, open a bakery, or run a software company. No matter what type of vocation you’ve chosen, there is always a way to bring more generosity, compassion, and empathy into your work—and leave the world in better condition than you found it.
Plan to your purpose. It’s a much smarter and happier way to set goals that truly mean something to you.
Are you craving more wit and wisdom on goal setting and time management? Check out my little eBook, The Juicy Guide to Time Management and Goal Setting: Advice on How to Wrangle Your Calendar and Slay Overwhelm. From Kam’s super-kind 5-star review: “This is the fourth eBook from Maria that I read and I know it will be the one I refer my mastermind buddies to over and over again!”
My 20-month old son adores playing with these stacking boxes he got from his aunt. Ten colorful boxes adorned with letters, colors, shapes and animals provide endless entertainment. He is just now mastering stacking them from largest to tiniest, but for the most part shrieks in delight when I build a tower for him–only to topple it all down in a fit of giggles.
One day, he was in a particularly ornery mood (days which come more often as he approaches two). He was playing with the “blocks” as I call them (since he can’t quite say “box”) and, per usual, knocked them all down. Huffing in frustration, he sauntered over and scrambled onto the coach to pout.
He then realized he actially DID want to play with the blocks. So he started whining and pointing to them, as if I was his handmaiden and would bring them to his royal highness on his throne.
Mama don’t play that way.
“No, C. If you want your blocks, you have to go get them.”
His response? He cried loudly and, in protest, jammed the square carrying case over his head, looking like a curious little robot. Muffled “harrumphs” emerged from the adorable box-head seated next to me.
You can’t pick your teachable moments.
“Honey, I know you’re frustrated,” I said. “But if you want your blocks, you can go get them–or you can sit there on the coach with your head in a box, kicking and screaming, and get nothing. Your choice.”
He sat fuming for a while, then slyly lifted one corner of the box from above his eye to look at me, grinned and then toddled off the couch to get back to his blocks again.
When you really, really want something–whether to build a business, write a book, speak on stage, act, sing, create, connect–no one will do the work for you, so you have two choices:
If you want your blocks, then GO GET THEM. Or you can sit on the coach with your head in a box, kicking and screaming, and get nothing. Your choice. (Tweet this!)
A wise mentor sits with a serene smile, staring into the bright eyes of the eager protégée. She wraps her arm around the fresh young person and whispers, “Everything is going to be alright. Here’s all you really need to know…”
I’m going to bet that was not your experience when embarking on entrepreneurship or self-employment. If you’re like me, it felt more like getting shoved into a deep ocean. Some days, the current drifts you to new islands and opportunities. Other days, you flail in the choppy waves, praying for a lifeline. One day, the seas are calm and effortless. The next day, the waves pound you over and over again into the hard sand.
After leaving the safe harbor of a successful corporate life in 2008, I was fortunate enough to find resources and mentors who helped me along my journey. Some drifted in and out like a passing life raft, right when I needed them most. Others joined me on my journey and never left my side: mentors and collaborators whom I treasure for their insights.
These amazing humans – and the many years I’ve now been out on my own – have taught me so much. And by “so much,” I mean answering questions I never knew I should have (“What the heck is “use tax?”) and preparing me for situations I could have never seen coming even with high-powered binoculars (a clear contract doesn’t protect you from a nightmare client who signs it without reading it). It doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take. Until you’re in it, there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know.
And that’s a good thing. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t do it!
Here are two of the biggest lessons from my entrepreneurial experience thus far. Please note: I have a long way to go and a whole lot more to learn.
But when you get so far down a certain trail, it’s your duty and responsibility to reach your hand back and shepherd those traveling with you. Leave no man or woman behind, I say.(Tweet this!)
Lesson #1: Opportunity favors those who prepare.
While I had a very successful corporate marketing career, I dreamed of doing my own thing and enjoying more flexibility to pursue other passions, like writing and acting. Red Slice started as a personal blog full of whimsical wine, film and cultural musings. It then became a business website I would tinker with on the side as I dreamed, “If I worked for myself, how would I position my services? What message would I want to convey? What brand would I build?” In 2008, when the writing was on the wall and my last tech company laid off the marketing department in prep for a sale, opportunity knocked–and I was ready. I flipped the switch on that hidden website and Red Slice as a brand consultancy was born.
Lesson #2: Don’t worry about the how so much as the what and why. The how will find you (or you will find it) when the time is right. Just take action and keep moving forward.
The road was not always easy. Maybe you can relate?! I am often still unsure of what the hell I’m doing. But amazingly enough, once you start down the path to what you want and put it out there, all of the sudden an advisor, article, connection or opportunity will magically appear right when you need it most.
When I craved more strategy work and less tactical project work and didn’t know how to free up my time to go after it, a friend offered her coaching services to me, leading to my signature offerings still popular today.
When I needed a new accountant, a successful entrepreneur recommended hers – and I’ve happily been with that firm ever since.
When I desperately needed a fresh creative writer for my client work, a colleague launched a website that week with the most brilliant copy I’d ever read and I immediately contacted the writer she hired, which led to not one, but two fruitful writing partnerships that are the cornerstone of my work.
When a publishing agent got interested in my book idea and asked to see a “formal proposal” I had no idea what that was but said “Sure, I’ll send you one!” As if on cue, my good friend told me she happened to enroll in a proposal writing class starting the very next week so I jumped in and joined her.
When I was truly overwhelmed by my work and life right after my brain injury, I decided to just take it day by day and start small, by sponsoring a marketing event. At that event, I happened to meet a “stress coach” and started working with her within the month to get myself unstuck and moving forward.
When I decided to self-publish my second book and had no idea where to begin, I just started writing it and figured it would all work out. I then remembered a virtual assistant who I had interviewed the year before to help with marketing my first book. She is now my self-publishing angel and handles everything for me.
There are so many more examples I could give you. Somehow, someway, the right people just enter your life at just the right time. Or you read an article that tells you about the exact solution to the challenge you are facing.
You have big plans for the New Year. I just know it! You want to build your business, increase your brand awareness, streamline your marketing efforts and, essentially, get your irresistible message out there – with style and grace, naturally.
Whether you are a business owner, or have a book, cause, or project to get off the ground, here are five plucky and practical books I recommend to amplify your message and ignite your efforts this year. (Tweet this!)
Whitney Keyes is a consultant, international speaker and professor who offers smart, simple and super fast marketing strategies for organizations big and small. Plus, she’s a trusted colleague and I’ve seen her work her magic first-hand. This book breaks down a marketing and sales plan into something doable, practical and – dare I say – fun to execute.
This book will make you love and appreciate the art of networking. Seriously. Whether you’re an introvert, or simply and extrovert who hates business card-swapping and idle small talk, Sandy Jones-Kaminski is a networking maven and shows you how to network the right way so its fun and fruitful. One hint: It starts with generosity and curiosity – not forceful sales pitching. Sandy shares helpful conversation starters, online connection do’s and don’ts and ways you can get more out of that next conference or event – other than parking yourself by the pastry table.
Michelle Tillis Lederman is an executive coach and corporate trainer who has boiled her years of experience with large corporations down to 11 simple principles for making sales, forming partnerships and managing teams. This book is a perfect read for entrepreneurs, business leaders and job seekers alike if you’re trying to get out there and promote your message or mission.
Sarah Granger is an online guru, technology master and digital marketing consultant who has worked with clients ranging from political campaigns to corporations. This book is a great primer on how to seize digital opportunities to make both your personal and professional life richer. Her tips and case studies cover important guidelines on everything from making online connections with possible clients and partners met to privacy to encouraging your kids to behave responsibly online. Sarah offers a positive spin on the digital revolution and how it can help us connect, create and collaborate when used appropriately.
Sorry, couldn’t resist adding my book, especially since I’ve added more robust content in this 2nd edition on networking, social media and content marketing, in addition to new case studies and interviews with marketing experts such as Jay Baer, Ann Handley and Mike Michalowicz. The book outlines a simple ten-step questioning process to clarify your brand strategy, focus on your ideal audience and make thousands of marketing decisions with more ease and confidence. The goal is to help you attract more of the right customers and save valuable time and money by avoiding “random acts of marketing.” Doesn’t that sound good?!
Which books do you recommend to boost your business or brand? Please tweet me @redslice and let me know.
Too often, entrepreneurs, solo business owners – and yes, even large company CEO’s – think there is some magical cure to flagging sales, lack of brand awareness, or no clients knocking on the door. And so, they believe the claims like:
“Join my course and you will absolutely achieve six-figure success and prosperity!”
“Issue press releases every week and you will definitely get featured in The Wall Street Journa!l”
“If you place one ad on my site, you will increase sales without lifting a finger!”
And often it turns out these courses, techniques, or masterminds are just fluff.
I’ve had enough. Haven’t you?
There are millions out there who will pay for a quick fix, an easy answer, a way to earn money without putting in the work. They claim it should be easy. Yes, it doesn’t always have to be rocket science, but when was the last time you saw someone achieve meteoric success without any real value, smarts, hard work or talent? I should clarify: lasting success because reality stars who are famous for being famous won’t (I hope) be here for long.
If you want to be a reality star, by all means, go ahead. Godspeed. I on the other hand prefer to use marketing for good rather than evil. I prefer to create marketing that delights, informs and tells the truth. I’d prefer to build a business based on real honest to God value for someone and if I do that for less people rather than duping millions, perhaps I’ll sleep better at night, knowing I created something real, good and valuable in the world.
Yes, your business should bring your joy. Yes, you shouldn’t have to slog if things don’t feel right. I’m all about only doing the marketing activities you enjoy (if they reach your target audience) or at least finding a way to make them enjoyable.
But I’m tired of the modern day snake oil salesmen, aren’t you? Tired of hyperbolic claims, tired of people charging thousands for something that won’t bring real value to a business. Of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. And you can only find value if you do the work someone ifsteaching you.
But I guess that’s my point. The not-so-secret to brand success? DO. THE. WORK.
Bring the value. Be authentic, be vulnerable, be unique but the most successful folks I know are finding joy in their business while alsoproviding real value for their clients and customers.
Marketing is not about lying to people. It can be used for good rather than evil (Tweet this!)