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

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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 it does, it likely means that some of the fundamentals are missing.

90% of the time, when I see people struggling it’s because they don’t have a clear niche. or a well-articulated

If they have that and it’s still a struggle it’s often because they’re lacking a well-articulated point of view.

If they have both of those things, then it’s usually that they’re missing clear and compelling packages.

If they have all of that and it’s still not working? It’s almost always 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.

As Rumi put it, ‘Maybe you are searching among the branches, for what only appears in the roots.’


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


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.

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.


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.


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

10025966 - stone age axe

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.

Guest Post: Easy Ways to Quickly Grow Your Email Subscriber Base

I found this handy infographic and have to share it. It’s full of some fine and practical ideas.

Easy Ways to Quickly Grow Your Email Subscriber Base

What if there’s nothing wrong with you?

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Most of the people who come to my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshops feel like failures in marketing.

Some because they tried everything and it hasn’t worked out the way they were told it would.

Some because they’ve tried nothing at all.

But many of them seem to come through the doors feeling like something about them is defective that they struggle so deeply with their marketing.

They should be able to promote themselves better. They should be able to articulate what they do better. They should be able to sell themselves with more confidence at networking events. They should be better and more compelling public speakers. They should blog more. They shouldn’t be such a technological luddite. They should believe in themselves more. They should have a better website (or a website at all). They should have more clients. 

All of those phrases lie heavy in the air at these workshops. They are unspoken but, more importantly, unquestioned.

Weaving them together is the thought, “Something is wrong with me.”

The thought, though unnamed, seems obvious enough. If you should be able to do something and you can’t seem to get yourself to do it. What other conclusions could be drawn but that there’s something defective inside of you or something missing or broken?

But what if there was nothing wrong with you at all?

And, of course, this goes far beyond marketing. Most of us walk around our lives with this story whispering in our ear and, with an unerring capacity, finding us evidence to support this idea everywhere we look, constantly adding legs under the table top notion of our inadequacy.

I mean look at the evidence. Look at the notches on our belts for all of the seven deadly sins that find their way into our lives every day. For some of us, it’s wrath and anger. For others, it’s sloth. For others, it’s lust and lechery. Despite our best efforts, we can’t seem to clean up our acts.

You’ve gone to all of the workshops and you’re still an asshole.

You’ve meditated for years and you’re still the most uptight, miserable bastard you know.

You eat so healthfully and yet you keep getting sick.

You’ve learned so much about marketing and selling and you’re still failing to get anyone to sign up and pay you money.

We are visited over and over by that most painful of thoughts, “I can’t believe I did that again.” and its partner, “I should know better by now.” But the unclaimed child of these thoughts is, “There’s something wrong with me.”

The evidence seems overwhelming and inarguable.

But, what if there’s nothing wrong with you?

This might seem impossible to even consider when you’re in the depths of shame but consider this question to be a rope thrown down to you from above. 

How could it be that there’s nothing wrong with you in the face of such overwhelming evidence? 


Imagine you are at a networking event. In your two front jacket pockets of the suit you put on begrudgingly, in a half-hearted attempt to appear professional, you have fifty business cards. One hundred cards in total that you give out throughout a long night of networking driven by a dogged commitment and financial desperation to get clients. By the end of the night, your pockets are empty. One hundred new potential clients are now in possession of your business card. 

But, as the weeks go by, no one calls. No new clients come from it. 

Surely, there must be something wrong with you.

Or, perhaps, you stood there at the bar talking with the first person you met for the whole night because you’re so terrified of introducing yourself to strangers and because you have no idea what you’d say and you leave feeling like a failure. 

Surely, there must be something wrong with you.

Or, perhaps, you didn’t even make it that far. You saw the networking opportunity and marked it in your calendar but were too overcome with anxiety to step out the door to go to the event. 

Surely, there must be something wrong with you.

That’s the refrain I hear, unspoken, over and over throughout my workshops. I could give you so many scenarios where this appears. 

But what if none of them are a sign of anything being wrong with you? 

What if that’s not what it means?

What if they are table legs of evidence but propping up the poorly chosen table top of ‘There’s something wrong with me’?

What else could it mean? What other table top might better hold the feast of your days and harvest of your business no matter how meager it might seem?

No doubt there are many but let me offer one here for your consideration: what if all of the evidence you’ve gathered isn’t a sign that there’s something wrong with you but that there’s something wrong with the approach you’ve learned?

What if most of what’s taught in marketing is so profoundly dehumanizing, terrible feeling and, frankly, ineffective that we either don’t do it or are bound to get poor results from it if we do?

For example, many marketing workshops will tell you to network to get clients. 

Fair enough.

But what if the core approach to it that is commonly taught actually doesn’t work? What if stress and pushiness are built in? What if those approaches are doomed to fail? What if the promises made about those approaches aren’t based in anything that might be considered ‘reality’? 

This is so hard to see when there is no alternative given. When it’s all you know, it’s hard to imagine there might be another way.

So let me offer you two ideas on networking that I got from the good Bill Baren. 

The first is to give up on networking for clients at all but to rather orient your networking towards connecting with hubs (who might be the source of dozens of clients). Remember this: Babe Ruth, one of the baseball greats, only hit homeruns twenty percent of the time. So, why do we think that we should be able to convince everyone with whom we connect to become a client? Where does that insane notion come from? And why is it that we think, when we fail to get many, if any, clients networking in the ways we’ve been taught, that the failure is with us instead of in the approach itself? What if networking for clients is inherently a dead end, exhausting approach?

If you shift your networking away from trying to get clients to trying to connect with hubs you might be amazed at how much more effective and better feeling it becomes. 

But there’s more. 

What if you stop going to networking events alone to network for yourself and, instead, went with a colleague and networked for each other? What if you each walked in with a solid understanding of each other’s work, how to best articulate it and who might be the best fits as clients or, even better, as hubs? What if you stopped trying to do the inherently uncomfortable work of promoting yourself and, instead, focused on hustling for your friend who you love?

When I lay these two ideas out at workshops, I see eyes open wide. I see relief. I see the unspoken thought, “I can’t believe I never thought of that. Of course.”

For years, they had felt like failures for trying and failing at networking or simply failing to try but then I see them begin to consider that it might have been that the whole approach, itself, that was wrong not them.

What if there was nothing wrong with you? 


“Why can’t I stand up in the front of the room and be magnetic and powerful in my presence?” Maybe because you’ve got a quiet and quirky charm that doesn’t easily fit into the molds given out by marketing coaches.

“Why can’t I introduce myself with more confidence at networking events?” Maybe because a lot of those events end up being shitty and contrived and because you haven’t learned how to talk about what you do in a way that feels good.

“Why do I feel such a deep resistance to charging more money? It must be some deep money wounds I have needing years of therapy and expensive coaching packages.” Yeah. And maybe you’ve also got a political and spiritual conscience and you find yourself genuinely troubled by the economic system and how money works in this culture at this time and you really have no idea how to relate to charging for what you do in a way that feels right.

“I host these regular gatherings but I have no idea how to follow up with the people who attend them. It must be that I don’t believe in myself.” Possibly. But more likely it’s that you’ve never identified or been shown a low-pressure way to do just that.

What if there was nothing wrong with you? 


Why can’t you market? Why are you so bad with money? Maybe it’s just never learned an approach or perspective that felt good. Maybe it’s because you’re doing the best you can given the overwhelming pressures of your life as a parent and caregiver to your parents. Maybe it’s not because, as a commenter in this blog post said, “because you’re stuck in fear and won’t take a risk.” And if you’re not rich maybe it’s not because “you haven’t learned to unblock your innate powers of manifestation” (side note: have you noticed that most of these manifestation coaches are broke?)

Maybe it’s because you’re doing the best you can given the very limited time you have and the overwhelming pressures of your life as a parent and caregiver to your parents and you only have so many hours in a week. Maybe it’s not about you being lazy. Imagine that.

And yet, in every workshop I do, I see people who have learned techniques and approaches to marketing that feel off and they assume it’s a personal failing. They assume that the fault lies in them, not the techniques they were taught.

As a side note, these is the unintended consequence of hype. 

“Learn these stealth networking tactics and have everyone you meet practically beg for your card!”

“Learn these hidden dating hacks and have the hottest girls in the bar begging for your number!”

“Using these three techniques you’ll never lose your man.”

“This little-known investment strategy can double your money in 90 days guaranteed.”

“The pounds will practically melt off your body when you do these three simple things (in only 15 minutes a day!).”

When we read and believe these false promises and then can’t seem to achieve the results they were offering, it can be easy to assume that the fault is with us.

But, what if there was nothing wrong with you? 


This is not new.

In his paper, “Beyond the Four Waves of Colonization” Darien Thira points out that there have been three waves of colonization of indigenous people.

The Colonization of Aboriginal peoples has generally been considered to have operated in three waves:

1. legal – legislation to identify and control the Aboriginal population through the suppression of legal rights, based on the view of Aboriginal peoples and communities as ‘savage’;

2. administrative – a reserve system designed to isolate Aboriginal groups and claim their traditional lands, based on the view of Aboriginal peoples and communities as ‘heathen’; and

3. ideological – the Residential School and Foster-parent System which were originally intended to assimilate and later separate Aboriginal people from the non-native mainstream, based on the view of Aboriginal peoples and communities as ‘deficient’ (Chrisjohn, Young, and Mauraun 1997; McCormick 2002; Milloy, 19999).

However, a fourth wave of colonization is currently oppressing the Aboriginal community, a medical wave, made up of professional caregivers, treatment centres, and others which encourage and provide so-called healing, based on the view of Aboriginal peoples as ‘sick’ (Chrisjohn, Young, and Mauraun 1997; Thira, 2005)

And this fourth wave is vital because it has indigenous people thinking that something is wrong with them. It has them walking around thinking that they are the sick ones. Thira continues,

The Fourth Wave of Colonization: Western ‘Healing’ In response to these consequences, a fourth, medical, wave of colonization and genocide has been created–a social welfare industry made up of therapeutic foster homes, treatment facilities, and consulting mental health and social service professionals (not to mention researchers and academics) who have shifted the label from ‘savage’, ‘heathen’, and ‘deficient’ to “sick” Indian and/or community (Milloy 1999; Ward 2001). Aboriginal people and communities are victims who now require help form the very colonizers who harmed them. So-called ‘Residential School Syndrome’ (RSS) provides an excellent example. RSS has been proposed as a form of mental illness with symptoms that include the intrusion of terrifying memories and dreams, the avoidance of anything that reminds one of Indian Residential School, and an unrealistic fear of danger (anxiety), among others. It also suggests that many of the problems currently experienced by Aboriginal communities, such as addiction, violence, unemployment, family problems and suicide, are a result of this mental illness (Brassfield 2001). However, by placing the responsibility for the problem on the individual, implying that it is caused by their failure to ‘adjust’ to their traumatic personal past, RSS can be viewed as a tool that labels survivors a person as ‘sick’, rather than someone who is living with ongoing social oppression (Chrisjohn, Young, and Mauraun 1997). Thus, it as been argued that a better diagnosis for the problems just described is ‘Acute and/or Chronic Response to Colonialism’ (Duran & Duran 1995). From this socially aware perspective, it is not the Aboriginal individuals who are ‘sick’, but those who oppress them. It is the colonizers, not the survivors, who should be diagnosed with RSS. The symptoms must be revised to be: the desire to steal children from their parents and to rob a people of their language, culture, and land (Chrisjohn, Young, and Mauraun 1997).

What if Residential School Syndrome was a human response to oppression?

What if that’s how you’re supposed to react as a human in those situations?

What if the dysfunction was in the way we looked at the dysfunction.

What if there’s no mystery here?

What if there was nothing wrong with you? 


“The resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance.”

– Vernon Howard


“So, you might have noticed this already but I’m certainly somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum.” said a woman at my workshop. She was standing at the front. A woman in her late fifties, conservatively dressed, shy and sweet. She considered herself a spiritual and psychological failure. Undiagnosed for her Aspergers she’d gone to see therapists to figure out why she struggled so much. The help offered focused on the assumption that something was wrong with her, that there were parts of her in conflict that needed some resolution. But what was actually happening was that she was just wired differently; she processed information differently. There was nothing wrong with her. 

She then practiced meditation with deep devotion and yet something remained untouched. Finally, she found a spiritual modality that profoundly shifted her life for the better. 

She wasn’t a psychological or spiritual failure. She’d been psychologically and spiritually failed


I think of LGBTQ young people who spend their whole lives thinking there’s something wrong with them.

I think of people of colour thinking they’re inferior because they don’t look white enough.

I think of men and women both ashamed of their genders and those who don’t fit neatly into either gender ashamed of their inability to slide gently into place anywhere.

I think of those students who don’t learn well from sitting in a classroom and slammed with the ADHD lable and put on drugs.

I think of all of the young men in this culture who were never, at a young age, initiated into adulthood and who end up wreaking so much havoc on the lives of those around them. Men behave shittily because of this programming and poverty and are convinced there’s something wrong with them personally. “But you don’t understand! I’m a monster!” they say. Sure. This culture affecs every single man, but you. You’re the one who’s just rotten to the core. You’re the one. You’re just the bad seed. The Devil made you and snuck you into existence somehow. Nothing redeeming here. You are separate from all of Life. Got it. This story is so deep. There’s something wrong with you. The rest of the Universe seems to be working well, but not you

I think of all the young women who are never welcomed into their adulthood either and how both spend the rest of their lives with this unspoken feeling that something important that was supposed to happen never did.

I think of the parents who struggle to balance everything and feel like they’re constantly failing at being a parent and likely scarring their kids for life.

I think of entrepreneurs building their teams and failing because they haven’t identified what their strengths and weaknesses are. They’re doing many things they’re actually incompetent at, though that’s not what kills the business. What kills the business are all of the things they’re doing that they’re competent at but that still isn’t their particular area of strength or genius. And so they feel like there must be something deeply wrong with them.

I think of weeds and how they’re wonderful plants just growing in places we wish they wouldn’t. The way we talk about them, right to their faces, I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe they began to think there was something wrong with them too.

Ian Mackenzie writes beautifully about this is his mini essay, On Black Holes and the Loss of Village:

In 1967, Princeton physicist John Wheeler coined the term “black hole” to describe an object in space so dense that not even light could not escape its gravitational pull. This is caused when a massive star dies, leaving behind a small, dense remnant core.

Scientists cannot directly observe black holes. They can only infer their presence by studying the effect on nearby matter, such as drawing in interstellar dust or tearing apart stars. Let me say that differently: we only know black holes exist by their effect on everything else.

I’ve come to understand the loss of village in the same manner.

For most of human history, humans have lived in nomadic tribes. Around 10,000 years ago we shifted into settlements (towns and cities), and very recently, fragmented into nuclear families. This is a blink of an eye in cosmic time and, understandably, we are still reeling from the calamity.

Most modern people suffer from rampant anxiety and a constant lack of self-worth. Mass media, the pursuit of happiness, and the meritocracy of religion ensure we are never allowed to be enough. When we can’t keep up, we’re told we are the problem. The prescription for sanity is written by the insanity: “You must love yourself first.”

Most of us have never lived the true richness of mutual life. Therefore, how could we recognize the ghost at the core of our culture is the longing for village?

What if there was nothing wrong with us? What if there was something missing in our culture?


“It’s no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti


I once held a workshop called The Things We Can’t Forgive Ourselves For. It was a workshop for men who were wrestling with shame in their lives.

We all have something we’re ashamed of something we’ve done. Wayne Dyer once pointed out that we should never become too cocky because there is almost certainly someone who is in therapy because of us.

And, in this culture, this is often held to mean, “Doing ______ means I deserve to be punished.”

In other words, there’s something fundamentally wrong with us. We did something bad and therefore are bad.

But what if what it actually meant might be something closer to, “Doing ______ means I needed more support.”?

And what if we began to learn to ask for the support we really needed?

What if there was nothing wrong with us? 


I’m going for a walk with a new friend of mine – a young woman full of promise for her community. She is crying. She’s so jealous of the relationship that her boyfriend has with his sister and so deeply ashamed and embarrassed that she’s jealous of this. There must be something wrong with her. This is the unspoken thread of the conversation. I invite her to consider that her jealousy might just be a sign of her being human and that it might deerve a seat at the table as much as any other part of her.

“But it’s so dark! How could it have a roll?” she says.

One block later we’re standing in Ezzio Faraone park looking up at the Blood Moon.

“There it is,” I say. “The Earth’s shadow covering the moon. It’s so dark. And it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.”

What if there was nothing wrong with you?


Of course, this conversation, if it stands true for us, must also stand true for our clients. “Why aren’t people buying from me?” is a question I hear asked, directly or indirectly, often. The underlying message seem to be that there is something wrong with our clients for not signing up for our offers. Perhaps it’s that they aren’t ‘ready’ or that ‘it’s too confronting’ or that, ‘they aren’t evolved enough’.

But, what if there was nothing wrong with them at all?


When clients come to us with their symptoms and pains the way we hold it may have a large influence on our capacity to help them. What if we looked at their struggles with absolutely no sense of anything being wrong with them or their situation? How does it help to see them or their situation as ‘wrong’ or ‘not supposed to happen’? What if we met their victim energy with a spirit of ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’? What if we let them be victims for a while?


“You know, people come to therapy really for a blessing. Not so much to fix what’s broken, but to get what’s broken blessed.”
– James Hillman


Of course, this could all sound like I’m lauding victimhood or encouraging people to avoid responsibility for anything.

But it’s not that.

Understanding that there might be nothing wrong with us isn’t a get out of jail free card, it’s the beginning of the real work. Because, if there’s nothing wrong with us and we’re still struggling to do something then clearly there’s more support needed. If we have bad habits or struggles that impact others and we’re able to sustain our gaze on those things and their consequences without the lens of, “there’s something wrong with me” then the reality becomes that more is asked of us, not less.

Last year, a young woman had RSVP’d for my potluck and then no-showed. She expressed that she’d been a bit down in the dumps. I empathized and asked that, in the future, if she could let me know she wouldn’t make it I’d appreciate it as the potlucks often fill up and that means someone else is turned away.

She unloaded on me for being so insensitive to her depression.

In my words, she heard, “There’s something wrong with you.”

What I was asking for is something else: for her to take responsibility for her struggles. I was asking her to ask something of that part of her that struggled.

If you’re always late for meetings it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you and… the courteous thing to do might be to let people know you’re always late. I have a friend who is a chronic over-committer and late for everything. But he refuses to see it. It’s likely because he’s one of the sunniest and most optimistic people I know. But it doesn’t let him off the hook for the consequences of being late. Were he to say, “Here’s the deal. I am terrible at time lines. If we’re going to work together then I need regular check ins and for you to schedule meetings thirty minutes before you need me there because I’ll always be late. That just seems to be a part of who I am.”

If my friend had said, “Tad. I’d love to come to your potluck and the truth is that I’ve been struggling with depression lately and so… it’s a crapshoot. I’m not sure I’ll be able to leave the house that night. I can’t confirm my RSVP. I’m a maybe.” then that would have been wonderful. 

What if there was nothing wrong with us? And what if we could take responsibility for the places we struggle?


“But I’ve done terrible things!” people say.

Of course you have. We all have. But why did we do those things?

It is 100% to do with what we were believing at the time. And sometimes as humans we get confused. 

“But I was the one who was believing those things! It’s still me!” Sure. I’m not saying there’s no accountability. I’m just inviting you to look deeper. I’m saying that guilt can be a form of collapse, a way that the meaning of event concretizes and becomes essentialized and frozen in the past so that that’s all it means and all it will ever mean. And what is the meaning we all too often end up landing on like a moth attracted to a flame? 

“There’s something wrong with me.”

But what if there was nothing wrong with you?Given what you were believing at the time,

Given what you were believing at the time, however little sense it makes now or how ridiculous it seems to you now that you could have believed that, was it possible for you to have done anything else? And are you the source of all of your beliefs? If not, where did they come from?

If we’re willing to let go of the idea that there’s something wrong with us then suddenly we find ourselves in the middle of a story that’s much bigger and wilder than we imagined. It’s bigger than us. It’s beigger than our lifetime. Suddenly the dysfunction, drama and destruction didn’t begin with us. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the enormous river of history fed by countless tributaries. Suddenly, we find ourselves curious about how it might all have come to be rather than thinking that the flaw is with us.


“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
– Louise Hay


If there’s nothing wrong with us you might think that I’m inviting us to blame the culture. 

But it’s not really that either. 

I’m not particularly inviting us to blame anything or fix anything. 

I’m inviting us to see how it is and suggesting that adding the dark, glass filter of “something’s wrong with me” may make it impossible to see what’s so with anything bordering on clarity. 

I’m inviting us to see how everything that’s happened was, to some degree, inevitable given the circumstances but that, in the seeing of what’s really going on, it’s not inevitable that it need continue that way. As soon as we see it as it is, there’s a chance for it to be different. But looking at reality and taking the lazy approach of ‘well, something must be wrong with me’ guarantees that we never really see it which condemns us to repeat the very thing we profess to want to change.

I’m inviting us to sustain the gaze on how things have come to be and then to grieve what we never got (and never will get). I’m inviting us to come to know the poverty of our situation and then to be willing to do the adult thing and become the source of the culture we never got; to plant seeds to trees we’ll never enjoy the fruit of.

If you struggle with marketing, it’s not your fault. It’s not you. You just never learned how to do it in a way that felt good to you. Your struggle with it might actually be a sign that something is right with you. It might be your conscience, integrity and intuition showing up for duty to let you know that something is ‘off’. It might actually be a sign of your goodness and love of other people and of community. It might be a sign of how finely tuned your own intuition and conscience is to bullshit. It might be a sign of what’s right with you.

But it’s possible to feel that something is wrong and to not know what to do instead. It’s possible to feel like the approach you’ve learned to selling if ‘off’ but not know what would be ‘on’. It’s possible to feel uncomfortable with the way you’ve been doing it (when you can get yourself to do it) but have no idea what might feel comfortable in its place. 

That’s why I do what I do.

I do what I do because…

What if nothing was wrong with you?

What then?

(Starts Sept 28th) Seven Compelling Reasons To Sign Up for My New, Online, Six-Week ‘Marketing for Hippies 101 Program


On September 28th my new Marketing for Hippies 101 program begins.

This program serves two purposes:

An introduction into my work. If you’ve never attended one of my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshops then this program is a fine chance to learn the basics because you get the video version of that workshop when you sign up.

A chance to apply the concepts. If you have attended my day-long workshop and are hoping for some support in integrating it and figuring out how it applies to your situation, this is best thing I’ve got going. The calls will not be me teaching the content. I will assume you’ve already got that walking in (because you’ve already attended my workshop or watched the video).

But why should you consider signing up?

Well, if it seems like a fit, there are seven, compelling reasons…


Compelling Reason #1: You Get the Full Footage From my Live, Marketing for Hippies 101 Workshop the moment you sign up.

While I was in Victoria, BC in 2014, I had Canadian film maker Ian Mackenzie record the latest version of my workshop so I could make it available to those who have never had the chance to attend my workshop and to whose cities I may, sadly, never come.

Before the program begins, you will be expected to watch this full two-and-half-hour video of this live workshop (and, for extra points, dive into the Bonus Materials you’ll learn about below).

When I do this workshop live, participants don’t get the advantage of being able to pause, rewind and watch it over again. And they haven’t gotten any of the bonus materials listed below. You can watch, streaming online or download to your computer.

Small Disclaimer: We forgot to mic the audience. For the most part I restate what they have said, but I miss it a few times. You’re not missing anything vital and it doesn’t happen much but I know this sort of thing can drive some people crazy. :-)

Compelling Reason #2: Your Private Marketing for Hippies 101 Facebook Group

Built into this program is a private Facebook group where you can connect with others who are going through the same program. You’ll be able to share your wins and put out requests for support in where you’re stuck. We’ll also use this group during the Office Hours calls as a virtual poster-board.

Compelling Reason #3: Customized, “Get-Your-Questions-Answered” Weekly Office Hours.

Each week, you’ll get to partake in a 90-minute group call where we will dig into the content you learned. These calls will be structured entirely on your questions. We will cover whatever aspects of the content were most interesting and/or confusing to you. You’ll hear my personal thoughts on how those principles might apply to you and your situation.

From September 29th – November 2nd, 2016, you’ll be able to phone into the Office Hours group conference call and speak to me personally to share your progress and get reflections from myself and everyone else on the call about how to work on the areas in which you might be stuck. I’ll communicate with as many people as I can in the 90 minutes. Think of it as a group coaching call.

These calls will all be recorded.Weekly office hours from 12:00pm – 1:30pm PST/3:00pm – 4:30pm EST every Wednesday from September 28th through November 2nd. So that means six calls on Wednesdays September 28th, October 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th and November 2nd. Make sure you double check the time zone to make sure you’re able to make the calls. Calls will be recorded if you’re ever not able to make the call or want to re-listen to it.

Compelling Reason #4: Three Carefully Crafted Bonus Materials to Help You Deepen Your Understanding

Not only do you get the full footage off the core content from my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshop, you’ll also get these three extras.

Bonus #1: The Calgary Video
60-minutes of footage from a workshop that I led in Calgary a few years ago covering content that I no longer cover in my day-long workshops (even though it’s really good stuff) and a recap of some of the content of the core video. You’ll learn about the importance of your Unique Selling Proposition, a bit more about hubs, why marketing is like baseball and more.

PLUS: you’ll also get the complete 25 page transcript from this workshop.

Bonus #2: The Complete Marketing for Hippies 101 Transcript

Don’t find watching videos the easiest way to learn?

You’ll also get the complete, 53 page written transcript (in PDF format) of the Victoria workshop to review, highlight and scribble on (if you print it out!) at your leisure.

PLUS: you’ll also get the full digital audio files in case you want to just listen to this workshop.

Bonus #3: The Marketing for Hippies 101 Workbook & Bonus Reading

Want to dig deeper into the material?

Then you’ll enjoy this 44 pages of bonus reading and exercises to more fully explore the content you’ll learn in the videos.

Compelling Reason #5: Lifetime Membership – Audit for Free Whenever I Hold This Program Next

I’m planning to run this program at least once a year for a while to come. Whenever I run it, you’re welcome to join in gratis. No charge. Fully on the house as if you were a full paying member. Your signing up for this makes you a lifetime member of this program.

Compelling Reason #6: Spread Out Over Six-Weeks

When people attend my live workshops, they get all of this content but they don’t get all of the additional support you’re getting here to help them integrate it. I run that day-long workshop on a pay-what-you-can basis meaning people give me a $25 deposit to confirm their spot and then pay me whatever they want to pay at the very end based on what they thought it was worth. I’ve received as little as $5 (with an incredibly kind note about how this was genuinely all she could afford) and as much as $600.

But, when people ask me what I would charge for this day-long workshop, I feel very at ease in saying $200. For most people if they were to get even one repeat client from what they learned it would mean at least $200 and likely much more. So you’re getting the content plus additional support and coaching in integrating it into your business.

Compelling Reason #7: Cheap Like Borscht

I am pricing this program low for a few reasons. On the selfish level, it’s pretty simple.

I want this to be a no brainer for you to sign up.

I don’t want to have to spend a lot of time marketing this or convincing anyone it’s a good idea.

So that’s the main reason.

Plus, if you like this material, which represents my core “take” on marketing then you’ll be more likely to sign up for other more expensive programs of mine and maybe want to hire me one on one. You’ll be more likely to buy my eBooks. You’ll be more likely to spread the word about me to your colleagues.

On the altruistic level, this is material I simply want to see out there. If you get a handle on your marketing, not only will you make more money, you’ll show other people that making money doing what you love is possible. You’ll also, because you’re savvier about marketing, be better at helping your friends with their marketing. I dream of a movement of marketing savvy social entrepreneurs who are able to make green, sustainable and holistic things seem normal instead of making normal things seem green, sustainable and holistic.

Plus, I’ve had so many people tell me they want to attend a workshop of mine but that they couldn’t travel to Canada to attend. So, I’m trying to make this material more accessible to a wider audience.