If Your Phone Keeps You Up At Night

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Like most of us in this modern age, my phone has kept me up late more nights than I can count.

I put it down to go to sleep only to find it, mysteriously, back in my hands, lighting the room with it’s strange, modern glow.

Of course, it’s terrible for our brains and our capacity to sleep.

The first thing I did was to get an alarm clock that wasn’t my phone. And that helped. But the phone kept finding its way back into my bedroom. And then, somehow, turning on and cycling me through Facebook, email, Huffington Post and you name it.

I would curse it. This modern bane of my existence. This addictive entity. This seductive Don Juan of my pocket. This electric vixen slowly robbing me of my productivity and productive life force.

I joined everyone in helplessly bemoaning it. I grumbled.

I secretly enjoyed every minute of it.

I resented it in the morning.

So, I finally decided a different approach.

I decided to love my phone and care for it.

I decided to proceed as if it were alive, just like myself, and needed sleep too.

And so, I made it a nest to sleep in.

And now, each night, I plug it in, say some good words to it, thanking if for helping me stay connected to the world, finding my way around, finding important information and acknowledging how tiring it must have been. I speak these words out loud and then turn it off and rest it in this bowl given to me by my friend Jesse Hahn, cradled in the old Mackay tartan wool scarf I bought years ago.

And then I go to my room, lit by candle light now, and read a book, meditate, stretch or journal and go to sleep.

 

Trickle Down Personal Growth: The Bankruptcy of New Age Economics

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I was on the phone with my good friend Garliq today (the only person I know to weave together Non-Violent Communication, activism and herbalism) and a phrase lept out of my mouth in an attempt to get my attention. The phrase was ‘trickle down personal growth.’

We’d been speaking about how many of the business coaches in this scene encourage their clients to raise their rates and to charge what they deserve. Of course, this is often a fine idea and I encourage it myself but, it’s good to step back once in a while and ask ourselves that age old question, “What if everyone did this?”

Well, if every life coach, holistic practitioner and permaculture practitioner out there took this advice to heart, what it would mean is that only rich people would be able to afford our help. They’d get all the best massages, go to yoga classes, have food forests in their backyard and send their kids to Waldorf schools. They’d have the most nutrient packed elixirs every morning as they drove their hybrids to meet with their clients.

You get the idea.

But this lifts up two troublesome questions.

The first is this, “Is this the world we want?” I think for most of us, the answer is a very clear, ‘No’.

The second is, “Will this create the world we want?”

Do we believe in the trickle down economics of personal growth? Are we so certain that, if enough rich people got their chakras aligned that the architecture of our body politic would realign as well? That if their fascia got worked that the connective tissue between communities would automatically be strengthened? That if they questioned their stressful thoughts that the larger world would be healed? Do we think that if rich people did enough wheatgrass shots every day, ate a balanced, whole-foods diet and alkalized their systems that world hunger would end? Do we believe that if rich people healed their relationship with money that poverty would vanish? Do we believe that if rich people came to peace with their inner tyrants that dictators and despots would vanish or if they healed their relationships with their ancestors that the racial divisions that divide us would vanish and black lives would finally matter?

Is that what we believe? That the benefits of all of this healing and personal growth will somehow trickle down to the lower classes and people of colour?

It’s worth wondering about.

Certainly, as we walk down this twisting road of the modern mystery of right livelihood, we need to sustain ourselves and our families in our businesses.

I’m not making anyone wrong for charging more or only selling to the rich. Garliq told me that many of his colleagues’ clients come from outside of their own politically progressive communities because their friends can’t afford to pay enough to sustain them. I know a weaver in Cape Breton who sells all of her weavings to tourists because her own people can’t afford them. Perhaps you’re in this situation to or, at least, wouldn’t mind finding some wealthy people who could afford you and I certainly hope that you do.

But I want to suggest that, in addition to our personal financial sufficiency we also need to allow our political values and wonderings about accessibility to have a seat at the table of our considerations so that we might consider where we could implement pay what you can models, privilege-based pricing or other possibilities that might allow those who normally couldn’t afford our services to benefit from them.

If not, is this it? Is this the end goal: We become rich by helping rich people? Is that where it stops?

Certainly, the times we are in might ask of us to broaden to scope of our understanding of social change to rise above and beyond the anaemic encouragements to see our personal business as a movement and to, instead, look for real movements and real, grassroots, non-profit organizations in the world that we might support with our time and dollars.

It might ask us to be a part of building real, local, resilient alternatives to the modern, soul-destroying, mono-cropping, self-centering capitalist economy in which we live.

Raise your prices? It can certainly be a fine idea and needed at times. I wouldn’t dissuade you from it.

But what of the rest of the world that can’t afford our services?

May that question be a thorn in our minds til the end of our days.

Guest Post: How to Sell Out Your Conscious Event

by Brenda MacIntyre

When you create an event, it’s really great to have people actually show up for it, right? But sometimes that doesn’t happen. How can you set yourself up for a great turnout at your events?

I’ve been singing for over 30 years and speaking for about 18 years, and in that time, I’ve witnessed and learned some great (and some not-so-great) approaches and I’ve come up with my own ideas as well, to inspire people to come out and enjoy what I have to offer.

I have a regular monthly Drumming, Singing & Tea circle in Toronto. It’s always at the same venue, always on a Monday evening, and always at the same time, unless I’m having a special dinner in which case it’s an hour earlier. I’m not talking about your usual speak-to-sell events, just to be clear. I find those kinds of events manipulative and high pressure. I’m talking about events where you gather with your tribe to bring them an actual experience, with a low-pressure offer (book, CD, course or small program) that you casually mention at the end of your event.

My intention to fill it is less important than you might think, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t manifest well when I give myself artificial meaningless “goals” of how many “butts in seats” (I really hate that term from the coaching world!) I think I have to get to my events.

It’s important to use energetic/spiritual strategies as well as solid marketing methods that work and feel aligned for YOU and your tribe.

Here’s what I know…

1) Grow your tribe and reputation. If you don’t have anyone to sell tickets to, who is going to come? Grow your following and not just in one place. Grow your email list as well as whatever social media platforms you love to use. Letting yourself be seen and heard online and in person goes a long way in event promotion. The best way I do this is by speaking or singing at other people’s events, and just doing good work to help my people. That never goes unnoticed but word of mouth does take time to grow.

TIP: If you don’t have a big following yet, call up your friends or send them an email and ask them to spread the word. See #8 “Word of Mouth” below. Abraham-Hicks started out with very small events and now they get hundreds of people out. That didn’t happen overnight. When I did my first workshops and performances in the 90’s, I used to call people up and then send an email. When your following gets bigger, you won’t have as much time for that personal touch, so do it NOW if you don’t have a huge tribe yet. You know how many people appreciate you reaching out one on one to them? It’s a far cry from those automated voice messages or someone’s assistant calling you to promote their event to you. It just feels better to hear from someone personally. You’re showing your people that you care.

2) Work out your logistics EARLY, and make everything about the event and promotion as easy and low pressure for yourself as possible. Based on how many people I want, and how hard (like, not hard at all!) I want to work at selling tickets, I have chosen a venue for my monthly gatherings that limits seating to only 12 people plus me and 2 volunteers, for most of my events. I have also created an arrangement with the venue that allows for me to still run the event even if I don’t sell lots of tickets, and even to have snacks and tea included for each person. This makes my events appealing and people know they have to sign up in advance if they expect to get a seat. Of course, if you’re trying to sell out an event, you need to set up a way for your attendees to purchase tickets in advance. I always have an early-bird savings and then a different rate for cash at the door if there are any seats remaining.

For larger events, like my annual The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE with a music concert, DJ’ed ecstatic dance, keynote, drumming circle and oracle readings, I need to choose a larger venue and strategize slightly differently. For larger events, it’s good to start promoting a lot earlier and to ask friends and colleagues to help you spread the word, whether informally or by sending out an email or social media. You can make it simple or create a whole affiliate package. You can offer bring-a-friend-for-free to people who are already on your bandwagon as well like Tad did recently for a special private event he hosted in Toronto. That creates more loyalty in the inner circle of your tribe, and it expands your tribe and brings more people to your event easily.

3) Figure out your timeline and start earlier than you think you need to. For my monthly circles, we start promoting the next one immediately after the last one. Also, learn from my mistakes: If you’re promoting a large event, FOCUS your marketing on that event. I made the mistake of having (and promoting) too many events in the same month and that dilutes your marketing efforts, making it harder to sell out your event. When I’m focusing my energy, attention and intention on one event at a time, I get a great turnout.

4) Put your energy all over it. I’m always telling my clients to “put your energy all over it” when writing any copy or talking about your event. People will feel your passion and your passion will drive you, as well as the Universe, to support you in getting people to your event. By the way, make sure your energy is in a good place first. Breathe. Smile. Do whatever it takes to feel good before you write your copy.

5) Don’t try to do it all alone. I’ve done that and it is HARD WORK. Do you want to add more hard work to your plate or make things smooth and easy? Ask friends, family or members of your tribe to volunteer. Delegate promotion techie tasks to a Virtual Assistant. Automate whatever you can online as well. Otherwise, you can burn yourself out.

TIP: Collaborate with other co-hosts, artists or vendors who also have a following, and have them promote the event too. For my The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE event in 2016, I had Liz Diaz DJ the ecstatic dance portion. Liz is awesome, already has a tribe brimming with her own people and some of mine, and we play well together. In 2015, I had Erica Ross DJ for me. I call her the Dance Goddess. She’s also a dear friend and awesome DJ. So find people to play with, who align with you and have a similar tribe.

6) Ask your Higher Realms Support Team to help bring people to you. Angels, Archangels, your Higher Self, goddesses, gods, God, Creator, Universe, Source, whatever you want to call it, invite them to help you. Never underestimate the power of energy and Spirit.

7) To intend or not to intend? Like I mentioned in #3, when you set up your event structure the way YOU want it so that you have the least possible worries about money loss or no-shows or not getting enough tickets, then your whole being can relax about having to sell out the event. That relaxed, no worries vibe? That will help sell the event! So set your intentions and give them over to your Higher Realms Support Team… and still, do the work you know you need to do.

WARNING: Many coaches will have you do a “bubble chart” or some kind of countdown to your hoped-for number of attendees. I have found that that doesn’t excite me but does the opposite, especially if I don’t see seats being filled as quickly as I had hoped, or if I have created a history of not getting the numbers I wanted. Then I felt like a failure and the energy of that expectation and how I felt created a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I stopped doing those charts and did what I mention above in #3 instead.

8) Do pre-sales or a seat deposit: If you don’t get advance tickets, you can expect that probably more than half of your RSVP’s will not show up. Unfortunate but true. Most people won’t commit to coming out to your event without having to pay in advance, especially if you live in a place that has tons of events unless your event is free. If your event is free, you are likely to attract people who are used to getting things for free or as cheap as possible, so be mindful of your decision around pricing. Use your own website and shopping cart or something like Eventbrite to sell your tickets. I like using my own website because of course, it brings people to my website.

9) Create a Facebook Event page OR Meetup.com page. A word about Meetup.com. If you are an official Meetup organizer, and you want to grow your following specifically on Meetup, the Facebook event page needs to lead them to the meetup page. It is more tedious this way, and honestly, I have found that using one or the other is best. Use one and draw everyone on social media to that page for best results.

For Facebook Event pages, invite people in your local area first. Do invitations in rounds. Facebook may block you for “using this feature too fast” if you do your invitations all at once or if you go over something like 100 invitations. Facebook will also penalize you by lowering your invitation limit, so you can’t invite as many people, so be mindful when using this feature. You might want to ask influential friends to invite their friends too.

Whether using Facebook or Meetup, don’t take people’s RSVP’s at face value, except for the “not coming’s.” You will see that often only a small fraction of those who say they’re coming, actually pay in advance and show up. Even if it’s a free event, your attendee numbers most times will not be anywhere near your RSVP numbers. Don’t take it personally.

Most of my sold out events when using Meetup were exceptional (special indigenous venue and content) and also free. If you grow your Meetup following into the thousands, then it can work well for you. I didn’t have the patience for that.

10) Networking. Talk about your event! Talk about it to your friends, family (supportive people only, of course) and whoever you meet. Not in a gross promotional way but rather with the genuine passion and excitement you have about it. No need for flyer-in-your-face marketing, okay? Just talk about it and if people ask for a flyer or your card, give them one – but also get theirs, and ask their permission for you to either add them to your email list or message them about your event(s). Especially talk about your upcoming event at events other than your own where you are a speaker or facilitator. They’ve just seen proof of how awesome you are on stage or in a workshop, so let them know about your next event.

11) Word of Mouth. Tell your most loyal fans FIRST about the event, and ask them to share it. I do that using my Virtual Backstage Pass email list specifically for Toronto events. Invite them first on the event page too if they are on Facebook. Tad does Word of Mouth extremely well, so just pay attention to how he does this so effectively. I learned from the best. ;)

12) Send Email Invitations according to your timeline (usually at least 4 weeks out). This is when I send out my first Backstage Pass email, alerting my most loyal Toronto fans, usually BEFORE I even invite people to the Facebook event page. Then we send out email to the main email list. We also include a small blurb in our monthly newsletter. I like how Tad sends out personal email invitations to a handful of people over Facebook or email. That personal touch goes a long way, above and beyond a mass email to your list. It’s best to do that with people whom you know will be happy to share your event with their friends, and you can ask them to do that. What NOT to do? Please don’t copy/paste a generic “come to my event” message into Facebook or email and pretend it’s a personal message. I just received a couple of Facebook messages like that and they didn’t even say hi or ask me how I’m doing or indicate they even knew what was up in my world. Make it personal! Be real. Have a conversation.

13) Regular Social Media Posts and Engagement. Post wherever your people are hanging out. Do a mix of auto-posts and personal posts. Note: If you post nothing but promotional posts on any social media platform, you will turn your tribe right off. Don’t do it! It’s about being social, so socialize with your tribe. Engage them in conversation regularly. Then when you go to promote something, they’ll be more likely to pay attention, like, comment and share it.

TIP: This may sound funny but “like” your own Facebook posts. Liking your post will give it more weight in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithms, so it will be shown to more people right away, rather than sitting there lifeless and not getting seen.

14) Last but not least, be someone you’d like to hang out with! When you show up in real life, on social media, over the phone, on Facetime or wherever as someone who is fun and interesting to be around and learn from, people will want to be in your energy. When you do that in places where your tribe hangs out, you will attract people who are aligned with you and they will happily come out to your events.

brenda-macintyre-9962-squareABOUT THE AUTHOR

Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre, author and artist of the Medicine Song Oracle Cards™ & Music, is a Juno Award-winning singer, speaker, indigenous drummer and wisdom-keeper, and Living Your Truth Out Loud Mentor. Brenda has shared her leadership and soul nationally on stage and in the media, such as MuchMusic, APTN, CTV, CP24, Global and CityTV’s Breakfast Television, as well as CBC Radio. Having experienced major loss, multiple dark nights of the soul, and fear of being seen and heard, she is passionate about helping women to stop holding back, share the power of their gifts, and create success out of the mess of REAL life.

You can connect with Brenda MacIntyre here: 

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Marketing Feels Bad Because We’re Ashamed Not Because It’s Shameful

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The other day, I was wondering about why there was such an appeal to marketing courses that taught secrets of unconscious persuasion, stealth tactics, invisible influence, secret closes, ninja strategies etc.

The implication of all of these approaches was that no one would notice what you were doing. No one would notice that you were steering them towards buying from you. They would just, unexplainably, feel compelled to trust and buy from you. They’d just leave the conversation with your product proudly in their hand thinking that they had made the decision when, in fact, it was all you and the secret arsenal of tactics you’d deployed throughout the conversation.

Neuro Linguistic Programming comes to mind in this.

I think the reason that these workshops are so popular (and why even the most conscious of us have taken them or been drawn to them) is because we think marketing is bad. We think we are doing something bad by sharing our products or services with others. And so, we’re trying not to get caught (but, of course, we need to do it to pay rent).

It strikes me as a similar dynamic to what I’ve seen in the pick-up workshops offered to men. This same offering of ways to get what we want, as men, without being noticed.

I’m sure there are workshops out there for women that offer the same things.

I see this often in human interactions when someone is deeply ashamed of their own needs and scared to make any requests of others that might meet them.

And so much of it seems to be rooted in shame.

So much of it seems to be rooted in the deep sense that I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

And so, of course, we are drawn to anything that promises that our actions will have the intended effect while going unnoticed.

When this is at play, I notice that we, as humans, tend to become all manner of fake, sneaky, passive aggressive, creepy, controlling, underhanded, plastic and worse.

Recently a friend asked a favour of me she was terrified to ask. She was in a conflict with a mutual friend and she asked me if I’d be willing to commit to not vetting any letters this friend might want to send her way. She wanted me not to get involved in between. I was happy to agree to that as I knew this other friend had plenty of other people who would be happy to read whatever letters she might send and to give feedback on them.

My friend broke down into tears. She had been so scared to ask me. She felt it was wrong. When I said ‘yes’ so easily, some switch flipped in her.

What if there was nothing wrong with asking for what you want?

What if there was nothing wrong with expressing your desires?

What if there was nothing wrong with sharing what you have?

What if it was just a matter of learning how to do so skillfully?

What if it actually felt better to be direct in some matters than indirect?

What if we’re all craving candour and directness?

What if marketing was just saying, “I’m a needy human like you. I have needs. You have needs. Here’s what I’d like to offer you in exchange for your money. Does this feel fair?

What if the reason it feels ‘off’ is because we’re ashamed of doing it not because it’s inherently shameful to do it?

What if marketing could feel good? What if marketing wasn’t about getting anyone to say ‘yes’ but about having a human conversation about whether or not it was a fit? What if this was true about dating too? What if our attention was more focused on the truth of the moment than our goal of what we think we want? What would marketing look like without shame? What would it look like if we felt no need to hide what we were doing?

What if marketing felt bad not because it was shameful but because we were ashamed of it.

Additional Resources:

Courting vs. Seduction in Marketing

The Three Roles of Marketing

The Heart of Selling

Greg Faxon Shares His Unique Take on Selling and Enrolment Conversations

Are You More Comfortable Being Salesy or Subtle?

Be More Repulsive

Get Rejected Faster

 

Getting Off The Fence: Hobby vs. Business

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Is what you do a hobby or is it a business?

This is an important question to answer because most entrepreneurs I know are on the fence about it.

There’s no right or wrong answer to it. But I know a lot of people who say it’s one and do it like the other.

My friend Theo drives for UPS. He loves his job. It’s his meditation. He offers massage for free on the side as his gift to the community. It’s a hobby for him.

But I know a lot of people who are baffled by why their business isn’t growing and, when I look at it, it’s clear. They aren’t treating it like a business. They don’t invest in it. They don’t work on it as well as in it. They don’t make systems. They do everything on their own. They haven’t sorted out their niche. None of which would matter if it were a hobby.

If you treat it like a hobby, it will never grow like a business might (and, to be frank, even if you treat it like a business, there are no guarantees it will grow at all).

But it can be a huge relief to jump off of the fence in one direction or the other.

If it’s a hobby, get a full time job and just enjoy doing it when you have the space and feel the urge to share it or work on it.

If it’s a business, then focus, hustle, work on it every day.

Which way do you want to jump?

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Note: If you’re clear that you’re wanting to really jump off the fence on the side of building your business, 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.

When to invest in your business?

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Running a business takes investment.

The world of service providers (e.g. life coaches, holistic practitioners, speakers, permaculture practitioners etc.) is an unusual one.

In any other business, be it products or retail, there’s a clearly understood need to invest into one’s business. There’s the storefront, there’s the decoration, there are the machines and tools needed to make the products, there’s distribution etc.

Starting a new business, or scaling an existing one up costs money. That just seems to be how it is. And so that money either comes from savings or some manner of financing. No one questions this. It’s just how it is.

But, amongst the clients I work with? This is often utterly foreign.

In most industries, it’s understood that you won’t see a profit for two to three years, and you get yourself some bridge financing to sustain yourself in the meantime.

But, amongst the clients I work with? There’s an expectation of being profitable immediately.

I remember speaking with my good friends at Verge Permaculture about this and they told me how much they’d spent on their website. It was substantial.

“We see this as our virtual storefront. We want it to look good. We want it to work well. This represents us.”

Running a business takes investment.

Many service providers assume that this outlay of cash only applies to their training in whatever modality they’ve learned. But your expertise in your field is actually just what gets you in the door. That’s all.

If you were a cabinet maker who wanted to open a shop? Your skills would be the start but then you’d still need your tools, your space, the wood etc.

Running a business takes investment.

Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.

But, in this sphere, it doesn’t always occur to people that they need to do this. So many try to do everything themselves. They become ‘do-it-yourself-entrepreneurs’. They don’t hire help. They don’t get coaches. They try to design their own websites. They don’t hire admin help, even when they need it. And then they beat themselves up with this idea that they should be further ahead than they are.

Running a business take investment.

Now sure, you can bootstrap it. That’s what I have done.

And slow, organic growth is a beautiful thing. It’s how I’ve grown my business.

And there are moments when a judicious investment can be a big help and allow your business to grow and thrive.

Where does that money come from? That’s another story entirely. I cover some ideas on how to generate cash flow quickly in my Meantime 30 Day program but, it may not come from your business.

I know some entrepreneurs decide to get bank loans or lines of credit. I know some borrow from friends and family. I know that others refinance the mortgage on their home.

This moment for investment usually comes when you are maxed out. You can’t do much more than you are. You’ve hit a sticking point that you can’t seem to get over and you’re clear what it is.

“If only I had _______” is how it usually goes.

When you find yourself in the moment, it’s worthwhile to sit down with pen and paper and a calculator and to crunch the numbers. Would an investment in what’s missing actually free you up and allow you to make more money in the long term? Even though it’s scary, might it be worth it?

And don’t just trust yourself. Ask your friends. Ask your colleagues you trust. Run the numbers by them and tell them where you’re thinking of investing. Have them point out the problems with it.

I’m not advocating foolishness. I’m advocating discernment.

But, once you’ve reached the end of your capacity and you’ve discerned where the investment is needed, there comes a time where you make the leap and invest or stagnate while others move ahead.

I invite you to sit with your business today for 15 minutes. Just sit and consider it, pen in hand with these questions written at the top of a blank sheet of paper, “Where is my business asking for investment? Where is my business hungry to be fed? Where is my business being asked to carry more than it can? What’s the most important investment I could make that would free me up to make more money?”

Just sit with it and see what comes and then, when the time is right, do it. Start small if you need to. Don’t hire a full time assistant, just someone to help out for two hours per week and let it grow. That kind of thing. But be willing to invest in the growth of your business.

There comes a time when it won’t grow without it.

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Note: If now is feeling like the right time to make some deep investments into your business’ growth, 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.

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-3-08-40-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-3-08-40-pm

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.