Content is king. Right? That’s what people say. 

Is it though? Because I’m kinda thinking content is…queen. Sure, the king rules the land, calls the shots. He’s the authority. 

But.

The queen is the master of content. The king pronounces; the queen whispers. The king talks; the queen listens. And she doesn’t miss a trick. 

In chess, the king can move on square this way or that way (I think). The queen, on the other hand, is a magical sorcerer and will knock you off the board. 

The king has authority—and we all know why that matters, especially in establishing a brand presence. But it’s not the crowning feature. It’s context.

Authority isn’t exactly a regulated term, and I think it’s dangerous to rely on context over content. It’s nice that you’ve done this, that, and the other thing. But what matters most is what you’re saying right now.

If we approach content assuming we’re all “kings” if we use it, we’re missing point.

The best content doesn’t demand attention; it earns it (something a king never has had to do). 

Content is seduction, not conquest. And yes, there’s a difference. You’re not out to corner people with your content; you’re kinda trying to invite them back to your place. Ok, that may have crossed a line. Too much coffee.

This week, I’m hosting an online training event designed to help you see content in an entirely new way. 

It’s called Rekindle Your Content: Fire up your creativity and fuel your marketing efforts. 

Here’s some of what we’ll cover: 

  • How to approach creating content without dying inside
  • How to think about what you’re saying now vs 3 months ago
  • Why there’s no such thing as a boring topic (not even yours)
  • How to write content that people actually read and respond to
  • A method and framework you can use to create content EVERY time

Register here, even if you’re not sure if you can make it. 

Yassss queeeeennnnn.

Years ago, I spent the weekend at a friend’s ski chalet. It had a hot tub. So, around 9pm, we grabbed some beers and got in it.

One of the guests was a man I’d never met, and I was trying to decide if I found him appealing. I figured it out rather quickly.

We were introduced, and rather than make conversation, maybe get to know me a bit, he stopped at my job title—magazine editor (this was years ago)—and launched, I kid you not, into a full-tilt pitch for his client.

Oof.

The hot tub bubbles fizzled.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually love to talk shop. But not usually two beers in on a Friday in a hot tub in New Hampshire when we’ve never had a conversation before.

I felt as though I’d been dragged out of the tub and was shivering in a conference room while he walked through his pitch deck.

I don’t remember his company, or his name, and I never talked to him again.

Surprised? Me neither. Swing and a miss.

My point: The key to getting someone, anyone, interested in anything is to start with a conversation. Not a pitch. And certainly not a pitch executed in a bathing suit while perspiring from hot tub heat. 

This is why content matters: Because it has value on its own.

Content is not a “platform” (gag). It’s how you engage and sustain a conversation with people who might like to hear from you. That’s it.

I like to hear from you, for instance. That’s why I write you all the time. I like when you write back, but it’s ok if you don’t.

And while this isn’t likely the first convo we’ve had, it’s also likely not the last. (Unless it is, in which case, ok bye! Thanks for coming!)

So let’s have a conversation about that conversation. It’s a bit meta. But I think it’s a conversation worth having. Don’t you?

Step on into my digital hot tub this Thursday 5/14 @ 11am ET for a newly revamped Rekindle Your Content masterclasswhich NOW includes a free writing session too (optional! No presh!) so that you can start creating your content right then and there.

Doesn’t matter if you can’t come live—register anyway and you can watch it from your own tub later if you like.

Here’s some of what we’ll cover:

  • How to approach creating content without dying inside
  • How to think about what you’re saying now vs 3 months ago
  • Why there’s no such thing as a boring topic (not even yours)
  • How to write content that people actually read and respond to
  • A method and framework you can use to create content EVERY time

Let’s not just talk. Let’s do it. 

(And no, that’s not what I said to the guy in the hot tub).

I mean, we can yakkety yak about writing and content but it means squat if you don’t apply it.

So. I’ll also be leading you through a real-time writing session which could be a game changer for you. 

⇒ REGISTER NOW and WATCH IT LIVE (OR LATER)!

Hand me that towel, would you? I’m turning into a raisin in here.

 

**PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT goes to…the Texas Hot Tub Co! I found this image HERE on their blog post about crafting your own hot tub date night. 

 

I’ve had aquatic life on the brain lately. Don’t ask. Everything’s weird. 

But you know what we could all use a little of? Octopus Time. A little OT. 

This is how Sy Montgomery describes the way her experience of time changed while she had her hands in the tank of a giant Pacific octopus named Athena. 

She writes about it in her (fabulous!) book, The Soul of an Octopus:

“…as we stroked her in the water, we entered into Athena’s experience of time—liquid, slippery, and ancient, flowing at a different pace than any clock.” 

Ok. So how do we get some of THAT magic, without an octopus handy? 

“Feelings of awe are known to expand the human experience of time… So does ‘flow,’ the state of being fully immersed in focus, involvement, and enjoyment.” 

The key? Mirror neurons—“a type of brain cell that respond equally whether we’re watching another person perform an action, or whether we’re performing that action ourselves,” she writes.

Spend an hour watching a video of a calm person doing a watercolor, and you’ll feel calm. Spend weeks in lockdown with a person whose brain is on perpetual spin cycle, and, well you know what happens. 

Montgomery says she wishes she could stay with Athena forever, in all that strangeness and beauty…but an octopus tank is FREEZING, man. Her hands go red with cold and she has to call it. 

“Taking our hands out of Athena’s tank felt like breaking a spell. I was suddenly desperately uncomfortable, awkward, and incompetent…It was as if I had trouble returning to the person, the writer, I was before.

We’ve all been submerged in a kind of octopus time, whether we want it or not—we’re in that floaty space where we can’t tell what’s up or down. It’s disorienting and strange.

We may emerge from it not quite knowing who we are, wondering if just the world changed, or if we’ve changed, too.

People say we need structure right now. Not everyone loves structure (including me). It’s not about the structure in and of itself; it’s about what it holds. 

When I run my workshops and classes, I talk a lot about creating the “container”—it’s what holds that space apart from other space. We need it. Not just because we “like structure” or need it, but because we need it to hold the work we do. 

I’m pretty strict about it with a group—and on my own. 

And I’m hardly a “structured” person!

You don’t have to love structure. You have to decide that there’s a tank you’d like to climb into. 

My OT happens between 7:30 and 11am. I try not to get tangled in email threads too early in the day. That’s when I do my heavy mental lifting, which for me is reading and writing, which I then use to make sense of stuff and to move my own work forward. 

Maybe for you that’s … 5am (God bless you!) or midnight. Whatever!

You really CAN create some octopus time, if you’re willing to block everything else out and put yourself in the path of a delicious trance, even just for a little while. 

You and I likely don’t have access to an octopus, but what’s amazing is how much we can be like them:

We can pour ourselves into a thimble of time, and then emerge, stretching our tentacles, tasting the world with our skin.

I know. I’m touching my face!
This was back in January, before doing so became verboten. Please know that no one got hurt during this photo shoot.
(My photographer DID very nearly pass out–but only because he didn’t eat lunch. I TOLD him he should eat. He doesn’t listen.)
I feel really awkward having my picture taken. This picture sums up how I felt the whole day. I don’t spend my days having my picture taken. So why would I be good at it?
There’s this pervasive belief that we’re supposed to be good at stuff that we have NO reason to be.
One advisor wrote to me:
“Marketing’s not my strong suit.”
Why should it be, Bob? I asked. You’re an advisor, not a writer. You’ve spent your life getting really good at other things.
Why do we think we “should” be able to write copy or roast a chicken or build a website or speak Spanish by now? We may never do any of these things.
You don’t have to know how to sew a button to use a button. And you don’t have to be some kind of ingenious marketer to make great and better use of marketing in your work.
And if you’re amused by any of this, then I can guarantee you’ll love the training I did on brand messaging, which you can access immediately here:
Let me know what you think!

Howard Stern interviewed Gov. Cuomo recently. He asked him what he makes of all the fuss over him right now. 

“Are you shocked by all this unbelievable outpouring of love for you? Are you just blown away by this? You’re on the cover of Rolling Stone. You’re the sexiest man in America.”

Cuomo’s response:  

“I don’t understand it…I’m doing the exact same thing I’ve always done. I’m not doing anything different. It’s who I am. It’s how I operate.”

And then, this:

“I haven’t changed….The public’s appetite has changed. And their desire has changed.” 

THAT. That stuck with me. Why? Because it shows that good ideas and great leadership don’t happen in a vacuum—and depending on what’s happening, what we’re dealing with, and who’s involved, the game can change, and the attention can shift. 

What someone might miss on a perfectly normal Thursday afternoon will earn you a standing ovation on a day when the world changes. 

During a time when everything feels off the rails, we look to consistency, stability, yes, but different things also matter to us now. 

Cuomo has had a reputation for decades as a hard, even ruthless, guy. But right now what people are paying attention? His rare blend of competence and empathy. The country is starved for both. 

We are calmed by his competence, but also, warmed by his stories—of his family, his brother Chris who’s battling COVID, his own recognition of how he looks at life, even his children, differently now. All of that engenders trust. 

While Cuomo may very well be doing what he’s always done, he’s also leaning into where he recognizes need, the appetite as he says, for what people are hungry for. 

So. How are you doing that? In your own work? Where are you recognizing the need and appetite of the people you serve and rising to meet it in a way that only you can? It’s a question worth asking, especially now. 

Because you don’t have to be governor to have an impact on someone else’s life. This isn’t just business as usual, this isn’t just doing work from home if you normally work in an office. We have to see what we do in a new way, to understand, now more than ever, what need we’re serving. 

Remember a few weeks ago when I went on my friend Lisa Nickerson’s daily show #LunchwithLisa? It went so well she’s having me back! 

I’ll be on this Wednesday, April 22 @ 12:15p ET to discuss “Mid-Crisis Management: How to avoid management speak and sound like a leader.” 

(Join us by signing up for that free show here.)

Hope to see you there!

COVID, and the way we talk about it (all of it) has become a kind of Rorschach test. Ask someone what they think of it, and you learn something about them. 

Some say it’s a relief, a blessing, a balm. A much-needed reset button. A wake-up call. A reminder of why they’ve made certain choices—or, an opportunity to make new ones. 

Some say it’s Mother Nature shutting us down, or God with a message, or a thousand angels wagging their holy fingers at us.

For others, it is hell on earth. 

And even though we’re all in it together, there isn’t “one” experience of it. 

So, what do YOU see in…all this? 

One thing is for sure: You stare at the wall long enough or stay home long enough or lay awake long enough, you’re going to come to some conclusions. 

I was interviewed by a whip-smart woman the other day named Dr. Shelley James—a lovely, sharp British professional with a keen ear, a fascinating story, and a lovely silver ponytail. 

And Shelley very kindly invited me to be part of a free training series that may be just the thing that people sitting home, wondering what to do next.

It’s called Midlife Mastery: how to harness your wisdom to monetize your passion and create financial freedom

(Speaking of doing things next—this woman has always had a “next.” She trained in textiles, worked as a consultant, suffered a traumatic head injury (!) and THEN went on to earn a Doctorate from the Royal College of Art and works as a glass artist, lighting consultant and life coach. Oh—and she’s a ballroom dancer and year-round open water swimmer. What??!!). 

She asked me how to identify what you should do next. And I said that no one out there is interested in handing you money to do what you feel like doing.  Unless you have a rich uncle who likes to indulge you.

But. Monetizing passion, as popular as that phrase is, means one thing to me: SERVICE. How can you serve. That’s how I was able to work on my own after being laid off eight years ago and exceed my wildest expectations.

And it’s how I plan to make it through this mess, too. 

You can listen to that interview, and better yet, interviews with many other experts, here.

So if you are of a certain age (though I don’t think she’s carding), and wondering What Next, you might really like this. 

Here’s some of what The Midlife Mastery series will cover:

  • Get to the heart of your unique wisdom and genius 
  • Master your time so that you can beat overwhelm 
  • Gain the visibility and respect you deserve
  • Harness the latest online strategies to serve a thriving tribe 

Shelley’s goal? To offer “powerful, practical tools to thrive in uncertain times and write the next brilliant chapter of your life in ease and excellence.” 

Sound good to you? You might be into it—or someone you know might be into it. Feel free to share! 

REGISTER FOR MIDLIFE MASTERY HERE   ⇒ https://www.powerthroughtransition.com/signup/terri/

 

“What inspires you?” 

Ugh. This question. My problem with it? It assumes we need to be inspired to do a thing. Or worse, that we should feel inspired right now! I’m not. 

Having free time can be incredibly inspiring—at first. “Oh my! Now I can do anything. I can do EVERYTHING!”

Yeah, that thrill peaked two weeks ago. 

And while some people really are crushing Masterclass and writing novels or learning sew their own clothes (bravo, btw), the rest of us, well, aren’t. 

say this to relieve you—of this idea that you should somehow be more inspired now, just because you have time for it. Nope. Not how inspiration works! 

Inspiration is like your fancy Aunt Helen who swings by with her designer bag full of butterscotch candy and extra cash, leaving a trail of French perfume in her wake. It’s so great when she shows up! It’s also…occasional.

She comes when she damn well pleases.

A few weeks ago, I put together a guide called “5 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius.” The goal: Share the approach I use in my workshops and consulting work to help people access—and notice—their very own best ideas and concepts, which they tend to overlook or flat-out ignore.  Because therein lies the key to brilliance. 

…It’s also the key to their: TEDx talk, book idea, new project, new business, killer copy, you name it.

I thought you might find it useful—and fun—to try doing this too, especially when your work-work doesn’t always give you the chance to do it. AND to replenish that precious resource when you start feeling tired, blocked, and bored.

Anyway—it’s yours if you like. And it’s free! You can read it, or listen to it, or both. 

⇒ Access “5 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius” download & audio guide here

In it, you’ll discover: 

  • Ways to shift your approach to the blank page
  • How to face off with your inner critic
  • A writing prompt and exercise to focus your attention
  • Insight into critic-free feedback via the Gateless Method

I do hope you find it useful, and would love to hear what you think!  

P.S. The audio guide is less than 20 minutes and pairs well with snacking or laundry. #multitask

As a rule, I’m a woefully impatient person. Put me behind someone on their first day of TSA precheck, and I will very possibly lose my cool. Someone blocking the exit at 42nd St. on the 2 train? Jesus, take the wheel. 

And yet. 

I’m built for quarantine. I just am. 

I get that not everyone is. But as an introvert Gen-Xer who grew up with four channels, five TV shows, and didn’t have email until after I could legally purchase alcohol, I believe I’ve trained my whole life for this.

Still, the reason this is weird and hard is because a) we have no power to change what’s happening out there, and b) we have no way of knowing what will happen next. 

What’s funny? That applies to everything, all the time. Pandemic or no pandemic. 

Since when did we have the power to change what’s happening? When did we ever know what was happening? 

One woman wrote to me that she wanted to be part of this 30 Days on the Page programI’m offering for people who want to really dig down into their work, their writing, in a creative, interactive environment…but that she worried that now wasn’t the time because things were so…unpredictable.

Financial struggle is REAL right now. No doubt. 

But it raised a question: Were things ever predictable? 

The pandemic doesn’t in and of itself make things unpredictable; it serves as a potent reminder that life always was. 

That’s the mean trick of unpredictability: It gets us just when we think it’s a regular Friday. 

Now that we know things are unpredictable, are they? Because in fact, much of our life, for the foreseeable future, just got REAL predictable. 

And if we ever thought anything was totally under our control, we were dreaming. 

I’ve been reading The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Was Letting Go Can Empower Your Life by Judith Orloff, M.D. She’s fascinating—a conventionally trained psychiatrist AND full-blown intuitive empath. 

The concept of surrender is fairly foreign to me, as I like to take action, and sometimes, pick fights. (It’s not my best quality.) 

But she reframes surrender—not as a weakness, failure, or capitulation, but as a source of strength, because you can stop muscling through and actually put yourself “in flow” with something larger. 

The effect of surrender? Calm. Clarity. Strength. Yes. Sign me up for that. 

Logic and reason are often cold comfort. Times like these, we need to lean on that steady, internal rudder, our intuition. 

This line of Orloff’s stood out: 

“The only thing that stands between you and intuition is the incessant chatter in your brain.” 

To find any peace, we need to stop the chatter FOR A SINGLE GODDAMN MINUTE.

Problem is, we feed it with a steady diet of bad news. 

But what if you fed that other part of you, the part that’s, well, wiser, clearer, calmer? You can. It requires a blend of focus and freedom. 

Now, for 30 days straight, I’m going to help feed your intuition, via a series of prompts and timed writing sessions, that we’ll do together, quietly and collectively. 

It’s called 30 Days on the Page.

Doesn’t matter if you’re a writer; that’s not the point. The point is to use the act of writing to tap the part of you that isn’t panic-eating while watching Lester Holt. 

Through this very specific approach to writing called the Gateless Method, you’ll get a taste of how it feels to feel free and focused doing one of the most productive things you can do with your time: WRITE STUFF DOWN. 

If it whispers to you in any way, join us. It’s 20 minutes every day, if you want, my voice and you on the page. Easy.

Here’s a video where I talk about it.  

And it’s $1/day. Don’t wait.

At a business conference in Orlando a few years ago, we were given after-hours access to Epcot’s mission:Space ride.

I squeezed into a space vessel the size of a bathroom stall alongside three women whom I’d just invited to connect on LinkedIn.

Inside was a 3-D monitor, a control panel of blinking lights, and a set of branded barf bags. The door sealed shut and I grabbed the arm of the woman next to me, a project manager from Sacramento.

“Carolyn, please tell me we’re not really going into outer space.”

She peered at me through her Warby Parkers and spoke very slowly. “We’re not going anywhere.”

But tell my brain that.

Because based on what my brain told me, I WAS 100% CATAPULTED INTO OUTER SPACE.

Thank God for Gary Sinise, who guided our mission safely back to Earth seven minutes later. After which, I wanted desperately to lie down.

What we’re experiencing right now is no amusement, nor is it a simulation. And it’s not a short ride.

The mission:Space ride is in some ways a fitting analogy for what this feels like:

We’re confined, and yet hurtling out of orbit. We’re home—and yet, far from home.

Depending on your line of work, you might be very stressed—or you may be feeling stalled and unproductive. Or both. However you define it, the coronavirus has launched us into the vast, dark unknown.

But it’s also hit the RESET button—and given us an invitation to reflect, to consider, to explore.

This opportunity may be whispering to you in different ways: To explore new skills or hobbies, new job opportunities…or maybe a new line of work altogether.

A friend of mine started making friendship bracelets. A lot of friendship bracelets.

What if you dedicated time to do some writing?  

Writing isn’t just for people who majored in it, or who get paid to do it. It’s a powerful tool for accessing your best ideas.

Join me for 30 Days on the Page.

Every day, you get an email from me with a 20-minute audio program. All you need to do is sit down, press play, listen, and WRITE — and you get the sense of accomplishment that comes from spending time on the stuff that matters to you.

Seriously, it’s $1/day! Don’t wait.