Guest Post: 4 Commonly Crossed Boundaries in Your Business (And How to Firm Them Up) by Julie Wolk

by Julie Wolk

It’s time to talk about boundaries, people!

This is a subject often broached in personal development – holding boundaries is considered essential for maintaining emotional health (for example, you may choose not to spend time with a particular friend who drains your energy).

But boundaries are rarely discussed in a business context.

And yet, boundaries in business are crucial if you want to run a business with integrity — and actually enjoy doing it.

I see my clients face SO MANY challenges in their businesses that are directly related to boundaries that are too loose or even nonexistent.

So let’s dive in. First, I’m going to tell you the two main reasons your business needs boundaries . . .  and the one secret to creating them.

In the second half of the post, we’ll walk through the four most common ways boundaries are crossed in your business (and how to avoid this).

Your business needs boundaries for two main reasons:

1) So that your business has integrity

Imagine a river and its banks.

The bank makes the river a river. Without it, we have . . . a puddle. Or maybe a delta or something (which is lovely in its own right, but not a river).

Without structure — a boundary to contain it — things get kinda messy. Erosion happens, contaminants find their way in, and the flow can get off course and unpredictable.

With strong banks, the power of the river is channeled successfully. The banks hold the river so that the water can flow, twisting and turning, rushing and trickling out to the sea.

Similarly, your business needs structure, and specifically boundaries, to not only contain it, but to DEFINE it. What is your business and what is it not? How does it operate and how does it not?

The boundaries define the business.

This definition gives your business integrity. What do I mean by integrity? It gives your business strength and reliability.

Something that your clients and potential clients can know and count on. Something that YOU can know and count on, too.

(This feels really good when you nail it, by the way).

Now of course (and we’ll get into this in a moment), your banks can be too high . . . ever seen a levee break?

2) So that YOU don’t burn out

Now we get to talk about poison oak. You didn’t think I could make an analogy about poison oak in a business blog, did you?

Some people think that poison oak is just there to make you extremely itchy. It’s not. My herbalist friends have taught me to respect poison oak and call it, “Guardian Oak,” and there’s a good reason for this.

Guardian Oak grows at the edges of disturbed areas. Basically, humans come in and clear an area to build a house, and we disturb an intact forest in the process. And what sprouts up at those edges where it’s been disturbed? You guessed it — that’s Guardian Oak’s favourite hangout (which is why you often see it at the edge of a hiking trail).

But here’s the interesting part – I’m told the oak grows there to create a boundary between the disturbers (the humans in this case) and what’s left of the healthy, intact forest.

It’s saying, “Please do not pass, I am the guardian of this forest, and my job is to keep it healthy.”

If you go messing around in the oak, you are most likely going to get a nasty rash, and there’s a decent chance it’ll stop you from trying to disturb the area more, no?!

Ok, that was a long-winded way of saying that sometimes you need to create a boundary around yourself to keep the forest of your life intact.

You need to protect yourself, your health, your well-being . . . from the disturbances (aka, humans who want things from you!) so you don’t get burned out.

So how do you create good boundaries?

Before we dive into the four main ways our boundaries are crossed in our businesses, I want to tell you the secret to creating proper boundaries.

Boundaries must be flexible.

Like a tree swaying in the wind, a boundary is strong and rooted firmly in the earth, but not so rigid that it breaks during an average rainstorm.

It has to have give.

I always tell my clients: Make your boundary. You can always make an exception.

People have this idea that if you make a rule, you must rigidly keep it. But if you did that, you would not have the opportunity to try new things, take advantage of new opportunities, and learn stuff you might not have otherwise learned.

Of course if you always cross your boundary, then we’re back to the whole bank-less river thing (not a river, remember?).

It’s a balance.

But just like a plant has a porous surface, allowing water and oxygen in through its openings, a good boundary has some permeability.

So how do you decide when to be flexible, when to bend a boundary? Each situation is different. You need to go inside and ask yourself if it feels right to you to bend your boundary in this particular case.

Sometimes it will be a resounding yes! I am THRILLED to offer my work to this person at a discount because she’s amazing and she needs this work and it feels in service and I need the practice anyways.

And sometimes, you will get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that will say, Do not even think about lowering your rate to work with this person, they’re just going to keep asking for more, and frankly it already feels shitty.

Please listen to this voice. And then make a case-by-case decision.

The 4 Boundaries Most Often Crossed in Your Biz

I have noticed that many of the challenges people face in running a business are actually simply a problem of boundaries.

I’m going to walk you through the four main places where I see boundaries crossed in business all. the. time.

If you can get a handle on creating boundaries in these four areas, you will be well on your way.

I’ll tell you about these four challenges in order of how a client approaches and enters into your business:

  1. Your Niche is Weak or Nonexistent

Well before someone chooses to work with you, they need to know what you do and for whom you do it so that they can determine if it makes sense to hire you.

And for them to know what you do and for whom you do it (otherwise known as your niche), YOU need to know this information.

It is in this way that your niche is the very first boundary of your business.

Because inherently embedded in the niche is what I call – the non-niche. Ok fine, I just made that up.

But seriously, what you DON’T do is as (or more) important as what you DO do. Who you DON’T work with is just as (or more) important as who you DO work with.

When someone comes to you who does not fit your niche, your niche acts as a filter or boundary, making it way easier for you to say, no, I’m not the right person for you, but might I recommend my colleague so-and-so?

Now some aspects of your niche will be more obvious than others. For example, I work with people who sell services, not physical products. I don’t know the first thing about selling products. I wouldn’t even get on the phone with someone selling any kind of physical product because it would be a waste of both of our time.

But I’ve also found that I like working with people who are action-takers, yet that one is a little harder to know without a conversation. So in my consultation calls, I need to ask questions that help me understand whether or not this person is an action-taker so I can decide whether we’re a good fit or not.

Does this person fit within the boundary of my niche?

Because if they’re not, and I work with them, what happens?

Well to be honest, it feels like crap. And it’s draining. And you are not a happy person after a day with the wrong clients on the wrong projects.

Oh, and to boot, you don’t do your best work with these folks because you’re trudging through it, and they can totally feel it, and then they don’t refer other people to you (or maybe even say negative things), and so it’s actually bad for your business too!

So what am I saying here? First, you gotta know (or learn over time, really, because it’s an iterative, evolutionary process) specifically who you are meant to work with and what you’re uniquely effective at and passionate about doing, and be able to say NO to people and projects that are not well-suited to you.  Draw a boundary and enforce it (and make occasional exceptions, see first part of this blog post).

You will be much happier and more successful in your business if you only take on people and projects who are well-suited to you.

And not to mention, you can’t be all things to all people. That’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout.

  1. You Don’t Confidently Ask for and Expect Your Fee

Ok, so they’re a great fit and have decided to work with you. Yay! The next step is their payment. This is the second place on the journey where so many entrepreneurs get wiggly — they end up charging less than their services are worth.

This leads to bitterness in the short run, and burnout in the long run, because if you keep doing things for cheap, you’ll always be hustling for more clients and there will never be enough hours in the day. Can you say exhausting?

So what to do? Set a fee that feels right to you and be clear about it. And expect that if you feel good about your fee, then the right clients will pay it.

I use a combination of three things to decide on my fee:

  • What I actually need to earn overall in my business
  • Where I want to place myself on the range of similar services offered in the marketplace
  • My intuition (literally, a gut check on the number – what feels right?)

Then, I think – in advance – about any exceptions I may want to make to that fee. Is there a type of client who I want offer a discount or scholarship to? Do I want to have a certain amount of pro bono clients or sessions per year? Do I want to charge less initially because I’m experimenting with a new program (beta testing)?

And then, after I get as clear as possible, I choose my number and I simply tell people what it costs (pro tip, you have to be able to say your fee out loud without puking or it’s not the right fee). Or even better, I put that fee right on my website so they know even before they talk to me.

Again, it’s OK to make exceptions occasionally, just don’t make it the rule.

  1. You See Clients Willy-Nilly Instead of Having a Schedule

Payment’s in. Woo hoo! Now it’s time to book those sessions. Seems simple, right?

Well not if you don’t have boundaries on your schedule.

Have you ever scheduled someone to make it super convenient for them, only to realize that it’s incredibly inconvenient for you? Yeah, we’ve all been guilty of it. It’s easy to want to accommodate, but again, the more you do evening sessions that cut into family time, or morning sessions before you’ve had your coffee and a shower, or work right through lunch, the more frustrated you’re going to be, and the more likely you’ll hit burnout in the long run.

If you don’t currently have specific days and hours that you see clients, I want you to create them right now.

I know it’s not always as easy to do as it sounds. Many people fear clients won’t work with them if they aren’t super accommodating. I can say from experience though, it is rare that people who really want to work with you will not find a way to see you during your hours. People respect professionals with time boundaries and find a way to fit it in.

Now, again, there’s always an exception here and there. For example, I have a client in Europe who I see a little earlier than I normally would see other clients, but I love her and I want to do it. See, that’s ok too!

But here’s my most important scheduling tip: Before you create your business hours, put everything else on your calendar that’s important to you. Vacations, days off, working out, family time, meditation time, yoga class, dinner out, whatever it is, put it on your calendar FIRST, and then create your business hours around your life. You will be happier for it.

  1. You Over-give Physically and Energetically

Now it’s time to actually work with your new client. And here, the final boundary issue rears its ugly head.

This one is soooo tricky because it’s sometimes really hard to see where our energy is leaking. I’ll give you one example of this that I see over and over again, but I bet you can think of others, too.

I see clients feel like they “should” give their clients more and more of their time and expertise, even if it goes beyond what their clients have paid them or what’s been promised to them. Or, maybe it IS what’s been promised, and the problem is that your offer includes an overabundance of support, and it’s just too much for you to manage for multiple people.

This behaviour often comes from a place of scarcity. You fear not having enough clients, or a client not sticking around for a long time, and you keep giving, giving, giving. The more you provide, the better, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Your client may be very satisfied, but you? You’re exhausted and feel like you can never catch up. And, sometimes even your clients can get overwhelmed when you offer them too much support or too many things to do/read/consume.

This boundary is closely related to the fee boundary and needs to be considered with it.

What is actually the right and fair amount of service to give your client for the money they have paid? Of course, I can’t answer this question for your business in this post, but it’s something to deeply consider as you design your programs, especially if you find yourself scrambling to answer client emails the second they roll in, or if you give away way too much valuable one-on-one time for not enough money.

Like I said, it’s the most complicated one because it’s fuzzy and hard to see, but if you ever feel like you’re working really hard to hang on to your clients, and feel like if you don’t give more, your clients won’t be satisfied/think you’re good enough/hire you again, you might have problems with your energetic boundary. In other words, you might be an over-giver.

People who provide a service that helps people often get caught in this trap, because, well, we really want to help!

But we all know the rule about the oxygen mask on the airplane by now, right!?

And finally, it’s messy at the edge.

You may be familiar with the concept of transition or edge zones in ecology. If not, it’s the place or boundary where two ecosystems meet. It’s inherently more complex. Two worlds colliding. Twice the number of plants and animals all trying to figure it out together.

When we approach making and holding boundaries, it can get messy. It’s not always easy to tell someone No . . . We find ourselves in rich emotional territory (Is it ok for me to feel this way? Should I just do what he’s asking?) and things can feel complicated.

It’s because you’re in a transition zone.

But when the boundary eventually becomes clear and you can hold it with ease (and we all know it can take a few tries!), it’s easy to see what belongs on this side of the fence and what does not.

And you’ll be shocked you ever let yourself book a client during your yoga class.

And more importantly, your business will feel strong and clear and full of integrity. And people will notice that. And you will feel strong and clear and healthy and filled up enough that you actually enjoy running your business.

Which means you will actually have the ability to serve MORE and BETTER.

And that’s what we’re going for.

Boundaries are a hot topic at the January Replenish Winter Reflection & Strategy Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs. If you’re interested in creating powerful boundaries for a successful and fulfilling 2019, I hope you’ll join us!

Julie Wolk helps coaches, consultants, and healers grow rooted, blossoming, burnout-free businesses by modelling them after the way nature works. She’s a firm believer that if we step off the hamster wheel, and tune into nature’s rhythms, we can grow more sustainable lives, businesses and even—gasp!—a better world. A lifelong nature freak, she has over 15 years of experience turning vision into reality, and would love to help you create a simpler, more enjoyable, nature-led life and business. You can find her at www.juliewolkcoaching.com.

On Firing Bad Clients: Seven Questions Worth Asking Yourself

The other day, I got the following email from someone:

“I have been following you for a long time and really enjoy the newsletter. I have your books, I watch your youtube videos, the whole thing. I have a question, though. I am a property manager, I make decent money with just a few homes because my goal is to finish University and finally get my Masters in Ecology. So, I can pay the bills, but I have a client who is not very nice to me and he wants for me to be his on call everything. Honestly, I don’t need it. Is not a lot of money and is a pain. How can I politely tell him that I don’t want his business anymore?”

And it reminded me of a conversation I’d had with a client a few weeks ago.

She is an energy healer and has one client who would consistently pay her lower than the bottom of her sliding scale, and often late and for whom the sessions would always run over time. She hadn’t seen her for a while and then she put out a special offer online for a free service she was testing and this former client signed up. She immediately felt a deep anger and revulsion inside as her body gave her a very clear, “No!” to working with this woman. And she came to me with a similar question, “How do I let her go?”

And that made me think of a woman I knew who owned an independent, organic grocery store. She had a client, an older woman, who would spend hours in her shop looking at the supplements and asking her staff a dozen questions. Her staff spent hours with her. But she never bought anything there. Never spent a time. It became apparent she was using the staff for education and going and buying them somewhere else. What to do?

I’d like to suggest ______ questions you can ask yourself in situations like this to help yourself navigate through.

Question #1: What exactly is it that they are doing that is upsetting to you?

It’s important to get crystal clear on the behaviour (or lack of behaviour) that isn’t working for you. It’s easy to make it personal and imagine it’s just ‘that person’ and ‘who they are’. But it’s never that. It’s always something more particular. If you can’t identify what it is, then you will lack any power to make the particular changes needed to protect yourself from it in the future.

Question #2: How did I contribute to this happening?

I’m not suggesting you ‘manifested’ this or that it’s all your responsibility but responsibility doesn’t seem to be a binary proposition of it’s either their fault or yours. It seems, often, to be a shared thing. And even if you only carry 1% of the responsibility, it is a very empowering feeling to find that and own it. Identifying this gives you the foundation for making any needed changes that could prevent it from happening in the future.

I recall author Marianne Williamson sharing something she’d often say to women who kept attracting bad guys. “The problem,” she say. “Isn’t that you keep meeting bad guys. It’s that you keep giving them your phone number.”

In the case of my energy healing client, there was plenty she had done and not done to contribute to it. The first was that she didn’t ask for payment upfront from her clients (and this client in particular) even though she had a pattern of late payment. The second was that she never checked in with her client to let her know that wasn’t working for her. She let it continue with no consequence to the client. Third was she let the sessions with that client run late. When she told me about it, she phrased it as ‘the sessions always run late’ but this frames her as powerless and, in reality, she is 100%  in control of when sessions begin and end. And, again, she never expressed to her client that this didn’t work or make any changes. This left her boiling over with resentment by the time her client signed up for her special offer.

The first step I had to do was to help her see her role in this situation and how she was contributing to it happening.

Once it began to land, it was sobering for her. But also empowering.

My friend who ran the organic grocery store realized that she was complicit in this by not saying anything to the woman.

This can be a very humbling question to ask because you may realize that it’s mostly on you.

Question #4: What changes, if any, can I make to my marketing and client agreements so that this kind of person would be filtered out in the process?

This isn’t always possible. I don’t know if there’s anything my friend who ran the organic grocery store might have done so that this woman would never have entered the store. But I know that in the future, she trusted her gut more about when clients were using her for information with no intention of spending money there.

In terms of the energy healer client, she realized there was a lot she could do. She realized there were certain kinds of clients that just weren’t her people and she could be more explicit about that in her sessions.

She realized that she could ask that all of her clients pay upfront for the sessions. This would mean there was no chance of late or accruing payments. She realized that she could be clear about the timing of sessions with clients and set an alarm to go off 5-10 minutes before the end of the session and let clients know they were needing to wrap up soon and that, if clients kept talking, she could tell them, “I have to get going now,” and hang up. I also affirmed that she could bring all of these issues to her client as healing work to delve into, “I have noticed you consistently pay me late and less than the minimum I ask for and this seems to be okay with you and I’d like to explore why. I also notice that you speak in such a way that it’s impossible to interrupt you. You breath in the middle of your sentences and never slow down. I think this might be a defence mechanism. I’d like to explore why you do that.”

Situations where you need to fire clients are gold. They are immensely valuable because they help you learn how to improve your systems so that you are filtering better for clients who you can actually help and filtering out the clients who won’t be as good a fit.

Keith Johnstone, the founder of Theatresports and author of Impro had an approach to working with beginning improvisors. He’d tell them that there was no way for them to fail. That, “if this scene doesn’t work it’s because of me. It’s my fault. Give me a chance and I’ll fix it.” He took responsibility for their scenes and thus took away the fear of experimenting.

Question #5: Might there be somewhere where I owe them an apology? (e.g. for letting it continue for so long)

This is a humbling one.

Could it be that, as much as you feel used by your client, that you used your client?

Could it be that you knew they weren’t really a fit but that you ignored that because you needed the money?

Ouch.

It’s good to let this one sting for a while and use that pain to drive you to create the clarity and systems you need to attract more of the kinds of clients you really want to work with and who you are best suited to help.

In the case of my energy healing client, I suggested that an apology might be in order. “I’m sorry,” she might say. “That I went so long without telling you the truth or making adjustments on my end. I let things that didn’t feel good keep going because I was too scared to speak up and now I feel this resentment and it’s not your fault. That was me having poor boundaries. I am so sorry for the distance this has created between us and my need to take space. I will be reflecting on my part in this.”

This doesn’t mean she can’t also give feedback to her client. It doesn’t mean she ever needs to work with them again.

But it’s worth asking yourself if, as much as you want them to apologize to you, you might owe them an apology too.

Question #6: How can I communicate my realizations, where I’m at and the new arrangement I’m needing without making them wrong?

This is the nub of it: as long as you are seeing them as wrong, as bullies, perpetrators or predators who took advantage of you, you won’t be able say anything, to go back to the question that started this blog post, politely (not that I think politeness is necessarily always an admirable goal).

If you see them as wrong, no matter what you say, no matter how ‘nicely’ you try to say it, it will land as an attack of sorts; as a shaming. And that’s not always needed.

Question #7: After thinking all of this through, am I willing to give it another go with the new boundaries or do I need to let them go as a client?

Sometimes you can keep them on as a client.

Sometimes the damage is too much.

But it’s good to sit with this instead of having the knee-jerk reflex to want to punt them. That knee-jerk reaction is what keeps us from learning anything and improving our systems.

My friend who ran the organic grocery store ended up speaking to the woman and asking her to leave and not come back. She explained that she had seen how much time the woman was taking and that she’d never spent any money there and suspected she was buying somewhere else and told her, “We’re not your store.”

For my energy healer client, she might say something like, “I’ve been reflecting on it and realizing that I’m not the best person to help you right now. I’d be happy to refer you to someone else.” Or she might say something like, “I’ve been realizing that certain dynamics in our relationship aren’t working for me. If we are to move forward I will need you to pay, in full, before each session and I’ll be ending them all on time. And I would need to explore your end of the dynamics with you as a part of the healing process. If you’re okay with all of that, I’d be happy to continue working with you.”

Additional Resources:

The Secret Purpose of Your Sales Funnel – To Help Clients Become Ideal Clients

On Healthy Boundaries (a collection of memes, articles and videos)

Introducing the Are You Sure? Page

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 

Guest Post: How To Use Back-To-School Momentum For Success

Guest Post by Craig Filek

Fall is in the air. Can you feel that back-to-school vibe?Purpose Mapping Fitzgerald Life Starts All Over

This time of year supports “New Year Resolutions” better than the dormancy of winter’s long night.

Whether you’re fresh out of school, or catching your second wind via your school-age children, we’re all entrained to make major behavioral shifts this time of year.

If you’re like me, you’re feeling both relieved and excited to settle in to some autumn productivity.

How can we use back-to-school momentum to lay down a new rhythm track of daily and weekly routines that fortify our success?

Stephen Covey loved the metaphor of putting in the big rocks first.’

Success, he explained, comes most easily when we schedule our big rocks (priorities) first. Gravel and sand naturally fill in around them.

Filling our calendar buckets with gravel and sand (small, unimportant activities) leaves no room to add the big important rocks, resulting in a hectic, mediocre life. 

Aristotle said, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is a habit.”

Hab·it /?hab?t/ noun

1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: “the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.”

Habits come from repetition.

The alternative is drifting. Drifting leads to failing (in identity-damaging ways), and ultimately flirting with compensatory habits, a slippery slope toward stagnation and even addiction.

To establish healthy habits, we need regular repetition with scheduled time to practice.

The big rocks, the big priorities, are the things we want to make second nature. Involuntary. This means they go into our daily and weekly schedules before anything else.

For instance, every morning I drink a mason jar full of organic green glop. I love it. I literally watch myself making this green wonder on auto-pilot every morning, without fail.

That’s a habit; all but involuntary. (Wasn’t always that way, but about 3 months in, the auto-pilot switch flipped for me and I never looked back.)

What Habits Will You Build Your Schedule Around This Fall?

Ken Wilber describes 4 Quadrants, or primary areas of life. I find these to be the most succinct framework for a well-integrated life.

Grab your calendar, and by the end of this post, you’ll have a healthy “rock” scheduled for each quadrant. They are:

  1. Self
  2. Body
  3. Relations
  4. Systems

Like any 80/20 assessment, one of these areas will contain your BIG rock. The rest will be supporting rocks, while everything else is gravel or sand.

What we’re after in each quadrant is the One Thing that, if you do it consistently and predictably, making it an involuntary habit, will make everything else easier… or unnecessary.

So, let’s identify a habit you can develop in each quadrant, and make sure you get the big rocks in place.

Before we do, a quick disclaimer:

It takes 2-3 months for a new practice to become a habit.

Using that time-frame, it’s far easier to start with ridiculously tiny, no-fail habits and work your way up to something  you feel proud of, which changes your life in measurable ways.

For example, start with 10-seconds of meditation every morning, and win! vs. shooting for an hour and failing right out of the gate.

Then the following week, bump that up to 30-seconds, and so on, until your’e doing 5, 10, even 30-minutes consistently. This rewires your brain and makes the practice an involuntary habit.

Consistency is the key. So if you’re already doing 10-minutes of meditation a day sporadically, try 5 or even 2-minutes every day without fail and build from there.

1. Self

Self-practices could include things like:

  • Meditation which is my current focus, but I do all of these more or less habitually now (after years of practice). Try apps like Headpace if you’re just starting out, or Insight Timer if you’re looking to build consistency in your existing practice.
  • Journaling is not as scary as it sounds. Just scratch out three shitty, stream of consciousness, never to be read again ‘Morning Pages’ first chance you get each day. Use cheap $0.99 memo notebooks and burn them once they’re full! (I use a Moleskine for my coaching / workshop / business notes and I don’t burn those.)
  • Gratitude Lists have been proven to bump your dopamine levels, resulting in a significant mood enhancement, especially when stabilized through daily practice. Start by writing 3 things you’re grateful for every morning when you first wake up.
  • Reading, or listening to Audible.com, even podcasts… anything that feeds your mind is a good Self practice. Most people never read a book after college. If you read one a month, you’re doing great. One a week, and you’re on fire. You’ll feel it, too!

Start by putting one of these practices, or some equivalent Self-enhancing practice on your calendar. Ideally, daily. Pick one and start with regular, no-fail doses.

Use apps like Momentum habit tracker to support you in gamifying your new practice.

Make it fun!

2. Body

Before you start getting antsy over going to the gym, let’s slow things down and look at some foundational Body practices that will support you to create a life and business that feels deeply nourishing for you.

Body practices I’ve seen work miracles include:

  • Sleep because the science is in, and it’s just non-negotiable. You need 8 hours, on average. So, cut out caffeine after 4pm (or switch to green tea until you restore your adrenals). Dim lights after 9pm and get Fluxio on your computer to aid in melatonin production. And avoid sleep medications – the sleep is low quality.
  • Exercise in a way that works for your body, start slow and build. Try walking around the block, or hiking for a start. A little cat-cow yoga or tai chi movement to get the spine lubricated in the morning. If you’re more advanced, consider hiring a personal trainer. Get consistent. That’s the key.
  • Multi-Vitamins every day because food just isn’t what it used to be. Get a good food-based multi like MegaFood, MyKind, VitaminCode or whatever you like that’s food-based so your body doesn’t just eliminate it, undigested.
  • Green Drinks are a genius way to start your day. I don’t love veggies, which is why I LOVE my green drink. If I get nothing else green in body each day, at least I’ve got this checked off.

Here’s my morning Green Drink recipe:

Base Model:

1 Organic apple or pear (chopped, seeded, and put at bottom for better blending)
Handful of Greens (I used the organic, pre-washed field mix + some kale or chard)
1/2 Avocado (for fats and oils… add half the pit for the best soluble fiber ever)
1/2 Lemon (or lime if it’s hot that day… this is a great way to alkalize your body)
Water (just enough to get it to blend, then add more until prefered consistency)

If you want to get fancy, try adding coconut oil and cilantro in summer, ghee and ginger in winter, unhulled flax & chia seeds for protein and enzymes, seaweed for all those nutrients, collagen powder for joints, or add ¼ cup aloe vera gel to keep things flowing smoothly in there.

Adjust everything to taste and monitor your body for sensitivities. Give your body time to adjust and notice how the taste you may dislike at first becomes a craving. That’s a great sign!

 

Getting some version of all these body practices going is the best basis for health to sustain you in every other area.

For now, pick one, or create your own, and start small with tiny, no-fail repetitions. Build up over time.

3. Relations

This is where I’m personally putting in my big rock first this fall.

My daughter is 15 1/2 and if she needs anything right now, it’s a strong father showing up for her no matter what. (Much easier said than done.)

So for me, the big rock is a daddy-daughter date every week. I’m scheduling it right after yoga when I’m nice and grounded. I rescheduled her violin lesson so her mom drops her off, and I pick her up from the cafe next door where I can leave my phone in the car, and give her my undivided attention for 20 minutes or 2 hours. Whatever it takes for her to feel seen and nourished by my presence.  

Knowing that’s on the calendar every week, in addition to all our other regularly scheduled days and overnights, communicates more to her than words can ever approach. That’s putting the big rock in first, and aligning the supporting priorities (yoga, violin, pick-up/drop-off times) around it.

Relation practices I recommend for friends and clients include:

  • Date Night, if you have a partner, this is such an overlooked no-brainer, and one of the most potent ways to ensure your relationship has what it needs to thrive. Block out the time, every week, and hold that sacrosanct for connecting with your partner. Or daughter. If you have multiple kids, rotate 1-on-1 time. It will work wonders for family dynamics.
  • Imago Dialogue ensures both partners feel heard, seen and ‘gotten’ which is the essence of real communication. The steps include Mirroring, Validating, Empathizing and offering a Gift. My friend John Wineland encourages couples to practice this every day for 40 days just to make it a habit. I couldn’t agree more. Get the book or just google “Imago Steps” to get started.
  • Men’s/Women’s Group is such a valuable support structure for your life. If you’ve never experienced a regular, weekly container for going deep without the distractions of the opposite sex, I can’t recommend this highly enough.
  • Singles Practices could include anything from journaling about your ideal mate, doing therapy to prepare yourself, or creating an online profile and committing to date at least one person each week to get yourself into a rhythm until you find the one.  

Again, we’re looking to start small and build consistency. That’s what rewires your brain and turns a practice into an involuntary habit.

Your habits define you.

You are already a cluster and pulse of habits. With this back-to-school momentum, you’re consciously choosing practices you want to become the habits that define you, and your relationships.

So choose wisely!

4. Systems

There are two types of systems:

  1. Your Environment includes your ecosystem at the macro level (Vancouver is different than Boulder is different than Topeka), and your home, office, even the chair you sit in and mattress you sleep on
  2. Your Contribution system involves what you’re contributing into the marketplace and what you are receiving back (usually monetarily, but not always).

Systems practices you can score big wins fast with include:

  • Clean Out Your Closet because all the stuck energy is holding you back in your life. Believe it. Try Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. Hire a professional organizer if needed. Especially as you spend more time in doors this season, you’ll be amazed at how much flow this frees up in your space and your life.
  • Upgrade Your Systems is there something you use every day that you feel dissatisfied with? Like that old granny blender? Try upgrading to a Vitamix or Blendtec and you’ll be amazed at how your morning green drink seems to make itself. How about your chair or your computer?

Winners understand, environment is the better part of strategy.

  • Structure Your Space for the different types of work or activities you do. This is especially important if you work from home. Once I separated my financial space from my creative space, they both felt so much better, and the work got done more consistently. Make a list of the 3-5 highest priority things you do, and identify one activity that would feel so much better if it had its own space. Carve out that space and support your practice at the structural level. It doesn’t have to be its own room, just a station.

And the grandaddy of all Systems practices…

When my Purpose Mapping® clients discover their Purpose, the thing they were born to do… the thing that puts them in flow… they pause for a moment and glow, and then their very next question is always:

“Great, I know my purpose… so how do I make a living with this?”

My answer is:

  • Build Your Contribution System Around Your Flow State because anything less will leave you dissatisfied. The way to do this is slowly, through small experiments and lots of course-correcting repetition. Pick something you love to do and would do for free because it makes you feel so alive. Then give it as a gift to someone. Get paid in dopamine and endorphins. Then do it again. Get paid in testimonials. And again, and again… until someone says, “Hey, can I pay you for this?”
  • 80/20 Your Business if you’re already getting paid for doing your life’s work, then it’s time to take stock and dial in on the things only you can do, with an eye for how you can delegate, automate or eliminate everything else. Make a quick list of everything you do in your business, and circle the top 3 most profitable, flow inducing things that you do best. Make a plan to start paring away everything else on the list. One item at a time. Your increased productivity will astound you.

In Conclusion

By now you should have enough clarity to understand what the 4 Quadrants are, and why it’s important to have a practice in each area.

It doesn’t matter what practices you choose. But choose something, and put it in your calendar.

Then, monitor and adjust and correct your course continuously you hit your target. You need to understand that your target is fulfillment in life, and giving your unique gifts in powerful ways. That requires focus and FOCUS is an acronym for Follow One Course Until Successful.

Use the social momentum of the back-to-school season to make some quick, high-leverage changes in your routine, and stay the course.

Little changes now, well practiced, will result in habits that can carry you swiftly toward your goals with a lot less friction.

NOTE: Got a great idea for a habit-practice? Share what’s working in the comments below!

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.54.14 AMAbout the Author: Craig Filek knows success and significance are not the same thing. After building a 7-figure business, he walked away from it all to focus on what matters most — raising his daughter and living his purpose. With over 20 years experience coaching and facilitating deep, transformative work, Craig developed Purpose Mapping® to bring his own life into alignment. Now, he guides High-Achieving Misfits to reclaim their authenticity and find true fulfillment by using their talents to full capacity in service to a larger mission.

Executives, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe seek Craig’s support when making life-changing decisions. If you’re ready to unlock your full potential without blowing up the success you’ve already created, request an invitation to speak with Craig.

 

80 Minute Video Interview with George Kao – The Seven Steps to True Livelihood

george kaoOn August 6th, I hosted a video interview with my dear colleague George Kao.

George is consistently one of the innovative colleagues I’ve ever met.

He’s launching a new initiative in the personal growth & business space using a co-op business model which is really inspiring for me and we had a conversation about the seven steps he takes people through to identify their true livelihood – a business or career that feels good to them, uses their gifts and sustains them.

You can check out his initiative here: http://www.truelivelihoodcommunity.com/join.html and watch the eighty minute video interview below. 

 

what to do before you even think about marketing your business

Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallRebecca Tracey has something very important to share with you.
 
So many people come to me for marketing help who are not ready for it.
 
Before you can market a thing, you need a thing to market.
 
It sounds so simple.
 
But, if you want it to be really successful and fulfilled it’s not enough to have any old thing. It’s got to be something you’re over the moon proud of, something that you can’t wait to share with the world, something that expresses your heart and feels right to you.
 
And people often come to me with something they feel ‘okay’ about. Sometimes even ‘good’.
 
They do massage, but they haven’t figured out how to make it theirs yet. They haven’t found their voice in it. So they have a generic thing. And you can try to sex up a generic thing and add more sizzle to cover the lack of steak as it were . . . but in the end we feel incongruent about it and people discover it and are upset. 
 
Rebecca Tracey is one of my dearest colleagues and she helps people do this pre-marketing work (which is actually the basis of all effective marketing). She helps people take this generic thing (e.g. life coaching, massage, holistic practioner) and build solid foundation they’re proud of. And, believe me, this makes marketing so much easier. 
 
Before you obsess about making your business attractive to your clients, focus on making it attractive to you.
 
I recently did an interview with Rebecca about her new program The Uncaged Life Mastermind. You can read the interview below.
 
What’s the result you’re offering people?
 
I work with people who want the freedom to work from anywhere, and who want to work for themselves, but who can’t quite figure out what they could possibly do. I help them smoosh everything they love and everything they are all about into a business that fits them perfectly.

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

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

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

Another client and good friend of mine from nutrition school worked her butt off to create her little nutrition practice. She was working with clients and teaching workshops and all was going well. Except that it wasn’t. It was glaringly obvious to me that her whole thing was about body wisdom and learning to love and respect your body, whether it wants to eat cookies or kale. We worked together to help her get really clear about what felt off in her business, and I’m happy to say that now she has fully stepped into her true calling and I can just feel the energy behind what she’s creating. SO much more resonant than the blanket nutritionist thing,
 
To me, an uncaged life is all about doing work that lets you play to your FULL potential AND gives you the lifestyle you want. This looks different for everyone, and I would really encourage everyone to figure out what their version of living Uncaged looks like.
 
I know you just recorded a free call where you went in depth into your system – where can people get access to that?
 
You can get that free training here http://www.theuncagedlife.com/free-training/
 
Also, check out her full Uncaged Life Mastermind 
 
Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallAbout Rebecca: As a Life-Switch Coach + Professional Adventure Instigator, I work with people who want to quit their shitty day jobs and create Uncaged careers that let them travel the world and work on their own terms. I help them create cool Uncaged Careers out of thin air. I also work with entrepreneurs who are feeling a little stuck, and who need to revamp and revive their businesses to be more in line with who they are. Ready to take your top-secret, rule-bending, crazy-town dream—and lay out a plan, to bring it to life? Let’s tell your excuses to suck it. Together.

too few entrepreneurs do this one. simple. thing. (but it might be exactly what you need)

If you’re feeling stuck in your marketing and want to get unstuck . . . and if you’re needing to make progress in your business there’s one thing I recommend.

Before I tell you what I recommend, I’ll tell you what I don’t recommend: waiting.

Most entrepreneurs have big ideas and plans but something is missing (e.g. funding, expertise, skill etc.) and so they just, kind of . . . wait.

But the biggest thing missing for your success isn’t more resources – it’s usually more resourcefulness. And the heart of resourcefulness is knowing that you can’t do it alone.

Here’s the thing too few entrepreneurs do.

Ask for help.

Do you struggle with accounting? Ask for help.

Do you know you need to do public speaking to get clients but are terrified? Ask for help.

Have a big event coming and not sure how to maximize the PR on it? Ask for help.

Have no idea how to organize your office? Ask for help.

Spend time with someone who can help you. Reach out for help.

The disease that plagues so many solo-preneurs who fail is the inability or unwillingness to ask for help. The feeling that you should somehow already know how to do everything in your business.

You never will.

And you don’t always have to pay for it. Sometimes people will be willing to just go for a coffee and look at your situation. Sometimes people will be willing to become your mentor at no charge.  Sometimes you can book time with a colleague to support each other without needing to spend money. It might just look like hiring someone part time to be your assistant.

Sometimes people will say no. Sometimes they’ll say yes.

And sometimes you’ll need to spend money. But it’s usually worth it.

The help might be in a book. Or a workshop. It might be in a consultant or coach.

But sometimes we’re just too close to our own situation to see clearly. Sometimes the combination of an external perspective with years of expertise can move us further ahead in an hour than we could have gone in months (or sometimes even years).

If you don’t ask for help – you’re left waiting. And then time flies by.

Last year, I went to a meditation workshop carrying a heart full of heartbreak. I’d struggled for years – fruitlessly – to resolve it on my own. But the facilitator was so kind, clear and skilled that I was able to take a very big step. A step I hadn’t been able to take on my own (despite trying very, very hard).

Years ago, I sat in a car with a fellow marketing consultant and listened to him share his own marketing struggles. After sharing my thoughts and reflections, he looked up and smiled, ‘Oh! So, that’s what it feels like to talk with a marketing consultant!’

I knew I needed a new website for two years before my friend Jaime Almond basically forced me to sit down with her and three hours later we had my website.

Two years vs. Three hours.

Ask for help. Or at least accept it when people force it on you. If you can’t be bold in asking be gracious is receiving.

Here’s my question to you: where do you need more support in your business?

Unsure? It’s probably somewhere where you feel like you’re stalled, waiting or kind of frozen.

Really sit with that.

And then ask for help. From anyone.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re human. It doesn’t mean you’re a taker. It means you’re a part of a community.

why your point of view matters

Some wise words from my dear friend Alex Baisley (pictured here) about how sometimes our deepest wounds can be our truest niche and how important and overlooked our point of view is for our businesses. He’s leading 16 entrepreneurs through his Doin’ Your Own Thing Income Figure Outer program coming up soon. Alex is one of the most brilliant people I know in helping people figure out how to make money doing something authentic that feels really wonderful.

I was just at a retreat based on The Work of Byron Katie hosted by Alberta’s own KindMind.ca and I was struck by one particular phrase: ‘There’s nothing to do. There’s just something to see.’

And this feels very true for most of us when we feel stuck. More effort isn’t the answer. More exertion doesn’t always help us do anything except get to where we were going faster. Or jams the gears. Often times, we need a new way of seeing the situation we’re in.

We need a map that makes sense. And we need someone who’s traveled that terrain before us who can share their honest experiences with us. They don’t need you to be perfect. They don’t believe you are when you say you are. They’re refreshed to hear that you’re totally useless at things.

I am relatively useless at the administrative side of my business. It’s kind of appalling. It takes me weeks to get back to my existing clients. Sometimes months. And yet, somehow I make money doing this. In spite of myself I do okay.

When I lead my workshops, I’m aware that what people seem to value most isn’t the nuts and bolts of the content alone – it’s also my perspective. And you have gone through a terrain. You have a perspective that could help so many people.

I commend Alex’s work to you most highly. Read below about his journey and his point of view – I think you might find it refreshing and helpful.

Hi there,

I’m going to jump right into it here. Sometimes life can feel like shit. Like everything we are working so hard to achieve, everything we most want to experience… is a million. miles. away.

sometimes we feel close, like we might be changing, and the next week feels further away than ever.

we know, deep down, that if *something* were to happen, we would find that we have so much capability. So much to share in our lives. And we also sense, deep down, that we are meant to do something in this world.

or we hope so. is it a ruse? is it too late for me?

The deepest craving I had, for a long, long time, was to be able to create a scenario for myself where I could work for myself. Where I could somehow corral my crazy mind, my gypsy spirit, my million ideas… and do something with them.

I craved, deeply, that my life mattered. To friends and family, it did, obviously, but I mean moreso… like I could make a difference. You know what I’m talking about. You might feel it now in your stomach.

10 years I spent underwater as a commercial diver. And that topic is what I was thinking, hoping, and feeling lost about… and days turned into months into years.

I kept waiting for the *big idea*. It never came. The Big Dream Program you might see before you, my own beautiful business, was not a blinding idea. not an epiphany. But it was a sudden realization that if I wanted to have this scenario, I had the free will to create it or not. It was my choice.

I did not do it well, I still don’t. I’m not a business guru, I’m a business limper… in many ways. And yet… 

I did it. Turns out, remarkably, that people quite rightly want to connect with people who are as real as they can be. People who are willing to say I’m shit at ‘this’ and ‘this’, and I have maybe some things to share on ‘that’. And ‘what do you think?’

I spent countless hours many, many years ago… on the bow of fishing boats, in the lunchroom, over the diving intercom while I welded something on a pier… asking my friends about their experience of life, listening to their stories, finding that whatever it was about my energy, it seemed they liked to talk about this stuff with me. And me too. 

Strong opinion alert: People, from the outside, often think of entrepreneurship (doin your own thing) as being about outright confidence. It is not. At least sustainably, it’s not.

It is about the willingness to be more vulnerable than others. It is not about having all the answers. It is about being willing to share the stuff that tripped you up. It is about being willing to look at the human experience. It is about noticing that there are no experts in the broad sense.

It IS about that you have interests and you would love to give people an experience in those interests. It IS about you being normal, like the rest of us, and parts of your life are awesome, and parts are so, so vulnerable. You feel like a hero sometimes, and you feel like a fuck up other times.

Doing Your Own Thing for your income is not so much about expertise, it is about something much different…

it is about… would you like to highlite pieces of the human experience. Open up conversations or experiences. With humility, and understanding, and being willing to believe that what you’ve learned, or are willing to do, might, just might, change someone’s day.

Example:

consider the man who could Not. Get. Math. He failed math over, and over. He felt stupid about it, even though he was good at other things. Teachers sat him down and tried to help him. Parents helped him.

He felt like there was something wrong with him, he felt like everyone could get this except him.

And then, one day, years into it, despite everyone, he got a glimpse of a new way of seeing it. oh my. he looked at the numbers and they formed something visual for him. his brain opened up. something clicked. 

numbers stepped up onto the seashore of his mind. They said hi. They were friendly. They showed him a bit of their inner nature, something that the most esteemed logical statitician might never see. A glimpse.

Math became not outright easy all of a sudden, but interesting. Not as scary. An adventure… intriguing. He became able to figure out things in ways that baffled his teachers. His marks improved.

There are two important ingredients here:

  1. He was an expert in having difficulty with something. like all of us.
  2. His experience brought him a new way of ‘looking’ at something. like all of us.

Would you like to see this man helping your kids with their math if they’re having difficulty? Would it be ok if they don’t make immediate marks, but have the experience of just spending time with the guy who struggled as much as they? 

What would it feel like to see them smile and nod as he explains his own struggles? What if he said, hey. it might not be quick, but you can get there. If I can, you certainly can. Imagine how that would feel inside your child.

You:

There is a value, far more profound than expertise, skills or business acumen that’s at play here…

what you’ve lived through. How you see different things. What interests you have and why. And what you’d be willing to do for others who are laying in wait for someone to create something that doesn’t yet exist… for them…

The Doin Your Own Thing Income Figure-Outer is about you. It’s about the world. It’s about bringing your experience of math, yoga, divorce, life, business, laughter, parenting, and playing the violin in a new way…

to others. People don’t need expertise nearly so much as they need new ways of seeing. For themselves. And they need to spend a little time with someone who understands their struggle. That’s it. They will get this after they hear your story. They will get this after answering questions you feel could help. They will get this after doing something new with their bodies, after playing their violin thinking what you’ve suggested to think…

This, is where meaning is. And if you’re looking for income with meaning… bam.

I remember teaching piano lessons years ago. Yes, me. My young student played her exam piece over and over. It was mechanical. While I listened, I stared out the window at the Atlantic waves rolling onto the coast of Ireland.

As her final exercise, I said… ‘you’re playing so well. Now, when you play this the next 5 times, watch those long, rolling waves. See your music floating out from the piano, across the grass. see it hopping onto the beach, meeting the shore.. feeling scared, hesitant, then jumping into the waves. This ocean will not beat you! See your music as you play be carried on the waves… becoming master of the ocean itself. And then see it turn and float, staring up at the seagulls and sky.

You should have heard her play the next time.

This, also is you. What you see, how you see, is valuable to where other people most want to get to.

The Doin Your Own Thing Income Figure-Outer is about moving towards that. I am working with 16 folks who would like to begin figuring out the million things they could share, with others, to make a difference, and to make their income…

and figuring out the first project. and with what ingredients to generate projects for the rest of their lives. The same ingredients always go into it. 7.5 ingredients I feel.

I care about you so much, and I care about the people you can help. If I can bridge this gap, I would be a very satisfied man.

On Saturday June 23rd, I am spending the day with 16 people, who want to take this journey… to find out how they can help, what they can share, and frankly, an astonishingly new way of understanding your income and security.

Read about it and register, here: http://doinyourownthing.eventbrite.ca/

big love,

Alex

plenitude: the new economics of true wealth

I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago and my friend Jackie told me about a new book she was reading called ‘True Wealth.’ (originally titled ‘Plenitude’) She gave me the basic run down and I loved the messaged.

So I emailed the author and she kindly sent me an excerpt to share with you. Thanks Juliet.

*

Excerpt from Chapter One

INTRODUCTION

Global capitalism shattered in 2008.

The financial system came frighteningly close to a total collapse and was saved only by government guarantees and massive injections of cash. An astounding $50 trillion of wealth was erased globally. Economic pain drove people into the streets around the world, from Iceland to Greece, Egypt to China.

Since then, the global economy has been rescued, but it hasn’t been fixed.

That will require fundamental changes.

Climate destabilization, economic meltdown, and the escalation of food and energy prices are warning signs from a highly stressed planet. Ecologists have defined a number of safe operating zones for the earth’s complex systems and are finding that human activities have already led us outside a number of them. But the mainstream conversation has been stalled by fatalism. We’re better at identifying what can’t be done than what we need to accomplish.

There is a way forward, and I call it plenitude.

The word calls attention to the inherent bounty of nature that we need to recover. It directs us to the chance to be rich in the things that matter to us most, and the wealth that is available in our relations with one another. Plenitude involves very different ways of living than those encouraged by the maxims that have dominated the discourse for the last twenty-five years. It puts ecological and social functioning at its core, but it is not a paradigm of sacrifice.

To the contrary, it involves a way of life that will yield more well-being than sticking to business as usual, which has led both the natural and economic environments into decline.

The version of plenitude that I describe here is addressed in large part to inhabitants of wealthy countries and wealthy inhabitants of poor ones. But most, although not all, of the principles of plenitude and the economics underlying it are also relevant for lower-income households in poor countries. In its general outlines, if not specifics, it’s a widely applicable vision of economic life.

Plenitude is also about transition. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

Creating a sustainable economy will take decades, and this is a strategy for prospering during that shift. The beauty of the approach is that it is available right now. It does not require waiting for the clean-tech paradigm to triumph. It doesn’t require getting government on board immediately.

Anyone can get started, and many are.

It was the right way to go before the economic collapse, in part because it predicted a worsening landscape. It makes even more sense in a period of slow growth or stagnation. As individuals take up the principles of plenitude, they are not merely adopting a private response to what is perforce a collective problem.

Rather, they are pioneers of the micro (individual-level) activity that is necessary to create the macro (system-wide) equilibrium, to correct an economy that is badly out of balance.

That balance won’t develop automatically. All large-scale transformation requires collective arrangements to succeed. We need environmental accounting, a mechanism to reduce carbon emissions, and an end to fossil fuel subsidies. We need new labor-market policies. We need to reform our health care, education, and retirement security systems. But while we work for those changes, here’s a vision for a way to live that respects the awesome place we call earth and all who live upon it.

The Fundamentals of Plenitude

From the perspective of the individual, there are four principles of plenitude.

Principle #1: Work Less

The first is a new allocation of time. For decades, Americans have devoted an increasing fraction of their time and money to the market—working longer hours, filling leisure time with activities that require more income per unit of time, and buying, rather than making, more of what they consume.

It’s time to reverse this trend and diversify out of the market.

This doesn’t just mean the stock market, although its recent volatility suggests that’s one market to which this point applies in spades. Today’s smart strategy for many, if not most, households will be to begin a shift away from the formal and centralized sets of institutions and arrangements that are called the market. By “the market” I mean business-as-usual (BAU) economic activity.

BAU is a term that came out of the climate discourse to indicate what would happen if we didn’t address rising emissions. Here I use it to indicate the continuation of the current economic rules, practices, growth trajectory, and ecological consequences of production and consumption.

It especially refers to the large corporate entities that dominate the market and are heavily invested in it. For individuals, relying less on the market spreads risk and creates multiple sources of income and support, as well as new ways of procuring consumption goods.

Concretely, what this means is a moderation in hours of work. For time-stressed households with adequate incomes, it likely means making trade-offs of income for time.

Reclaiming time frees up resources to invest in ecologically restorative activities and creates the opportunity to replenish the human connections that were depleted in the boom years. Of course, millions have had an altered equation of time and money painfully thrust upon them through unemployment or other losses of income.

For that group, which already has a surfeit of time and not enough money, the advice involves moving forward with plans that are less centered on full-time employment in the BAU economy and more oriented to the emergent sustainability sector, which includes both businesses and the parallel economy developing amid the wreckage of the collapse.

This encompasses areas such as household food cultivation, home construction and renovation, and community initiatives such as barter and bulk buying.

Principle #2: Self Provision

This brings us to the second principle of plenitude, which is to diversify from the BAU market and “self-provision,” or make, grow, or do things for oneself. Indeed, the rationale for working fewer hours in the market is not only, or even primarily, about reducing stress in daily life (although that is certainly important). Recovering one’s time also makes self-provisioning possible and reveals a liberating truth: The less one has to buy, the less one is required to earn.

The downturn has accelerated what was already a robust rediscovery of doing for oneself among sustainability pioneers. Plenitude aspires to transform self-provisioning from a marginal craft movement into something economically significant. That requires raising the productivity of the hours spent in these activities. As I argue later in the book, new agricultural knowledge and the invention of small-scale smart machines make it possible to turn household provisioning into a high-productivity—and economically viable—use of time.

These ideas reverse the direction most households have taken in recent decades and contradict what modern economics preaches, which is that specialization, in one skill or one job, is efficient. Specialization may have made sense when the market was offering better returns. Even as wages stagnated, ultra-cheap consumer goods were hard to turn down. Today, in a world of ecological and economic uncertainty and distress, putting all one’s eggs in the basket of the capitalist market looks like a more dubious proposition.

Principle #3 – True Materialism

The third principle of plenitude is “true materialism,” an environmentally aware approach to consumption. In the United States, the speed of acquiring and discarding products accelerated dramatically before the crash. Consumers knew relatively little about where purchases came from and the ecological impacts of their production, use, and disposal. But many people do care, and want to lighten the footprint of their spending.

Perhaps surprisingly, the route to lower impact does not require putting on a hair shirt. Nor does it entail making consumption less important. Indeed, the plenitude consumer is likely passionate about consuming, and deliberate in the creation of a rich, materially bountiful life.

We don’t need to be less materialist, as the standard formulation would have it, but more so.

For it is only when we take the materiality of the world seriously that we can appreciate and preserve the resources on which spending depends. Living sustainably does mean we can’t reproduce a lifestyle of gas-guzzlers, expansive square footage per person, bottled water, and outsize paper consumption. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have fabulous clothes, low-impact electronic gadgetry, great local food, and a more leisurely mode of travel.

Plenitude means that you will actually have time to take the slow boat to China if that appeals.

Principle #4 – Build Community

The final principle is the need to restore investments in one another and our communities. While social bonds are not typically thought of in economic terms, these connections, which scholars call social capital, are a form of wealth that is every bit as important as money or material goods. Especially in times of distress, people survive and thrive by doing for one another. Interpersonal flows of money, goods, and labor are a parallel system of exchange and savings.

One casualty of an intense market orientation is that community has gotten thinner and human ties weaker. People haven’t had enough time to invest in social connection outside their primary families. By recovering hours, individuals are freed up to fortify their social networks.

These, then, are the individual principles of plenitude: work and spend less, create and connect more. In turn they yield ecological benefits—emit and degrade less—and human ones—enjoy and thrive more.

*

You can also enjoy a video of her lecture on Plenitude here:

 

 

Juliet Schor is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Before joining Boston College, she taught at Harvard University for 17 years, in the Department of Economics and the Committee on Degrees in Women’s Studies. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Schor received her Ph.D. in economics at the University of Massachusetts.

Her most recent book is Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth (The Penguin Press 2010). She is also author of the national best-seller, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1992) and The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need (Basic Books, 1998). The Overworked American appeared on the best-seller lists of The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe as well as the annual best books list for The New York Times, Business Week and other publications. The book is widely credited for influencing the national debate on work and family.  The Overspent American was also made into a video of the same name, by the Media Education Foundation (September 2003).

use gmail? overwhelmed with too many emails? best. app. ever.

Do you use Gmail?

This might be the most useful app ever created for email overwhelm.

Seriously.

This little app (which is 100% free I might add) just let me cut my gmail inbox in half by scheduling emails to vanish and then reappear on the date I want to deal with them. So good!

I’m almost weeping it’s so beautiful. Go to this link and watch the little video. See if you don’t cry too.

http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

I know this isn’t about marketing but I just had to share it.