Make Your Offerings More Attractive By Weaving Your Lifestyle Into Them

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I couldn’t get myself to tidy my home on a regular basis and I seemed to resent scheduling regular calls with clients because I hated my schedule being so full and I hated being locked down to sit at my computer. I spend to much time on it already (shakes fist at Facebook). Then I combined them (tidying + coaching calls) into The Puttering Sessions. The response has been incredible (the first round sold out in two hours or less), the waiting list is growing and feedback from the sessions has been strong.

And on one of those puttering sessions I spoke with a client in Glasgow. He’s studied a form of personal and spiritual growth that’s made a big difference in his life but rankled at the thought of being a typical life coach who was stuck on the phone talking with people everyday. He’s also one of the tidiest people in the world and has a deep love of doing the dishes and would travel the world to find a new way to fold his socks more beautifully. And so, when my launch email for my puttering sessions hit his inbox he was overjoyed and told his confused co-worker, “I’m going to be doing a marketing coaching session while he does the dishes! I love tidying!

During our call, as I listened, ideas began to occur to me for him. “What if you were to do some YouTube videos where you videos yourself tidying your home or teaching that new way to fold your socks and you were to pair that with some insight that you had about your inner work? What if you were to weave together those two seemingly unrelated worlds and show how they were actually the same? What if, instead of doing coaching sessions on the phone you were to go over to their house and spend the day tidying a room of their house, a deep cleanse, while you were also doing a deep inner cleanse about a particular something that was bothering them? And what if you brought people together in a MeetUp style group to help some good community groups get organized or to tidy a park and it included a potluck and a little talk from you? And you could even do a 30 Day virtual challenge where people spend thirty days cleaning their home while also cleaning up their mind. They’d take and post before photos and after photos. They could have a daily tidying and journalling practice.

He was over the moon with the ideas.

There was a life-coach who loved hiking. He was thinking of quitting coaching, because he was locked inside on his phone all day, until one day a friend of his asked if he couldn’t ask people to go hiking with him and do deeper coaching sessions in that way or, at least, do the sessions on a Bluetooth headset while coaching.

There was a triathlete kept meaning to start up a podcast but couldn’t find the time until he tried recording it while he was cycling. The out-of-breathness of it gave it an authentic feel, people loved it and he was finally able to start doing it.

Imagine a barber who loves old folks and their stories and cutting hair but who hates being locked in a barber studio all day, five days a week who decides to work out of his bag and travel to old folks homes to cut hair.

Imagine a life-coach who’s a gardener who works in the garden while coaching and uses metaphors from nature and what’s around them while they coach people, or who brings them by to work in the garden with them?

Imagine someone with a penchant for knitting who knits while talking to them on the phone or who invites them over to her home to knit together. The client would be asked to work on making something as a gift to soemone they care about. She could host worshops and insist that every knit while she talk and she could knit while she teaches.

Or hide tanning. Or wood cutting. So hand skills that could be woven into a rhythm of teaching. This is, of course, nothing new.

Where could you weave together what you love, what you need to get done and your work together?

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Note: If you’d like support in finding out what this might be for you, I invite you to get on the email list for my more in-depth, mentorship program. You can sign up here to be the first to hear when spaces open up.

Guest Post: The One Copywriting Secret Tool We All Have

by Ling Wong | business-soulwork.com

This article is adapted from Ling’s new book on Copywriting for Coaches, Consultants, Solopreneurs & Small Businesses – How To Turn Your Personal Brand into Powerful Marketing Communications.

People buy from people, not a faceless company.

People trust people, not a website with fancy sliders.

Especially for coaching, consulting and professional services, clients want to work with those they trust. They’re willing to pay a premium for that.

How do you cultivate that trust when you’re leveraging online channels to generate leads and get in front of potential clients?

How can you stand out from a sea of competition without being a loud-mouthed promoter saying or doing things that aren’t in alignment with your values and personality?

Answer is actually pretty simple…

Be HUMAN

Your copy and content needs to boldly and unapologetically reflect your personal brand and present you as a HUMAN BEING. (It sounded kind of funny the first time I wrote it. Then I looked at it again, and it’s so true. Metrics and stats can be generalizing and dehumanizing.)

Unfortunately so many people hide behind the façade of a logo or a company instead of showing their true colors to connect with their audience.

Being human is about making the connection and creating the resonance, a winning combo that builds trust and credibility to make conversion simply the natural next step.

Being human is about opening up, having the courage to share your story and being vulnerable. Purposeful storytelling and responsible vulnerability is not a whine fest, nor is it manipulative.

You can only be truly vulnerable when you know you’re strong enough to show up to whatever shows up to you.

When you own your vulnerability, you’re also demonstrating your confidence — the confidence your audience wants to experience to know that they can trust you.

Unfortunately, there are many people who throw around vulnerability because it’s “hot.”

Vulnerability is the window to your HUMANITY, so show some respect.

Airing out your dirty laundry without connecting it with your bigger message from a place of service is self-gratuitous.

Don’t toss around emotions just to make a sale.

Be genuine. Share your emotions with the utmost intentionality to communicate your values, convictions, skills, life experiences, and talents.

Congruence and integrity build trust. Trust brings clients.

***

11-truly-vulnerableBeing human is about having a two-way conversation with your audience, because they’re human beings too.

It’s not about having the latest marketing automation system, or the newest bright shiny objects.

Interact and connect, instead of squeezing your peeps through some marketing conveyor belt that does little to distinguish you from a sea of competition that’s doing the same thing.

Don’t let a piece of software dictate how you communicate with your audience.

Let’s put the horse in front of the cart by first designing a user experience that reflects your brand personality and points-of-view, and delivers value in a way that taps into your strength.

How do you want your audience to experience YOU? What kind of interaction would make them feel connected to you?

Based on this user experience, which (surprise!) puts the user first, you can choose the right tools with clear intention and discernment.

Make sure your decision to set up any technology is not driven by fears. Burying yourself in technology without clear intention can make your brand experience confusing — and the confused mind says “no.”

You don’t want your peeps to experience you as a compilation of the latest marketing software. You don’t want your personality to be buried so deep that nobody can experience it underneath all the bells and whistles.

Don’t fear that “YOU being YOU” is not enough so you need to hide behind some fancy convoluted sequence.

Don’t let the fear of being judged drive you to follow what everyone else is doing — regardless whether the tactics suit your business model and serve to highlight your strength, or not.

Don’t fear that if you don’t look like everyone else or have some “polished” looking sales funnel you’re not “professional.”

Don’t be afraid that if you’re not selling some $67 information product you’re losing out — everything has an opportunity cost.

Don’t let the fear of missing out drive you to purchase a boatload of software and tools before you’re clear on how you can design a user experience that best suits your brand personality and serve to drive home your message.

Remember, at the end of the day, sales and marketing is about one human being on one end, communicating with another human being at the other end.

img_3672-199x300About Ling

Ling Wong :: Intuitive Brainiac | Copywriting Alchemist. Through her unique blend of marketing coaching, content strategy and copywriting process, she helps the maverick-preneurs uncover, articulate & transform their WHY into content that connects, resonates and converts  – by way of an intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 10 years experience in the online marketing industry.

Get her brand new book Copywriting Alchemy: Secrets To Turning a Powerful Personal Brand Into Content That Sells here.

Guest Post: How To Get Unstuck and Leave Behind A Working Life That Makes You Feel Trapped

by Erica Sosna

You know the feeling right. The Sunday night dreads. The knot in the stomach, the anxiety, the sleepless night.

How did you get here?

Maybe you just kind of stumbled into this line of work.

Maybe it was fine for a while, but then a change of personnel or ownership in your organisation made a radical difference to the culture.

Maybe you even dreamed, once, of this position, but have now radically outgrown it – and are now twiddling your thumbs. Or the squeeze on headcount has meant you are doing the work of several people and your email traffic is in four figures.

Whatever it is, however you got here. I am here with good news.

We are going to work together, to get you out of there.

And we are going to start right now, with this article. I promise you, if you take the time to read it, by the end of this article you will be in a way better place and your move on up will have already begun.

May I give you a lifelong investment in your future in just 10 minutes?

Well hang on, you say, why would you trust me to help you get unstuck?

Good question. Let’s start with the introductions.

I’m Erica Sosna, the Author of Your Life Plan. For the last twelve years, I have been working with creative and talented people like you, to help them get unstuck from careers they hate and to move into work that suits who they are, what they love and how they operate.

I do this because work is important, you spend a lot of time there and when it doesn’t work for you, it can have disastrous impacts on your confidence, health, happiness, the lot!

How do I know this? Because I have been there and done that. I did what I ‘should’ do rather than follow my key interests and loves, I took the ‘sensible’ path because I thought the unorthodox was dangerous and wouldn’t work and I did what I was told by society, because I didn’t have the self-knowledge to take actions that suited who I am.

Consequence – breakdown, stress, weight gain, smoking, horrid, horrid, horrid.

My mission is to save us all from this, through my blogs, my books, my courses, my talks, to give people clarity on who they are, confidence to go for what they want and the competence – the practical skills, to get there.

How do I know it can be done? Because I have personally done it!

I’ve made every kind of career change, from employed to self-employed, from public sector and charity to private corporation and across industry, from education to consulting to Government departments. So I have made many of the shifts my clients tell me impossible.

Plus, I love change and can help you love it too! My insatiable thirst for new experiences and new perspectives can help you feel more confident about making the move.

And lastly, I have found my calling and helped hundreds of other people do the same – so they only need to make one shift, to get in line with their purpose. And once they have the method to do that, the rest is easy.

The Problem

See, most of us didn’t receive an education in who we are and what we would be good at and without knowing this, we stumble around hoping our career will just happen to us. And then, even when we do realise what we want, we don’t know how to get from here to there and we decide it is impossible.

Once I found my calling, others began asking me how I did it and how I got so much done.

So I developed a method to get them unstuck and into a working life they just love – that is uniquely designed to suit who you are, how you work, what you are good at and what matters to you.

And that, in summary, is what I am sharing with you today – a method to help you to get where it is that you want to go.

This article will give you the ammo to get moving in the right direction, with a range of practical tools to get out of that trapped place and into work that, well, works!

So here’s what you’re getting today…

First I’m going to show you a proven way to recognize and overcome the key thought trap that keeps people stuck in careers that they were never meant to be in

Then you will get a whole new perspective on why you are where you are that will transform you from victim to champion

And I’m also going to give you a set of steps which as I take you through them – will build an action plan that will put you on the path you’ve been longing to take.

Sound good?

So let’s dive in…

First things first: Getting Your Mind Unstuck

In all manner of ways, fear is the key source of our feeling of stuckness.

Think about it. What stops you progressing into a new role or taking a new path?

Somewhere in you there is a story about what will happen if you step into something new and that story is strong enough and potent to keep you right where you are.

Fear is the number one enemy of progress. It can stop us in our tracks. We become paralysed into inaction. So unless we learn to work it with head on and know it for what it is, we will constantly sabotage ourselves.

But the problem is, we weren’t shown how to manage fear in the classroom.

Or even at home.

You see that’s because most teachers and parents weren’t trained to teach us how to deal with it.

Fear Paralyses Progress

Our interpretation of life and what is possible during  it (including a change in role or career – the area I specialise in), is filtered through a number of basic ‘programs’.

These programs can be helpful or unhelpful.

Conscious and unconscious.

They can make us feel things are  possible or just a bridge too far.

And even more importantly they either make us feel good or make us feel bad.

And all of these programs now exist in your brain because you’ve either learned them as you’ve grown up or they’ve been given to you by the world and well-intentioned others.

The good news about these programs is that you get to control which ones you use and which ones you don’t.

And the more you’re able to recognise which ones don’t serve you and how to remove them… the quicker you’ll be able to make the changes you want in your working life.

For example… when you want to make your PC run faster by getting it to use it’s memory more efficiently… you’ll run a virus checker to remove things like malware.

The difference this will make if you follow me here is phenomenal.

So first, let’s  see some of these  fear programs in action.

Let me show you how they work.

There are lots of different kinds of programs , but let’s take one most of my clients grapple with and you may too…

Part I: No way Jose! I am NOT moving! AKA Fear of Change

When we begin to think about something we want to do that’s outside of our day to day norm, we can get excited and engaged and then, moments later that forward motion comes to an abrupt halt.

Why…? Because we get scared. We get to the limits of what we think we know and what is familiar and we start to imagine all sorts of things that could go wrong.

But the truth is that the fears we have about the future if we made this change are just things we’ve made up. They are just a negative story about the future – disaster stories that frighten us into not taking the next step.

The Disaster Fantasy Trap

For example, let’s say you really want to leave your current role and opt to go into a completely different line of work or even start your own business.

First, you might worry about whether it is even possible to work in this new area with no experience. Then you might panic about how your family might feel about it and how you would survive if you had to take a pay cut to get there. In an instant, you see yourself unemployed, losing your home, and the kids wearing rags and people that know you looking on in disgust. Not exactly a ‘happy ever after’ story is it?

BUT...we don’t actually know what will happen next in the story of our lives until it has happened.

The Disaster Story  Exercise

Right now think of the career or life switch you want to make  – a goal or a dream you have that you’ve thought about for a while.

When  I decided I would move from permanent employment into freelance consulting, I knew that I needed to have a plan. I was clear that I wanted to move on, but was trapped by my fears of financial insecurity, about having to go to the bank of mum and dad, about losing my home etc etc.

And so, I didn’t just jump ship and quit because I knew that would freak me out and I wouldn’t do my best work in that condition.

This exercise helped me to get past that fear and to devise a plan of action that was really going to work. Instead of being overwhelmed by my fantasy of the future,  I began to work out what I could do in the 6 months before I moved on, to give myself some stability. I quietly began building relationships and lining up opportunities. I got my website and branding in order. I studied marketing.

Result?

New career and more work than I could handle.

Now it’s your go. I’m going to take you through the tool I used to breakthrough, right now.

I’d like you to answer the following questions for me:

Describe a career goal you want to achieve.

Write down what you are afraid might happen if you took steps toward that goal?

How might people react?

What might they say?

What risks would you run?

What is the worst thing that could happen?

Would you survive if it did?

Ok now, let’s look at each of these fears and capture three actions you will take that would prevent or massively reduce the chance of fear in your unfolding  disaster story from coming true.

As you’ve most probably realised from doing this… as you do it you instantly reduce the power of these scary thoughts- because when we look at them in the light of day we discover two amazing things – one – that the likelihood of that big disaster happening is quite low and two – that if we plan in advance we can take action to avoid the things we don’t want and enhance the chances of things we do want to happen… happening.

The Moral of The Story

You are much more powerful and capable than your fear would have you believe. The disaster stories about the future are just that – big scary movie stories. And actually, they really aren’t that likely. In a strange way, the fear stories about change can be useful to us. They help us to know what we need to manage and to plan for when we are making a change.

You are resourceful. Smart. You can do this.

So promise me, you will do the exercise. Look at your disaster story. Find ways to plan for the exact opposite to happen. And start taking small actions. Keep taking them. Small leads to big. Knowledge = Power.

Tweet this: Make fear your friend.

Part 2: Getting Out of Our Own Way – I Need A Hero!

The Conversation Inside That Keeps You Stuck

There’s a conversation going on inside you right now. Have you noticed?

Every day we talk to ourselves.

Even when we’re not aware of it, we’re chatting away about things that have happened or are about to happen.

But one conversation that keeps people in lives that they know are not meant for them is the one where we tell ourselves how unfair the world is and “why is it that this bad stuff always happens to me?”

You see the assumption in this is that you have no control over where your life is going and this is just not true. A career is a series of choices – if you don’t make them, then they are made for you. And you are much more powerful and capable than letting that happen to you. Imagine, if you will, that you are about to head off on a new adventure. And the next step in your career is the next chapter in the book of your life.

So let me share how to remove the victimised “I’m so unlucky… this stuff just happens to me” mind virus so you can see things for what they really are… just part of an unfolding story…

To do so, I’m first going to suggest to you that you are not a victim of circumstance.

Actually if we were working together I would see you completely differently… I would see you as a hero or  heroine starring in your own movie.

You see our life as journey and I like to think of you as the hero on a quest and that’s the way I want you to think of yourself from here on in.

Because…

The more we reposition how we view ourselves in our OWN minds and our own lives as a brave person standing for what they know is true and good (something we know all heroes do), the more able we are to move through the world achieve the things we’ve always wanted to achieve.

So let me take you on what is called the Hero’s Journey.

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This is the contents page from my book. Your Life Plan, which follows the Heroic Journey from start to finish and gets you unstuck…

Then A Hero Comes Along…

The Hero’s Journey is a map for how change and transformation happens in our lives. It allows us to see that whenever we head toward a grand dream for ourselves, there will be challenges and twists and turns.

If you think about it, like heroines and characters in your favourite films and stories, we are the central character in our own movie.

You are the star, the only person who is in every scene.

We cannot control everything but we can work together with fate and destiny to write our own new chapter. And the more we reposition ourselves as the central character, the more we feel empowered to take decisions and actions in spite of any fear, challenge or resistance that we might feel.

This journey maps out the movement that heroes and heroines make, from a current reality into a new world through adventures and challenges and adversity.  If you think about it this is how change happens in our own lives. And by seeing the twists and turns of the journey as a natural part of your story, we are more able to respect the process and support others and ourselves in tough times.

Walking The Heroic Quest

And it all begins with THE CALL.

The calling to do something different. This is either a push or a pull.  A push is something that forces us to leave what is familiar, while a pull is an opportunity or incentive. A call to step into a new role, or area of work for example.

The hero (i.e. you) usually resists this because it is inconvenient, dangerous or involves leaving their world behind. They resist until the call becomes too strong to resist and then they step into commitment to action.

But here’s the amazing bit about a Hero’s Journey… As soon as they make this commitment a red carpet of support rolls out ahead of them, with allies, support, resources, mentors coming to their aid.

Making it Happen….

As they pull together their plan and their supplies and head out into a magical realm they find there are points where they feel lost  until they reach the grand challenge. The supreme ordeal. They must battle with demons– perhaps external foes or internal limitations. But they win this battle against the odds and, recover, receive rewards, learn and integrate and then return, transformed to share what they have learned with others.

You can map this structure to most classic stories, from Red Riding Hood to Star Wars. And yet, if we look closely, it also applies to the experiences of our lives. Whenever we decide we want to make a major change and we commit to action, we become the heroic character in our story.

And your career if a huge adventure and filled with opportunity for you to shine.

And this is how I see you right now…

As a hero, life will be challenging, there will be times you want to give up. But just knowing that this is a normal part of any transformation … trust me… will liberate and empower you..

Take a look at the map of your own quest.

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Where are you on it?

Spring Into Heroic Action!

Now you know where you are and you know it is meant to be. I want you to consider…what would it take to get you to the next stage of the journey?

What action are you going to take today to get you that little bit further?

The Moral of The Story

Remember you are not a no-hoper, with a lack of direction and an attitude problem – you are a hero or heroine on a quest! And Yes, the quest will be hard at times, and yes, you will get scared, tired, angry, bored on the way. But one thing I know is, you can get to where you want to, if you are willing to no longer let bad programming stop you.

Tweet this: I am the hero or heroine in my own story.

And Finally: Ready, Steady….Go!!!

This final section is all about how to get moving. How to plan for your next steps.

I want to show you how to breakdown the next move in your career into easy and practical steps so you can make things happen fast rather than just hope they come true someday. There’s a lot more detail in my book and Your Breakthrough (www.ericasosna.com) on defining your end goal and ideal work, but this blog can help with that too.

Biting off more than you can chew

A challenge that most of my clients suffer from, which is the goal or dream just seems too big and they frighten themselves off from starting!

But what many don’t  know is that you can make a lot more progress, more quickly… if you start small. Many of us get stuck by thinking about the BIG goal and think we have to jump straight in at the deep end and we naturally have some reservations about doing so. This concern about jumping straight in can mean we sit on our dreams and delay waiting for the perfect time – which never comes!

The way to solve this is to start with really small, easy practical steps.

I want your journey toward your destination to feel as fun and spacious as possible and by following my lead that’s what we’re going to do together.

So let me show you how you take a  BIG goal and turn it into something manageable- something that get’s done.

So here’s my secret planning sauce…

Honey, I Shrunk The Goal!

Often when people think about planning for a goal, they work towards it rather than backwards from it.

The problem with this is that you don’t yet know how you are going to get there.

But working backwards from the goal in the way I am going to show you now is going to help you to get super clear on the steps you need to take so you can , get moving and start changing things up fast.

You see a big career goal is just a ‘journey of 1000 steps’ so all we’re going to do is get a map out the steps, one by one. But the secret to our success will be not starting at the beginning, but starting at the end.

The Exercise To Get You Moving

Write your large dream goal at the top of a page.

Put some numbers around it – a date, some timing, some amounts, maybe a figure in money terms.

Then think about the goal as if it has already happened and you have already got there.

And from this position I want you to imagine – what do you think you did just before you achieved it? And how about the week before? The month before? Work down the page until you get to an action you could take today to start you off on your journey to your destination. And then, get going!

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-3-07-57-pm

 

By working through in this way, starting with the ‘end goal and working backward, you can benefit from the wisdom of your intuition and imagination.

You can work out a path where you did not see one before.

And you can help to keep your motivation when things get tough, by seeing clearly how the action you are taking is specifically focused and useful in helping you get to your end destination.

How I Used This Method to Do What I Dreamed Of Doing

There’s a story for another day about how I got my book deal, using my Your Breakthrough tools, but let’s just say I got there. But then, I had to write Your Life Plan – in 3 months!

And I did it bit by bit, working backward from the deadline I agreed with my publisher, when does the final draft need to be in, when the first draft, when do I need to decide on images, when do we need to finalise the book cover. ……

And today, what do I need to do?

The Moral of the Tale

You can use this ‘work backwards’ method to make a massive dream a practical reality. I’ve used it over and over, to change roles, to set up businesses, to write books, to plan parties, to restore my garden – anything that felt too big and scary to start!

Go on. I dare you.

Tweet: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!

Go Get Em!!

If you are really ready to get unstuck and are ready to breakthrough your fears and want some help in deciding on a new career path, then please sign up to one my free Your Breakthrough webinars for career changers.

Next Steps

I am so excited for you. I believe in the possibilities and potential you have inside, to be all you can be. I know there’s fear, I know there’s stories about the future that you are using to scare yourself silly. I know you know you are capable of a much more fulfilled life, if you could just get moving in the right direction and define your direction and purpose. If you are ready to start the journey this Free Webinar on successful career change is a great lift off point.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-3-10-28-pmErica Sosna is the author of Your Life Plan, a popular motivational speaker and a careers transformation coach working out of London. Since 2004, she has helped hundreds of professionals discover the work they love and take action to get paid to do it. Find out more about how she can help you by clicking here.

Ten Simple Ideas to Deal With The Reality That Most Marketing Work Is Boring as Hell

10979948 - bored and tired business person working at home

Here’s the truth: most of marketing your business is boring.

It’s the tedious making lists of people to contact.

It’s pre-writing emails.

It’s scheduling things out and making plans.

It’s rewriting headlines.

It’s editing eBooks (dear God… the editing).

It’s doing all of those things when, frankly, you’d rather be having beers with friends or watching Netflix – House of Cards, amiright?).

99% of the work of marketing is not clicking send on the email or publishing the sales page. I think it’s why so many people do so poorly. It’s boring. It’s avoidable and, so, it is avoided.

What can be done about this?

Idea #1: Develop Packages That inspire you. Come up with packages and offers that are inspiring for you and that work for your lifestyle. You’ll be more excited to market them.

Idea #2: Do things in stages. Don’t try to sit down and write a sales letter in one go. Let yourself gather some thoughts for a few weeks. Have a place you can write them down as they come. Then, let yourself do a rough outline and then let it sit for a week. Then do a very rough draft and let it sit for a week. If you do it like this, each step feels manageable and you can see progress. Don’t let yourself do more than that. Let yourself have little wins. Of course, this means giving yourself enough time to plan. Most don’t and the combination of avoidable boring work mixed with an unavoidable time-crunch is the worst sort of entrepreneurial hell there is. Plus, it usually produces the worst kinds of results.

Idea #3: Work parties. Have work parties with friends at local cafes so you can show them what you’re working on and take breaks to chat. Don’t do everything by yourself and add loneliness to boredom.

Idea #4: Systematize regular breaks. Install something like RSI Guard on your laptop to make you take breaks from time to time. This has been a godsend to me.

Idea #5: Have a niche you’re excited about. If you’re doing work that doesn’t inspire you at all or that you aren’t very good at, it’s going to be hard to get yourself inspired. Take the time to figure out a niche you love to be in.

Idea #6: Develop a solid business model (and then build it). To do a lot of boring work towards creating a business that you aren’t sure will be profitable? It’s a terrible idea. If you have the business model in mind that you are trying to build, it’s much easier to stay motivated about it.

Idea #7: Make sure you have a system to stay organized. I use Things as my to-do list manager. Have some sort of tool that allows you to check things off as they get completed so that you can feel some sense of accomplishment.

Idea #8: Power Hour. I got this idea from the good Bill Baren. Have one hour, every day, when you’re at your most alert and focus only on your business. Turn off your phone and Facebook. Focus. You’d be amazed what you can accomplish in a focused hour.

Idea #9: Do five minutes. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed at the prospect of doing some long, boring job that we know will be tedious. So, just sit down and do five minutes. That’s all. You’ll likely find that getting over the hump to get started was the hardest part and that you easily do more than five minutes.

Idea #10: Make your marketing a practice. Meditation is boring most of the time. So what? It still brings benefits if you do it regularly.

Over to you. Post any of your ideas in the comments below.

If Your Marketing Feels Hard Then Something Is Wrong

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Marketing shouldn’t feel hard.

That’s not to say that it shouldn’t take effort. It does.

That’s not to say it doesn’t ask you to hustle. It does.

But it shouldn’t feel like a struggle.

I see so many people struggling to figure out which tactics to use and how to use them.

If your marketing does feel like a struggle, it likely means that some of the fundamentals are missing.

When I see people struggling with their marketing, ninety per cent of the time it’s because they don’t have a clear or well articulated niche. Or, if they have the niching part sorted and their marketing is still a struggle, it’s often because they’re lacking a well-articulated point of view.

If someone have both of those things – a clear niche and a well-articulated point of view – and they are still struggling with their marketing, then the culprit is usually the lack of clear and compelling packages.

If a person has all of the above going on (clear niche, articulate point of view, and compelling packages) and the marketing piece is still not working? Then it’s almost always that that they’re using a “cold approach” to marketing, instead of identifying and building relationships with hubs.

When you’re building a house, it’s only a struggle if you don’t have clear blueprints to work from.

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Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.

– Rumi

 

Be More Repulsive

 

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A simple, counter-intuitive idea for you today.

You’ve likely been told the importance of niche in marketing. Likely you’ve heard this from myself. You’ve likely heard about the importance of honing in on who you want to reach, to identify your ideal client, chosen audience or target market and maybe even to create a client avatar.

And those are all fine ideas.

But I want to suggest something you might not have considered doing before.

And, until the other day, I hadn’t either.

One of the central roles of marketing is to not just get the attention of your ideal clients but also to make sure you filter out the clients for whom your work will not be a fit in the same way that a window screen allows fresh air in but keeps out the flies.

And so we’re told to write all of our marketing material with our ideal clients in mind. We’re told to write our marketing materials as a sort of letter to them and only them.

And I think that’s good advice. I think it handles 95% of the issue of filtering.

But I’d like to give you an approach to writing sales copy that is the icing on the cake.

Step One: Identify your nightmare client. Get clear on who you never want to work with. Think about all of the worst clients you’ve ever had all rolled into one. Take 20 minutes to map this out a bit.

Step Two: Pick a sales letter or your homepage.

Step Three: Read the sales letter as if you were that Nightmare Client and ask yourself, “Would reading this repel me?” and, if not, rewrite the sales letter so that this person would never even think to call you. Make your materials repulsive to your Nightmare Client, not just attractive to your Ideal Client.

If you’re tired of emotionally needy clients, you might decide to say, “I’m not your mother. I’m not your best-friend. If you’re looking for someone who is touchy feely and who will hold you while you cry for hours and listen to your stories, I’m not it.” Or you might say the opposite, “If you’re looking for a nuts and bolts tactician, that’s not me. I’m here to hold space for your emotional process.”

You might say, “I’m a fundamentalist Christian and so, if my speaking Jesus’ name offends you, then you should stay away.”

You might say, “If you a building a business in the mining, tobacco or oil and gas industry, don’t come to my marketing workshop. This is not for you. I don’t want your business to succeed.”

And you might say all of that less directly but in a more implied manner. I’m not suggesting you intentionally be rude or offensive, but I am inviting you to consider a new level of candour that your ideal clients would love and that your less than ideal clients would be actively repulsed by.

You’ll figure out how but, I can promise you that this will make your sales copy better.

Additional Reading:

Get Rejected Faster

My 41st Birthday: Messages Welcome

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Today is my 41st Birthday.

I’ve been doing this business for ten years solid (with five or so years of here and there before that).
 
It’s a strange endeavour to be involved in.
 
I travel around, teach workshops, lead online programs and do some occasional work with people one on one but I’m never sure what the impact of the work has been long term. What stuck? What seemed like a good idea to me but ended up not being? What brought in paying clients? What helped someone shift direction in a positive way?
 
The truth is it’s rare that I find out.
 
And so, on this first year into my fourth decade, I’m asking. If you’ve received some benefit from knowing of my work or engaging with it directly, would you leave some words telling me the story of it below? How did you hear about me? What was most useful? How did you apply it? What happened?
 
There are three ways you can share your experiences and testimonials (ranked in my order of preference):
 
  1. Write me a review at Coach EXP. There’s a video on the homepage that will lead you through how to do it. This could mean a great deal to my livelihood as this is becoming the Yelp.com of the coaching industry.
  2. Post it as a comment on my Facebook page or this blog post.
  3. Reply to this email and send me a personal note.
As my way of saying thank you for evening considering this, I’d like to offer you 41% any of the products on my website.
 
You can find them here.
 
Just select the products you want, click Add to Cart and then enter this code: BDAY16. It’s good til Nov 6th at midnight Alberta time.
 
warmest,
Tad

Interview: Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take On Selling and Enrollment Conversations

greg-faxonI came across Greg Faxon (pictured here) about a year ago when someone shared his brilliant article Why You Don’t Need A Niche (And 11 Simple Alternatives). Well, as it turned out, Greg got a few clients from my sharing that article and we ended up connecting on Facebook and decided to get on the phone with each other to have a call. During the call, I learned that his central passion was about selling and how to have effective enrollment conversations. This got my attention because it’s not something I do in my own business model but it’s a place of much struggle for so many of my clients.

The first group of clients this is a struggle for are those who’ve never learned how to do them. They’re winging it every time. They get on the phone with a potential client and hope for the best. They’re terrified with being too pushy and often end up giving their client a free session to try to solve the whole thing right there. It’s a kind of collapsed, over giving. 

The second group of clients for whom this is a struggle are those who have learned how to do these processes and, even though they were taught to them by ostensibly conscious marketing gurus, they still feel uneasy about it. It still feels pushy and salesy.

The rest sort of beat around the bush with people in indirect ways or avoid conversations around their business like the plague as if this is a sign of enlightenment.

Personally, I’d rather build my business model so that I don’t have to have these conversations. As Peter Drucker put it, “The purpose of marketing is to make selling redundant.”

Additionally, I’m not a fan of wasting my time in conversations with people who aren’t likely to buy. I’ve got no interest in trying to convince anyone of anything. This is why I’m so big on people figuring out and clearly communicating their point of view, figuring out their niche and creating things like an Are You Sure? page to filter out those clients who aren’t likely to be a good match. There’s a lot you can do to make sure that, by the time you’re talking to them one on one, it’s likely going to go somewhere.

And, even if you filter a whole lot, there are going to be times where people are going to need to talk to you directly about what you’re offering and times when you’re going to want to talk to them to make sure they’re actually a fit. You can call that conversation a lot of things (e.g. sales conversation, enrollment conversation etc.) but sometimes two humans have to talk it out a bit. 

Greg submitted himself to a rigorous interview with me and has given his insights extremely generously here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did talking with him.

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What’s your story? How did you get so nerdy about enrollment conversations?

The short version is that I’m a guy who has always been really obsessed with transformation. I’ve always been fascinated by what allows people to grow and evolve in different areas of their lives. And so when I found out there was this thing called “coaching”, where that’s what you help people do all day, it was obviously really compelling for me.

I started holding small personal development workshops, and I even picked up a client or two. The problem was, I only made about $1,000 in the first 6 months of my business. In some ways it was really cool to have made money helping people. But I also knew that it wasn’t going to be sustainable.

What I realized was, it doesn’t really matter how good you are at the coaching piece if you don’t have coaching clients. I had been avoiding enrollment conversations because it felt safer to work on my website and think about URL names and get logos designed. That all changed when I invested in my first group coaching program and my coach called me out on the fact that I wasn’t spending time in conversation.

So over the next month I had over fifty enrollment conversations, got some great longer-term clients, and left my consulting job. I actually made twice as much from my coaching business the month after I left my job. In the process, I became really interested in how to hold an enrollment conversation that not only results in an ideal client, but actually transforms the person in front of me. And so that’s where my passion to teach this stuff comes from.

What have been your major influences in selling?

I’ve had a lot of great coaches and mentors throughout the years, but there are three books that I’d recommend for people who want to really understand how sales works in business.

  1. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  2. SPIN Selling
  3. Getting Naked

I’ll be honest though. A lot of the stuff I found around selling just didn’t work that well for me when I applied it to my coaching business specifically. And so that’s why I eventually reached a point where I decided I was going to have to create my own system.

What is sales? What is the role of selling in a business?

Sales is not just the process of exchanging money for a product or service.

Sales is about helping someone visualize and take action towards a future outcome that they want.

Sales is the lifeblood of every business. If you do not sell, you do not make money. If you don’t make money, you don’t get to keep playing the game of business. And if you don’t get to keep playing, you don’t get to keep serving people through that business.

If you want to create transformation in people’s lives, but you don’t know how to enroll people in what that transformation requires, it’s game over.

Here’s the good news:

Sales is not something that you do before the real work starts. Sales is the work. It’s what we do as leaders, coaches, and human beings every day.

What if instead of viewing sales as a necessary evil, you learned to love it instead?

Why do people hate the idea of selling so much?

A couple of reasons:

  1. They see sales as inherently pushy and inauthentic. The fix here is to reframe selling from something manipulative to something transformative. Selling can be one of the most important services you provide for your customers and clients. If you don’t help them make the decision about whether your offer is right for them, or if they don’t know what you have to offer them in the first place, they will never experience the benefit of it. When you view selling as an extension of the product or service you offer, you put more intention into the sale.
  2. They haven’t discovered their own way of selling. One that feels authentic to them. Everyone has their own unique style, and the way I sell will look different from the way you sell. The problem with scripts is that they take us out of the moment with our potential clients and we end up sounding stilted and awkward. The solution is having a system that allows you to play to your natural strengths. That’s what I give people. I really believe that if you don’t like selling, you’re doing it wrong.

You say that sales is one of the best ways to provide people with the transformation they’re looking for. How so?

When someone comes to us with a problem they haven’t yet solved, or a vision they haven’t yet achieved, there’s a reason they haven’t gotten the results they want yet. And it’s rarely because they don’t have enough information.

Often the reason is simply indecision. They say they want something, but they haven’t truly “thrown their hat over the fence” and committed to getting it handled. It’s our job to figure out what’s stopping them from making that commitment. Often times, indecision comes down to fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being judged.

I find myself wondering if this is really ‘indecision’. It sounds like they’ve decided not to, or, at least, not decided to. I notice a resistance to framing it as indecisive when it sounds like, for very good reasons, they’ve decided not to proceed.

I’m not sure I agree. Think about the person who really wants to lose weight, but they haven’t lost it yet. Is that because they’ve decided not to lose weight? Or is it because they haven’t committed to what the transformation requires? If people have already decided, then why do we shoot videos and write marketing copy? Other example: if people haven’t chosen a niche, is it because they’ve decided not to choose a niche? Is it because they shouldn’t choose a niche? Or is there an opportunity to support them in that decision making process? Are there irrational fears holding them back from specializing?

Got it. And I’m curious about your thoughts on this blog post I wrote, “But aren’t people indecisive?” 

I’ve actually shared this post with some of my groups, and I like and agree with the overall thesis. People are not indecisive by nature. But they do need help making the decision – that’s why sales exists.

“They’re not indecisive, they’re just not sure it’s a fit. They’re not sure it’s worth the investment. They’re not sure it’s the best use of their money. They’re not indecisive, they’re deciding. And our job is to facilitate the decision-making process (whether that’s towards a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’).”

I think the lines become blurred here, because if they’re not sure it’s a fit, that to me is what indecision means. They’re not sure what decision to make. The barrier is indecision. That’s why we are having a conversation about their challenges and goals and dreams. In a way where they are not being controlled by their own fear or limitations.

By helping them see clearly what it’s costing them to stay where they are, and all the positive ramifications of accomplishing their goals, we make it easier to throw their hat over the fence emotionally, logically and financially. We make it easier to confront that fear head on – whether they decide to work with us or not.

If we get this part wrong – if we don’t uncover their deeper challenges and motivations enough to flip the commitment switch – then it will be very hard to support them through the rest of the journey (even if we get them to commit temporarily).

If we get the enrollment conversation right, though – if by the end of the enrollment call they’ve committed 100% to accomplishing what they want – then everything after that becomes way easier because we can see when they are falling into old patterns and we can remind them why they are taking this journey.

By helping them confront the truth of their situation, and by inspiring them into action, we provide one of the greatest services one human being can for another.

This seems to me to be where this conversation can go horribly wrong and this piece of digging into the pain and building up the future is one of the parts that often feels like the most manipulative to people on the giving and receiving end. What are your thoughts about this?

You’re right. This is one of those times where we have to be very careful about the power we yield as marketers and salespeople. Because it’s absolutely possible to do this in a manipulative way. This makes me think of a brilliant Seth Godin post called Marketing Morality.

Consider this. If a client comes to me who is wanting to create a certain result in their life, we’re going to discuss the exact same things. That’s how you create momentum and gravity for them. You’re going to discuss why they want this thing now, why they are seeking change. You’re going to talk about the future they see for themselves.

The line that separates manipulation from transformation here is your agenda as the coach. Are you doing this in service to your client or in service to you? Don’t confuse the tool of sales or the tool of marketing with how different people might use it.

These days, I notice people are leery about ‘discovery sessions’ because they’re pitched as a ‘high value coaching session’ and yet – they end up being an hour long sales pitch. What’s your take on this?

You’re right. And I think it’s understandable that some people are leery. But I actually see that as a good thing; it means that if you really overdeliver during that session, you’ll set yourself apart from all of the other coaches out there.

The best way to combat that hesitancy is to build trust before you offer a strategy session and then to be very specific about what you will cover during the session itself. If you know the right way to frame your discovery sessions, you’ll have no problem getting the right people to sign up.

What do you see as the top three mistakes people make in enrollment conversations?

  1. Not having a framework. If you don’t have a consistent, proven system to walk your potential client through, you’ll get inconsistent results. That’s because you’ll be flying on the seat of your pants every time. You’ll be more confident and more effective once you’ve learned the exact steps to take someone through. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to use a script. But you need to understand the optimal flow of an enrollment conversation so that you can inspire your ideal clients to step forward and pay you if it turns out that you are a fit.
  2. Not having your inner game handled. It’s one thing to understand the external strategies of enrollment. But the truth is, you’re not going to be able to enroll many people if you haven’t also installed the key mindsets of successful coaches. Our clients are a mirror for our own doubt, fear, and insecurities. So for example, if you have blocks around money or around your own value, it’s going to be really hard to make any system work for you.
  3. Not leaving enough time. I’m not a big fan of 15 or 30 minute taster sessions. I suggest leaving up to 90 minutes to have your enrollment conversation unless you are very well established and have a lot of demand for what you offer (in which case the enrollment conversation is just more of a formality/sanity check). A good enrollment conversation requires depth, and you need time to go deep. You also need to leave enough time at the end to propose your services if it turns out they are a fit. There’s nothing worse than being all teed up to propose right when one of you has to hop on another call.

This notion of ‘fit’ feels central. I’m curious what you do or recommend that people do in order to really identify and make sure that there is a fit between yourself and your potential client. What do you before the call and during the call to facilitate clarity around this?

One of the most important things here is for you to know your ideal client criteria. So asking yourself in the Connect phase:

  1. Can I help this person?
  2. Do I want to help this person?

You can figure out what the red flags are by looking back at previous clients and seeing what the most successful ones had in common, and which one’s you enjoyed working with most.

Amen. I teach the same thing in my workshops. So important. So, what are the Three C’s? We discussed this in a call we had a while ago. This seems to be central to your point of view on selling.

The 3C Sales System is something that I initially developed just for myself because I had studied all of these complex sales frameworks and I needed something really simple to follow so that I could focus on the person I was talking to. It all came into place when I noticed that virtually all effective enrollment conversations followed the same three steps. When I focused on following my own system, I started getting a lot more clients. And then I shared it with my fiance, who is a teacher and permaculture practitioner, and she made her first sale right off the bat. That’s when I realized I was onto something and so I started sharing it with other coaches and service providers.

The Three C’s are Clarify, Connect, and Commit.

The first step, Clarify, is about getting really clear about the other person’s problems, vision, and challenges. Plus the deeper impacts and motivations behind all of those things. So not only do you get clearer about what the person needs, but they get to step back and finally see the truth of their situation, which is really valuable. Often we can’t see our relationship to our problems and goals because we are so close to them. Think about the person who shows up at the doctor and their arm is hurting, so they want some pain medication. If the doctor finds out that their arm is broken, that’s really important information because the prescription will be different. So the final thing we do in the Clarify stage is to recap what we are hearing, both to make sure we are on the same page and to have them understand what’s really going on. That’s our bridge to the next step.

The second step is Connect. This piece is something that almost no other sales trainers I know even talk about, but it’s one of the most important parts. Connect is all about connecting what they need to the service that you offer. If you get this stage right, they’ll see you as the best fit for their situation (if in fact you are the best fit).

Finally we have Commit. This is where we propose a solution and support them in making a decision to either get this area of their life handled with you or continue to work through it on their own. It’s also where we’ll help address whatever concerns come up for them in a non-pushy way. A lot of people focus on the “closing” phase of the conversation, but the truth is you should spend most of your time in the first two C’s. That way when it finally comes time to make a decision they are totally clear on what they want and need.

So that’s the high-level summary. The cool part about the Three C’s is it can expand or contract based on what you need from it. If you just need to remember the general flow of the conversation, then you have a really simple process to follow. And all of it is expandable, so my clients and I can go deep into each section and learn how to be most effective in that phase of the enrollment conversation.

More on the Three C’s here.

This piece about ‘connecting’ is so compelling. What are the consequences of skipping this step?

The Connect step is all about building a bridge.

Most people go straight from clarifying to closing. The problem with doing that is the person won’t be able to see the connection between their situation and the thing you are offering them. If you get this step wrong, then the person will be really clear on what they need, but they won’t understand why you’re solution is relevant to them.  They may even assume that there’s nothing special about them and that you are just proposing the same thing to everyone you talk to, which shouldn’t be the case.

You shouldn’t be proposing the same thing to each person? How so?

So depending on what your offerings are, you probably have a few ways of helping people. It’s possible that the program you are enrolling for isn’t actually the best fit for that person. It’s possible that your 1:1 coaching is all bespoke, in which case you are customizing each proposal. It’s possible that this person isn’t a good fit for you in general, in which case you shouldn’t be proposing your stuff at all.

Basically, what you are helping them commit to should be different depending on what you helped them clarify.

When we spoke before, you related this to dating, could you share this?

Sure thing. So in dating, there are different levels of intimacy, right? And each step that you go through in the relationship needs to be bridged in just the right way or you’ll get stuck. A great example of this is in the later stages of a relationship, during a marriage proposal. It would be pretty strange if things were going well in the relationship and one person just went ahead and asked “Hey, want to get married? I have the ring here.” Not many people would do that, and it probably wouldn’t be successful. Actually it would be really jarring because there’s no connection between the good time you’ve been having and marriage.

Most couples talk about what the future would look like together. And they tell each other what they like about the other person. This all culminates in the actual proposal, where traditionally one person gets down on a knee and connects the experience they’ve been having up to this point to the life they imagine with the other person. They talk about why it’s such a great fit, and how they’re feeling about the relationship. So when they finally pop the question, there is a clear connection that’s been established.

That’s exactly what we want to do before we propose to a potential client. Minus the ring.

What are some of the things you do to help people see the connection between where they’re at and what you offer?

Remember that the goal of the Connect stage is for them to connect their problems and desires to the solution you are about to propose.

One of the questions I like to ask at this point is “What’s been the most helpful part of the conversation so far for you?” Whatever answer they give here, it reinforces the fact that they’ve gotten clarity as a result of speaking with you. They start to build that bridge themselves between their situation and you as a trusted advisor.

The second thing I do is suggest a game plan for them based on what we’ve learned in the Clarify stage. So I’ll boil down the insights we’ve gotten into a strategy, adding my own insights as I go. At this point I still haven’t offered them anything paid. What I’m doing is giving them a sense of what we would want to work on together, and connecting those things to the results that they’ve said they want. So it looks something like “It sounds like here’s what you need ______ and here’s what we’d do moving forward if we were to work together.”

The final thing I do here is what I call the “Yes Test” (learn more here – it’s tip #4).

You speak about telling people something like, “I feel like we could be a really fit. You’re my ideal client and here’s why…” – Can you say more about this and why it matters?

So one of the really important parts of Connect is that you have to figure out if there actually is a strong connection between what this person needs and what you offer. If there isn’t, you need to send them to something or someone who can better serve them.

A big part of this decision is figuring out if this person could be an ideal client. Can you help this person? Do you want to help this person?

If the answer is yes, then I want you to tell them why. Why are they such an ideal client for you? What specifically tipped you off?

This isn’t just about stroking their ego. It’s really about demonstrating that you have standards, and that they have met those standards. When we feel as though we’ve been chosen for a specific reason, that opportunity is now much more appealing to us. To use the relationship metaphor, this isn’t someone just looking for a one night stand with anyone. This is someone who is interested in me for a specific reason. There’s a fit here.

What are objections all about and what do we do with them?

Objections are a natural response to any commitment that we are considering in our life. Often, right before people get engaged or married, they have doubts and concerns. A lot of times these aren’t rational concerns, but what we’re doing is processing them in advance because we know that once we’re in, that’s it. So objections are actually a healthy part of any good decision making process.

The role of the coach or service provider here is to be a mirror for the potential client as they bring up their concerns. The most common objections are usually lack of time, lack of money, or lack of certainty. This is when people often say “I need to think about it.”

Your goal in the Commit phase is not necessarily to get them to say yes, it’s just to get the truth so that they can commit to a Yes or a No.

What are they really concerned about? What are they scared of? For example, someone who says they can’t afford it might actually be saying that they don’t know how to justify it to their spouse. If you know this, you can help coach them through that concern directly.

The biggest mistake people make in this phase is trying to justify themselves or make the potential client wrong. All this does is create something for them to push back against. So what we want to do is continue asking questions, reminding them of what they talked about in the Clarify stage, and giving them lots of space to process the decision.

One thing I often find when I’m selling coaching is that the objection the person gives is actually pointing right to the thing that’s holding them back from their goals. If they feel like they don’t have enough time, for example, I’ll often ask, “Is that a pattern that comes up for you often? Not having enough time? How might that be affecting your results in this area.” The truth is that we all have the same amount of time, but we get to choose our priorities.

If the person decides not to move forward, it’s because they don’t believe that the amount of money they would have to pay is worth what they think they would be getting. If they say yes, it’s because the perceived value of what you offer, or the cost of staying where they are, is more than what they would have to pay. So helping them see that value and that cost is really important in this phase.

Sometimes people get into this grey zone of ‘should I? shouldn’t i?’ You have thoughts that this might not actually be a good thing. Why not let people stay in the grey zone? And can you speak about the difference between the micro and the macro?

The thing about sitting on the fence is that it’s really uncomfortable. We waste a lot of time and energy there. There’s a lot of power that comes from making a decision one way or the other. There are lots of ways we can combat this, but one obvious way is deadlines. Deadlines are the best. I love deadlines. Because instead of dragging that decision out forever, I have to commit to making a decision by a certain date and time. And then I can put my focus back on actually doing the work.

Part of your duty as the service provider is helping the person make a sound decision. And neglecting that duty, just because you’re scared to stay in that tension with them, I think is a cop out.

So on the macro level, we need to help them commit to doing something different in this area of their life. If nothing changes, nothing changes. So if they’re talking to you it’s probably because something’s not working as well as it could be. They need to really get this loud and clear by the time you end the conversation. Maybe they don’t actually want to make a change, and they’ve just kind of been saying that they will. Well, now we know that and so they can give that up. Either way, how are we moving forward?

Then on a micro level, we need to help them decide whether our solution is what they want and need. This is really critical, because, if it is, we want to get started helping them right away. And if it’s not, they’re going to need to find another solution right away. Wasting time in indecision is usually what gets us stuck in the first place. And that’s where fear and doubt start to creep in. That’s why I’m not a fan of the grey zone.

Do you tell people that one of the goals you have for the conversation with them is to help them make a decision one way or the other? How explicit are you with them about this and your opinion about the grey zone before the call begins or during the call? This seems like it could be an important piece of filtering information for them. I could imagine some people being drawn to that and others being repelled by that like, “It’s not your business to decide what I need.”

The entire time I’m asking permission.

So when I offer the session, I talk about why it will be valuable for them as well as why I am offering the session.

At the beginning of the session, I talk about what I’d like to cover and that, if after that it seems like we might be a good fit, that we can talk about that.

Towards the end of the session, I ask if they would like to hear more about what it might look like to continue working together.

At the very end, I ask what they would need to know in order to be able to make a decision. If that’s something I can address on the call, then we do that. If not, I ask if we can schedule a specific time to follow up together.

I’m never deciding what they need. I’m telling them what I see, asking if they see it, and offering my perspective on what next steps they might consider.

I love that last sentence so much. That’s beautiful. You speak about helping people understand what’s required of them? Why does this matter and how do you do this?

As I’m about to process their payment, I stop and say “Hey, are you really sure about this? Because this is going to take more than just your money. It’s going to take time and energy and bravery. So I want to make sure you’re committed to doing whatever it takes.” I don’t necessarily get specific unless I know something about that person that is a red flag for me. But I do have them re-affirm their commitment. This pause upfront makes the rest of the engagement a lot easier.

If people want to learn more about your work, where do they go and what are the main options?

The best place to go to learn more about me is my website.

One article that I think your readers might enjoy is “How To Fill Your Calendar With Potential Clients (Without Being Needy)”.

And if they want to go deeper into all this stuff, they’re welcome to reach out here and ask about my group and individual programs.

 

Guest Post: Privilege Based Pricing

A few months ago, I was connected with Peter Rubin who was experimenting with a new pricing model the likes of which I’d thought of before but of which I’d never heard: privilege-based pricing. As soon as I heard the name of it, I asked if he’d be willing to write a blog post. This isn’t a model I’ve implemented yet, and neither has he, but it’s the kind of thing I imagine I will be moving towards in the coming years for, at least, certain portions of my business.

Peter and I share an understanding that this world is full of institutionalized oppression, meaning that certain people (and it’s predictable who) tend to have it easier than others, get better access to resources etc. Myself being a white, CIS gendered, male in North America? I get a lot.

And I did nothing to earn those privileges.

Women, people of colour, indigenous people are marginalized and oppressed constantly. It’s something I’ve put much thought into over the years, even creating a blog you may not know about called Healing from Whiteness. I’ve also collected an impressive gathering of memes and articles on topics from Institutionalized Oppression and then a second one on that topic, Feminism and Gender, #BlackLivesMatter and White Privilege.

So, it’s been on my mind.

But Peter has taken this all to another level by considering how this could all be woven into our pricing structures.

This post is provocative. It may feel unsettling. I invite you to read it in full and sit with it for a while.

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by Peter Rubin

What is Privilege-Based Pricing?

Privilege-Based Pricing is an innovative pricing structure designed for social justice.

Unlike sliding scale systems which typically have no guidelines or simple income-based guidelines for how much to pay, Privilege-Based Pricing takes clients through a rigorous self-reflection and conversation process which determines a discount on services, ranging from zero to 50%.

The discount is calculated to correct for the imbalances of an unjust culture. It’s an experiment in taking all the rules of our society and turning them around 180 degrees.

This is not a scholarship or a charity for people who are less privileged. It’s also not a way to punish people who are more privileged. It’s a way to make the invisible privileges of our lives visible, bring balance to an unfair world, and spark learning and transformation for all.

What do you mean by privilege?

In one of my favorite books, Waking Up White by Debby Irving, she talks about “headwinds” and “tailwinds” as the forces that make our lives easier or harder each day based on whether we’re in a dominant or minority group.

Factors outside of our control, such as race, gender, access to education, family resources growing up, where we were born, experiences of trauma or lack thereof, etc., profoundly shape our life trajectories.

Where did this idea come from?

As a Business Midwife – someone who helps my clients give birth to their dream businesses – I’ve come to realize that certain clients are poised to make a lot of money from the outset, and for others it will likely be a much longer journey. This doesn’t have to do with their skill or how good a person they are — it had to do with their privilege.

For instance, a white male client with a graduate education, who has already had a successful corporate career, has a lot of money in his bank account, and is connected to wealthy and powerful people, will likely have an easy time getting a return on their investment.

In contrast, a black female client who grew up poor, is supporting 6 family members, has experienced significant trauma in her life, and wants to build a community-focused business will likely have a more challenging time paying for her coaching with me.

My question is, why are these two clients paying me the same amount of money?

In the old “equality vs. equity debate” the idea of privilege-based pricing is to look at a client’s resources and ability to make money based on their life story and privileges they’ve received in order to determine a price that creates equity by stretching everyone equally.

All clients receive the same high-quality service, and I hold all clients to the same Visionary Code – principles for being powerful creators in their lives and businesses. But the place each client is starting from is acknowledged.

How would you respond to people who might say, “Isn’t this reverse discrimination?”

No. It’s about equal opportunity and restoring balance to an unjust culture.

Women make 79 cents for every dollar men make (source). The median wealth of a black family is $6,446 while a white family is $91,405 (source). These are long-term trends and statistical truths, and they won’t resolve themselves without a change in policy.

Why wait for government policies, when we as entrepreneurs have the power to create change by changing how we price our own services?

For legal reasons, the Privilege-Based Pricing Questionnaire doesn’t ask directly about race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., but rather explores how our identities mixed with cultural biases influence our chances of business success, asking questions like, “Do you see other people who look like you leading in your field?” and “Do you have family members who are role models for business success?” and “What’s the most money you’ve made in your life?” These are the invisible headwinds that make it easier for us privileged people to succeed.

Why does this idea matter to you so much?

I’m currently immersed in a 2-year training with Lee Mun Wah to be a diversity facilitator. I’ve been deeply exploring my own whiteness, having conversations with friends about race and privilege, and have been curious about how I will bring these learnings to my business.

This idea of Privilege-Based Pricing came to me one day, and I smiled. I have a trickster side to me, and this feels like the perfect “trick” to play on all of us (myself included) to challenge the assumptions we have about how business should be done.

I’ve been doing some informal research on the concept with the intention of implementing it in my business in January of 2017. It feels like a big risk, and yet a unique and profound way to practice the social justice values I’m preaching.

I’m happy to discount my services to some clients in order to spark a healing conversation about privilege and, hopefully, have a more diverse and socially-aware group of clients as a result.

How exactly does the process work?

There are three steps to the process. They include:

Step 1 – Education

Because this is such an unusual pricing system, it’s important to give context. The model will be explained to potential clients so they understand what they’re getting into, and the intentions behind it.

Step 2 – The Questionnaire

I send an online survey to potential clients that asks about specific questions about:

  • Their personal and family story, and the advantages and disadvantages they’ve had from before their birth to the present.
  • Their existing resources – including financial resources, social capital, and more.
  • Their potential for future income – based on their vision for their business, who they plan to serve and how they plan to price their services.

The exact questions in this questionnaire are still being worked out.

Step 3 – Conversation + Decision

Then we review their questionnaire together and decide together how much of a discount to give them. There will be six tiers of discount, from no discount up to a 50% discount, with case studies that exemplify each tier. This conversation is held as sacred, and we will take time to process any emotions that come up along the way.

Do you think people will take advantage of the system?

I guess people could lie about their responses, but those aren’t the sorts of people I work with. I handpick clients who care about social justice and have a lot of integrity, and I trust them to answer honestly and pick the tier that best represents them.

Where do you expect to receive the most pushback?

Let’s be honest – there’s nothing comfortable about this pricing system!

In the testing I’ve done, just along lines of race, people of color have been pissed (“I don’t need your handouts!”) and white people have been pissed (“How dare you reverse-discriminate!”). People of color have been delighted (“What a cool way to bring privilege to the light!”) and white people have been delighted (“I’d be happy to pay more to support this”).

So I realize that what I’m filtering for isn’t privilege at all. I’m filtering for willingness to be vulnerable.

Determining your Privilege-Based Price is an incredibly vulnerable process and brings up the very things we are taught to be most private about – race, class, level of education, etc. I intend to be very tender with my clients as I talk through the questionnaire with them, expecting difficult emotions (shame, grief, fear, etc.) to come up.

Those courageous and open-minded souls who want to be part of a social justice experiment will be drawn to this new pricing system. Those who aren’t open to it will be turned off by it – and that’s just fine!

I’ve found that clients who are most vulnerable with me get the most value out of working with me. They’re able to release shame and reclaim their power, making them stronger business leaders. So filtering for a willingness to be vulnerable can only be good for my business.

What kinds of places could you imagine people using this?

This pricing system is somewhat complex – each client is required to fill out a questionnaire and have an in-depth conversation with a service provider who has the capacity to hold space for such a conversation. So I don’t imagine us using Privilege-Based Pricing at vending machines! But I do think it is promising for transformational education and services.

How can people learn more about Privilege-Based Pricing and the work you do?

You can visit my website at www.yourbusinessmidwife.com and sign up for my mailing list. I’ll be keeping my subscribers in the loop about PbP and announcing when I officially launch the new pricing system in January of 2017.

downloadAbout Peter Rubin

Peter Rubin helps visionaries give birth to their businesses. He gives his clients the support they need to get clear on their visions, craft a strategy, and deliver it to the world. Peter has developed this radical approach to business, having given birth to a series of transformational service-based businesses himself, each time pushing his edges and learning from his failures. Before becoming a full-time coach in 2011, he was a consultant at IDEO and Daylight, two of the world’s leading innovation firms. He has taught at the Stanford d.school, OneTaste, General Assembly, and beyond. He lives in the Bay Area with his life partner, Morgan West, a midwife (for real babies!) who continually inspires him with her badass midwifery skills and devotion to her clients at all hours of day and night. Learn more at www.yourbusinessmidwife.com.

Gifts vs. Tools

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Gifts and tools are different things.

Gifts are those things that come to you naturally. Those capacities, inclination, tendencies and abilities you were born with. These are the things you do that feel effortless for you where you lose track of time. We are, in some mysterious way, born with these. They are woven into who we are. Identical twins can be born and yet have such different gifts – one a good listener and the other a good speaker. Same DNA. Born into the same “when” and the same “where” and yet . . . so different. It’s one of life’s most enduring mysteries.

If you are thwarted in the expression of your gifts, you will suffer. If these are identified and fostered and you’re given chances to express them, you will thrive.

Tools are an entirely different beat all together. In the context I’m speaking of, a tool might be a modality you use in your healing practice (e.g. massage, reiki, NLP, yoga therapy, Non-Violent Communication, The Work of Byron Katie, life coaching, etc.)

While I was in Iceland for a session of the Orphan Wisdom School, Stephen Jenkinson was sharing with us his understand of what a “tool” is. The gist of it was that a tool is something basic, small and simple, with few moving parts. It’s something primitive. It’s not complicated. A tool extends the grasp of the hand (e.g. a wooden spoon), augments the strength of the grip (e.g. pliers) but it does so in a way that the hand recognizes itself in the extension – in kind, not degree. A tool makes the hand more able. The work you do with tools is a devotional act. You can see this in the incredible care that people took of their tools in traditional cultures and the veneration they gave them. They treated their tools as sentient, just just alive as they were. A tool is a sacred thing. But not a “thing.” A sacred “one.”

And so the techniques, skills, processes, and modalities we learn are tools and they extend, strengthen, magnify and enhance the grasp of our gifts. They allow the capacity for more detail and nuance in our work.

And so our tools are in a deep relationship with our gifts.

If you are doing work that isn’t built around your natural gifts and you have no tools you’re using, you’re “winging it” at something you’re mediocre at. Your work will only ever be functional. It’ll be okay at best.

If you are doing work that isn’t built around your natural gifts and you have a lot of really good tools you’re using, you’re probably “competent.” But you’ll likely only ever be good at it.

If you are doing work that is built around your natural gifts and you have no tools you’re using, you’re “winging it” at something you’re naturally great at. Your work will be good, but unpredictable. It’ll be inconsistently amazing at best. This is the mad genius, the unpracticed artistic genius, the untutored savant.

If you are doing work that is built around your natural gifts and you have plenty of tools you’re practiced with or in, this is closer to the neighbourhood of mastery or, better yet, a deep devotion to the expression of your gifts in this world, in the most skillful and articulated way possible.

And so, this is the goal: to find the right tools to help you express your gifts and become skillful in using them.

This is how you become trustworthy.