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

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

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

The approach Kundan outlines is true in my experience.

I hope you enjoy.


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

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

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

“Only the women,” he said.

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

This is the lifestyle I live and teach.

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

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

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

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

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

How so?

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

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

Clients and prospects reach out to me first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. It does.

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

How do you do that? And why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You be fully your true self.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your take on niching?

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

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

Yes, that’s right.

What are the three biggest factors that contribute to this?

The three biggest factors that contribute to this are:

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why I reached out.

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

And it’s not always about attracting a client.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Be a Flower, Not a Butterfly Net


46755661 - monarch and a bee on a sunflower

I hosted a men’s circle earlier this year and a young man said something brilliant: be a flower, not a butterfly net.

It reminds me of something I heard colleagues say for years: be a lighthouse, not a searchlight.

Butterflies run away from nets. People run away from searchlights.

Of course, it’s dangerous to get into dogma about any of this but it’s worth noticing how much energy we often put into a strategy that is fundamentally about chasing potential clients (who might never be a fit in the first place).

I recall a successful life coach being asked, “What’s your niche?”

And he replied, “People who like me?”

On one level, it’s a shit answer. On another level, that’s absolutely where it’s at.

At the end of the day, you only want to work with people who are a good fit for you. They’ve got to like you.

And, if your strategy is to run around chasing everything that moves with your butterfly net, or swinging your searchlight around and capturing everyone you see, you might just find that most of them have no interest in what you’re offering at all.

It’s so much effort for so little reward.

What if you were to out your effort into being a more beautiful flower or a more known and trusted lighthouse instead?

What if you were to work on honing your niche and point of view so that they were clear and well-known?

What if you were to really focus on bringing your own vibe, quirk, personality and aesthetic into your business (instead of going for the generic look)?

You might find that this is what really wins the long-game and that you win, with less effort, in such a way that no one else has to lose.

Don’t be a butterfly net, be a flower.

Other Blog Posts You Might Enjoy On This Theme:

Get Rejected Faster


The Real Reason To Do Intro Workshops

Products On This Theme:

The Niching Nest

Point of View Marketing

Marketing for Hippies 101

brene brown: the power of vulnerability

If you haven’t seen this video, I highly encourage you to watch it. Being willing to be vulnerable might just be the most important thing you could ever do for your business. It will help people feel safe with you and also attract your ideal clients to you more strongly. Your willingness to be incredible honest about your platform will do more to grow your business than anything I know.

How to Identify Your Own Message

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Sounds nice, but how do you identify what your message even is.

The first thing is to understand what a message is, know why it’s important and what kinds of messages there are.

Then you need to do some inner reflection. The questions below are meant to help you with that.

This is all a new idea for me, this idea of marketing your message, but here are my initial thoughts on how you identify your message.

I strongly recommend that you do this both on your own but also with a friend who’s willing to interview you on each of these questions. I’d recommend they ask you each question at least five times to go deeper and deeper into what’s true for you. 

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: 

Fill in the blanks: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

What matters most when working to achieve the result your clients are craving?

If you could just say three words to the people you most want to help and they’d instantly ‘get it’ – what would those three words be?

2. Messages of Possibility:

What do you see as possible that others don’t? What do your people see as impossible that isn’t?

__________ can be ____________ (e.g. niching can be easy, marketing can be warm and honest)

__________ doesn’t need to be ____________ (it doesn’t need to be this way, relationships don’t need to painful)

3. Messages of Reality:

What’s the tough love, ‘real talk’, wake up call that your people need to hear to snap them out of it?

Where are you people’s expectations wildly out of whack with reality? What are the expectations they should just let go of entirely.

What are your people missing that prevents them from succeeding?

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

What do you think is required of your people, or the world, to really create what we want?

What’s the work that hasn’t been done that needs to be done?

5. New Idea Messages:

What’s the new, contrarian, out of the box idea you have that might blow people’s minds if they heard it?

6. Reframing Messages:

What’s something that your people are most ashamed of that you actually see as a potential strength or resource for them?

7. Other questions to ask yourself to identify your message:

If you could go back in time, what’s the message you want to give the earlier version of yourself – what’s the message that would have made the biggest difference for you to hear?

What do you know about being human that, once you really understood it, made it easier?

What are you daring your clients to try?

Having lived through your story, and knowing the issues you most want to help these people with – what is the one message you MOST want the world to hear?

What are your favourite proverbs, maxims and aphorisms and quotes? Which ones do you keep coming back to that most deeply resonate with you? Might these hold a key to your message?

What’s the truth about the nature of the problems they currently face?

What’s the truth about what it will take to get what they want?

Nine Reasons Why Having a Message Matters

your-message-hereIn my last post, I spoke about what it means to have a message in your business.

The core idea of that post?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

In this post, I want to lay out eight reasons I think it’s increasingly vital.

REASON #1: Speaking about your message is more comfortable and inspiring for everyone than being pitched to.

If I were to put you up on a stage to speak to thousands of your ideal clients and my instructions to you were, ‘Go and sell them on why to hire you.’ my guess is that you’d feel very awkward about that. Most people would. Trying to get other people to do something and ‘sell’ people is not a natural act. And it feels even more unnatural when what you’re trying to sell them is you.

When I see people trying to ‘be confident’ and ‘believe in their value’ on stage on in a group – it usually comes across as them seeming arrogant and puffed up.

I recall one party I hosted where I got us all in a circle and invited people to share who they were and what they were up to for 30 seconds. We went around the circle and people were so charming, lovely and humble. Until it got to one lady who stepped forward and, in a very heavy, sombre tone spoke about how she was a spiritual master teacher. And it seemed so incredibly pretentious. Especially in contrast to the humility of everyone else’s sharing.

But this is what happens when we believe that we need to promote ourselves.

A radical notion: what if you stopped focusing so much on ‘believing in your worth’ and started enjoying sharing a message you found worthy?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

But what if, instead of telling you go up and sell them on you, I told you to go up and share with them the message you are most passionate to share with them? 

Don’t you notice an instant shift in how that feels? A relief. An exhale. And likely even excitement. 

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

And put yourself in the audiences shoes. Which would you prefer? 

Option A: To sit through an hour of painful transparent attempts to sell you without appearing to sell you (which now feel even more gross because they’re trying to hide it). 

Option B: To sit through an hour of someone sharing a powerful message that you need to hear at this point in your life – a message that both affirms and uplifts. 

I can’t think of anyone that would want to be in Option A – on stage or in the audience.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #2: Your message is relevant to people.

People might not see how your product or service is relevant to them immediately – but it’s hard to miss the relevance of a message.

When people are struggling with something in their life, or craving something badly, they are very open to hearing a message that can affirm, clarify and encourage them.

REASONS #3: People are more likely to share (and discuss) a message than a product or a service.

Imagine you sit through that hour long presentation where the person is selling, selling, selling. And then you go for lunch with some friends. What do you talk about? Do you talk about all the features and benefits of their wares? 


There’s a better chance that you talk about how gross it felt, or you pick apart their presentation for what you liked and what you didn’t like in it. 

But what if you sat through someone talking about a message they were passionate about and that was meaningful to you?

My guess is that you’d keep talking about that same message and how you see that it relates to your life. And that you might keep talking about it over the coming days. “You know, I went to this talk and the speaker had this really powerful notion that I’d never really considered . . .”

And that, months later, when a conversation wound itself around to the same topic you might bring up that same speaker you saw. And people might just say, “What was the name of that speaker? I’d love to check out their work.” and write it down to check out later.

Word of mouth is the dominant engine of marketing. It’s how most of us hear about things and decide which things to buy – recommendations from friends.

So, it makes sense that we’d want to make as much of our marketing word of mouth friendly as possible. And few things are as sharable as a simple, easy to understand message.

REASON #4: It builds trust.

Few things are as unattractive as someone who is constantly, shamelessly promoting themselves. No one trusts the used car salesman.

Few things are more attractive than those working selflessly to change the world – people who are about something bigger than their own success.

People with hustle and shameless self promotion might gains status – but people who live to promote a message gain stature.

REASON #5: It gives you more attractive things to share.

If your agenda is to promote yourself then all of your social media posts and emails to your list will be that. They’ll be some iteration of ‘hire me! buy from me!’. And people will, more quickly than you’d think, tune that out. And, there’s a good chance you’ll only share your original work because you only want people to buy your stuff.

But, if what you’re really passionate about is a message then you’ll have so much more to share. You’ll share anything that could help boost that message in the world. You’ll share TED Talks on the theme, cartoons and images you find, articles & interviews you come across. Anything. You go from seeing yourself as just a content creator to also a curator. 

Suddenly, you’ve become a hub for other people who are passionate about that message.

People share what you put out which leads more people back to you.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #6: Your message is a good ‘client filter’.

If people don’t agree with your core message, if it doesn’t light them up then there’s no point in talking further. If you share your core message that lights you up and they sit their blank eyed . . . there’s a good chance that they’re not your ideal client. There’s a good chance that they will be trouble down the road.

On the other hand, some people’s eyes will widen and they’ll burst out in smiles when you share your message. They’ll say, ‘Yes! I’ve always thought that! That’s been my experience too! Thank you for saying that!’

Having a clear message attracts clients who are a fit

REASON #7: A message will get you invited to speak.

No one wants to invite you to pitch yourself.

But many people might want to hear you share your unique message with the world. 

REASON #8: A message is something you can become known for.

Perhaps the most important reason of all. 

A message is something you can develop a reputation around. Being known for an inspiring idea that uplifts people is powerful. 

Imagine you meet someone at a party who’s struggling in a particular way who you can tell really needs to hear a particular message. As you’re talking you can see how discouraged they are and then you remember seeing a TED Talk all about that message. You whip out a piece of paper and write down the name of the person so they can check that TED Talk out. The person thanks you, goes home, watches it and feels some hope for the first time in years. And then buys the persons book and maybe joins their email list or goes to a workshop of theirs.

REASON #9: A clear message makes you more flexible.

My colleague and friend Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life had this to say about the importance of developing a clear message.

“I see it so often – people starting businesses but having no idea what their purpose is, other than that they want to work for themselves and travel the world. Which clearly is not a good enough reason to start a business. Being connected to your message is so key for building a business that’s a right fit for you.

I also see a lot of people who started with great intentions, but have totally lost touch with why they’re doing it in the first place. So business starts to feel hard and unmotivating. So I’d add that not only is it a good way to connect with your audience, but it’s the only way for you to build a business that will feel sustainable in the long run for you. Something you won’t get bored of next month. Your message gives you something to connect back to when things are feeling hard or stuck or not quite right.

Being super clear on your message also gives you the flexibility to change what you do in your business fairly seamlessly. I think of it as being like a flower, where the center of the flower is your purpose/message/WHY, and each petal is a different way that you would bring that message to the world. So the petals might be different services you offer (coaching, workshops, retreats etc), OR they might be different business ideas.

If your message is about empowering women to step into their power, you might do that through adventure retreats.. or thought dance classes.. or through coaching.. or through copywriting… when your message is clear and consistent, it gives you the ability to offer different things in your business, and the power to change your business up as you go without totally confusing people. Building your business around your message is so important!”


Here’s another message to consider: Clarity before resolution. 

Before trying to crack out some half baked message, really sit with it to get clear.

You will likely, through this process, discover that you have many messages. 

What I want to invite you to dig for is your core message. 

It’s the one thing you wish everyone got. It’s the idea that would make the biggest difference in your industry, the lives of your clients and the world.

If you get this, you’ll be amazed at how much easier and more exciting everything in your business gets.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Don’t Market Yourself, Market Your Message

bg-homeDon’t market yourself, market your message. 

This is the theme I want to explore in what promises to an epic post. I’ve been wanting to write this post for at least half a year and have been slowly collecting ideas and inspirations for it. At this point, I need to put out what I’ve got and I would love to get your honest reflections on it.

Here’s the starting point: if you have a business, you are going to be known for something. It’s inevitable. The question is this: will you be known for the right things? Will your reputation bring you the kinds of clients you want?

This is something I’ve explored extensively in my blog posts about identifying your platform and articulating it in a page.

Up until now, I’ve seen that there are six things you can be known for – but over the past few months, I’ve felt drawn to add a seventh – your message. I’ve realized that your message to the world can actually be one of the most powerful things you can be known for.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

That was a phrase I heard from my colleague Morgana Rae (who’s message is: ‘make money by putting love first’) that got me thinking about it. Something in it made sense to me. 

And then I was looking at my colleague Mark Silver’s website where it stated his core message so clearly: ‘every act of business can be an act of love.’ So clear. So evocative. So meaningful.

For the past year, I’ve been beginning to talk about the message of ‘slow marketing movement’ (in the same vein as the slow food movement) and noticing the resonance that has with people far beyond talking about marketing tactics and tools. 

I’ve noticed that when I share the message that ‘marketing is a vital part of doing good in the world’ it resonates with people. When people understand that marketing can actually feel wonderful, warm and be a force for building community and expression of our values that people light up. 

I’ve noticed that the businesses I’m most drawn to tend to have some sort of a message they’re promoting. 

So, I want to explore this theme here and welcome your feedback on it.

I am writing this not being totally clear on what my own core message is but knowing it’s an important conversation to have.


What it is?

So, what is a message?

This is, honestly, the part that still feels a bit fuzzy to me and where I could use your help. 

Here are my thoughts so far . . .

Your message is like the words on a coat of arms, a motto, a slogan or tagline. It takes your whole platform and distills it down to the essence. It’s the thing you can’t help but talk about and steer every conversation towards. 

It’s an idea that you are so passionate about and find yourself reading about, listening to TED Talks about it but . . . you feel like there’s still something missing that you want to see brought out into the world.

It’s the drum you beat. It’s your core thesis you want to prove. It’s an idea you know that, if it were embraced on a mass level, would change the world. If this message were really ‘gotten’ there’d be so much less suffering. It’s the way things oughta be.

It’s often the words you wish you’d really understood when you were younger and struggling. It’s the words you really want a particular group of people to hear.

Your message is likely the answer to this question: ‘What would your TED Talk be about?’ Every TED Talk is about an idea. Some might feature projects – but they all have a crystal clear message in them. Something simple, direct, easy to understand and uplifting.

A message is not a promise of a result. It’s not empathy for their struggles. It’s not a full blown point of view. And it’s not just a statement of values. There’s a point to it.  

Standing up at the front of a room and pitching people is just saying, ‘buy from me!’ But sharing a message is saying, ‘Whether or not you buy from me, I want you to know _______ because it will make your life and the world a better place’. And that’s attractive. It’s coming from a place of giving, not trying to get anything.

Don’t market yourself, market your message. 


Seven Criteria of a Good Message:

Again, this idea is new enough that I’m not even sure what the criteria is but here’s what makes sense to me right now.

  1. A New Idea: A compelling message usually isn’t a trite platitude (though it could be). Ideally it’s a new idea or an old idea said in a provocative new way. It’s an idea that’s been missing from a larger conversation. It’s something that no one else is saying it or saying in quite the same way you are.
  2. Short: It can be summed up briefly. Like ten words max. It’s a simple idea.
  3. Provocative: It’s a statement that makes sense but provokes further questions and deeper inquiry. 
  4. Repeatable: It’s something you could say it repeatedly throughout a keynote talk and it would make sense. It’s like the chorus to a song. Think, ‘I have a dream’. It’s the kind of idea you could base a keynote talk around entirely. Don’t market yourself. Market your message.
  5. Simple: Not a crazy, complicated idea. A simple idea with profound implications.
  6. Well Crafted: Crafting matters here. The exact right words. Bust out your thesaurus. Toss it by people. See which version seems to land the best with others and which feel best to you. 
  7. You: your message should somehow reflect or be an authentic expression of you. It fits you perfectly. It isn’t just said to sound good or used as a marketing tactic. It means something to you personally. It excites you. You love the idea of being known for this message and spending years (if not a lifetime) exploring it.


What a message will do and won’t do:

A message won’t sell your product on its own.

No one will read a nice slogan or tagline and say, ‘yep. I want to spend $1000 with that company. What a great message.’

But a message does give your business a center of gravity.

A message becomes a core idea that you can keep spiraling around and weaving everything back to so that, over time, they come to appreciate the depth and complexity behind the idea more and more. 

A message is something you can become known for. 

A message is something that will help attract the right people (who are also passionate about that message).

A message will help you find hubs (who also work to promote that message).

But a message alone won’t sell anything. You can’t just print it on your business cards and your website.

For a message to be alive you need to find constantly new ways to express and explore it.

Expression without a message is just noise.

A message without expression is just an idea.

But not just expressed by talking about it – expressed in the design of your website, in the names you give to products and services, in how you dress, your logo, your pricing. Ideally, though likely impossibly, everything you do should be expressing your message.

I’d welcome any thoughts , wisdom and reflections you have on this at this point in the comment box below. 

if you’re stuck with who, go back to what – seven thoughts on niching from the inside out

Niching can be hard.

And sometimes people can just feel so stuck in the process.

So here’s my thought of the day: If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

I just had a kick ass conversation with my friend and colleague Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (the beauty pictured here). Besides introducing me to The Middle Finger Project (swoon!) we also had a really in depth conversation about this whole notion of niching by being more authentic so that your ideal clients can really feel if working with you is a fit, if they resonate with you.

Rebecca is all about drinking in and taking advantage of everything life has to offer. In a word? Adventure.

Her website is sassy, bad ass, contains strong language (my favourite: amazeballs) and is incredibly real.

Her lifestyle? She drives around the country in a van with her boyfriend rock climbing and running her business from her lap top. Every day she helps people be more real about what they really, really, really want from their life.

So, we chatted about her thoughts and experiences on the connection of ‘being real’ and ‘niching’. Here are some main thoughts that came out.

But here’s the METATHOUGHT: with niching you can start with WHO you want to reach or you can start with who YOU are what YOU want to offer and then notice who responds to it. You can craft something with remarkable honesty and care and then put it out into the world and see who responds and ask yourself, ‘who might love this thing?’ and ask around. The more genuine you’re willing to be in the creation of your offer the more likely you are to get honest responses.

If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

Consider niching from the Inside Out. Consider starting with the ‘art’ of it – with creating something amazing and then asking yourself who might particularly love that. It’s like you’re making a painting and then stepping back and asking, ‘now who could I wrap this up for and give to as a gift?’ Rather than thinking, ‘Ah! It’s Mary’s birthday. What can I make her?’ Both approaches work. Both are wonderful. Both result in people tearing up with mouths open wide as they unwrap the most thoughtful gift they’ve ever received.

But again – if you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.

THOUGHT #1: Let Go of Competition. Yes you can try to win by being first, or by being better than others. But that’s hard. And they’re not the only way. You can also focus on being different. And, even more profoundly, on being resonant. The marketplace does not need to resemble a blood red ocean littered with the corpses of those who tried and failed in the market place. The ocean is huge and blue. Go find your own space in it. How? By being yourself with more realness and courage than you have before. The more you bring YOU into your business, the more unique and resonant it will be. A niche isn’t just your target market – it’s your place in the world. The word ‘niche’ comes from the old french verb ‘nicher’ – to make a nest.

THOUGHT #2: Focus on Lifestyle. A strange angle for finding your niche? Perhaps. Here’s the logic. Most people make the mistake of trying to make enough money to one day have the kind of lifestyle they want. What if, instead, you started with the lifestyle you want and backed your business into that?

How does this relate to niching?

Well, let’s say that you are a night owl and are most productive from 11pm – 2am. What if you offered coaching sessions then? “WHAAAAAT?? No one would want a coaching session at 1am!” Says who? Have you tried? Most mom’s I know have their secret open time late at night. Some people work swing shifts. Imagine that! You might not need to conform to the 9-5 time scheme.

Your choice of lifestyle might just determine who’s a fit for you. Rebecca lives in a van. Holy shit. There are people who will hear that and think, ‘Wow. She is the life coach for me.’ The lifestyle you choose will shape what you offer, when you offer it and how. And that will shape who responds to you.

THOUGHT #3: What’s Missing? Rebecca shared the story of a yoga teacher friend of hers who got sick on the typical yoga classes of softly spoken words, chants and incense. She was craving something more real. So it was scary but she wanted to find her yoga rather than doing the yoga everyone else was doing. 

Rebecca spent hours looking at other life coaches websites and feeling like they were all so bland and boring and not what she was about. She felt that there was something missing – and that helped shape her sense of what she wanted to offer. Look into the world, look at the others who are offering what you are and ask yourself, ‘what’s missing here?’ and then notice what is drawn out of you as a result. Notice how you crave to fill that gap. And trust it. If you’re craving it, the chances are that other people are too. If everyone is doing the same thing – don’t be afraid to do the exact opposite.

THOUGHT #4: Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. Make a list of everything you love about doing what you do. Everything that brings you alive. All the things that have you lose track of time.

Really sit with it.

What are the tasks, the moments, the pieces of what you do that you love so much. Then ask yourself, ‘why?’ for each of them. This will take you right to the very heart of your bigger ‘why’ – the bigger cause your business is about.

But next, make a list of everything you hate about your business that you think you should do or need to do to be a success. Maybe it’s certain kinds of paper work. Maybe it’s the finances. Maybe it’s leading workshops or going to networking events. 

And then?

Figure out how you can get more of what you really want and figure out how you can get rid of the pieces you don’t like. Can you just let them go? Get someone else to do them? Or just decide that, instead of making them ‘shoulds’ you could realize that these are things you actually WANT to do. Bottomline: want your business to be more attractive to other people?

Start by making it more attractive to you.

THOUGHT #5: Trust That the World That Birthed You Wants You. So many people have a deep fear that if they were to truly be themselves then they’d be ‘too much’ for people. And that’s bullshit. People might tell you that you’re too much, but that’s 100% their stuff.

While it might be true that they want something different that’s not the same as you being too much. But our culture is a judgmental one. So, instead of saying, ‘You know . . . I think I’ve got a higher need for order in my environment than you.’ we say, ‘You’re a slob.’ Instead of saying, ‘I think I’m needing more space for myself right now.’ we say, ‘God. You’re so needy.’

But, I want to invite the possibility that there are a group of people in the world who, when they meet you will say, ‘Wow. Where have you been my whole life?’

And the more healing you engage in, the more honest you’re willing to be about past struggles . . . the more you let people see you – the more people will see the real you and you dramatically increase your chances of being discovered by the people who are already looking for someone just like you. But if you disguise yourself as a typical whatever (e.g. life coach, carpenter, mechanic, massage therapist, grocery store owner, restauranteur etc.) then the people who are looking for you might just walk right past you.



“You didn’t come into this world.

You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean.

You are not a stranger here.”

– Alan Watts




THOUGHT #6: Notice Who Inspires You.  Research what others in your field are doing around the world. Notice who inspires you and why. And ask yourself how you can bring more of that into your work.

THOUGHT #7: Notice What You Do That Impresses People. What is it you do that seems to impress people? You might be able to teach that. We’re often really good at certain things that seem like second nature to us and they don’t occur to us as particularly remarkable. I lead workshops on a Pay What You Can basis. From my eyes that was just me hustling and trying something new.

But it blows some people’s minds.

I travel the world teaching marketing to hippies – from my eyes – that’s just me hustling and doing gigs. For others it’s an incredible lifestyle. Where do people get jealous around you? Notice that. It might be a doorway into something you’re really good at that you didn’t realize. Rebecca lives in a van and rock climbs all day with her boyfriend. That blows some people’s minds that that’s even an option.

Once you’ve identified that – consider this: what it you taught others how to do that? Instant Niche Project.

If you’re totally stumped on the WHO go back to the WHAT.


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

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.


car magnet marketing

Something simple for you.

Sitting here in my workshop in Kelowna and a good fellow named Steve Emrich shared something he’s done that was cheap and easy to do that has gotten him some calls and clients – magnets on his car.

Here’s what Steve has to say about his car magnets:

“I love my Magnets. They constantly continue to advertise for me. I have random people phone me and say, “Yeah I saw your Magnets while we were at that stop light. Or when I park or return to my vehicle people are waiting for me to talk to me about my sign. Its a great investment.”

Here’s a photo of him and the magnet.


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Finding Freedom in Business

One of my biggest critiques of the personal growth and new age movements (and capitalism in general) is the addiction to unending growth. Stated another way: the belief that freedom comes from a lack of limits. Stated another way still – the addiction to control. I wrote about this extensively in a blog post a while back.

In this piece Mark Silver, (pictured here) brilliant as always, shares some insights about the spiritual side of ‘freedom in business’. I love this.

I send so many of my clients to Mark and they are always thrilled with what comes out of it for them.  Every time I speak with him, I come away with some new area of business and marketing illumined. I encourage you to check out his website

“As you may know, I spent last week in a residential study retreat that is part of a Masters of Divinity program in Spiritual Ministry and Sufi Studies. I spent a week with my spiritual teachers and the other students in a remote rural area in northern California, immersed in learning about love.

One of the teachings they gave us was about the source of freedom, what might be called the “true” freedom. Not a freedom of unrestricted choices, but accessing a more profound freedom in the heart, and the three steps preceding that freedom.

I made a short video during one of the breaks to explain the teaching as I received it.”


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