Guest Post: Privilege Based Pricing

A few months ago, I was connected with Peter Rubin who was experimenting with a new pricing model the likes of which I’d thought of before but of which I’d never heard: privilege-based pricing. As soon as I heard the name of it, I asked if he’d be willing to write a blog post. This isn’t a model I’ve implemented yet, and neither has he, but it’s the kind of thing I imagine I will be moving towards in the coming years for, at least, certain portions of my business.

Peter and I share an understanding that this world is full of institutionalized oppression, meaning that certain people (and it’s predictable who) tend to have it easier than others, get better access to resources etc. Myself being a white, CIS gendered, male in North America? I get a lot.

And I did nothing to earn those privileges.

Women, people of colour, indigenous people are marginalized and oppressed constantly. It’s something I’ve put much thought into over the years, even creating a blog you may not know about called Healing from Whiteness. I’ve also collected an impressive gathering of memes and articles on topics from Institutionalized Oppression and then a second one on that topic, Feminism and Gender, #BlackLivesMatter and White Privilege.

So, it’s been on my mind.

But Peter has taken this all to another level by considering how this could all be woven into our pricing structures.

This post is provocative. It may feel unsettling. I invite you to read it in full and sit with it for a while.


by Peter Rubin

What is Privilege-Based Pricing?

Privilege-Based Pricing is an innovative pricing structure designed for social justice.

Unlike sliding scale systems which typically have no guidelines or simple income-based guidelines for how much to pay, Privilege-Based Pricing takes clients through a rigorous self-reflection and conversation process which determines a discount on services, ranging from zero to 50%.

The discount is calculated to correct for the imbalances of an unjust culture. It’s an experiment in taking all the rules of our society and turning them around 180 degrees.

This is not a scholarship or a charity for people who are less privileged. It’s also not a way to punish people who are more privileged. It’s a way to make the invisible privileges of our lives visible, bring balance to an unfair world, and spark learning and transformation for all.

What do you mean by privilege?

In one of my favorite books, Waking Up White by Debby Irving, she talks about “headwinds” and “tailwinds” as the forces that make our lives easier or harder each day based on whether we’re in a dominant or minority group.

Factors outside of our control, such as race, gender, access to education, family resources growing up, where we were born, experiences of trauma or lack thereof, etc., profoundly shape our life trajectories.

Where did this idea come from?

As a Business Midwife – someone who helps my clients give birth to their dream businesses – I’ve come to realize that certain clients are poised to make a lot of money from the outset, and for others it will likely be a much longer journey. This doesn’t have to do with their skill or how good a person they are — it had to do with their privilege.

For instance, a white male client with a graduate education, who has already had a successful corporate career, has a lot of money in his bank account, and is connected to wealthy and powerful people, will likely have an easy time getting a return on their investment.

In contrast, a black female client who grew up poor, is supporting 6 family members, has experienced significant trauma in her life, and wants to build a community-focused business will likely have a more challenging time paying for her coaching with me.

My question is, why are these two clients paying me the same amount of money?

In the old “equality vs. equity debate” the idea of privilege-based pricing is to look at a client’s resources and ability to make money based on their life story and privileges they’ve received in order to determine a price that creates equity by stretching everyone equally.

All clients receive the same high-quality service, and I hold all clients to the same Visionary Code – principles for being powerful creators in their lives and businesses. But the place each client is starting from is acknowledged.

How would you respond to people who might say, “Isn’t this reverse discrimination?”

No. It’s about equal opportunity and restoring balance to an unjust culture.

Women make 79 cents for every dollar men make (source). The median wealth of a black family is $6,446 while a white family is $91,405 (source). These are long-term trends and statistical truths, and they won’t resolve themselves without a change in policy.

Why wait for government policies, when we as entrepreneurs have the power to create change by changing how we price our own services?

For legal reasons, the Privilege-Based Pricing Questionnaire doesn’t ask directly about race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., but rather explores how our identities mixed with cultural biases influence our chances of business success, asking questions like, “Do you see other people who look like you leading in your field?” and “Do you have family members who are role models for business success?” and “What’s the most money you’ve made in your life?” These are the invisible headwinds that make it easier for us privileged people to succeed.

Why does this idea matter to you so much?

I’m currently immersed in a 2-year training with Lee Mun Wah to be a diversity facilitator. I’ve been deeply exploring my own whiteness, having conversations with friends about race and privilege, and have been curious about how I will bring these learnings to my business.

This idea of Privilege-Based Pricing came to me one day, and I smiled. I have a trickster side to me, and this feels like the perfect “trick” to play on all of us (myself included) to challenge the assumptions we have about how business should be done.

I’ve been doing some informal research on the concept with the intention of implementing it in my business in January of 2017. It feels like a big risk, and yet a unique and profound way to practice the social justice values I’m preaching.

I’m happy to discount my services to some clients in order to spark a healing conversation about privilege and, hopefully, have a more diverse and socially-aware group of clients as a result.

How exactly does the process work?

There are three steps to the process. They include:

Step 1 – Education

Because this is such an unusual pricing system, it’s important to give context. The model will be explained to potential clients so they understand what they’re getting into, and the intentions behind it.

Step 2 – The Questionnaire

I send an online survey to potential clients that asks about specific questions about:

  • Their personal and family story, and the advantages and disadvantages they’ve had from before their birth to the present.
  • Their existing resources – including financial resources, social capital, and more.
  • Their potential for future income – based on their vision for their business, who they plan to serve and how they plan to price their services.

The exact questions in this questionnaire are still being worked out.

Step 3 – Conversation + Decision

Then we review their questionnaire together and decide together how much of a discount to give them. There will be six tiers of discount, from no discount up to a 50% discount, with case studies that exemplify each tier. This conversation is held as sacred, and we will take time to process any emotions that come up along the way.

Do you think people will take advantage of the system?

I guess people could lie about their responses, but those aren’t the sorts of people I work with. I handpick clients who care about social justice and have a lot of integrity, and I trust them to answer honestly and pick the tier that best represents them.

Where do you expect to receive the most pushback?

Let’s be honest – there’s nothing comfortable about this pricing system!

In the testing I’ve done, just along lines of race, people of color have been pissed (“I don’t need your handouts!”) and white people have been pissed (“How dare you reverse-discriminate!”). People of color have been delighted (“What a cool way to bring privilege to the light!”) and white people have been delighted (“I’d be happy to pay more to support this”).

So I realize that what I’m filtering for isn’t privilege at all. I’m filtering for willingness to be vulnerable.

Determining your Privilege-Based Price is an incredibly vulnerable process and brings up the very things we are taught to be most private about – race, class, level of education, etc. I intend to be very tender with my clients as I talk through the questionnaire with them, expecting difficult emotions (shame, grief, fear, etc.) to come up.

Those courageous and open-minded souls who want to be part of a social justice experiment will be drawn to this new pricing system. Those who aren’t open to it will be turned off by it – and that’s just fine!

I’ve found that clients who are most vulnerable with me get the most value out of working with me. They’re able to release shame and reclaim their power, making them stronger business leaders. So filtering for a willingness to be vulnerable can only be good for my business.

What kinds of places could you imagine people using this?

This pricing system is somewhat complex – each client is required to fill out a questionnaire and have an in-depth conversation with a service provider who has the capacity to hold space for such a conversation. So I don’t imagine us using Privilege-Based Pricing at vending machines! But I do think it is promising for transformational education and services.

How can people learn more about Privilege-Based Pricing and the work you do?

You can visit my website at and sign up for my mailing list. I’ll be keeping my subscribers in the loop about PbP and announcing when I officially launch the new pricing system in January of 2017.

downloadAbout Peter Rubin

Peter Rubin helps visionaries give birth to their businesses. He gives his clients the support they need to get clear on their visions, craft a strategy, and deliver it to the world. Peter has developed this radical approach to business, having given birth to a series of transformational service-based businesses himself, each time pushing his edges and learning from his failures. Before becoming a full-time coach in 2011, he was a consultant at IDEO and Daylight, two of the world’s leading innovation firms. He has taught at the Stanford, OneTaste, General Assembly, and beyond. He lives in the Bay Area with his life partner, Morgan West, a midwife (for real babies!) who continually inspires him with her badass midwifery skills and devotion to her clients at all hours of day and night. Learn more at

Funny Video: Just Add Natural

Screen Shot 2014-02-14 at 4.07.27 PMNatural doesn’t always mean natural.

This mockumentary by Only Organic gives you a little heads up on what and what isn’t organic.

Brilliant take on the rampant greenwashing of our food and lack of ethics used in food marketing. 

You can find other funny things on my blog here




Guest Post: Eco-Friendly Advertising: Good for Business, Good for the Planet

by Darren Leach

In the nature of the beast, the advertising industry is about as trendy as high school. With larger corporations leading the way, executing these “hip” marketing campaigns leads to infectious awareness, leaving everyone talking.

As the popular proverb goes, actions speak louder than words. Same goes the world of advertising as of late. No longer can companies get away with simply plastering a message on a wall and expect it to resonate with the audience. Over the past decade consumers have begun holding brands accountable for their strategies and tactics, essentially forcing these companies to “practice what they preach.” 

This can prominently be found in a company’s stance on the state of our planet’s well-being. Brands big and small from across the globe have vowed to become more environmentally conscious and the idea of “green” advertising is becoming more popular in order to target a new wave of ecologically savvy consumers. 

Seeing as billboards provide businesses with an optimal combination of size and visibility, brands from around the world are approaching outdoor advertising services with creative, eco-friendly advertising campaigns. What is it about this “greenvertising” movement that has eco-friendly ads sweeping the globe? Most likely its versatility and cost-efficiency. Take a look around you – when it comes to leveraging the environment to sell a product/share a message, Earth is your canvas and nature is your palette.

As I mentioned earlier, the advertising industry is a very trendy niche. Staying up to date on what’s working and what’s not is essential when it comes to managing a successful ad campaign. Within the realm of eco-friendly advertising there are some significant trends that companies have been capitalizing over the past couple years.

Trend #1: Consumers like shiny things: If there is one thing that is sure to capture the attention of your audience it is cool gadgets. As I mentioned previously, advertising is a trendy industry controlled by fads and the latest crazes – and sustainability is “in” right now. In all reality the functionality of a product could mean very little to the consumer as long as they get to jump aboard the eco-train. By taking advantage of a trend driven society, companies are able to appeal to the masses by marketing their products under the guise of sustainability.

Trend #2: Imagination: For the most part, the direction that the green movement is headed is largely unprecedented. Because of this, companies are able to take advantage of the unknown and use it to excite their audience. Whereas things such as electric vehicles and solar power are far from being new technology, we are still yet to see them as an accepted norm in society. Although this green movement has been years in the making, it is the unknown factor that opens the door for limitless innovation – like a block of marble waiting to be turned into a masterpiece, all it takes is a little imagination.

Trend #3: Facts Facts Facts: You can’t cheat science. When it comes to making claims about how environmentally conscious your company is, it’s pretty easy to slap on a tag word such as “green” or “sustainable”, a practice commonly referred to as ‘greenwashing’. This worked for a while, however consumers are beginning to challenge said claims and question the validity behind these so-called green standards. In fact the FTC has actually begun producing “green guides” that serves as a guide for what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to environmental claims. 

Trend #4: Green = Green: At the beginning of the green movement consumers were willing to pay steep prices as long as it meant saving the planet. As the eco-friendly ideology became more popular, less people were willing to pay top price for achieving the same endgame when they could just opt for the cheaper product.  In response to this change in dynamic, environmentally friendly products have not only seen a decrease in pricing but changes in advertising strategy as well. By lowering prices and marketing with a message, these companies aim to get their customers to stick by their cause for the long run.

Trend #5: Take Action: As Gandhi famously said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Like I mentioned earlier, no longer can companies get away with petty claims of making a difference and saving the Earth. That’s because the consumer is standing on the other end of that message saying “prove it!” By taking part in service projects and designing campaigns around environmental causes, brands can show the public that not only do they stand by their claims, but that they are actively working towards making a difference. 

Here are a couple examples of some recent green advertising campaigns that really worked:

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.41.10 PMUrban Air

“UrbanAir transforms existing urban billboards to living, suspended bamboo gardens. Embedded with intelligent technology, UrbanAir becomes a global node – an open space in the urban skyline… An artwork, symbol, and instrument for a green future.”

Complete with Wi-Fi and climate transmitters, Stephen Glassman’s UrbanAir project is designed to provide a fresh reprieve from the noxious environment of Los Angeles. By converting old billboard space into hanging bamboo gardens, Glassman says his intentions are to “put a crack in the urban skyline so that when people are compressed, squeezed, stuck in traffic and they look up, they see an open space of fresh air.”

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.41.28 PM

Patagonia – The Footprint Chronicles

As a company that relies heavily on environmental changes, Patagonia prides itself on its sustainability and its identity as a “responsible company.” 

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles outlines the details of the company’s supply chain, as well it’s social, environmental, and industrial impacts. Leading by example, the company hopes to see other brands catch on and actively work towards reducing their impact on the environment. 

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.41.40 PM

Cotton – Blue Jeans go Green Denim Drive

There are many people out there that are unaware of the sustainable properties of cotton. Even more so, many people out there are unaware that denim is in fact cotton. By utilizing college campuses, the Cotton Blue Jeans go Green campaign aims to educate the public on the recyclable properties of cotton, specifically denim, all the while making a difference in their community.

Each Fall Cotton selects a handful of college campuses from across the nation to represent this campaign. The students then design a full scale sustainability focused PR campaign in order to educate their community while collecting old denim. Once the denim drive is over, the material is sent back to Cotton where it is broken down to its original fiber state and used to create UltraTouch Denim Insulation for low-income housing.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.50.21 PMAbout The Author:

As a veteran media planner, Darren Leach has spent many years specializing in outdoor marketing strategies. He currently writes on behalf of Billboard Source and in his spare time Darren enjoys exploring the colorful neighborhoods of NYC. Darren is also into HR and is currently writing about business feedback for company staff and their clients.



Guest Post: Empathic Marketing and TLC: A Whole New Paradigm of Business!

by Tomar Levine, 

A message I’ve valued in some of your posts, Tad, is to not shame or blame people, to not make them feel worse about themselves in the attempt to market to them.

When I heard you say that, something in me relaxed and felt safe.

Accepting People Where They Are

I realized I don’t want to be with one more person who makes me feel bad about myself, whether it’s through harshness, pressure, subtle blaming or comparison. I’ve lived too long in a state of self-judgment, feeling inadequate, and comparing myself. I need my teachers and mentors to lead with heart. And from there I can find the inner resources to commit myself to what I truly want – which certainly includes pushing against my perceived limits.  But not from fear, shame, or feeling in any way inadequate and needing to prove something, to get approval.

I believe that if we are to to help others we must meet them where they are and be with them in such a way that what is hurting can relax –  not flinch or tighten, not get defensive or collapse more.

We need to see and accept them where they are and speak to that, extend our hand to them in that place.

Empathy vs. Manipulation 

That is the difference between empathy and using people’s pain as a sales technique to manipulate them.

In the manipulative version we’re exploiting their fear or pain in order to get them to buy our “solution” to their problem  – just like the advertising industry has always done. Advertising treats people as objects and knows just which buttons to push to get the desired result. 

True empathy, on the other hand, recognizes our common human condition and makes people feel seen, accepted, and safe. Because empathy means we’re both vulnerable!

Is Manipulative Marketing “Child Abuse?”

When someone is afraid or insecure it usually means some “deficient child” identity has taken over – we all have them.  So I just had this far-out realization that the manipulative approach is akin to taking advantage of a child!

We all tend to regress and feel all alone when we think there’s something wrong with us –  we’re so sure we’re the only one or the worst case. We may feel totally hopeless because of the gap between where we are vs. where we think we should be. And it always comes back to feeling like a deficient child. This is pretty universal.

We look around and see the successful-looking  facades that others project – the “adults,” who seem to have everything together – and we believe them. It’s called “comparing your inside to someone else’s outside.” The other person may feel inadequate too, but they just have a better mask.

Tell Your Own Story

One of the most compassionate, loving things we can do for someone, therefore, is to normalize their pain so they realize they’re not alone or different.

The easiest way to do that is to share our own story. Hearing the words, “I’ve been there too, it’s okay, it’s perfectly normal for you to feel that way” is such balm at those times. 

Then if you say “I know a way out that worked for me. Maybe it can help you too,” the person can hear you as a friend, not in a state of panic. 

Can You “Emphasize the Gap” Too Much?

I know we’re taught to emphasize the pain, the gap, what it’s costing the person to not achieve their goal. And I get that people are often in denial about that, don’t want to look at it, and so don’t move forward.

But some “manipulating pain” marketing emphasizes the gap so much that it feels insurmountable. I’ve been on the receiving end of that, and have sometimes felt I was just too inadequate, too far behind, not enough like the marketer (not confident enough, extroverted enough, glamorous enough) to ever succeed. So it made me feel more hopeless and at the same time like I needed to grasp onto whatever they were offering out of  desperation.

I advocate the way of empathy –  but it’s important to understand that that is not the same as coddling.”There’s still real work to be done, once safety is established. There are action steps to be taken, and emotional healing to take place.

Working with Inner Parts is Liberating

One approach that’s really helpful on the emotional level (and behavioral too), is that of working with “inner parts.” We’re all made up of many inner parts or sub-personalities. Each one takes over in turn as we shift from mood to mood, from reaction to reaction, during our day – but we keep thinking “this is who I am.”  

A really easy way to make a difference is to learn to say the simple phrase “a part of me feels…”  For instance, if you’re feeling inadequate, instead of saying to yourself “I’m inadequate” or “I feel so inadequate”,” try saying “a part of me feels inadequate.”  As soon as you do that you actually step out of being identified with being the inadequate one, and step into being the Witness instead, the one who can observe the inadequate one, and all other parts. You instantly shift into being your bigger Self! That alone is a huge step towards freedom. 

From there you can open a dialogue with the part of you that feels scared or inadequate (or any other way). You can find out what it wants, what it needs, how it’s trying to help you, etc. We can actually negotiate with our inner parts. Because it turns out they really need to be listened to, not judged and blamed!

So approaching the client with “Would you be open to looking at your situation in this way that I’ve found can really help?” and then introducing a  re-frame like “a part of me feels…” moves from empathy into healing and action. There are many ways to work with negative beliefs and self-images. Working with inner parts is one of several that I love. (Another is the BeliefCloset Process for transforming limiting beliefs.)

Help Your Clients Step Into Their Power

When you engage the Witness, an aspect of the person’s highest, most authentic self, you are holding a vision of who you know them to be beneath the disguises of their ego. You are helping them get disentangled, and inviting them to step into their true power. 

And you also support them in taking actions that challenge their fears and lead them beyond their comfort zone, which builds their confidence and gradually changes their sense of who they are from the inside out. 

And none of this requires manipulating them by exploiting their fear, by shaming or blaming or making them feel worse about themselves in any way.

A New Movement is Beginning

Something very exciting to me is that there’s starting to be a groundswell of spiritual entrepreneurs –  coaches, healers, business mentors, and the like –  who are saying out loud that we don’t want to participate in manipulative marketing practices any more. I’ve been waiting for this day for quite a while.

In fact, some of us are so fed up with being told there’s no other way to have a business than using old-paradigm marketing (dressed up in spiritual language), that we have set out to create a radical new-paradigm business model of our own!

TLC – A New Paradigm of Business 

I’m very proud to be a founding member of the True Livelihood Community (or TLC), a collaborative network of spiritual  entrepreneurs creating a learning and teaching environment in which it will be possible to earn a full-time living working part-time, offering our highest gifts that we’re most passionate about.

This new paradigm of business emphasizes cooperation over competition, community over isolation, we-first sharing and support over me-first controlling and manipulating. In fact, our vision is to create the kind of world we want to live in! 

Reaction to the pain many of us have felt, from being confined to the old, more manipulative and hard-driven marketing models, has led us to invent an entirely new mode of doing business. Our hope is that TLC will pave the way for many new forms of spiritually inspired business to emerge in the coming time – for that is what the world needs right now.

If you’re interested in finding out more about TLC (or would like to know more about the Healing and Clearing work I do as part of my Birthing Your Sacred Work coaching programs), please contact me at

I also want to recommend the free video interview series Tami Simon of Sounds True recently did, called The Self Acceptance Project! There’s gold there for learning to be kind and compassionate towards ourselves and each other. 

Tomar_Facebook_Main_Photo_dk oranger13Tomar Levine is an Intuitive Life Purpose & Career Guide, Business Strategist for spiritual entrepreneurs, and Akashic Record Consultant, as well as a speaker, writer, and artist. She created her program, “Birthing Your Sacred Work” to help evolutionary change-agents embrace their gifts and free their power so they can create a thriving soul-filled business that helps change the world. You can find out more about her work at .


guest post – Planting the Seeds of Good Karma to Enrich Your Business and Life

 by Angela Croft

Planting the Seeds of Good Karma to Enrich Your Business and Life

When I was first starting my coaching business, I heard one of my mentors at the time say that there’s no better personal development plan on the planet than starting your own business, and I couldn’t agree more. Building a business is not for the faint of heart. It has the potential to inspire at the highest levels and also raise from the depths our most potent hidden shadows of fear and doubt. 

As I’m sure is true for many of you, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on this journey has been to integrate my desire to serve and make a difference with the necessity of making a profit. Before launching as a coach, I’d spent just over a decade working as a counselor and therapist in various arenas of mental health. In these arenas, money and service don’t mix easily and as an employee I rarely had to give it a second thought. When I became a business owner, it almost felt wrong to charge money for helping people and it’s been quite a quest to find a path in business that happily marries service and money. I often wondered if it was really possible to create the kind of success I desired in business without sacrificing integrity, values, meaning, and fulfillment.

I also found that the constant preoccupation with generating self-employed income began to lead me in a direction of self-focus that started to become tedious and insular. At a certain point the relentless focus on MY business, MY money, MY projects started to feel really tired. 

A little over a year ago, after coming to an end of a lucrative contract with one of Canada’s top five banks, and with no new prospects in sight, I had the opportunity to learn an approach to business that finally satisfied my longing for a path that embraced both the deep ethic of service and the healthy need for profit. While shopping for a meditation cushion, I discovered an advertisement for a talk being given by Geshe Michael Roach, author of the books “The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life” and “Karmic Management”. My husband had read “The Diamond Cutter” a number of years before and I remembered that he found great inspiration in it. So, I put it in my calendar and excitedly anticipated the event. It turned out to be a major turning point in both my business and life.

In the talk, Geshe Michael Roach shared his experience of creating a hugely successful business from scratch using ancient Buddhist principles that are rooted in the understanding that we are all One and that we create success by shifting our focus out of the “me, me, me” and into thinking about helping other people become successful first. He refers to this approach as “Karmic Management”. 

I was so inspired by the talk that I bought and devoured the books and then introduced my friend and coaching colleague Tom Rausch to the work. He was so lit up by it and the results he was experiencing, that he suggested we launch a Mastermind. And so we did. 

After almost two years of walking this path and taking other people through the process of learning and implementing it, I can say that it’s one of the most powerful paths of personal and business development we’ve each experienced. It’s enabled us to clear out some major blockages and evolve into the next level of expressing our purpose, attracting incredible new opportunities, and creating a level of peace, ease, clarity, and confidence that we didn’t know was possible. We’ve also had the joy and privilege of seeing others do the same. 

I find it’s rare to get that much out of one approach, and so I’m both honored and excited to have this opportunity to share with you some background on it and give you a quick tour of the major components to get you started.

A Good Karma Success Story

In the talk I attended, Geshe Michael Roach shared his story of being a young Princeton grad many years ago in search of greater spiritual meaning and understanding. This quest led him to study in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery for twenty-five years and become the first white person in six hundred years to achieve the title of ‘Geshe’, which designates him as a Master of Buddhist studies. The final assignment given to him by his teachers was to start a business since they felt that this would be one of the best ways to demonstrate the powerful and practical value of the ancient wisdom.

By his own description, Gehse Michael Roach had absolutely no interest in starting a business and he put it off for over a year before deciding to move forward. When he finally accepted the challenge, he was guided to start a business in the diamond industry, which is no small accomplishment in itself. In this highly guarded business sector it’s typically only those whose families have been in the business for generations who have any clout or opportunity to start a company. Yet, in spite of the barriers he encountered, he persevered, studied gemology, and eventually found a business partner that was willing to take him on in the venture of starting a new diamond company.

He diligently applied the karmic principles and practices and it soon became the fastest growing manufacturing company in the history of New York City, often doubling their profits every year, which is virtually unheard of in the diamond industry. At the same time that he started the diamond company, he also established a charity that assists Tibetan refugees and preserves their ancient Buddhist texts. He attributes the success of the diamond business in large part to the fact that he channeled the fruits of his labor into this charity. A few years ago they sold the diamond business to Warren Buffett for $250 million dollars (not too shabby!) and Geshe Michael Roach continues to share the karmic principles and practices with people around the world by offering training and talks at a very minimal cost.

What Exactly is Karma and How Does This All Work?

“Karma” is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days so let’s start by clarifying what it actually means. 

Firstly, it’s not some distant and mysterious force that punishes you! It’s simply the accumulated effect of everything you say, think, and do… and the overall quality of your life experience in this moment is a direct reflection of your habits of thought, action, and speech (or karma). 

I’m guessing that, like me, most of you are fairly mindful of how you conduct yourself, but in spite of this, I was still amazed by how profoundly I had underestimated the consequences of what I say, think, and do. I was also surprised to learn how even the smallest, seemingly insignificant ripples of thought, action, and speech can manifest in quite powerfully unexpected and unpleasant ways. 

Drawing on over two thousand years of observation and insight, the Karmic Management system outlines in detail the correlation between specific negative karmic habits and how they manifest as specific types of problems in your business and life. The correlations are not often what you’d imagine them to be and it’s worth studying this material for these insights alone!

The good news is that with the awareness of how to strategically and effectively take charge of your thoughts, actions, and speech, you can awaken even more of your potential as a powerful change agent and cultivate an even richer and more fulfilling life that you can be thoroughly happy and proud to call our own.

Planting and Weeding Your Karmic Garden

The overall process of putting karmic principles and practices to work is like planting a garden. With every thought you focus on, word you speak, and action you take, you’re planting the seeds that become your reality. So, this is ultimately a path of radical personal responsibility in which you assume the role of chief gardener by consistently weeding out negative seed-planting habits and consciously cultivating positive ones instead.

If you want to create more positive outcomes in your business and life, think of yourself as a karmic seed detective, forensically investigating the results you’re experiencing for clues as to which habits of thought, word, and deed are negatively influencing your reality. From there, determine which seeds you need to plant instead and get on a plan (pronto!) to start consistently planting seeds for the kind of reality you want to experience. This is a really essential part of the process and you can find loads of great guidelines for doing this in “The Diamond Cutter” and “Karmic Management”. It’s also an area we spend a great deal of time focusing on in the Karmic Mastermind.

With this basic understanding of karma and planting your karmic garden in mind, let’s move on to some additional core principles and practices to help get you started on the path of gardening for your success.

Cultivating Your Karmic Garden

All of Karmic Management rests on the First Law of Karma which says, “Whatever you want from life you must do for someone else first.”  

In this tradition, this is a law that governs all of life and if you choose to live by this principle you will experience true, lasting, and fulfilling success.

Ultimately, this law is connected to the underlying truth that we are all deeply interconnected and that the idea of a “me” that is separate from “you” is ultimately an illusion that creates disharmony and suffering. From this understanding it also follows (since we’re not as separate as we think) that the success of others is also our own success and this frees us up from a sense of being in an isolated, competitive, or comparative business mindset.

To illustrate how this works, let’s pick the example of wanting to grow your business so you can amplify the positive impact you feel inspired to make in the world. In this model, you’ve got to first focus on helping other people do the same. The main idea here is that you get what you give, and you must start with giving and not see it as something you’ll get around to doing once you’ve “arrived”. If you don’t have a lot of money, you can give of your time, energy, and talents. The point is to get started on giving what you want to receive and helping others who also want to expand their business and impact. 

As a heart-centered, socially conscious business owner, this first law of karma resonates deeply. I also find that it has challenged me greatly to take my commitment to service, generosity, and trust to a much higher level. 

Since it takes a radical shift in outlook and a new level of inner discipline to consistently approach success from this mindset, I’ll wrap up by giving you five additional key components that are integral to making this shift and following this path effectively.

1) Take Very Good Care of Yourself and Stay Healthy in Body, Mind, and Spirit.

The aim here is to maintain the energy you need to consistently plant positive karmic seeds and minimize negative karmic habits, so you can serve others at a higher level. This is a powerful, sometimes even magical process, but it requires energy, commitment, and focus.

Most of us are typically about one negative circumstance or one bad day away from getting triggered back into the habit of unconsciously reacting, planting negative seeds, and letting the first law of karma fly out the window (I speak from experience here!). Effectively managing your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual fitness gives you the energy and focus to stay alert and persevere in planting the seeds that will generate the kind of soul-satisfying success you desire in business and life.

2) Choose Your Karmic Partners 

This involves setting up what’s called a karmic project and selecting karmic partners. Your karmic project is grounded in a main objective you have in your business and life, let’s say for example, to grow your business so you can amplify the positive impact you’re here to make. 

Your karmic partners are the customers, suppliers, colleagues, and charitable endeavors that share a similar goal as you. These are the people who you’re going to focus on making successful first. 

Every day you start your day thinking about how you could support your karmic partners to be successful in one small way or another to grow their business and expand their impact. This may mean doing something for just one or two karmic partners, or all of them depending on what inspiration you receive and what kinds of opportunities you have to serve them. This is not only a fantastic way to begin the day but it’s also a really effective way to focus your habits of thought, action, and speech, and plant the seeds for the reality you want to experience.

3) Set Up Daily Practices to Maximize Success

Once you have your Karmic project set up, you also do the work to consistently clean up your karmic ‘bugaboos’– meaning the negative, sticky patterns of thought, action, and speech that are creating unwanted results in your work and life.

Once you determine your top bugaboos, you track them daily. You set up a plan to bring them to mind every morning and you think about ways you can break unfruitful habits, respond differently, and plant more effective seeds.

In addition to this practice, you’re also starting the day thinking about how you can help your karmic partners. The combination of these two practices- tracking your bugaboos and contemplating how you can serve your karmic partners- keeps you focused on minimizing negative habits and maximizing positive seed-planting opportunities.

At the end of the day, review how you did. This end-of-day review keeps you focused and accountable to your seed-planting efforts. As you review your day, celebrate your successes and bring to mind the joy of serving others.  It’s very key to focus on what you did well since this strengthens the mind and heart with a sense of accomplishment and positive momentum. Also compassionately note ongoing challenges. By bringing compassion to any areas you need to strengthen, you avoid planting the negative seeds of getting down on yourself. Thankfully, beating up on yourself is no better karmically than doing it to someone else!

4) See Your Problems As Your Friends

This is a critical piece but it’s also one of the toughest to actually do since it runs so contrary to much of our social training, not to mention our lightening fast defensive reactions.

It’s often very challenging to not resist, feel defeated, or fight back when challenges and conflicts arise. In the karmic view, your problems are a gift because they give you direct feedback on what kinds of negative karmic seeds you’ve been planting, and they also give you the opportunity to stop, examine your habits, and take charge of choosing new ones. As an example, if you keep encountering angry or irritable  people in your life, the solution is to take an inventory of all the big and small ways in which you get stuck in angry/irritable thought, action, or speech, and start cleaning up these habits.

When you fight and resist a problematic person or issue, you generate more negative karmic seeds that then manifest later into further (and usually larger) challenges and problems. So, the idea here is to increase your capacity to use every circumstance, no matter how negative, to clean up your karma and plant the seeds for a better reality.

5) Re-Invest the Karma

This is the process of funneling the positive karmic results you receive back into your project. When your business generates profits or other benefits, you distribute them amongst your karmic business partners as a way of cultivating a cycle of generosity and sustainability.

This could mean sending a special thank you note or gift to your customers or suppliers, treating your colleagues to a nice meal, and/or making a donation to a charity that you’ve selected as one of your partners.

Going back to the analogy of planting your karmic garden, it’s a common practice in the farming business to set aside ten percent of the seeds generated by each crop yield to ensure sustainability. It’s the same principle here when you allocate a percentage of your yield to distribute amongst your karmic partners. If money is tight, simply share whatever you can of your funds, time, energy and talents as an offering of thanks. The most important point is to celebrate any success, no matter how small, and include your karmic partners in that celebration, because after all, your success is their success!

Taking it Further

The Books

If you’d like to learn more about how to plant the kind of karmic seeds that will create the results you desire, we recommend that you pick up the books, “The Diamond Cutter” and “Karmic Management”. You can find Amazon links to purchase these on our “Resources” page If you are Canadian you may prefer to access

“Karmic Management” is a great way to get started since it’s a short and easy read that pulls together the core principles from “The Diamond Cutter”.   Some of you may want to take the deeper dive from the get-go, in which case, “The Diamond Cutter” would be the best bet. We personally refer to both depending on whether we want a quick reminder or more in-depth understanding.

The Karmic Mastermind

Karmic mastery is ultimately a technique and with all techniques you only get good results when you use it effectively and consistently.

We’ve witnessed powerful transformation and results from the support and accountability our group members receive in the Karmic Mastermind, and if this is calling you, we’d love to take the journey with you. 

You can learn more about the karmic Mastermind and sign up to receive a powerful guided meditation at…

I’ll also be hosting a No-Fee 90-minute training call on Tuesday February 12th at 3pm Eastern/12pm Pacific.

“Harnessing the Power of Good Karma to Take Your Business and Life to the Next Level”

The goal of this call is to share principles and practices that you can implement right away. 


On this call you’ll learn… 

  • How it helped me (Angela) to break through hidden barriers that I would never have imagined were holding me back and how it can help you too.
  • The mechanics of how we create our own roadblocks to success and what to do to clear them.
  • How to set up your own karmic project and get started right away.
  • Why creating community and accountability on the journey of mastering the art of good karma is so essential and what you can do to support yourself. 


Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 3.29.22 PMIf you attend the call live, you’ll have the opportunity to win an individual coaching session to help you move forward on the path of Karmic Mastery.

The call will be recorded, so be sure to register even if you can’t attend live so that you can access the recording.

To register go to:

This is powerful, transformative work and if it’s calling you we encourage you to listen to that inner voice.

Wishing you abundant karmic gardening and much soul-satisfying success,

Angela Croft,

MSW, CTA Certified Coach

marketing from the heart manifesto

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


Marketing From The Heart?

by Mary Pellicer, MD?

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

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

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

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

EMPATHIZING with people (vs. exploiting their insecurities)

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

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

CONTACT to LEAD & INFLUENCE (vs. seeking fame)

Opening CONVERSATIONS about POSSIBILITIES (vs. closing deals)

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

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

slow marketing

I’m in Vancouver sitting at yet another favourite hang out spot here – Eternal Abundance (full of raw vegan goodness, comfy chairs, high ceilings and lots of natural light). I love places like this.

I just finished my weekend workshop in Vancouver (and Victoria the weekend before that). You can see photos here.

And something clicked for me this weekend. I’m calling it ‘Slow Marketing’. You’ve likely heard about the Slow Food movement (from which I borrow this colourful snail) and Carol Honore’s book In Praise of Slow.

And, for some reason, I’d never considered how that might apply to marketing.

But, over the weekend, I was sharing how marketing is like baseball and that we can’t ‘skip bases’ in building our relationships with people. First there needs to be clarity, then trust, then some excitement . . . and then a commitment. It can take time to build relationships with our clients. Some things can’t be rushed.

And one woman expressed her thanks, ‘I’d never considered that before.’  Something about knowing that it was okay to go slow felt confirming of her best instincts and affirming that she hadn’t failed just because she’d not gotten immediate results.

Most marketing we see is so fast.

Lynn Serafinn wrote a beautiful book called The Seven Graces of Marketing where she contrasts the common place sins of marketing with the potential graces of marketing. One of the sins she talks about is scarcity. And so much marketing is based on creating a sense of scarcity, ‘act now while supplies last’. We see seminars full of people rushing to the back of the room to sign up for a next level workshop they don’t fully understand and can’t entirely afford (and that may or may not be a fit).

So much rushing.

And it seems to work. But what you don’t end up seeing is the huge numbers of people who get ‘buyers remorse’ and cancel their participation in the programs. Or go to it and then ask for a refund because it wasn’t a fit (and then become extremely bitter when they can’t get a refund). What we sometimes fail to notice is the cynicism these tactics create in the marketplace. And the low level panic we all live in.

I remember when I first started in sales, it certainly wasn’t something I knew. I was cold calling people and trying to pressure them into making decisions. It was all I knew how to do. I thought you had to do that. Of course, it was all under the auspices of empowering them. But pressure is pressure. And it was all so fast moving. It wasn’t until years later that I began to learn that by slowing my marketing down it worked better.

It’s like irrigating a field, the slower you drip in the water the deeper it goes.

But so much marketing is so fast. It’s ‘buy now’ and ‘closing people’ and ‘converting prospects’ and creating ‘irresistible offers’. It’s ‘double your income in 30 days’ and ‘lose 50 pounds overnight!’

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people express shock that I’ve not written a book yet or developed more ‘advanced level’ seminars. But I knew I wasn’t ready yet – I was still cooking. I knew I was still figuring out what I wanted to say. And I knew that, eventually, something would click and I’d be ready and that things would flow fast.

I remember being told about the Chinese bamboo tree. You plant it and you don’t see anything grow for five years. Even though you’re doing everything right. And then, in the 5th year, it grows ninety feet in ninety days. Some of us are like that.

It’s the tortoise, not the hare.

Martin Luther (the founder of Lutheranism) used to meet with important people and had an aide who would help him organize these things. One day, his aide looked in awe at the number of important meetings and things he had to do and said to Martin Luther, “Tomorrow is so busy that I suppose you will only be able to spend half an hour in meditation instead of your usual hour.” And Luther responded, “No. Tomorrow is so important I will spend two hours in meditation.”

The higher the stakes feel, the more tempting it is to move fast . . . and the more important it is to slow things down.

Panic is not a business strategy.

What would happen if we all. slowed. down. our marketing?

Here’s what Slow Marketing means for me . . .

To me this means that even figuring out our core platform and finding our voice takes time. It’s like making tea and sometimes we just need to steep for a while in figuring out what we’re all about.

It means that we can accept that sometimes it will take a while to build trust with people we’ve just met.

It means that instead of pressuring people to buy right now, we encourage them to sleep on it and sit with it to make sure it’s really a fit (so that any clients we get are solid and long term).

It means that when we sit with a client to explore going to the next level with us – we really sit with them. We take them in. We receive what they have to say. We pause before responding.

And that means that we really take time to sit with what kinds of clients are actually a perfect fit for us.

It means we remember that, in terms of relationships with clients, forever matters more than today.

It means that we’re okay being an apprentice for a time. We’re okay learning the ropes and not needing to be ‘discovered’ and famous tomorrow.

It means that we don’t rush to write our book, create our products but slow down a bit so we can focus on crafting what we do to make it even better so that it really helps people more. We work on building our boat instead of trying to swim people from one island to another on our back. We build up the systems and checklists in our business that help us relax and know that we’ll be prepared for things as they come.

It means we don’t just accept that we sometimes need to slow down, but that we enjoy it. We relish in it.

It means it might be okay (even wonderful!) for us to have a day job while we build our business up.

It means that we acknowledge and honour each potential client’s unique right timing to work with us (or not).

It means we slow ourselves down, get still inside and let go of the panic that comes from posturing or collapsing. That we create space in our lives where we can and listen to our intuition.

It means we let emails to our list sit overnight instead of sending them out immediately.

It means we run our marketing ideas by friends and colleagues before trotting them out to the market place. We let things sit.

It means we plan further ahead to give ourselves time.

It means that we get really good at finding ways to make our business safe to approach for people and easy to buy from us. We give them lots of ways to sample what we do for free, from a distance. We do what we can to reduce the risk for people.

It means we slow down our conversations with potential clients and really listen. Instead of pushing, we lean back. Instead of starting to give advice, we get more curious about their situation. Instead of skipping over a challenge, we go deeply into exploring it.

It means that we focus on building and deepening our relationship to key hubs and community leaders instead of trying to reach our clients cold.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what ‘Slow Marketing’ means for you. You can write them in the comments below. But no rush.

guest post: ‘just listening’ by howie jacobson

by Howie Jacobson

In my last article, I talked about projection: what it is, why it keeps us from seeing the world as it really is, and how marketing offers us an opportunity to recognize and free ourselves from the grip of projection.

Now I want to talk about why it’s so important to liberate ourselves from projection. Not from a spiritual perspective, but from a marketing perspective.

The Ultimate Marketing Superpower: Empathy

Can we agree that empathy is one of the key skills necessary for successful marketing? If you can really understand what another person is thinking and feeling, then you can craft products and services and offers that appeal to that person’s sensibilities. And you can talk about those products and services in a relevant, respectful and attractive way.

Think of Nick Marshall, Mel Gibson’s character in the movie What Women Want. When his accidental electrocution gives him the gift to hear women’s thoughts, he immediately becomes the star advertising executive at his agency, celebrated for his ability to market effectively to women.

If you were suddenly given that ability, to hear the innermost thoughts of your prospects – their selfish desires, their secret fears, their poignant stories – can you see how that knowledge would instantly solve 99% of your marketing problems?

Getting the Data is Easy

On the web, all the data we require is at our fingertips. We can reverse engineer Google’s organic listings to find out what the world’s smartest computer thinks people want.

We can eavesdrop on forums, on Facebook, on amazon reviews, on blog comments, and dozens of other places to hear the uncensored, passionate voices of our prospects. We can conduct inexpensive yet highly valuable surveys of our own to discover the deepest desires and hesitations of those who might buy from us.

So what’s the problem? I’m telling you to read the mind of your market, and I’m telling you exactly where to go to get the information. Why isn’t that the end of the story?

The Filter that Keeps Us Clueless

Have you ever listened to a radio or watched a television that got lousy reception? Lots of noise, static, snow, wavy lines, and fuzziness. Do you think the program sounded or looked that way coming out of the studio?

Of course not. The program signal was not the problem. The problem was the poor quality of the device; its inability to translate the incoming signal into clear and meaningful output.

Each of us operates from a filter that keeps us from true empathy. It’s called projection, and here’s how it works:

When I hear you talk about something, I search for meaning in my own past experience. If you say “toothache,” for example, I go back into the file called “Howie’s toothaches” to try to understand what you’re talking about.

When you say the assistant manager at the store was rude, I likewise superimpose my own vision of “rude” on your story. Until you elaborate, I might picture a young guy with dreadlocks and tattoos and piercings giving you the finger. Or I might imagine a snooty middle aged woman raising her eyebrows in disapproval of your request for a refund.

The word “rude” has meaning only in terms of my experience, either direct or second-hand (movies, books, friends’ stories, etc.).

Until I listen to you tell the straight-up facts of what happened from your perspective, I fill in the blanks based on my preconceptions. That’s projection.

Projection occurs much more subtly and pervasively. If I think you’re angry, or sad, or frustrated – chances are I’m interpreting a set of signals through my own distorting filter. “If I were acting that way, it would be because I was irritated,” I reason. So in my mind, you’re irritated. And with that interpretation now projected onto you, I look for confirmation and ignore all contradictory signals.

Projection vs. Empathy

As long as my mind engages in projection (which is only about 100% of the time), I can’t be truly empathetic to you. I can only be empathetic to me. So to the same extent that you and I are having different experiences or different interpretations of those experiences, I’m missing what’s meaningful for you.

In other words, while I think I’m looking at you, I’m actually just seeing myself in a mirror projected on your face.

The Sioux medicine man Fool’s Crow believed that he could be a conduit for healing only when he made himself into a “hollow bone,” a vessel for divine spirit that didn’t superimpose its own particular stories and struggles onto the person seeking healing.
When I read Tarot for clients or engage in Shamanic healing, I have to be exquisitely sensitive to the presence of my own stuff, so that I don’t end up giving someone else the medicine meant for me. When I throw the 4 of wands, for example, do I tell them to chuck the corporate gig for a walk on the wild side because that’s what the card means in this particular reading, or because my own life story concatenates with that interpretation?

Am I Marketing to Me?

If I don’t get familiar with my projections, my marketing turns into a narcissistic festival of self-love and self-loathing. The self-love part is easy to see: I think about what I would want someone to say to me, and then I say it to myself and pretend I’m saying it to you.

But self-loathing? Absolutely!

You know all those “marketing tricks” that seem to work but you really have no stomach for? Like false urgency and false scarcity? “Tomorrow only.” “19 17 12 6 spots left!”

Or manipulative pseudo-reciprocity? “Here’s a free gift. Isn’t it great. Now you owe me.”

Or appeals to the lowest self? “If you buy this your neighbors will bang their heads against the wall in jealousy. Beautiful women will leave their husbands for you. All those jerks in high school will be sorry they didn’t give you more respect.”

We fall back on these and dozens of other gambits because part of us has no respect for our own integrity. We despise and are deeply ashamed of that part, but when we project it outward, it feels better. “What a bunch of sheep they are! What a bunch of insecure losers!”

So we end up attracting the customers and clients who share our most awful traits, and then wonder why we complain about them.

And those judgments diminish our prospects in our eyes. To the extent that we cannot love them. And if you cannot love the people whose lives you are supposedly improving with your products and services, why on earth would they choose you? Because you need the money?

Getting Past Projection

If you’re a lot more spiritually advanced than me, you might have figured out a way to stop projecting. I haven’t. I project like an IMAX theater; consistently, relentlessly, and with alarming realism.

What I am getting better at is recognizing my own projections. The ones that come up every time. The ones that I now recognize as my own face, rather than the face of my prospect, my beloved.

I find that getting quiet on a regular basis helps tremendously. The art of empathy is essentially the art of listening with the head and the heart. When I sit quietly and stop trying to impose my interpretation on reality, I start to listen better. The static mutes and the authentic signal comes through.

And listening as a marketer only happens when I let go of effort, of will, of the need to sell something or convince somebody.

Marketing Minus Projection

When I come to listen with the agenda of manipulating your will, that’s not true listening. And you can sense that. And distrust it. And run from it, if you can.

But when I come with no agenda other than a thirst for truth, for your truth, then your words and thoughts and feelings come through undistorted. I can respond to you naturally in a way that you trust. The word respond comes from the French, meaning “to promise back.”

Whether we speak face to face, over the phone, via email, or whether you’re just one person in my “target market,” I can hear you only when I rest in my own integrity, when I promise back to you to dive into your fears, your pains, your desires, your stories only to serve your highest good. Not to plunder your secrets for my advantage.

In What Women Want, Nick initially uses his gift of mind-reading to climb the corporate ladder and seduce women. But almost despite himself, he begins to form friendships with his co-workers and develop respect for women. His gift of empathy is so powerful, his ego can’t maintain its manipulative stance.

Ultimately, he tells a hard truth and gets fired, and ends up losing his power in a storm as he rescues his secretary who was thinking suicidal thoughts. But he finds redemptive love, both from his estranged daughter and the women who ends up with his job.

His transformation complete, his manipulative power is no longer necessary. He has escaped from the prison of the mirror, and he can simply be, live, and respond to others from his own integrity. He has become trustworthy.
So may we all.

Howie Jacobson, PhD, is the author of Google AdWords For Dummies. He has been an online marketing strategist since 1999, helping clients use the internet to discover, understand, attract and serve their ideal customers. He writes for Fast Company and Harvard Business, and his hippie credentials include teaching at a Quaker School, delivering singing telegrams as a summer job, and playing Ultimate Frisbee every chance he gets. He currently lives with his family in South Africa, where he’s learning to drive a stick shift and be more patient. Follow him at @askhowie, like him at, or sign up for his newsletter at

guest post: ‘spiritual marketing’ by howie jacobson

by Howie Jacobson

“Most of my clients are liars and cheats,” Allen (not his real name) said.

I sighed. It was going to be a difficult consultation.

I was helping Allen improve his marketing. He wanted to know the best wording for AdWords ads that would attract prospects to his website and away from his competition, who were also “liars and cheats.”

Through questioning, I guided Allen to understand his prospects; their fears, their stories, their rationalizations, their fondest desires, their guiding metaphors. But Allen blocked me every step of the way with his dismissive answers. His impenetrable fortress of judgment and opinion blocked all openings to empathy.

Allen returned again and again to wordsmithing based on his current level of awareness, rather than allowing his awareness to be curious about the authentic internal experience of those he would attract and convince.

He ended up with slightly better ads, perhaps. But his judgmental and divisive worldview, which might be titled “Allen vs. the Scumbags,” prevented any insights based on understanding, respect, and (if I may use the word) love.

And therein lies the great opportunity and invitation of marketing: dropping our identification with our own judgments and opening to an unconditional curiosity about the experience of the other.

Isn’t Marketing the Opposite of Spiritual Consciousness?

Most spiritual traditions teach us not to believe our own thoughts, but instead allow a greater reality free from the conditioning of our ever-chattering, judging, commenting mind. To let go of personal desires, ego concerns, and petty identifications. To simply allow reality to exist and move through it in the here and now, without grasping, without forcing, without needing something else to make us OK and whole.

As entrepreneurs, as people of business, we’re in the business of wanting things. We want to make products, sell products, make money, innovate, beat the competition, buy a nice house, put security money in the bank, be free of financial worry and pain. How could we get things done without that engine of personal desire?

As marketers, we’re in the business of making other people want things. By poking their insecurities: you need this if you want to be loved/popular/successful.  By highlighting gaps between desire and reality: you thought things were OK, but they could be so much better. By capitalizing on fear: there’s a limited supply, you might miss out, hurry and don’t take so long to think. How could we move product without appealing to our prospects’ most self-centered natures?

Spiritual Fraud

I’ve spent a lot of time posturing, pretending to others and myself that I was more spiritual that I actually was. From this place, writing ads and sales copy is pure agony. I find myself totally divided; wanting the sales and the money (sometimes desperately when it was a really important client or when I was out of money and the mortgage was due), and not wanting to appeal to the energies of greed and fear within my prospects.

Can you see the problem? I was operating out of greed and fear myself. But I was looking down on people I didn’t know for being greedy and fearful, and seeking to “enlighten” them through my spiritually uplifted marketing.

What a fraud!

At that stage of my consciousness, the only spiritually honest thing to do would have been to honor the energies of desire within my prospects and myself and speak to them directly. You’re scared? I’m scared too. Let’s talk about being scared. You want more money than you have now? So do I. I know what that feels like. Here’s a product that can help you get it.

The Labels Are What Get In the Way

Addressing my prospects at their level of consciousness is a hell of a lot more respectful than trying to impose another level of consciousness, a “more spiritual” level, on them. Especially when it’s a level I only pretend to attain.

The height of spiritual development, as I’ve come to understand it, is to accept everything as it is, without having an agenda of change or improvement. It’s more “spiritual” to sell someone a product that solves their perceived problem than to try to tell them they’re wrong for perceiving the problem.

So maybe you noticed the language trick I pulled in the last section. I changed the phrase “energies of fear and greed” into “energies of desire.” The first phrase is full of judgment; the second is simply a description. If I judge my prospects for being greedy and fearful, I have no place to stand in solidarity with them. My marketing will not connect.

The Spiritual Opportunity of Marketing

I no longer believe that the spiritual opportunity in marketing is to make my prospects and customers into better people. Into spiritually more advanced beings. Into enlightened souls. What a relief to drop that messiah complex!

The opportunity, instead, is to speak with them as they as, without judging or labeling or diminishing. The opportunity, in other words, is my own spiritual development, and nobody else’s. To mind my own business, not yours.

So what is it about marketing that invites my own spiritual growth? The main opportunity is the ongoing discovery of how I project my own stuff onto the world, and then blame the world for having it.

The Ongoing Discovery of Projection

Projection, as I experience it, means that I’m seeing “out there” what’s really going on “in here.” Just as a movie projector takes an image on a strip of celluloid and projects that image onto an external screen, I take my own issues, fears, faults, and assumptions and project them onto the world in general and other people in particular.

How do I know when I’m projecting? When I’m judging. When I dismiss people as wrong or stupid. When I label others in ways that diminish them. Through enquiry into my own experience, I’ve discovered that every single judgment about somebody else is actually a self-judgment.

When I think of my prospects as greedy and fearful, that’s a sure sign that I’ve got currents of greed and fear within myself. When I criticize TV talking heads for being hateful, I know I’ve got some hate inside me. When I complain about the person who only sees the negative in every situation, guess what? That’s all I can see in them.

Even positive judgments are projections. I can only experience you as kind or graceful or loving or brilliant if I can find those qualities in myself. It’s kind of a cosmic law: whatever I see outside is what I’ve got inside. The spiritual teacher Byron Katie has made a career of gently helping us see the delicious ironies that ensue when we project and judge without awareness.

Without projection, without judgment, I simply take each moment, each encounter, each experience as it comes. I can enter into it fully, see what’s there with fresh eyes and vivid awareness, and be fully present to others without needing to change them in any way.

Marketing to Identify and Resolve My Own Projections

So how do I use marketing to identify and let go of projection? By noticing all projections and following them to their logical conclusion, where they point back at me. At that point, believe me, I’m highly motivated to release them.

When I study my prospects, I notice all the words and concepts that arrive with value judgments. Stubborn. Lazy. Entitled. Stupid.Unrealistic. Desperate. Naïve. I then take each one and find it in myself. I always can. Every single time.

Now, if you came up to me and called me any of those things, I’d probably get hurt and insulted and defensive. “I am not. Let me prove it to you.” So no matter how hard the world tries to get my attention to focus on my character flaws, I’m equally persistent in my resistance. My mind is so good at this, I can probably make you feel like my own shortcomings are actually your fault. My interpersonal crimes rarely leave fingerprints.

So I appreciate the opportunity to dive into the deepest fears and longings of my prospects. I head straight for the dark stuff, the shadow desires, the unconscious feelings that are so much more powerful in motivating behavior than the feelings we’re OK enough with to admit to consciousness.

And in so doing, I end up wading through my own muck. As I own it, reclaim it, bring it home, and experience it fully without resistance or numbness, I heal it. How do I know when it’s healed? When I can’t find it outside of myself anymore.

Making Me a Better Marketer

Cleansing my field of projection is not only a tool for spiritual growth, it’s also the single most effective marketing “technique” I know. If you’ve ever been in the presence of someone who has cleaned their perception of projection, you know how wonderful it feels to be truly seen and heard. And how rare an experience it is for most people. When you can speak to your prospects from a place of non-judgment and unconditional regard and respect, they are naturally drawn to you.

Now, I don’t want to end this piece with a lie. So please don’t believe that I’m particularly good at this spiritual practice of noticing and owning my projections. Because I’m not. I know this because there still arise within me a million judgments a day. And some of them are so convincing, I still believe them and act on them and generally make a mess of things.

But at least I’m no longer confused about how to be a “spiritual” marketer. The story goes, when the young nobleman William Penn first saw the light of Quakerism, he asked the religion’s founder, George Fox, whether he had to stop wearing a sword since Quakerism preaches pacifism. Fox’s reply: “Wear it as long as you can.”

That is to say, when Penn truly aligned himself with pacifism, he would no longer be able to wear a sword. The decision would be internally based, rather than dictated by an outside authority.

Similarly, I appeal to greed and fear in my marketing copy to the extent that those appeals work on me. As I develop and grow, my marketing develops and grows. I no longer try to write “Holier Than Myself” copy that falls flat and helps no one.

So when I discovered that I was judging Allen for his pig-headedness and self-righteous separation from his prospects and competitors, I knew what my own next assignment was.

Howie Jacobson, PhD, is the author of Google AdWords For Dummies. He has been an online marketing strategist since 1999, helping clients use the internet to discover, understand, attract and serve their ideal customers. He writes for Fast Company and Harvard Business, and his hippie credentials include teaching at a Quaker School, delivering singing telegrams as a summer job, and playing Ultimate Frisbee every chance he gets. He currently lives with his family in South Africa, where he’s learning to drive a stick shift and be more patient. Follow him at @askhowie, like him at, or sign up for his newsletter at

Guest Post: What are the 7 Graces of Marketing and Life?

What are the 7 Graces of Marketing and Life?

My friend and colleague, Lynn Serafinn, has just published her new book The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell.

(You can check it out here – but it on December 13th and get yourself some cool free things)

The ideas she presents in this 400+ page book are a call to action, not only to business owners and marketers, but to everyone one of us as a consumer.

Reading Lynn Serafinn’s list of the marketing graces (below) is a liberating experience.

It reminds us that marketing can be either a thing of beauty or a source of our collective discontent. It reminds us that the choice is not `Do I market or do I keep my integrity?’ but rather, `How can I make my marketing more gracious and graceful every day? How can my own marketing be a part of the healing of the world?’

Lynn paints it out so clearly–for each virtue, there is a toxic mimic (twice the calories and none of the nutrition)…Marketing shouldn’t feel like we’re holding our breath just waiting to be discovered as frauds. It should feel like easy breathing. Lynn’s astounding contrast of virtues and vices is such an excellent guide. I can’t wait to dive deeper into it.

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Lynn’s sneak peek into the 7 Graces paradigm

Grace #1: Connection

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Disconnection”. Connection is at the foundation of everything in life—Connection to Self, Source, others, our businesses, and our audience—determine how effectively and authentically we communicate and conduct our lives.

When business owners are disconnected from Self, their businesses cannot be genuine representations of who they are. And the problem is, as businesses get bigger and bigger, that Connection becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. When business owners are not connected to Source and others, it opens to door to exploitation of both natural resources and people.

Connection is the first of the 7 Graces, because without it the other Graces cannot manifest.

Grace #2: Inspiration

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Persuasion”. The literal meaning of the word “Inspiration” means “to breathe life into”. As business owners, we have a choice to be “life giving” to our audience or “life robbing”.

Persuasion, wherein we will do anything and everything to make a sale/profit, is life robbing. As business owners, it is our responsibility to “feed” society, and thus ensure not only that our products and services are life-giving, but also that our communications (marketing) is life-giving.

For marketing to be filled with the “Grace of Inspiration”, it should never incite fear, anxiety or feelings of inadequacy.

Grace #3: Invitation

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Invasion”. Nearly every form of marketing we see today is invasive. Our attention span is continually interrupted, whether it is through television/radio adverts, pop up messages, uninvited email adverts, cold-calling or billboards. As business owners and marketers, we need to bring back the “Grace of Invitation” into our communications.

This means that when visitors come into our “space” (our website, our office/shop), we treat them like respected guests, offering them hospitality and generosity. Conversely, when we come into our customers’ space (as when we send out emails), we must do so with courtesy and care, ensuring we never become the dreaded “houseguest from hell”.

Grace #4: Directness

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Distraction”. So much modern advertising depends upon Distraction to seize and maintain our attention. Nearly every advert you see will utilise random brand identity triggers and humour to get us to pay attention.

What is wrong with this is that people end up buying products simply because they remember the advert, and not necessarily because they have been given direct, clear information about the product or service. Directness is simple: we marketers need to get back to “telling it like it is” instead of hyping up our businesses.

The public need to be informed and empowered. The Grace of Directness allows that to happen.

Grace #5: Transparency

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Deception”. Deception in marketing is rife, but is sometimes extremely subtle. In the book, I give many examples of how language and imagery are often used in a deceptive way in marketing, where technically (and legally) the message is “true”, but the unconscious message we perceive is untrue.

Transparency literally means “to shine light through”. When we are Transparent in marketing and in life, we are not merely being honest, but we are also allowing the true intention behind our thoughts, words and deeds to be seen and heard clearly. When we walk in Transparency, both in business and in life, we are walking in the Essence of who we really are.

Grace #6: Abundance

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Scarcity”.

The chapter on Scarcity in the book is one of the biggest, because it’s simply such a massive topic. Scarcity marketing is all around us, and it appears in so many forms, from limited-time offers to the various kinds of “obsolescence” used to incite us to buy beyond our needs or means.

Abundance, on the other hand, is the fundamental belief that there is enough for all—when we are living in rhythm with the planet. It is our natural state of being. If we operate our business from the fundamental belief in lack or Scarcity, we will always bring Scarcity strategies into our marketing.

The irony is that Scarcity begets Scarcity.

In other words, if we operate from a Scarcity mentality, we are likely to create the very Scarcity we most fear because the end result will be overconsumption. Overconsumption is destroying both our economy and the ecological balance of our natural world. But if we operate from a fundamental belief in Abundance, we will not bring such fear and anxiety into our marketing, and overconsumption will be a thing of the past.

Grace #7: Collaboration

This is the “antidote” to the “Deadly Sin of Competition”. Many people have the false notion that competition is necessary to create healthy economies and stronger societies.

But this is largely a myth and has no foundation in Nature whatsoever. While I believe in “free enterprise”, this is not the same thing as Competition. In the book, I cite many studies that have proved how Competition diminishes creativity and innovation. When we conduct our businesses or our lives with a competitive mindset, we not only reduce our own performance, but we also reduce the support we receive from others.

On the other hand, Collaboration always results in something greater than the sum of its parts. Every single marketing campaign I have produced is based upon Collaboration. The permaculture of the world is actually one giant, interdependent Collaboration.

We’ve been brought up in a competitive world, but the more connected we become via technologies like social media, the more we see that Collaboration is the way we perform best.

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I hope you enjoyed this overview of The 7 Graces of Marketing from author Lynn Serafinn. If you want to dive more deeply into this paradigm … do check out Lynn’s book The 7 Graces of Marketing on December 13th.

When you do, there are dozens of wonderful gifts for you, including the audio download of all 7 sessions from the telesummit, and many other goodies. Check out the gifts, and request a launch reminder so you don’t forget to pick up your copy (in paperback or Kindle) at: