Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home Retreat

Russell Touched Up 1 Sales Letter Case Study: The Coming Home RetreatWriting sales letters is hard. 

I wrote a whole blog post on my thoughts on how to do it in a warmer and yet still effective way years ago called Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies. So, I’ve got opinions but there’s no denying that writing a good sales letter is one of the toughest nuts to crack in any business. A sales letter is the dojo of the marketing world. It’s where you find out exactly how clear you are or not. The best resource I’ve come across on how to write a good sales letter is by Carrie Klassen and it’s called Selling Sweetly

Writing a sales letter is especially hard when you’re writing it around very personal issues such as spirituality. How can selling spirituality not feel gross?

And yet, if you run these kinds of retreats (and it’s where your income comes from) it’s only fair you articulate what it is you’re doing. 

But how?

This was the conundrum of a colleague and dear friend, Russell Scott (the handsome rogue pictured here) who I recently worked with to reword his sales letter. Here’s what he had to say about the process: “I wrote a sales letter based on a copying template I had downloaded from another coach but I just couldn’t get it right. It was awkward. In some sections it was too clinical in some it got far too personal. I was totally stuck in getting it right. I gave what I’d written to Tad and he worked it over. When I read how he had re-written it I literally cried. The whole sales letter had come alive! It was as if Tad had reached into my heart and translated into words all the compassion, care and understanding I have for the people I serve and put it on paper.” 

So, what I’d like to do is walk you through the sales letter with my commentary and show you what I came up with as an alternative that Russell loved so much. I should qualify that this was done in a couple of hours and that there is likely much more that could be done by far better copy writers than I to make this sales letter sing. But I am pretty happy with what came out. 

Coming Home

-an enlightenment intensive -

So, right away, I don’t like the phrase ‘enlightenment intensive’. It sounds like it’s promising enlightenment. Which sounds like hype. 

Ending the search.  Living a deeper life.

Ending the search? That for sure sounds like hype. Like one weekend is going to end a search humanity has been on since time immemorial? Sounds too good to be true – and therefore untrue.

A lot of people secretly wish that they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of.

Meh. This sounds ok. But a bit generic to me. It sounds like a set up for a pitch.

If they could, they’d feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They’d would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

Generic promise. I’m already not feeling much of Russell’s wonderful personality.

But right now, you walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. At the end of the week, you stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. You don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Yet something deep inside is calling your true self to come out and play but you’re trapped in the social way you are supposed to be. You’ve come to the conclusion you don’t know the one that’s been living your life. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. You hide it well but it’s deep…slowly eating your soul.

Here’s where I start to pull back even more. It feels like a bit of an assault. A pitch. It’s trying to be empathetic and yet I feel defensive. I feel like I’m being set up. I don’t identify with everything I’m reading. I find myself leaning away. And part of this comes from the fact that he’s speaking directly to me. He’s saying ‘you’. Which is, ironically, how we’re taught to write sales letters. Speak directly to the other person. We’re admonished, wisely I think, to remember that every sales letter we write will be read one person at a time. So, we should be writing it to our ideal clients and no one else. Sales letters aren’t read by ‘the masses’. They’re read by individuals. So, let’s write to them. Fine so far. But it’s a very modern conception of sales and communication with others to imagine that every conversation with someone should be talking directly to them using ‘you’. We forget that, since time immemorial, humans have best communicated with stories. In a story, people can identify with the parts they do, and leave the rest. A story doesn’t get your hackles up. A story doesn’t make you defensive because it’s not about you. But, in a sales letter or video when we start saying, ‘Do you ever struggle with…’ it can trigger people’s shame around those issues and also ignore how vulnerable they might feel about the issue. It forces them to confront something they may not be ready to confront. 

You’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they don’t do the trick. They actually make you more confused. The hype hurts. Maybe you’ve explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Maybe you have tried a religious path for awhile. You’ve gotten calmer and more relaxed but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened. (you’ve been told it takes a long time). Or maybe the whole guru/student thing gives you a rash so you’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But you’ve gotten lost and alone.

This might all feel true enough but it also feels like it’s setting me up for the pitch, ‘and this will be the thing to finally solve all of your issues’. 

What you really need to do is give up.

This sounds flip and condescending. He’s already telling me what to do? How the hell does he know? It seems like he’s being clever with his language on an issue that isn’t ‘fun’ for me.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the ridiculous idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That’s just another belief to trap you.

Intellectually, I get where he’s going but I’m feeling a bit offended by the tone. Like it’s so easy. 

I know what it’s like

That sounds salesy come out of the set up I just went through. A bit too formulaic. 

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library. I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. My head I was so much in the clouds I was no earthly good.

Again, that sounds clever. Like something he’s said a lot of times. It’s kind of funny. But the issue we’re talking about doesn’t feel funny to me when I’m the one suffering. 

I just got more confused about myself and life. One day I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself.

I’m feeling connected.

It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life.

And now the sales pitch.

I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am!

Every day? Every. Single. Day? He’s enlightened now? This sounds hyped up.

I trained in this method called the Enlightenment Intensive. Since then I changed the name of the retreat to Coming Home and have mastered over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Whoa! That’s a lot of retreats! Maybe the man has something to say.

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is an accelerated process of transformation that takes you to the pinnacle of self-actualization –the direct consciousness of your true Self and Life! 

Pet peeve. Exclamation marks. I hate these in sales letters. Imagine you get three of these that you ever get to use in any sales letter for the rest of your life. Ever. All too often, they trigger hype. Mostly, I  suggest people cut them out entirely.

Second thing, this claim sounds like hype. Big time. This sounds like some flavour of the month spiritual technique.

This illumination is simple, obvious and indisputable, enveloping you with sense of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness.

Obvious and indisputable? Indisputable? This sounds like he’s not very open to feedback or dispute. And it sounds like a generic, new age pitch.

It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself. 

I do like the idea of coming home. That sounds lovely.

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

I like the specifics. Though there’s an abrupt tone shift from salesy to academic here that’s a bit jarring. But it’s nice to finally get to the nuts and bolts of this. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you.

That actually kind of makes sense. I like it. Tell me more.

You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy taught. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance. It is not psychotherapy.

I like this. 

In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days you can spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of your true self!

Bah! Another huge claim that sounds inflated. And an exclamation mark. Grrr. My trust drops. 

Awakening

This phenomenon in the west has been called by Abraham Maslow “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques.

Not sold. Sounds like a vague attempt to rationalize hyped up new age bullshit.

When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. Self-realization usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. You no longer have to spend months, years or even a lifetime to awaken. 

It’s promising I’m going to awaken. Blurgh.

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

Yes. That’s what it sounds like you’re saying. I’m glad you’re self aware enough to see that.

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life.

What? You said you had this experience every day. This now seems like the bait and switch. I’m feeling lied to a bit. 

What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. Coming home to your true self is the most precious gift you can ever give to yourself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world!

Exclamation mark. Vague platitudes. Interest fading fast. 

 “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart can not save this sales letter right now. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

That all feels a bit vague. 

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

Again, a bit vague to me.

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

Good question!

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? There is a paradox here: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

I love that phrase. 

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy.

That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

That actually makes sense to me. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self.

That is indeed credibility building.

I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years.

Humility is nice. And credibility is building.

Why spend any longer being blocked?

That sounds dismissive of how much I’m suffering.

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

Now I’m so confused with what he means by enlightenment. How is he defining this?

Awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over.

Wait. So you’re just offering me a taste of who I am? I’ve had some ‘peak moments’ before. Is this just another one? What happens when I come down from the mountain top and get lost in the valley again?

Then the next project is to start living from the real you.

Ah. That makes sense.

That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

Very curious what advice he’d offer here. 

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family

 Something about the bullet points here feels salesy but enough are specific enough (especially the last two) that these could really help me figure out if it’s a fit. 

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat. 

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.

I like this. That feels personalized. I like that he says ‘no subtle sales techniques’. Huge building of trust. 

 

- END OF SALES LETTER #1 - 

 

So,that was what Russell sent me. Here’s what I sent him back as a rewrite. He’s made a few changes since.

Coming Home

Ending the search. Living a deeper life.

with 

Russell Scott

If you’re reading this, you already know something: life is hard. 

I wanted to start with the truest thing I knew that might resonate with the place Russell’s people are in.

It’s full of beauty and wonderful things – but it’s also full of heartbreak.

Life feeds us but it can also break us.

So, how do we deal with it?

I wanted to acknowledge the complexity of life and the experience of the person reading it. 

In truth, I don’t completely know. But I can share what I’ve discovered in the hopes it will be useful.

For me, when people admit they don’t know everything, it’s so credibility building. I trust them more. And it’s such an ‘anti-sales’ thing to say. I felt like his first letter simplified things too much. I wanted to complicate it a bit and bring more openness to it. 

It’s not an answer but a paradox I want to invite you to sit with as you read this (we’ll come back to it later): You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone.

This is an old story telling trick of starting a story and then starting another story inside of that story while promising to come back to it. It grabs people in a bit closer. It’s a nice hook. Bring something provocative or compelling up as a tease and promise to get back to it later. 

If you’re reading this, then my guess is that you have been broken a down a little or a lot by life (maybe slowly over years or maybe all at once) to a point where you know you need to dig deeper. But there’s a good chance you feel lost as to how to go about that.

To me the key phrase is here is ‘my guess’. Not making assumptions.

And I’d like to talk about a different path to spiritual growth you may not have tried (or even considered). And to invite you to come to a retreat that’s coming up soon. 

This is the beauty of being direct. The other sales letter didn’t directly say it was about the retreat until the end. Be direct. Tell them that you’ve got something to offer and that you’re going to make your best case for it to help them figure out if it might be a fit for them.

A lot of people I speak with secretly wish they could let go of the pressures of living in the rat race and come home to a deeper peace… the kind that many of the great spiritual teachers of the ages have spoken of. They want to feel more alive, happy, inspired and fully engaged with others. They would feel a sense of harmony with life and be a lot freer to totally be themselves.

But right now, they walk, talk, sit, drive, work, buy, eat, sleep and dream in an endless daily cycle. 

At the end of the week, they may stare into the TV wondering “is there more than this perpetual treadmill?” and ask “What am I obviously missing here?” There’s restlessness like something is shifting or fragmenting. They don’t know what it is or what needs to change or even if it’s a good thing. Something deep inside is calling their true self to come out and play but they feel trapped in the way they are socially supposed to be. 

This is the exact same as the words above, but I changed it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. It’s more a story now. It’s less an accusation or pitch and it’s more of him relating what he’s experienced. 

Some of them tell me that they’ve come to the conclusion that they don’t know the one that’s been living their life. They just have no idea. Sometimes the emptiness is downright painful. Most of them hide it well (some very well and you’d never guess) but it’s deep…slowly eating their soul.

As Stephen Jenkinson said, “It’s in the nature of being human to forget how to be one on occasion.” But what happens when we forget for a long time? And how do we remember. Many of the people I have worked with are in the midst of the forgetting and don’t know how to get on track.

I wanted to seed the idea that we forget and that remembering is important. 

And it’s not for a lack of trying. 

They’ve tried the latest self-help books and videos about affirmations, positive thinking and “the secrets” but they didn’t do the trick. They actually made them more confused. The hype hurts. Some have explored the “isms” and different philosophies, crystals, chakras, gone to healers, etc.  Some have tried a religious path for awhile. For most, it’s helped them become calmer and more relaxed… but the big promised “aha” just hasn’t happened (they’ve been told it takes a long time). 

Again, I switched it from ‘you’ to ‘they’. No need for the reader to get defensive. 

And, for many of them, the whole guru/student thing gives them a rash so they’ve tried being an independent non-follower for awhile. But they’ve gotten lost and the truth is that the solitary approach feels incredibly lonely.

It’s not just that they’re alone. It’s that it feels lonely. It’s vital to remember that we’re talking to human beings. Their problems are not mechanical. They are deeply felt. I’ve written about this extensively in my blog post Empathy in Marketing

I’m guessing that, in some way, you can relate to this.

Again, guessing. Not stating definitely. Just supposing. This lets the reader confirm that it’s true. 

And if you can, this is what I want to say to you: What you really need to do is give up.

That’s right…give up trying to find the answers on the outside. These are just ideas, thoughts and concepts. They are in the head. They are like a menu. They are not the food. You need to take a 180 degree turn away from books and find a proven technique that will help you experience the truth for yourself. And let go of the idea that awakening takes a lifetime. That might just be another belief to become trapped in.

I left  this in because it didn’t feeling quite as abrupt and insensitive with a more sensitive intro. Reading it now, I’d probably still want to rework this. 

I know what it’s like…

In my twenties I spent 10 years exploring every religion under the sun and reading so many books I could have started my own library.

And I learned something very important – that the easiest way to avoid meditation… is to read books about meditation. A wise Hawai’ian Kahuna once said, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

This felt like another important premise to seed. The difference between theory and experience. He’s offering an experiential retreat. This distinction needs to be crystal clear. 

I sat at the feet of so many gurus and instead of finding peace I got athletes foot. I was so much in my head I was no earthly good. I just got more confused about myself and life. One day, I decided I didn’t really know anything and decided to find the truth for myself. It was then I discovered a method of self-inquiry that changed my life. I broke through my lonely shell and experienced the magnificence of my true self. Everyday I experience the greatest gift in life… being who I really am. I trained in this method (called the Enlightenment Intensive). Since then I changed the name of the retreat to something that felt more true to what my experience of it was: ‘Coming Home’ and have led over 65 retreats over the past 30 years.

Coming Home

What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is a simple but beautiful process that weaves together community and inner contemplation to bring you back to an experience of wholeness, completeness, peace and lightness. It’s like coming home after you have been lost for many years… only you come home to yourself.  

“community and inner contemplation” seemed like a simple way to put it. 

The East/West Approach

Using a self-inquiry format inspired by Zen-style contemplation on a key question such as; “who am I?” or “what is life? combined with a paired communication structure drawn from relational psychology you silently contemplate your question and then communicate the result of your investigation to a listening partner. You alternate speaking and listening every 5 minutes. Every 40 minutes you work with a different person or go on a silent walk. Meals, snack, exercise and rest are interspersed in the schedule.

It sounds so simple. But, I think that’s why it works so well. 

If you know that something you’re saying sound ‘too simple’ acknowledge that immediately. A good sales letter should read like a dialogue where you are making statements and then anticipating their responses and respond to them. A good sales letter is a wonderful experience where you find yourself constantly saying to yourself, ‘Yes. I was wondering that.’

“It’s like I did ten years of meditation in 3 days.”

Beth Clark, Kingston

Testimonials. These add so much credibility to this letter. If you say it, it could be hype. If someone else says it? Much more credible. 

The Structure

Within the structure there are agreements of non-interruption, non-judgement and deep listening that help you bypass the subtle influences of “normal” relating that have socialized you to deny what is true for you. You connect deeply to yourself and others and let go of layers of false beliefs and experiences that have imprisoned you in years of suffering. There are no religious ideas, dogma or philosophy to be learned. You learn and practice the technique and I give you guidance (if you need it). It is not psychotherapy. In a renewed space of openness, within 3 1/2 days many people (more than you might think just reading this) spontaneously awaken to the magnificence of their true self. Or that’s how I’d describe it. 

“Or that’s how I’d describe it.” Again. Taking the pressure out of it. Just sharing his experience rather than saying, ‘this is the truth’. More like, ‘this is how I see it’. 

What I see when I work with people is their eyes widening, broad smiles, tears of joy and their bodies melting as the thousand stresses caused by the expectations of who they think they need to be evaporate from their bodies. 

This is using the senses. When you’re describing the result you offer, paint me a picture. Help me see it. Help me hear it, taste it, touch it, feel it. Use all five senses. 

“Words are so inadequate when I try to describe the immense gratitude I feel. I am now moving through my life with new eyes, new ears, and a new voice; and feeling so much more peaceful, alive, and present in this world. Thank you for holding the retreat space in such a patient, gentle, loving, and compassionate way.” Sekoiaa Lake, Peterborough, On

To be honest, I’m not sure I understand it still. But maybe that’s the point. Some things aren’t meant to be understood. Some things can only be experienced and lose everything in the translation. 

Russell is a humble fellow. And I wanted that to come through. Admit that you don’t understand everything. Admit your limits. Admit your faults. And watch people lean in and trust you more. 

Again, ‘The shadow side of knowledge isn’t ignorance. It’s theory.’

If you have a core message that is central to your offer, bring it back again and again – make it a familiar refrain you return to. This message of knowledge vs. theory is vital to his workshops. If people don’t buy that idea, they won’t buy his retreat. 

I think what most of us need isn’t more theory. What we need is a dedicated space where we can be supported in doing the one thing we need most – go within. As the old saying goes, ‘if you don’t go within, you go without.’ And it’s the one thing we don’t actually do enough of. We think about it. We read about it. We talk about it. But when we sit down to do it, we get bored, lost or lose steam. We have to do it ourselves but, in reality, it’s hard to do it alone.

This is where I hit people a bit harder. More directly. I’m driving the point home and framing the foundational assumption and premise upon which this retreat is built. In Russell’s first letter, this premise is implicit. But sometimes you need to make these things explicit. Often times, we don’t even realize what the premises are; we don’t understand the point of view upon which our work is based. But a clear point of view is one of the key elements of people figuring out if we’re a fit for them or not. 

In my experience, we all have this internal compass, this part of us that knows the truth (and even more so, is the truth). And what’s causing so much of our suffering in our lives is the inconsistency between the will of our soul and the will of our personality. We need to bring the former out. As it says in the Gospel of Matthew, ‘That which you bring forth will save you. That which you do not bring forth will destroy you.’ And for many people, that experience of destruction is all too real. 

Awakening

But here’s my best take at explaining it: This phenomenon of ‘coming home’ in the west has been called, by Abraham Maslow, “Unitive consciousness” or “Self-transcendence”. In eastern traditions it is labelled as awakening, enlightenment, illumination, self-realization, cosmic consciousness or satori. Just as technology has advanced in modern times, so too have spiritual and transformation techniques. When safe communication structure is added to the eastern method of contemplation, the results are remarkable. That moment of ‘coming home’ usually occurs to 30-90% of participants. Many of them are caught off guard and amazed at no longer having to spend months, years or even a lifetime to have that moment of ‘awakening’.

Here I make sure to frame it as a ‘moment’ of awakening so it doesn’t seem like a bait and switch later. 

Eckhart Tolle says this about awakening; “When you know who you truly are there is an abiding alive sense of peace. You could call it joy because that’s what joy is: vibrantly alive peace. It is the joy of knowing yourself as the very life essence before life takes on form. That is the joy of Being, of being who you truly are.”

Is this just another “You’ll be happy for the rest of your life” thing?

To be realistic, awakening does not mean that you will no longer have any problems or you will be in a state of bliss or happiness for the rest of your life. What it does mean is that you will be living the rest of your life more from the inner strength of your real self and less from the insecurity of a social personality. You will be more able face and transform the obstacles of your life into valuable growth experiences and achieve the kind of success in life defined by who you really are, not others. 

For me it’s this: Coming home to my true self (the real experience of it in my body not the theory of it) is the most precious gift I have ever given to myself. And because we all want to relate to others who are real, you are the best gift you can give to the world. 

After a Coming Home retreat participants commonly report feeling:

  • More authentic
  • Peace, contentment and lightness permeating their body
  • Totally embodied as if they have finally come home to themselves
  • Loving-kindness towards themselves and others
  • Greater self-acceptance
  • Psychologically whole
  • More inner strength and inner resolve
  • Freer to express themselves around others
  • Improved intuitive ability
  • Enhanced and balanced energy levels

“Within one year of the retreat I left my business and took a chance on a new career…money is not important, nor is status. What is important is the feeling that I am now doing what I was originally meant to do with my life!” Mel Steiner -Toronto

Participants also commonly report having greater capacity to:

  • Be open and authentic in relationships
  • Persist and accomplish personal goals
  • Face and overcome problems and difficulties
  • Fully experience love, joy and happiness
  • Understand the deeper truths in traditional philosophy and religion
  • Achieve greater mutual understanding with others 
  • Be assertive and communicate their needs
  • Find meaning, inspiration and insight in daily living
  • Make rapid progress in their personal and spiritual growth

“I discovered a bond linking myself with others, that we are all beings trapped within our minds trying to communicate our fears and need for love. I am becoming more loving, more real, more open, truthful and trustworthy” Doug Tyler -Toronto

Why can’t I just do this on my own?

This question can be answered with another question. If you were able to do this alone how come you are still searching? 

And we’re back to the paradox: You have to do this by yourself but you don’t do it alone. 

Aaaaannd we’ve brought it back. Remember that piece I teased earlier?

There is a great power in coming to together as a group. The energy of the group is more than the sum of everyone’s individual energy. That energy propels you to make much greater progress than doing this on your own within the ongoing distractions in life. 

But more importantly I’ve been guiding people for over 30 years on this journey to self. I’ve been up every blind alley there is and helped thousands of people in a very short time get through barriers they have struggled with by themselves for years. 

You’ve got to be kidding…enlightenment in 3 ½ days?

I would define awakening is the “direct experience of the way you actually are”. This is my belief (as well as the experience of myself and many others): You can come to the same awareness that many of the great spiritual teachers have had. After all they were ordinary folks just like you. The difference is that people like Buddha spent many years in meditation deepening and ripening their awakening to total enlightenment.  

So once you experience your true self, that’s it. The search is over. Then the next project is to start living from the real you. That will continue to deepen what you have come to know. You will be given instructions on how to do this on the last day of the retreat.

But the first step is to find it. And, for most of us, that’s been a very hard first step. After all, many of us have spent a lifetime losing ourselves and being misled.

Step One: come home. This doesn’t need to take as long as many think.

Step Two: live in that home. This is a lifetime practice. This is where your life becomes a work of art, an ongoing practice of deepening and expressing who we are in the world.

Again, I didn’t want it to get lost that there were two steps here. 

As the old African proverb goes: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it.”

Is there any support for me after the retreat when I meet the challenges of my life?

It’s quite common after any spiritual or personal development program for the retreat “high” to fade, after a few days or weeks. People are in a more open space and see life more clearly They can have difficulty bringing their new breakthroughs into their lives where their family, friends and work are still the same. All too often people are sent home after other retreats with little guidance and support. 

This is not the case with Coming Home.

The main self inquiry practice in the retreat ends usually on a Sunday evening. In the next half day you are re-introduced to your normal way of relating to others. You are made aware of the challenges you may face and given strategies to deal with them. You then “graduate” into the Enlifenment Program that is designed to help you live in a deeper connection to your true self. (as in step 2 above).

This program includes a guided meditation CD, two follow-up mentorship from me calls a month apart, a six week program of self-inquiry exercises paired with a fellow participant and 2 one or two day re-connection seminars through-out the next year. I am also available for one-to-one sessions (at an addition cost) for anyone that needs this. 

You can choose to become part of a non-dogmatic community of true spiritual friends who have shared deeply in your profound transformation journey. Once again, you have to do this by yourself but now you don’t have to do this alone.

Who the retreat is for?

  • You are looking back on your life and wondering what it is all about?
  • You are feeling empty and you are asking “who am I really?”
  • There’s a sense of meaningless about life.
  • You’ve been on a spiritual path for a long time and never had the big“AHA”
  • You are a seeker and not interested in following a religion or taking on more beliefs
  • You are able to take 4 days away from your job and family
  • You resonate with what you’ve read here so far and feel open to exploring the process for yourself. 
  • You resonate with the idea that, deep down, we know (or are) the truth. We just often need support in finding it.

Are there any pre-requisites to take the retreat?

If you have not done the retreat before I ask that people set-up a 10-15 minutes orientation interview with me. Together we will explore where you are at in your life and what you want from the retreat.

I’ll explain the schedule, the guidelines and the self-inquiry technique used. I’ll go over any concerns you have about diet, accommodation and health challenges you may have and then you can decide if the retreat is a fit for you. There are no subtle sales techniques. I only want people on Coming Home who are right for it. It makes for a better retreat for everyone.  

 

- END OF SALES LETTER #2 - 

 

So, that’s it. That’s my quick ‘redo’ of a sales letter to make it less salesy and more reflective of the wonderful man Russell Scott is. He’s one of the kindest, most unassuming, gentle and clear fellows I’ve ever met. You’d be hard pressed to find better as a mentor and support in your inner growth. You can learn more about him and his wonderful work (which I have directly experienced and can attest to) here: www.truesourceseminars.com 

Guest Post: How To Make Your “About Me” Page Irresistible

My Story Guest Post: How To Make Your “About Me” Page Irresistibleby Schuyler Kaye

You’ve probably heard how important it is to have an awesome “about me” page. As the saying goes people buy you, not the product or service. Yet it can be one of the most difficult pages to write.

I mean how do you capture “you” on a single page? 

And even if you could capture “you,” what if people don’t like it?

Many “about me” pages try to be something they’re not… 

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face as I pulled off my rollerblades. I’d just been on a fantastic first date and was sitting on cloud 29 as a result. (That’s 20 clouds higher than cloud 9!) It lasted for about a week until I realized she wasn’t going to return my calls. 

Unsure of what happened, I asked my friends for advice… It was decided that I wore my heart on my sleeve, and I needed to keep her guessing about what I felt. And so I learned the dating game, when to show I cared and when to pretend I didn’t.

It totally worked! I got called back. I went on more dates. Soon she wanted to be in a committed relationship… only something was off. I was exhausted always trying to figure out when I was allowed to care – constantly worried that if I stopped this game, she’d lose interest.

What pressures or expectations do you feel influence your “about me” page?

Should you be professional? 

Do you need to stick to the facts and credentials? 

Maybe you feel bashful and so you try to be overly modest? 

Is there pressure to share everything or to remain a mystery?

Are you worried you might scare off your customers if you share the personal hippy side of you? 

I’ll be honest. Chances are if you show up with a personal story, there will be people who decide they don’t want to work with you. But don’t worry! They’ll be the unhappy customers that you can’t seem to please and leave you feeling drained.

Help your customers decide early on if you’re the right fit

You know things didn’t work out with that girl I was dating. In truth all the games did was make it take longer to realize we weren’t a fit. You can only pretend to be something else for so long…

Years later after repeating this process many times, I decided to take a chance. I dropped the games and sure, I tasted rejection again… But soon enough, I found myself in a positive healthy relationship for the first time.

By sharing your hippy story on your “about me” page, you might lose the interest of some people, but you’ll naturally become irresistible to the people who will LOVE working with you.

Pick the story that best shows off your unique hippy-ness

Step 1: Identify the “why” of your life. To make it simpler, here are some categories of what you might value:

  • A sense of excitement, adventure, or just plain ol’ fun?
  • How about a realization of a long-standing belief or conviction?
  • Maybe it’s a better understanding of who you are or what you want in life?
  • Is it love, friendship, some kind of companionship?
  • Or to receive healing, balance, happiness, peace or freedom from something in your life?

Example: I’ve always envied people who knew what they were meant to do… my life has been a constant search for that sense of knowing and belonging to a purpose that engaged my heart.

 

Step 2: Think of a story in your life that has prepared you to make the world better with work you do. Then use it to introduce yourself to your customers through your “About Me” page. The following questions will help you think of a story that resonates with the core values you identified in the first step.

  • How did you decide to do the work you do?
  • How did you overcome the problem you solve for your customers?
  • If you could be known for just one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
  • What’s your greatest challenge or accomplishment? How’d it play out?

Example: I’ve been in the shoes of my customers, and I found a way out… here’s the story of how it went down.

 

I’d recently broken up with the Fortune 100 Company that I worked at for 6 years and was “dating” five different business ideas at the same time… Unable to be successful at any of them because I was unable to meet the expectations of all of them, I found myself lost and depressed.

Having no choice, I explored my own life with reckless abandon to find a way to leave the expectations of others behind and discover my own path. 

Uncovering my story revealed my purpose, and that clarity has effortlessly guided me since. Now I apply what I learned to guide small business owners in finding a brand that feels authentic to their hearts and is effective at attracting the right customers with their online presence.

If you want an “about me” page that’s irresistible to the customers you love, then share the story of “why” you do your “hippy” work.

Want to take your story to the next level?

Sign up for this no-cost learning series on how to attract more customers with your “about me” page beginning on September 24.

 

Schuyler Headshot Guest Post: How To Make Your “About Me” Page IrresistibleBio: I help small business owners who want to make a difference, and need to attract more customers with their online presence. You see 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.  After leaving a Fortune 100 Company, I found myself “dating” numerous business ideas at the same time hoping one would uncover my passion and grant the freedom of any lifestyle I chose. It didn’t work… In truth it was uncovering my story that revealed my purpose, and that clarity has effortlessly guided my business since (purposecompass.org). Now I help others use their story to build a business they love and that attracts the right customers.

40 minute video interview on authentic marketing with nash ryker

The other day I did a forty minute video interview with Nash Ryker of http://yourepicdestinytv.com/.

We got to talk about some new ideas I have been having around authentic marketing, especially:

You can watch it here

Screen Shot 2013 08 11 at 1.01.52 PM 40 minute video interview on authentic marketing with nash ryker

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.

I’m broke (and I don’t care)

 Im broke (and I dont care)Last week, something happened to me that happens from time to time. Something I’ve wanted to write about before. 

And it’s something that I suppose many of my colleagues would urge me not to share with you as I imagine that the attitude I’m sharing here could be an enormous source of frustration to a coach.

But whatever. 

I was broke.

I was in BC visiting friends when I likely should have been working on business things and I had a couple hundred dollars in the bank. If more money didn’t come in I wasn’t going to be able to pay rent. Or pay for much of anything. I figured my money would run out by Friday and my overdraft the next Wednesday for sure. 

So, here I am, Mr. Marketing Man being broke. I can imagine it might be like seeing a yoga instructor smoke cigarettes. Or a relationship expert going through a bad break up. Which is kind of the point – the unrealistic (and often unkind) expectations we put on others and ourselves. 

And I wanted to write about this because I think that so many of us self employed types carry around a lot of shame at being broke or admitting we’re broke to others. It can seem like we’re admitting that our business isn’t working, that we’re a failure, that we made a mistake in starting it. It’s something we hide and don’t talk about because we really want others to think of us as successful. And this is my point: if you want to make money because you really want to have that money – go for it. If you’re wanting to make money (or seem like you’re making money) to impress people, it might be something to reconsider. 

Back to the story: last week I noticed I was broke. 

And it struck me how little I cared about it. And how little I care what others think about that.

Because I’m a hippie. And hippies don’t mind being broke from time to time. 

To be clear: it’s hardly the first time I’ve been broke. I’ve made money and spent it many times. I remember in the early days being so broke that I couldn’t afford a bagel or a stamp. And I’d already checked the couch for change. Meh. It happens. But my superhuman-like inability to keep a job and utter lack of interest in that combined with my desire for freedom (to the point of real irresponsibility) had me not even consider changing course much. I was just broke. I’d keep going. I’d borrow money and pay it back. I was doing what I loved and following my heart and I didn’t mind not having money sometimes (a little, but not much).

To be even more clear: this last time, I wasn’t totally broke. I had a couple hundred dollars. And there was some affiliate money coming in. I have some money in a travel/savings bank account I could have gone into in an emergency. I could have emailed my list to offer some one on one coaching and likely gotten a response. 

To go further, I could have moved back in with my mom (though she’d likely have loaned me the money). I’m white, male and live in Canada with an impressive social safety net and basically free health care. Etc. I also have very little debt at the moment. So, broke is a relative term and there are an immense number of invisible privileges that I enjoy simply because of the family and place in the world I was born into. Being broke as a white, middle ages, tall, straight man in Canada is different than being a broke black man in the southern United States I am quite sure. Or broke as a single mother. I’m single with no dependents. I’m not a single parent, or taking care of elderly parents. My needs and responsibilities are really very few. Were I in a different situation I likely wouldn’t be so ‘flip’ about this broke thing. Broke might not be an option in the same way. And, like you, I work for a world where being broke wouldn’t mean you’d lose your home or ability to eat or feed your family – a world where the most vulnerable amongst us were cared for and no one slipped through the cracks to end up six feet under the concrete we’ve poured over everything that matters. 

But the not caring isn’t just coming from this strange, inordinate and strange trust I’ve always had that I’ll be fine and that the money will show up when I need it (which is almost certainly deeply influenced by the privileges I have grown up with that were and likely still are invisible to me) – it’s also that I go broke sometimes because of the choices I make in my life about how often I work. And I actually don’t work half as hard as most people would think I do. I’m quite sure that 90% of my colleagues work much harder than me. And I bet most of them are way better at managing money (there’s a reason I don’t run Accounting for Hippies). 

So, I know that my occasional poverty is a choice. It’s summer. I’m hitting up festivals. Drinking on patios. Traveling and letting the money slowly spiral out of my account like a full tub draining. I get it. And I know that I will have to hustle soon to make more. But Summer in Edmonton is an urgent thing. It last like four months out of the year. And then it’s brutally cold winter at times and we’re forced indoors where I’ll have lots of time to work. It’s like I’m a reverse squirrel: I gather my acorns in the winter and live off them in the Summer.

My time management is alright but I often even get to the hustling much later than I should which means I make less money than I could. Whatever. Life goes on.

I value my quality of life, freedom and time with friends. I know that, slowly, I am building up my business to be much more self sustaining and resilient. I know that I keep getting better at what I do. I know I’ll have more home-study courses and products to sell over the coming years. More virtual programs I can offer. I’m on the slow path to those things and watching colleagues with more drive and hustle zoom right past me on most of those fronts. Bravo for them! Perhaps someday soon I’ll decide to really hustle and crack some things out. I’m sure if that seems fun that I’ll do it. 

And . . . whatever.

I’m writing this because I want you to know it’s okay to be broke. Sometimes you need to take a job. Sometimes you just need to hustle for a while. Sometimes it will be feast and sometimes it will be famine. Sometimes your big promotion will be a flop. Sometimes you are going to choose fun over work. Sometimes that will happen a lot. 

But making more money doesn’t make you a better person or a better manifestor. It doesn’t make you worth more than anyone else. It just means you have more money. Which sometimes you’re going to really want to have. 

But, every day, you’ll need to make those choices between short term fun and long term success and, fuck it, sometimes you’re going to choose short term fun. You’ll need to choose between quality of life and working really hard, and sometimes you’ll choose quality of life and enjoyment over working 16 hour days to make money.

And then sometimes you’ll work really hard and not see your friends for weeks because you’re so driven (by inspiration or desperation).

Sometimes you will want (or need) to make six or seven figures. Sometimes you won’t.

Sometimes you’ll have a partner who can support you for a time while you build something. Sometimes you won’t. 

That’s life. 

And it’s all fine. 

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

Are there consequences to not having money sometimes? Yes. Is it a drag sometimes? For sure. 

But working hard to make six or seven figures also has consequences and can be a drag. And sometimes the only reason you work so hard is to have the lifestyle you already had before you started.

As the saying goes, ‘There are some people so poor that all they have is money.’

Again: 

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

In this industry, there’s can be a lot of pressure to seem successful and have it all together. To manage and craft our reputation so that people are drawn to us and want to emulate us. Truth be told, I could probably care more about that than I do. But I really don’t. There can be so much pressure to create an image that you’re rich and that, if people do what you do then they’ll be as successful as you seem to be. And people can get really stressed out with the posturing and pretending and then live in a constant, low level fear that they’re going to be discovered as a fraud.

I don’t think having less money makes me less successful (I’m pretty sure I’m the poorest of most of my colleagues and I’ve certainly never had a six figure year). I think being happy is what it’s all about. I don’t think overwork is a sign of success (nor, regrettably for me, is laziness a sign of authenticity). 

Here I am, with all I know, after a decade in business and I still have times I go broke. If you’re just starting out (and even if you’ve been in business for a while) I invite you to be less hard on yourself. You’ve got a full life. Family, friends, festivals, events, hobbies, books you want to read, a bucket list to explore. Sometimes it’s okay for work for wait til a bit later. And sometimes we work now so we can do those things later. But it’s all up to you.

Ask yourself which you’d regret more at the end of your life: working hard or relaxing and enjoying life? My guess is that answer will be different for different people at different moments in their lives. And that’s okay.

I’m not writing this to glorify poverty or to encourage laziness and irresponsibility. I’m writing it because sometimes I am poor and lazy and irresponsible. And that’s just the truth. My guess is, sometimes you are too.

Sometimes what we need is a sabbatical so we can come back to our work fresh and ready to kick ass. And sometimes we need to kick ass so we can afford to go on sabbatical. Which season are you in? And can you honour that?

And you might choose to do work that, even with the best marketing, may never bring in a lot of money but it’s so damned satisfying. It feels so good. And you may always be broke as a result, but the world will be left richer. My only hope is that you’re honest with yourself about what feels good and what doesn’t. As long as it feels good, keep doing it. When it no longer feels good I hope you’ll find some way to sustain yourself and make money that feels as good as possible.

I wish it were always possible to always have it all. A thriving business + rich social life + incredible romantic relationship + radiant health etc. Sometimes it is. But sometimes we choose things that mean less money. 

Do what you want to do.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

I can feel a big work time coming up for me in the coming months where I will be immensely focused and work really hard. I look forward to that too.

I know that if I really worked hard and applied what I know, I’d be making more money. If I focused more on my business, it would grow faster. I know when I focus and hustle, results happen. I know that what I’m teaching works when I work it. I just don’t always want to work it. Or work anything. 

This week? I had two big affiliate payments come in plus some more money I’d forgotten about and I’m going to be knuckling down on getting my Niching for Hippies program together. 

Last week? I was broke. And I don’t care. 

Wherever you are this week – it’s all good. Work when you feel like you need to work. Don’t when you feel like you don’t. This is your life. Your business coach wants you to focus more on your business to grow it bigger? Cool. Do you want to do that? If not, screw what your coach wants.

Just be honest with yourself about what you’re needing and wanting.

what to do before you even think about marketing your business

Rebecca 9202 Cropped Small what to do before you even think about marketing your businessRebecca Tracey has something very important to share with you.
 
So many people come to me for marketing help who are not ready for it.
 
Before you can market a thing, you need a thing to market.
 
It sounds so simple.
 
But, if you want it to be really successful and fulfilled it’s not enough to have any old thing. It’s got to be something you’re over the moon proud of, something that you can’t wait to share with the world, something that expresses your heart and feels right to you.
 
And people often come to me with something they feel ‘okay’ about. Sometimes even ‘good’.
 
They do massage, but they haven’t figured out how to make it theirs yet. They haven’t found their voice in it. So they have a generic thing. And you can try to sex up a generic thing and add more sizzle to cover the lack of steak as it were . . . but in the end we feel incongruent about it and people discover it and are upset. 
 
Rebecca Tracey is one of my dearest colleagues and she helps people do this pre-marketing work (which is actually the basis of all effective marketing). She helps people take this generic thing (e.g. life coaching, massage, holistic practioner) and build solid foundation they’re proud of. And, believe me, this makes marketing so much easier. 
 
Before you obsess about making your business attractive to your clients, focus on making it attractive to you.
 
I recently did an interview with Rebecca about her new program The Uncaged Life Mastermind. You can read the interview below.
 
What’s the result you’re offering people?
 
I work with people who want the freedom to work from anywhere, and who want to work for themselves, but who can’t quite figure out what they could possibly do. I help them smoosh everything they love and everything they are all about into a business that fits them perfectly.

 
So you’ve recently refined to this direction – how did that happen and how is it feeling to hone it?

 
Oh my god Tad, it is feeling AMAZING!
 
Everything in my business is SO much easier! I was kinda-sorta always doing what I am doing now (helping people figure out what makes them unique and then helping them start a business based around it), but it scared me to really OWN it. So I kind of skirted around it for the first year and a half. I was too scared to really commit to it (welcome to my life!). And now that I’ve really owned up to my expertise and have redirected my business to really make this the cornerstone of what I do, everything is all falling into place.
 
I know you’ve seen a lot of people try to create a business before they have a solid foundation underneath it. Can you share what you’ve seen?
 
Well, I’m probably the best example of that.
 
I graduated as a Holistic Nutritionist and was desperately trying to grow my business, but something wasn’t feeling right. I had NO idea what made me any different from the other thousands of nutritionists out there. I had NO deeper connection to why I was doing it in the first place, so nothing was really working and my whole business felt really generic (even though I knew I wasn’t a generic type of person. I felt like I was trying to be something I wasn’t). 
 
It wasn’t until I really looked at what it was that I loved about nutrition – that it gave people a choice about how they wanted to feel and live – that I was able to see why I was really doing it. I cared about people CHOOSING their lives. And so I ditched the nutrition part and JUST focused on coaching, and all of a sudden everything made sense. I allowed myself to build a business that was based on what I was naturally good at  - seeing the possibility in people and in situations, coming up with creative solutions, helping people move past obstacles so they can have lives of adventure and travel and fun. A way better fit than trying to tell people that kale is healthy.
 
And I have seen this over and over again with my clients. They have a general idea of what their business is, but they have no really sense of purpose. They are kind of just going through the motions of creating a website, picking a tagline, learning how to use social media, but they’re SO disconnected to their bigger WHY that they struggle and business feels hard and kind of like a drag.
 
Once we get really clear on WHY they care so much about what they care about, they have permission to ditch what’s not working and leave the rest.
 
You have a powerful system for helping people create a solid foundation before they build their business – can you lay out the steps you’ve created?
 
Yes!
 
1. Mindset. We are usually our biggest obstacle, so gotta tackle that first!
 
2. Values + Lifestyle. You have to know what’s important to you if you want to know what business to create.
 
3. Purpose  + Message. What do you care so much about that you could build a business around it? I help my clients dig deep with this, and this is the foundation of the work that we do.
 
4. Strengths + Weaknesses, Skills + Expertise. What are you naturally good at (oftentimes so good that you don’t even recognize it was a strength). These are the biggest clues to what kind of business will suit you.
 
5. Idea Generation. We take everything from above and we smash it all together into business ideas, then work through them to tweak them until they feel like a great fit.
 
6. Testing your ideas. I help my clients pick a shortlist of all their ideas and put them to work testing them out in the real world. We look at what worked and what didn’t, and tweak things as we go.
 
My goal is to leave my clients with a business idea that feels 80% right, so they can continue to build it and still have room for it shift and evolve with them as they learn more about what they love to do.
 
I really believe the process is experiential and not analytical, and that taking action is the only way to really figure it out.
 
For my clients who already have business but things aren’t feeling quite right, we basically use the same steps to evaluate what’s not working for them and shine a light on what they could do differently that would be a much better fit for them.
 
I’m curious which of these steps were there when you started and which ones you discovered along the way? And can you share the stories of how you realized they needed to be included?
 
With the nutrition business that I was trying to start I felt like I was forcing my message to fit my business, instead of creating my business around my message. I had it backwards. As soon as I stopped forcing it and let my purpose/message be front and center in my business (and ditched the parts that weren’t working), everything came together quickly.  
 
My values were always there too, those were clear to me before I even had a business. I always knew the way that I wanted to work and what I wanted my lifestyle to look like, so I integrated that right from the beginning.
 
Testing my ideas was also something that came naturally to me. I’ve always been a bit of a “ready, fire, aim” kind of girl, and I tend to make things happen FAST in all aras of my life. When I want something, I want it now! So I never hesitated to try out new things and see what worked and what didn’t, and it became very clear to me early on that this HAS to be a part of creating a business. You can’t just sit and think about what might work – you actually have to put it into action and test it.
 
It took me a bit longer to really hone in on my strengths and figure out how to use them in my business. I started as a coachy-coach, and its only now that I’m really coming into owning that I am WAY better at teaching and leading than I am at being neutral (as you’re “supposed” to do as a coach). So I’ve slowly been listening when things in my business don’t feel great, and then picking them apart to see what strengths I may be squashing and which ones I need to play up more. I now know that creating a business without being clear on your natural strengths is just bogus – it has to be part of the process to create something sustainable
 
Can you share some stories of clients who’ve created uncaged lives and careers or at least made some major progress?
 
I recently worked with a birth specialist and doula who is creating a business centered about teaching people about their options when it comes to giving birth.

She was excited about her idea, but was doubting her expertise. We worked together to discover that what she really cares about is helping women connect with the power of what it really means to be a woman giving birth, to help them embrace real femininity through the birthing experience. This felt way more resonant for her than simply “teaching people about birth options”, and opened up a whole new world for her in terms of ways that she can work with and help her clients. She now has a solid foundation to work on and has so many ideas to move forward with, when before she was feeling kind of stuck about what to offer.

Another client and good friend of mine from nutrition school worked her butt off to create her little nutrition practice. She was working with clients and teaching workshops and all was going well. Except that it wasn’t. It was glaringly obvious to me that her whole thing was about body wisdom and learning to love and respect your body, whether it wants to eat cookies or kale. We worked together to help her get really clear about what felt off in her business, and I’m happy to say that now she has fully stepped into her true calling and I can just feel the energy behind what she’s creating. SO much more resonant than the blanket nutritionist thing,
 
To me, an uncaged life is all about doing work that lets you play to your FULL potential AND gives you the lifestyle you want. This looks different for everyone, and I would really encourage everyone to figure out what their version of living Uncaged looks like.
 
I know you just recorded a free call where you went in depth into your system – where can people get access to that?
 
You can get that free training here http://www.theuncagedlife.com/free-training/
 
Also, check out her full Uncaged Life Mastermind 
 
Rebecca 9202 Cropped Small what to do before you even think about marketing your businessAbout Rebecca: As a Life-Switch Coach + Professional Adventure Instigator, I work with people who want to quit their shitty day jobs and create Uncaged careers that let them travel the world and work on their own terms. I help them create cool Uncaged Careers out of thin air. I also work with entrepreneurs who are feeling a little stuck, and who need to revamp and revive their businesses to be more in line with who they are. Ready to take your top-secret, rule-bending, crazy-town dream—and lay out a plan, to bring it to life? Let’s tell your excuses to suck it. Together.

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?

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.