Guest Post: The Resume Is Dead, The Bio Is King

storyThis article was originally published on and went viral with 6,000+ retweets/shares. It has been republished on LifeHacker and across the web.

Written by: Michael Margolis      Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

If you’re a designer, entrepreneur, or creative — you probably haven’t been asked for your resume in a long time. Instead, people Google you — and quickly assess your talents based on your website, portfolio, and social media profiles.

Do they resonate with what you’re sharing? Do they identify with your story? Are you even giving them a story to wrap their head around?

Gone are the days of “Just the facts, Ma’am.” Instead we’re all trying to suss each other out in the relationship economy. Do I share something in common with you? How do we relate to each other? Are you relevant to my work?

That’s why the resume is on the out, and the bio is on the rise.

People work with people they can relate to and identify with. Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resume. Your bio needs to tell the bigger story. Especially, when you’re in business for yourself, or in the business of relationships. It’s your bio that’s read first.

To help you with this, your bio should address the following five questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. How can I help you?
  3. How did I get here (i.e. know what I know)?
  4. Why can you trust me?
  5. What do we share in common?

Your bio is the linchpin for expanding your thought leadership and recognition, especially online. It frames the conversation and sets the tone. It’s your job to reveal a bit about yourself and how you see the world. Do this well, and people will eagerly want to engage with you further.

Here’s the challenge: who taught you how to write your bio?

Admittedly, most of us never got a lesson in this essential task. You’re not alone. Even the most skilled communicators get tongue-tied and twisted when trying to represent themselves in writing. We fear the two extremes: obnoxious self-importance or boring earnestness.

It gets further complicated when you’re in the midst of a career or business reinvention. You have to reconcile the different twists and turns of your past into a coherent professional storyline.

The personal branding industry has only muddied the waters. It’s easy to feel turned off by the heavy-handed acts of self-promotion that the various gurus out there say you’re supposed to do. We’ve been told to carefully construct a persona that will differentiate and trademark our skills into a unique value proposition.

That’s mostly a bunch of buzzword bingo bullshit.

Instead, share more of what you really care about.

And then write your bio in service to your reader, not just ego validation.

Imagine that: A compelling reason to tell your story beyond bragging to the world that you’re “kind of a big deal.” Embrace the holy-grail of storytelling: tell a story that people can identify with as their own – and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears.

With all this in mind, here’s a few key pointers for reinventing your bio as a story:

1. Share a Point of View.

You’re a creative. Having something to say is the ultimate proof. What’s missing from the larger conversation? Speak to that. Don’t be afraid to tell the bigger story. We want to know how you see the world. Show us that you have a unique perspective or fresh vantage point on the things that matter most.

2. Create a Backstory.

Explain the origin for how you came to see the world in this way. Maybe it was something that happened to you as a kid or early in your career. Consider your superhero origins. How did you come into these powers? What set you off on this quest or journey? What’s the riddle or mystery you are still trying to solve? When you tell the story of who you were meant to be, it becomes an undeniable story. Natural authority is speaking from the place of what you know and have lived.

3. Incorporate External Validators.

Think frugally here. To paraphrase the artist De La Vega, we spend too much time trying to convince others, instead of believing in ourselves. Nonetheless, if you’re doing something new, different, or innovative — you have to anchor it into the familiar. Help people see that your novel ideas are connected to things they recognize and trust. That might be your notable clients, press, publications, or things you’ve created. Just enough to show people your story is for real.

4. Invite people into relationship.

Now that you’ve established you’ve got something to share, remind people you’re not so different from them. Vulnerability is the new black. Share some guilty pleasures. Describe what you like to geek out on. Reveal a couple things you obsess about as hobbies or interests. This will make you more approachable and relatable. You’re human, too. Help people find the invisible lines of connection.

To revamp your bio, start with these simple storytelling principles and questions above.

In the process, you’ll discover a greater potential to shift how you see yourself and how the world sees you. Your story sets the boundaries for everything else that follows.

If you’re having trouble being heard, recognized, or understood, it’s probably an issue related to your story and identity.

SAMPLE COPY ADDED to promote webinar:

The good news? I want to help you tell your story.

Join my friend Michael for his new FREE webinar called, RE-STORY YOURSELF: How to Attract Your Future with a Better Bio.

This webinar will teach you simple storytelling shortcuts to creating a standout yet authentic bio that attracts more of what you want. Discover the right tone, structure, and how to craft an interesting point of view. You’ll learn how to use story to position your work, attract opportunities, and get paid for being the real you.

Click here to sign up for my FREE webinar now!

It’s never too late to reinvent your story.

Story on!


Guest Post: How to Approach Hubs and Potential Clients Cold

 A few months ago, Tova Payne reached out to me to see if she could write a guest post.

I say ‘no’ to most of these. I get a lot of requests.

But, the way she reached out and the subject piqued my interest. Only today, did I dig into what she sent and I am incredibly impressed. As someone who is a hub in a number of arena’s I can attest strongly to the importance of what Tova is articulating here. It’s very aligned with a post Ari Galper wrote years ago. I wish everyone reached out to me in the way she is suggesting.

I don’t recommend the cold approach as a core tactic in your marketing, but, sometimes, it’s what you have to do. And there are ways to do the cold approach that feel classy and other ways that feel slimy, awkward, confusing and uncomfortable.

If you are thinking of reaching out to potential hubs or clients via email, please read this first.

This approach, tailored for your own voice, is pressure free and will help to build trust and position you as a generosity based business. This is a beautiful slow marketing approach.

This type of approach highlights the importance of creating a ‘free gift’ that you can offer people. Mostly, you’ll use it as thanks for people signing up to your email list but you could also use it as a gift in an approach like this. And, once you’ve made contact in this way, you’re ready to open up a conversation about working together.

And her post inspired me to share a bunch more examples that are aligned with her approach. 


Guest Post: Slimy vs. Classy Marketing & Sales

by Tova Payne

Have you ever experienced slimy marketing? 

I have. It makes my stomach churn just thinking about it. Someone I had interacted with in an online networking group took a jab at me with a sleazy sales tactic. I thought: this is pretty lame and showcases a clear example of what NOT to do when it comes to marketing and sales. 

I’m turning my experience into today’s lesson:

We’ll take a look at the difference between slimy vs. classy marketing, and showcase how class and integrity go a long way in building a successful business.

Here’s what happened:

I got an e-mail out of the blue (which is what cold-calling is internet-style), that basically said: “Looks like your programs are fantastic. But until you fix you’re website I can’t refer anybody to you eventhough I want to. Luckily my course will help fix you right up. Join my course, you need it.”

Let’s break down why this kind of marketing is so bad (if you aren’t already laughing in disbelief). 

First of all, she never opened up a dialogue with me. 

Since business is about relationships—you first need to meet the person. 

If you are going to write somebody out of the blue—somebody who has never been a past client, or somebody who has never reached out to you for help, you need to start off saying hi. Introduce yourself first. And then, ask them if they want to hear more about your topic. 

Basically—say hi and find out if they even want to know what you have to offer. Don’t force-feed your opinions on others. 

Don’t be manipulative. Telling someone their work is great, but that you can’t refer people because of image is bullshit (or extremely shallow). When you believe someone’s work is great, and if you really want to refer others—you will. So please—don’t ever buy into this line. It is total B.S

Don’t put someone down just to show off how you can be the saviour. That stinks. Seriously, this is where the negative connotations and images of marketing come from. 

Basically, don’t try to bully someone into thinking they need you. Don’t ever put somebody down to sell your product. That is what Slimy Marketing 101 is about. It doesn’t work. And if you get someone who falls for it, it won’t last for long-term business building (and p.s—please don’t fall for this). 

Look—if you’re in business you need to participate in marketing and sales, especially if you’re a start-up. However there is a classy and kind way to do it.

Here’s the thing: marketing is another way of saying: sharing and sales is another word for saying caring.

Seriously—if you have something you think is fantastic—you will tell everyone about it (marketing) and if you really care about helping someone you will do your best to make sure they recieve what they need (sales).

This is why it’s important to create a positive mindset around marketing and sales. If you see it from the eyes of sharing and caring—of course you’d wake up everyday excited to get your message, product, and service out there.

But it’s important that you market and sell from a place of humanity and kindness. 

Mean marketing stinks of desperation. Don’t do it. You’re better than that. Instead be kind. You can share what you have with the world in a kind and classy way.

So it’s all about how you do it.

Let me spell it out

Marketing + Sales = Sharing + Caring

This means: 

Yes, tell people about what you have to offer. This is what newsletters, blogs, webinars, videos, and sales pages are for.

Yes, contact people who you think may be a good fit for what you have to offer and people who have reached out to you asking for help.

Yes, you can “cold call” or “cold write” someobody. But do it from a place of caring and focus on building a relationship first. Remember, if you met someone in real-life—how would you start the conversation? Treat people like humans. They are real and they have feelings. Be kind.

If you cold-call/cold-write—come from a place of curiosity. Ask the prospect if they are interested in hearing more about your subject matter. This is a good lead into building the relationship and seeing if they are even interested in the product or service you have.

Yes, share some free advice to show people that you know what you’re talking about.

Yes, be kind and loving when you tell people what you have to offer.

Here is what NOT to do:

Do not put someone down to try to make them feel bad and vulnerable so that their confidence takes a hit and they feel they need your product or service to get better.

Do not tell someone that they are doing something wrong if they haven’t asked.

Do not give unsolicited advice in a private e-mail if the prospect never reached out to you.

If you sincerely feel you can help somebody introduce yourself. You can let someone know about what you do and what you’re passionate about. There is no need to put a prospect down in order to share what you have to offer. 

If you truly believe somebody is doing something that can hurt them, share with them some free information that can truly help them.

So let’s put this all into perspective. Had that e-mail I recieved gone something like this, it would have been classy:

E-mail 1:

Hi. I think your work is fantastic. Let me know if you’re interested in some free tips that I think you may find helpful.

Aha! That would have piqued my curiosity and probably would have recieved a reply.

Email 2:(remember this is what relationship building is)

Oh awesome, Im so excited to share this with you. Ok here are 3 things that I think you might find helpful: {list 3 helpful things} … Please let me know what you think. I hope that helps!

That’s what it means to be helpful and show off your expertise. Dont tell someone you’re amazing, SHOW them.

Then, I’d definitely reply to such a helpful e-mail. When somebody is helpful, they are memorable and seen in a positive light. In my mind, I would have seen this person as generous, smart, and may have even gone on to hire them or refer them!

And finally, Email 3:

Oh Great. I’m so happy that helped. If you want more tips or strategies I have a course you may be interested in—here is the link. Let me know if you want to talk about it and we can set up a time to chat. Otherwise, I wish you the best.

Aha. You know what? Whether I purchased or not, in my mind I’d see this person as kind, helpful, be a possible future customer or defintley help support and refer her. 

Do you see the difference now between slimy marketing versus classy marketing?

What I received was a sample of slimy marketing—there’s no need to put someone down in order to go for the sale.

What would have worked? The example I just gave you—build rapport, be helpful, and then move towards discovery: find out if the person is interested in what you have.

Yes, it takes more time. Yes, it takes more effort. Yes, it takes generosity, and seeing the other person as a human and not just a pocket-book.

Remember—slimy marketing oozes of desperation. It may work on some people, but it won’t take you far. And it could earn you a bad reputation.

Be kind first. Open the dialogue. Give first. If you are truly helpful—people will remember you, buy from you or atleast support and tell others about you (which is worth way more than a quick sale).

Now go on—get out there. Market and sell with kindness and class. There are people who need you. 

tovaTova Payne Bio:

Tova’s an Author and Business Coach to Soulful Entrepreneurs. She helps her clients turn business dreams to reality by giving the practical strategies and soulful practices that help you go from idea to finished product. For your free guide on 5 Keys to Starting and Finishing your Dream Project and weekly tips to grow your business sign up with Tova at

Come hang out with Tova on Facebook:

And say on Twitter:



Personally, I would reword Email #1 in this way:

Hi. I think you’re work is fantastic. I came across it (tell them how you did and how long ago). I really love (tell them specifically what you love). I was wondering if you were wanting to/struggling with (name the problem you think you might be able to help them solve or the result you think you could help them achieve)? I was looking at your website/ebook etc. and had some thoughts I thought might be useful. Regardless, thank you so much for all of your good work.

The key thing here is that we don’t make the assumption that we can absolutely help them. We don’t assume they are even having the problem we can solve or want the result we offer. We’re genuinely asking just to see if it’s a fit. When we come from this place and, instead of trying to force everything into a single email, it becomes a conversation not a pitch.

This is the identical approach that I have used myself for years and years when approaching hubs. 

Start with a very brief, non-assumptive email to see if there’s a baseline fit and let it flow from there. Hubs are busy. Potential clients (even if not as busy as hubs) have no idea who the hell you are.

Like Tova, I’ve been approached in ways that instantly turned me off. And, I’ve saved a number of them because I knew that, one day, I would write a post like this. I’ve changed or removed the names.

Some people think I email them too many things from colleagues. But they have no idea how much I filter out. 

Let the horrors begin…


Eleven Examples of How Not to Approach a Hub:

Example #1: MLM Company


Don’t worry this is not a spam message, I am the Webmaster of _________, just inquiring on selected high quality blogs like yours if you are open for guest posting opportunities. I have read your blog and thought that it is related to my site and therefore I am asking if I can share some insights or an article on your blog.

With this venture, we can help you in sharing your blog through our social networks and get some links for your site plus I can also get some exposure for my company.

I’ve actually prepared a proposed topic for your blog:

*Online Marketing: Money in Every Click
*Earn Money the Fast Way with Internet
*Market Online, Earn Big Time
*Building A Career Through Multi-level Networking
*MLM is The Ladder to Success
*MLM: The Secret of Rising Companies

Just choose a topic that you like but if you want me to write a different topic, I will be glad doing that also. For reference of my writing style, kindly visit my personal blog: (

Thank you for your time and consideration. Just e-mail me back for your response.

__________ Webmaster

My take: This reads like a form email. But only, to be fair, because it is a form email. I’m a selected ‘high quality blog’? How wonderful. I’m so flattered by the generic compliment. So meaningful. He asks if I’m open to guest posting opportunities. He could have just sent that as an email and he would have gotten a response. ‘Hey there, are you open to guest posts?’. Short and sweet. It’s not the best option but it likely would have gotten a reply like, ‘Sometimes. Can you tell me more?’ And then we’re in a conversation.

He tells me he’d share my blog through his social networks but I have no idea if they’re a fit or how large his networks are. And then, he shares to topics. They’re all MLM focused. None of them resonate with me in particular. 

This isn’t the worst email but it would have worked better with a shorter first email.

Example #2: Promote My Book, Please?

Greetings Tad, I am Jane Doe I am a book author and writer aged 20. My Book is called __________. the book is an inspirational book aimed at anyone who has a dream to achieve. The reason I am contacting you is that I need a hand with marketing, can you email your fans and bloggers and inform them about my book?God Bless!

This email is very sweet and sincere. But I’m not going to email my entire list about a book I’ve never read from a stranger. I love that she had the gumption to ask and a slower, relationship building approach might have yielded more fruit. 

Example #3:  Share My Page, Please?

Hey, i’m just getting my page going and was wondering if you could please help me out with a share? Thanks a ton

Is it too much to ask for some foreplay?

I’ve never met this person. I have no idea who they are. Why would I share their page? What’s in it for me? The spirit of this kind of email misses, so deeply, the nature of being a hub. When you’re a hub, you are very careful about what you endorse or send out. 

Example #4: Share My Blog, Please?

Would you be interested in networking?
It would be awesome if you could write a blog post about my business with a couple anchored keywords.
In exchange I would give your Facebook page a bunch of shares on
or on
or on
or a combination of them, whatever helps you the most.
Let me know if you’re interested? Thanks!

“It would be awesome if you could write a blog post about my business”… something about that didn’t feel great. Very assumptive. Like, “You know what would be awesome. You dating me. It would be awesome if you could do that.”

If, instead, they’d said something like the following, they’d have gotten a response.

“Hey there, I am a big fan of your blog and I have a few businesses that I thought might be a fit to be featured on it but I wasn’t sure and wasn’t even sure if you do that sort of thing. So, I thought I’d touch base. Thanks for all that you do.”

Example  #4: Share My Completely Irrelevant Blog, Please?

Hi there,

How are you? This is NAME from USA. I have a keen interest in studying metal treatment and I love to share my knowledge with people. I have my personalized Blog specially dealing with Metal Rust.
Basically, I wanted to touch base with you to check if you accept posts from other writers to publish on your blog? I would too like to contribute my uniquely written creative posts about Metal Treatment on your site. We all know that metals have become a part of our daily life, especially Stainless Steel. I would like to share a few points about how they can be maintained. That will offer a real value to your readers as well.

The following link will lead you to a recent Guest Post that I have written.

Please let me know your thoughts. Looking forward to hear from you soon!

No response was given.

Example #5: Want to Share a Totally Off Topic Blog, Please?


I have noticed you’ve had a number of guest blogs on before, including this post on eco-friendly advertising:

I just wondered if you would be interested in publishing a blog on “Seven appliances you didn’t know were costing you money”?

I’ve attached the blog for your consideration.

If you have any questions or feedback then please get in touch. Alternatively, if you’re interested in any other type of guest blog, please let me know also.


Ahhh! He started so strong! He mentioned my website name! He even named a particular blog he liked! And then …. what? How did he think that topic would fit a blog about marketing. It makes no sense. And why would I contact him for another type of blog post? Who are you appliance man? Who arrrre youuuuu?

Example #6: May I Totally Confuse You, Please?

Hi Tad,

Hope all is well.

I recently attended an event with Kenny and his wife who are wonderful heart-centered people. I made them aware of a Consciousness Party that I Am hosting in Calgary that I would love to drop into a deeper conversation with you around.

If this is something that feels right for you can reach me at  .

Take good care.

in Heartfelt Appreciation,
P.S. You can also text me at __________

What? I have no idea what she’s asked about. At all. What is the Consciousness Party? Why should I care? What kind of conversation does she want to have with me and why? Whaaaa?

So, in confusion, I replied.

hey there,

sorry for the delay. can you give me a nutshell of what it is you’d like to talk with me about around this?

– t

To which she replied.

Hello Tad,

Hope all is well in your world.

I appreciate You taking the time to get back to my request.

I Am at an Amazing part in my life and fully embracing that the challenges I’ve experienced are now my gift. I Am honouring my true authentic power and my desire to align myself with those that embody the same essence.

Kenny had mentioned that You would be a powerful connection for the Consciousness Party that I Am creating in Calgary the evening of DATE. I Am flying up a woman who has been doing training for Google to share some of her expertise with those that attend.

I would love the opportunity to share more about this experience with You and if it feels right intention for You then You may choose to share it with your community.

Take good care.


Pro Tip: Never ever, ever confuse a hub. They will write you off so fast. For a hub, the most valuable commodity is their time. Do not waste it. 

Her follow up email confused me even more. Why is there a woman doing a training for Google at a party? Why do I care? And what’s up with all of the strange capitalization?

Example #7: Can We Book a Time to Talk, Please?

This one isn’t bad! I’d make it shorter first see if I’m even open to exploring join ventures but this email is okay.

Hello Tad,

My name is ______ and I’m the Joint Venture Manager for _________, founder of Coaching Business Name. We found your website and your work seems to be aligned with us and what we love to promote! I’d like to connect with you to see how we can best support each other in 2013! I’d like to learn what you’re planning for this year and share a few things from our promotional calendar.

To schedule an appointment, could you fill out some brief information by clicking on the link below. This will help us see what may be a best match and how to best serve your organization.

Our goal is to build synergistic relationships that are profitable and fun on all levels using the spiritual principles we teach and practice. We have an experienced JV Team in place capable of handling every aspect of any type of campaign or promotion.

Hope to speak to you or someone in your organization soon!

So, this one isn’t terrible but it’s a bit assumptive. I don’t know why it feels like a fit for them. There’s an assumption in the email that there is a fit here and we just need to figure it out. And, for me, whenever a stranger emails me saying ‘How can I help you?’ I read that as ‘I actually want you to help me but I figure that I’ve got a better chance of getting that if it seems like I want to help you.’ 

Example #8: Can You Promote My Unrelated Program, Please?

Okay. This one is longer so I’ll pull it apart piece by piece.

Aug. 30, 2012

Hello Ted Hargrave,

You misspelled my name. And used my full name (this makes you seem like spam or my angry mother and neither of associations those help you).

My name is ______; I’m a high school principal with an area of expertise that I believe many on your list of contacts would welcome hearing about: Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

What? How do you see the connection between Emotional Intelligence and marketing? I don’t get it. What problem does this solve for my clients?

I’ve created a School for Emotional Intelligence with a 6 week program entitled _____________. It’s a telecourse so people living anywhere can access it. I deliver it live weekly, repeat it regularly, and I provide e-mail support and enrichment after every lesson.

Why do I care about the details when I don’t see the relevance of the offer? I don’t.

My program sells for $197 and the affiliate commission for each referral is $100. Would you like to partner with me as an affiliate in a joint venture by informing your contacts my course exists?

This fellow is making the false assumption that the only reason I would spread the word about something is to make some money. I’m not against making money but, talking commission comes in Email #2 at the earliest. Likely not til Email #3. The most important thing is, ‘Is there even a fit?’. 

If so, I’d be honored to work with you.

Naturally, before you’ll consider promoting my program, you’ll want to know these 3 things:

You’re already telling me what I want? Old Man Ted Hargrave is cranky.

1 – That having high Emotional Intelligence is a great asset which will interest a significant percentage of those whom you contact. (Many people already realize that Emotional Intelligence is strongly correlated with performance and productivity – at work, at home, and at school – so they will understand its value either for themselves, or their children, or both.)

How is this relevant to my people???? I don’t care how abstractly valuable this is. I care if this is useful to my clientele.

2 – That I have the knowledge and skill to teach my program at a high level. (My websites include my qualifications and testimonials.)

I don’t care unless this is relevant. But I’m sure that will be your next point.

3 – That you’ll be assured of receiving your commissions. You can collect the tuitions yourself if you prefer, and send me my share when the course is over. Or I can do that using a company with affiliate tracking software to identify all your referrals and credit them to you (they’d register via your affiliate link).

I don’t care. Strike three.

If you wish, I’d be happy to help you promote my program to your contacts. How?

I’m sure you would. 

1 – I could conduct a free preview teleseminar so they could easily judge for themselves if my program is a good fit for them or their children. If they then want to register for it, they would, of course use your unique affiliate link to ensure you are properly credited.

2 – I can provide a sales e-mail for you to copy, and then forward to your contacts. (Modify it any way you wish.)

I don’t care. 

You can view the details of my program – and its benefits – on either of my websites. One is for adults who desire to enhance their own Emotional Intelligence; the other is for their teenage children.

Ah. I see. To see how this might be relevant I need to go to your website. So, you’re making me work for something in which I currently see no value at all. Right. (specifically for youth) (for adults)

Thank you for whatever consideration you grant this proposal. If you are interested, please contact me. And if you have no interest, I’d really appreciate an e-mail just to say, “No thanks,” so I’ll know not to bother you with any follow-up to this.

Say what? You’re now pushing me to respond? You’re putting that subtle obligation on me after totally wasting my time in reading this? No sir.

I can’t offer a cross promotion of what you offer (I’m on your list) since I lack any list of my own. That’s why I’m reaching out to you as a potential affiliate. I believe we can both benefit.



contact info

P.S. If you promote my program, it will prove to be a win-win-win:

1 – Those completing the course – teens or adults – will enhance their EQ (and EQ correlates with happiness more than IQ).
2 – You’ll be providing value to your contacts, and you’ll also receive $100 for all who take the course.
3 – I’ll earn a portion of each tuition, plus the opportunity to share my expertise with a new audience.

You have not shown me how this will be a win to my list. I do not see the fit at all.

Thanks again for considering this. I look forward to your response – either way. And should you choose not to become involved, I wish you every success in what you are already doing.

I like this last line. That’s very kind of him.

I have no doubt he is a very good man who is offering something very good to the world. But, the email he sent is a pitch, not an opening of a conversation. It’s so long. And he doesn’t clarify why he thinks it’s relevant to my people. When a hub gets the feeling that, ‘this email could be going to anyone… this is a template…’ the chances are extremely high that you will lose their attention.

Example #9: Can You Promote My TeleSummit, Please?

Hi Tad,

I hope you are doing well. I would like to invite you to collaborate with us at “” and speak in one of our upcoming virtual events, possibly in January.

My name is John Doe, I have developed BusinessName to provide valuable and relevant marketing and personal development information and resources to coaches, consultants, and other service professionals and connect them with the best experts in the industry.

I was on one of your calls and would love to collaborate and share your thoughts with others. Also, I would like to invite you to our January Virtual Event that is about developing a 6 figure business.

I would like to discuss these opportunities with you as soon as possible, when would be a good time to connect with you?


This one isn’t too bad. But, when someone says, ‘We’d like to invite you to speak at an event’ how I hear that (as someone who is approached all the time) is ‘We’d like you to promote our event with at least one solo email to your list and we figure getting you, who has a sizable following, to do that is to have you as a guest speaker.’  This actually seems like it could be relevant to my people. But, again, if it had started with some brief and specific appreciation and an opening question like, ‘Do you speak in telesummits these days?’ or ‘I’ve been working on something that I think could be of some use to the life coach and service provider types on your list in helping them with _______ problem’ or something, it might have grabbed me more. This seems relevant but generic. And, the whole six figure thing feels a bit burned out these days for me.

Example #10: I’m Famous So Promote Me, Please?

Again, I’m going to insert comments throughout this one because it’s a bit longer.

Hi Tad:

You spelled my name right! You’re doing much better than that last fellow…

You were recommended! Some points:

Wait… recommended by whom? For what?

¨ We live in Brentwood Bay, BC – just a few seconds away from Butchart Gardens


¨ We have run an international company for 20 years


¨ We are known for our Life and Business Coach Training

Are you?…

¨ I am famous in India as NAME but not well known outside of India

Okay… That sounds feasible but also kind of bragging. And… I think India is full of a lot of famous people.

¨ I am a Canadian best-selling author of many books including my latest release Book Name

Hrmm. It’s not hard to become a best seller by getting #1 on Amazon for two minutes. But that’s different than being a best seller for a few weeks. 

¨ I am the developer of multi-award winning coaching and leadership methodologies

You seem to be working very hard to impress me and I still have no idea why you’re writing me. 

¨ I am the developer of human potential products that would blow your mind. They are very powerful. For example, Product Name.

Aaaand you’re really starting to lose me. Arrogance is incredibly unattractive.

¨ We would like to work with an ethical company who is willing to make several million dollars from our human potential products.

This sounds like someone on the edge of delusion and who takes themselves very seriously. Danger Will Robinson. Danger.

¨ I have many of these human potential products wishing to come out of my head as soon as we launch the current ones! (My husband and Co-President John tells me to stop creating and start marketing!)

Your husband is a wise man. And I know the feeling about having so many products in your head. Totally. I’m feeling connected to you here.

¨ We would like this ethical marketing company to work on the basis of “you develop the strategies and implement them to make the millions and you then share in the financial glory”.

Ahhh. Translation, ‘You work for free for a long time and maybe make some money. If it fails it will be 100% because of your terrible marketing. Definitely not because of us. Because we’re amazing. As I think we might have mentioned (amazing!)’

¨ Please don’t look at our main website and think “Oh my God, these people need work.” We know we need work and are working on it.

Thank you for being human! I feel connected to you again.

¨ Your job would not be to help us fix our main website which is mainly about our services. Your job is to help us market our incredible products – not our services.

Ah! I am finally getting clear about what you want! And I totally don’t offer that service. If she had just emailed me saying, “I was wondering if you help other people market their products for them. Is that something you do?” she would have gotten her answer so much faster.  

If you are interested in this fab opportunity to work with some very cool, spiritual and values-based folks, let’s set up an interview .

I think I’d think you were cooler and more spiritual if you didn’t keep telling me you were. 

We require that you be honest, loving and compassionate. Only marketing tactics with integrity are tolerated.

Oh! Requirements on me already? I’m already being asked to jump through hoops to prove myself so you can bring me on to work for free?

PS Are you raw vegan? Just noticed a mention on your site. I have been vegan for years and love the raw vegan movement. Very cool.

Not anymore. 

With God’s Love from another Hippie!

I like that ending.

So I replied to make sure I was clear.

hey there,

thanks for reaching out. just home from a big trip to the uk. just to clarify, you’re wanting to get some marketing support and guidance and are considering me and your thought is for the payment to be in commissions in some way?

– t

She wrote back…

Hi Tad: 

Happy Friday to you!

When we work with apps builders, we give them 50% of the revenue because of the enormous amount of work they put into the creation of the end product.

It’s a sound partnership because everyone has the same amount of influence in the success of the product.

For the rest of our products, where possible, we see a similar relationship. It’s a partnership. We have developed these extraordinary products. You, if the shoe fits, would develop the strategy to take them to the world in multiple languages and implement the strategy.

For the shoe to fit, you must be honest, ethical, passionate about our products and be noble in your marketing efforts. Nothing less would be accepted.

The company who wears the shoe would have the opportunity to put these products into the hands of all ages, in every country. From that opportunity they would see huge transformation happening in hearts and minds of corporate and government folks as well as Moms, Dads and children.

This, more than the revenue which would be substantial, is the real reason for joining hands with us. J


Again. The demands on me don’t feel great. I feel like I’m already being scolded. And her level of belief in the power of her products to change the world… is a bit disconcerting. I don’t feel a lot of humility and humanity here. I didn’t pursue this further.

Example #11: Promote My Women’s Group, Please?

The following email came from a woman who I didn’t know very well. Just out of the blue.


“Namaste Tad, I’m starting a free women’s group in CityName, including one hour meditation, sharing info, workshop, and just listening and receiving, we would love it if you could send me the first five female leaders that come to your mind, via Facebook, thanks, have a super fabulous day in the sunshine.”

What this has going for it is that it’s short and to the point. I’m very clear what she’s doing and what she’s asking of me. But this felt a little bit too assumptive and she posted it on my new profile picture rather than in a message. That felt strange. If you want to ask a favour, ask me personally and in private Why would I connect her with my key women’s leaders in her city (and I know many) if I don’t know her? This is an example of asking for too much too soon.


Four Examples of How to Reach Out To Hubs Well

Example #1: Can I Speak at Your Venue?

My dear colleague and client Russell Scott of is looking to book a lot of talks for his wonderful work. Below are the emails we came up with together that he would use when reaching out to new age bookstores, yoga studios etc. This approach is deeply inspired by the work of Ari Galper on Cold Calling which you can learn more about at His end of the whole conversation is basically mapped out. He can tweak these to suit their response, but their responses are going to be fairly predictable. 

Having this all mapped out makes the process of reaching out to hubs better for them and so much easier for you. We do a similar things when reaching out to guest experts for 

E-mail 1

I was wondering if you can help me out?

I was wondering if you ever bring in guest speakers or facilitators to present talks or workshops and who would I ask about this? (I am an author and an international seminar/retreat leader.)

I wasn’t sure if you book speakers or who to talk about this?

E-mail 1 (a) if they don’t get back 

I was just following up on my e-mail a few days ago.

No pressure but I was wondering if you ever bring in guest speakers or facilitators to present talks or workshops and who would I ask about this? (I am an author and an international seminar/retreat leader.)

I wasn’t sure if you book speakers or who to talk about this?

E-mail 2

Thanks so much for taking the time to get back to me.  I am sure you are very busy.

Here’s the nutshell: I am the author of the book “Awakening the Guru in You” and I have a new talk (related to my book) that is getting a great response and that I thought might be of interest to your community. There’s more info at this link:

I am not sure if it is a fit for your community but I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

I also give talks on other topics:

The Fulfillment Factor – the one thing that affects everything else in life

Beyond Belief – how to get unstuck and get moving in your life

Deep Calling – finding meaning and purpose in life

And, if these aren’t a fit, I’d be grateful for your guidance on good places to explore. Any support is warmly appreciated. 

Email 3

Here’s what has worked in the past for people like yourself in a similar business:

Let me know how long you want the talk. I can craft the talk to fit an hour or 2 hour time slot.

We set a date and time for the workshop preferably 6 to 8 weeks from now. 

You charge what you want for the talk and keep the proceeds or give a percentage to me according to what you usually do.  It would be good to have a discount for people that sign-up before the event. I can set-up a notice on Eventbrite for you if you like.

I’ll promote the talk to my network and provide you with a link to my website and promotional material: a poster, timed e-mails you can send to your list, pre-written facebook and twitter notices and even a blog-post if you want.

You promote the talk to your network of contacts and any other way you choose to let your community of people know about the event. This way the more people you get, the better it is for you.

At the beginning of the talk you can take a few minutes to tell the attendees about your business and then introduce me. I’ll provide you with a short bio.

At the end of the talk I’ll pass out a feedback form and let people know that they can sign-up for a complimentary mentorship session with me or request more information about what I do. I will not be doing any enrolling of people into any of my offerings at the workshop.

I’ll make my book available for purchase at the end of the talk.

How does this all sound to you? Do you have any questions?


Example #2: Can You Help Promote My Workshop Tour, Please?

When I was doing a tour of the Kootenays with my workshops I was faced with the reality that I knew almost no one. So, one thing I did was find a local New Age Magazine and start emailing people who had ads in it. A 100% cold approach. I normally wouldn’t recommend this but my options were slim.

hey jennifer,

i was wondering if you could help me.

i saw your profile in the holistic section of In The Koots and i thought you might have some ideas.

there’s a day long, pay what you can, marketing workshop i’m leading for holistic practitioners in Nelson this Friday (last minute – tied into a roadtrip and thought ‘why not?’) and it’s my first time doing anything in nelson. and i thought you might have some ideas on good places to spread the word about it. any guidance is so warmly appreciated. and nooo pressure. im sure you’re busy.

i hope your summer is going well :-)

Notice the lack of assumption in that email. And notice that I’m not even asking her for her help directly. I’m just asking for advice. My friend Julian Faid once shared some advice his father had given him, ‘If you want advice, ask for money. If you want money, ask for advice.’ This is so true. If you ask someone for money, they’ll often say, “You know how you get money…” and give you ideas. If you ask for their advice on how to get it, it takes all the pressure off and, if they see that it’s a fit for the kind of thing they might want to fund, they’ll say, “I could fund this…”.

I’ve found that starting with asking humbly for advice opens up conversations in a much warmer way (and results in you getting some amazing leads and ideas you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise). 

When someone gave me a name of someone to reach out to for the tour, I’d send some version of the following:

hey there ali,

aga suggested i drop you a line.

there’s a day long, pay what you can, marketing workshop i’m leading for holistic practitioners in Nelson this Friday (last minute – tied into a roadtrip and thought ‘why not?’) and it’s my first time doing anything in nelson. and aga thought you might have some ideas on good places to spread the word about it. any guidance is so warmly appreciated. and nooo pressure. im sure you’re busy.

i hope your summer is going well :-)

– tad

And, of course, The Kootenays are full of holistic healing schools which are a huge hub for me. So I’d send them some version of this email.

hey there,

i was wondering if you could help me.

there’s a workshop in Nelson this Friday that i thought might be of interest to some of your students and alumni – but i wasn’t sure who to talk to at your academy.

i hope your summer is going well.

– tad

And then there were the holistic centers, spas and massage studios. They got this kind of email:

hey there,

i was wondering if you could help me.

there’s a workshop in Nelson this Friday that i thought might be of interest to some of your staff and associates – but i wasn’t sure who to talk to at your center about it all.

i hope your summer is going well.

– tad

I got a very positive and helpful response to all of these emails and responses from most of the people. 


Example #3: Would You Help Me Promote My Workshop, Please?

When I was leading a workshop in Toronto that wasn’t filling as fast as I would have liked, I sent out some emails like this to local hubs. Please note: these are all friends and colleagues with whom there’s already some existing trust. And these were sent as individual emails, not a big group email. Though, in a pinch, you can get away with a group email to hubs who know and love you. 

hey there,

I’m going to be running another weekend workshop for holistic practitioners (and also invited eco-permaculture practitioner types too). It’s happening Nov 25-27th.

I think it’s going to be swell.

I could totally use a hand spreading the word about it. I was wondering if you would have five minutes to help? I’ve got something prewritten you can send out. I find it works best when people just email like 3-5 folks personally who they think might benefit and enjoy. and i figured you might know some folks in the scene.

Would you be down?


The typical response?

Dear Tad:
Of course. Just send it on!
Hope you’re doing well.

My response to that (already pre-written) was…

thank you!

so, this is the generic thing – feel free to tweak it as needed. putting it on facebook helps but i still find that the very most useful thing is when people take a minute or two to really consider particular folks who might be a fit for this and then send a personal email (edited template) to them telling them about it. it only takes five minutes but seems to have so much more impact. i’m super grateful.

‘Hey there,

A colleague of mine, Tad Hargrave, is holding a marketing workshop designed just for holistic practitioners and permaculture practitioner types and I thought you might be interested in attending yourself. It’s happening next weekend.

for more info or to register you can go to:

let me know if you decide to go?

Again, instead of putting it all into one big pitch-based email, break it up into a few emails. Let is breathe a bit. 


Example #4: How Tova Approached Me to Write this Guest Blog Post

This blog post would certainly not be complete without showing how gracefully and graciously Tova landed this guest blog post (which I have, appallingly, hijacked).

Here was the first email she sent me on April 20th.

Hi Tad
My name is Tova, a fellow-Canadian out here in Vancouver :)
I love what you’re about, and especially love that you focus on marketing without sacrificing our integrity.
I wrote a post about this, which has not yet been published anywhere. I thought of you & your audience first, and wanted to see if you were interested in giving it a view. 
The subject is: Slimy VS Classy Marketing & Sales.
Please let me know if you would like me to send it over for your review.
And I wish you a wonderful weekend. Thanks for your consideration!
This whole email is perfect. She introduces herself warmly and makes the fellow Canadian connection. She moves to a specific appreciation that lets me know this is not a form email. And then she tells me about a post she’s already written. Honestly, when I saw that this was about a guest post, my heart sank a bit. I get so many of these requests. But then I saw the title. ‘That’s perfect for my audience!’ I thought. She then asked if I’d like to see it and ended with warm wishes and a humbled ‘thanks for your consideration!’. What’s not to love?
I replied.

tova,i’d love to explore that. can you send it to me in early june? i’m about to go into a busy season and don’t want to lose it.- t

She agreed and on June 3rd sent me the blog post. Which it then took me two weeks to read. And was brilliant. I’m so glad she didn’t offer it to anyone else and that I get to share it with you here.


Eight Key Points to Take from All of This:

  • A Short First Email: Make the goal of the first email to cut straight to the chase to see if there’s any possibility of a fit. If they’re even open to what you’re offering at all.
  • A Non Assumptive Approach: Don’t assume it’s a fit. Don’t assume they want what you’re offering.
  • Make it a Conversation: Instead of sending them a pitch, send them an invitation to open a conversation. And then let the conversation flow naturally. Take your time with hubs. They may need to get to know you first. It’s worth the investment. Take your time. Don’t propose marriage in the first email.
  • Be Okay With No: I might not want to say yes to this but there might be something i could say yes to down the road. If you’re gracious about my refusal, I am way more likely to be open to you in the future.  
  • Be Humble: Do not position it as an honour to work with you. That makes you seem arrogant. What impresses people isn’t over-confidence, it’s meeting someone who is composed and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Be Clear: Don’t confuse your hubs. 
  • Be Patient: Hubs are busy. It will take a long time to get a reply. Let it wait. Don’t push it. It’s okay to check in but don’t guilt trip them.
  • Ask for Advice: Consider asking for advice before asking for support from them. It gives them time to get to know you. If you ask for my advice and show me how well you used it, this will win me over big time. 


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.

marketing from the heart manifesto

One of my clients, wrote me a beautiful email recently with her ‘manifesto’ about marketing. I was so inspired by it that I had to share it. It’s a beautiful example of starting with the ‘why’ and of a clear and compelling point of view.


Marketing From The Heart?

by Mary Pellicer, MD?

My vision of what MARKETING can be if it comes from the HEART:

An INVITATION to people to live RICHER, FULLER and more MEANINGFUL LIVES, to live lives in ALIGNMENT with their own INTEGRITY.

Communication to INSPIRE from a place of GENEROSITY (vs. pushing and pressuring from a place of greed)

CONNECTION to inspire people out of LOVE and CARE (vs. motivating them from fear)

EMPATHIZING with people (vs. exploiting their insecurities)

Being COMMITTED to SERVING people (vs. selling to them)

Making sure it’s a PERFECT FIT (or NO DEAL)-Going for the WIN-WIN ?(vs. making the sale)

CONTACT to LEAD & INFLUENCE (vs. seeking fame)

Opening CONVERSATIONS about POSSIBILITIES (vs. closing deals)

Market from the Heart and invest in making the world an amazing place to live, work and grow.                    

(With much gratitude to Tad Hargrave who’s blog post Death and Marketing inspired this.)

niche case study: migraine sufferers

Heidi Wilson was a part of my last Niching for Hippies program.

She’s a cranio sacral therapist (among other things). That’s the boat (watch the video in this blog and that’ll make more sense). From her standpoint, craniosacral work is what she does. From the client’s standpoint though, craniosacral is just how she does what she does. From there standpoint, what she does is to help them get a particular result that they’re craving.

But which result?

That’s the million dollar question.

The challenge is more complex when you realize that most holistic modalities can help so many people with so many issues – that’s why they’re ‘holistic’ in the first place. But most people aren’t interested in being more holistically well. They’re too busy dealing with whatever pressing problems they’re facing.

And they’re sure not interested in prevention.

To state it another way: the modality you use (how you do what you do) is irrelevant to people. They don’t care. What is relevant to them are the problems they struggle with and the results they crave. Period.

So, your job in marketing is to translate that for them – to build the bridge – to help them see how your technique can help them get what they want.

But, of course, we can’t be experts in everything.

So, Heidi decided to narrow in on a very specific niche: migraine headaches.


Name: Heidi Wilson – Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

What is the niche you’ve come up with? Who is it? What are the problems they struggle with?

My niche is people who suffer from chronic migraine headaches who are open to natural solutions. They struggle with the pattern of recurring physical pain of migraine headaches and the accompanying disruption and dysfunction it causes in their lives. They don’t want to be dependent on drugs.

What’s the result you are helping them to achieve?

I help them live without this chronic pain through their committing to receiving regular craniosacral sessions for a period of at least six months.

How was the process of coming to this niche for you? Was it hard? Easy? A struggle? Something you’d already been working on?

Before the start of this course, I had thought about wanting to somehow bring in more people with migraines to my practice, since I knew that I could help them, but I hadn’t really thought about the concept of a “niche” before. It was cool to go through the process of reflecting on my own healing journey through Tad’s questions/homework. It helped me understand with more clarity that healing my wounds about shame and confusion around natural desires and sensuous expression, brought me to doing healing work. And that being passionate about teaching people to be at home in their bodies and recognizing the incredible healing resources available through this relationship with their bodies, is a natural progression on my path. The process wasn’t exactly easy- I went through some shadow work in answering the homework questions- that brought to light my strengths and values.

Why this niche? What’s the story here? What can you say about your personal connection to this niche? Were you once in a similar boat? What made you think you had something to offer here?

In the reflections for the homework for this class, there was a part that asked what we are good at, who have we helped? People with migraine headaches came up easily as an answer. I love seeing people through to the other side of this pain. I don’t get migraines myself, but my youngest daughter used to. There was a year in high school when she was under a lot of stress while going to a school that wasn’t a fit for her. Changing schools and getting bodywork from me helped her through. Witnessing the suffering she went through and wanting so much for her suffering to end helps me have compassion for people with this pattern.
Getting clear that this is a niche that I can name and claim is exciting to me.

What’s the response been to this so far from the people you’ve shared it with?

The response from people who I have told about this niche has been nothing but positive! Everyone seems to know someone who suffers from migraines and supports me in pursuing this project.

How are you planning to reach this crowd? Any sense of the best hubs right now?

I am in the process of creating a website specifically for people who suffer from migraines. I will purchase some google ads to get traffic coming to my site. I’ll soon create a Facebook page for this aspect of my business.

I have reached out to a friend who is a Naturopathic doctor who will take my cards and with whom I plan on doing some projects around migraine relief. I will also go to other Naturopathic doctors’ offices with cards and fliers/brochures about my offerings.

I’m contemplating creating some you tube videos about my practice of “Floating the Brain”, a meditative practice that I teach my craniosacral students that I believe will help people with migraines. This one is a bit edgy for me, but I want to go for it when I am ready!

What did you learn about niching along the way?

I have been in private practice for 19 years and never taken a marketing course- never really gave it much thought. My practice has really built itself on word of mouth. The concept of niche marketing was new to me so I learned one very basic concept that others may have already heard of or understood- that narrowing my focus can actually increase my effectiveness in reaching the people that I can help.

What are your next steps in exploring this niche? Any project ideas?

I plan on pursuing the project that I came up with in the six week course. That is- a free workshop/event co-created with my naturopathic friend. She will offer information on migraines’ causes and triggers and offer dietary recommendations and herbs. I will offer meditative exercises and practices I call “Floating the Brain” to feel your cranial rhythm and encourage a relaxation response to stress. Of course then I would let people know about my craniosacral work and why I believe they could benefit from my services if they were ready to commit to at least a few months of working together.

What would you say were the top three lessons you learned about niching from going through the six week Niching for Hippies program?

1. To have an idea and go for it!

2. So many cool ideas about creating and connecting with hubs through niching projects!

3. That I can keep growing my self and my work as I get more and more clear about who I am and who I love to be with!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Just that Tad, you are a great living example of someone working a successful niche! The titles- Niching for Hippies- and Marketing for Hippies- got me when I read it in an email -don’t remember how I got the original email… Just caught my attention and curiosity – struck a chord of relatedness… Then when I started to read the material, it continued to take me in with the down to earth honest approach to a topic that I didn’t normally relate to- marketing. Thanks for being real and so generous with your knowledge! And cool too of course!

Here’s what I might do if I were her:

Become an expert in migraines not just craniosacral. If she’s going to create a website on migraines, I want to see it full of links, tips, videos, blog posts, interviews etc. on migraines. You need to be masterful at your craft. True. You must be excellent at your technique or modality. But you must also become an expert in their problem. Stated another way – you need to be an expert in helping them get the results they crave. Fortunately, this isn’t difficult. Most migraine sufferers will have never even read a single book on the topic.

That’s a guess but I’d wager a generous sum that it’s true. All she needs to do is to read a few books on migraines and she’ll be well ahead of the curve. The key in the holistic world is to get outside of your own modality. Forget about it for a while and just learn about the issue at hand.

Seek other perspectives.

I imagine that herbalists, NLP practitioners, Chinese Medicine practitioners, essential oil purveyors, yoga teachers, hypnotherapists, meditation teachers, nutritionists etc. all have something to say and offer here that would be complimentary and not at all competitive. If her clients can see her as an expert not only in craniosacral (which they only peripherally care about to the extent they believe it can help them) but also in treating migraines she will be able to command much higher fees (should she want to), be much choosier in her clients, and will have so much more openness, trust and cooperation from her clients.

And she’ll want to make much of this context setting knowledge available for free on her site.

She’ll have street cred.

Develop a very clear point of view on treating migraines. The focus on migraines make her work instantly relevant to a lot of people. But the true credibility will come from them understanding her point of view – how she sees the situation. They want to know her ‘take’ on it. Her perspective, philosophy . . . her map on how to get them from Island A to Island B. Let’s imagine she chooses to do a series of blog posts on the topic. Here are some titles her potential clients might find very interesting.

“The Six Hidden Causes of Migraines”

“The Three Biggest Unfortunate Side Effects About Migraine Pain Relief Drugs The Drug Companies Would Rather You Don’t Know”

“Three Simple Home Remedies to Take the Edge Off Your Migraines”

“Five Foods That Will Make Your Migraines Worse”

“What’s Happening in Your Brain When You Have a Migraine”

These are just off the cuff but she could come up with more by answering these questions.

So much of marketing ends up being education. But not just education about the boat (e.g. “let me tell you how great Osteopathy is”) but education about the map (e.g. “See, here’s where the tides will whip you right into the rocks, here’s where the pirates are, here’s where the sea monsters are but this path here is smooth sailing. See that?”).  The more that people understand, resonate with and trust your map the more ideal clients you’ll get.

Identifying Hubs for Migraine Sufferers. The core of marketing, as I know it, is about identifying hubs. Asking yourself, ‘Where do migraine sufferers (who don’t want to rely on drugs) already spend their time, money and attention?’ The answer to that question will give you everything you need to start marketing to them effectively. In fact, we mentioned some great ones above – herbalists, NLP practitioners, Chinese Medicine practitioners, essential oil purveyors, yoga teachers, hypnotherapists, meditation teachers, nutritionists etc.

Here’s another bonus tip: for marketing to local clients staff at health food stores in the supplement section. I guarantee they have people coming in all the time looking for natural treatments to migraines. If all the staff know her and love her – you can be that they’ll be happy to refer business over to her of these clients.

Advice #4: Think global. Niching narrowly to a problem like migraines means you can now grow your business more broadly than where you live. Heidi could, over time, create videos, ebooks, audio programs etc. that she could sell on her new website – and make some money while she sleeps.


Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program

your signature talk

I was chatting with my colleague Jonathan Bender about his upcoming coaching program about helping people deliver a ‘signature talk’. It’s a term I suggest you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the coming months. But it’s a bit of jargon so I asked Jonathan to explain what it is and why it matters.
What is a signature talk? Why do it? And who’s it for?
First, a signature talk is simply a speech / presentation / keynote / talk that is uniquely you. It’s a forum for bringing your message to the world. Even if someone else has a similar topic, it doesn’t matter – a signature talk will always be authentically you. Also, it could be done at a live, in-person event, or it could be on a webinar or teleseminar. Finally, a signature talk could labeled as a motivational or inspirational speech. Often, it’s used to inspire new clients to work with you.
Why do it? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, speaking is one of the best ways to get clients, and to get established as an expert in your field. It helps you reach far more people very quickly – which makes getting clients much easier. Also, you get to change more people’s lives with your message. That’s pretty cool.
Who’s it for? If you are a heart-based entrepreneur – a coach, holistic practitioner, or with your own unique business that really helps people – it’s for you. If your reaction is, “I’m not a speaker,” then you’re the perfect fit. Yes, some people with signature talks make their living as paid speakers, but many others have their own coaching, therapy or healing business – and just use speaking to reach their perfect clients.
Anyone can learn to do it. It’s important to learn all the key elements, which I’ll be discussing with Tad on our call on Wednesday. Join us to learn a lot more, and how you can put a professional signature talk together – and start using it to attract great clients – faster than you may think.
Let me drill this down a bit further.
Your signature talk with where you express your point of view. Meaning, your talk is fundamentally going to be on the topic of the journey they’re on from Island A to Island B (and maybe to inspire them that Island C is possible). But just getting up there and describing that journey would, ultimately, be unsatisfying for an audience. You need to not only talk about the destination but to draw your unique map of how you think people should best make that journey.
You need to share your honest point of view.
I wrote a post called “50 real life examples of point of view in action“. And each of the examples could be the basis of your signature talk. But finding your voice and really honing your point of view into something clear can take work. Your signature talk is a chance to express your platform – to have them leave with a very clear sense of what you want to be known for.
Think about the success of TED Talks.

You’ve likely seen at least one (and if you haven’t I apologize in advance for the week of your life you’re going to lose watching them).

These talks are obviously inspiring, thought provoking and often very powerful.

But also consider this – can you imagine the number of books those videos have sold for the speakers? The number of speaking engagements and clients they gotten as a direct result of those talks? What those talks have done for their reputation? The projects they’ve been invited to be involved in?

Think about it.

I’ve gotten to asking my clients at workshops – ‘What would your TED Talk be?’ If you were given 20 minutes on stage in front of thousands of your ideal clients would you be able to distill your core philosophy and ‘take’ on things into that time in a way that they totally ‘got it’?

Of course, TED has a massive reach and reputation. But, even if you take that away, having a ‘signature talk’ like that (whether online or in person) is one of the most vital things I can imagine an entrepreneur having. The power of TED is partly the huge following they have (1,224,829 Followers) but it’s also about the clarity of the ideas being communicated and the powerful stories being told.

You may not have the reach but you can create a talk with the same power and impact.

You likely already know that public speaking is one of the best ways to get clients.

Yet, so many incredible conscious entrepreneurs aren’t doing it.

Or, they’re not being effective, and missing out on getting to bring their important message and purpose to the world.

I’ve seen talks where the presenter never even mentioned their services they offered (and so got no clients). I’ve seen talks where the speakers used high pressure and manipulative tactics to try and get people to buy (and then got no clients).

Jonathan Bender, a warm and wonderful fellow who’s been a speaking coach for over 15 years (also a professional theater director, actor and writer!), will be leading an incredible free training:

“How to Craft a Powerful, Inspiring Speech… that Transforms Your Audience, Changes Their Lives, and Moves Them to Work with You!”

DATE: Wednesday, October 10th @ 5pm PT/6pm MT/7pm CT/8pm ET
COST: Free


three marketing lessons from the man behind mother earth news

Bryan Welsh is likely not someone you’ve heard of. But if you’ve ever read Mother Earth News, Utne, Natural Home & Garden, The Herb Companion, Grit or The Farm Collector – then you’ve read one of the magazines his company Ogden Publications owns.

And, last night, I had the pleasure of seeing him speak at the Social Venture Institute at the Hollyhock Center on Cortes Island, BC. His presentation felt like a mix of Mark Twain, farmer and media mogul – relaxed, charming, engaging story telling.

Brian grew up doing farming as a young man and then worked in every possible role in the small town newspaper business – eventually becoming the owner of many of the most important progressive magazines worldwide.

And he had some real gems from a business and marketing perspective that I just had to share.

Lesson #1: Abstract vs. Practical Point of View

He felt that Mother Earth News did so well because it had always been about ‘cool stuff you could do.’ vs. just ideas, a critique of the dominant culture and the economy. That struck me. He pointed out that, economically, media properties that are about ‘ideas’ tend not to be as consistent money makers. Mother Earth News does much better than Utne.  People just don’t want to pay a lot of money to hear your ideas. It’s a hard business model.

I talk a lot about point of view in marketing and how important your perspective is.

But his sharing reminded me that point of view is almost always more clear and compelling when it’s infused into things rather than when it’s just talked about abstractly.

It’s one thing to talk about the principles of being a loving parent (e.g. be respectful, be kind, be loving etc) but it’s far more useful (for a parent) to have ‘here are five ways you can deal with your child not cleaning their room in a kind, respectful and loving way’.

It’s one thing to talk about the importance of honesty and integrity in marketing. It’s another thing to say, ‘here’s a five step process to filling your workshops with honesty and integrity.’

It’s one thing to say be sustainable and eco friendly in your lifestyle. It’s another to say, ‘here’s how to make natural cleaners with all natural household ingredients.’

It’s okay to talk abstractly, but make sure you give a lot of real world examples. Have your point of view show up in your practical, how-to info and you’ll have fans for life.

Lesson #2: Free Random Info Isn’t That Useful

We live in a day of free information. You want to know how to do anything, someone has an entire blog dedicated just to doing that. 100 people have created youtube videos on how to do it. And it’s all free.

Of course, the immediate challenge that arises is . . . who do you trust? What if there are conflicting opinions on how to get the job done? Holy overwhelm.

Brian pointed out that, ‘Information from a recognized source, in a voice you’re familiar with, values you understand on subjects you’re passionate about has more value than random free information you can find in abundance online.’

But let’s break that down.

  • recognized and trusted source: sometimes this comes from just sticking around for a while, building your relationship of trust with your following. They come to know, like and trust you. You become a trusted advisor because you’re such a generosity based business, you offer so much free content, you make it safe for your clients to get to know you. You showcase lots of case studies and examples of your work to demonstrate your expertise. And the easiest way to become a trusted source is to hone in on a particular niche.
  • a voice you’re familiar with and enjoy: this question of having a particular voice is powerful. When we say ‘voice’ we’re not talking about how it sounds when you speak but about the particular vibe, point of view and tone of your expression. Some people speak in a very conservative voice, some have a sexy voice, some have a politically radical voice, some have a quirky and fun voice. And people will be drawn to you based on your voice. Not just what you say but how you say it. The more you find your voice, the more you’ll attract clients who love you and are drawn to you just because you’re the way you are.
  • values you understand and resonate with: some times it’s so confusing why some people believe things. I don’t get the values of a white supremist. It makes no sense to me. If someone was a political conservative they might not get my hippie values. They’d look at how I do things and what’s important to me and shake their head.  It’s so wonderful to walk into a cafe and see how it embodies your values. For me, when I see fair trade coffee, local and organic food etc. I ‘get’ it. I understand those values. I resonate with those. When I see that a business embodies a bigger cause than just money that I also am aligned with I’m so much more likely to buy because, by supporting them, I am helping to further the cause I’m passionate about too. People don’t just buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Stop trying to change minds and focus on the people who resonate with your values.
  • on subjects you’re passionate about: again, abstract points of view aren’t that compelling for people. But points of view on subjects I’m passionate about? I’m super interested in (if they’re from a recognized and trusted source, in a voice I’m familiar with and enjoy). Those topics might be nerdy and they might be about pressing problems I want to solve or how to get results I’m craving.

It’s not enough just to talk about subjects people are passionate about. You need to build your credibility, develop your particular voice and clarify your value.

Lesson #3: Berries. Don’t put pictures of berries on magazine covers. Peoplle dont’ buy them. Any other fruit or vegetable can work. But people don’t like berries. #nowyouknow

the easiest question to uncover your niche

As we approach the launch of my six week Niching for Hippies coaching program, I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about niching.

And one thing has gotten clearer and clearer to me over the past month: your niche is often you.

A while back, I wrote a blog post about how our deepest wounds can be a doorway to our truest niche. And then a few weeks ago, I wrote a bit more about how your niche is often you.

Or at least who you used to be.

And I want to hone in on that theme here. 

Because, I think there’s one question you can ask yourself which will take you closer to figuring out your most authentic niche than anything I know.

A question that’s so simple and so obvious but so clear that you it might surprise you.

Here’s the question: “What have you had to overcome in your life to be where you are today?”

That’s it.

Think about it. You’ve had to overcome a lot in your life to be where you are: heartbreak, death, profound loss, deep loneliness, cruelty from others etc. 

And to survive that, you had to adapt. You had to learn to get good at certain things. You had to develop skills. And maybe life just pulverized you into submission and you had to learn the art of letting go. Maybe you became charming, maybe you got good at art, maybe you learned a lot about compassion, maybe you had to learn a lot about how life really works vs. how you wished it might.

My guess is that to deal with your wounds you might have talked to a lot of friends, gone to workshops, sought out counseling, gone back to school.

Overcoming things is not easy work.

And the word ‘overcome’ here is important.

I’m not just asking you to think about where you’ve struggled in life. Struggle doesn’t imply any kind of growth or learning. I’m asking you to consider where in your life you’ve really made progress. Maybe you didn’t make it as far as you would have liked, but you’re further than you were (and maybe further than you ever imagined you’d be).

Maybe you used to be really overweight. And now you’re still a bit overweight but you’ve made so much progress.

Maybe you used to be deep in debt and you’re not all the way out but you’re well on your way.

Maybe you were shattered by heartbreak and, you’re not 100% over it but you’re 75% over it.

Maybe you used to feel anxious and depressed all the time and now it’s only some of the time.

You’ve made progress. You’ve overcome it in a lot of ways. You’re not longer trapped in the quicksand of the problem.

And that qualifies you to help anyone who has made less progress than you, anyone who’s a few steps behind you in their journey. You don’t have to posture and pretend to be an expert or to be perfect. To offer help you just need to be a few steps ahead. 

Another way of putting it: haven’t you become the very person whose help you needed when you were younger?

Dike Drummond of The Happy MD who was featured in yesterday’s blog post said it so well of his past as a burned out Medical Doctor, 

I realized that the person I have become here in 2012 is the exact person I would have so loved to meet back in 1998 … and if we had met, I am pretty sure I would still be practicing medicine in some fashion today. Once I realized this and saw the amount of burnout – and suffering – out there … the purpose of these last 12 years of my life became crystal clear. 

Imagine if younger you could have had the insights and experience you have now. Imagine if, somehow, you could have given yourself the mentorship and guidance that you so needed back then (and that you would have listened). 

Well, this world is full of ‘younger yous’. It’s not too late. There are so many people trapped in the swamps of the very issues you have overcome and made so much progress in. 

Can you think of any group of people you are more qualified to help than them?

Can you think of any person they might be happier to see than you? Someone who’s already been through it.

Can you think of any group of people you’d be happier to help? Any kind of work that would be more meaningful?

I invite you to sit with this question: “What have you had to overcome in your life to be where you are today?” 

Your answers might surprise you, free you and delight others.


Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program

Island Z: The Unspoken Fears

A lot of us have fears we never speak about. Fears we imagine no one else has. Fears no one else could understand.

And I think it’s important to know what these are for your client.

I’ve been writing a lot about the journey and the key elements of your platform lately.

Here’s a recap if you’ve missed it.

Imagine a young man on an island (which we’ll call Island A). It’s not that great a place to be. But, it’s all he knows, so he goes about his days. Then he starts hearing that his is not the only island in the world. That there are other islands. At first he doesn’t believe it, but the more he visits the docks and meets these visitors the clearer it becomes. It’s true. And then, one day, he hears about a particular island (which we’ll call Island B). And his heart leaps. He wants to go there.

Of course, he needs to get a boat to go there.

But there are so many boats to hire! Which one to choose?

Your business is a boat. It helps people like this young man get from Island A where they’re struggling with some problem (i.e. set of symptoms they don’t like) to Island B where they have the result they want (i.e. something they’re craving).

But if you can imagine that to left of Island A is another island. Island Z. But the catch is, it’s not a real island. It’s an imaginary island. It’s a fantasy. A fear. A phantom. But it feels so incredibly real. If you can imagine Island Z is in a thought bubble above the person sitting on Island A.

Island Z is where they’re secretly scared they’re going to end up if they do nothing.

These are fears like:

  • ‘If i don’t handle my dating life I’m going to end up old and alone.’
  • ‘If I approach that woman I’m attracted to she’ll think I’m a total creep and tell all her friends and everyone watching will laugh at me.’
  • ‘if I don’t keep my mind sharp I’m going to end up with alzheimers like my great grandparents.’
  • ‘I’m so scared that when I’m older there will be no one to look after me and I’ll end up a bag lady.’
  • ‘I don’t want to end up like my father.’
  • ‘If people knew I was struggling with this then __________ would happen.’
  • ‘If I admit that I’ve got these healthy symptoms then I might find out I have cancer like my father.’

These fears are rarely talked about, but they’re deeply real for people. These fears aren’t things you can be ‘known’ for but understanding them gives you an incredible empathy and sensitivity which will allow you to engage the other three more deeply and safely.

And many of us are, secretly, so scared we’re going to end up there.

I think it’s important to be aware of these fears. Because, sometimes, these fears are so profoundly deep and overwhelming that they can’t even acknowledge that they’re on Island A. They can’t even acknowledge that they have a problem because then they’d have to acknowledge the potential implications of that.

If’ I’m in my 70’s and starting to forget a lot of things, I might not tell anyone because if I do they might take away my driver’s license. They might want to do tests. They might tell me I have alzheimers. And I’d just rather not know.

Island Z can be so terrifying that it keeps us frozen in a holding pattern that’s not healthy for us. And it’s exhausting. We spend so much energy trying to avoid look at it.

When you begin a conversation around new and better possibilities for people, it can bring them face-to-face with their current reality and where that might lead.  It brings them face-to-face with the quality of life that they are currently settling for and where that might lead.  Most people know that more is possible — which makes it all the more painful to look at the level they have decided to live at.

This will bring up pain for people.  So, it’s important to realize the mechanisms that people have for dealing with pain.  In fact, these mechanisms are probably what caused them to settle in the first place.  Basically, there are…

6 Ways We Avoid Dealing with Pain:

1.    Denial: We try to pretend that it’s not there.  We pretend that it doesn’t hurt.  It’s like the old Aesop’s fable about the Fox trying to get the grapes.  He tries to trick the crow into dropping them but, when unsuccessful, walks away saying, “I didn’t want those grapes anyway.”

I have heard people describe denial by using it as an acronym for Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying.

We will go to amazing lengths to pretend we don’t have a problem.  Whether it’s as extreme as alcoholism, the state of our physical health or the state of our finances.  We sometimes seem to believe that if we don’t look at the problem it will simply go away.  Denial is the ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

2.    Sedatives and Numbing Out:  We use sedatives of “food”, alcohol, drugs etc. to lower our level of pain.  The use of any of these once a while, isn’t the issue.  The issue is that we use these as a consistent pattern.  But perhaps the worst drug of all is when people tell themselves “it’s okay”.  When we have attempted to create a result again and again and failed – we tend to give up.

When we try to handle our finances in countless ways and can’t seem to get it together we will either step up and take another cut the ball or we will step down and deal with our pain by saying, “it’s okay.  It’s not really that bad.”  

We will reinforce this by hanging around with a peer group that has equally low expectations of life.  This peer group will say things like, “Hey, don’t be so hard in yourself.  Quit working so hard.  Relax once a while.”  But the peer group is not really saying these things out of any sense of true caring for the person the because they don’t want to look at the fact that they are also in pain – and they don’t want to lose their friend.

3.    Rationalize And Tell Themselves Stories:  you can hear a rationalization a million miles away.  They almost always start with the words “Well it’s not like I…” or “At least I  . . .” (followed by the one strong standard they have).

We’ll say things like, “Sure I smoke once in awhile, but it’s not like I’m one of those people who smokes three packs a day.”  Or when looking at our finances, we’ll say, “Sure my finances are a mess but it’s not like I’m $100,000 in debt on credit cards.”  Or we’ll look at their romantic relationships and say, “Sure, it’s not the most fulfilling relationship in the world but it’s not like we’re fighting all the time and hate each other.”  

The easiest way to rationalize lowering our standards is to compare ourselves with people who have even lower standards.

4.    Justify:  We give our reasons:  “I mean I should do this but…” in whatever comes after that “but” is our “excuse” for not taking action.  So, at least we acknowledge that there is a problem, but the way we choose to deal with it is to prove to other people, and ourselves, why we can’t do anything about it.

5.    Using Softeners:  We say, “I’m big boned…” vs. “I’m fat”.  We say, “I’m having a few problems with my finances.”  As opposed to, “My personal finances are a disaster.”  We will use the language that softens the emotional impact — and so we will never ever connect with the pain that could actually drive them to create the change they want in our lives.  Until we face, and ultimately embrace, the pain they are currently experiencing we will never have the energy or motivation to create the level of change we want.

6.    We Blame: We make it someone else’s fault. It’s my ancestors, my family, my friends, my boss, the world, God, circumstance . . . anything but us. Then we get to feel like a victim and get some sympathy (which can feel nice). But nothing changes. All of our energy gets invested in trying to change things we can’t change.

This is different from seeing how one’s problem or fear is actually a symptom of a larger collective issue – e.g. perfectionism – which can be really freeing.

So how do you deal with these deep fears?

With a lot of love and empathy. Many entrepreneurs miss the empathy piece and end up with one the four client repelling traits I speak to in this blog post.

20 Non Empathic Responses to People’s Pain

NonviolentCommunicationMany of the following responses to people’s pain may seem empathic, until you’re at the receiving end of them. Give this a read and notice what responses people give you that don’t feel good – and notice which one you tend to give other people.

None of these will work to address the fears of Island Z or create any sense of safety. These are all borrowed from the very excellent book, Non Violent Communication

1. Advising: “I think you should . . “ “How come you didn’t?”

2. Analyzing: “Well, I think it’s clear the reason this happened is . . .”

3. Arguing: “That isn’t right at all. That isn’t how it happened.” “Boy. I really disagree with you on that.”

4. Commiserating: “That’s terrible. She had no right to do that to you.”

5. Condemning: “I need to call you on your racist shit.”

6. Consoling: “It wasn’t your fault; you did the best you could.” “Everything’s going to be okay.”

7. Correcting: “That’s not how it happened.” “It’s not really that hard.”

8. Criticizing: “You know what your problem is?” “Can’t you do anything right?”

9. Diagnosing: “This is happening because you’re so passive-aggressive.”, “You know, you really have a limiting pattern of always doing _____.”, “You know what your problem is?”

10. Educating: “This could turn into a very positive experience for you if you just . . .” “Well, in my experience, it was very different.” “I have a very different relationship to that.”

11. Evaluating: “If you hadn’t been so careless.”

12. Explaining: “I would have called but . . .” “I didn’t want to do it this way, but . . .”

13. Fixing: “What will help you is to . . .”

14. Interpretations: “I think he did that because . . .”

15. Interrogating: “When did this begin? What are you feeling?”

16. Lecturing: “It’s like I always say. . .” “How many times do I have to tell you?”

17. One-Upping: “That’s nothing: wait’ll you hear what happened to me.”

18. Shutting Down: “Cheer up. Don’t worry. Don’t feel so bad.”

19. Story-telling: “That reminds me of a time . . .” “Oh! That reminds me of this Tony Robbins seminar that I went to once. Tony said . . .”

20. Sympathizing: “Oh you poor thing.”

So, if those don’t work, how do you engage with it?

To be honest, I’m not 100% sure, but here are some initial thoughts . . .

Fifteen Ideas on Dealing with the Fear of Island Z:

  • safety: instead of pushing harder, we want come from a place of being gentler and sweeter. We can to make sure that we are as safe a space as possible. That might mean extreme confidentiality. Making sure they can engage with us in a way that no one else ever needs to know. The more safe they feel, the more they’ll be willing to face the truth.
  • empathy: if they can see that we really understand what they’re secretly scared of this goes a long way. I can’t recommend reading the book Non Violent Communication enough for this. The key is that we want to give empathy first for Island A. Just for the symptoms as they experience them. And, of course, part of the symptoms they experience are the fear of Island Z.
  • normalize the problem: we need to help them understand that they’re not alone. The more we can build the understanding that they’re not alone the better. The more they can see this as a widespread issue that many others share the better. We need to normalize the fear. We need it to not seem like it’s a weird thing to have that fear. As Tom Compton says, ‘the resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance.’ Sometimes the feeling that they shouldn’t be having that fear is actually a bigger issue than the fear itself. If you can share your own story of how it took you forever to deal with this and how clueless you were – this goes a long way.
  • normalize the solution: the more you can make it feel like, ‘hey, everyone is doing this’ the more likely they will be to do it as well. This often starts with identifying your hubs and enrolling them and getting them to spread the word for you. This is the kind of thing you might want to do in partnership with other people who are helping people on the same journey (and maybe with a similar boat even). It’s like a bunch of independent retailers getting together to promote a ‘shop local’ campaign. A core principle of community based social marketing is this: make it normal to do the right thing.
  • realistic statistics: we need to help them understand how realistic this fear is. The fear of a plane crash or being attacked by a shark is blown profoundly out of proportion. More people die in traffic accidents than plane crashes. More people die from pop machines than sharks. Let’s just get real here.
  • case studies of success: this is huge. If you can show them story after story of people who were on Island A and didn’t end up on Island Z but maybe on Island C it will do more than just about anything you can imagine. You can’t have too many stories and real life examples.
  • story telling: when there’s a lot of shame and fear around an issue, the traditional marketing approach of writing in the ‘you’ (e.g. ‘Are YOU struggling with money?’) might be a bit too direct. It might trigger shut down and defensiveness which could kill it way before it has a chance to begin. Try telling the story of a typical client (or a micro story) or the story of what it might be like to work with you. By telling a story (often in the third person) you give it a bit of psychological distance which allows people to read it and approach the story in their own time and find themselves in it in their own way. Remember, these fears are most often unspoken. So, for someone to read their fears laid out in a story (even your own story) can be a bit mind blowing (in a good way).
  • realistic honesty about limits of possibility: one of the best things I ever saw in marketing was from a poster about a holistic nutrition workshop. One of the bullet points said, ‘Come and learn the possibilities and the limitations of holistic nutrition’. Wow. That was so powerful. They were willing to admit to it having limitations. That realism built more credibility than any big claim. Instantly more trustworthy. When things seem ‘too good to be true’ they’re not trustworthy. Tell them what you can help them with and what you can’t. Tell them what you think is possible and what isn’t. Be real with them and they’ll melt into openness.
  • address the shame: the more people can understand that it’s not entirely their fault, that their are bigger systems at play that have helped create their problem and that it’s a normal human thing to go through… the more they’ll relax and open to letting it go. The shame of not having dealt with it yet can keep people from even looking at it and having to admit how bad it is. No shame. No blame. The more your presence can reassure and say, ‘hey, it’s okay’ the more they can begin to open to a new possibility.
  • show them a step by step plan: few things will inspire more confidence than you showing them a step by step plan on how you’re going to get them from Island A to Island B. It moves it away from just being you saying, ‘trust me’.
  • educate them about your point of view: go beyond showing them the plan. Show them WHY you came up with the plan you did. Help them understand not just the route you’re suggesting but the map itself. Help them understand the tides, the winds, the hidden rocks underwater. Help them understand why you’ve made the choices they did.
  • build a relationship over time until they’re ready: the importance of staying in touch over time and building trust by adding value can’t be overstated. Marketing is like baseball and you can’t skip bases.
  • help them see a bigger context: share your why. Share the bigger cause you see it all as a part of. Help them see that by taking the journey on their own, they’re making a contribution to a much wider movement. If they can see themselves as a part of a wider movement, they’re a lot less likely to give up – they’ll feel more accountable and more bolstered by others.
  • community: perhaps the most important of all – can you connect them with real people? It can be done virtually or in person. But can you help to become a hub and foster a wider sense of community?
  • be encouraging: life is so short. Too many people die with regrets (often the same five). Sometimes some old fashioned real talk and encouraging words to live our lives fully goes a long way – especially if all of these other pieces are in place.

twelve ways to figure out your ‘why’

So, over the past week or so you’ve read about why it’s important to have a bigger cause that your business is about, you’ve seen some examples of people who have or are exploring this but now it’s time to look at how you can begin to sort this out for yourself.

The first thing I’d suggest is not to attempt to do this alone.

What I’d most commend is to sit down with a dear one in your life over a hot cup of something delicious and to have them ask you these questions and take careful notes for you. They can ask you good follow up questions and reflect what they’re hearing you say.

The second thing I want to suggest is that this is not an overnight process. It will evolve and deepen over time. And that’s okay.

But I do think these questions will help you make some progress.

Here they are . . .

  • What has been one of the central questions of your life? What are those topics and questions you find yourself constantly circling around and bringing up in conversations? What are the conversations you find hardest to stop?
  • What are the different elements or worlds you’re trying to balance? What worlds do you feel like you’re a bridge between?
  • What got you started in what you’re doing?
  • What are the changes you want to see your industry undergo?
  • What is this work really about for you? Try completing this sentence twenty times, “At the heart of it, my work is about . . .”
  • Complete this sentence, “When I look at the world, what I most see missing is . . .”
  • Complete this sentence – ‘every ______ deserves ________’ (e.g. ‘every woman deserves the opportunity to have a joyful birthing and parenting experience’ or ‘every man deserves authentic brotherhood’)
  • what’s the impact of what you do on people’s lives if you do it well?
  • If everyone in your target market got to Island B, then what? What would the impact of that be on the world?
  • what are you most sick and tired of seeing in the world?
  • when you read the paper, walk down the streets, surf the net – what issues grab you and why?
  • Whatever you do – is there a metaphorical level to it? If you help people with heart issues on a physical level – is there a deeper metaphorical level to hearts. If you help people to build houses – what is a house really ‘about’? If you sell bicyles – what are bicycles about? If you massage feet – what are feet about at a deeper level? 


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