Kelly on Wounds


I’d been hearing about Kelly Tobey for years.

He’s a leading figure in the Calgary personal growth scene. And then recently, while preparing for my Niching for Hippies course I saw that he was leading a workshop called ‘Shifting From Wounds to Assets”. And it reminded me of the blog post I’d written about wounds as niche. People struggle for years with their niche and often discover that their best niche is a younger version of them.

What followed was an extended interview happening over the space of months via facebook messages. I hope you enjoy it.


Tad: You’re leading a workshop called, “shifting from wounds to assets” what’s it all about?

Kelly: In my journey of working with people for over 20 years one thing has shown itself over and over. From reading some of your writings Tad it seems that you have come across similar patterns. 

The workshop gives people a chance to look at their past wounds with the purpose of getting conscious about what assets have developed from their experiences. Then looking at how they are actually using those assets now and how they can utilize them more in the future if they choose to. 

I have found that many people just view the points of trauma or difficulties in their lives as things they have to get past and do their best to forget about. Instead this approach is one of uncovering any value that was gained and using it, rather than burying the experience entirely.  

In the process of recovering from the places where we have been traumatized or wounded we develop inner strengths and gain wisdom. On a personal level these strengths become assets in our ability to take on life’s challenges that we are faced with. Not only do we now know that we can recover from hurts but we also have tools that can be used to help us move forward with more ease. 

On a relational level we can now offer support, feedback and encouragement to others that are going through similar challenges. Our opportunity to be in service in such a way feeds the soul. It gives a purposefulness to the hard times we have gone through. In studies done on how to create more happiness in our lives, one of the keys to happiness is to be in meaningful service to others. As well it builds a sense of self-value and esteem.  

Tad: What’s the story of this workshop? And what’s your personal connection to this material?

Kelly: I will give you an example from my own life that might bring grounding and clarity to the concepts I am referring to. 

In my family system I had a mother that was overly critical. How that wounded me was that I had very low esteem as I felt no matter how well I did it was never good enough. This led to two major dysfunctional behaviours in me. The first was to go into “people pleasing” always looking for ways to make other people happy in hopes that they would then like me and the criticism would stop. 

The major draw back with that approach to life was that it took me further and further away from my core self. I was not focused on what actions (or non-actions) were true for me at my essence. Instead I was focused on looking for what others wanted. As a result much of the time I was betraying what was true to me. So even when I was getting approval from others for doing what they wanted, my esteem was still being damaged because I was betraying myself. 

This inappropriate sacrifice for others was building an internal anger. Which I tried to bury because nice guy people pleasers were not allowed anger. Eventually this led to the second major dysfunctional behaviour. Tired of sacrificing myself and tired of still getting mother’s criticism no matter how hard I tried to be perfect for her, I flipped over into rebellion.

I attempted to bury my underlying desire to be loved by my mother by pretending that I did not care if she loved me and approved of me or not. And in an attempt to prove it I went into fierce rebellion. Doing anything that I knew would horrify my mother and threaten her good standing with her religious friends.

Again, like with my people pleasing behaviour, there was no discernment about what actions (or non-actions) would be congruent with my essence. My rebellion took me further and further into self-destruction eventually landing me in solitary confinement in prison. 

Eventually, dissatisfied with the results from both of the dysfunctional behaviours I went on a journey of seeking a different path. Gradually I learned new ways of being that were based in being true to the essence of who I am and living a purposeful life that reflects that to the best of my ability. To explain all the steps in that would take a book or two so I will just jump to the results. 

Healing from my own wounds and the resulting dysfunctions called on lots of inner strength and fortitude. I gained a lot of wisdom along the way. I learned tools that I have been able to apply in facing other personal challenges. 

I ended up working in Group Homes with “delinquent” youngsters that had been in trouble with the law or that their parents did not know how to handle. I now had assets to share with these youngsters because of coming out the other side from similar wounds. And I had a depth of compassion and understanding that “book learned” social workers in the Group Home system could only touch on. Plus I was a living example for them, that it is possible to change out of the rebellious behaviours and have a more satisfying life. So I had great results with the youngsters I was working with.

That is an example from one of the many traumas I experienced. 

Although each trauma was different, the layout of working through them was the same, examine how I was wounded, do the recovery work, look at the gifts that evolved, and then utilize those gifts in my life.

So that is my personal connection to this material and why I like to empower others with exploring their own process through these steps. 

Tad:  What is the connection you see between wounds and assets?

Kelly: I think in some ways I have already answered that question. To recap > if we do the work to heal from our wounds it calls up our inner gifts and strengths. Along the journey we pick up wisdom. So the wounds have the potential to lead us into developing assets. 

On the other hand if we just attempt to bury or ignore our wounds, not only do we not develop the potential assets but we are dooming ourselves to living out dysfunctional coping strategies that are driven by the subconscious mind because of the unwillingness to bring it all to conscious awareness for healing. 

For example if I did not have the courage to face the buried pain of being raised with criticism and receiving corporal punishment if I made a mistake, then I would still be running self-destructive people pleasing and/or rebellious behaviours.  

Tad:  Do you see a connection between our wounds and our work in the world?

Kelly: Certainly the assets we gain by working through our wounds can give us great tools to apply in our working lives. 

Here is an example that came out of a recent workshop. I wont use names as I want to respect privacy. 

When he went back to examine some of the old wounding, one of the men in the workshop remembered that he was not allowed to draw and create art because of his parents’ religious beliefs and their belief that art had no value. This set him up to suppress one of his great inner gifts. Eventually an uncle “smuggled” drawing materials to him and encouraged him to draw. So he began to draw again in secrecy late at night with a flashlight under his blankets. 

Through time he did enough work on breaking free of the wounding that as an adult he has been able to use the gained assets to make a living as an artist. Yet it is not in the field of art that he has the highest passion for. 

He was still carrying some of the old wounding when it came to expressing his talents in the field fine arts. Although highly talented in this area, for sometime he has been concerned that if he were to do his fine arts full time that he would then be depending on it for money. He was then concerned that it would cut into the spiritual flow and connection he has with the fine arts.

In the workshop he saw that as a result of the wounding, as a child he had learned that his full passion for art and the spiritual connection to it had to be kept secret (under the blankets). So far he had recovered enough to go into a branch of art that he could make a living at but the possibility of going fully into his fine arts raised subconscious fears planted by the initial wounding. 

How it played out was that so much time was spent on the art he was doing for income that his fine art kept being put aside. Then when he would finally start to spend time with his fine art, he was so hungry for the experience that he would lose sense of time and other commitments. He just loved his spiritually connected experience so much that nothing else would matter. Then when he would finally come out of the fine art experience he would face complaints from the people in his life that had been ignored. His ex-wife had even framed his fine arts as being his “mistress”. His wounded child self was taking the complaints as the same old message > that art was bad. 

So in his workshop exploration he became clearer that of course the fine art was not bad and did not need to get him “in trouble”. He was just unconsciously setting up a replaying of that scenario from his past wounding. The replaying was reinforcing the old message that embracing his fine art fully would lead to punishment. 

With this new found awareness, if he wanted he could use some time management. Portion feeding time for his ongoing desire for the fine arts. By not putting it off for extended periods he would not end up so starved for the experience that he would forget about his other time commitments. 

As a result of these awarenesses he has already started to unravel some of the limitations from the old wounding. Soon after the workshop he was fulfilling a contract to paint a fine art mural on an inside wall of a public building. And told me he was having a blissful experience doing it!! 

Another step towards opening to his fine art becoming more and more visible to the public rather than “hidden under a blanket”. And knowing that receiving acknowledgement and money does not have to take away from the sacred experience > that belief was just an old tape from the past. 

To address your question “Do you see a connection between our wounds and our work in the world?” I would suggest that some of the most deeply satisfying vocations can come from applying the assets we have gained out of the process of healing our wounds. That process can be seen as a training ground for developing our gifts. We are always going to deliver our best work when offering something that parallels our own personal experience. Sure we can bring value into the work place as a result of formal education yet by itself it pales in comparison.

So for example lets look at someone that went through the trauma of car crash and physically damaged their body. Then they were able to heal themselves through an array of nutrients and physical exercises. For them to transmute that experience into a job such as setting up a clinic that specializes in vehicle crash recovery could be very fulfilling. They could share their wisdom from the grounding of their own experience.  Who to relate better to the clients than someone who has travelled a similar path. Someone who can relate closely with empathy and understanding. Someone who can be encouraging through the difficult times and be a living example of the results.  

Tad:  What is the outline of the steps you think people need to go through in order to transform their wounds into gifts?

Kelly: I wont attempt to cover all the possible steps involved as there are a great variety and many of them are dependent on what the wounding was. 

I will touch on some. One is to not bury the wound. If it stays in the subconscious it will not heal. Like a physical cut, you may cover it with a bandage for a while but eventually you need to open the wound to air for it to complete it’s healing. 

Another is to seek help. We may be able to heal some wounds on our own but it is so much quicker when we reach out for help. 

Another key point that eluded me for years is that traumas are going to have an emotional component. For years I attempted to heal wounds in myself and in clients with mind alone. Assuming that we could think ourselves into full recovery. I couldn’t understand why dysfunctional patterns would persist even when we knew mentally that the patterns were not serving. Why did we not just stop the behaviour if we knew better? Finally I came to grips with the fact that traumas have an impact on our emotional body. And that emotions are involved in our behaviours behind the scenes. 

Example: If I wanted to create an intimate partnership but kept running behaviours that pushed people away. With my mind I could analyze the behaviours and see what ones do not work for creating partnership. I could tell myself that I am not going to keep running those behaviours. Yet I may find that try as I might, I could only temporarily stop the behaviours before they came back or they were replaced with other behaviours that pushed potential intimates away. 

If I were to look deeper I may call up memories of past relational traumas. Perhaps I had a break up that involved being betrayed. If I were to acknowledge the underlying emotions I would see that I was deeply hurt by the experience. But perhaps I was raised to not acknowledge feelings of grief. Maybe I got the message of keep a stiff upper lip and move on. So I never went into the feelings of grief, gave them full airtime, or allowed them to be expressed and healed. 

As a result, in the present even though I would consciously want an intimate relationship my subconscious would be doing its best to protect me from getting into another situation where I might fall in love but then be betrayed again and have to feel grief. So my subconscious would make sure that I kept acting out behaviours that would push a potential partner away. Because I had been trained to regard grief as something that needed to be suppressed and feared, I could not risk another event that might activate more grief to add to the grief I was already suppressing.

So without doing the required emotional work I would stay stuck in the effects of the wound.    

Tad:  Can you share three stories of people you’ve worked with and how their wounds were turned into gifts? and what was the impact of that?

Kelly: Hee hee, I guess I got ahead of you as I have given you a couple of examples while responding to earlier questions. But yes I can give you more examples. 

Of course one of the people I have worked with is myself so I will give another example from my own life that fits nicely into what I was just sharing about the importance of emotional work. 

Before I go into explaining the trauma I will give you some background. I had spent my life disengaged from my emotional body. I had trained myself in what I now refer to as spiritual bypassing. That was the art of telling myself that I did not need to feel grief over my losses because in spirit we are all one so nothing is ever lost anyway. At the time I did not realize it was just another tool for suppressing emotion.  

My partner Dianne, a friend of ours Verna and myself were out for a day of rock climbing. We made it to the top feeling the elation of completing a brand new route. We unroped from each other and sorted out our gear preparing to walk along the top of the cliff to a place were we could do the 300-foot rappel back to the base of the cliff. Verna walked in front, followed by myself and Dianne brought up the rear. At one point I heard from behind Dianne say “oh shit”. I turned around to see what she was expressing about. My brain could not compute at first because when I turned she was no where to be seen. Then with shock I realized what had happened. She had stumbled and fallen over the edge of the cliff. The cliff at that point was overhung so we could not see the part of the cliff directly below us. We called out but heard no replies from Dianne. 

We set up a repel station so we could drop over the cliff on our remaining rope and to find her. Dianne had the other rope over her shoulder when she fell. We were hoping that it might have caught on something. Because of the distance Verna and I had to continue to reset new repels as we continued our descent. With each passing one the dread loomed larger as it meant Dianne had fallen a greater and greater distance. 

It was dark by the time we finally reached the cliff base. We started walking a grid back and forth. Eventually we came across her lifeless body. As we sat beside Dianne under the starry sky I broke open emotionally. These feelings were much too big for me to suppress. 

So obviously that experience was a trauma point. As it turned out I reached out for support and found it in the form of a facilitator that was intimately familiar with the emotional body. He led me to see the importance of needing to heal the emotional body as one of the key components to a fuller recovery from trauma. Up until that point my work with people had only been based in psychology, spirituality and body care. I could facilitate some results but without recognizing it I was missing a key component to part of what we are as humans > our emotional bodies.  

So now that I saw the importance I veraciously studied the art of working with the emotions. In her death Dianne had given me one of the most important gifts of my life. Not only had she facilitated the opening of my emotional life, transforming me into a much more fulfilled human being, but she had instigated me into developing the integration of emotional intelligence into my healing practise. This grew the effectiveness of my working with people exponentially. Her death rippled out through my transformed worked to touch the heart and soul of many, many people since. I will be forever grateful to her. 

Here is another example, this time from a person that I have worked with. Her trauma came in the form of being scapegoated in her family. Not being seen or heard in the way she would have hoped. The isolation only grew when her parents separated. 

In the process of healing her own history she was drawn to doing rebirthing work with me. This led to further study of childhood traumas and to research into a variety of parenting techniques and birthing processes. She used these more organically natural techniques in birthing her own son. 

The healing of her trauma of being poorly parented has led her to learn many skills and now she works as a Dula in service to other families in the process of giving birth to their children. She approaches it with a huge heart full of loving care. 

Tad since you first invited me to do this interview with you, I have explored a bit of the work that you do. So I know that you too see the value of people doing work that flows out of their personal life experiences. You point out how much more connected one can be to their client when fulfilling a need that is based in a personal experience. 

I want to thank you for encouraging people in this manner as I feel it will bring both them and their customers more satisfaction. 

I realize that most of your clients are coming to you for help with their businesses, yet I want to add here that for anyone that has not yet figured out a way to turn your gifts into your vocation, I would still encourage you to find places where you can give them. Perhaps it is with friends, perhaps by volunteering on the side. But know that if you find a way to give from the gifts you have gained through personal experiences and that are connected to the essence of who you are, your life is going to be filled with even more fulfillment. 

Tad: When you speak about becoming a people pleaser and ‘nice guy’ it strikes me that you must have learned a great deal about building rapport with people, setting a relaxed vibe, diffusing conflict in that process. And I imagine those same skills that were a part of unhealthy patterns for you, now used consciously are part of what make you such a wonderful facilitator. Would you say that’s true?

Kelly: Yes I would agree to the truth of that and not just in myself. What I have come to see in working with people is that any trauma or wound that we are met with leads to us coming up with a coping strategy. Somewhat simplified, our copying strategy will have two sides to it. 

One is that it will be rooted in an inner strength and/or gift that will be creatively used to attempt to deal with the wounding and protect us from similar wounding. So using the example of the “people pleaser”, it has all the traits that you referred to such as rapport building, bringing calmness to situations, diffusing conflict, as well as ability to read people and intuit what they want or need.

The second part is that when the “gift” goes sideways it turns into a dysfunction. And it is quite likely that we will have some of these dysfunctions blended in to our behaviours because typically we are reacting to a trauma unconsciously as apposed to us consciously deciding how to cope. Because it is unconscious reaction we can have “sideways” behaviours mixed in without even knowing it. 

So for instance as a people pleaser, I had the gift of actually knowing how to please people and be in service to them BUT one of the ways it went sideways was that if any situation had elements of the original wounding, I would be acting out of a fear reaction rather than a conscious response. 

So for example one of the dysfunctions is to sacrifice what would be true to me in an attempt to make someone else happy (in unconscious hopes that if I was able to please them they would not wound me). But in the self-betrayal I would actually end up wounding myself. Because when I am not being true to my own integrity I am not in alignment with inner peace and harmony. 

This comes back to the importance of addressing and working through our wounds. In the process of healing the wounds we become conscious of what our unconscious coping mechanisms were. Now with the clarity of conscious awareness we can pick and choose between which behaviours are appropriate and which ones are not serving us.   

Tad: And it also seems like you really help people who struggle as you struggled to feel ‘enough’. That seems like a clear example of a direct connection between your wound and your ‘wand’ as they say.

Kelly: Hee hee I had never heard the term “your wound and your wand”, it has a nice ring to it. 

Yes, again I agree with your observation. Because I choose to work through the wounding of my self-worth and self-esteem, as I continue to learn how to heal the damage in myself, I continue to learn tools that have the possibilities of serving others as well. And all this gets amplified in a workshop setting because of the strength of intention. Participant’s intention to strengthen their acknowledgment of self-worth and my intention to share what I have learned along the path.  

Tad: And, related to that, do you feel like the gifts come from the compensating mechanisms or from the healing from them specifically?

Kelly: I suspect that the gifts are inherent in us, and that dealing with life’s challenges calls them to the forefront. As you have likely seen, different people can face almost identical challenges, yet the internal strengths they call on to face the challenge might be quite different. 

Perhaps in some cases the gifts would lay dormant until we are faced with a challenge that requires them to surface. As hard as it is to experience traumas, it might be that if we have the support and willingness to work through them, that they accelerate us coming into our wholeness. 

Tad: I’m wondering if you feel like the path of healing and connecting with our inner nature IS the gift we get from our wounds (and so the gift is always inherently about the discipline and dedication to healing in some way?) or if it’s the compensating mechanisms and defences we’ve created that we are now able to consciously redirect that is where the gifts come from in it – so that we look at how we dealt with our wounds (poorly) and find ways that those same poor behaviours can be ultimately used for good? I’m curious what your take on that is.

Kelly: Hmmm, looks like I jumped ahead with my previous response as I think your question was already answered. It seems to me that the gifts are inherent in us and can be developed whether we have trauma to stimulate them or not, yet it is only a theory, I am not 100% sure on that.  

Tad: I know for myself, I have had the wound of not feeling ‘cool’ for a lot of my life. And that had me try ‘too hard’ to be cool and come across as ‘try hard’ to people. And that felt painful. Which had me feel uncool. And made me try even harder. And part of being uncool was learning how to map rooms to see who the cool people were. Unconsciously, that was a disingenuous pattern. But now, as I work to build connections with key hubs around sustainability and local food and good things in Edmonton – those same skills of mapping out key players is actually a beautiful gift to the community. 

Kelly: Yes Tad, great example of what we are talking about. 

Tad: When you speak of the tragedy of your friend falling to her death – it strikes me that you found a beautiful meaning in it that honoured her life and its loss. Is this a core part of your work? Helping people find a meaning in it?

Kelly: I do not know if that can be considered the core of my work but yes it is safe to say that it is a core part. I think that it is great to find deeper levels of meaning when they are available to us. It can settle the hungry mind and in some situations reformulate the emotional impact of events. 

Yet there is also a lot to be said for standing in the middle of the mystery of life. I have noticed in myself and in some others that it is easy to get “addicted” to having answers, even to the point of being in discomfort or disarray if no answers are forth coming. I find that sometimes it serves me to invite in answers if they will serve the highest good, yet in the meantime to let go of the demand for answers and just bask in a space wonderment. The unfolding of the unpredictability of life can bring lots of “juice” to our experience. I notice that the more I trust myself to be able to deal with any of life’s challenges, the more relaxed I am with the unfolding. 

On the other hand if I don’t feel safe with life, then my search for meaning is fear based, full of angst, and with an underpinning of wanting to know in hopes that the knowledge will allow me to control things. Fear tells me that if I can control everything I can be safe. 

Trust tells me that I can call on inner and outer resources that will carry me through anything that arises, making it safe to flow through as the mystery reveals itself moment by moment.  

Tad: I’ve heard it said that our ideal niche is often a younger version of ourselves – does that feel true for you? Like, I felt uncool when I was a young man, but now, older and wiser, I might have a lot to offer to a young man who feels uncool. A woman who struggled with body issues as a teen might be the perfect person, once she’s grown and healed enough, to help other young women on the same journey. I did a lot of pushy sales stuff, and now I help people who are struggling with how to be authentic in sales and marketing. There’s this idea that much of the purpose of growing up is to become the adult whose support we were most needing when we were growing up. That, when we’re lost in our direction in life, we can often look back in time at who we used to be and where we used to be and offer help to those people.

Kelly: Thanks, now I am clearer on the point you were asking about. Yes, I am in agreement with that principal, in fact it ties into a healing process that often gets used in my work. I have notice that for our elder, present self to just have the knowledge of how we needed to be treated in our past times of crisis, is just part of the process of cleaning up the “damage”. Without further steps, the younger parts of ourselves can stay in a traumatized state even once our adult self knows better. So it can be useful for a person to go into a meditative state and call up the memory of the trauma point, including all the emotions that were activated. Once accessed they can use creative imagination to picture their wiser adult self travelling back through time and stepping in as an advocate for the younger self. 

So for example I have done this myself by using memory to go back to a time when my mother was beating me using corporal punishment. I saw that as a child I was traumatized by the pain. That I was confused that someone that supposedly loved me was using physical violence because of a mistake she assumed I made. I saw that in my young mind I was making up the story that I did not have any rights over my own sovereign space, my own body. I was being taught that if someone was angry at me, that they had the right to physically attack me, criticize me and shame me. And I saw that as a result my child self was feeling a mixture of helplessness, sadness and anger about what was happening. 

While still holding that image, it was overlaid with my present imagination. That imagination was of my adult self dropping into the scene, taking my younger self into my arms away from my mother, telling her she could no longer physically abuse this child, telling my younger self that I was going to be here and now stand up for Kelly, making openhearted boundaries whenever needed so no one gets to abuse us again. 

From this place of safety I visualized my child and adult self sending loving energy to the essence of my mother while at the same time saying no to her inappropriate behaviours. 

As I am doing this I am holding the consciousness of my adult self and child self at the same time and allowing them to both express through my present self. So here I am with all this going on internally while in present time I am weeping the tears of my child self. The tears he never got to cry while he was being violated, as well as his tears of relief that someone had finally seen him and cared enough to step in with the love and care that he had needed. 

So one might ask, what was the point of doing all that. Well the point is that prior to doing that kind of inner work, in my everyday life, if I ran into situations that had elements of what happened when I was a child, I would unconsciously go into that childhood assumption that I had to put up with aggression from other people. It wasn’t as extreme as me being physically hit, but it did manifest as me collapsing and not standing up for myself. Especially in the face of women that reminded me of my mother 

So I was stunted in a child state when facing situations that triggered associations to the past events. Because all this was playing out subconsciously below my awareness, all that I was seeing in my adult life was that I could be manipulated by people that showed aggression. That I lacked boundaries and would collapse into a passive state. Or if I were pushed too far I would flip to the other pole and become aggressive (unconsciously fuelled by the unresolved anger I had at my mother). 

So in present time, logically my adult self had the intellectual knowledge that I had the right to my sovereign space. My adult knew that no one had the right to be abusive towards me, BUT when triggered I unconsciously regressed to the unhealed child state. In a sense the adult was nowhere to be found when the child state took over. 

Once I did the healing work to go back in to the trauma and unify the connection between the child and adult Kelly > now my child self is not left disconnected internally. So if something arises presently that has elements of the past, even if the child is activated, he is not left alone, the adult steps in with him as an advocate and puts the needed boundaries in place.  

So this would be one of my personal examples that is an illustration of how we can become an advocate for our own internal child self. And then there is the option to extend that out to others as you were mentioning Tad.

So in my workshops a big thrust is in supporting people to learn how to empower themselves to make openhearted boundaries. Passing on what I have learned (or a better description would be – what I have embodied) and helping people find ways to embody that for themselves so they have more than just the head knowledge of physiological and spiritual ideals about self care.

Tad: If someone were to say to you, ‘My wounds are NOT a blessing!’ I’m curious how you might respond, or want to respond if they were open.

Kelly: I liked how you framed that Tad “or want to respond if they were open”. It shows me your sensitivity to care when addressing someone’s wounds. Discussion of wounds can initiate protectiveness, so unless there is a sincere openness, any attempt at communication can break down rapidly. 

If there is an opening then I would likely share my thoughts about the paradox of wounding. Receiving wounding is not a blessing. Receiving a wounding can be a blessing. Both ring true to me so I would not want to polarize to one statement or the other. Rather I would hold space for both of them. 

If I am stuck with just “it is not a blessing” then I am likely to stay stuck in a disempowered victim place around it. If I am stuck in “it is a blessing” then I may be prone to use positivity to suppress the grief that needs to be felt through. And to avoid looking squarely at the damage facilitated by the wounding. If I am not willing to fully look at the damage and emotional feel what that brings up, then I will be left with blind spots that will keep me stuck and unable to move forward into an empowered space. It is through the close observation and emotional work that I can sort out how to heal the wound and come back into an empowered place. That process is going to call forward my gifts, which in turn reveals the other side of the paradox > “my wounds are a blessing”. 

Hmmm, that feels like it may be a natural place to close on Tad, unless you have further questions, which I would be willing to answer.

Thanks again for your stimulating questions. 

May each of you that reads this be blessed on your journey. 

Kelly Tobey is an IntegrativeTransformational Processing Facilitator with StarTree Integration Adventures (founded 1991)

Kelly provides, Private Sessions, Workshops, Leadership Trainings, Retreats, across Canada  And in Calgary ongoing weekly drop-in seminars called Expanding Heartfelt Living evenings. For information contact Kelly Tobey at Phone: (403) 217-5533 Fax: (403) 217-0053 Website: Facebook: Kelly Tobey YouTube: KellyTobey1

three foundations of a thriving business

At some point last year, it became clear to me that there are three main things most entrepreneurs need to have handled in order to thrive. They overlap each other like circles in a Venn Diagram.

And I realize now that I’d never written about them explicitly. So, here we are.

First, there’s a seven minute video of me sharing the overview and then I’ve written a recap and bit more about my thoughts on this.

First of all, I want you to imagine that a successful business is like a stylish bucket full of water. And then we need to ask ourselves, ‘why don’t most people have a full bucket of water?’




FOUNDATION #1: Your Platform

Your platform is what you’re known for.

It’s your brand, your identity, your reputation.

It’s also the basis of every, single marketing decision you’ll ever make. It’s the core of what makes a business either authentic or not, original or a copy cat.

I want to submit that there are six things you can be known for. And that most entrepreneurs only focus on ONE of those things (which is also the one that makes them seem the most generic, boring and ‘just like everyone else.’ You can be known for what you do, but also why you do it, your point of view on it, you can be known for you and your style, you can be known for the particular journey you take people on and you can be known for the unimagined possibility you introduce into people’s lives.

Most businesses try to get known for what they do or make (e.g. I’m a massage therapist, I make widgets, I sell groceries). The challenge is that, unless you’re the only one in your area or community doing that then how are they supposed to make a decision about who to work with? How should they know if you’re a perfect fit for them?

When people don’t have a platform their marketing will always come across as generic and lack lustre.


Foundation #2: The Container

There’s no point in pouring more and more water into a leaky bucket. The first step is to stop the leak.

It seems obvious. But most entrepreneurs don’t so much have a leaky bucket as a sieve or strainer. It holds onto almost nothing.

And some entrepreneurs have a bucket that’s so ugly (to them) that they don’t even bring it with them to the river side. They’re afraid people might see them with it and laugh at what an old bucket they have.

It’s important not just that our bucket ‘works’ but that we’re so proud of it and so charmed with it that we want to take it everywhere. That we’d be so happy for people to see us with it.

I’ve known so many people who’ve gotten covered in the media for their work and have gotten no clients from it. Or they’re super well known and loved, but don’t have a lot of clients. So much water that pours in and then almost immediately out.

Your container is the embodiment of your platform. It’s what people see or experience about your business that immediately gives them a sense of whether or not what you’re offering is a fit for them. The clearer your platform, the stronger your container.

If you were hosting a party, the platform would be the theme of the party and the container would be all the decorations, the cleaning, the hot cup of cider offered to guests as they arrived. Your website is a container. Your landing page. The story of your business. The free workshop you do is a container. The blog is a container. The community that you cultivate and create is a held in the container of your online forums, live events, your email list etc. Your container is comprised of all the structures you create that warmly hold your community.

Your container are all the things they can see, hear and explore that give them a sense of you.

Your container are all the processes and systems you create that make it safe for people to check you out at a safe distance and slowly get closer to you and opt in to being in touch with you.

Imagine Oprah Winfrey tells everyone to check you out. Vaguely mentions what you do but not enough to give anyone a real sense of it. So, what do they do? They check you out online. But, what if you don’t have a website? Or what if your website doesn’t really clarify what you’re about? So many people would see your site, maaaaybe bookmark it . . . and then be gone forever.

But what if they found your website and the homepage immediately helped them figure out if what you were doing was a fit or not, the ‘about me’ page gave them a really good sense of who you were and what you were about. And then there was a way they could sign up for things to be in touch with you (e.g. ‘join my email list and get this free gift’ or ‘follow me on twitter or facebook’ or ‘come to my monthly free workshop’ etc). Imagine the following you’d build over time.

For a container to be effective, it needs to be clear (which means the platform should be clear). It’s good if it’s safe and welcoming, but atthe bottom line it needs to be resonant.

If they’re on Island A and trying to get to Island B, your container is, basically, your boat. And of course, a boat might have many rooms in it or different types of tours you could take people on (the different offers you could make).

Your container is the home made ready for the party. When they show up that they want to stay. They get to the door and they’re nervous, but then they smell the food, they see how beautifully decorated it is, they see the wonderful people inside, they’re greeted with a cup of hot apple cider and they hear the beautiful music etc.

One of my colleagues Bill Baren recently shared a thought about this. He had a client who was promoting a teleseminar and there was a webpage people would go to to register for the teleseminar. They were obsessed with reaching more people. But Bill asked them to pause and check out what percentage of people who were actually going to the landing page were signing up. It turned out that 10% of people who hit the page actually entered in their name and email to register for the free teleseminar. That means 90% hit the page and just left.

Doesn’t it make more sense,” he offered. “To see if we can tweak the page to boost the percent of people that say yes? Isn’t that a better use of energy? Instead of investing so much time and effort in getting more people, let’s see if we first can’t get more results from the people who are already coming. Right now we’ve got a tub with a huge leak. Instead of pouring in more and more water, let’s plug the leak first.”

When there’s no container it can be so confusing, ‘I’m doing everything right and I’m not getting any clients!’

Think of online dating. You create a profile. And then, you get a message from someone. But do you open the message right away? Often not. Most often, people will check out, ‘who is it that sent this message?’. So you go to their profile and, within seconds, you’ve determined whether or not it’s a fit. Your profile is a container. The message is just a path that gets them to it. Make sure the container is good.

Having a strong and clear container is the basis for creating ongoing , long term relationships with your clients.

And that’s vital.

Most entrepreneurs are obsessed with getting new clients. But it’s often much, much, easier to get an existing client to come back than to find someone entirely new. A massage therapist might make $100 on their first hour long massage (to keep number simple). But if that client comes back even three times a year for three years – that’s $900. The front end ($100) always pales in comparison to the back end ($900). And with some work (less than you’d fear, but more than you’d hope) you can increase the backend. What if they came in 4 times a year for three years? Suddenly, it’s $1200. With no new clients. And what if each of those clients referred even one new client? What if you offered workshops, products or other packages to them? Without a single new client you could be making much more money. And having your clients feel so much more supported.

Your container is your sales funnel. It’s the levels of offerings you have. It goes from the free samples to the bronze, silver and then gold levels.

I was in a Gaelic short film in the summer of 2011. You’d think that I would be spreading the word to everyone I know about it. But I haven’t. Why? There’s no website. No DVD’s are available. There’s no email list people can sign up for. Where would I send them?

One of my dearest colleagues has yet to create a website that’s really worthy of his work yet. I adore him. I want to spread the word for him. But he has no email sign up form yet. His homepage feels a bit vague. And I’m only going to have one chance to launch him to my list. I want that to count. I want it to matter. If I send people now, they’ll go and leave and he’ll get very little from it. I don’t want to waste my time.

A good container creates instant and ever deepening clarity.

A bad container creates confusion.

And I hate confusion. If you ask me to spread the word about you and you’ve got a bad container, it puts the burden on me to explain it all and make it clear to the people I’m spreading the word to. It makes it hard. Don’t make my life hard. If you have a bad container you’re not ready to approach hubs yet.

I want to be able to take one look at your boat and say ‘I get it’. Just from the kinds of boat, types of sails, the paint job, clothing of the staff on board . . . I want to know what the platform is. I want to know: aha! this is an adventure boat or a luxury boat or a fun times boat or a new agey boat.

If you offer some kind of therapy, I want to know, ‘is it in person or over the phone? Am I sitting or lying down? Am I hooked up to some fancy machine? Are you touching me? Am I naked? Are all these things happening at once? (awesome).’

Remember: the confused mind says ‘no’.

Before someone even thinks about stepping onto your boat they need to know what kind of trip they’re in for. And people hate it when their expectations are broken. They got on what seemed like the ‘classy’ boat but it turns out it was the ‘raunchy’ boat. Then people are pissed.

Amway has a bad reputation for this. You meet someone. They seem nice. They invite you for ‘coffee’. You end up getting a 45 minute presentation. It’s sneaky. The beauty of a good container is that it’s immensely upfront.

Real life example: you go out an tell someone about what i do (path). they say cool and check out my website (container) and like it because of all the unique content that expresses what i’m about (platform). I run a free teleseminar (container). It’s hosted by a colleague who tells all of their friends via their email list (path). While they’re on the teleseminar I tell them about a next thing i have (path). So a container can also be a path. Once they’re in relationship with us there’s just an ongoing deepening. I tend to think of the path as ‘how do they find out about things?’

In my Six Week course I’m running right now, one of my clients shared this, “don’t forget the path to your website, it doesn’t matter how awesome your website looks, if there is no path to it, it’s as though it doesn’t exist. the main paths that a paying client would take to your website are search engine searches. so you have to know what your clients would be searching for (keywords) and you have to tell them something on your website that would show them that you have the answers.”

The platform is the gift you want to give. The container is the making of it. The platform is what you want to offer to the world. But not offering it in a foisting it upon others and being pushy kind of way. I think of the container as more like a space you create that you carefully invite people to. And you design the space so clearly that it would inherently attract people who are a perfect fit for you.

There’s a chain of hotels I heard about the models it’s boutique hotels after magazines. So, one hotel is a Rolling Stone magazine style hotel. Another is a Chatelaine style hotel. That kind of thing. You can imagine what the Rolling Stone style hotel would look like and how, even in the colours, construction, design of the rooms, food served might be different. They are not generic hotels. They’re particular. The hotel (container) perfectly expresses the platform (the magazine).

When we first start out, our container is like an old one room house. There’s really not much to it. We offer one thing. Maybe that’s individual sessions, workshops, a particular product etc. And it’s a lot to even get that together. But, as we grow our business, we have a chance to add rooms to our house. With each room, extension, addition and beautification we can hold more people and make our home more resonant with the right folks. Of course, each addition to the house is a project. And these projects often take longer than we’d think and go over budget and we’re left thinking, ‘is this worth it?’. Because while we’re working on that we’re not making money. But eventually, it’s all done and we step back and get chills. Our house is a little more beautiful and exciting to us. And we want to show everyone. And, eventually, our home is perfect. Not too big and not too small. It’s got just the right number of rooms all painted just the right colours. There are minor fixes to be made but, basically, we’re there.

And, at that point, our attentions moves mostly to creating more paths to our place. So, much of this process is about our time and attention. At first, most of it goes to the platform. Then it moves into creating the container. And then the paths.

Here’s an odd way of looking at your container. Have you ever dated someone and realized it wasn’t going anywhere? It had gone as far as it was going to go? So what did you do? Likely you left them. There was no more potential. Nothing else to get or give. Clients are like that too. If the show up and check out your website and there’s lots of free stuff but there’s no products to buy, no workshops to attend, no next steps . . . they will just drift away and find someone else who can better help them on their journey. A container is not simply a static thing. It’s a series of invitations into something more deep and wonderful.

The container has a lot to do with being ready. Preparing our home to receive guests. Making sure we’re ready for when they show up. Being craftsmen of our arts. Attention to details. Small things matter. Wrapping our gifts as beautifully as we can. This gives us a sense of pride. We’re excited (not embarrassed) to send people to our website. We can’t wait to show off our cafe. We know that the details are handled so we don’t fuss about them. We can relax. The container, we find, not only holds the potential client – it holds us too.


Foundation #3: The Path

If the platform is the bucket design, and the container is the bucket, then the path is a faucet that water comes out of (and I suppose your clients and income would be the water). Not much point in having a beautiful bucket if it’s going to sit there empty all the time.

Another analogy: So many people set up their businesses in the middle of a forest with no paths leading to it. They are hoping that somehow, lost in the woods, the right people will stumble upon them and want to buy what they’re offering.

The more paths you have leading to your doorstep the more easily you can be found. This is the heart of marketing, making it easy for the right people who are a perfect fit to find you and say ‘yes’ to working with you.

But there are so very many ways to market what we do.

And that can feel overwhelming. Where do we start? Especially when everyone has an opinion about what the ‘best’ form of marketing is. There’s public speaking, writing, hosting events, social media, PR, advertising, online events, free samples of our work . . . So much.

Weight watchers has an interesting and very down to earth take on this. When doing their workshops, they’ll ask their audiences, ‘what do you think is the best form of exercise for weight loss?’ and people will throw out their opinions: running, walking, swimming etc. And then they’ll say, ‘Here’s the truth. There is one form of exercise that is the best. It’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the most effective form of exercise for weight loss. Do you want to know what it is? The best exercise is . . . the one you’ll do.’

And there it is.

The one you’ll do.

I think the analogy of paths is good for another reason: they’re already looking for us. People are already struggling with certain problems and symptoms and looking for relief. Let’s make it as easy as possible for them to find us by making as many clear paths through the woods as we can. The easier you are the find, the more easily you will be found.

Many people think that marketing is about searching people in the forest. But we need to remember, the people we think we need to search for are already searching for us. And they’re highly motivated. So, let’s put our energy not into chasing anyone but into getting very clear about who the perfect someone’s are that we want to work with, creating wonderful and inspiring containers to receive them into and then making it almost impossible for them not to find out about us and check us out in low risk ways.

We can’t always afford to lay down a highway to our doorstep. Start with trails of breadcrumbs. Start where you can with the types of paths that resonate most with you.

When there are no paths it’s like you’ve got this amazing thing that nobody knows about.

My suggestion to you: pick three paths. Pick three marketing tactics and strategies that feel really good for you and invest deeply into them. Do you like writing? Speaking? Hosting? Think about the ways of expressing yourself that you are naturally drawn to and delve deep into those.

When a business has all three of these, a clear platform, a strong container and easy paths they tend to have all the business they can handle.

What do you think?

Island Z: The Unspoken Fears

A lot of us have fears we never speak about. Fears we imagine no one else has. Fears no one else could understand.

And I think it’s important to know what these are for your client.

I’ve been writing a lot about the journey and the key elements of your platform lately.

Here’s a recap if you’ve missed it.

Imagine a young man on an island (which we’ll call Island A). It’s not that great a place to be. But, it’s all he knows, so he goes about his days. Then he starts hearing that his is not the only island in the world. That there are other islands. At first he doesn’t believe it, but the more he visits the docks and meets these visitors the clearer it becomes. It’s true. And then, one day, he hears about a particular island (which we’ll call Island B). And his heart leaps. He wants to go there.

Of course, he needs to get a boat to go there.

But there are so many boats to hire! Which one to choose?

Your business is a boat. It helps people like this young man get from Island A where they’re struggling with some problem (i.e. set of symptoms they don’t like) to Island B where they have the result they want (i.e. something they’re craving).

But if you can imagine that to left of Island A is another island. Island Z. But the catch is, it’s not a real island. It’s an imaginary island. It’s a fantasy. A fear. A phantom. But it feels so incredibly real. If you can imagine Island Z is in a thought bubble above the person sitting on Island A.

Island Z is where they’re secretly scared they’re going to end up if they do nothing.

These are fears like:

  • ‘If i don’t handle my dating life I’m going to end up old and alone.’
  • ‘If I approach that woman I’m attracted to she’ll think I’m a total creep and tell all her friends and everyone watching will laugh at me.’
  • ‘if I don’t keep my mind sharp I’m going to end up with alzheimers like my great grandparents.’
  • ‘I’m so scared that when I’m older there will be no one to look after me and I’ll end up a bag lady.’
  • ‘I don’t want to end up like my father.’
  • ‘If people knew I was struggling with this then __________ would happen.’
  • ‘If I admit that I’ve got these healthy symptoms then I might find out I have cancer like my father.’

These fears are rarely talked about, but they’re deeply real for people. These fears aren’t things you can be ‘known’ for but understanding them gives you an incredible empathy and sensitivity which will allow you to engage the other three more deeply and safely.

And many of us are, secretly, so scared we’re going to end up there.

I think it’s important to be aware of these fears. Because, sometimes, these fears are so profoundly deep and overwhelming that they can’t even acknowledge that they’re on Island A. They can’t even acknowledge that they have a problem because then they’d have to acknowledge the potential implications of that.

If’ I’m in my 70’s and starting to forget a lot of things, I might not tell anyone because if I do they might take away my driver’s license. They might want to do tests. They might tell me I have alzheimers. And I’d just rather not know.

Island Z can be so terrifying that it keeps us frozen in a holding pattern that’s not healthy for us. And it’s exhausting. We spend so much energy trying to avoid look at it.

When you begin a conversation around new and better possibilities for people, it can bring them face-to-face with their current reality and where that might lead.  It brings them face-to-face with the quality of life that they are currently settling for and where that might lead.  Most people know that more is possible — which makes it all the more painful to look at the level they have decided to live at.

This will bring up pain for people.  So, it’s important to realize the mechanisms that people have for dealing with pain.  In fact, these mechanisms are probably what caused them to settle in the first place.  Basically, there are…

6 Ways We Avoid Dealing with Pain:

1.    Denial: We try to pretend that it’s not there.  We pretend that it doesn’t hurt.  It’s like the old Aesop’s fable about the Fox trying to get the grapes.  He tries to trick the crow into dropping them but, when unsuccessful, walks away saying, “I didn’t want those grapes anyway.”

I have heard people describe denial by using it as an acronym for Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying.

We will go to amazing lengths to pretend we don’t have a problem.  Whether it’s as extreme as alcoholism, the state of our physical health or the state of our finances.  We sometimes seem to believe that if we don’t look at the problem it will simply go away.  Denial is the ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

2.    Sedatives and Numbing Out:  We use sedatives of “food”, alcohol, drugs etc. to lower our level of pain.  The use of any of these once a while, isn’t the issue.  The issue is that we use these as a consistent pattern.  But perhaps the worst drug of all is when people tell themselves “it’s okay”.  When we have attempted to create a result again and again and failed – we tend to give up.

When we try to handle our finances in countless ways and can’t seem to get it together we will either step up and take another cut the ball or we will step down and deal with our pain by saying, “it’s okay.  It’s not really that bad.”  

We will reinforce this by hanging around with a peer group that has equally low expectations of life.  This peer group will say things like, “Hey, don’t be so hard in yourself.  Quit working so hard.  Relax once a while.”  But the peer group is not really saying these things out of any sense of true caring for the person the because they don’t want to look at the fact that they are also in pain – and they don’t want to lose their friend.

3.    Rationalize And Tell Themselves Stories:  you can hear a rationalization a million miles away.  They almost always start with the words “Well it’s not like I…” or “At least I  . . .” (followed by the one strong standard they have).

We’ll say things like, “Sure I smoke once in awhile, but it’s not like I’m one of those people who smokes three packs a day.”  Or when looking at our finances, we’ll say, “Sure my finances are a mess but it’s not like I’m $100,000 in debt on credit cards.”  Or we’ll look at their romantic relationships and say, “Sure, it’s not the most fulfilling relationship in the world but it’s not like we’re fighting all the time and hate each other.”  

The easiest way to rationalize lowering our standards is to compare ourselves with people who have even lower standards.

4.    Justify:  We give our reasons:  “I mean I should do this but…” in whatever comes after that “but” is our “excuse” for not taking action.  So, at least we acknowledge that there is a problem, but the way we choose to deal with it is to prove to other people, and ourselves, why we can’t do anything about it.

5.    Using Softeners:  We say, “I’m big boned…” vs. “I’m fat”.  We say, “I’m having a few problems with my finances.”  As opposed to, “My personal finances are a disaster.”  We will use the language that softens the emotional impact — and so we will never ever connect with the pain that could actually drive them to create the change they want in our lives.  Until we face, and ultimately embrace, the pain they are currently experiencing we will never have the energy or motivation to create the level of change we want.

6.    We Blame: We make it someone else’s fault. It’s my ancestors, my family, my friends, my boss, the world, God, circumstance . . . anything but us. Then we get to feel like a victim and get some sympathy (which can feel nice). But nothing changes. All of our energy gets invested in trying to change things we can’t change.

This is different from seeing how one’s problem or fear is actually a symptom of a larger collective issue – e.g. perfectionism – which can be really freeing.

So how do you deal with these deep fears?

With a lot of love and empathy. Many entrepreneurs miss the empathy piece and end up with one the four client repelling traits I speak to in this blog post.

20 Non Empathic Responses to People’s Pain

NonviolentCommunicationMany of the following responses to people’s pain may seem empathic, until you’re at the receiving end of them. Give this a read and notice what responses people give you that don’t feel good – and notice which one you tend to give other people.

None of these will work to address the fears of Island Z or create any sense of safety. These are all borrowed from the very excellent book, Non Violent Communication

1. Advising: “I think you should . . “ “How come you didn’t?”

2. Analyzing: “Well, I think it’s clear the reason this happened is . . .”

3. Arguing: “That isn’t right at all. That isn’t how it happened.” “Boy. I really disagree with you on that.”

4. Commiserating: “That’s terrible. She had no right to do that to you.”

5. Condemning: “I need to call you on your racist shit.”

6. Consoling: “It wasn’t your fault; you did the best you could.” “Everything’s going to be okay.”

7. Correcting: “That’s not how it happened.” “It’s not really that hard.”

8. Criticizing: “You know what your problem is?” “Can’t you do anything right?”

9. Diagnosing: “This is happening because you’re so passive-aggressive.”, “You know, you really have a limiting pattern of always doing _____.”, “You know what your problem is?”

10. Educating: “This could turn into a very positive experience for you if you just . . .” “Well, in my experience, it was very different.” “I have a very different relationship to that.”

11. Evaluating: “If you hadn’t been so careless.”

12. Explaining: “I would have called but . . .” “I didn’t want to do it this way, but . . .”

13. Fixing: “What will help you is to . . .”

14. Interpretations: “I think he did that because . . .”

15. Interrogating: “When did this begin? What are you feeling?”

16. Lecturing: “It’s like I always say. . .” “How many times do I have to tell you?”

17. One-Upping: “That’s nothing: wait’ll you hear what happened to me.”

18. Shutting Down: “Cheer up. Don’t worry. Don’t feel so bad.”

19. Story-telling: “That reminds me of a time . . .” “Oh! That reminds me of this Tony Robbins seminar that I went to once. Tony said . . .”

20. Sympathizing: “Oh you poor thing.”

So, if those don’t work, how do you engage with it?

To be honest, I’m not 100% sure, but here are some initial thoughts . . .

Fifteen Ideas on Dealing with the Fear of Island Z:

  • safety: instead of pushing harder, we want come from a place of being gentler and sweeter. We can to make sure that we are as safe a space as possible. That might mean extreme confidentiality. Making sure they can engage with us in a way that no one else ever needs to know. The more safe they feel, the more they’ll be willing to face the truth.
  • empathy: if they can see that we really understand what they’re secretly scared of this goes a long way. I can’t recommend reading the book Non Violent Communication enough for this. The key is that we want to give empathy first for Island A. Just for the symptoms as they experience them. And, of course, part of the symptoms they experience are the fear of Island Z.
  • normalize the problem: we need to help them understand that they’re not alone. The more we can build the understanding that they’re not alone the better. The more they can see this as a widespread issue that many others share the better. We need to normalize the fear. We need it to not seem like it’s a weird thing to have that fear. As Tom Compton says, ‘the resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance.’ Sometimes the feeling that they shouldn’t be having that fear is actually a bigger issue than the fear itself. If you can share your own story of how it took you forever to deal with this and how clueless you were – this goes a long way.
  • normalize the solution: the more you can make it feel like, ‘hey, everyone is doing this’ the more likely they will be to do it as well. This often starts with identifying your hubs and enrolling them and getting them to spread the word for you. This is the kind of thing you might want to do in partnership with other people who are helping people on the same journey (and maybe with a similar boat even). It’s like a bunch of independent retailers getting together to promote a ‘shop local’ campaign. A core principle of community based social marketing is this: make it normal to do the right thing.
  • realistic statistics: we need to help them understand how realistic this fear is. The fear of a plane crash or being attacked by a shark is blown profoundly out of proportion. More people die in traffic accidents than plane crashes. More people die from pop machines than sharks. Let’s just get real here.
  • case studies of success: this is huge. If you can show them story after story of people who were on Island A and didn’t end up on Island Z but maybe on Island C it will do more than just about anything you can imagine. You can’t have too many stories and real life examples.
  • story telling: when there’s a lot of shame and fear around an issue, the traditional marketing approach of writing in the ‘you’ (e.g. ‘Are YOU struggling with money?’) might be a bit too direct. It might trigger shut down and defensiveness which could kill it way before it has a chance to begin. Try telling the story of a typical client (or a micro story) or the story of what it might be like to work with you. By telling a story (often in the third person) you give it a bit of psychological distance which allows people to read it and approach the story in their own time and find themselves in it in their own way. Remember, these fears are most often unspoken. So, for someone to read their fears laid out in a story (even your own story) can be a bit mind blowing (in a good way).
  • realistic honesty about limits of possibility: one of the best things I ever saw in marketing was from a poster about a holistic nutrition workshop. One of the bullet points said, ‘Come and learn the possibilities and the limitations of holistic nutrition’. Wow. That was so powerful. They were willing to admit to it having limitations. That realism built more credibility than any big claim. Instantly more trustworthy. When things seem ‘too good to be true’ they’re not trustworthy. Tell them what you can help them with and what you can’t. Tell them what you think is possible and what isn’t. Be real with them and they’ll melt into openness.
  • address the shame: the more people can understand that it’s not entirely their fault, that their are bigger systems at play that have helped create their problem and that it’s a normal human thing to go through… the more they’ll relax and open to letting it go. The shame of not having dealt with it yet can keep people from even looking at it and having to admit how bad it is. No shame. No blame. The more your presence can reassure and say, ‘hey, it’s okay’ the more they can begin to open to a new possibility.
  • show them a step by step plan: few things will inspire more confidence than you showing them a step by step plan on how you’re going to get them from Island A to Island B. It moves it away from just being you saying, ‘trust me’.
  • educate them about your point of view: go beyond showing them the plan. Show them WHY you came up with the plan you did. Help them understand not just the route you’re suggesting but the map itself. Help them understand the tides, the winds, the hidden rocks underwater. Help them understand why you’ve made the choices they did.
  • build a relationship over time until they’re ready: the importance of staying in touch over time and building trust by adding value can’t be overstated. Marketing is like baseball and you can’t skip bases.
  • help them see a bigger context: share your why. Share the bigger cause you see it all as a part of. Help them see that by taking the journey on their own, they’re making a contribution to a much wider movement. If they can see themselves as a part of a wider movement, they’re a lot less likely to give up – they’ll feel more accountable and more bolstered by others.
  • community: perhaps the most important of all – can you connect them with real people? It can be done virtually or in person. But can you help to become a hub and foster a wider sense of community?
  • be encouraging: life is so short. Too many people die with regrets (often the same five). Sometimes some old fashioned real talk and encouraging words to live our lives fully goes a long way – especially if all of these other pieces are in place.

case study: grocery shopping tour

Victoria Laine does a simple thing that most entrepreneurs could do but never think of.

She hosts tours.

Now, she does tours of grocery stores. But maybe you could host a tour of strawbale homes. Maybe you could host a tour of gluten free options in your neighbourhood. A medicinal plant walk. A pub crawl with a theme related to your work. Maybe you could host a tour of all the strawbale homes in your community (even if you’re not a strawbale expert yourself). So many businesses could do this easily.

Tours get you away from your computer, connect you with potential clients, help build your credibility and might also help the people or businesses you’re taking your tours to.


What is the name of your project?

Grocery Shopping Tours – Victoria Laine Nutrition & Yoga

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?

I’ve had a fascination with food since I was a teen.

Watching other females in my life continually on yoyo diets, I developed an unhealthy relationship with food, obsessed with calorie counting and eventually an eating disordered pattern. Fortunately I overcame the eating disorder and grew to appreciate and have confidence in my body, which I credit to a better understanding of nutrition and a regular yoga practice.

However I was suffering with allergies, asthma, arthritic pain, depression, and digestive problems all unknowingly related to my food choices. Reading nutrition books, consulting naturopathic doctors and a holistic nutritionist, I overcame my health challenges and felt the best I’d ever felt. My experiences inspired me to want to help others who were unnecessarily suffering.

Health starts with the choices we make in the grocery store. Even before completing nutrition school over 10 years ago, I learned a lot about the power of foods. Sleuthing through grocery store isles reading labels, and investigating the nutritional benefit of unfamiliar foods had become somewhat of a hobby.

When Organic Roots Food Market and Restaurant opened in Edmonton I was hired to develop the first menu and to provide grocery tours and whole-food vegetarian demos. Both were well attended because of a growing awareness in our community of how important our food choices are to our body and to the earth.

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

The tour starts out in the produce area where I highlight the disease-fighting benefits of specific fruits and veggies, and how to include them.

I introduce less familiar vegetables and fruits to help participants expand their whole-food horizons. I present information about organically grown vs conventionally grown foods to help participants to make the most do-able choices for their individual budget.

We discuss strategies for saving money while improving their health and have fun sharing ideas and experience. Then we move to the inside isles to discover more unfamiliar foods or familiar foods that can be used in new refreshing ways. I cover information about ethical, sustainable food choices to help people make conscious choices. I provide them with recipes and a few helpful handouts.

Who do you find it’s working best for?

These grocery tours are not for those who are satisfied with their daily food choices and do not see any room for improvement. They are most useful for those who want help to make more conscious choices or who are are struggling to deal with the overwhelm of too many choices. They are looking to find strategies to make the healthiest food shopping and eating simple, delicious, and do-able.

What’s the response been so far to the tours? What kind of numbers do you get per tour?

I limit the tours to 12 people so that everyone can hear what I’m saying and its a more intimate group…and so that we don’t disturb shoppers! The two tours I did in the spring were full, and I didn’t offer them in the summer season. The September tours have just been announced, and I expect a great response, so I’d encourage registration sooner than later due to limited space.

At it’s heart, what is this project/business really about for you? (beyond money, status and such)

At it’s heart my business is about doing what i can for the betterment of the world by serving others who need support, or are looking for inspiration, understanding, or encouragement.

I’ve been so fortunate to learn from wise, inspirational teachers, leaders, and authors such as John Robbins, T. Collin Campbell, Jane Goodall, Jonathan Safran Foer, Guy Dauncy, Brenda Davis, Michael Pollan, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Rachel Carson, and so forth…so many influential people who have given me clarity of purpose.

My tag line (Maureen is still working on adding it to my website) is Quick-Fix Solutions for Busy Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat-Lovers too!

While I don’t think there is a quick-fix solution for problems associated with factory farms and CFOs (confined feeding operations), genetically modified foods, the pain endured by immigrant workers, and other tragic issues of modern food production, I do think as individuals we have the power to make positive changes quickly to be a part of the bigger solution.

What I’ve come to learn from authors and speakers who promote healthy sustainable food choices is that as humans we are generally self-focused, so the primary reason most people will initially shift to a plant-based or plant-strong diet is because they want better health.

That being the case I have the opportunity as a nutritionist to influence others to become aware of the ethical, moral, and environmental issues connected to their daily food choices. Part of how I do that is using  quoted words of the renowned and respected authors, and by introducing my clients and students to books and documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, as well as EarthSave newsletters, local groups like VOA and E-Sage, etc…so they can make more informed decisions.

I also tell them about Earths General store and other great local resources like farmers markets. And I love that clients and students love to share their latest ah-ha moments and resources with me, enabling me to share with others.

After they do the tour – are there options for them to hire you or work with you? What happens next for them? How do the tours fit in the bigger business strategy?

The tours are about giving people a value packed two hours with stuff to take home to keep them motivated to continue their healthier eating quest.

It’s also a chance for people to check me out to see if they might want to join one of the webinar programs I will be offering or work with me privately in 1-1 nutrition coaching which they can contact me about on the website under the 1-1 private Blissful Belly program.

I also offer free 20 minute consultations to allow people to see if I might be a good fit for their needs, and so i can give them a few getting started strategies. They can apply for the complimentary 20 minute consultation on my website.

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

MailChimp mailout to website registration, I’ve set up a Facebook page and am learning how to use it (looking for help with this) and other social media to help get the word out about this and the other new programs I’ll be offering in the near future.  I’ll be blogging soon! I’m relaunching my business with a web based model so clients and students can save time and reduce their impact on the environment by calling in on Skype, FaceTime or Phone.

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

Great question Tad! I’ve learned that to truly support people you have to meet them where they are at, and start from there.

I’ve learned that while my suggestions or recommendations may be helpful, what is most influential is what I do – when people see me doing my best to walk my talk. And I’ve learned that people are doing their best and need a new or different awareness to make better choices but that even when they do form new ideals they can still struggle with the logistics of their choices.

So my role of assisting people to put their goals into action is what I see as most valuable, which is why I enjoy seeing their excitement grow in the tours and the classes.

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

Grocery Tour participants, readers of my first book (Health By Chocolate) and others, may also be interested to know about the new book and programs I’ve developed in response to the growing desire for helpful resources that make conscious eating easier.

My newest book, Real Life Vegan Quick-Fix Solutions: 10 Weeks of Whole-Food Fusion Meals with Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, and Meat-Lover Variations includes downloadable grocery lists, reliable recipes, how to set up a whole-foods kitchen, whole-foods assessment chart, and much more.

My Blissful Belly program is growing in popularity and I’m almost finished developing 2 new webinar courses called 21 Day Vibrant Vegan JumpStart program, and WholeFood Nutrition Made Easy. I’m so excited for all of these offerings as they allow interaction and enjoyable learning in the comfort of their own home (from anywhere in the world where time zones jive), saving participants time, and reducing their environmental footprint.

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

Anyone interesting in finding out more can go to: to learn more about nutrition coaching, classes, programs, and books. If they’re looking for a speaker or workshop leader they are welcome to contact me on the site. If they are looking for a copy of Health By Chocolate they can find it at Greenwood Books, Audreys Bookstore, Earths General Store, and other locations in Edmonton, or the major bookstores elsewhere.

Real Life Vegan Quick-Fix Solutions will be available in print and eBook. Victoria

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you Tad for helping get the word out! I’m very grateful.


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

guest post: the magic of mirroring in your business

by Suzanne Monroe

The Magic of Mirroring in Your Business

As a holistic practitioner or coach, you’re likely familiar with the “Magic of Mirroring” in your business. You know, when your client shows up with some challenge or issue that YOU actually need to work on.

The mirror is funny, because it shows up unannounced and sort of slaps you across the face. You don’t have time to prepare, you’re taken off guard, and your client’s biggest challenge is staring you right in the face as your own life. Just when you thought you were becoming more enlightened, it shows up to remind you that there’s always something to work on in life.

The Magic of Mirroring is actually what makes some holistic pro’s lack confidence. Have you ever said to yourself, “Oh, no, my client has the same challenge I do! How can I possibly help them?” It’s the whole fear factor where you feel just because you haven’t healed something in your own life, you think you can’t be of service to your client.

But that’s the whole point! We are all on this journey of life and holistic business to reach our highest potential. I truly believe that whatever you truly want to go for in life, your calling, your mission, you purpose or whatever you personally name it, comes from something you need to heal.

Here’s an example from my own life….

When I first started in business, I was a Holistic Nutrition Coach and I had severe sugar cravings. The mirror started showing up a lot. Clients kept showing up with sugar cravings when I was finding myself eating more chocolate than ever. These clients had very busy lives and didn’t spend too much time nurturing themselves. The clear solution for each one of them was to give themselves more self-care and time for feeding their souls. And staring right back at me was the mirror. I knew I was in need of some serious self-care.

While I felt like running the other way, when I made the decision that I could help my clients (even though I too was struggling in some way with a similar problem), we both ended up healing.

And I still experience the mirror….

Even now as a Holistic Business Coach and Founder of an international organization, the mirror still shows up! Sure, I thought it would go away, now that I have achieved a certain level of “success”…perhaps I had less to work on?! (Which is by the way, never the case!) Was I kidding myself? The mirror never goes away, that’s the beauty of it. Just the other day a client was having challenges balancing her family life with her business. She had a lot of excuses about time and being able to run a business with everything else on her plate. Instantly, I saw myself with my new baby and realized that I had been repeating a mantra in my head that “time was limited”.

Time can’t be limited – we all have the same amount of time each day. And I could chose to recognize this or ignore it. I chose to listen and I made a shift very quickly. That’s what’s so profound about mirroring. When you’re ready to receive the message from the mirror, you can make a change in an instant.

What I know about the mirror is that it’s there for a reason.
It’s there to shine back to you the best possible version of yourself. It there to show you what’s going on down deep so you can move through it, instead of tuck it away where it will continuing brewing.

And that’s a miracle, really, because it’s like a supercharged healing, it can happen in a minute if you want it to. You can change right there and make a decision to know what’s true for you and help your client to do the same.

So I want you to embrace the mirror. Step up to and say “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the ____ of them all?” (You fill in the blank with whatever you want to do or be!)

Show your beautiful face in the mirror and Post a comment here!


Thriving Together,

Suzanne Monroe

Founder & CEO

The International Association of Wellness Professionals

Are you a wellness professional, holistic health practitioner, or other health-minded, heart-centered entrepreneur who wants to learn the business and marketing tools to create lasting success? Get your FREE Wellness Professional’s Success Starter Kit at and jumpstart your wellness practice today. Suzanne Monroe is a Holistic Business Coach and the Founder & CEO of the International Association of Wellness Professionals, where passionate practices become thriving businesses.


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


oakland’s pay what you want holistic clinic

Imagine a holistic health clinic where you didn’t have to pay.

Last August, I was emailed a link to a video about just such a clinic in Oakland, California. Since people know I do most of my workshops on a Pay What You Can basis – they tend to send me lots of stories and examples. I watched the video and was so moved and posted it onto my blog.

And then, just a month ago I was in Oakland leading a marketing workshop with my pal Alex Baisley called, ‘Marketing for Hippies and Gyspies’ (myself being the hippie and alex being the gyspie). As we did the introduction circle at the start of the day – a woman, Aumatma Binal Shah (pictured right), introduced herself and the amazing, gift economy holistic health clinic she ran.

Levers and gears clicked in my head. I burst out in the biggest smile and blurted out, ‘You’re on my blog!!!’. I was so excited. I think you will be too when you read about it and watch the video below.

Aumatma’s project – The Karma Clinic – is special, brave and generous. I want to see it get every scrap of support it can. Spread the word.

Below is my interview with her.


What is the name of your project?

Karma Clinic

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?

I had a vision when I was 18 that I would be doctor running a ‘free’ clinic.

At the time, I wanted nothing to do with either- medicine or free! Fast forward 4 years of pre-med undergrad and at the end not having a clue what to do with my life since I really did not want to go to medical school, I was discouraged and confused.

At that time, I got a piece of “junk mail” at my parents’ home from a Naturopathic College. I took one look at the curriculum and knew that I was meant to become a Naturopathic Doctor and that I was being called to be of service. Through school, I volunteered at numerous free clinics and noticed that something was missing- people mostly took us for granted, and did not follow the suggestions/ recommendations given to them.

After graduation from Naturopathic school with a Doctorate in Naturopathy and Master’s in Nutrition, I felt the need for an inward journey for discovery and deepening of understanding the world from a wholistic perspective.

That desire led me to a monastery where I spent a year, living mostly in silence, without any contact with money, and lots of time to connect with myself and nature while living harmoniously & sustainably with community and the earth. After a year, I felt called to re-start my service to the world on a broader scale so I left the monastery to join a naturopathic office, with my mentor.

Within a few months, I started to notice a repeated uneasiness in the pit of my stomach after each session, upon walking out of the office and telling the client they now owed us a large sum of money (usually between $300-500). I did not like the equation of this connection and relationship with another person with cash or transaction.

In complete synchro-destiny, I received an email from a dear friend who runs an organization/ hub for gift-economy projects, saying that there was some talk of a ‘karma hospital’- similar to Karma Kitchen, but instead of serving food, the intention was to serve health. Very excited by the possibility, I moved across the country 3 months later, to converse and create with others that were inspired by the same vision.

This closed a loop for me of the vision I had in meditation 10 years prior, and I knew that I was following my path, my truth.

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

The way it works is: a client contacts me (or some other practitioner within the network) for an appointment. They get sent an extensive questionnaire which they fill out and send back. Then, they make an appointment to come into the office. We have our first session, generally about 2 hours.

At the end of our time together, I say something like (it changes to what’s most authentic in the moment): “Thank you for this opportunity to be of service, and a small conduit for your healing process. I offer this to you as a gift, because there’s no price tag that is enough- and any price is too much! Your session was made possible by someone that came before you and if you wish to pay it forward, so that someone else may have this experience, you can do so- now or at any point in the future.” At that point, the client may have questions, or an offering, or a ‘thank you’ and a hug! All are received with trust and generous heart.

Who do you find it’s working best for?

In terms of the gift-economy component, it works best for those that are wishing to grow in their generosity, don’t have access to medical care and are in need of it, and are willing to make a shift in their life for the better.

In terms of my own specialties, I work with a variety of issues but focus on: anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and stress-induced chronic illness. The reason that I focus on these is that they often get ignored and eventually result in greater imbalances and diseases in the body. So, its the way I feel I can be of the most service to those that need it the most!

how do you deal with the ‘guilt’ that can come up when people are afraid they won’t pay enough – i get this all the time.

The ‘guilt’ is a feeling that’s an internal measure that can actually be used as an indicator light for internal truth, rather than intellectualized truth. However, that feeling of guilt is internal- understanding that it is not coming from the gift-economy practitioner because there’s no pressure to give back in the gift-economy. The “right” amount should feel light and joyous. So, when giving a gift, one should give the amount that feels good- its a different place for everyone, but each individual has that place that feels “light and right” to them! It’s not too much, not too little.


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

I haven’t marketed at all! My clients spread the word all on their own. So, the best thing I have found to do is to be present with the person immediately in front of me.

do you have any fancy marketing and promotion ideas coming up?

No. Just moving with the flow of what the universe brings in.

what advice would you give to someone wanting to try a gift economy approach?
Put on your gear (of compassion and trust) and dive in! It does help to have a mentor though- because inevitably, things arise which need to be talked through.  In the beginning, it’s also helpful to have some period of time that your basic needs are met to start out (I say 6 months is a good period of time), to allow yourself to really dive into the gift-economy, without expecting anything in return. Last but not least, connect with community that inspires you and connect with your own gratitude regularly.

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

TRUST. TRUST. TRUST. I have deepened (and continue to deepen) my trust in the universe- that all my needs will be met if I just allow my gifts to flow through me.

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

Excited about the growing network of gift-based healers across the country! I am going to be on tour June 5th-July 15th, doing funshops on “Money & Media for healers”. These workshops are also offered on a gift basis and am looking forward to having conversations with other healers around money, sharing gift-economy model for healthcare with them, and inspiring them to try new ways of practicing their art/ service/ gift.

Go watch this little video about the Karma Clinic:



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

Come visit our site at:


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

abundant yogi – not an oxymoron. an option

Last year at some point, I came across a lady named Kris Ward who runs a business called Abundant Yogi. Maybe I felt an affinity because my own business name is one of apparent contradictions too. “Marketing and hippies?? What?”

I’ve been following her stuff for a bit and thought it might be nice to share it with you all.

So many conscious entrepreneurs really struggle with making their business more than just an expensive hobby for them. Kris was in that place and in this blog interview she shares where she is now and some ideas on how you can turn your expensive hobby into a really wonderful, sustainable business you’re thrilled with. And to do it in a way that also creates a wonderful quality of life.


What is abundant yogi? What’s the story of how it started?

Abundant Yogi is a reaction to all the “yogier than thou” tendencies I saw in the yoga and holistic wellness community, where teachers and service providers within the industry were afraid to promote themselves and their services for fear of looking greedy, too “corporate-y”, or un-yogi-like. I knew this was going on because I played into it for YEARS before I sat myself down one day for a serious BIG-SELF on little-self INTERVENTION.

I got really honest with myself about the lifestyle I wanted and the dreams I had, and I basically just made the decision that I was going to defy the norm and become an “Abundant Yogi” (a phrase that, up until that point, had pretty much been an oxymoron––at least for me and the other yogis I knew).

This decision was a no-brainer for me. I’d been wired like a true entrepreneur since I was a scrawny little 7th grader selling Blow-Pops and Airheads at school for 50 cents a pop and counting my wad of babysitting money over and over in a very joyful yet OCD fashion. My dad always told me I’d have to marry a rich guy or become a business owner because I had such expensive taste. I actually LOVED participating in the exchange of value.

To deny that I loved the game of business as much as I loved being a yogi and wellness coach just so I could be accepted by my ‘spiritual’ community was a big fat lie and super uncomfortable for me. It wasn’t authentic.

So I stopped pretending, relaxed into my desires, and started trusting them a lot more. I sought out and mentored under some really amazing people––entrepreneurs, leaders and coaches who were running multi-million dollar businesses built on integrity and real value. I began modeling them and learned everything I could from them, applying all the parts that felt right to me.

It took a few years but eventually I found my groove and got to the point where I actually felt free from the good opinions of others. At least enough to be myself (potty mouth and all) and “let it all hang out” on my blog and in my videos, courses and newsletters. And once I found that sweet spot, everything just started to flow.

Clients, speaking gigs, money in my bank account, better relationships, more confidence and creativity, the support team I wanted and needed… it all went from being ONE HUGE STRUGGLE (or nonexistent) to being quite fun, exciting, and easily accessible.

And you know how we humans are. The second we have a breakthrough and we discover the “magic formula” to anything, all we want to do is share the good news and bring other people into the same good fortune. So that’s how Abundant Yogi came to be.

I figured surely there were others out there like me (in the yoga community and beyond) who actually LIKED the idea of getting paid to be the real them, truly leaning into their pleasure, passions, and callings, and giving themselves permission to live the lifestyle they choose––for no other reason than that they choose to. That’s what the creative life force within them is called towards. And they choose to answer that calling in an honest way, through doing work that they LOVE that utilizes the best of their unique passions, talents and skills. That, to me, is the essence of lifestyle design.

Who do you work with?

Yoga teachers, Massage Therapists, Coaches, Healers, Wellness Professionals, Artists, Writers…. creative people with a passion to serve and a hankering for the good life.

What are the big three blunders that you see them making in their businesses?

Well they all have to do with Monkey Mind (stinkin’ thinkin’ that keeps them stuck instead of taking crucial action) and we go into ALL of these in my free training videos on the Abundant Yogi PhD site:

1) Thinking they’re not ready yet. They still need more training, more credentials, more experience, more testimonials, more fill-in-the-blank in order to really get started and charge what they’re worth (BS! They’re ready. They just have to own their brilliance, take action, focus on serving others instead of protecting themselves from “too much risk”. They’ve got to take responsibility and start being a PRO.)

a2) Thinking it’s all been said before. They have nothing original to add. How are they ever going to compete with all the others in their field? It’s all so saturated! (More BS! There is no such thing a competition when you’re just trying to be the best YOU you can be.)

3) Thinking that marketing sucks or doesn’t “work” in their field or with their market. Their market is “different”. Marketing “backfires” with yogis / spiritual folk / hippies / health nuts / holistic minded peeps. (Triple BS! Marketing is simply good leadership. It helps people who are looking for what you have to offer to actually FIND you and take full advantage of what you have, so they can get the relief / results they want.)

What’s your understanding of what’s underneath those challenges for you?

Fear. We think we have to wait until it’s gone before we move. Actually we have to act in spite of it.

It’s when we take risks, step outside of our comfort zone, and courageously focus on helping others get their needs met that we actually realize how powerful we are and how much value we have to share.  It’s in seeing ourselves take this action that the confidence comes, the rewards come, and the fear falls away.

What are the three most important marketing tools or tactics that you would give to any practitioner looking to grow their business?

1) Be unabashedly, unreasonably, unapologetically YOU. If you try to be anyone/anything other than the real you (in your marketing, your communications, classes, sessions, services, etc.), you’ll attract people that want more of the fake you. And you’ll always have to do that song and dance in order to keep them happy. That’s no fun at all. They’ll make you miserable and you’ll resent them for it, so everyone will pay for it in the long run.

2) Don’t be afraid to go narrow and strong in your niche. Boil what you do down to a kernel. (Ex: I just helped one of my clients narrow her “What do you do?” speech down to: “I’m a bedroom joyologist. I help women feel sexy and empowered in and out of the bedroom no matter what.” It was more tough than you probably realize for her to whittle it down to that very precise statement because she was afraid of being too narrow or excluding too many people. But you really can’t be too narrow. What is the saying?? “She who chases two rabbits catches none.”

Your market wants to feel like you know them, get them, understand their problems, irrational passions, fears and dreams. How can you speak their unique language and describe every aspect of their experience to them if you try to go too broad and speak to everyone? Zoom in on ONE tiny group and spoil them ROTTEN with super valuable content on a regular basis to create bonding, trust and even a sense of reciprocity. They’ll want to give you more business because you’ve helped them so much!

3) We often hear so much about how we should “show our expertise, but also show our vulnerability”. And this is true. People want to know that you’ve been where they are, you understand what they’re going through. So for sure, don’t be afraid to reveal some of your own struggles. BUT, for heaven’s sake, never reveal them if you’re right in the middle of them!! People have enough problems. They don’t need the weight of having YOURS dumped on them too. Wait until you’ve found resolution before you share your challenges so you can teach from a new place of clarity and even offer some insights as to how to avoid or get out of a similar sticky situation.

If you could sit a practitioner down and say, ‘look, do these three things every week and your business will double in a year’, what would they be?

Each week:

1) Create a valuable piece of content that offers relevant tips, tools and insights that will help your people get results in advance, even before they ever pay you a penny. Include at the end of that piece of content a simple and clear call to action that allows people to get on your mailing list for more helpful goodies.

2) Share each piece of content on your own blog, on other people’s blogs, via social media, etc. Turn a written piece into an audio piece, a video, a little handout, a tweet, a Facebook post, a nugget you can share with your clients/classes/students. Repurpose your content however you can and spread it around generously.

3) As your list of potential clients/customers/students grows, offer them opportunities to get more of your help/products/services so they can get the results they’re looking for. Create packages and programs that will move them further down the path they want to go. Over time, create an entire curriculum or family of products/services that they can choose from so that they’re always progressing forward and taking the next step into their own growth/freedom/transformation via YOUR offerings.

*BONUS: Take the time to write out testimonials for your satisfied customers and clients. Tell them you’ve taken the liberty of writing one for them and ask them to please edit it so that it feels true and authentic to them. These will provide valuable social proof and peace of mind for those who want what you have, but may be holding back or stuck on the fence because of their own skepticism or limiting beliefs.

Why does it feels so scary and gross for most practitioners when they think about growing their business, getting their name out there etc?

It’s just resistance. It’s our thoughts spinning out. We don’t have to believe them or even pay attention to them.

The more passionate we are about something the more we’ll tend to bump up against resistance, most of which is self-created and self-perpetuated. It’s a defense mechanism that paralyzes us and keeps us from taking too much risk and going for what we really really want.

So why don’t we WANT to go after what we really really want with 100% passion, commitment and gusto? Because what happens when we eff it up? What do we have LEFT when we’ve put everything we’ve got into what is MOST important to us and it just FLOPS?? We have nothing!

This is how Monkey Mind works. It’s at work ’round the clock clinging to approval, control and security. But it’s not even focused on what is REAL. It’s projecting into the future about what may or may not happen. Either way, it’s so scary to even fathom that it would rather choose to play small and just half-ass things instead. “At least if I don’t commit 100%, I won’t have to lose everything. I’ll just lose a little bit.”

But that’s just not living.

I guess that’s okay for some people but I’d rather be a dog and live fat, lazy and happy than do that.

If I’m going to be a human and have a mind, body and spirit like this, I’m going to uncover what’s possible for me because I have to answer that call from within.

For others who want that, bring it. You know where to find us. :)

Can you share three success stories from some of your clients? I’m curious to hear about what it’s like to work with you.

1) Well I already told you about one––my ‘bedroom joyologist’. She coaches women, live and over the phone, on how to feel sexy and confident in and out of the bedroom. She was a former model. When she moved on from that she didn’t know what to do next. For months she just took naps because she was lacking direction. She couldn’t figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. So we did some work on lifestyle design to get her honest with herself again on what really made her tick. Today, just a few months later, she’s rocking and rolling with her own personal brand, getting testimonials left and right, spicing up many a sex lives and giving women all over the US and Canada the tools they need to feel sexy and confident in their own skin. That’s priceless. And my client is happier than ever.

2) Then I have another client who is the mama of two darling twin babies. Like me, she works with yogis who need serious help in the business and marketing arena. When she came to me she was stuck. She didn’t know how to be a mom AND make any money in business. It was pretty much one or the other. Once again, in just a few short months, she’s up and running, doing big launches, enrolling new clients every week, attracting sometimes 80+ new leads/potential clients to her website per day… and all of this without giving up any mommy time. She put herself and her own lifestyle needs first, then we redesigned her business to SUPPORT and uphold that lifestyle––not take away from it. All of my courses teach this to some degree.

We just upgraded her systems and tweaked her pricing, packages, coaching methods and schedule so it would be possible to juggle being a mom of twin babies AND a rockin’ business coach for yoga teachers.

3) Third, I’ll tell you about my client in Alaska who trains and certifies yoga teachers and also uses yoga as a healing platform for women who have suffered through sexual abuse and other trauma. She’s a character! She’s always been quite the taskmaster so getting things done wasn’t a problem. However getting them done with joy and ease, while attracting ONLY those clients who she adored working with, rather than clients who drained her energy, THAT didn’t come so easily. After working with me privately as well as going through my virtual programs, she’s a completely different woman. I see her in action now and she’s just graceful. There’s no more forcing, only allowing. She trusts herself so much more and she’s more in her feminine. She gives herself what she needs, without guilt or drama and get’s twice as much done with less stress. But above all that, the biggest change I’ve seen in her so far, is going from operating in what I’d call a FOG (albeit a very optimistic one), to operating from a place of extreme clarity of desire, grounded in who she is and what she’s here to do, and moving into momentum now with very clear priorities and intentions. Again, I think that’s priceless.

What would you say is the core focus of your work?

The focus isn’t so much on giving these women NEW businesses.

We just needed to tweak their businesses so that their preferred LIFESTYLE came first, and so that the clients they worked with and the work they do could be an absolute JOY, not a drag. We had them STOP doing what wasn’t fun and profitable, and start charging more for the work that they DID love doing; coaching, teaching, etc. And we repackaged their programs and upgraded their offers to make them irresistible to their ideal clients. My Alaska client is still a yoga teacher trainer and a yoga therapist for survivors of sexual abuse, but now she’s doing national launches instead of just working within the teeniny close-knit community where she lives.

I’m so proud of all of these women. Each of them is doing the work that they needed to do to finally get out of their own way and start living life by design.

Thanks, Tad, for the opportunity to share. I appreciate you spreading the word and sharing the Monkey Mind Makeover and Lifestyle Design Plan with everyone here. This is seriously transformational material and it’s my intention for many people’s lives and businesses to be upgraded and liberated as a result finding it.



If you want to learn more about what

Kris is up to and to see if it’s a fit just


for some free videos.



If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


karma community – an online holistic calendar listing in calgary

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Calgary’s very own Leigh Clark.

I got word of a new community calendar called Karma Community where holistic types could list their practice and their events for free (or pay a little bit for a snazzier listing). I got excited because I’m very excited about anything ‘hub’ related. Becoming a hub isn’t easy. But hubs are so powerful for a community – they help it tighten and deepen.

Lessons I Want to Flag:

  • If you’ve got events you’re trying to promote or a scene you’re wanting to support – don’t just think about growing the tribe bigger – also think about growing its roots deeper. Not just making the web bigger, but making the existing bonds stronger.
  • word of mouth spreads within communities, the more tightly woven a community, the faster word of mouth spreads for everyone.
  • With any kind of online community tool (e.g. facebook, myspace, karma community etc) they are useful in direct proportion to how many people actually USE them. The more people you can get to use it – the more useful it is for everyone. This is why it’s vital to have a ‘free‘ option. You want a lot of people using it. Many of these models (also websites like, or grew fast by giving away a basic version totally for free. They get people hooked with solid value and then offer them more. You want to make it so. easy. to join. No hassle. No barriers. Easy. Look in your own community for these types of online tools and communities. If you think it will be useful to you and your people – then promote the hell out of it. The more you promote it, the more people will use it. And the more people that use it, the more useful it will be for you.
  • It must sustain you too. It’s vital that you design this to not only give free value – but also support and compensate you in some way. What we feed should feed us too.

Here’s the interview . . .


so, what is the karma community?

karma community is a loosely woven group of people who support and participate in personal development activities in Calgary and the surrounding area. However, over time my intent is to attract participants from other regions (or in other words – to take over the world).

and when did it officially get started?

I’m not sure how to best describe this. It’s not a formal thing with some kind of registration date and official membership. I suppose you could say it started when the concept for the site was launched. I wanted to find a way to bring people together so they could feel like they were part of a larger group, not so isolated.

Here’s how I describe it on the site:

Want to be part of the community?

Welcome. There’s no sign up, no login, no necessity to give us any personal details. You become a part of karma community through simple intention and, if you choose, by participating in events we list on our calendar.

We’re living in a time where it’s important for those of us doing this kind of work to be part of a supportive community. There’s a lot of people who are struggling and don’t realize there’s a whole group of people out there willing to support them. This is just my way of letting them know they’re not alone, and inviting them to be part of the group.

what’s the story of how this got started? what’s the need you saw in the community that prompted this?

Well, I was downloading my emails after being off my computer for a couple of days over the New Year break. I’m on a few mailing lists and about 3 or 4 emails had come in about events and activities going on in town. It’s my habit to forward these on to any of my friends who I think might be interested. So I was doing that and thinking to myself ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of calendar that showed everything that was going on?’. End of story.

what’s the response been so far?

In a nutshell – it’s a bit of a runaway train. I started getting emails 15 minutes after I sent out the introduction. The listings started coming an hour after that. I’d love to see it continue at that pace, probably a bit unrealistic perhaps. must be exciting! is there any kind of email newsletter attached to it?

Yes, people can sign up for the newsletter on the site at the bottom of this page

The newsletter is mailed every Monday and shows the upcoming events that are listed for that week.

is it linked to social media in any way?

At the moment no, but it will be.

how have you been marketing it so far? what’s been most effective there?

Let’s just say I’ve done what you might describe as a ‘soft launch’.

And by soft, I mean marshmallow. I’ve sent out one email to my contacts. The great thing is that people believe in the service and are distributing the introduction through their networks. Of course, I will be doing more than that but likely not until all aspects of the site are functioning. I just really wanted to get the calendar running first and get some feedback, so I know how to fine tune the direction as we work on the remaining features.

let’s talk money – is this financially supporting you at all right now? or do you think it might in the future?

It was never my intent to rely on this as a sole source of income. However, I don’t want to place any limits on the potential growth opportunities of what we can do here. Once we have the currently projected features in place we’ll have the ability to generate more revenue and pay back the investment required to launch the site. After that there will always be more ideas to pursue in order to generate more revenue. I’ll be pleased when it’s breaking even and the investment is repaid. Then I’ll focus on some additional ways to tweak things in an upward direction.

where would the money come from? which features will generate money do you think?

The money comes from the paid event listings and will also come from other types of listing we’ll be offering – resource centre (business directory), classifieds, general site sponsor ads, that kind of thing.

what are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned from doing this so far?

  1. It will always take more time that you anticipate.
  2. It will always take more money than you anticipate.
  3. Sometimes the more expensive solution is the best solution.

if someone else wanted to create something similar for their own crowd what are the top three pieces of advice you’d have?

  1. Save yourself time and money by using my infrastructure. We have the ability to add multiple calendars for multiple locations. Don’t start from scratch unless you have lots of money and lots of time.
  2. Ask yourself if this is really your calling, listen to your guidance. We’re not all here to climb Mount Everest or invent Facebook. If your appointed task is to build an online calendar then rest assured, it’ll happen. Somehow.
  3. Start with an intent to help people and to be of service. The rest is just details.

anything else you want to share?

I’m a perfectionist in many things. And I’m all about function. Pretty much everything I touch has to be ‘just so’. That means the finished product has to be the best it can be for the resources that are available. I’m trying to provide a service that people can use, and will recommend.

It’s important to me that people think it’s great, because if they don’t think that, I haven’t done my job. I always want feedback and I’ll always try to improve what we offer to align with what people want, the way they want it. Does that mean we’ll incorporate every idea someone submits? No. At the end of the day it’s my responsibility to see the bigger picture and keep the project on track. That being said, I’d like to think of any project I work on as an experiment, a collaboration. And it needs to be fun.


For more info on Karma Community CLICK HERE


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

yoga for caregivers

Last fall, I did my first ever workshop in Winnipeg, Manitoba. You can read about it here: day one, day two, day three.

And I sort of fell in love with the town – particularly the hippie neighbourhood of Wolsley.

One of the people who made my visit possible at all was a wonderful woman, mother and yoga teacher named Beth Martens (pictured right). As we got to know each other and discuss this whole idea of niching for her business a niche came up for her that felt so true: caregivers.

What you’re about to read is a gorgeous example of the power of empathy and becoming a hub.

So recently we had a little chat about how that was going for her.


How long have you been teaching yoga now and what got you started with it?

My yoga practice is going on 20 years, beginning in Mysore, India when I took my first of eight trips there to study yoga, meditation and kirtan.  I’ve been teaching yoga and leading kirtan full time since 2003, upon recovering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

I began with this practice because of a life-long attraction to practical spirituality.  I was totally disillusioned with religion and social control, but discovered quickly that the spiritual arts can be very personal and guided by a system at the same time.

I ended up in India almost by default, choosing a last half credit to graduate my undergrad degree in anthropology, taking a one-time-ever course in meditation for credit, and then feeling attracted to leave the academic behind and get my own feet in the ocean of life.

When I discovered that yoga is even bigger, more all-encompassing than anthropology, I traded “up” for the direct experience of all the stuff I’d read and heard described.  I wanted to see for myself what the science experiment in consciousness itself could hold for me.

You’ve recently been exploring focusing on the niche of ‘caregivers’. Can you tell us what prompted that – what was the need you saw in your community that gave you this idea – and how does that connect to your own life?

Carving out a niche was on your advice, and I really and finally got the point, that trying to be everyone’s singing yoga teacher was costing me too much energy, scattering my limited marketing efforts and making me feel overwhelmed enough to not promote at all.  Choosing a niche that genuinely matters to me makes me feel alive and energized in the communication and though still overwhelming, I don’t get stuck with that daunting, “where do I begin?”

You’ve also been a good model for supporting and uplifting one another in our small earth and consciousness-friendly projects, and seeing how high we can fly when forces are combined, competition removed from the foreground, and co-operation fully engaged.  It’s way more fun and has the fantastic side effect of making me feel connected with my community.

I also feel it was career transforming to hear you speak to the need for marketing plans to reflect community needs, to actually bring people together and to treat that growth like the real measure of wealth.  I was tripping on and off that idea vicariously, where now it’s an integral part of the game plan as well as  instructions to students. Thanks Tad!!

As I mentioned I had a three year struggle with my health, cancer of the lymph, that caused me to ask life’s big questions, and forced me to come up with answers, as my life was at stake.  In those years I was in need of and very close with several caregivers, and saw first hand what they were going through in efforts to help me save my own skin, not a little thing.

After recovering I also walked with several family members through their own scary illnesses, and now am the single mom of a young son.  When creating this niche I didn’t even see myself in the role of caregiver, but started getting lucid as I was reading and writing about the symptoms that this group share, no matter how they came to the role.

And they do indeed share stuff, mainly including a sense of energy depletion, reduced immunity and social isolation.  Caregiver is a role many will default into suddenly, rather than choose, so that creates a whole level of crisis-style lifestyle management that can go on at that crisis pace for years.

As our health care system becomes more and more weighed down demographically, as our society becomes less and less adept at caring for ourselves and each other, caregivers are left to pick up the pieces, survive on behalf of their loved ones and carry extraordinary and heroic-level burdens.

The deeper I looked into caregivers’ mostly silent journey, and realizing they have very little support systemically, the more I began to emotionally engage.  I recently, for example, re-friended someone I hadn’t heard from for 15 years because her husband had a severe stroke and I was ill at the time.  She is lucky enough that a decade of care to him has resulted in some recovery and she is regaining some lifestyle freedom, but for ten years, her personal life did not exist.

It makes these people desperate for some sense of connection with others that get what they are going through, and hungry for chances to take care of themselves for a change.  I find caregivers’ stories riveting and almost unbelievable testimonies to the enormous power of the human spirit.  And that makes me want to be of service to this group.

What is it that you’re offering these caregivers?

In the short term I’ve created workshops called Yoga Cream Pie as an answer to what ails caregivers, both physically, spiritually and socially.  This currently three-hour workshop is a refuge for caregivers, where they will get a chance to enjoy a yoga practice that is not only good for them, but feels amazing and makes up for the inevitable pleasure deficits that follow being isolated, literally stranded on the desert island of their obligations.

The session includes supported and restorative yoga, as well as massage while they are in these already delish poses, with the live music called kirtan, India’s ecstatic chant tradition.  I also give them some time at the end to meet at least one person in the group with whom they can identify, share something about themselves and realize that they are in fact, not alone in their caregiving experiences.


People come to these sessions looking haggard, drawn, depleted.  They likely rushed there, begged and borrowed to get the time and have a huge hope that they are not wasting their precious time off.

After the session, which always seems so short, participants leave refreshed, with more energy than when they arrived, they have got their bodies gently opened, lovingly worked-upon with healing hands of an RMT and filled with the magic mantras that are the food for my own healing journey.  Their faces are the most telling of the benefit, looking younger, more relaxed and so much happier.

And this is just the beginning of what I have envisioned.

What’s the response been?

I’m a little slow in the start up of this project, but the response has been awesome with the hubs that I’ve contacted, related to caregivers.  I’ve received nothing but good feedback from the multitude of organizations that come into vicarious contact with caregivers, because there on the front line, they know that the caregivers need to be not just recognized, but supported. And they have nothing or little to offer, being almost entirely client and patient focused.  A focus on caregivers hopefully will reveal that care is a community responsibility, and that caregiver shouldn’t mean one individual, but rather a whole team of help and love.”


The participants who have tried Yoga Cream Pie all reflect my own personal experience of finding this restorative yoga therapeutic montage to be a very efficient way to spend time, a self-spa that also includes a sense of being personally entertained, with genuine care for the soul built right into the mix.

Here’s some feedback I got at the YCP we ran on the weekend:

Subject: That was great
I feel nourished and restored and relaxed. That was a wonderful session and you have a lovely voice…thank you for a very enriching time! And the massage was a lovely, added bonus!  Thank you.

What kind of marketing has worked best so far?

I was lucky enough to get some help with a little publicity, and therefore my credibility.  Here’s a sample from the Winnipeg Free Press who published this article in their Prime Times tabloid.

I also did an interview on CKUW campus radio, a small listening audience, but which provided a great opportunity to tell the story behind YCP in length.



I also did several internet-based, Blog Talk, radio interviews that have the same magic effect of being able to distribute a feature far and wide to interested peeps.



In addition I built four brand new websites, so that Caregivers’ Refuge could have its very own URL and presence, another reflecting my ‘straight’ yoga classes and workshops, one for the live and recorded kirtan music I do as well as my own name-domain that serves as central hub for all the stuff I do.


That way when people arrive at my site, there is no confusion for them as to what they will discover there.

I rely heavily on social media and the tendency to SHARE, which has helped me connect with this rather large group, but who have often not identified themselves as a caregiver.  Being able to share a caregivers’ experience in sound bite, digestible bits, has helped a lot as an education forum as well as advertising.

And then from there, Yoga Cream Pie has been growing been word-of-mouth, through the building of relationships and trust with caregivers that are in my community.  Interestingly, anyone who offers me help these days with my work and caregivers mission, are themselves a caregiver, someone who can relate to what I’m doing and to the potential that it holds. Just today, I signed on with one of the internet deal offer website companies, WagJag, to make a special offer on the Yoga Cream Pie.  I recently had a big success with a not-niche, mainstream yoga offer on Groupon and sold 180 yoga packages in two days, notwithstanding the very deep discount.  I am super curious to see if the caregivers are going to respond to an offer custom made for them.

One thing about caregivers, because of their isolation, is that they are internet busy and savvy.

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

Top three lessons:

  1. Building community is more important than earning a living.  Go slow and don’t stress unless it’s really worth it, i.e., in line with your life’s purpose and getting people together around it.
  2. It’s all small steps and not to be overwhelmed by a large vision, or think that any step is too small to matter.
  3. Pioneering requires time and supreme patience.  Build around something that genuinely makes you feel well, more energized and more generous of spirit.

Anything else?

Not a lesson so much as a discovery: Caregivers make amazing friends.


If you feel like you’re a caregiver and could use some support – Beth wrote an ebook on the Seven Secrets of Avoiding Caregivers’ Burnout,  it is available for free download when you sign up for the Caregivers’ Refuge newsletter at


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


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





the journey

I’ve just woken up in Kelowna at the International Hostel (that’s me in my room to the right). It’s pretty great. And the other hostelers here have my gratitude for ending their Beer Pong competition at 11pm.

I’m here because I’m leading my Marketing 101 for Holistic Practitioners workshop and last night was the first part of it.

I asked one of the participants to hold my iphone so we could record something I’ve been wanting to record and share with you all for a couple of years.

It’s all about something I call ‘The Journey’ that you’re taking your clients on.

This piece is something I’ve learned from so many people: Jay Abraham, Bill Baren, Mark Silver and Robert Middleton. It’s become such a core part of my philosophy and perspective on marketing.

Here’s a photo of what I was drawing since it’s kind of hard to see in the video.


If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.


What do you think?