Interview with Kundan Chhabra: How to Make it Easier to Get Business by Creating a Context of Good Will, Nurturance, Trust and Alignment

A few months ago, my Facebook friend Kundan Chhabra posted something that caught my eye. It was about creating a context of good will in your business. I messaged him asking if he would be willing to write a guest post for my blog about it. It took a few months of conversation but what you see below is the result of those back and forths.

Kundan is someone I met online with whom I’ve been consistently impressed. His ethics on business and marketing and his commitment to social justice are values I wish I saw in more entrepreneurs.

The approach Kundan outlines is true in my experience.

I hope you enjoy.

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Tad: We were connecting recently about an ‘aha’ you’d had about the connection between one’s dating and romantic life and marketing. I was wondering if you’d be willing to share it.

Kundan: I’ve been thinking of my love life recently and how it’s starting to have parallels with my business as I go through the soft launch of my new site. And I’ve been pondering a new model of dating that I like to call “contextual dating” or “communal dating”.

I once asked a client: “When you go to a party or an event, do you talk to everyone or only to the women you’re attracted to?”

“Only the women,” he said.

“Talk to everyone. And be a Source of Stability for everyone in the room. And be fully your True Self.” I suggested.

This is the lifestyle I live and teach.

As a result, I’ve had some great experiences.

The number one thing I have noticed is that by the time I talk to a woman, they have already seen me, felt me, known me and become attracted to me (or not). Often, they saw me before I saw them. For example, one time I was dancing on my own during blues dancing (I often dance on my own in between dancing with partners to rejuvenate and recharge myself. Sounds strange but I am also doing energy-work on myself and the room as I dance. That’s why it actually recharges me).

Through the mirror, I could see a woman sitting by the wall and looking at me with complete admiration on her face. It just so happened that I was also attracted to her. So I eventually went up to talk to her as I sat next to her. At some point, she said, “I like the way you dance.” That, I already knew. So eventually I asked her to dance with me. And it was enjoyable.

Another time, I was dancing at another event, and I heard a voice from behind me say, “Thank you.” I turned around and saw this beautiful woman. I’ve had a wonderful intimate connection with her for 2 years since that day.

I’ve been noticing a Parallel with my business as well.

How so?

Lately, as I dive deep into the deepest depths of what I call my Heart Virtue and Super Power, and create content from that, I’ve been noticing a similar effect.

(Your “Super Power” is your most powerful strength, your greatest gift to the world and simultaneously the number one way you desire to be loved. Your “Heart Virtue” is your deepest Why, your most meaningful “virtue” you were born to embody, experience and express).

Clients and prospects reach out to me first.

By the time they are on a Discovery Call with me, they tell me, within the first 5 minutes of the call, “You don’t need to sell me anything. I already know I want to work with you.”

So, there’s no fight, no war, and no “overcoming objections”.

There’s also no “being a stand for them”.

What’s your take on what ‘being a stand for them’ is all about? Why is this taught so often?

“Being a stand for them” is a popular tactic these days that supposedly replaces NLP manipulation in the teaching lore about enrollment conversations. I think this still comes from a Warrior mindset of seeing it as a fight (Supposedly a fight between the client’s Ego defenses/fears and what they really desire which is apparently your program or offer).

It sounds compelling. Is it that it frames you as the hero and them the victim?

Yes. It does.

But it is not necessary if you set a proper context long before the enrollment conversation. In some  cases, the enrollment conversation is not even needed if there is a proper context: people sometimes go directly to the sales page and buy. In fact, for all sales below $200, I am able to completely eliminate the enrollment conversation altogether.

How do you do that? And why?

How? By having a crystal clear point of view, problem, solution, story and offer are so that they create deep empathy in the client: that it, they feel fully seen, gotten and understood. In other words: through the social context itself that we’ve been talking about.

Why do I do this? Because I’d rather not give away an hour of my time for free just to make a $200 sale (or below) when my rates are at $1000 an hour.. Plus, it’s unnecessary when it’s clear to the client that either this is all the money they want to spend or that particular session/offer is what they want. My enrollment conversations are not to convince people to buy from me. They are already convinced when they contact me. So, it’s just a question of helping them decide which offer is right for them.

“My enrollment conversations are not to convince people to buy from me.” Amen.

This is why I ask the following pre-enrollment question when they fill out the enrollment form when they schedule the enrollment call with me on Calendly: “Do you have capital or a budget to invest in your education? “Yes I do. I have: 1. $1000 to $5000 2. $5000+” Choose one. (Minimum Investment of $1000 required to work 1-1 long-term with me. Are you prepared for this?).”

If they say, “No” to this, I message them and re-direct them to an offer that’s below $200.. (Although I may raise this to $333 soon. No reason in particular for this. Just my Intuition).

I have absolutely no desire to convince a client to get a loan or credit card or some other way of ‘making it happen’ if they are already convinced that anything above $1000 is too much. I used to do the convincing in the past. Not any more. This is why I’ve created this “social context system” of getting business in the first place.

That sounds like a lot less work. How are you defining ‘context’?

I see context as the entire container for why we are having the enrollment conversation. It’s the Facebook groups we are both a part of, the Facebook Live videos they have watched before and/or other content, prior comment threads and PM messages, and the larger conversation about our deeper reasons for doing the work we do.

And I am learning that Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence”, says pretty much the same thing in his book “Pre-suasion” – that most of the ‘sale’ occurs long before the sales conversation even takes place as a result of the context you set or don’t set.

So, how do you create a social context of goodwill in your business?

You become a source of stability, nurturance and transformation for your industry.

You be fully your true self.

And, tactically, how does this show up in your business?

You share relevant content that authentically expresses your unique point of view about how your people can best address their issues. You share your own stories of transformation or those of your clients.

Do you have a different take on this than others who talk about ‘content marketing’?

I think of this as being a ‘key holder’.

Let me expand upon this. Imagine your clients have a treasure box. In this treasure box lies the solutions to their problems and the specific thing they desire in this specific area of their life that you have expertise in.

But that treasure box has a lock. Your expertise (especially your Super Power) is the key that unlocks this box for them. I can’t emphasize this enough. When it comes to business, your content actually has to be relevant to your audience. Not just relevant. It has to exactly fit what they are searching for: like a key to their lock. This is how you create the good will that specifically inspires your audience’s Deep Intuition to be activated so that they go: “Wow! This person is my Keyholder for this specific problem.”

And it’s all from the content I create which sets up the context for the enrollment conversation.

But, it can’t be just random good will. It can’t be like Santa Claus shouting “Ho Ho Ho” and spreading good cheer. It’s more like Being a Yoda to the Luke Skywalker in them or being a Morpheus to the “Neo” in them.

Frank Kern calls this creating Good Will by providing “Results in Advance”. If they want to go from A to Z, you create content that takes them from A to C. My model is more about providing a way for them to do it all themselves (for most of the stuff I teach anyways) but if they want to go deeper and be even more effective, they can hire me as their coach.

This is where prior work around Niching and Point of View Marketing is vitally important (which Tad Hargrave can help you with).

What’s your take on niching?

Your niche is the group of people for whom your Super Power is the key to unlocking their treasure, and because your Super Power is completely unique (no one else in the world has it), you magnetise a very specific audience that is specifically attuned to you: your Super Power can’t solve any other problems: only their problems. So it’s also important to know the number one problem you’re born to solve. So this is where deep Inner Self-Connection is critical: a lot of this is based on deep Self-Discovery work.

So, just to recap: it sounds like most people put most of their effort in sales towards the actual sales conversation and you’re suggesting that the focus be moved to much earlier in the process in the creating of a context of good will. Is that right?

Yes, that’s right.

What are the three biggest factors that contribute to this?

The three biggest factors that contribute to this are:

Self-Connection (whether through the meditation I recommend here or the deeper work I do regarding “Heart Virtues” and “Super Power“).

Relevant Content to your “1000 True Fans” AKA “Brand Heroes” which brings up:

Niching (Again, I have a slightly different take on this. My definition today is that your niche is the group of people for whom your Super Power is the key to solving their biggest problem. So it’s an inside-out approach rather than outside-in).
And regarding niching: if you really got your niche right, there is also less struggle and manipulation or even “taking a stand for you” conversations.

Can you give more real life examples of this that you’ve witnessed in others? I’d love to hear times you saw people destroy the social context of goodwill too and how it hurt them and others.

Yes. I was once on a Discovery Call with a woman who claimed she could help me find exactly what my niche is: she apparently had a magical power to immediately tell exactly what my niche is. I was told (by the person who recommended me who it turned out was her coach) that clients cried in their sessions with her because it was apparently so powerful and eye-opening.

That’s why I reached out.

She immediately asked me to be on a Discovery Call with her – even though I didn’t know her at all, which itself felt odd to me. So there was no prior social context of Good Will, Nurturance and Good Will at all.

During the call, she wouldn’t let me off the phone. She wanted a $1000 sale right on that phone call.

And she kept saying, “This may be uncomfortable for you. But I am putting a fire on your butt so that you take action. I am taking a stand for you.” I ended up not hiring her even when I eventually did have the money.

And it sounds like, the way you see creating this context of good will has a lot to do with you being very attuned to yourself, being stable inside, so that you’re coming from a place of generosity rather than being a vampire?

Bingo!

I’m also hearing that your sense of it is that when you figure out your Super Power which, by its nature, solves a very particular problem for people, and you share that with the world more freely, you’ll be coming not only from a place of strength but your ideal clients will recognize that and be drawn to it?

Exactly!

So, is your Super Power related to your take on things? Your point of view? Is it connected to your diagnosis of their issues or is it some other thing?

Yes. It’s part of my Point of View when it comes to helping other coaches and healers make a sale.

It’s how I create content when it comes to my own business. When I write a post or, especially, when I make a Facebook Live or Live series, I tune in to who I want to communicate to. And I do that by tuning in to who best my Super Power can serve, what Purpose I serve, and what treasure I am unlocking. And so, I am not particularly worried about Facebook algorithms or visibility.

For me, it’s not about how many people I reach but exactly whom I reach: I set the intention to reach exactly the right people for whom I am either their Keyholder, OR their audience includes people for whom I am their Keyholder.

So it’s a mixture of Inner Alchemy with outer Business Strategy. So there’s a certainly a certain level of “Co-Creation Magic” – what some people might call “manifestation” but I prefer calling it “co-creation”.

And it’s not always about attracting a client.

For example, one time I posted my poem called “A Love Letter to Anger”. Within 2 minutes of that post, someone with a large mailing list immediately messaged me and asked if she can mail it to her mailing list with complete credit and links of course. Another great example is you yourself reaching out to me to write this article for Marketing for Hippies, Tad. Right? You did that as a result of my post in Awarepreneurs.

So it may not always directly attract a client yet but it certainly increases credibility, visibility and good will with our target audience or “brand hero”, which creates a cumulative context of Good Will, Nurturance and sense of Alignment with me.

Anyways, I just wanted to offer this up an alternative path because this is a topic that has come up often in the Conscious Business community regarding manipulation in sales, marketing, sales calls and selling from the stage, etc.

To summarize: it’s about setting up a Social Context of Good Will, Nurturance and Specifically Relevant Alignment with our “Brand Hero” and sets us up as their Mentor in the Epic Story of their Lives long before they even get to the sales page or the enrollment conversation, whatever the case may be.

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About Kundan: Kundan helps you simplify your business as a vehicle for creating that more beautiful free world that you had a glimpse of in your Awakening, mystical, psychedelic and flow experiences.

He does this by helping you discover your Greatest Gift (your Unique Super Power) and Deepest Why that had been created out of your Greatest Longing. Your Greatest Longing that had been born and grown out of your Greatest Struggle the way diamonds and pearls are created.

He then helps you embody your Remarkable Legacy in communion with exactly and only the people with whom you can create the optimum collaboration. Out of this service to the exact people whom you were born to serve, you experience the Deepest Spacious Fulfilling Intimacy with yourself, others and the world. You can learn more about his work at: kundanchhabra.com.

Note: If you sign up for his email list you’ll get the pre-enrolment and enrolment questions he refers to above.

Guest Post: Ten Basic Pieces of Tech Worth Tackling by Molly Mandelberg

Coming from a long line of teachers, preachers, artists and writers, the tech world never sang to me. At least not until I started my own business and realized what was available, if I were to master a few key ingredients.

This is where my nerdy researching took flight. I dove head first into studying all the tools I could find to make running my business (hypnotherapy at the time) easier in any way I could. I started launching online courses, building out elaborate sales funnels and futzing around with email sequences until I finally found my calling. Turns out my writer background and engineering brain LOVES to build and connect these valuable strategic business systems laced with boatloads of content.

I’m talking about automation: for some it’s passive income, for others it’s a lighter load in their email inbox. Whatever it looks like, the point is that technology can make life a heck of a lot easier, if we just take the time to set it up.

“We are the Jetson’s!” We are living in a time where it couldn’t be easier to share your message on a large scale.

But Where the F do we start?

NOTE: These are useful tools to implement, but by NO means necessary to the growth of your business. You can always go without, it just gets easier when you have some systems to support you.

# 1 Online Scheduler – (and a digital personal Calendar to sync with)

This one can be the biggest immediate game-changer. Imagine how things are to begin with: Someone makes it to your website, they realize they want to learn more, and you have them ‘contact’ you in a simple form which leads to an email correspondence. That leads to three or four more emails to find a mutually good time to meet and after a good 30-45 minutes of your life has been spent organizing, you eventually have the appointment.

What if instead, a person made it to your website, and decided they wanted to talk to you and (with or without the filtration step of an application or survey of some kind) they book themselves directly onto your calendar for a consultation. !!!! Time saved. Potential client relationship starting off with a bang.

My favorite tool for this is Acuity Scheduling as it does custom appointments, allows for automated email reminders, syncs with your personal calendar, takes payment, and even allows you to host classes and sell packages. Here’s my affiliate link: bit.ly/wildheartsacuity or a direct link: https://acuityscheduling.com/

Online scheduler’s can be a hassle so I made a quick checklist to help people set Acuity up, if you’d like a copy of that you can find it here: https://wildheartsriseup.mykajabi.com/p/acuity-checklist

The added step of syncing this calendar with your personal appointments depends on your use of a digital calendar such as Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook or the like. Not necessary, but really nice for avoiding the dreaded ’double-booking’.

Look for: Payment processing, calendar syncing, email reminders and a nice user interface. Free is not always better in this case.

#2 Autoresponder –

I LOOOOOVE this tool. This might be my nerdiest love affair of them all. This is what people refer to when they ask about your ‘list’. Basically, an autoresponder allows you to automatically, or manually, email your entire following of subscribers (I hate that term too) anytime you like.

I’ll set the scene again: (Although this has likely happened to you on the receiving end, many times.)

Imagine you invite someone to a workshop, or to partake in your free gift, or someone makes it to your website and wants to receive updates from your blog or something… They plug their email into a little box, click submit, and KAPOW! They get a message right away! That immediate delivery happens from an autoresponder. Again, lots of amazing tools out there, but in my nerdy poking around on the inter-webs, and after trying out at least 3 for myself, my hands-down favorite is Active Campaign.

I get a little heart flutter excited every time I share about it.

Affiliate link: bit.ly/wildactive or direct link: https://www.activecampaign.com

Here’s what you want to look for: (and what Active Campaign of course excels at)

  • Does it include automation for the introductory price?” Mailchimp is a great introductory tool, but won’t take you as far as other programs that allow for tagging and better organization of your list.
  • Is it easy to segment the list? This may not come into play for you at first, but at some point you are going to want to send a message to your whole following except for your current clients and your moon circle friends (maybe that’s just me?) and that is NOT simple, segmentation I mean, on some of the platforms out there. Active Campaign uses tags and it may sound fancy but you get the hang of it pretty quick. i.e. Send to everyone except ‘x’ tag, and… done.
  • Can the user experience be catered to their interactions with your emails? In AC, you can actually tag someone when they click a link, or become a client and they will immediately stop receiving a series of emails encouraging them to schedule with you or ‘check out this thing’. I find that when we only send messages to people based on their interests, we not only hit the nail on the head for them offering-wise, but we can feel a whole lot better about what we’re sending because we know it actually applies to who it’s going out to.

PRO TIP: Always, always, ALWAYS write emails in a document first and copy them into your autoresponder later. This is to minimize loss and frustration in the writing and sending phase as well as the migration to a new system phase. Keep that stuff organized for extra brownie points. You will thank you later.

#3 A Business Building Website –

WTF is that? There are two kinds of small biz sites out there:

1. A Brochure Website: Gives information, talks a lot about your services, links to a bunch of things, maybe has a contact form.

2. A Business Building Website: Builds a relationship with your people, speaks directly to their heart, offers value up front and allows the visitor many ways to get in touch or receive more from you. Free gifts, opt in forms, scheduling links etc. Brings them down the path from viewer to friend.

My favorite tool for this: WordPress.org

PRO TIP: This process begins with purchasing a ‘hosting’ package through one of the many Hosting companies out there. SKIP GoDaddy, they suck for more than one reason. I use Bluehost, and also recommend HostGator as a trusted source with good customer service. Once you purchase hosting, they will help you ‘install’ WordPress onto your fancy new domain name.

(Note: .com is highly recommended over .org or .biz if possible when choosing your domain)

I hate seeing people get stuck on this step. The truth is you DO NOT need a website to get your business up and running.

But, I know for some there is a feeling of legitimacy that comes with a website, so if you want to go the WordPress route and want some help setting it up, reach out. Someone in your network, or Tad or I can recommend someone. I even built a mini course to walk people through building sites on WordPress because I was tired of seeing my friends spend $5k on a website they didn’t like.

#4 Surveys, Questionnaires, Quizzes –

One of the greatest ways to know what your people want is to….. ASK THEM! Yep, to actually get their input on how they think about their issues, what they desire most and what kinds of solutions they are looking for. (There’s a great book on how to do this called “Ask” by Ryan Levesque.)

You can use a free system like Google Forms or Typeform and create a quick survey that asks them a couple key things.

  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
  • What have you already tried?
  • What do you want instead?
  • What kind of support are you looking for?

….and so on.

PRO TIPS on this: Keep the number of questions low and make most of them multiple choice. The one you really want their exact words on is how they’d describe their biggest challenge when it comes to (the problem you solve). Surveys work better when you make their personal info optional, or don’t ask for it at all. This is an info-gathering phase, not a list-building phase.

Quizzes are awesome ways to both get to know your people and add some value. It’s human nature to want to know about ourselves, if we can provide insights like that, while also learning about the needs of our audience, awesome! I use Thrive Quiz Builder on WordPress, but have heard good things about Qzzr as well.

#5 Content Delivery Platform –

Do you have a Blog? Podcast? Youtube Channel? Meetup Group?

Are you sending out emails, pdf’s, checklists and blueprints? There are countless platforms to assist you in delivering your message to your people. My recommendation matches Tad’s, start where you feel like starting. Play to your strengths.

Whatever you do, start doing it and sharing it with your people. Your unique point of view is what sets you apart from every other practitioner.

Yes, the world needs your message.

There are people out there literally waiting for your refreshing take on this wild ride called life.

Share it.

Ring the bell.

Shake the dust.

#6 Social Media Biz Presence –

This could be a Business Page on Facebook, a Professional Profile on LinkedIn or even an Instagram account, the point is to figure out where your people are hanging out and show up there. Many kinds of people hang out on Facebook, but sometimes it’s easier for a jeweller or photographer to get found on Instagram, as it’s more imagery based. Likewise, corporate or traditional business folks might be more inclined to seek resources on LinkedIn.

I encourage people to begin with a media presences that feels light to you. If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, live stream some videos. If you are better in some other format, start there. I have personally gained a lot by pushing myself to expand to new frontiers of visibility, but I started with words on a page. That’s what I knew how to do.

#7 Social Media Scheduler –

One of the biggest game changers in my business growth was when I started batching my creative output. Rather than worry about how I was going to be ‘visible’ on social media, or to my list, or in the world on a daily basis, I started tackling that stuff in big batches.

So I’d sit down and write 20 inspiring posts, or a months worth of Blog entries, or pull a bunch of quotes from past talks and videos. I started mining past articles I’d written for what I like to call ‘nuggets of glory’ and then using those quotes on an amazing website called Canva.com where you can easily put images and text together in a fancy way. (Without having to learn the ins and outs of photoshop.)

Then, I would, and still do, take this chunk of juicy content bits and use Hootsuite.com to schedule them out into the future on my various social media pages. Don’t put it off forever, it goes quicker than you expect.

#8 CRM or Follow Up System –

I don’t personally use a CRM (Client Relationship Management Software) but the idea is that with a good tracking system, following up is easier to do. When you meet someone and they express interest in your work, or you do a consult and someone says “Yes, but let’s start next month.” You want to have a solid way to track that information so you don’t forget to follow up because when you follow up, you generally end up with more clients.

I use a project management tool called Trello.com which syncs to my phone and allows me to set due dates and make notes about people I’ve spoken to. (More on this below.) You can also set a reminder in your actual calendar to call them back. Whatever you use, make sure you’ll keep up with it. The best plan of action is one you will actually take action on.

#9 Content/Project Management –

Tad talks (“TadTalks”) about tracking things like the ‘Hubs’ for your niche, and organizing your brilliant ideas as they come to you. I found after a few years of great ideas and personal connections, I was overwhelmed with pieces of paper and ‘important notes’. So this tech tool tip is to find a project management, or idea organization system that works for you and USE it!

Here are my favorites:

Trello.com: I use this to create new projects, to organize what I delegate to my VA’s, to track my work with my clients, what they’re working on, how many sessions they have left etc. I even use it to keep all my To Do lists organized in one place. FREE I have like 30 separate project boards and still haven’t paid a dime.

Evernote.com: This is where my brilliant strikes of inspiration go first, into special organized note folders until I know what they’re for or what project they associate with in Trello. Lists like Books to read, Links to remember, Groceries to buy, and Gift Ideas for Mom and Dad usually end up in Evernote. FREE

Scrivener: This one is really more for writers, but I’m mentioning it here because I love it. I’m actually writing this in Scrivener right now. Easily create folders and subfolders for different parts of a project. Great for keeping good track of ALL your content without going hunting for it, or for managing the development of a book. $40 software.

#10 Shopping Cart –

This is a key element when it comes time to sell a product, course, program or service. If it’s a class or appointment, you can use Acuity, or whatever scheduler you chose that hopefully takes payment. If it’s something larger, you can get started on PayPal, Stripe or Square. All charge roughly 3% to process payments. When you move into an online learning platform, they will often include secure checkout pages also linked to you via PayPal, Stripe or Square. Don’t feel like you need to go out and get a “Shopping Cart,” you’ll know there’s a need when the time comes.

The fact that you’re reading this means you are on to big things. I love that about you!

I’ll leave you with two last reminders:

1. You do not need all of this, especially not all at once.

2. You do not have to do it alone. If you need support, get it. If not me or Tad, someone else you have access to. It can be daunting to take new systems on but I promise you it is worth it in the long run.

To infinity and beyond!

Xo Molly Mandelberg

About Molly:

Having studied with masters, traveled the world and applied the great teachings to her own life, Molly Mandelberg is uniquely qualified to help launch you from where you are now, to the next level of your business. Molly has an unusual combination of spiritual/visionary and high tech/practical/business savvy. She is an artist, a globe trotter, a writer, a speaker, a facilitator and a leader.

Whether you are stuck in procrastination, confusion or things just aren’t moving fast enough for you toward your goals, having empowering, kickass support may be just what you need. From content and design through streamlined global delivery systems, Molly Mandelberg may be the answer you’ve been looking for. You can learn more about her at: www.WildHeartsRiseUp.com 

The Four Things You Need To Do Before Marketing

If you’re struggling with your marketing, it’s likely because of things that have nothing to do with marketing.

If you can’t seem to make the tactics you’re using to promote yourself work, it’s likely not about the tactics.

In order for your marketing to work, there are things that need to be done first. If marketing is the house, then there are foundations. If marketing is the skin, then there is a skeleton.

When people lack those foundational pieces they struggle in their marketing and can’t complete most of the online marketing courses they sign up for.

I asked my friend Rebecca Tracey of TheUncagedLife.com (who has appeared on my blog before) to make a video about this to share with you what she sees as the four biggest things the people need to do before they do any marketing at all. The video is about 14 minutes and it’s well worth your time.

I urge you to check out her program if you’re a coach who is struggling to grow their business. I’ve sent a lot of clients to Rebecca over the years and there’s been nothing but rave reviews. I love this woman dearly and deeply trust her perspective on growing a solid, sustainable business using realistic approaches.

If you’re interested in her program you can learn more at the links below.

Affiliate Link: https://theuncagedlife.com/uncageyourbusiness/ref/127/

Non Affiliate Link: https://theuncagedlife.com/uncageyourbusiness/

The Art of Raising Your Fees

Money.

Abstractly it seems like a good thing to have.

But talk to most conscious entrepreneur types about doing one of the central things that will open the door to more of it appearing in their lives?

Stunned silence and utter emotional shut down.

Money is fraught for everyone in this culture. We’ve all done things with money we regret. We’ve all had people use money against us in ways that didn’t feel good but… add a social, political and spiritual analysis to this?

My oh my.

You’re about to watch a 26 minute video (it’s worth your time) about this thorny topic of raising your rates. My guess is that you’re walking into it with some level of confusion around not only how to do it but if you should at all.

Of course, this comes often in my workshops and whenever people lift up this topic with all of their halting, “But is it right?” and “What about the federal reserve?” and “But what about class dynamics?” I want to fall on my knees and kiss their feet for being willing to even think about this stuff because most people don’t.

What must be faced is that we who are living in the dominant culture of North America, live in a mad culture. It’s a culture of hyper individualism where village-making is sorely needed. It’s a culture where the gifts we might freely give to each other in a healthy culture (e.g. affection, listening, cleaning) are turned into services that are charged for. That’s how it is. You are unlikely to solve that on your own. And yet you want to. And yet the bills. And yet and yet.

So what do you do?

The first thing that must happen, is to have reality-based conversation about money and what we charge. As Lily Tomlin put it, “I can handle reality in small doses, but as a lifestyle, it’s much too confining.” It’s a good laugh but most of us have also confronted the limitations of illusions too and the ways that refusing to face the truth ends up being an inescapable jail built of everything we refused to consider with bars crafted from everything we’ve banished from view.

We need to talk honestly about money and what it takes to sustain us.

This is a topic I’ve thought about a great deal. I wrote an eBook called Who Am I To Teach and Charge Money For It?

One of my most popular blog posts is entitled Why Charging What You’re Worth Is Bullshit.

My next eBook will be me sharing how I’ve managed to lead almost all of my live daylong and weekend long workshops on a pay what you can basis since 2005 (and done well financially from it).

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 8.20.35 PMBut, having said all of that, this is not an area I have focused on deeply. It’s not a place I feel the most solid in offering advice.

But, as good fortune would have it, life introduced me to a good woman named Tiffany McLain (pictured here) who sent me an email of appreciation about a blog post I’d written and telling me she was planning of writing an article inspired by it. Which she did.

I went and checked out her site and was delighted to see her focus on helping therapists raise their rates.

I dug about a bit and asked her if she might submit herself to an interview for my blog. I was about to hit the road and I sent her the following questions.

  • What’s your story? how did you end up having so much to say about raising fees for therapists?
  • How do you define under-charging and over-charging?
  • Why do so many people feel guilty about charging anything at all?
  • How should we feel about what we charge?
  • Why do so many therapist under charge?
  • A lot of people would say that the politically correct thing is to charge less so that people in lower economic classes could afford to hire you and that charging higher fees is classist or only allowing those with economic privilege to access your services. what’s your take on this?
  • What are the three biggest blunders therapists make in raising their fees?
  • What tips would you give to those who feel nervous to raise their fees? what’s most important here?

She sent me, in response, the video below which was put together with so much care, thought, humour, candour and love that… She’s officially one of my new favourite people.

We would both love to hear your thoughts, reflections and further questions in the comments below.

Coaching As Activism

andrea

What if your coaching could be a potent, effective and inspiring form of activism?

In asking this question, I am suggesting something to you that might be hard to hear: there’s a good chance that it’s currently not.

Let me make my case: the coaching industry grew out of the personal growth industry and the personal growth industry spawned by such books as Think & Grow Rich by men with deeply questionable ethics like Napoleon Hill.

The personal growth scene has largely been (and just watch The Secret if you don’t believe me) almost entirely led by white men. Seriously. Consider that 28 out of 29 of those featured in The Secret are North American. Consider that 24 our of the 29 are white males. That only 5 of them are female and that only 2 of them are people of colour. This might be a part of their secret.

Think of the most successful authors in the personal growth space. How many (outside of Iyanla Vanzant and Rev. Michael Beckwith) can you name who aren’t white?

Over the past decades, we’ve seen the new age and healing scene grow and be led by primarily by women (who are almost all white). I can testify to this from leading dozens of workshops all over North America and the UK over the past more than a decade.

This uniformity of background, this whiteness, has led to a certain limit in perspective.

There are certain things that people of colour see that white people don’t.

There are certain things people of colour must contend with daily that white people don’t.

There are certain privileges that accrue, and have always accrued, to being white in North America at this time. There are certain disadvantages pulled by the gravitational force of the way it is to darker skin tones.

White people, in North America (and particularly the USA), have benefited the most from the way things are. Are white people screwed by the man too? Yes. But not because they’re white.

But what you see from most of the personal growth scene is largely uncritical of the current system of white supremacy (entangled as it is with capitalism, the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex etc.) because, for most white people, the system of racism is invisible to us. We never have to contend with it. Most of what I see offered up by my peers is about how to succeed within the current capitalist system but not how to change it.

It’s how to manifest what you want without any encouragement or insistence on considering the impact that this might have on the world (e.g. can everyone have that mansion they put on their vision board? Is this actually sustainable?).

To put it another way, many coaches are waking to the realization that the system isn’t neutral but harmful.

The unspoken but impossible to avoid message of much of the personal growth movement is that the universe is your personal slave.

The other implied message is that you are responsible for everything that’s ever happened to you – period. And so, the Jews manifested the holocaust and indigenous people their own genocide.

There is a deeply entrenched and utterly unexamined worldview of individualism in the personal growth scene. Not only are notions of the village absent, they are seen as weakness. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps already and stop whining.

However, in the past few years, we’ve begun to see this change.

As White Nationalism has been on the rise and become more obvious to white people, there’s been a waking up of white people in the coaching industry to how bad it is (and has always been for people of colour).

As the gap between rich and poor grows, those who came from middle class to wealthy families in the coaching industry are having to reckon with the class divide as it’s becoming harder to ignore how hard the poor have it.

And this is leading to a very real and very deep realization that simply coaching people for their own inner growth isn’t enough. The world is on fire. Coaching people on how to be more effective might actually make things worse if what they’re being effective at is predicated on the destructive to the world.

Elder and dedicated social change agent Joanna Macey speaks of the Three Pillars of the Great Turning – one of which is about inner work but the other two (creating alternatives and holding back the juggernaut) are equally important. And not only missed but dismissed in most of the coaching scene. All too often, I hear the message that protesting against the war simply creates more war.

Enter Andrea Ranae, the daughter of a coach, who wrote the provocative blog post Why The Personal Growth Industry Is Not Changing the World.

After writing this piece, she got such a response that she created a program from it called Coaching As Activism on how we can make our coaching a genuinely effective force in contending with the very real troubles of our times.

When I heard about this program, I sat up and took notice. This is a perspective that has been desperately needed in this space for a long time.

And so I asked Andrea if I could do a video interview with her. Sadly, I would be on the road and unable to do it live but she graciously consented to being sent questions and doing the strange and lonely work of talking into a camera. Having just finished watching it I am sad I missed the opportunity to connect with her more directly. The kindness emanates and I find myself having to settle, for the moment, with being so glad she’s in the world.

The Five Levels of This Video:

The video is below but I’d like to make the case for watching it on four levels.

Level One: Meet Andrea! You might be interested in checking out her coaching program and this video is a fine way to meet her and learn more about her story. It’s hard to not like this good woman.

Level Two: Be a Better Coach. I think that her approach can help you be a more effective coach. If your mission is to help create a better world, then how will you do that without a deeper wrestling with how things are? How many books have you read about the interlocking and intersecting issues of injustice? Most coaches have read many and most I know are struggling to come to terms with it all. And they’re trying to do that all on their own. But consider how much more you could help change the systems and challenge your clients if you came from this perspective? What if you were not only holding your clients feet to the fires of their personal commitments but also to the larger fires of this cultural moment? What if an edge of your coaching became about asking people to find their right relationship to the travails of their particular time and place? You think you’re seeing resistance in your clients now? Wait until you ask them to consider the ecological and social consequences of a goal. So, yes, you’d see more resistance but you would also see a much deeper and more meaningful transformation. Imagine the skillfulness it might ask of you to contend with patterns that didn’t start in their childhood but thousands of years ago. I suggest that taking on Coaching as Activism will make you a better coach.

Level Three: Learn about Marketing. So much of what I talk about in marketing is present in her work. Andrea shares her bigger why and her point of view. The title of her program is a deeply compelling message. The whole program is a unique niche. There’s a lot to learn here.

Level Four: The Questions. I emailed Andrea a series of questions. Whether or not you sign up for her program (and I hope you’ll consider it) I invite you to take the time to consider how you personally might answer the questions. You might even pause the video as you watch it to come up with your own answers. Doing that would be a fine step towards coaching as activism.

Level Five: Your Resistance. As you watch this video, I invite you to write down all the places you feel resistant to what Andrea is sharing. Be candid with yourself. If you’re feeling brave, put it in the comments below. You can learn more about yourself from this simple exercise than most workshops you’ve ever taken.

Here’s what in the video:

  • the story behind where this program came from
  • how Andrea defines healing, activism, coaching, justice and liberation
  • three tips to use coaching as a form of activism.
  • the central pitfall of trying to use coaching as activism
  • a short poem

For More Info on Coaching as Activism:

andrearanae.com/invitation

Important Note: There is a Self Study which closes Sept 14th and Community Study (everything from Self Study + live weekly calls) which closes Sept 10th. And spaces are limited. She’s getting close to filling her program.

When To Ask For Help

37811536 - young confident woman in red cape and mask

“I think I’ll try to handle this and figure it out on my own.”

Well, hey . . . Amen.

This is how I’ve done most of my business. I’ve bootstrapped it and, for the most part, not spent money I couldn’t afford to spend. Sure. If you can figure your business out on your own and not spend the money, I would urge you to do that.

But, what if you can’t?

For years, I had a website I was embarrassed by. I kept meaning to fix it but I didn’t know how. Finally, one day, my friend Jaime Almond made me get on the phone with her and, together, over the phone, we built a wordpress website together. And it’s basically the website you see today.

I kept meaning to do it on my own.

But I never did.

I needed help.

Should we be able to do it all ourselves?

I have no idea.

Are we able to do it all ourselves?

It doesn’t seem so.

Modern culture is all about this Lone Ranger, self-sufficiency thing where everyone is an island. It’s the American Dream of everyone pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. And I see that approach keeping so many entrepreneurs stuck at whatever level they are currently at – even if what they offer is really compelling and excellent.

One of the simplest ways to get unstuck is to ask for help by doing a five minute support asking blitz. It sounds too simple but I’ve seen it utterly change the fate of people’s businesses. 

However, asking for help and ideas on marketing from friends doesn’t always cut it because your friends likely aren’t marketing experts or anything close. 

Worse, they might give you terrible advice that can hurt your business.

The following truisms are so burned out these days that I even hesitate to state them, but they’re still accurate:

if you are a singer, you’d hire a vocal coach.

If you were an athlete you’d hire a coach.

If you were serious about learning any craft, you’d apprentice.

If you were serious about just about anything you would find a mentor or a coach; and yet in marketing our businesses, we often get the impression that this model no longer applies.

You may have heard the theory that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master something. And for many entrepreneurs, they’ve invested many hours in master their craft but very few, if any, hours on learning about marketing. In other words, they’re an expert in what they do. They’re not an expert in how to market what they do.

These are two distinct skill sets.

And, in business, unless you’re extraordinary at what you do and good fortune introduces you to the right people who talk you up in the right circles in the right moment so that everything grows from word-of-mouth alone . . . Marketing is something you likely need to learn.

If your business is more of a hobby? No need to even think about marketing.

But if it’s a business? Well . . . Of course you need to think, and perhaps even more important, learn about marketing.

It’s not indulgent to get help. It’s not indulgent to get a coach or a mentor in business. It’s important.

I can’t tell you how many people I meet who struggle in marketing their business because they try to figure it out on their own. It’s most of the people I see. I see the difference even a one day workshop with myself or others makes in their marketing approach. Huge blunders are avoided. Thousands of dollars are saved that would have been spent on the wrong thing (or even the right thing at the wrong time).

If you want to grow, you need help.

A good mentor or coach can shave years off your learning curve. 

But, how do you know when it’s the right moment?

First of all, it’s important to know which of the four stages of business you’re at. If you’re at Stage One then it’s natural and important to be experimental in your approach. Sometimes you need some time to just noodle around and figure some things out on your own (such as, “Do I even want to be in business?”). Unless you’ve got a very deep clarity inside that this business is the one you want to grow, it’s a fine thing to give yourself time to test out your ideas in small, low risk ways. Before you start a business, you might just host a workshop in your living room. You don’t need a marketing coach for this.

Second of all, some of your issues can be handled by doing a five minute support asking blitz. Truly. Just doing a Facebook shout out can handle more issues than not. 

But, if you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve asked for as much help as you can think to ask for an you’re still stuck? If you’ve been plateauing for months if not years? It might be time to spend the money to hire someone you trust or invest in your marketing education in other ways.

But, even so, it’s vital to get the right kind of support. In my experience, there are a series of steps that need to be achieved and it’s important to know where you are so that you get a support that meets you there. I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars on workshops that were three steps ahead of where they were and so they weren’t able to apply it.

Here’s what I see.

What Kind of Help To Get When: The Three Phases of Growing Your Business

Phase One: Marketing feels gross. This seems to be the primary place people feel stuck. Even the idea of marketing is abhorrent. As long as this is true, I don’t care what they try to learn, they likely won’t do it. They’ll avoid it. This is what I cover in my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshop.

Phase Two: Niche. Once you’re okay with the idea of marketing yourself, then the next question becomes, “What am I marketing? And to whom?” or, “What is the role I want to be known for in the marketplace?” I see so many people skip this step to try to learn how to ‘get clients’ but, ironically, this makes everything ten times harder. 99% of the problems I see in marketing have to do with a fuzzy niche. True story. It’s so central to growing a sustainable and resilient business that I created a whole website about it, wrote a book on it and launched a home study course about it. 

Phase Three: Getting found. Once you’ve got a clear niche, then you’re ready for what most people think of as marketing coaching. This is when you’re ready to learn about social media marketing, networking, public speaking, writing guest posts, blogging etc. But, if you try to skip the first two phases it’s not unlike flushing your money down the toilet. The best approach I know to getting found I’ve written up in my eBook Hub Marketing.

Don’t try to do it all on your own. Get the help you need. 

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If you’re interested in getting my help, I encourage you to check out my Mentorship Program but, whether or not you get it from me, if you’re serious about growing your business in the next year, I urge you to invest in some help (at whatever level makes sense to you). 

The 1000+ Small Dreams Project

19800699_10154606493405671_8906803628215049469_oA few weeks ago, I saw that my old friend and colleague Alex Baisley (pictured here) had launched a new program when I read the following words in an email from him:

“Have you been wanting to horse-back ride? Scuba dive? Take a weekend road trip? Get a tattoo? Play the song you wrote in front of people? Go canoeing or camping with your family or friends? Host a dinner party for your neighbours? Try bringing improv or acting into your life? Do a life-drawing class?

Maybe you’ve thought about writing poetry, or taking a Mediterranean cooking workshop in your community, or martial arts? Learn what opera or bluegrass is all about? What about an instrument, a language?

Just that… you haven’t got round to it. Could you use a nudge?

Would you be willing to listen to my project about: The 1000 Small Dreams Challenge?

My goal here is to inspire 1000 good salt-of-the-earth people across Canada (and in a few other countries – wherever you are!) to pursue a small dream that rocks them”

Small dreams are so important in business.

I see so many people going for something big and huge. 

But business growth comes from small, little projects. In fact, most impressive, large and profitable businesses I know of come from this. Most non-profits start like this. They start small. I speak about this at length in my Niching Spiral Home Study Program: the need to create small, niche projects or experiments. 

And so, I thought I’d interview him on this subject that he has a great deal of experience with.

1000 small dreams

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What’s the story of this project? where’d it come from? what did you see was missing?

I’ve had the unusual opportunity to be on the ground of a lot of big dreams and new businesses for a long time. And I see ONE THING missing that would help folks bring them to realization a little or a lot sooner.

I’ve had the Big Dream Program for something over 15yrs now and I spend my days talking with folks – a lot of them – about Big Dreams they’ve had for years & businesses or lifestyles they so want to create for themselves – if ‘life’ didn’t keep getting in the way for them. Jobs, responsibilities, feeling paralyzed by too many possibilities… Maverick people who feel in their bones they are meant to be doing something more in this world, for this world. And living day-to-day in the way they dream of – such as more spiritual practice, leaving a soul-sucking job, more family time, or traveling.

And… though there are many reasons for these challenges, I have found that manifesting ’the dream’ depends on one capability that most of us are not nourishing well:

If this sounds like you, and if you’re anything like me… you have about eight journals-full of ideas and schemings, hundreds of hours spent brainstorming and daydreaming, you have taken classes on this sort of thing, but… for some of us (me included)… months slip the hell by. And then years. And still… it ain’t happening. Eff. This hurts.

My, and my clients’, hard-earned point of view: I don’t think in most cases we are ‘wanting’ for genius or a more finely tuned idea.

I think the problem is usually that our Big Dreams are so big – at least emotionally – that we don’t know where or how to start, OR get ourselves to ‘do it’.

Enter the Small Dreams muscle. (you can see what happened with Lisa and her showers project below, for instance)

If we want to make ‘anything’ happen – like making a sandwich, there is a base-line capability at play. Let’s call this the ‘I can do this muscle’.

The stronger and more ‘you’ this muscle is, the more you can create for yourself. Period.

How to work your Capability muscle? And quickly?

Make dreams happen. Now. Small Dreams. Have a blast working THAT muscle, and watch what can happen. Examples below.

How?

Start a Small Dream. This week. Doesn’t matter if it’s related to your Big Dreams or not. The muscle doesn’t care. It. Will. Grow.

instagramWhat is a ‘small dream’?

A Small Dream is this:

  • Something you’ve been wanting to do, or explore for a long time, and not getting around to. Life is busy.
  • Requires no extra time or money than you have already – meaning there is nothing ‘outside you’ standing in the way, except perhaps for lack of the beauty of more social encouragement ;)
  • You give yourself a 3wk (21 day) window in which to do it.

In the Small Dreams Challenge, folks start with a workbook to help them decide what they’d like to do.

Why do small dreams matter? What’s the potential impact of people following them?

Small Dreams matter to a lot of us, because it’s SUCH A GREAT WAY to get started on something you care about, without turning it into some big thing we never get ‘round to. People are accomplishing things (examples below) that they’ve been thinking about for FOREVER. It develops the very muscle we may have been needing to accomplish our bigger dreams – such as starting that business!

Moreso: Small Dreams also matter for a much bigger ‘world reason’ which is 50% of why we are doing this, and publicly talking about it:

“You may not heal the whole planet with your small dream. But… you will contribute greatly to the ONE THING, I believe, that if anything is going to do it WILL heal our planet…

You become more sunshine, earth, and life-giving rain for the garden of the ideas in human hearts around you.

In other words, you help you and others unlock ideas and interests that WILL evolve our world further…

Here’s what I mean:

When we look around us at the world, or accidentally listen to the news, we can be taken out at the knees by the challenges in our world. At the same time… check this out…

  • Someone, somewhere was Small Dreaming of ditching the car and bicycling to work, not realizing that it would inspire his neighbours and children to do the same. It ended up resulting in a career change to someplace closer – and WAY better job.
  • Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of joining a pilates class. Little does she know she will meet Eshru there who will become her best friend, and change her life incomparably.
  • Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of learning to ride a horse, and it’s about to make her feel so, so, so lovely and authentic inside. It’s going to feel like she found a piece of herself she didn’t know was missing until she found it. And her kids TOTALLY notice, and love the new Mom in the house. Her twinkle is back.”

Can you give ten examples of small dreams?

Lisa had been wanting to provide showers for the homeless community in her home-city. She and her team had been working on this idea for many months. It was a Big Dream. When she adopted the ‘what could I do within 3 weeks’ Small Dream idea… they wound up giving showers, and more to homeless folks in exactly 3.5 weeks. Success.

natashaNatasha started and completed her first Small Dream: She and her hubby had been dreaming for a long time of doing a honeymoon camping trip. They did it! From Natasha: “I LOVE camping! So does my husband, Patrick, except he also loves his hairdryer (he does have REALLY nice hair!!) Finding a minute to sneak away is hard so we opted out of a big ticket honeymoon. After being together in 1990 for 1yr9months, finding each other again after 21years to be together, I finally married the love of my life this summer. Sneaking away just the 2 of us is extra special w 4 amazing kids, 2 dogs & 2 rabbits & busy jobs! It isn’t where you go; it’s who you’re with that makes any moment special.”

michelleMichelle took new look at a small ‘storage’ room in her apartment. She went to work a few days ago in the Challenge, and here’s what happened:
from Michelle as a poem: “storage room goes from stagnating, boxes and bags of clutter, to beautiful oasis meant for, relaxing, reading and marvellous meals, homemade hamburgers with pickles and coleslaw on a pretzel bun” Well done Michelle! She’s now working on her book of poetry.

michaelMichael started a Small Dream some time ago, and here’s what he said about where it LED to: “I always wanted to be on stage in front of alot of people and so i started telling stories to youngsters. 10 yrs later i met Alex, and started to tell at an open mic in front of a storytelling community. And now I not only tell, but am paid to PERFORM (with my whole spirit and body) in front of dozens of kids – who are a tough and most rewarding audience. I’m not quite at my full dream yet, but its coming!” 

cathyCathy had been reading and salivating over the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” and dreaming of transforming her home. She joined the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge. From Cathy when she started: “My small dreams challenge is to purge my home… I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER and I keep putting it off. So for the next 21 days I am tackling a different aspect of the house (ie. clothes or a particular room).” Well she’s half-way through now, posting pictures every day, and just wrote this beautiful blog post called ‘My Suitcase and Letting Go ‘about her experience. (http://www.fortheloveofmommy.ca

Me, Alex, I founded this challenge, and I’m the same as every other leader in there. I picked a Small Dream for myself. EFT is SO helpful for me – it changes my life. AND I seem to avoid it like the plague. Armed with the beautiful encouragement in the group, I’m now on Day 7 of doing 20mins of EFT every day. And it’s making SUCH a difference, my god. 

Nicole has been writing poetry for years. And she loves it. After some deliberation in our challenge, she decided she was going to do something about this. She’s now compiling her book of poetry. Accountability for her (and many of us) in the group has been key for her now being at least a third of the way through completing her dream project.

jillFrom Jill in the Challenge: “Hi all. I’m glad to be in the group! I’ve been thinking all week about what I want to challenge myself with and … I wanted to commit to making 2-3 new recipes each week. I love buying beautiful cookbooks and never end up using them… My first recipe tackled last night …Baked Brie with candied pecans, raisins, brown sugar and phyllo pastry. The guests gobbled it up!” 

From Sarah: “Hi everyone – my small dream is to organize my time / activities better…so I can enjoy what I do…and also enjoy my down-time (because I won’t be over-thinking about what it is that I think I should be doing….). When I do this (set a schedule) my mind feels free, my stress lessens, I sleep better, eat better (who knew planning my food would actually help?) So – I’ve ordered a School year planner from a company called Passion Planner – and I’m looking forward to using it. I’ve also created a month envelope system for collecting all receipts, etc.” And Sarah has motored ahead with these things since.

Others: Gerri is finishing her book, Heather has designed and begun a 21-day self-love practice, Carol is taking a horseback riding lesson, Anne is doing an abstract art 21-day challenge for herself, Olivia has launched a workshop in her hometown, and Bill is finalizing his plans for a permaculture-based Challenge for himself. And there are piles more stories happening in here as I write this. Two posts just came up in our group with new Small Dreams while I write this. Yay!

What are the top three mistakes you see people making when tackling their small dreams?

  • Not starting one.
  • Too big. Choosing something that requires something they don’t yet have. (money, time, resources) – the essential point of a Small Dream is to evolve our accomplishment muscle. Ergo, I suggest choosing something with who you are, and what you have NOW.
  • Going it alone. In my personal experience – I’m doing 21 days of EFT and I’d have NOT done it several days now due to ‘busy-ness’, but knowing I can post my daily ‘accomplishment’ in the group – and get pats on the back to be honest – is the ONLY thing that got me through the times I didn’t want to do it. I see the same echoed over and over again in our group. Bottom line – try not to do it alone. Join us in our group OR get yourself a buddy to do your Small Dream with. Judging by our members so far, 90% of these small dreams would not have left the gate or got past day 5 were we not excited to post about our developments each day.

What are the top three tips you’d give people?

Choosing a Small Dream? Well aside from the pitfalls to avoid above, here’s what I recommend after YEARS of experience:

  • Fun Over Duty: Choose something fun or meaningful rather than something you just think you SHOULD do and honestly are just not caring about right now. Work your Small Dreams muscle first – and then you may find more energy or inspiration for some of the should-dos.
  • Share the heck out of your accomplishments, and even your challenges: Small Dreams are wickedly contagious. When you talk about them with other people, or share on social media, we have found a PILE of folks pick up on the energy of it. You can absolutely help others who might be feeling very stuck, or alone, with your Small Dream.
  • Re-consider the ‘I’m too busy thing’: A Small Dream doesn’t take more time or energy or money than you already have – I know you’re busy. My wife says that even when she’s quite full, she has a whole other stomach for a nice dessert. I believe she is right. Such is true also of small dreams and busy-ness. You’ve got a whole other ‘schedule’ for a bit of gorgeous Small Dream-ness, I reckon.

Can you offer up some Small Dream ideas to get people started thinking?

  • Design your very own daily spiritual or fitness practise based on activities that light you up – that you would like to commit to for 21 days.
  • Take a class on some topic that interests you: art, economics, permaculture, growing your own food, history…
  • Design you own educational experience for yourself for 3 weeks to explore something.
  • Pick a little doable goal for learning a new language, an instrument… Committing to a couple of lessons for instance, or getting yourself to the point you can order a simple meal or ask directions in Japanese.

What I think you’ll get, and not get, from a Small Dream Challenge whether with us, or on your own:

You may not suddenly become a perfectly-together buddha of a human being from doing a Small Dream. Didn’t work for me at any rate. It would seem, alas, I’m still imperfect (according to my teenagers anyway). But… you will become a lot more YOU in doing a small dream. This is the #BestGoalEver

Your ‘Small-dream-into-reality’ muscle will get stronger, and that means your more-buff muscle is available for another Small Dream, or a full-on Big Dream, or something for your family or career… you can start making new moves in your daily life, open up doors you couldn’t before because the doors were too heavy.

And… I think doing Small Dreams also, quite simply, makes our lives, and US, more interesting :)

Where can people learn more about your project?

If you would like to find out more about joining our 1000+ Small Dreams Challenge:

Here is the way in to our Challenge: 

bigdreamprogram.mykajabi.com/p/1000-Small-Dreams 

Here is our Private Facebook workgroup – The Small Dreams Forge – though you’ll need to register before coming in.

We are open for the summer – or maybe longer, and the price is a whopping $23 Can. You can do as many Small Dreams as you wish. There is also an optional (low-priced) Advanced Keener Club coming down the road for folks who want to turn Small Dreams into a life or WORK change. :)

Ongoing updates on my personal FB profile

Personal note from Alex:

I would love, for many reasons, to persuade you to join the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge and let me post about your accomplishments. And to give you the power of our beautiful social group. But… sales pitch aside…

I just really want you to start a Small Dream. Or a new one.

And if you do so, but prefer not to do it in our challenge, I would love one thing SO MUCH:

Would you write to me and tell me about it. I would like to hear if this post influenced you to try something new you’ve been wanting to do. And let me inspire others with your example. I’m talking to people every single day about what people are getting up to with their Small Dreams, and it makes a difference to them when I do. It is contagious. Inspiring. If you get up to something, tell me about it!

Big hug,
Alex

Maybe I Should Stop Doing PWYC

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(NOTE TO READER: As you can see, this post has generated quite the commentary below and this from sharing it on social media. If it’s any reassurance, my practice of offering my daylong and weekend workshops on a PWYC basis is not under any imminent danger. I don’t intend to stop it any time soon. I wrote this piece more to reflect to all of us the immense consequence that everything we do and do not do has not only on our lives and the lives of others (intended or not). At this point, the reasons (selfish and selfless) for me to keep offering these workshops on a PWYC basis outweigh the reasons not to. So, I’m not looking for alternatives right now. I think with some adjustments, PWYC will continue to work well for me when I do it).

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Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I led a marketing workshop in Toronto last Summer.

It was a weekend workshop that I offer, as I have for almost 15 years now, on a PWYC basis.

Every time I do the workshop I tell people that it’s not a given that it will go on forever – this PWYC thing. If it stopped working, I’d have to stop doing it. Thankfully, it has worked thus far and people have been remarkably trustworthy in their instalment payments that they agree to.

But of that co-hort from the Toronto workshop (of which there were seven) there were two where payments were late. Two out of seven is a very high ration compared to the past.

It was left to me to follow up.

Over and over again.

It was a kind of ghosting.

Or carelessness. Or forgetfulness. But it all communicates the same sort of thing in the end. “This isn’t that high a priority to me right now.”

To be clear: the issue wasn’t the amount. I offer my workshops on a PWYC basis so that people can afford to attend it no matter where they’re at financially. And I’ve had people promise to pay me large amounts and then, months later, have to re-negotiate that as their financial picture had dramatically changed and I was happy to forgive that amount and let it go. 

I suppose it’s true for most of us: the big issue is communication.

On the personal level, it felt terrible. These were people I’d spent a weekend with. I’d paid all of my expenses up front to be there. I’d worked hard for them all weekend to help them grow their businesses. A certain level of affection grew. And then, after all that, they were treating me like this?

It reminded me of an ex-housemate who would take forever to pay his bills. But that isn’t what bothered me. It was that I was the one who had to follow up with him. He wouldn’t let me know it was going to be late. Then he’d promise to get me the money by Friday. And he wouldn’t. And then I wouldn’t hear from him for a month.

It was the lack of communication that stung the most. 

It reminds me of going to a friend’s house and sitting on her couch with a guitar. It was myself, my friend and two of her friends. 

“Are you going to sing us a song?” asked my friend, sitting on her floor with a bottle of wine. 

I nodded and began to sing a Corin Raymond tune that I love.

They listened for a while but, within sixty seconds, they’d begun talking with each other and weren’t listening at all. I stopped playing and set down the guitar. Besides the personal sting of being ignored, there was the song to think about. A song is a living thing and it was being dishonoured by that kind of behaviour and so, to care for it, I stopped it. It wasn’t fair to the song.

It reminded me of sitting at the Social Venture Institute at Hollyhock. We were in the kitchen. I was doing magic at a table. But people started grabbing at things. They were drunk. They were interrupting me and distracted. I stopped the show. They were shocked. One came up and apologized later. I think they’d all imagined that I would accomodate any level of rudeness they brought. 

It reminded me of one of my first magic mentors, Gazzo Macee who I had seen stop a number of street shows after five minutes because he could feel the tone the audience was setting wasn’t right. 

And so it was with these two people from the Toronto workshop. I would email and there would be long delays in even responding to me. In one of those cases, there were six weeks in which multiple emails were sent and no reply. The payments finally arrived but much good will was lost in the process. Perhaps it will be restored but I’m leaving that in their hands for the moment.

For the first time in years, I found myself thinking, “Maybe it’s time to put this PWYC thing to rest. Maybe people are taking it for granted too much.” I don’t need to lead live workshops. I can make better money online. There are no travel expenses, accommodations, venue fees etc.

I think that we often underestimate the consequentiality of what we do and don’t do.

We assume that what we love will be there regardless of how we treat it. Until the break up. Until we’re fired. Until that local bookstore goes under because we loved the convenience of Amazon.com instead. Until the local farmers shut their farms down because we all decided chain grocery stores were more convenient.

It makes me think of my dear colleague George Kao who brought me in to help his people for 90 minutes the other day and then sent me, thought I’d agreed to do it for free, $200 afterwards as his way of saying thanks.

It makes me think of how many indigenous traditions are based around feeding the holy in Nature with the beauty they make with their language and their hands and how many people go to Church wanting to get fed.

It makes me think of the difference a good and enthusiastic crowd makes when I perform improv with Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton.

It makes me think of the guests at my potlucks who help with the dishes throughout the night.

It makes me think of my dear friend Esther, a Mexican woman, who told me that when women of colour visited her they automatically began to help out with whatever chores they saw needed doing and white men who came to visit would simply sit and wait to be served with an air of entitlement. Helping out never seemed to occur to them at all. It makes me think about how I got up from my chair and began to help her with dishes once she told me that.  

My offering my live workshops on a pay what you can basis is not inevitable. Its future is not in my hands in the end. It’s in the hands of the people who attend them and how they honour or do not honour their word in what they will pay (and how honourably they act when they realize they are no longer able to honour their original commitments).

In offering the workshops in this pricing I expect more from people in their integrity than perhaps others do and I’m okay with that. I’ve got no plans on changing that. If we’re going to build a new economy, move towards the possibility of village-making, then surely our integrity in our commitments matters a great deal. 

If you love someone or a business, I ask you to imagine that the way you interact with it (or don’t) shapes its future. I ask you to imagine that the future of those you love and businesses you admire is in your hands. It’s too easy to imagine that they are inevitable. That they will always be there no matter what you do or don’t do. It’s easy to see those we admire as sort of bullet proof and not so vulnerable as we are. That they don’t feel the slights as deeply as we would. I can assure you they do. I’m not immune to it and have no plans to try to be intact (a word that means ‘untouched). 

Martha Nussbaum put it so well when she wrote,

“To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the human condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from its fragility. Being a human means accepting promises from other people and trusting that other people will be good to you. When that is too much to bear, it is always possible to retreat into the thought, “I’ll live for my own comfort, for my own revenge, for my own anger, and I just won’t be a member of society anymore.” That really means, “I won’t be a human being anymore.” You see people doing that today where they feel that society has let them down, and they can’t ask anything of it, and they can’t put their hopes on anything outside themselves. You see them actually retreating to a life in which they think only of their own satisfaction, and maybe the satisfaction of their revenge against society. But the life that no longer trusts another human being and no longer forms ties to the political community is not a human life any longer. Tragedy happens only when you are trying to live well, because for a heedless person who doesn’t have deep commitments to others, Agamemnon’s conflict [in which the king-protagonist has to choose between saving his army and saving his daughter] isn’t a tragedy… Now the lesson certainly is not to try to maximize conflict or to romanticize struggle and suffering, but it’s rather that you should care about things in a way that makes it a possibility that tragedy will happen to you. If you hold your commitments lightly, in such a way that you can always divest yourself from one or the other of them if they conflict, then it doesn’t hurt you when things go badly. But you want people to live their lives with a deep seriousness of commitment: not to adjust their desires to the way the world actually goes, but rather to try to wrest from the world the good life that they desire. And sometimes that does lead them into tragedy.”

And so, I’ll be paying attention at the future workshops and how people treat this PWYC offering. If the trend continues or expands, I’ll find some other way of proceeding that sustains me financially, respects my craft and makes my work accessible to those who need it. 

And, perhaps, I’ll need to speak to this more directly in my future workshops. Certainly this will be so. It’s a good reminder to all of us that when patterns of poor behaviour begin to emerge in our clients, it’s time for us to reflect on what systems we need in place to change that. I will need to name this pattern and say something like, “My friends… I trust you will pay an amount that is right for you and post date those payments for dates that work for you. And I understand that things change. It’s how it is. If you need to delay a payment for a while or you realize you’ll never be able to pay me… all I ask is that you tell me as soon as you know. Don’t make me follow up with you about the payments. Don’t make me send multiple emails asking you where things are at. Don’t make me chase you. If you promise a payment on June 1st, don’t wait until June 2nd to tell me it’s not coming. Or June 30th. I ask that you bring the kind of integrity to this you’d want your clients to bring to their financial commitments with you.”

Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I’m not there yet. But I’m no longer where I was a few months ago. I’m not assuming that things will continue to go as they have gone before. I can’t tell yet if this was a one time aberration or a change in the winds. I can tell you that, if this trend continued or worsened, I would pack up my pay what you can pricing and put it back in its case out of respect for it and the good people who are behaving so poorly towards it (why lead them into a situation they can’t handle and cause more shame for them?).

Maybe it’s time to retire my PWYC pricing at my live day long and weekend long workshops.

I suppose you’ll all let me know after my future workshops. 

Your Website Is Your Dojo

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“Your website is your dojo,” is a phrase I’ve said a number of times over the past few years to clients.

If you want to get good at martial arts, you need to practice. And the dojo is where you practice.

You don’t go to the dojo to win. You go to be defeated. You go to learn. You go to push yourself.

I suppose it’s the same in any art form. A writer is constantly defeated by the blank page. 

As Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, “A hundred pounds is a hundred pounds. It never gives you a break.”

It is supposed to stymie you. You’re supposed to see how little you know and how meager is your skill.

I see this with websites and entrepreneurs all the time.

They’ll tell me that they’re very clear about their niche, their point of view, their story and their services.

“Show me your website then,” I’ll say.

And the website is usually generic, confusing or uncompelling.

Don’t tell me you’re clear. Show me.

It’s easy to claim that you’re a karate master until you get into a real fight.

I see people defeated by their homepage all the time. What should they write? What options should they give to people?

I see people defeated by their bios all the time.

I see people defeated when they try to write a page on their site describing their ideal clients and their point of view. 

I see this all the time. 

It’s supposed to defeat you. You’re supposed to be appalled by how hard it is to express the things inside of you. It’s a good reminder: if it’s this hard for you to articulate what you do imagine how hard it is for your clients. And if you rely on word of mouth, this is a ponderous consideration.

People often ask me if they need to write a business plan. I always encourage them to do it; not because the plan will be of much use to them by the time they’re done. It’ll likely be useful for a few months and then not worth the paper it’s written on. But the clarity it will bring them in the process will be invaluable.

Writing a business plan forces clarity on the core questions of business: What are you doing? How are you doing it? Why are you doing it? For whom are you doing it? etc. These are questions that are so easy to ignore. They are the scales that the world’s greatest musicians still practice regularly.

They are the basics. They are the fundamentals. It’s easy to go to karate class, watch people at work and nod and say, “Got it,” but you don’t got it until you’ve practiced it and wrestled with it hundreds of times.

Nobody wants to practice that same damned jump shot thousands of times. 

No one in the military wants to do drill after drill.

No musician or actor is stoked about rehearsing over and over and over until it’s perfect. 

But it’s this kind of rigorous practice that creates masterpieces.

Marketing makes you better at what you do. Marketing asks you the questions that shape your products and services for the better; honing and focusing them. Marketing trims the unnecessary fat. 

And so, your website is your dojo. It never gives you a break.

Most people I know write and then rewrite their home pages, bios and other central pages. Rarely does someone write the perfect thing on the first draft. It ends up being an iterative process.

But a dojo isn’t just where you practice, it’s where your practice is recognized. It’s where you’re given your next belt. 

I suppose this is why having marketing coach can be so helpful. They’re like your sensei, or your voice coach, your fitness instructor… they push you harder. They keep defeating you but what comes out of it all is something more beautiful than you might have done alone. 

Your website isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to flummox you. It’s supposed to point out to you every place you’re not clear. That’s its job. But, if you stay with it, you come out with something simple and glorious. You come out with something so clear that it makes your entire business life easier.

Your website is like the CD you finally put out but it all starts with years and years of writing and rehearsing songs. It’s the book you finally publish. But it all starts with the blank page. 

Your website is where all of your hard work appears both as practice (various drafts and versions over the years) and as final product (the pages that are up on your website now). 

Additional Resources for Your Website:

Five Homepage Case Studies

How to Write a Lovable Homepage

Bye Bye Boring Bio (best workbook on writing your bio ever)

Point of View Marketing (most websites don’t have a point of view page but I think they should)

The Art of Relevance (the core issue around which your home page must be built)

The Website Toolkit (incredible resource from my colleague Robert Middleton that tells you the pages your need as a service provider and what should be on them). 

 

Point of View Marketing: Informed Consent

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I just spoke at the annual Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Conference in Edmonton as one of their opening day keynotes about marketing.

After my talk, I moved to the back of the room to organize a few things while the next speaker went up to speak about the ethical issue of ‘consent’ in the world of natural health.

It kept striking me how much this overlapped with the work I’ve been doing on point of view marketing.

Consent means that people are giving permission or agreement to an experience.

Informed consent means they have as full an understanding as they can have about what it is they are consenting to.

Every customer complaint ultimately comes down to a gap in expectations. They expected one thing and got another.

They came in for a massage but got craniosacral instead.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with craniosacral work. It’s that they didn’t sign up for it.

They went for a massage but ended up being touched in places and in ways they did not consent too.

Now, this doesn’t mean the intent of the touch was sexual. But, perhaps it’s a male massage therapist who is working some muscles around the breast the female lying on the table is receiving this as unwanted contact and feels powerless to say anything. She didn’t consent to this.

It would have been important for the massage therapist to discuss this and the kinds of touch and places he might touch her and to explain why. Then, before she was lying down on the bed and in a compromised position, she could have said ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

I’ve known people who got a bill from their contractor and were shocked to see additional expenses added in that they’d never consented to. A good contractor will always say, “Ok. We can do that extra bit and it will cost $4000. Is that okay?” They will always establish consent before moving forward.

There are two kinds of consent: there’s the consent you can give before an experience starts and then there’s the ongoing checking in during the experience to make sure everything is still feeling okay.

While the latter is vital, this post is focused 100% on the former.

I recall a colleague of mine, a naturopath, telling me how she’d had a couple of her clients left appointments part way through very upset because she had gone so hard for the energetic jugular on the issue they’d brought to her.

“Sarah,” I told her. “You’ve got to be gentle with people. You’ve got to let them know that this is your style before they show up.”

She nodded. She kept seeing this. She was realizing that her clients were coming in with no knowledge of her take on things and so were getting blindsided.

“Maybe you could host a monthly live workshop and insist they attend one before booking an appointment with you or maybe record it and ask that they watch it before your first session.” I suggested.

Another colleague of mine, a financial advisor, is incredibly blunt and brash in her workshops. She swears like a trucker. I sent a client of mine who was immensely sensitive to the workshop but without the forewarning. My client was mildly traumatized by the experience. She would never have consented to go if she’d known.

If you were a hardcore, raw-vegan, you likely would be upset to find out the naturopath you’d been recommended to go see was a hardcore paleo. You’d not have consented to go if you knew.

If you were a fundamentalist Christian, you wouldn’t consent to see a pagan healer etc.

These might seem obvious but it happens all the time: surprise.

Surprise is another way of saying, “I didn’t give me consent for this.”

Now, sometimes we are delighted by the surprise and sometimes… we aren’t.

If you do an intro workshop, my belief is that your goal must be to give them the information that they need to give (or not give) their informed consent about the next step in working with you.

How do you do this? You lay out your point of view.

You lay out your philosophy, perspective, take on things.

You tell them the generic process that you use.

You tell them the assumptions and principles upon which you’ve based that process.

You show them the overall map of the elements with which they’ll be contending in dealing with their issue and how that all relates to your core principles and your process.

You make your best case for this approach to the issue.

And then you make them your best offer.

It’s that simple.

I want to emphasize how much of this can and should be handled before you ever meet with them one on one.

A few years ago, I went to see a therapist who was specializing in a particular modality. I was paying about $185 for the hour.

She spent the entire hour going over everything I’m describing here. She told me the ethics of therapy. She gave me a flyer. She did everything but therapy with me. I was growing more and more agitated sitting there and listening to her go on and on.

Finally she picked up on it and asked me what was going on.

“I am paying $185 for something you could have emailed me and asked me to read over before I came here. You can have recorded this all in a video and sent it to me. Why am I paying for this?”

I did not consent to that experience. If she’d told me that this is how we’d be spending the first session I would never have booked a session with her.

Did I want to hear her point of view? Yes.

Did I want it in that format? No.

If you want your new clients to be delighted with your work, then give them the information they need to make the best choice for themselves.

The best marketing lets people know, “This is who I am. This is what I do. This is how I do it.” and then let’s them decide if that’s a fit for them or not.

They need to know your honest, considered take on the risks and benefits before they give you permission to do anything.

This means slowing down the marketing process even when you’re scared it will annoy them or that you might lose the sale.

It gives them the information they need to give you informed consent.

The challenge is this: what is that information?

Most entrepreneurs I work with have never articulated this clearly.

Want help crafting your unique own point of view?

OPTION #1: Join my next POV Lab. It’s a 30-day program for twelve people where you will be guided to dig deep into your own unique perspective and be asked over and over again why you do what you do the way you do it. This includes a lot of handholding and feedback. You can learn more here: marketingforhippies.com/povlab

OPTION #2: Get my Point of View eBook. This is my treatise on the subject and includes an incredibly useful workbook. You can get your copy here: marketingforhippies.com/povbook

OPTION #3: Get my workbook Don’t Market Yourself, Market Your Message. This is a sister piece to my POV eBook. You can get your copy here: marketingforhippies.com/messageebook