The Bigger Context

 The Bigger ContextI almost died a month ago.

And it showed me something important.

When we are in crisis, the crisis becomes everything we see. It looms over us like a giant, blocking out the sun. And this makes dealing with the problem very hard. We become overwhelmed with not only the problem but our emotional reactions to it. Overwhelmed. Daunted. Hopeless. Betrayed. Alone. We become trapped not only in the problem but our fear around it

Our job is to help people take a step back and see how this problem they are facing fits into the bigger picture.

Our job is to paint a picture so much larger than the problem so that their efforts are infused with even more meaning.

For years, I’ve found incredible solace in the work of Byron Katie. It’s a simple work around questioning our stressful thoughts until they let go of us.

But then, late in 2013, I found myself in the hospital with a heart situation (which, thankfully, turned out to be okay) afraid that I would die. And for the next month I had many moments of thinking I would die that day. I was discharged with a clean bill of health but the experience shook me to my core and had me cancel the tour of Europe I’d been planning all year so I could head home, care for myself and integrate what this experience had meant to me.

I truly thought I was going to die. That I was going to have to let go of my life. And I was not ready for that moment. There was no peace in my heart. Just an overwhelming terror at the inconceivable thought of dying. The most impossible thing to let go of – our lives.

And it has struck me that every time we let go of anything we are practicing for our death. Every time we are willing to question a stressful thought until it melts away leaving us more free – we are practicing for our death.

Every time we let go of a way of defining ourselves in favour of something more true and expansive leaving us more free and authentic – we are practicing for our death. Every time we shake our body until the stress melts away, every time we are, miraculously, able to forgive someone and let go of a grudge, every time we are able to let go of a relationship or the belief that we need closure or completion on it, an addiction or obsession . . . anything we think we need that we grasp to . . . we are practicing for our death when we’re asked to let go of the most impossible and brightest thing. Because I know that letting go of anything we grasp onto feels like a sort of mini death. Letting go of a precious idea, ideology or identity feels so terrifying. Letting go of our shame, the ways we beat ourselves and others . . . it’s terrifying. We just can’t imagine ourselves without it.

And so, letting go becomes not only the secret to a happy life with a peaceful heart but also a peaceful and happy death. And, it also struck me that every single time I let go of something that wasn’t meant for me or something that causes me stress I am happier, more free and have more peace in my heart. I am always in a better place after genuinely letting go. Maybe that’s true when we lose this life of ours. I don’t know. But I know that all of the suffering in my life (and the suffering I’ve caused for others) is the result of my clinging onto things. I hope that when I face that big moment next, I’m able to embrace it and meet it with peace in my heart. May it be this way for all of us.

Suddenly, doing The Work was infused with so much more meaning. I wasn’t just doing it to deal with some small stressful thought.

Each time I did it, I was practicing for my own death.

And, now I’m noticing how much more motivated I am to do it. When I finally saw how this small and simple work was preparing me for the most important moment in my life . . . something shifted. 

There’s an old story I’ve heard many times that speaks to this theme. I’ll share it here.

A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral to praise almighty God!”

Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.

When we see there’s a bigger purpose that our work is contributing to, we’re more likely to do it.

And when people see that your business is fundamentally about more than just ‘making money’ but, instead, something much larger, expansive and meaningful . . . they’ll be so much happier to support you with their money.

Is there a bigger context, a larger purpose, that lies underneath all the work you do or invite people to do?

Janis Rosen of Winnipeg has worked with women around weight loss for years and frames it all beautifully. For her weight loss is a path of personal growth. Her belief is that, if you approach it in that way, that as you grow smaller on the outside, you grow bigger on the inside.

Deena Metzger, in her book, Entering the Ghost River, speaks beautifully about how, from an indigenous perspective, illness isn’t an individual thing. That if you have cancer, it’s more a matter that the entire community has cancer and it’s simply showing up through you. And so, the work of healing our communities becomes inextricably linked to personal health and vice versa. 

I know of people who work with addiction but instead of just trying to help people stop using a particular substance, they see the addiction as a spiritual issue and use it as the doorway to transforming their whole life. 

the hero s journey The Bigger ContextJoseph Campbell’s incredible work on codifying the ‘hero’s journey’ is a perfect example of this. His basic idea was that, cross culturally, the stories of hero’s all followed a similar pattern that is mirrored in our own lives. That we’re having an ordinary life, are called to adventure and then we go through hell and are torn apart by the adventure but then rebuilt and return home with the gifts of everything we’ve learned for the community.

And knowing this whole bigger context matters. Because if you’re trapped in the Ordeal and you don’t know that this is a totally normal and natural part of the process and that the next step is that you get your reward and get to head home . . . you might just give up. 

Understanding the larger story that you’re in can give you so much strength to persevere.

Helping your client understand the bigger picture where they are in their journey and the bigger cause they’re a part of can change their entire orientation around it from being a victim to being the hero of their own story. 

You can read more examples of projects with a clear larger ‘why’ here.

The core question to ask yourself is, ‘What is my work really, at the heart of it, about? What’s the bigger picture?’

Or here’s another way to consider it: imagine that everyone in the world for whom your work was suited, did it what would the impact on the world be? Like if you sell cloth diapers – what would the impact on the world be if all mothers switched over and stopped using disposables? If you help people recover from trauma – what would happen if everyone in the world was healed of their trauma? What would that mean for the world?

Really sit with all that. Get clear about it. And then tell everyone. Help them understand why you are so passionate about the work you do and how, by them engaging in it, they’re also working towards this larger vision.

Is there a bigger context spiritually, politically or environmentally for your work? 

What are the benefits of getting clear about this?

1) If people see the bigger picture and how by doing what you suggest they’re contributing to something so much larger than they thought, they will be more inspired to sign up to work with you.

2) By sitting with this you will also feel more inspired to share your work. Rather than feeling gross about ‘self promotion’ you’ll be spokesperson for a larger cause that matters to you.

3) It’s an incredible help to people, when they’re struggling, to have a larger context put around their problems. It helps shrink the problem down so that it’s a part of something rather than everything. 

I invite you to share the bigger cause/deeper context of your own work below. 

Marketing, New Years & Second Chances

New Years Eve 1355777044 27 Marketing, New Years & Second ChancesTomorrow is a brand new year.

And I think it’s a good moment to think about what you’re offering.

Symbolically, the New Year is about a fresh start. A clean slate. A blank canvas. A second chance.

And I think everyone wants a second chance with something in their life. As we look back over the past year there are so many moments that we might all wish we could redo. Things we screwed up. Things that got screwed up and we couldn’t fix. Maybe your people have had a big health scare, lost or owe a lot of money, went through some heartbreak or find themselves grappling with the biggest questions in life of ‘what’s it all about?’ when something big went wrong in their life. 

And to make matters worse, we often feel so ashamed of those things. Often, deep down, we see all the ways we are responsible for how things have come to pass. And we wish that we could do it all over again.

At its worst, business overs false promises that lead to disappointment.

At its best, it gives people hope and a path forward that it’s not over yet. And a space without judgment knowing that we’re all just stumbling towards  grace and that this Universe moves steadily towards love and forgiveness. 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been extended forgiveness when I thought I didn’t deserve it and second chances when I was without hope. 

And isn’t this what you do in your work? Don’t people often come to you scared and ashamed and without much hope?

What is the hope you offer people? Where are you giving people a second (or third or fourth) chance in their lives? What are the mistakes you help them fix or see differently? 

At this time of year, we’re all feeling those cravings more intensely. The very result you’re offering in your business is likely being wanted at an all time high by many people at this time of year.

And my fondest wish for you right now is that you get every second chance you need this year. That whatever feels like it was broken in the last year, wherever you feel like you screwed up irreparably is able to be made new (and maybe even made better.

Here’s to all of the second chances we’re able to offer and receive.

We could all use more of those. 

polarize

 polarizeI want to share something that might forever change the way you relate to marketing.

It’s a notion I got from Mark Manson in the context of dating but I think it maps over perfectly into marketing.

There are only three types of potential clients you will ever experience: responsive, neutral and unresponsive.

  • Responsive people will come across your work and light up. They’ll get excited and want to sign up and hire you after learning a little bit about you. They’ll be curious, want to know more and ask you a lot of questions. These people are a ‘yes’ to what you’re up to in your business.
  • Neutral people will listen to what you have to say but they won’t react much. They’ll sit there in your workshop politely and take it in. But they won’t sign up for much. They may be cordial and listen respectfully but they for sure won’t seem ‘into it’ like the responsive people do. These people are a ‘maybe’ to what you’re up to in your business.
  • Unresponsive people will actively pull away, show disinterest, might even be rude. These people are a ‘no’ to what you’re up to in your business.

And how you deal with each of these three people is different.

With responsive people, you just need to enjoy them and make it really safe and easy for them to buy from you. You want to have your sales funnel worked out so they can engage at the level that feels best for them. If you try and push or ‘sell’ to these people, things get weird. They’re already sold on you. Just relax, enjoy them, engage them and look for what is the best fit.

With unresponsive people, just bless and release them. Really. Just let them go. It’s not a fit (at least not in that moment). Trying to convince these people to hire you or buy from you is the road to burn out.

With neutral people it’s a different story. The neutral people aren’t sure. They’re on the fence. And your job is to get them off the fence (with no bias towards which direction they fall – towards you or away from you).

To be clear, I’m not talking about pushing them or making them do anything. I’m talking about revealing yourself and being vulnerable enough.

Let’s back this up a bit.

If they’re on the fence, why are they on the fence?

They’re up there because they’re not sure enough about who you are, your point of view, your overall purpose of your business, the results you offer or problems you solve etc. There’s something about your platform that is fuzzy and that results in them not knowing if it’s a fit. There’s likely something they see that they like (which is why they haven’t left your presence) but also somethings they see that they don’t quite get (which is why they haven’t bought).

But why is there fuzziness in the first place? Often because we’re scared to share the full truth of how we see things.

A typical approach with neutral people is to try to keep them around by being really ‘nice’ and not offending them in any way. People will build their email list by sharing useful but not that exciting or honest content. It’s kind of ‘meh’. It’s nice. It’s fine. 

But, if you do this, they will consistently fall off of the fence away from you.

It’s like the dreaded ‘friend zone’ in dating. 

They’ll tell you how great they think your business is but they won’t ever hire you.

But there’s another approach. And that approach is to be really honest about your platform and your intentions so that they are able to make up their mind and you can either go deeper with them or, quite frankly, stop wasting your time in ‘building a relationship’ with them that was never going to go anywhere anyways.

But, this requires us to let go of our people pleasing behaviours and to start being really honest about who we are and what we think. It might also mean directly asking someone if they’d like to be a client or be open to a conversation about working together. You might find that people who were dancing around with a ‘maybe’ they’d like to work with you suddenly become a ‘no’ when you directly ask them. Which is wonderful to know. Your asking them (depending on how you did it) didn’t cause them to not want to work with you, it created the space to reveal what they may have already been feeling for a while but were too nervous to tell you.

And here’s the challenge with those things: they all make you vulnerable. You are putting yourself out there and risking rejection.

If you’re honest about your quirks, people might not like them.

If you’re honest about your point of view, people might strongly disagree and attack or belittle you for it.

If you’re really real about the specific kinds of people you’re best at helping, you might lose folks who aren’t that.

If you’re honest about the larger cause you’re most passionate about that drives your business, you might lose people who are more passionate about other causes.

But on the flip side, if you’re honest about these things: some people will love them.

I think that our fear of being vulnerable is what keeps others from knowing us and therefore being able to decide if we’re a fit. We often feel shame about really revealing ourselves and yet it’s the very thing that will inspire others to get off the fence. Will you repel some folks? Sure. But you will also far more strongly attract others.

I can tell you that the blog posts I’ve written that have gotten the most positive reactions and cemented people as fans also got some of the most negative ones and the most comments overall – were the ones where I was most vulnerable and honest. 

Just the other day I wrote a post called, ‘I’m Broke (And I Don’t Care)‘ and was flooded with over 100 comments. Or the post, ‘Why Charging What You’re Worth Is Bullshit.’ Or the post ‘Slow Marketing‘. Or the time I encouraged people to do what they could to get the Conservatives out of office in Canada and wrote about it in my post Elections, Polarizing & Having an Opinion

If they are neutral towards you, the answer isn’t to be neutral back. If you find you’re attracting a lot of neutral clients and you want to change that, they answer is this: be even more vulnerable and honest.

The goal of marketing isn’t to convince everyone to work with you.

To state that even more strongly: the goal of marketing isn’t to convince anyone to work with you.

The goal of marketing is to attract the people who would be a perfect fit for you and to actively disuade people who are not a good fit for you (with a bit of wiggle room there). Marketing is more a filtering process than anything

Consider this logic: If you attract someone who is not a fit for what you offer, they will have a bad experience. They will then tell their friends about their bad experience and now you’ve got bad word of mouth. It’s not actually that what you were offering was bad – it just wasn’t a fit for them. But I promise you the rest of the world will not make that distinction.

On the other hand, if you attract the perfect kind of client who’s in exactly the right moment in their life to work with you they will almost certainly have a good experience. And they will tell everyone they know about that. And now you have good word of mouth.

It’s simple. 

But it’s so easy to waste your time on trying to keep the neutral people around. Or to attract them. 

But in the end it doesn’t work. Here’s the common dynamic. You get a speaking gig for thousands of people. Amazing. What an opportunity. Then you get a chance to write an article on a well known blog. So you do those things and, cleverly, offer them a free gift to sign up for your email newsletter. And, to get the free gift, a number of them do. Your pipeline of new clients is now so full, you tell yourself. Any day now you’re about to break through. Fast forward three months and nothing has changed.

Here’s what was really happening, people saw you. Thought you were interesting. Were intrigued to know a bit more but were mostly neutral. They saw a ‘free’ offer, got excited and signed up for your email newsletter which is also very neutral and not opinionated at all and they got bored, stopped reading it and really never intended to buy in the first place. You were hooked on hopium that your pipeline was full. But it never really was. So, we keep trying to get in front of more and more people, hoping that might change it. 

But here’s what will really change it: being willing to be a lot more vulnerable with those crowds.

I don’t mean standing up there and weeping about your childhood and asking them to hold you.

I don’t mean standing up there and telling them how nervous you are to be there (though that can be endearing).

I mean being willing to be very honest about whatever parts of your journey you’ve gone through that make you qualified that you care to share. I mean being willing to share where you’re not perfect, your quirks and kinks. Being willing to let them know who you are and how you see the world and the nature of their issue.  Being honest vulnerable will polarize your audience. The more vulnerable you are, the more polarizing you will be. 

Your ability to attract perfect clients is in direct proportion to your willingness to be vulnerable and deal with the reality that most people are simply not a fit. Luckily, you don’t need most people as clients to have a thriving business. You only need some. 

Here’s another way to look at it: I’d look at your neutral clients as the white blood cells of your business. If you have a lot it’s indicating that you are sick. And the disease may be from your own lack of honesty and vulnerability because of your fears. But most businesses see the white blood cells as a sign of health and seem to want more of them. You want less neutral people and more highly responsive people. You want less maybe’s and more yes’ or no’s right off the bat. 

When you really start stepping out with your full truth, you will repel so many more people (who were not a fit) and you will attract raving fans who love what you are about (who are a fit). Withholding the truth in the beginning doesn’t really help. Sure you might get more clients to begin with, but eventually the truth will come out and those people will leave. 

The only question is, how vulnerable are you willing to be?

Here are some ways you can explore being vulnerable. I’d love to hear what additional ideas you might have:

  • Ask Their Intentions: If you’ve got someone who’s been hovering around, neutral, asking for free advice for a while, consider just asking them directly, ‘Hey, I notice you’ve been around and come to a number of the free things I’ve been offering and I was just wondering if you were thinking of coming to the the upcoming full weekend. I’d love to have you there.’ Either way, now you know the truth and energy gets released which is a relief. It doesn’t have to be heavy, but if you’re wondering, you can always ask. They might just say ‘yes’. I was hosting a party in London, England and I got three people to come to my weekend workshop by simply saying, ‘Are you coming to my weekend? You should come! I’d love to have you there!’ Simple. Asking is vulnerable but powerful.
  • Go on a Rant: This is one of my favourites. Look at your industry and ask yourself honestly what you see is missing. And then let yourself rant about that. Sleep on it and if it still feels true, even if it feels edgy, put it up and share it with the world in a video or your blog.
  • Set Boundaries: Are clients always asking you for ‘just a quick opinion’ or a ‘five minute favour’? Tell them the truth (which is that you’d like to be paid for your time). I usually say something like, ‘Thanks so much for writing. That’s a great question and I totally get how frustrating that can be. My rates and such are here. Let me know if you’d like to book some time. I hope you’re well otherwise :-).’ And tell your clients what you expect from them before they hire you. Be real with people about your needs. 
  • Lay Out Your Map: You likely have a very strong opinion about the best way to help people on their Journey from their problem to the solution. Consider being even more explicit and honest about it. Lay the philosophy and steps out as clearly as you possibly can. Let them take a look at it for themselves and see if they like it or not. It can be tempting to be vague and try and trick people into signing up for a program based on vague promises. It’s not worth it.  Laying out your map is more effective anyway.
  • Share Your Story: Did you go through the same struggle as your ideal clients? Do you still struggle with the same issue in ways (but have learned more mature ways to deal with it when it comes up)? Consider sharing that. 
  • Fire Clients: Do you have clients that are a constant drain on your time and energy? Fire them. For real. Let them go. If you’re not, why not? Because you need the money? Because you’re scared they’ll be upset, hate you and tell the world what a fraud you are? Letting go of bad clients frees up so much energy for a good client to show up and for you to be strong and attractive when they do.
  • What Else? Any other ideas or examples you can think of?

brene brown: the power of vulnerability

If you haven’t seen this video, I highly encourage you to watch it. Being willing to be vulnerable might just be the most important thing you could ever do for your business. It will help people feel safe with you and also attract your ideal clients to you more strongly. Your willingness to be incredible honest about your platform will do more to grow your business than anything I know.

How to Identify Your Own Message

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Sounds nice, but how do you identify what your message even is.

The first thing is to understand what a message is, know why it’s important and what kinds of messages there are.

Then you need to do some inner reflection. The questions below are meant to help you with that.

This is all a new idea for me, this idea of marketing your message, but here are my initial thoughts on how you identify your message.

I strongly recommend that you do this both on your own but also with a friend who’s willing to interview you on each of these questions. I’d recommend they ask you each question at least five times to go deeper and deeper into what’s true for you. 

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: 

Fill in the blanks: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

What matters most when working to achieve the result your clients are craving?

If you could just say three words to the people you most want to help and they’d instantly ‘get it’ – what would those three words be?

2. Messages of Possibility:

What do you see as possible that others don’t? What do your people see as impossible that isn’t?

__________ can be ____________ (e.g. niching can be easy, marketing can be warm and honest)

__________ doesn’t need to be ____________ (it doesn’t need to be this way, relationships don’t need to painful)

3. Messages of Reality:

What’s the tough love, ‘real talk’, wake up call that your people need to hear to snap them out of it?

Where are you people’s expectations wildly out of whack with reality? What are the expectations they should just let go of entirely.

What are your people missing that prevents them from succeeding?

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

What do you think is required of your people, or the world, to really create what we want?

What’s the work that hasn’t been done that needs to be done?

5. New Idea Messages:

What’s the new, contrarian, out of the box idea you have that might blow people’s minds if they heard it?

6. Reframing Messages:

What’s something that your people are most ashamed of that you actually see as a potential strength or resource for them?

7. Other questions to ask yourself to identify your message:

If you could go back in time, what’s the message you want to give the earlier version of yourself – what’s the message that would have made the biggest difference for you to hear?

What do you know about being human that, once you really understood it, made it easier?

What are you daring your clients to try?

Having lived through your story, and knowing the issues you most want to help these people with – what is the one message you MOST want the world to hear?

What are your favourite proverbs, maxims and aphorisms and quotes? Which ones do you keep coming back to that most deeply resonate with you? Might these hold a key to your message?

What’s the truth about the nature of the problems they currently face?

What’s the truth about what it will take to get what they want?

What is your message?

quill pen 300x300 What is your message?Over the past week I’ve written a number of blog posts all about this idea: Don’t market yourself, market your message.

I’ve written about what it is, why it matters, the different types of messages and how you can identify your own.

And I’d love to invite you to share in the comment box below what you feel like YOUR message is. I promise to read each one.

The Six Kinds of Messages

 The Six Kinds of MessagesDon’t market yourself, market your message.

This is a theme I’ve been exploring over the past week.

If you’re reading this, then you may have already read my post about what a message is and why it’s so important to have one. 

So, I thought it might be good to explore the different kinds of messages there are and some examples of each to really bring it home.

Last year, I was chatting with my friend Casey about her work as a nutritionist and the whole notion of message.

Tad: I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of having a ‘message’ in our businesses. What is your message you’re wanting to spread? 

Casey: LOVE! Love your body, soul, people, food, things, pleasure, pain, earth… #DoEverythingInLove

Tad: and why do you think most people need to hear this message in particular?

Casey: From love comes contentment with the whole human experience, not to mention joy, optimal health, and a better world.

Tad: so you’re saying that only when we love everything will we feel content?

Casey: Having a loving appreciation for the way things are will allow people to become more content.

And that conversation is the beginning of where a message comes from. And notice that it’s got nothing to do with food. It’s got nothing to do with her modality or how she helps people and the tools she uses. Right now it’s got something to do with a loving and enjoyment of the material, earthy world. It’s a bit fuzzy but it could be honed down and connected to physical health and diet.

And, as you narrow it down, I think you’ll find you end up with one of six major types of messages (with likely overlap).

  1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do
  2. Messages of Possibility
  3. Messages of Reality
  4. Messages of Necessity
  5. New Idea Messages
  6. Reframing Messages 

What follows are examples of all six.

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

Sometimes messages are directional. They giving us a point of view on the best way to achieve a certain goal (e.g. being happier, making more money, better relationships etc.)

My colleague Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life believes that “life is meant to be lived (not spent in a cubicle), that you have a choice about how you spend your days here on earth, and there’s no sense spending your days living by someone else’s rules.” If I had to sum up this message it might be ‘live by your own rules’. Simple. To the point. Clear.

Imagine that you’re a woodworker and hate Ikea and mass produced things. A message you might want to develop would be ‘buying quality that will last forever is the best investment you can make’ or, in brief, ‘buy quality’ or ‘craftsmanship matters.’

The message isn’t about making your case. It’s the case you’re trying to make. It’s the point you’re trying to get across. The message doesn’t need to say everything, but everything you say needs to relate back to your core message. Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Nike’s core message for a long time has been ‘just do it’.

There used to be a clothing brand called ‘No Fear’ that was all about extreme sports and going for what you want with no fear.

A client of mine, Monika Denes, said this: “My passion is finding the root of health problems and – yes, sounds airy fairy – helping people be happier, because that is the best way to be and stay healthy.” If I had to summarize, ‘if you want to be healthy, be happy’. That could be her refrain for her TED Talk that she could repeat again and again and again to drive her point home.

Apple’s message since it began has been some version ‘Think different’. Everything it’s done has reinforced that message from it’s original 1984 commercial to it’s ‘Think Different’ ads featuring cultural icons to its design.

Or Tony Robbins who used to sign off all of his programs with, ‘Live with passion!’

2. Messages of Possibility:

Another kind of message is the kind of message that says, ‘something else is possible’.

One of my favourites of these is from one of my dearest colleagues Mark Silver of Heart of Business. Right on his homepage it says, ‘Every act of business can be an act of love’. Wow. So clear. So provocative. It immediately has me think about all the different aspects of business and how each might become an act of love.

The Obama campaign of 2012 had the core message, ‘Yes we can.’ which came to symbolize so much of what the campaign was about. 

Another client of mine wrote me this, “No matter how stuck or hopeless or helpless we feel, there is always a pathway to reclaim our power with mindfulness, love and simplicity. Always.” Which I might distill down to, ‘No matter how stuck you feel – there’s always a way.’ A powerful message. Especially if she could back it up with real life stories.

Years ago, I was in Thailand at Pun Pun, a sustainable living center where I met a fellow named Joe who had done a TED Talk where the core message was, ‘life is easy’.

The World Social Forum was created over a decade ago out of the realization that, for all of the anti-globalization protests that were happening, there weren’t enough solutions and vision being presented. So they put out the call for progressive and radical thinkers to attend. They expected 400 people but got 14,000 the first year. The next year, the year I went, they expected 20,000 and got 60,000. They had a very simple message. The message was a response to Margaret Thatcher’s message that ‘There Is No Alternative’ (a message she successfully repeated and built her case for). There message was ‘Another World is Possible.’ I remember being at one of the events at the forum where people were singing the theme song of the conference. That’s one way to know you’ve got a solid message – you could write a catchy song about it.

One of my colleagues Julia Kious Zabell sums up her message as ‘do awesome by doing good’. The idea that you can make a living by doing the right thing.

It’s a similar message that my friends Billy Parish and Dev Aujla have shared in their new book Making Good.

In fact, speaking of books, think of any best selling book you can think of – fiction or non-fiction – wasn’t there a core message to it? Wasn’t there a point it was trying to make?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was making the point that to succeed we need to go back to a ‘principle centered approach’ vs. what he deemed the ‘personality ethic’ of tools and techniques we use on people.

Geoff Lawton created a simple five minute video that has done more to grow the permaculture movement than just about anything I can think of. If you ask a crowd of permaculturists how they got into permaculture, a large chunk of them will you tell you it was from this video. The power of the video is that it told a simple story, but it also had a simple message, ‘You can solve all the world’s problems in a garden.’

A client of mine, Russell Scott teaches meditation retreats with the twist that most of it is dyad work. Meaning you do the meditation in pairs. You sit together and your partner asks you a question which you answer. Then they ask you the same question. And the same again. And again. And again. With each answer you go deeper. His take is that doing meditation with another is actually more powerful. His message? ‘You have to do it by yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.’ 

3. Messages of Reality:

Sometimes, the message is about how things really are. They are clarifying messages – mini-maps that help direct people from confusion to clarity. Sometimes we suffer because we don’t really see the world for how it is, and someone who can tell it like it is and reset our expectations about the possibilities and limitations of certain approaches will always engender trust.

Billy Blanks who created the cardio and martial arts hydrid of Tae Bo would repeat again and again the message that, ‘it’s hard. it’s going to take effort’. His honesty about this built a lot of trust.

Gandhi’s oft quoted words, ‘Your life is your message.’ is in fact a message inviting people to pause and look back into their lives and the message it might be sending.

Simon Sinek’s brilliant book Start With Why had the simple message, that he repeated over and over in his popular TED Talk, ‘People don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’ I’ve written a number of blog posts exploring this.  

Byron Katie wrote her book Loving What Is around the core message that, suffering comes from our unquestioned thinking. 

A core thesis of Derrick Jensen’s work is that, at its heart, civilization is violent. Not humanity, but the system of civilization we live in. And he makes his case compellingly. 

Michael Shuman is his book The Small Mart Revolution makes the case that the strongest ways to strengthen our local economies is not bring in big box stores but to ‘shop local first.’ A simple, three word message.

One of my favourite, and certainly the most provocative, mini TED Talks I’ve ever seen was called, ‘Make Love, Not Porn’. The message had to do with the notion that most men have grown up watching porn and think that that’s what all sex should be like. Her point? Some women like that. Some women don’t. Don’t assume. Make love, not porn. Simple. Extremely provocative. To the point. 

Rick Tamlyn’s core message: “It’s All Made Up” (that’s his company’s name). 

I’ve known people who’s core message could be summed up in the words, “We are happier and healthier when we spend regular, unstructured time in nature”.

David Deida’s has built his relationship work on the simple idea that the sexual zing in relationships comes the strength of the polarity of masculine and feminine in that relationship. I’m  honestly not sure how to sum that up. ‘Polarized relationships are hotter’? 

Much of the field of anti oppression is based on the simple idea that privilege in society tends to run along lines of race, class and gender (and other things) and that these privileges are often invisible to the people who have them. If it had a message it might sound something like, ‘Question your privileges.’

I’ve heard many new age teachers speak about the message, ‘What you resist persists.’ A simple idea. 

A colleague of mine Sue Anne Willis who does work with body movement in a therapeutic and empowering way came up with this: “HOW you move… changes…HOW YOU FEEL….and that …….CHANGES EVERYTHING….”

 

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

Another kind of message is more of a call to arms for people. It’s not just a message of what’s possible, or what’s real but what’s required of us to get what we want.

One of my clients wrote me about her belief that, ‘Business needs to evolve to create a brighter future.’ Simple. 

Rob Ford who is, somehow, still the Mayor of Toronto, had a single message he repeated again and again. That Toronto needed to “Stop the gravy train.” A simple message. 

A project I founded in 1999 called the Jams is based on the idea that, not only do we need to make change in the world but that we actively need to ‘change the way we do change’.

Some spiritual teachers might tell you that if you truly want inner peace you must develop a regular spiritual practice. That’s a message.

5. New Idea Messages:

Some messages are based on ideas that people may never have considered before. 

Nicole Daedone, the founder of One Taste, had the belief that female orgasm will change the world. I won’t even say anymore but leave you to explore that on your own.

My colleague Alex Baisley of Big Dream Program has the more message to ‘start with lifestyle.’ A simple idea. Instead of thinking, ‘one day, I’ll make enough money that I can retire and have the lifestyle I want.’ you can actually start with weaving the lifestyle you ultimately want into your life now and, hey! It might even save you money and make you money.

I once met a relationship coaching who came from a polyamory point of view and her message was that, in order for a couple to move forward in their relationship after infidelity they had to ‘get rid of the words “cheating” and “affair!”’ and come to see other relationships outside of their own in a different way.

6. Reframing Messages:

Some messages are about taking aspects of our life that we might have framed as weaknesses or ‘bad’ and framing them as strengths and assets. Or something we thought was bad is actually good, or something we always thought was good is bad, something we thought was ugly is actually beautiful. 

Nicole Moen does a lot of work with people around the theme of Pilgrimage. She often asks people if they’ve ever had the experience of looking at the front door of their home and having the urge to just walk out. Leave. Not come back. Even though they have no idea where they’re going. Many people feel incredibly guilty about this experience. How could they want to leave their loved ones and job responsibilities! Terrible! But Nicole invites them to see that urge not as something pulling them away from their own lives but deeper into a more true and authentic life – something that’s vital to pay attention to. If I had to sum the message up as ‘the call to walk out is a call to go in’. 

The book The Highly Sensitive Person was written for people who have spent their entire lives feeling ashamed of how sensitive they are. Her book could be summed up in the phrase: ‘sensitivity is a strength. 

A message that has been incredibly meaningful to myself and to many of my clients came to me from Jeffrey Van Dyk. It was the notion that our truest niche is often a younger version of us. His particular wording? ‘You deepest wounds might be a doorway into your truest niche.’ People walk through their lives with these emotional wounds and struggles unsure what to do with them, and here Jeffrey is saying, ‘not only is this not a bad thing, it could be the doorway into your truest work in the world.’

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

So, what’s your message? Leave it below! I’d love to see what you’ve got.

Nine Reasons Why Having a Message Matters

your message here 300x285 Nine Reasons Why Having a Message MattersIn my last post, I spoke about what it means to have a message in your business.

The core idea of that post?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

In this post, I want to lay out eight reasons I think it’s increasingly vital.

REASON #1: Speaking about your message is more comfortable and inspiring for everyone than being pitched to.

If I were to put you up on a stage to speak to thousands of your ideal clients and my instructions to you were, ‘Go and sell them on why to hire you.’ my guess is that you’d feel very awkward about that. Most people would. Trying to get other people to do something and ‘sell’ people is not a natural act. And it feels even more unnatural when what you’re trying to sell them is you.

When I see people trying to ‘be confident’ and ‘believe in their value’ on stage on in a group – it usually comes across as them seeming arrogant and puffed up.

I recall one party I hosted where I got us all in a circle and invited people to share who they were and what they were up to for 30 seconds. We went around the circle and people were so charming, lovely and humble. Until it got to one lady who stepped forward and, in a very heavy, sombre tone spoke about how she was a spiritual master teacher. And it seemed so incredibly pretentious. Especially in contrast to the humility of everyone else’s sharing.

But this is what happens when we believe that we need to promote ourselves.

A radical notion: what if you stopped focusing so much on ‘believing in your worth’ and started enjoying sharing a message you found worthy?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

But what if, instead of telling you go up and sell them on you, I told you to go up and share with them the message you are most passionate to share with them? 

Don’t you notice an instant shift in how that feels? A relief. An exhale. And likely even excitement. 

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

And put yourself in the audiences shoes. Which would you prefer? 

Option A: To sit through an hour of painful transparent attempts to sell you without appearing to sell you (which now feel even more gross because they’re trying to hide it). 

Option B: To sit through an hour of someone sharing a powerful message that you need to hear at this point in your life – a message that both affirms and uplifts. 

I can’t think of anyone that would want to be in Option A – on stage or in the audience.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #2: Your message is relevant to people.

People might not see how your product or service is relevant to them immediately – but it’s hard to miss the relevance of a message.

When people are struggling with something in their life, or craving something badly, they are very open to hearing a message that can affirm, clarify and encourage them.

REASONS #3: People are more likely to share (and discuss) a message than a product or a service.

Imagine you sit through that hour long presentation where the person is selling, selling, selling. And then you go for lunch with some friends. What do you talk about? Do you talk about all the features and benefits of their wares? 

Unlikely. 

There’s a better chance that you talk about how gross it felt, or you pick apart their presentation for what you liked and what you didn’t like in it. 

But what if you sat through someone talking about a message they were passionate about and that was meaningful to you?

My guess is that you’d keep talking about that same message and how you see that it relates to your life. And that you might keep talking about it over the coming days. “You know, I went to this talk and the speaker had this really powerful notion that I’d never really considered . . .”

And that, months later, when a conversation wound itself around to the same topic you might bring up that same speaker you saw. And people might just say, “What was the name of that speaker? I’d love to check out their work.” and write it down to check out later.

Word of mouth is the dominant engine of marketing. It’s how most of us hear about things and decide which things to buy – recommendations from friends.

So, it makes sense that we’d want to make as much of our marketing word of mouth friendly as possible. And few things are as sharable as a simple, easy to understand message.

REASON #4: It builds trust.

Few things are as unattractive as someone who is constantly, shamelessly promoting themselves. No one trusts the used car salesman.

Few things are more attractive than those working selflessly to change the world – people who are about something bigger than their own success.

People with hustle and shameless self promotion might gains status – but people who live to promote a message gain stature.

REASON #5: It gives you more attractive things to share.

If your agenda is to promote yourself then all of your social media posts and emails to your list will be that. They’ll be some iteration of ‘hire me! buy from me!’. And people will, more quickly than you’d think, tune that out. And, there’s a good chance you’ll only share your original work because you only want people to buy your stuff.

But, if what you’re really passionate about is a message then you’ll have so much more to share. You’ll share anything that could help boost that message in the world. You’ll share TED Talks on the theme, cartoons and images you find, articles & interviews you come across. Anything. You go from seeing yourself as just a content creator to also a curator. 

Suddenly, you’ve become a hub for other people who are passionate about that message.

People share what you put out which leads more people back to you.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #6: Your message is a good ‘client filter’.

If people don’t agree with your core message, if it doesn’t light them up then there’s no point in talking further. If you share your core message that lights you up and they sit their blank eyed . . . there’s a good chance that they’re not your ideal client. There’s a good chance that they will be trouble down the road.

On the other hand, some people’s eyes will widen and they’ll burst out in smiles when you share your message. They’ll say, ‘Yes! I’ve always thought that! That’s been my experience too! Thank you for saying that!’

Having a clear message attracts clients who are a fit

REASON #7: A message will get you invited to speak.

No one wants to invite you to pitch yourself.

But many people might want to hear you share your unique message with the world. 

REASON #8: A message is something you can become known for.

Perhaps the most important reason of all. 

A message is something you can develop a reputation around. Being known for an inspiring idea that uplifts people is powerful. 

Imagine you meet someone at a party who’s struggling in a particular way who you can tell really needs to hear a particular message. As you’re talking you can see how discouraged they are and then you remember seeing a TED Talk all about that message. You whip out a piece of paper and write down the name of the person so they can check that TED Talk out. The person thanks you, goes home, watches it and feels some hope for the first time in years. And then buys the persons book and maybe joins their email list or goes to a workshop of theirs.

REASON #9: A clear message makes you more flexible.

My colleague and friend Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life had this to say about the importance of developing a clear message.

“I see it so often – people starting businesses but having no idea what their purpose is, other than that they want to work for themselves and travel the world. Which clearly is not a good enough reason to start a business. Being connected to your message is so key for building a business that’s a right fit for you.

I also see a lot of people who started with great intentions, but have totally lost touch with why they’re doing it in the first place. So business starts to feel hard and unmotivating. So I’d add that not only is it a good way to connect with your audience, but it’s the only way for you to build a business that will feel sustainable in the long run for you. Something you won’t get bored of next month. Your message gives you something to connect back to when things are feeling hard or stuck or not quite right.

Being super clear on your message also gives you the flexibility to change what you do in your business fairly seamlessly. I think of it as being like a flower, where the center of the flower is your purpose/message/WHY, and each petal is a different way that you would bring that message to the world. So the petals might be different services you offer (coaching, workshops, retreats etc), OR they might be different business ideas.

If your message is about empowering women to step into their power, you might do that through adventure retreats.. or thought dance classes.. or through coaching.. or through copywriting… when your message is clear and consistent, it gives you the ability to offer different things in your business, and the power to change your business up as you go without totally confusing people. Building your business around your message is so important!”

 

Here’s another message to consider: Clarity before resolution. 

Before trying to crack out some half baked message, really sit with it to get clear.

You will likely, through this process, discover that you have many messages. 

What I want to invite you to dig for is your core message. 

It’s the one thing you wish everyone got. It’s the idea that would make the biggest difference in your industry, the lives of your clients and the world.

If you get this, you’ll be amazed at how much easier and more exciting everything in your business gets.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Don’t Market Yourself, Market Your Message

bg home 300x234 Dont Market Yourself, Market Your MessageDon’t market yourself, market your message. 

This is the theme I want to explore in what promises to an epic post. I’ve been wanting to write this post for at least half a year and have been slowly collecting ideas and inspirations for it. At this point, I need to put out what I’ve got and I would love to get your honest reflections on it.

Here’s the starting point: if you have a business, you are going to be known for something. It’s inevitable. The question is this: will you be known for the right things? Will your reputation bring you the kinds of clients you want?

This is something I’ve explored extensively in my blog posts about identifying your platform and articulating it in a page.

Up until now, I’ve seen that there are six things you can be known for – but over the past few months, I’ve felt drawn to add a seventh – your message. I’ve realized that your message to the world can actually be one of the most powerful things you can be known for.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

That was a phrase I heard from my colleague Morgana Rae (who’s message is: ‘make money by putting love first’) that got me thinking about it. Something in it made sense to me. 

And then I was looking at my colleague Mark Silver’s website where it stated his core message so clearly: ‘every act of business can be an act of love.’ So clear. So evocative. So meaningful.

For the past year, I’ve been beginning to talk about the message of ‘slow marketing movement’ (in the same vein as the slow food movement) and noticing the resonance that has with people far beyond talking about marketing tactics and tools. 

I’ve noticed that when I share the message that ‘marketing is a vital part of doing good in the world’ it resonates with people. When people understand that marketing can actually feel wonderful, warm and be a force for building community and expression of our values that people light up. 

I’ve noticed that the businesses I’m most drawn to tend to have some sort of a message they’re promoting. 

So, I want to explore this theme here and welcome your feedback on it.

I am writing this not being totally clear on what my own core message is but knowing it’s an important conversation to have.

 

What it is?

So, what is a message?

This is, honestly, the part that still feels a bit fuzzy to me and where I could use your help. 

Here are my thoughts so far . . .

Your message is like the words on a coat of arms, a motto, a slogan or tagline. It takes your whole platform and distills it down to the essence. It’s the thing you can’t help but talk about and steer every conversation towards. 

It’s an idea that you are so passionate about and find yourself reading about, listening to TED Talks about it but . . . you feel like there’s still something missing that you want to see brought out into the world.

It’s the drum you beat. It’s your core thesis you want to prove. It’s an idea you know that, if it were embraced on a mass level, would change the world. If this message were really ‘gotten’ there’d be so much less suffering. It’s the way things oughta be.

It’s often the words you wish you’d really understood when you were younger and struggling. It’s the words you really want a particular group of people to hear.

Your message is likely the answer to this question: ‘What would your TED Talk be about?’ Every TED Talk is about an idea. Some might feature projects – but they all have a crystal clear message in them. Something simple, direct, easy to understand and uplifting.

A message is not a promise of a result. It’s not empathy for their struggles. It’s not a full blown point of view. And it’s not just a statement of values. There’s a point to it.  

Standing up at the front of a room and pitching people is just saying, ‘buy from me!’ But sharing a message is saying, ‘Whether or not you buy from me, I want you to know _______ because it will make your life and the world a better place’. And that’s attractive. It’s coming from a place of giving, not trying to get anything.

Don’t market yourself, market your message. 

 

Seven Criteria of a Good Message:

Again, this idea is new enough that I’m not even sure what the criteria is but here’s what makes sense to me right now.

  1. A New Idea: A compelling message usually isn’t a trite platitude (though it could be). Ideally it’s a new idea or an old idea said in a provocative new way. It’s an idea that’s been missing from a larger conversation. It’s something that no one else is saying it or saying in quite the same way you are.
  2. Short: It can be summed up briefly. Like ten words max. It’s a simple idea.
  3. Provocative: It’s a statement that makes sense but provokes further questions and deeper inquiry. 
  4. Repeatable: It’s something you could say it repeatedly throughout a keynote talk and it would make sense. It’s like the chorus to a song. Think, ‘I have a dream’. It’s the kind of idea you could base a keynote talk around entirely. Don’t market yourself. Market your message.
  5. Simple: Not a crazy, complicated idea. A simple idea with profound implications.
  6. Well Crafted: Crafting matters here. The exact right words. Bust out your thesaurus. Toss it by people. See which version seems to land the best with others and which feel best to you. 
  7. You: your message should somehow reflect or be an authentic expression of you. It fits you perfectly. It isn’t just said to sound good or used as a marketing tactic. It means something to you personally. It excites you. You love the idea of being known for this message and spending years (if not a lifetime) exploring it.

 

What a message will do and won’t do:

A message won’t sell your product on its own.

No one will read a nice slogan or tagline and say, ‘yep. I want to spend $1000 with that company. What a great message.’

But a message does give your business a center of gravity.

A message becomes a core idea that you can keep spiraling around and weaving everything back to so that, over time, they come to appreciate the depth and complexity behind the idea more and more. 

A message is something you can become known for. 

A message is something that will help attract the right people (who are also passionate about that message).

A message will help you find hubs (who also work to promote that message).

But a message alone won’t sell anything. You can’t just print it on your business cards and your website.

For a message to be alive you need to find constantly new ways to express and explore it.

Expression without a message is just noise.

A message without expression is just an idea.

But not just expressed by talking about it – expressed in the design of your website, in the names you give to products and services, in how you dress, your logo, your pricing. Ideally, though likely impossibly, everything you do should be expressing your message.

I’d welcome any thoughts , wisdom and reflections you have on this at this point in the comment box below. 

Attracting More Customers with Your Story

schuyler Attracting More Customers with Your StorySchuyler Kaye (pictured here) was a participant of my January, 2013 Niching for Hippies course. During and after the course, I heard him speak about his work in helping people uncover their story and using that in marketing. Then I heard he was leading a course on it so I thought I’d help him spread the word but also do an interview with him about it.

In my experience, story is everything in marketing. It’s both the means and the ends. Understanding our story and the journey we’ve been through helps us figure out so much about our business, our niche and what we have to offer. Sharing our story helps potential clients really feel into whether or not it’s a fit for them.

You can find out more about his free webinar, Attracting More Customers with Your Story, when you click here

It’s tailored specifically for small business owners whose online efforts aren’t attracting new or the “right” customer. If you have trouble answering your customers when they ask “why you?” If you’d like to get more warm leads from your online presence and if you wish your website could filter the “right” customers from the ones who aren’t . . . this will be worth your time.

He’s also leading a full seven-week course which starts May 14th, 2013 and you can check out here. There are only 16 spaces available. It’s really worth reading his sales letter just for some education on a great sales letter.

This isn’t an affiliate deal. I don’t make any money from spreading the word on it.

Why story? More and more people are talking about the importance of storytelling in marketing – what’s your take on why this matters?

Oh wow, this is a loaded question. I could tell you a lot of things like… how human brains are hard wired to quickly understand and remember stories. 

Or I could even mention how stories tap into the emotional side of the brain, which essentially determines whether someone wants to buy or not.

But the truth is that marketing is generally… boring. It’s boring because, in most cases, it talks above, around, or through the audience rather than to the audience. Are you offering a solution without witnessing the problem? Are you speaking in terms your customer can relate to?

From the time of villagers sitting around the fire, stories are what have led people to move toward their vision.  Stories work because they are NOT boring… to the right people. 

When you use stories in your marketing you allow your customers to experience the need you’re trying to solve in a way that is easily understood and memorable. It is also safe because it creates enough distance between your reader and their problem that they are able to see it from an objective point of view. 

(Easily understood + memorable) * safety = a warm lead 

Why is telling our own story helpful for marketing? Can you give three real life mini examples of clients or people you know who had stories relevant to their work?

I’ll be blunt… chances are you’re not the only one offering a solution to the problem. And with a computer and Wi-Fi access, your customer can probably find a number of those other solutions. So what’s going to separate you from them?

The answer is You. 

Telling your own story accomplishes three things when talking to your audience. 

  1. Communicates the purpose or the “why” you do what you do. 
  2. Establishes credibility that is not dependent on being first or better than your competition.
  3. Builds trust that you can help them solve their problem.

Tad, I think your story is a great example to start with (I’ll paraphrase):

You started out as a hippie that loved marketing. The journey of becoming a better marketer created a struggle between the love you wanted to share in your heart and the inauthentic or contrived approaches traditional marketers were teaching.

This led you to find ways of marketing that felt good to your heart and included working with the people you loved most in the world… other hippies. Now you help hippies all over market their products and services in a way that feels true to their roots.

Here is a recent client story:

My client’s mom was a very successful doctor, and it was always expected that she become a doctor too. The trouble was that she didn’t want to be a traditional doctor and so the internal struggle of balancing her own and others’ expectations began.

She spent years learning everything from psychology to hypnotherapy to help her deal with this inner struggle until she found her solution. Now she is a “doctor” who solves problems of a different kind by helping others who want to find joy but struggle with expectations.

A part of my own story:

I spent a great deal of my life achieving approval by modifying my image to gain acceptance from those around me. Those skills were invaluable in marketing my first business right up until the point when they weren’t. That’s when the struggle of surviving and changing with the whims of my customers and competitors became overwhelming. 

With my experience with storytelling in business, spiritual practices, and a willingness to look inward for my answers, I found a heart-centered branding solution that worked for me… and now I work with other small business owners to help them through that same transformation process.

You went through my Niching for Hippies program where we did a lot of exploring around this notion that your deepest wound is often a doorway to your truest niche. What’s your personal take on this? Is there anything you’d add or amend to that notion?

Definitely. I spend time exploring wounds in my course on “Attracting customers with your story” for a very similar reason.  

Who would you trust to help you with a problem? Someone who is certified to help you …or someone who has lived the problem and found a solution?

Your story of how you struggled with and solved the problem that you now help others with is the perfect way to share that experience with your customers in a way they can understand, remember and relate to.

If I were going to add anything to this concept it would be that it is also helpful to look at your early accomplishments. They can be windows to your niche since many times they are what reinforce your beliefs and expectations. 

What’s the connection between our story and our niche? 

You are sharing your story to help your customers determine that you can provide the right solution for them. 

In that way they work together. As you understand your niche, you are able to share the stories from your life that better serve your customers. Just as when you explore your story, you will find it can help you self-select your niche.

It seems like finding your story is also a sort of integrity and safety mechanism. Like, if you haven’t achieved a particular result, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching others about how to do it? Would you agree?

Yes I do agree, but more so for you than your customer. Let me explain with a story.

I remember being excited with all the possibilities that were in front of me. I had just left the company I worked for and was going to venture out to make a difference in the world. The trouble was… I didn’t know what difference I wanted to make.

A buddy of mine had an idea to create a web service that helped restaurants schedule their employees. It seemed like a great idea, and so I decided to join him in bringing the product to market. I found that marketing a service I didn’t use to an audience I wasn’t part of wasn’t the best business for me… 

My story never had a restaurant in it… the closest I got to working for a restaurant was helping them remove the food they put on my plate… by eating it. The trouble wasn’t that our solution didn’t work… it worked great. The issue was that I was out of integrity to my purpose, which left me unmotivated and wanting more.

I enjoyed working with my buddy… but I was still searching for the difference I wanted to make.

For me, finding my story actually created clarity around what I feel is my purpose. I guess I would call it less of a safety mechanism and more of a compass to guide me through the wilderness.

I’d also caution people with the word “result”. When I hear “result” it can sound like a destination, but in many cases it is really just part of the journey.

Do you have to have everything figured out in order to be able to help people? I don’t think so… you just have to be further along the path than they are.

You speak about five steps to your process. Can you walk us through them in case study of a client you’ve worked with?

Absolutely, I’ll use the same client above and share snippets of her story to add clarity. She helps adults living in NYC, who believe that life should be fun, but struggle with perfectionism, anxiety, frustration and stress.

1. Natural Authority: Your ability to do what you do comes from many aspects of your life beyond your business. Knowing those aspects is the first step to shift from comparison to story.

With a doctor and an engineer for parents, it wasn’t hard to see how she became a problem solver who wanted to help people.  The expectation for her to become a traditional doctor landed her in an internal struggle between her parents’ expectations and what her heart desired.

Notice how this sets the stage showing how she was groomed to help those struggling with perfectionism. Next she shares her journey to finding a solution…

2. Point of View: Knowing how to apply your natural authority to help your customers solve their problems will complete the shift. It will build trust with your customers. They will know that you understand what they’re going through and there is a solution.

She moved to Israel to study Psychology where she became aware that her issue was created in her mind; yet knowing it wasn’t enough to solve it.

Frustrated in her first attempt she tried yoga, meditation, energy healing, nutrition, all the body sciences, and about the body-mind connection at one of Tel-Aviv’s holistic colleges; yet doing wasn’t enough to solve it either.

She then spent the next 11 years learning everything from life coaching to Neuro-Linguistic Programming but it wasn’t until she became a board certified hypnotherapist and Past Life Regression practitioner that it all came together.

Finally, after years of pursuing freedom from the pressures to become something she wasn’t, she had found a solution that worked fully… it was a combination of knowing, doing, and working with the subconscious mind. 

Observe her point of view coming together… This part of the story shows her audience that she’s been through this before and come out the other side. It also tells about how she sees the solution coming together… “The combination of knowing, doing, and working with the subconscious mind.”

3. Reputation: Most people don’t want to be the first to cross a possibly rickety bridge. Sharing your external credibility in the right way can help build confidence that your bridge is safe. 

In her story you can see supporting external credibility in the schools she’s gone to, the years she’s been working, the certifications she has, etc. They show her customers that other people are verifying her ability to help them with this problem. 

4. Icebreakers: You can encourage your customers to begin a relationship with you by sharing some personal icebreakers. 

She works with the Brooklyn Animal Shelter to help heal cats so that they’re ready for adoption. She loves photography and walking barefoot when the sun’s out.

By sharing some personal details she has created an opportunity for people to know who she is and not only what she does… This reminds her customers that she is human too, not a business just trying to sell them something.

5. Audience: It’s your story, but it’s about your audience. Recognize how to get their attention, and remember what they need from you. It will make the difference between having them read your story — or not.

Note that these excerpts from her story are told because they answer questions that her customers might have… like: “Why should I pick you?” and “How do I know your solution works for me?”

Pick me because I’ve been through this before and have found a solution. I have certifications and experience that support and validate my story and life experiences that have prepared me to solve this problem.

What are the surprising benefits that people might not expect when they really begin to explore their own story?

I think my client above may have said it best:

“This course exceeded my expectations. I thought I would end up with a story on my “about me” page, and ended up with a whole new clarity about my purpose and the clients I wanted to work with.” 

I found that to be my experience as well. The process aligned my business with my heart… my purpose. That brought so much clarity to who my customer is, what I have to offer them, and created more compassion and understanding for what my customers are going through. 

Here’s some info on Schuyler’s upcoming courses.

Attracting More Customers with Your Story

Tailored specifically for small business owners whose online efforts aren’t attracting new or the “right” customers.

  1. Have trouble answering your customers when they ask “why you?”
  2. Would you like to get more warm leads from your online presence?
  3. Do you wish your website could filter the “right” customers from the ones who aren’t?

If you feel a resounding “yes” to these questions, then here are two opportunities starting at free that you’ll want to check out:

No-Cost Webinar see the details here:

http://www.t4execs.com/attracting-more-customers-with-your-story/no-cost-webinar

Full seven-week course see the details here:

http://www.t4execs.com/attracting-more-customers-with-your-story

A Bit About Schuyler: Hi, I’m Schuyler Kaye. I help small business owners who want to make a difference and need to attract more customers through their online presence. I’ve been in the business of branding since I decided being a short, fat, nerdy high schooler wasn’t the way to start college. My experiences during my graduate work at Stanford University in conjunction with marketing my first business led to my heart-centered branding program. I love to travel, dance, play guitar, and eat more green chile than is generally advisable. For more info on my work: www.t4execs.com