Stop Wasting People’s Time: The Incredible Cost of Being Fuzzy

2198b27This is a blog post I’ve wanted to write for a while.

It’s about the incredible costs to you and others of being fuzzy in your marketing and sales communications.

I’m writing this to share the other side of the story of marketing – how it’s received. We spend so much time working on our business and our marketing that we rarely stop to consider how our marketing is landing for the person receiving it.

There are two issues here: Laziness and Fuzziness.

For latter is inevitable, the former isn’t. The latter carries no shame, but the the former might.

I want to lift up an exploration around where laziness might be creeping into your marketing and share the impact that fuzziness, despite the best of efforts and intentions, might have. I want to lift up that clarity in your marketing might require more work from you than you initially thought – that when you think you’re done, you likely aren’t.

I don’t even know where to start on this. It happens so often.

It happens, in a beautiful way, whenever a client hires me to look over their sales letter. When Daniel and Cecile of Roundsky Communications reached out to me, it was a blessing to be able to help them redo their sales letter to help them say what they were wanting to say better, or when Carmen Spagnola asked for my help with hers as she launched her Numinous School, or when Russell Scott asked me to helped him articulate his Coming Home retreat.

But often people come to me not knowing how unclear their materials are. Sometimes it’s laziness on their end and sometimes they just don’t know how fuzzy it all is.

I want to own that some of my responses below are petty. I’m not trying to hide that. In fact, I want to lift it up because it’s how people often feel when confronted with fuzziness (and almost always feel when it’s a lazy fuzziness). Are the reactions petty? Likely. Are they common? Yes. And it’s important to be real about that.

I know that most of the people in the examples below are not trying to be rude or waste my time. And I’m aware that my reactions are about me and my own triggers. That’s all true.

And I invite you to step into my world where this happens a lot.

It happens with friends and colleagues who ask me to share their websites. When I look at them I literally have no idea what the hell I’m looking at or what it’s about. And I sit there for five minutes wanting to support my friend but having literally no idea what to write as a description or context for why I’m posting it. What the website needs is an overhaul. What they need, I tell myself, is to actually figure out their niche and what the hell they’re up to. They have no idea what it’s like to be me, wanting to help them and feeling baffled by their project. When I get the sense they’re still learning and growing, this doesn’t bother me, but when I get the sense that they’ve just decided to be lazy about it, it does.

It happens when colleagues come to Edmonton and want my help in spreading the word about their workshop. I look at the marketing materials and my heart sinks. This is shit. This is all useless. It’s full of jargon and platitudes and they have no idea how bad it is. I happen to know about their work and so I spend hours rewriting their materials so that I can share it up without causing confusion to my friends. I’ll be emailing them about it and I don’t want to have them sitting there for five minutes trying to understand what this is and why I sent it to them. I don’t want to spend my social capital and trust and their fighting their way through a confusing sales letter. So, I redo it and send that out. After the workshop is done with them, I sit them down and explain to them that I’ll never do that again for them and neither will anyone else. I tell them about how frustrating it is to want to spread the word for them and to have to redo everything in order to do that. They seem to get it and express their gratitude. That feels good. It’s my responsibility that I took on the heavy lifting of redoing their work for no payment. That’s on me. And it’s what your friends might do for you.

It happens when an old friend and colleague emails me over the years with various workshops and initiatives that I don’t understand. Because I care for her, I actually open the emails and read her words. Because I care for her, I slog through the confusing text hoping that the next line will illuminate what this is for me only to be let down every time. My answers get more and more curt with her. She feels unsupported and it ends our friendship. True story.

It happens when a friend of mine sends me a message of Facebook asking my help in sharing up his crowd funding campaign for a comedy tour. He doesn’t tell me who’s on the bill, where they’re going, how many stops, why this matters enough to get funded or anything that might help me do more than simply paste the link to his page. I know that me simply posting a link will do literally nothing for him. Hell, even my writing my most impassioned plea probably won’t do anything for him. So I ask him to send me a pre-written Facebook post that says it all perfectly so I can get this right for him.

Here’s the conversation:

My friend: Hey Tad! What’s up man? I’m loving your Harper Has to Go Campaign and am behind ya 100%!! Just want to reach out to you about The comedy tour that I’m producing. 4 budding easy coast comics hit the road to perform everywhere they can; a camera rolls & a documentary is made. Please check out our Kickstarter campaign as we’re trying to get funding to make this thing a reality and have some dope rewards. If you can’t toss any $$$ our way and still want to help out you totally can by spreading the word via social media or face to face with people; it’s just as good as $$$. The link is below, thanks for any help in advance and enjoy the rest of your summer! Much love.

Me: hey man! so good to hear from you. You are missed here in e-town. I can’t give money right now but would love to spread the word. Can you send me a prewritten FB post saying it just the way you want with the link in it? I’ll share it up.

My friend: Hey dude! Thanks, it feels nice to be missed :-) Here is the link and just say what you’d like about the idea of helping 4 DIY stand up comedians trying to go on tour and that your friend is one of them :-) Thanks again!!

Me: here’s what i’d write now. but we can do better, “4 DIY stand up comedians are trying to go on tour and my friend John Doe is one of them. Support if you can.”  If you can add where the tour is going, the dates, how much money you’re trying to raise and by when.

My friend: Right. Not sure where we are going yet. Will know in the next week or so. The dates are Sept 27th to October 16th ; we are trying to raise $20,000. We are almost 25% of the way there. :-)

Me: any clearer sense of tour dates? And, if you’re able to give me exact wording that i can cut and paste it would be a big help. I want to get this as good as possible for you.

My friend: Tour dates will be announced tomorrow and I can send you a link to all that stuff. Have a great night.

I don’t hear from him again.

Ten minutes of my life wasted.

This doesn’t seem like a big deal until it’s ten minutes here and ten minutes there.

It’s death by a thousand cuts. I’m not even talking about responding to any of it. I’m talking about reading the stuff. I’m talking about long emails I have to slog through to figure out whether or not the email is even relevant to me.

It happens when I get hired for consultations with people whose projects are so vague and fuzzy and who either refuse or are legally unable to get any clearer and I sit there for an hour wondering, “Why the hell am I here?”

It happens when I get an email invitation about a possibility of collaborating on a Farmer’s Market presentation and, after twenty minutes, it turns out that this collaboration couldn’t pay me anything and that, in fact, they were just wanting to get the contact info of the person who hired me for my last gig and, maybe, to get my endorsement but then, in the end, the endorsement doesn’t even seem to matter. They could have asked me that in a one sentence email and not wasted my time.

It happens when I host a party and a woman stands up and, over dramatically and heavily, starts spinning a seductive but insubstantial web about a project she’s working on that could pay everyone incredibly well to do their work and a client of mine says, “Wow. That sounds really good!” and I turn to him and say, “You stay the fuck away from her. Or… better yet. Go and talk with her to find out what she’s up to because there’s nothing there.” Only to have him come up to me an hour later and confirm that twenty minutes of digging had yielded him nothing but a headache.

These are all such wonderful people.

And I still get cranky.

It happens all the time.

It happens when people ask me to spread the word for something on Facebook and I have no idea what it is, for whom it might be relevant or even, often, what city it’s happening in.

It happens to women when men ask them to go for coffee just to ‘hang out’ and their intentions are nebulous. They’re not interested in the man romantically but… it’s just coffee, right?

It happens when you meet someone who asks you to go for coffee and it ends up being AMWAY (called whatever the hell they’re calling it these days).

It happens when a known funder is schmoozed by people who are really friendly and asking all sorts of personal questions to ‘get to know’ the funder (who can feel the ask coming).

When people are writing promo material for their programs, products and projects, they often get lazy. They’re so excited to just get it out there and spread the word that they don’t pause and look at what they’ve written through the eyes of the person on the receiving end. What this means is that, often times, you have something that’s fabulously unclear.

This is about you and your friends and colleagues. The ones who love you and want to see you succeed. This is about bringing more beauty and ease to their lives and not draining away their minutes and hours with confusion and annoyance.


Out of friendship and good will people will give you their attention once or twice. But, if you keep being fuzzy, then they will resent it.


Because they love you.

They care about you.

They think you’re amazing and they want to support you but they have no idea what the hell you’re doing.

It’s a frustrating place to be in. They open your emails hoping for something they’ll understand enough to put their encouragement behind, only to be lost in a sea of words. Sure, there’s a link they could click, but, after years of this, they’re not convinced it will be any clearer. They’ll open your emails out of love for you but soon they’re opening them out of a sense of guilt and obligation. Or they’re ignoring them. Or, possibly worse, they’re putting smiling faces and ‘Congrats!’ on your Facebook posts because they love you. What they’re not telling you is that they never clicked the link and they actually have no idea what you do.

Writing a good headline or email subject line isn’t about selling people. Writing good copy isn’t about selling people. It’s about being as clear as you humanly can about what this is and isn’t and who it’s for and who it’s not for. It’s about cutting to the chase as quickly, artfully and clearly as possible. When you don’t take the time to articulate what you do well, that shows me is that you don’t see to care enough about me to take the time to make things clear.

Please don’t waste their time.

Please don’t make them fight to understand what you’re up to. Please don’t confuse them. Please don’t use the leverage of their love for you against them as they spend so much of their precious time trying to sort through the confusion of what you do to understand. And, please don’t take it personally or be offended when they candidly tell you that they are confused by what you do. The truth: they love you and they are trying to give you the gift of their candour which most of your friends aren’t. They love you so much that they are willing to risk the friendship to support the friend. And know that people have their limit of how much ‘fuzziness’ they’re willing to accept from you.

Eventually you will be ignored. People won’t even bother to read the subject lines of your email. They won’t even look at what you tagged them in on Facebook or Twitter. And the whole time they’re ignoring it they are frustrated because they want to help you and feel guilty for not being more supportive but they don’t trust you to respect their time. It’s an awful place to put people. I’ve been put in this situation more times that I wish I had. Eventually that resentment towards you will build into frustration.

Don’t highjack their love.

Writing good sales copy is an act of love and respect for the time and emotional well being of others. Taking the time to write thoughtful copy is an act of kindness. It is consideration. A good sales letter is a pleasure to read. If you claim to love your friends and those on your list, be clear with them. Don’t waste their time. Don’t highjack their love.

I deal with this all the time. Colleagues whose promo stuff is so terrible. It is such shit. It’s the worst. Like they couldn’t be bothered to actually craft something. No. They send me their rough draft. They send me some vague pile of words to figure out and so they are saying, in essence, ‘your time is less valuable than mine’.

Don’t waste my time.

One of my colleagues expressed this to me a few weeks ago, “I recently asked a few people to to give me a bullet point about their business so that I could include them on an email newsletter I am sending to my list that is highlighting other people’s amazing work (just for the hell of it bc their work is awesome). My clients all followed directions. The two friends who I wanted to include both sent me vague responses so it felt doubly unrespectful because I was actually offering to promote them. There’s no way I’m putting other people’s vagueness out there.

“You mugged me with words.”

As I wrote this blog post I recalled some words Derrick Jensen had written in his book Walking on Water. He speaks of receiving a critique from an elder storyteller Milbre Burch.

At one point I used the wrong word to describe something – I called a trowel a spade – and when she corrected me I said (the forty-two-year-old me is horrified to remember these words come out of the twenty-six-year-old me’s mouth), ‘It’s just a word.’

‘Just a word,’ she replied. ‘No. You mugged me, as surely as if you had taken my wallet. You mugged me with words, stole a moment of my life. Every time you’re on stage, or every time you write something for someone else to read, all the people in the audience, all the people who read your writing, are giving you the honour of time they could be spending elsewhere. You are responsible for every second they give you. You need to give them gifts – including the truth as you understand it to be – commensurate with that every moment.’

Cut to the chase.

If you’re interested in a woman, tell her and ask her out on a date. Don’t lie about your interest or attraction. If she’s not interested, she’ll tell you. And that’s fine. They’ll be grateful for you not wasting their time.

If you’re with an MLM company, don’t feign friendship with people to seduce them into your pitch. Tell them you have a business proposition for them and could you have five minutes of their time to give them the pitch? They’ll be grateful for you not wasting their time.

If you meet a funder whose financial support you want, tell him that. Say, “Can I bend your ear for 60 seconds about a project we’re working on that I think you might want to fund?” They’ll be so grateful and almost always say yes. They’ll be grateful for you not wasting their time.

Who came to who?

Remember, you came to me for support not the other way around. I didn’t approach you curious if I could spread the word on your project. You came to me.

If you are approaching someone, the central question in your mind must be, “How can I make this all as clear, quick, easy and worthwhile for them as possible?” You’re in their house. You are a guest. Don’t waste their time.

Now, if you’re doing what you do and not reaching out to anyone and people are just stumbling across your work then be as fuzzy as you want. Whatever. I don’t care. Maybe people will get it and love you. If they complain about how fuzzy you are, tell them to go to hell. It’s your life. Do what you want.

But if you come to them? That kind of laziness and fuzziness will not fly.

And remember, the bigger a hub they are, the busier they are, the more thought you’ll need to put into this. If you blow it with a major hub once you might not get a second chance.

And, this is so important: If you’ve been fuzzy for a while, expect people to be extra touchy and critical. That’s the price you pay for having wasted their time before. There’s an old adage. It says, “the confused mind says ‘no'”. And I am coming to see the deeper levels of this. At first it says ‘no’ gently but eventually that ‘no’ becomes more and more assertive.

And please know this, the greatest pain of someone who is well connected is not having enough time to help everyone they want to help. The more connected and respected you become, the more skills you gain, the more you realize that you can help more people. But you don’t have the time or energy to help everyone. So you have to choose because, soon enough, people start sending you emails, texts and Facebook messages all wanting ‘just five minutes of your time’ or wondering if they couldn’t pick your brain for a bit or if you might know someone who does a certain thing or direct them on who to talk to. And, as a hub, it’s one of your greatest pleasures to be able to help these people and save them hours if not years of frustration. But it’s overwhelming and helpless making too.

So, when you come to them with your fuzziness, you make them feel even more helpless than they already do. And the amount of time and energy they have to spend trying to understand your request takes directly away from the time they have to help others. Don’t think for a second that any of us have limitless amounts of mental focus to spare.

So, if you consistently get feedback that your work is fuzzy, please take it to heart and get help.

Don’t blame the world for not getting you. Don’t blame your colleagues for being frustrated in their desire to help you. Don’t blame your friends for resenting the time they keep investing in reading your work only to find out, after far too much time spent, that it’s not a fit.

To be crystal clear: I have the choice of whether or not to read or respond to things people send me. That’s the truth. Their fuzziness is not my burden unless I make it so. But, because I love these people, I do open the emails and it means the world to me to feel like they’ve done everything they can to make it as clear as possible.

But, most of all, don’t blame yourself either.

Again, there’s no shame in fuzziness. There’s no shame in not hitting a bullseye every time.

But there is some shame in not learning from it when it happens and bringing a rigour to your clarity.

Getting clear about what you do, how you do it and for whom you do is one of the hardest things you will ever do in business. If you struggle with it, you aren’t alone. This is the heavy lifting in business that many avoid and most don’t even know is there for them to do.

And the chances are that whatever education you got in doing what you do now did not include the marketing of that thing. Chances are that you didn’t go through a formal apprenticeship training with an elder that would have you be ready to speak with immense clarity about what you do and with a village of people to take care of who would take care of you too. You are likely self taught in marketing and find it an uneasy proposition at the best of times. You’re in a toxic economic system and may have been promised six figures fast by someone who should have known better and there’s a chance this has left you feeling desperate. So, this is bigger than you. It’s not you.

It’s not your fault that your work may yet be fuzzier than you want. If you’re fuzzy there’s a good chance you’re still at Stage One of your business’ growth. And that’s a beautiful place to be, if you know that you’re there. No one minds someone at Stage One. But they do mind people at Stage One walking around with Stage Four swagger. If you’re just starting, you’re going to need to experiment and try a lot of things to see what works for you. And, while you’re experimenting, it means you’re going to be learning on other people’s backs in the same ways that we all grow up in front of each other in community. There’s no avoiding it and there’s nothing wrong with it.

You’ll be forgiven for fuzziness, but you might not be forgiven for laziness. 

Just be mindful that it is costing people something to mentor you. And don’t expect the mentorship. Don’t bring your entitlement there. If you get the gift of someone’s candour and encouragement… it’s a wonderful thing. I enjoy mentoring people. I love the work that I do. But when people send me something fuzzy, despite my attempts to let them know how fuzzy it is, it’s as if they’re asking me to work for free. Some people seem willfully fuzzy. They resist figuring out their niche and yet keep asking for help having no idea the burden this is for those who care about them. And they have no idea how many others there are out there like them who they are now being lumped in with.

Work to be better.

If someone comes to me with something nebulous and I tell them it’s to vague to share and they work hard and bring back something finer and clearer, I feel good in my heart and happy to help them.

You could do a lot worse than approaching this all with a humble spirit.

If you’re getting feedback that you’re confusing people, it’s okay. It might take a while to get there but you’ll get there – if you make it a priority and focus on it.

What you might do to get more clear. 

Consider asking friends for feedback before putting it out officially.

Consider posting it on Facebook and inviting people’s candid commentary before approaching a hub with it.

Consider hiring a copywriter to look at it if it’s an important piece for your business.

Consider learning about how to write a good sales letter. Consider learning how to create a compelling and clear package.

You can get clearer more quickly than you might think possible.

Before sending an email to someone important, consider what it is you want them to do. Is the email as clear as it could be? Is it direct and to the point?

If you have an important meeting, really think through what you want to cover with them and how it can be of use to them.

Right now you may not be clear but make sure you take the advice or Ira Glass in this video below.

Suggested Resources for the DeFuzzification of Your Business:

The Classy Cold Approach: How to approach hubs in a direct and respectful way.

Nine Thoughts on Copywriting for Hippies

Crystal Clear: Five Simple and Proven Ways to Articulate What You Do (Even if it Seems Hopeless)

The Niching Nest: my book on how to figure out your niche.

Hey! Nice Package: How to develop packages of your products and services that people actually want to buy.

Selling Sweetly: How to write a sales page with sweetness.

Additional Reading:

Do We Value Attention Properly – Seth Godin

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: and watch the eighty minute video interview below. 


Honesty is Boring: How a Hotel Window Blown Out With Shotgun Became A Trophy To Quirk

Mike Rowlands opens his workshop on branding by telling us about how a hotel manager in Victoria BC shot out a window of his hotel with a shotgun.

It’s day two of the Social Venture Institute and I’m sitting with 30 other social entrepreneurs and savvy do gooders in Olatunji Hall

Back to this hotel . . . Their hotel was plagued with low occupancy . . . and pigeons who loved the pond they’d created in the back of their hotel off the back patio. No matter what they tried (e.g. poison, nets etc) . . . they could never get rid of the pigeons. So, finally, in frustration one of the managers brought a shot gun into the kitchen and stood in front of an open window facing the pond and loaded the gun. His colleagues stood watching him, partly stunned but relatively sure it was a joke. Until he aimed out the window and pulled the trigger.

And quickly discovered that the window had not, in fact, been open.

The hotel management hung the shot-out window inside their offices like a trophy.

These people were a little weird.

But Mike Rowlands saw the beauty in that. Sitting in the shadow of Victoria’s grand Empress Hotel, the Laurel Point Hotel didn’t have the option of competing on the old school, colonial charm of Victoria’s most popular hotel.

What Mike saw was how strange and quirky the people running it were. They didn’t represent the ‘old Victoria’ of the crumpets and tea at the Empress, Madame Tussauld’s and the gardens. They represented the ‘New Victoria’ who were younger, outdoor adventurers and local food supporters.

And he wondered, ‘What if this hotel could become an icon of this New Victoria?’ What if this hotel could become a hub for the ‘new Victoria’ niche market?

What if their quirk could be lifted up and high lighted and made a core part of their brand?

What if this place could become and embodiment of that. A home for it. What if your business could become a veritable hub of your scene? What if your dream clients saw your initiative as a kind of ‘home’?

And that was the core of the strategy he implemented which had this hotel become the #2 hotel in the city (after the Empress which is a huge historic landmark and will likely always be #1).

After ten years of helping hippies with their marketing, I can tell you this: most businesses and initiatives are dull. They have a generic vibe. No one would miss them if they vanished tomorrow.

The things they brag about are things that no one cares about.

Mike points out that telling everyone about your honesty, integrity and how respectful you are is boring.

Of course you might cynically assume that, ‘of course a marketer is deriding honesty’ but, he’s got a point.

Most businesses are boring. They’re okay. They’re fine. No one hates them, but no one loves them either. They try to hide their quirk.

As a marketing nerd myself, I can tell you that, from the eyes of a customer, telling the truth, doing what you say you will and treating people well isn’t anything exceptional. To tell a client that you are any of those things will never elicit the response of, ‘Oh wow! Tell me more.’ It’s much more likely to get the response, ‘I should hope so . . .’

And any marketing message that gets the ‘I should hope so.’ response is doomed.

Honesty, integrity and being respectful are like the legs of the table. They’re required for the table to be stable so you can enjoy a meal with your customers – but they aren’t the meal. They’re the bare minimum requirement to be in business. Mike asks us to consider trying to run a business on the opposite qualities. Being an entrepreneur who is a lying, sneaky bastard.

The meal itself, the food on the table, gets noticed. The legs of the table do not.

Mike is making the point that our core values as a business need to be something more than the basics of being a decent person. I see it all the time with clients who say, ‘What makes us unique is our quality, service and dependability.’ Booooooo. Boring. Next. I should hope so.

When you’re trying to refine your values, what’s most important to you, we need to think of the food on the table. The more interesting things. Perhaps you’re ‘quirky’ and you value being original. Perhaps you’re ‘classy’. Maybe you value being ‘boldly local’. Maybe you’re nerdy, passionate, bookish, adventurous. This question of, ‘what are your values’ calls on you to do some soul searching and really look at what your vibe is. And to be more true to that. To bring more of you into your business.

And bringing more ‘you’ into your business is never boring.

So many people try to seem professional. Boring.

They try to appeal to everyone. Boring.

Mike makes the point, and I have to agree, that when you build around a solid core set of values like this, that your business will turn some people off (hooray! you didn’t want them anyway) but it will much more powerfully attract the people who are a perfect fit for your business. When you build around your values your business gets a vibe to it and people are drawn to it (and drawn to stay longer) because they love that vibe so much.

Like a café you find and are instantly charmed by (assuming ‘charm’ is a key value of the business owner).

The Joie de Vivre management company created a series of boutique hotels based on popular magazines. One hotel was based on Rolling Stone magazine. People who love that magazine would love that hotel. It was all rock and roll. Another hotel might be based more on GQ. Very different feeling. Very different values. Definitely not boring.

Stop trying to impress people with your sturdy table and start focusing on making the best meal for them you can. They’ll remember and tell their friends. And of course if you have the fanciest meal in the world and then the table collapses hot soup on them, burning them and staining your dress, you’ll tell all your friends too. It’s not that the legs of the table are unimportant – it’s that you know they’re doing their job when they’re not being noticed.

So, focus on the meal. You’ll feel more passionate about your business. You’ll feel delighted as you attract more of your ideal clients and supporters and watch your do gooding initiative grow and grow.

And that’s not boring at all.

Who Would Miss Your Project If It Died?

Mike Rowlands, a Vancouver based marketing and branding expert is asking a group of thirty positive change makers one of the hardest questions they’ve ever been asked. He’s a very fun fellow but the question is serious.

“If you closed up shop tomorrow, who would miss you? And why?”

We’re all sitting in a circle in Olatunji Hall at the annual Social Venture Institute. And a lot of us are stumped. I’ve been teaching marketing to hippies for over a decade and I’ve never considered this question.

But it’s an important question because the answer to it helps you really hone in on the question of what makes your distinct, relevant and different? Why do people work with you vs. someone else offering a similar product or service.

It occurred to me that a lot of conscious entrepreneurs who are more political, locally minded and critical of today’s capitalist suicide economy would miss me. They’d miss getting marketing ideas from someone who shared their perspectives and take on where the world is at. They’d miss getting tactics and tips that didn’t feel gross or slimy to them, that fit within their ‘political analysis.’

It also made me think that some of my colleagues (to whom I refer a lot of business) would miss me because they love the kinds of clients I send them.

The things your customers and clients would miss most are likely the things that make you the most unique, different and relevant to them. And, if no one would miss you, it’s a good sign that there’s nothing different about you . . . yet. If there’s nothing they miss then there’s a good chance you’ve not found your niche yet.

I think about Remedy Café in Edmonton. If it died I’d miss their chai. I’d miss seeing all of my friends who hang out there. It’s a community hub.

When Edmonton’s Organic Roots grocery store died, I missed the opportunity to buy from an independent organic grocery store in town and support local.

If the Artery in Edmonton died, I’d miss the chance to support one of Edmonton’s quirkiest, coolest independent art’s spaces. I’d miss sitting on the stairwell that faces the stage and the incredibly cozy atmosphere it has like magic is happening there every night that the community is lucky enough to participate in.

If your project or business died, who’d come to the funeral? And what would they say in their eulogies?

Think about that. Contact that.

And then bring even more of it to your business. Build your initiative so that they’ll miss it when you’re gone.


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

guest post: learning webs

I was in Thailand a month ago, chatting with my friend Shilpa Jain.

We were talking about how people learn things.

And she shared this idea of a learning web. And how there are different ways we can learn things.

As she spoke, my mind immediately raced to the relevance for business.

Learning Webs – Back to the Source

by Shilpa Jain

I’ve been working in the field of ‘alternatives’ to education for a long while now – really since I was  a young’un, running around my neighborhood, inventing my own games and art, reading books of my choice, etc. 

Though by its own measures, I did “well” in traditional public school (by which I mean, I got good grades), I never really liked school – its competitions, its limits, its labels, its random subjects disconnected from real life and real issues. 

As I got older and started learning more about the historic roots of the education system and its impacts on diverse communities over the world, I realized that my personal dislike was well-founded.  This system has been wreaking havoc on individuals and communities for a couple centuries now. 

And it’s time to stop.

Mostly, people agree on the ills of schooling.  They know it’s cutting kids off from interactions with their families and neighbors; from a sacred connection with Mother Nature; from their own bodies, hands and spirits.  And, they know it’s a rat race, and a lot of people suffer from the labels and competition imposed through schooling. 

AND, they know that it’s not helping in solving the problems we are up against – but, instead, is actually feeding them by producing more capitalistic, obedient and submissive consumers… 

But when it comes to other possibilities, people are often at a loss.  There is the endless call for ‘reforming public education’ – which for many folks means a ‘better’ version of the same thing: just smaller classrooms, better trained teachers, more technology, better textbooks, etc. 

Others are experimenting with charter schools, democratic schools, free schools – or homeschooling cooperatives, unschooling, natural learning communities….   Despite their creativity and the numerous generative possibilities they are opening up, they are usually called ‘elitist’ and dismissed on the grounds of being inapplicable to the ‘majority’.  Which is unfortunate.

I want to add a little more to this conversation in my own support of self-designed and community-supported learning:  learning webs.   

A few months ago, I was invited to host a workshop for an innovative educational experiment in Puerto Rico called Nuestra Escuela (Our School).  They are built on a mission of love.  They are committed to throwing out labels of ‘juvenile delinquent’, ‘at-risk’, ‘dropout’, ‘failure’, etc. and instead embracing the brilliance, creativity and potential of the young people (ages roughly 13-18) in their communities. 

They asked me to help support them with thinking about how to nuture deep learning and collaboration in Nuestra Escuela – something that would align with their mission and vision.

I started reflecting on the answers to the question, “What is one of the most meaningful learning experiences you have had?”  I, and the community I worked with in India, Shikshantar asked this question a lot, as we were working to generate alternatives to the education system. 

Invariably, the kinds of answers people gave had to do with one (or more) of these six relationships/opportunities:

1.     mentors – someone who inspires you, who can guide you, who gives meaningful support to you in times that matter

2.     experiments – personal and collective – little challenges that you give yourself, or that you agree to do with a group, to stretch yourself, come closer to your spirit and truth, and to live in greater alignment with your values

3.     apprenticeships/internships – longer-term commitments to deeply learn something that matters to you, usually with folks who have some kind of expertise in the field

4.     travel: journeys and visits – going to interact with people and places where what you want to learn is happening; the journey itself is often part of the learning experience

5.     self-study: looking at books, films, websites, etc. that delve into the different aspects of your interest area

6.     reflection: writing, journaling, creative expression of some kind, to digest what you’re learning, capture your understandings, and reflect them to others who can give you feedback as well

I like to image these six things as spokes coming off of a center point – which is where you put your question or the subject you want to learn.  It could be anything from ‘organic farming’, to ‘indigenous history’, to ‘how can I have a healthy relationship with my partner?’, to ‘how can I become less angry and more patient?’ 

After you have a sense of what you want, and that can be a group or collective decision too, you generate the mentors, experiments, apprenticeships, travel, self-study and reflection that can help you learn it. 

As our friends at the Berkana Institute say, “Start anywhere. Follow it everywhere.”  That’s how you grow your learning web – by being as curious as you can be and committing to learning as much as you can.  If you remember that everyone is a source/resource, with lots to share in terms of experiences, ideas, stories, and questions, there is simply an endless supply of possibilities.

There is no limit to the number and diversity of personal and collective learning webs that can be generated. It only depends on what you can balance and handle.  And, as they say in Open Space, “Be prepared to be surprised!” 

Learning webs can lead you to amazing aha!’s, wonderful relationships, and many other things that you couldn’t have known when you started.  They knit you back to the real world and to the web of life. They encourage compassion, communication, complexity and commitment.  They enliven your imagination and root you with purpose.

Most importantly, they return the power of learning to the source: you and your collectivities.  And, for me, when we harvest the power of our individual and collective wisdom, well, we’ve found what we need to build a world that works for all beings.

My reflections on this:

  • are you stuck trying to teach your content to your clients using only one strand of the learning web? What might happen if instead of doing the traditional teleseminars and workshops you were to support people in learning in other ways? Is it possible that we get so stuck on ‘giving info’ that we don’t pay enough attention to their learning?
  • if you’re stuck trying to learn something, might another approach to learning work better for you?
  • are you relying only on high priced seminars and marketing gurus for your answers when the wisdom might be right there in your own community?

 What are your thoughts? Write them below in the comments.

wrapping your gifts

My friend Jenna and I were hanging out tonight having a crafts night. She brought everything you could imagine we’d need. She is far craftier than I.

So far, she’s made the most amazing card (see here).

And I wrapped two books (that I bought with a Greenwoods book gift certificate sent to me by a colleague of mine Julia Kious Zabell (thankyouthankyouthankyou).

As soon as I’d finished wrapping them, I felt so excited to give it to them.

But the gift hadn’t changed. It was still just two books.

But they meant more to me.

I was more excited to share them.

Just from putting some care and craftiness into how they were wrapped.

And it strikes me that it’s the same with our businesses.

Sometimes people are hesitant to put care into the ‘wrapping’. They’re hesitant to make their website beautiful, to get a beautiful headshot, to put more attention to the design of their products. That somehow it’s gross. That somehow it’s not honest. But the truth is, they’re a little embarrassed every time they give out their business card or brochure. They look at their posters hanging up at the organic grocery and silently wish it was better.

(note: she just finished a second sweet card. with cotton balls! amazing!)

Some people think wrapping is fake.

But tonight, do you know what I think it is?

I think it’s lovely.

My dear friend and colleague Carrie Klassen has likely been the most important influence in my business life around this simple lesson: beauty matters. Explore her website and you’ll see why I love her so much.

Be proud of what you offer. Dress it well. Treat your marketing like a special event – the kind it’s such a pleasure to dress up for. A wedding, a special birthday, a graduation, an anniversary. We dress up so we feel beautiful and to inspire those around us.

I’m not talking about synthetic, neon light beauty. I’m not talking about super models. I’m not talking about making something beautiful ‘so they’ll buy’.

I’m talking about candle light, hand made, vintage and craftiness. I’m talking poetry and crafting your words to be ‘just right’. I’m talking about setting up your workshop space so it feels warm and inviting. I’m talking about the beauty of art. I’m talking about making it just the way you want it so that it makes you proud – so that it radiates ‘youness’. I’m talking about weaving in your quirk and kinks.

As my dear friend Erica Ross (whose work embodies this so perfectly) says, “Making the conscious choice to slow down and beautify something or somewhere, in my view, is a sacred act of love and community.”

I think of the chef who not only makes amazing food but presents it ‘just so’ with so much care and attention put to the placement of things. I think of the tea ceremonies the exist around the world. It’s not just the tea, it’s the whole ritual of it – the presentation. I think of the improv comedy show I do every week in Edmonton and how we clean up the house after every show and sweep the stage. It’s not just the performance, it’s the whole experience. I think of a jazz band I once saw who dressed in tuxes and how the band leader acknowledged that tuxes on a jazz band might seem odd, ‘but’ he said. ‘I think it has a little something to do with respect.’

I’ve performed close up, sleight of hand card magic since I was 12. I love it so much. And, as I grew up, I began to see how much bad magic there was in the world. Actually, I should correct myself . . . how many bad performances there were. So much terrible patter and awkward people doing magic tricks. So much rushing through the show and not letting the moments sink in. So much trying to impress people with technique rather than charming them with a performance. In 1943, Dariel Fitzkee wrote his masterpiece in the world of magic Showmanship for Magicians. He pointed out that being ‘technically’ proficient (even brilliant) in sleight of hand wasn’t the point. The point was the show. The performance. That the magic lived in the mind of the audience, not the hands of the magician. The best modern example of this is Derren Brown.

I’m suggesting that what you find beautiful is something that others might just find beautiful too. And that if you really get honest with yourself and take the time to make it beautiful (for you) that you’ll be a lot more excited to share it.

John O’Donohue puts it so well in his book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. Beauty is a human need, it’s not a luxury. Beauty is not the domain of the obscenely wealthy. It’s something we need to reclaim in our lives. Beauty isn’t something that we earn enough money to one day acquire. It’s something that we weave into our lives every day in the simplest of ways. And then we realize that a life full of beauty is wealth.

We’re reminded that it’s not all about listing features and benefits. It’s not all about the facts.

“There is a relentless search for the factual and this quest often lacks warmth or reverence … The wisdom of the tradition reminds us that if we choose to journey on the path of truth, it then becomes a sacred duty to walk hand in hand with beauty.” John O’Donohue

When you take the time to not only create something beautiful but then wrap your work in genuine beauty, you’ll be so much more proud of it and excited to share it. I used to love my old website. Then I began to like it less and less. I just wasn’t proud of it anymore. People would ask me, ‘do you have a website?’ and I’d say, ‘yeah, but . . . let me just email you.’ Anything to avoid sending them to my site. I was embarrassed by it.

And then a dear friend of mine Jaime Almond helped me create this site. She designed the banner for me. She showed me how to use the site. It was incredible. Suddenly, I was so proud of my site. Suddenly, I wanted everyone to check out my Marketing for Hippies site. Now, nothing had changed in me. Nothing had changed in the services I offered. I’d not learned anything new in marketing. Nothing had changed – except the wrapping. And I was shocked to see what a difference it made in my own enthusiasm for my own business.

And, consider this, if wrapping things so beautifully has you more excited to share them, don’t you think it might have your clients a bit more excited to share what you’re offering, now that it really looks like a gift? It always was a gift, but now people recognize it as such.

I think perhaps we stop too soon in our creations. We make wonderful things and then forget to wrap them. Or we get too lazy.

Back in the day, when I was hanging out with anarchists and protesting the IMF and World Bank and wearing my jeans and shirts til they were threadbare and tattered, I had a real judgment of fashion, aesthetics and beauty. But, I’ve come to appreciate it. That the way we carry and groom ourselves is a gift to the world too. That our words and actions can be a part of what feeds the soul of the world with beauty.

That there is a beauty in self care.

There is a beauty in the gift and a joy in the wrapping.

A colleague of mine Katie Curtin, a wonderful life coach for the artsy and eclectic souls of the world, shared these words with me,

Putting love, and care and creativity into how we present ourselves, whether it’s in our personal appearance, or the materials we create makes an exquisite difference to how we feel about ourselves and our offerings. 

And it’s not about the expense, or being perfect, or being slick- it’s about truthful beauty, the art of expressing oneself through all the ways we interact with the world.

I am terribly imperfect at this, and like you for a long time had an attachment to old jeans and sloppy clothes as a sign of being a rebel. And how often have I not taken the time to wrap things as artfully as I could.  Thanks for this reminder of the importance of how we wrap things !

Sometimes people think the wrapping is unethical.

But tonight, do you know what I think it is?

I think it’s lovely.


case study: panty by post

Natalie Grunberg (pictured below) had an idea for a business.

Mail women pretty panties. Once a month.

This business is a brilliant example of some many things: niche marketing (panties are for women), having a point of view (it’s about confidence), having a simple, well crafted offer (a pretty panty. mailed monthly), doing something provocative that gets people talking (panties!).


What is the name of your project?!

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from? is an online business that sends a pretty panty every month in the mail to your loved one, or maybe to you (you deserve it)!

I thought of the idea on a trip to Paris some years ago and the plan was to spread the confidence of those enchanting and stylish French women. That’s exactly what we’ve done, one panty at a time (wink).

I saw a need, to spread French style all over the world. Even if your daily uniform is a Lululemon pant, you can wear a panty by post panty and feel better. Self confidence may just start with the panty you choose to wear. My company helps to make women’s panty drawers sexier, more colourful and playful.



Can you share a few examples of how your project works?

We always support local charities and we are collecting panties right now to donate to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside Women’s Center. Some of our customers have even donated a month of their subscription to the Center, which is very cool. We are currently supporting a local theater group in Victoria BC by outfitting their set with panties (it’s called NANA’S NAUGHTY KNICKERS).

To order a subscription you click on the shop button and select the line, Signature or Bridal and then proceed through to check out. It’s very easy! We ship worldwide now, so there…your whole Christmas list is done!

Who do you find it’s working best for?

Women made up our biggest supporters when we launched. Now the men are starting to hear the good news! Men like to gossip too, so our customers are a pretty even split of men and women.

What are the top three most effective ways you’ve found to market this?

Online marketing for an online business is the best approach. Magazine and newspaper advertising doesn’t work. PR is the most important fuel for customer acquisition but after you have enough customers and you prove you have an incredible service and product, they will talk. My customer to customer referrals and referral perks (one free panty for every customer you refer) are how I gain more traction.

What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

  1. Don’t risk more then you have.
  2. Trust your gut, listen to others and then make the choice that is right for you. Always do the honest and right thing. Never let money ruin relationships.
  3. Nurture relationships authentically. Be real.

What does that mean for you? “Nurture relationships authentically”

Many business people share that relationships are what matter. I added the nurture and the authentically component mostly as a response to some of my early experiences. Be real and be yourself. I really don’t like it when people are just trying to get something from me. I’m not a big fan of business mixers or networking. I find it to be a huge effort, it’s unnatural to be so self serving.

It’s icky.

By all means, get out there and make connections but for me I like to keep it small and keep it humble.

What’s been most effective for you in the online marketing arena?

CPC, cost per click advertising has been effective. We use Adroll to help remind customers who have visited our site, which is a good marketing tool. Bloggers from all over the world help spread the word about PBP and they do it very authentically because they get a panty by post to try.

What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?

We are going international BIG TIME! We have our first international office in Moscow and our next operation opens in Paris this November. How exciting! We will continue to create relationships in other languages and in other countries. This is the jet setting (and carbon offsetting) that I dream of doing!

At its heart – what is this project really about for you?

At the heart of PBP there are two old fashioned ideas: customer service is key and self confidence comes from within.

We have been told we go above and beyond the call of duty for customers, but we don’t see it that way. Doing a job well and promptly makes us feel good. As the owner of the company, I set the tone. I’m an absolute perfectionist because having a top notch consumer experience is rare these days. When PBP staff delivers incredible service, every day, we make customers happy and they return.

This seems so basic but I can’t tell you the last time I had a quality “old fashioned” consumer experience. It’s our edge in a competitive online shopping environment.

The other pillar of the company is about confidence. I was inspired by the women in France and they continue to remind me (lucky me I go to France each summer) that looking beautiful is about self respect. French women put effort into their appearance and so do the men for that matter.

It’s a different ethic and for me, I think it represents their commitment to finding beauty and style everywhere, spreading that style and also enjoying the pleasures of life. Everywhere you look in France people have put effort into beautifying their environment. The least I can do is run a company that makes getting a French style panty easier.

Now those of us non-Frenchies have no excuse.

What has the response been this this project?

Each year PBP builds and grows. I put very little money into advertising because our product and excellent service does the work of spreading the word of PBP. Men especially seem to appreciate the gift giving service. We basically are the answer to all their gift giving issues.

Why do you think your customers love you so much?

Our customers love us because of our high quality of service but really our product is very unique and totally fabulous The panties are very special, colourful and sexy. Once you start wearing our panties, it’s shocking that you once settled for plain Jockeys or Victoria Secret. Our panties are accessibly priced (about $16 per panty), durable but mostly they are adorable

You’ve got such a unique idea that I imagine a lot of PR came from that – but what are the three biggest tips you could give people to be ready for it, get it and take advantage of it?

  1. Get a communication coach. We had Maria LeRose coach us at the very beginning and throughout our launch. Having a profession coach like Maria will help you get clear on your company goals and will make your media interviews really stand out. She videotaped us and we reviewed the way we looked and the way we delivered our story. This kind of practice is key.
  2. Hire a professional PR person to work with you on your media pitches. We had a coach for 3 months to support us to improve our media writing and understand what the media is looking for.
  3. Start local and aim national. There is no such thing as a small enough media outlet.

If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?

Email us,

Anything else you’d like to add?

If you think panties don’t matter, try a panty by post and I beg to differ. We have something special here! Oh yah, right now I’m wearing a Raven Beauty hipster in noir. It has buttons all down the derriere and when I wear them I feel like a Paris runway model (note: I’m 5’2″, so clearly the panties give me super powers).


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marketing lessons from a sex workshop

Soooo . . . I went to a sex workshop recently.

My colleague Jessica O’Reilly (pictured here) was in town from Toronto (where I do a lot of work) leading a workshop. She’d come to my event when I was in Toronto and I’d never seen her work so she invited me on down.

The workshop was brilliant but it also lifted up a big time marketing lesson that I know a lot of people struggle with: do you sell them what they want or what you think they need?

You want to help people. People who are stuck. And you’ve probably got a really clear point of view about why they’re so stuck. So you want to get at the root of the problem. So you offer up a product or service that really strikes at the root.

And then no one buys it.

An interview with Jessica follows. We explore themes of the irresistible offer and an unexpected take on being generous in marketing.


what is a sexologist?

A sexologist studies the cognitive, affective and behavioural aspects of sexuality and many sexologists work in education, research and clinical practice.

when did you start running workshops?

I’ve been running sexological workshops for four years on a number of topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to sexual pleasure techniques.

when we spoke you mentioned that your workshops seemed to fill faster than other workshops on Tantra. they’re both about sex but yours seem to attract more attention. why is that?

That’s true.

I’ve coordinated technique-based workshops as well as Tantra workshops and the former are far more popular.

It seems that more people are interested in the immediate take-home approach with regard to improving their sex life as opposed to long-term or broader scope topics which require more work and follow-through.

That’s not to say that there isn’t interest in Tantra or longer-term learning, but in my experience, there are more people interested in “quick fix” approaches to improving their sex lives. And that’s okay, because sometimes just attending a short workshop can help people to broaden their horizons and generate a meaningful dialogue about sex, communication and intimacy.

what are the titles of your workshops, how did you come up with them and how important do you think titles are?

I have a huge list of workshops ( — fun ones are at the bottom of the page) and I came up with the titles on my own. Titles are extremely important and I think I could actually use some help to make them a bit catchier — but I definitely want to ensure that the title accurately reflects the content, so that people know what they’re signing up for.

you’ve got these workshops called “Blow His Mind” and “Blow Her Mind”. I love those as titles. They short. Snappy. Sassy. But they also speak to the result you’re offering. were those the first titles you came up with?

Yes. They’re the first titles I came up with — I think sometimes your first instinct is the one to go with.

and what’s your understanding of why people come to a sex workshop? what are they REALLY wanting from it? Obviously to become better and more skilled lovers – but why? what’s in it for them do you think? and is it different between men and women why they come?


People come to my workshops because they want to be better in bed — for themselves and for their partners. They also want to boost their self-esteem. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’ve learned a lot over the years and I remind clients that I can help them fill up their sexual tool box and then they can pick and choose according to their mood and their partners’ interests.

Both men and women want to learn specific techniques, but I do find there are more women interested in learning about their own bodies and their own sexual response. And overall, women seem to be more open to learning about sexual technique — at least in a group setting.

we spoke about how selling quick fix techniques vs. deeper solutions. what’s your take on this?

As a sexologist and as an entrepreneur, it’s my job to meet people where they are. What I believe as a professional is often less important than what a client believes — ultimately a client is the ultimate expert in his/herself.

So, even if I think that a workshop on communication skills would be of greatest benefit to a client’s sex life, if that person would rather learn some basic touching techniques, they’re likely going to benefit more from the latter since the buy-in is stronger. And when you give people what they want (as opposed to what you think will work), you’re building relationships and trust — in many cases, they’ll come back for more and be more receptive to your professional recommendations.

so you’re saying if you offer them what they WANT upfront (often based on the symptoms they’re experiencing and their sense of why they are experiencing them) then it’s easier to offer them what they need?

Tad here . . . Let me go smaller for a moment . . . this makes a lot of sense to me. if people think, ‘my sex life isn’t good because i’m lacking techniques’ – that’s a certain point of view. it’s their belief about why they’re struggling. and what i’m hearing here is that it’s better and easier (and maybe more loving) in the beginning to agree with this and give them that so you can build up the trust and credibility and even offer them a different world view that might be more accurate. but if you don’t get them in the door at all then there’s no chance to build trust at all. i wonder if too much marketing is trying to change people’s point of view (which is incredibly hard).

it has me think that a really important question in marketing is: ‘why do people you’re trying to reach THINK they have the problem they have?’ and then, ‘what’s an offering i could create that would align with that point of view?’.

it further strikes me that making an aligned offer isn’t the same as agreeing with them. it’s not saying, ‘your point of view is right’. it’s just saying, ‘okay. so you believe _______? wonderful. let’s start with that then.’

that feels really gracious but also way more effective. it’s speaking to where they’re at right now – but also what they BELIEVE about why they’re there.

any more thoughts on this Jessica?

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

You have to give people what they want first and address the issues/needs that they see as most pressing.

It’s not about what I think as an expert, but what they feel they need. I’m not in the business of changing people’s points of view. I do try to offer a broad perspective, so they can make empowered, informed decisions, but ultimately, if everyone shared the same point of view on sex, my job would quickly become obsolete.  When I think about any of the creative services I offer, I begin by posing the questions my clients might have. I ask myself, what are the three big questions people want answered with regard to a topic and then I build from there.


For more info on Jessica and her work you can go to:


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three marketing lessons from a three day juice fast

I just successfully completed a three day juice fast and it reminded me about a really important marketing thing.

The fast came about out of the blue. I hadn’t been planning on doing one at all but . . . a few days ago, I got an email from a colleague in Calgary.

She wanted to know if I wanted to do a new, three day juice fast she was involved in.

I’d been thinking about doing a cleanse anyway – so I said sure! Why not.

It turns out she’d helped found a company called Bava Juice that’s all about helping people do juice cleanses.

Here’s what I think they’re doing right – and what you can learn from it.

Bottom line: They made my success so easy.

LESSON #1 – Make it Easy: They sent me a box of 12 bottles of freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice.  One for the morning, one for the afternoon and one for the evening (with a couple of delicious extras for other things).

It felt like I was getting a big Christmas present.

I promptly put all the bottles in my fridge and began the juice fast. I can’t even begin to tell you how much easier it was for me to just pull out a bottle and drink than to go to the grocery store, get my juice supplies, juice a litre of them and then clean the juicer. So easy to avoid doing.

They made it HARD to avoid doing the thing I wanted to do.

Can you do that in your business? How can you set up your offer so that, by engaging with you, it’s really hard to avoid succeeding?

I was tempted to quit so many times. To cheat. But having those bottles there made it not only easy but . . . I would have felt super lame to bail on it so early. Having the bottles felt like a physical sign of my commitment – but also a fun way to keep score and actually see the progress of the empty and cleaned bottles sitting on my counter.

Can you help your clients measure and keep score of their progress in fun ways?

LESSON #2 – Make it an Event: So many programs and offers fall down because they ask way too much of people. They ask people to totally change their lifestyle. Is that what people need? Sure. But if you want the credibility to help them take those steps – you’ve got to win their trust early with immediate results. Give them a win. Help them feel successful and build up their confidence. When you look at the ultimate place you want to take people – what’s a smaller version of that you could offer people.

Examples of this are the 30 Day Yoga Challenge that so many studios run. They’re brilliant. Because a lot of people think, ‘okay. i can do thirty days.’ or a four day meditation retreat. Pick a length of time, or number of sessions that feels like a challenge but also doable.

Make the thing an ‘event’. Make it a ‘happening’. If they’d just shipped me a bunch of bottles to drink it wouldn’t have been as exciting as knowing that they were hosting a ‘cleanse’ on certain dates and did I want to get in on that particular cleanse? And then having my pal Jackie message me on facebook saying, ‘i hear you’re a part of this cleanse? want to be my accountability buddy?’. The fact that we all shared a start and stop date felt exciting.

It also encourages word of mouth – there’s a natural urgency to it. ‘Do you want to do this juice fast with me??’ says the spontaneous text to a friend.

LESSON #3 – Encourage Them on the Way: Every day there was an email from them laying out what that particular day of the fast was about and encouraging people. What can you do to build in systems that help people stay motivated and on track? Could you have emails like this? Send personalized texts? Group calls? In person classes? Create a buddy system? Get creative. People are so much more likely to ‘stick to it’ if they’re not doing it alone.

So many companies focus on GIVING value.

Don’t do that. Focus on how to help your client GET value. How can you set things up in your offer so that their success is actually inevitable if they do their part (and make their part simple).

Make it easy for them to get a small win and they’ll thank you. And send you their friends.

For more info on them: check out their site –


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A Spa for Mothers with Small Children

I just heard about a spa in Toronto called Sunny Mummy at my “Marketing 101 for Green and Local Businesses” in Toronto last night.

It’s a spa. But with a twist.

Take a look at the room pictured on the right. It’s not a room you’d associate with a spa.

But most spa’s don’t cater to mom’s with young children.

And Sunny Mummy does – for mom’s – with childcare built into the costs.

This is the brilliance of well thought out niche marketing in action. As you can imagine – they’re getting a lot of word of mouth marketing from this. Why? Because they’re created something remarkable.

There are lots of spas. And most of them are for women. But Sunny Mummy decided to niche even deeper. Not just women, but mom’s. Some might look at that as a risk, “We’ll lose clients.” Other people, see it as a huge opportunity to attract clients.

By niching more tightly – you actually get an incredible freedom and creativity. I see it again and again.

Imagine the loyalty this place gets from their clients.

Check out this video:

And here are some words from their website . . .

Nilla Petta, Owner

I have been in the spa industry for 15 years.  I did not start in the spa world it was a business degree I achieved first.  After backpacking through Europe for months my plan changed and my intuition guided me elsewhere to the world of healing.

I went back to school for esthetics, massage and holistic treatments.  I managed a wellness centre for two years where I worked with great healers and learned a lot about healing modalities and business.  I decided I needed more education and worked for Aveda and Civello.  I learned so much about customer care, Aveda products, services, and how to run a spa.  I also worked in film.  I am well rounded and have had a lot of experience working in both the business and services.

I have always wanted to open up a business however the timing or ideas were never right.  When I was pregnant I was guided, I know now, by my beautiful daughter and the idea of a mommy and baby spa was born.  After I had her and went on maternity leave I was compelled to open this business.   There was nothing like a mommy and baby and it serviced the needs of mom with babies in the city. I researched for a few years and at the right time found the right partner Tara, that helped to make this dream come to fruition.

Sunny Mummy is named after my daughter, her name is Soleil. As I know “it takes a village to raise a child it also takes a village” to be successful and I am so grateful for my parents with there love and support I was able to make my dream come to fruition.  It is my intention to make Sunny Mummy an oasis where woman can feel comfortable, safe and at peace.  I look forward to meeting all of you and I know we will all help each other on this journey through life.


And a bit about their services.


Child Care

On site childcare is available and is included in the cost of all services. Please mention your need for supervised childcare when booking your service.

Children are always welcome to play in the children’s room, unsupervised while mom is shopping.

NEW! Drop Off Childcare Service

Sunny Mummy is happy to announce our new childcare drop off service. We now provide on site drop off childcare for a maximum of 2hrs for $15/hr.


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