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How Knowing Too Much Is Holding You Back

My family is big into board games. At around 8:30pm on any given holiday or a night when at least two people are holding beers, my brother in law rubs his hands together and asks, “Who’s up for a game?”

Taboo is one of our all-time favorites. The goal of this game is to get your teammates to guess the word you’re given—without using any of the other words listed on the card. So if the word is Santa Claus, the words you can’t use are: Christmas, holiday, December, North Pole, chimney, or gifts.

This means you have to think beyond the shortcut references that you’d normally use to explain it and start fresh. In this case, I might say, “This is a man who comes to your house the same day every year to give you things you asked for, but you never see him.” Even that may be too easy.

The most frustrating thing of all is when your teammate says something like, “Oh! You know what I mean! God. C’mon! It’s that guy! You know!”

This is a losing strategy.

In order to effectively communicate the meaning, of anything really, you need to be able to explain it to someone who doesn’t have a flipping idea what you’re talking about. And it’s what so many people—entrepreneurs, business owners, even marketers—often get wrong.

In a Harvard Business Review article called “The Curse of Knowledge,”  Chip and Dan Heath (I have no idea if they’re related), address how vague, high-level strategy language is completely unhelpful, and does nothing to differentiate a brand or a business.

The curse of knowledge is, in layman’s terms, a cognitive bias that makes it hard for you to remember or imagine what it is NOT to know a thing, because you already know it—and so you forget that other people don’t.

I see this all the time when I talk to people about their brands or missions, and they tell me things like, “I want to empower women,” and “I believe everyone can live a healthier life.” They make big, high-level sweeping statements that do nothing to differentiate them. And they skip over the nitty gritty, specific things that are SO much more helpful. They assume everyone knows. Nope.

This has real repercussions: Particularly when you try to: stand out, attract clients, make sales, close deals, or get anyone in the media to return your calls or emails. That’s when it becomes clear that…something isn’t clear.

My business partner Paula Rizzo has worked for years as a TV producer, and so she’s pitched all day and night e by people who want to get on TV and who believe they have something valuable to offer.

And she always says, “If I’m confused, it’s a no.”

The value in being able to clearly communicate what you do and why anyone should care cannot be overstated.

And if you’re having a hard time, it’s not because you’re stupid—it’s because you know too much.

Your ability to adopt the mindset of someone who has no idea and zero context on what you have to offer will determine how effectively you can land that message and get results.

Here are three points to bear in mind:

  1. We all have our shields up. There’s so much info coming at us from all angles, we can barely see straight. Your job is to get me to lower my guard. If anything you say makes me work hard to understand, I’m moving on. Your job is to compel me, to pique my curiosity, to target my need so swiftly and clearly that I am willing to get in the car with you and drive with you a bit.
  2. Don’t assume I know, or care, about anything. It’s not that I’m willfully ignorant or don’t like you. I just need to be convinced, in seconds, to pay attention to whatever it is you want to share.
  3. Play Taboo with your brand or business. It’s a good exercise: How would you, Taboo-style, describe what you do without any of the usual terms or context you’d normally rely on? Try it. It’s not so easy. Talk about it with someone who has no involvement, or, frankly, interest, in what you do. That’s a great target to practice on! When you can effectively communicate and compel someone who isn’t sure they give a damn, imagine what you do for someone who does.

Want to get more media coverage for your book, brand, or business? Join our FREE online training, “5 (Little-Known) Secrets to Snagging Media Attention…that Even PR Pros Get Wrong”

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The Real Definition of Entrepreneur

Man jumpLet’s face it: There’s nothing sexier than describing yourself an an entrepreneur. It’s like a hot leather jacket that everyone is trying on for size, including me. If it’s not a fit, maybe you like this simpler style, called solopreneur. Or maybe this tiny little handbag, called micropreneur instead. Or, this briefcase-slash-diaper bag called “mompreneur.”

Point is this: We are bending the term to make it mean what we want it to, need it to. I defined myself as a solopreneur, even had a video show and podcast by that same name…and then Grant Cardone called me out on Twitter and was basically like, that term sucks. “It’s too small.”

He’s right.

(And forget freelancer. Don’t get me started on what a horrible term that is.)

So what IS an entrepreneur, really? An editor at Shopify reached out to me to ask me what I think (and he wrote about it in this thoughtful piece here).

Fact is, there is one definition of it, and it’s this: a person who operates/runs a business, and takes on considerable risk to do so. Traditionally, we think of the entrepreneur as a person who finds and exploits a need in the marketplace, and either invests his or her own money, or more likely someone else’s, to fund this vision, product, service, company, and if it goes well, everyone makes a ton of money. It traditionally entails hiring people and renting office space and negotiating big pricey deals with vendors, etc.

You May Be One Yourself

Fact is, entrepreneurship has changed so much in the past decade that you may not do any of these things. You may never have an office or a staff, you may never raise funds from investors or regular people. But chances are you, don’t do this all yourself. All you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a bank account to do business and rightfully call yourself an entrepreneur, and many do.

So if I am going to take liberties with the term, or at least tease the nuances, I would say that an entrepreneur is less defined by the business she runs or the amount of money they raise, and more defined by vision, risk, and character.

An entrepreneur leads with the solution to a problem, not with just a need to make money. An entrepreneur doesn’t just “organize” a business in my mind, but fuels it, directs it, and creates it. I hesitated to call myself an entrepreneur for a long time because I thought you had to have a Harvard MBA. I was so wrong.

Entrepreneurs are: scrappy and disruptive, creative and unruly, strategic and unstoppable. Sometimes they make lousy students and difficult employees. Some literally propel themselves on the force of their personality and the appeal of their promise, and other people help them carry it out and make it happen.

I’ve heard more than a few people say that entrepreneurship means “freedom.” I don’t know that I agree with that as the defining element. Maybe you don’t want debt. You know who else doesn’t have debt? A homeless guy. Is that what you want? You know who has a lot of freedom? An unemployed person. There are lots of ways to be free, and in fact, taking on the risk and investing yourself in something the way an entrepreneur does may be exciting and empowering, but “free” is not what I’d call it.

You’re free of the constraints of a corporate job, sure. That’s what people love. Look, we live in the land of the Lone Ranger. We love the idea of this rabble rouser, out conquering a new frontier. That’s romantic, and yes, many entrepreneurs slave away in solitude. But plenty don’t. The smart ones never dream of doing it on their own.

The entrepreneur is a maestro, a leader, but knows the value of team, too, and can lead and inspire. To my mind, I am not so hung up on the “prerequisites” for being an entrepreneur. Because I believe most can’t help themselves. And that’s why they do it.

In this way, they’re more like artists: They are compelled to make, create, connect—and that is why we are in love with them, aspire to be one or be like one. I can’t think of a better reason.

So. Is that you? I’m thinking I’m liking the fit myself.

 

Interst out the Creative>>Founder Lab at NY Media Center - applications due 5/23/16

Interst out the Creative>>Founder Lab at NY Media Center – applications due 5/23/16

…By the way, if you DO dream of pursuing a business idea and becoming an entrepreneur, check out the Creative>>Founder Lab at NY Media Center. They’re accepting applications now for their 8-week intensive running June-July 2016. I’m one of the instructors, leading a session on vision and mission, which I’m psyched about. Check it out!

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Why You Need to Embrace the Haters

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 11.59.28 PMNot too long ago, haters were the domain of the rich and famous — or at least, anyone with a sizable platform. In fact, it was basically a celebrity tax: you want attention, get ready for vitriol.

But now it very much is our problem. Because now we all want attention, and, thanks to the astonishingly infinite reach of every post or picture, we can all get it. Each one of us, whether we have 25 blood-related Facebook friends or 100,000 Twitter followers, is a publisher, producer and personality in our own right. And no matter what you want to say, or share, or do, even if it’s positively saintly in its mission and intention, you are in a position to be snarked at. And you probably will be.

One thing I do is teach talent how to scale their personal media brands — and fear of haters often holds them back. They don’t want to offend; they want people to like them. They’re afraid of critics. And yet, what I tell them is what I’ll tell you right now: Embrace the haters.

I’m not saying you have to like them, but you have to accept them as part of the landscape, which they most certainly are. Because if what you want is large-scale, media success, you’re going to have them. In fact, they can be a sign that you’re doing something right! Because you’re hitting a nerve.

I also realize not everyone wants that much attention or to be a huge star. I get it. But if you do want to make a big splash in your own pond or even rise up through the ranks where you work, again, you’re going to have people who seem to work against you. Online and off.

Fact is, no one is immune to haters — not a movie star, not a Nobel peace prize winner, not your stable older sister and not you. Feedback is one thing, and by definition should come from some qualified source. But entertaining endless snarky, antagonistic or passive aggressive barbs is another. You’ve got to build resilience by expecting it and ignoring as much of it as you can.

For my part, I rarely read the comments section on anything I write, even this one. I’ll glance sometimes, but as soon as things get ugly, I click away. It’s just not worth getting sucked down that rabbit hole.

I give my writer friends the same advice, whenever they feel the urge to jump into the mud pit, dukes up, ready to defend their work. I say: Does Cate Blanchett stand outside some podunk movie theater and defend, or debate, the merits of “Blue Jasmine” (and she got plenty of hate for being in a Woody Allen film to begin with)? Nope. So you don’t need to defend your work, either.

Of course, you care for a reason: You’re wired to. It’s not a weakness; it’s part of being human.

We are mammals who thrive in groups. And so that innate fear of offending, alienating or even just ticking someone off trips a kind of evolutionary alarm that makes us afraid we could be ousted. This is very, very layman science, mind you, but I’d venture to say it’s why we hunger for praise, attention and recognition — and why a whiff of sharp criticism can knock us off our feet. And, arguably, why I walked around my high school in LL Bean knockoff mocassins from Macy’s worrying that I would be found out, and sometimes still do.

The Age of the Troll

Internet trolls are a fairly recent iteration of an ugly human urge: To tear down someone else just because you can. And while we can complain about Youtube and Twitter, the social media landscape didn’t invent the tendency; it simply gave us a borderless playground on which to enact it. But you’ll find plenty of haters in real life, too. Here’s what to keep in mind when facing down four of the most common kinds of haters:

1. The Cynic

She may be a friend from high school whom you only barely granted FB access, and you have lived to regret it. Or she may share your workspace. Either way, this person loves to pinprick every balloon of joy, hope or optimism you float.

She’s the first one to tell you it’s supposed to rain the day you’re going to the beach or to write “must be nice” when you post a picture of a lovely candle-lit dinner. You know why she does it: She’s deeply unhappy and unable to let anyone be happy, either. She’s likely endured some serious disappointment or setback, or just a general, decades long malaise. The worst part is that she thinks she’s wise, or funny, or both. She’s not.

How to handle it: This depends, frankly, on what kind of relationship you want or need to have. If this person is part of your everyday life and it behooves you to keep things on the up, it’s worth killing her with kindness, if just to neutralize some of the acidity. I’ve found what works for these people isn’t trying to out-cynic them (never works). Instead, when the cynic burps up another bit of soggy commentary, shift gears completely: Inquire about something that you know matters to her — her dog, her mother, whatever.

Authentic connection, stripped of any irony or snark, is the best way to prune that discussion. As for cynical FB comments? Skip them. Don’t get into a cynical warfare. If you want to be a little bit passive aggressive yourself, you could like every comment to that post but hers. But maybe that’s just me.

2. The Green-Eyed Monster

The day you came home crying from school, your mother said that that girl was simply jealous of you. And you didn’t believe her. But she was right. In fact, you probably still have a hard time believing anyone could be intimidated by or wish they were you. But trust me, someone is, and does. And that person has locked onto you as her competition. This can mean a weird vibe, cold shoulder, or even some not-so-nice stuff said behind your back. It’s really not about you; it’s about her own insecurities. However, you still feel the effects.

How to handle it: Online, this is usually not a problem, because jealous frenemies don’t tell you what they think of you; they tell other people. Or they just observe, quietly. But in person, well, the weird vibe is uncomfortable. As a result, you tend to avoid this person. I say, do the opposite. Hone in. Be interested. And ask for help.

I once worked with a woman who needed to one-up me all the time. Granted, she’d been in the department first, and I was the newbie, so she had some innate need to guard her territory. If I tried to offer her any kind of help or information, I got an, “I know that already.” I felt like I couldn’t win, and I realized I was going about it all wrong.

So I did the opposite: I went to her for help. And the day I did, the tenor of our relationship changed. Once she was affirmed in her role as “in the know,” which was important to her, she went out of her way to help me. I was no longer a threat in her eyes and the tension dissolved. It doesn’t matter if it was true; our relationship improved and we ended up becoming friends. Once that fear was gone, she could be herself and so could I.

3. The Noodge

Look, this person is harmless. But her comments always drive you up the wall. She takes issue with whatever you post, she gets everyone riled up so that your simple commentary on a recent news story about school uniforms turns into a whole big Facebook pile-on. Why is she doing this? Does she hate you? Because why else would she suck so much time and energy for no good reason? I’ll tell you why: Because she’s bored and your posts are irresistible low-hanging fruit.

As with the Cynic, it’s less about you than it is about her against the world, and right now, that means you. Whereas the Cynic believes she’s world weary and wise, the Noodge may at turns be morally superior, easily offended or both. She’s not so much popping your balloon as she is making an example of you and “all that you represent.” And it’s worth adding that she may very well be a Green Eyed Monster, masquerading as a Noodge. In fact, the only thing that separates a Noodge from a Full-On Troll is that she’s not malicious. She’s all bark, no bite.

How to handle it: Try to resist her Facebook bait. She’s trying to lure you into a thing to scratch an itch; if you give in, she wins. Fact is, even if you can resist her Facebook bait, your friends may not be able to, and as with any party that breaks out in your house, you’re at least partly responsible for making sure nothing gets broken. If you try to ignore, she may get louder, so best to just play moderator and add a “Good point, Stacy, we hear you” and keep on truckin. She really wants one thing: to be heard.

4. The Full-On Troll

Now this is where things get serious. A Full-On Troll is a perfect storm of all of the above, times ten: She (or he, by the way) is cynical, jealous, bored, resentful, even ruthless. Not to mention, usually anonymous, especially since Full-On Trolls tend to work the more public comment forums, from small blogs to major publications to Youtube, that buzzing hive of haters.

Usually you don’t know this person, but it doesn’t mean you don’t care, because they come in and crap all over whatever it is you’ve posted. While the Internet didn’t invent cruelty or hate, it certainly did spawn trolls, who, under the invisible cloak of inscrutable screen names, roam around swinging their snarky, hateful bludgeons, smashing anything in their path.

I saw comedian Tony Deyo perform recently, and he did a bit about his recent and first appearance on Conan. During the sweet afterglow of his late night success, a single jab from one YouTube commenter managed to inspire bitter defensiveness and rage. In response to Tony’s four minutes of fame, this snarky respondent wrote, simply, “Boo, bitch.” “That review was two words long,” recalled Deyo. “And in those two words, he managed to insult me twice.”

How to handle it: In a word, ignore. You will not win in a fight with a Troll. Sure, if you’re bruising for a fight, you can dive in, but chances are, you’ll regret it — and probably lose. The fact that you care about something, anything (namely that which you’re defending), puts you at a disadvantage. Because the Troll cares about nothing. You can even call in reinforcements. But is it worth it? What will you win or prove? Nothing. It will cost you a mega-dose of cortisol and adrenaline, and leave you spent and bloody at the end. There are better ways to spend your time.

Deyo says he fumed over his hater for hours, and went on to recount how he turned the tables on him by — how else? — Googling his hater and inflicting his own breed of trollesque punishment on the guy. This was his attempt to right the scales, to make things even. Which he did, and continues to do, every time he tells that story to a new audience.

And thus the toxin spreads and the hater disease continues to fester. Because the most dangerous thing about engaging with a Troll isn’t that you might get hurt or mad or both — but that you risk becoming one of them.

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3 Signs Your Brand Is Having an Identity Crisis

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Not sure quite who you are? Let’s chat about it over lunch. Click here to learn more about #powerlunch

Your struggle with branding yourself or your business comes from two conflicting fears:

  • You don’t know who you are;
  • You don’t want to ruin what you already did/created/have

This places you at the crossroads between ignorance and fear. A lousy place to be (and we’ve all been there). As a result, you are hesitant to put a foot forward, in any direction, because of where you’ve been and where you fear to tread.

By the way, this is true for everyone I’ve ever worked with who had a brand to create, build, or promote.

You can feel attached to an old idea of who you are, an idea you think others have of you, and limiting ideas about what you CAN do. And my very favorite thing in the world is to kick those ideas over like tables in a kung fu movie.

Here are the clear markers of a brand in distress:

You’re getting a lot of business you don’t want. This is what happens when you try to serve “more” people at the expense of a more focused approach. The fear of course is that if you limit or focus, you will exclude some people and “lose” business. Don’t think about it as losing biz, but as qualifying the business you get.

You’re doing what feels safe, instead of what’s compelling. Once you develop a comfort zone with your brand or business, it’s easy to stay there. This is big trouble in little China. Because you will convince yourself that you’re “fine the way it is.” Is it, though? I’m not saying you have to go out on a limb and do crazy, off-brand stuff. But where are you pushing the envelope?

You’re striving to be competitive rather than different. Sally Hogshead (one of my faves) says in her book, How the World Sees You, that someone will always be better at this or that. If you try to be “better” than everyone, you will lose. How do you know? You’re mimicking what other brands are doing, and then trying to be the same but cheaper. And you’re more concerned with if you’re as good as, rather than leveraging what makes you memorable.

The drive to be competitive is the drive to keep up. The drive to be different is the drive to stand out—which, let’s face it, goes against everything you’re encultured to think. It’s human nature to worry whether you’re good enough, whether you fit in, whether you can be taken seriously. But if you continue to make efforts to make your brand like the others, you will be like the others, an also-ran. That ain’t no place to be.

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When Good Ideas Go Away (Goodbye to Umano)

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.53.41 AMSo Umano, that smart news platform that reads the news to you, is pulling the plug on this operation in a matter of days. You know this, I know this. My heart aches over this, the way it does when any great, original idea goes away, and not because it’s a bad idea, but because the market is a tough mother. I won’t pretend to know what decisions went into this one, but I’m sure they weren’t easy.

For years, I was a senior editor at a magazine called Whole Living, formerly Body+Soul. It’s where I cut my teeth in publishing, where my career really took off. I put that issue to bed for years like a child, even as it kicked and screamed, and other times was as sweet as could be. I’d never loved a job more. I poured my best writing into it. It’s where I learned how to be an editor, which is the art of choosing some things and not others–from ideas down to the tiniest words. I also learned to weather some serious corporate storms, and say goodbye to a whole team and set sail solo to new offices in New York where I knew no one, and had to start all over.

I was laid off from that magazine when times got tough, and not too long after, times got so tough it closed altogether. I was still sad, just as you would be if you found out an ex-boyfriend who broke up with you first had suffered an ill fate. Not good.

And when people asked me, But why? It was such a great magazine! So many people loved it! My response is: Yes, it was! And they look for some secret flaw that would give the answer, as to why some things don’t last. And the truth is, sometimes it’s not about how great you are. Whole Living died the death of a thousand other publications—not because it wasn’t beautiful and artful and thoughtful and well done, but because the market has its way, and it isn’t going the way of print. We mourn it and move on.

So when I learned that Umano was closing its doors, I was sad too—after all, I poured my best work into it, too. I cultivated my own subscribers and fans. You guys showed up and cared to hear me out. More than eight thousand of you have. You made me feel important, like I mattered. So when I say, but why? Umano is such a great idea, and there are so many listeners! I find myself up against the same argument as before: Just because you have fans, just because a thing works and works well doesn’t mean it gets to stick around.

That’s a hard lesson for all of us, isn’t it. For our business, our brands, for anyone who creates a thing they think and hope and pray will last. What we want is something that endures, really—whether it’s a business, or a relationship, or an app, for that matter. But, and I don’t mean to get too existential here, lasting may not always be the goal.

Trust me, I have very self-interested reasons for wanting you around! Aside from the fact that I love a captive audience. I hate that this party is breaking up and you all are going to go somewhere else. I can try to invite you to my house, but I know you won’t all come. But I want to thank you for being here in the first place. I do hope you’ll stay in touch, but more than that, I wish for you that you never stop pouring your best stuff into what matters, what you believe in, even if it wasn’t meant to last.

(Listen to it here while the site is still up)

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Make Uncertainty Your Friend: Meet Farnoosh Torabi, Award-winning Financial Strategist

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Farnoosh Torabi, award-winning financial strategist and host of the daily podcast, So Money.

When Farnoosh Torabi got laid off from her job as a journalist at TheStreet.com, it was in many ways the day her real career began. Instead of going the safe route and finding another job, Farnoosh ran with her big idea—and it changed the course of her career.

Today, Farnoosh is an award winning financial strategist, best-selling author and sought after speaker. She’s the host of the daily podcast So Money where she interviews financial luminaries, entrepreneurs and influencers about their personal stories around money.

I recently had Farnoosh on my show, Solopreneur on the Whatever It Takes Network, where she shared why she thinks living with uncertainty is the key to successful entrepreneurship—and fear of failure shouldn’t stop you. Here’s more of Farnoosh’s hard-won wisdom.

How did you make the decision to leave your last job or go out on your own? What was that job, and how did you know it was time?

I got laid off! So, the decision was made for me. And sometimes those are the best decisions. I didn’t resist the fact that I was unemployed. I turned it into an opportunity to finally break out on my own and take the little freelancing I was already pursuing alongside my 9 to 5 to go completely rogue and venture out on my own full time.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A talk show host.

When did you realize this was (or wasn’t) going to happen?

I’m still hoping it will happen! My podcast is sort of making that dream come true.

What is it about your life now that you can’t believe you do, and wouldn’t believed if someone told you 5-10 years ago?

I can’t believe I get to work with companies and help them with their media strategies and educating their clients and employees about personal finance. I always assumed journalists work with newspapers and TV stations…but I’ve also worked with companies like TJ Maxx, Macy’s and Mass Mutual (and they pay better!).

Where do you think most of us waste our time? What do you recommend doing to change it?  Responding to emails right away.

I must get over 100 personally directed emails each day and if I were to actually respond to all of them that instant, I’d never get any real work done. As one of my podcast guests Chris Brogan told me, “email is the perfect delivery system of other people’s priorities.” I write back to people who are on deadline first but all others hear back from me 24 or 48 hours later…sometimes a LOT later.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given (did you take it?)

You might want to consider changing your name. A news director once told me this after learning I had aspirations of being in front of the camera. It’s funny because all I ever wanted as a kid was to have a different name. I wanted to be Ashley or Christina. Farnoosh was weird and the kids made fun of my name. And by the time I was in high school and college I really appreciated being different. ANd then BAM! I start a new job out of college and some old white guy is telling me to be the same again…I laughed. Of course I didn’t follow his advice.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time 10 years?

Start an email list. Period.

What lesson(s) did you learn the hard way (could be your career, or life in general):

When you write a book, no matter how awesome, there’s a really good chance that it won’t fly off shelves.

Any other advice you want solopreneurs/entrepreneurs to know? Resources you recommend or folks you like (think: books, brands, programs, services, anything you read/used and were like “YES!”)

-ScheduleOnce for setting up appointments
-TinyScan for scanning documents (I use this ALL the time as I sign a lot of contracts every year)
-A great CPA
-A great financial advisor
-Podcasters Paradise

For more about Farnoosh and how to create a richer, happier life, visit farnoosh.tvsomoneypodcast.com and @farnoosh on Twitter, and pick up her book, When She Makes More

Watch a new episode of Solopreneur every Tuesday at 4pm on the Whatever It Takes Network. 

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If You Hang Up On Gary Coxe, He Calls You Right Back

Gary doesn't give up. He just doesn't. Click here to find out how he can make your thoughts up and disappear.

Gary doesn’t give up. He just doesn’t. Click here to find out how he can make your thoughts up and disappear.

Gary Coxe never takes no for an answer—and it’s why he’s killing it in business and in life (and called into my show from some tropical island). It’s also how he got on my show! Because he and his staff just keep at it. Turns out, he’s also charisma personified.

For the record, I did not hang up on him. But plenty of people have. No skin off his back. “How do I know they didn’t drop their phone in the toilet?” (That has happened once. But he’ll assume that’s the case if you hang up on him.)

This guy not only started his own business and was making six figures IN HIGH SCHOOL, he negotiated a deal with the principal that allowed him to drop out and focus on business without consequence (watch the episode to hear this guy’s unbelievably ballsy story). Since then, he’s made millions—which he credits to not only providing value, but also following up more than most people are willing to.

Today, Gary is an accomplished author and speaker who’s sought out by individuals, companies, and media to improve their lives and businesses. I recently had him on my show, Solopreneur on the Whatever It Takes network, where he shared his biggest lessons: Your own head games are getting in the way of you making the sale or landing the client, and persistence and follow-up are the two key actions you need to be taking every day. Here’s more from Gary on how he made it big.

You gotta catch this interview. Click to watch.

You gotta catch this interview. Click to watch.

Do you have another day job? If not, what was your last one and when did you make the decision to leave it?

I have been self employed since I was 11 years old.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

Had no idea and I haven’t grown up yet. 🙂

What is it about your life now that you can’t believe you do, and wouldn’t believed if someone told you 5-10 years ago?  

That companies pay me up to $20,000 for my advice and I get to personally fly my clients on my Beyond First Class Program in the Bahamas. This gives me the opportunity to intimately work with people to improve their lives and their businesses. And, probably meet amazing people that I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my travels as well. (Find out more about the details of the program).

Where do you think most of us waste our time? What do you recommend doing to change it?

We waste most of our time with unnecessary emotions and thoughts. If we don’t know psychologically what stops us from taking the action to get what we want in life, we continually take one step forward and 10 steps back. When we figure out our own head games, we can get ahead. A lot of the time we’re telling ourselves negative stories. We’ve got to stop the negative self-talk about ourselves.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given (did you take it?)

Financially, to make suggested investments from people who don’t know what they are doing.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time 10 years?

Believe even more and have more emotional control.

What lesson(s) did you learn the hard way (could be your career, or life in general):

Just business overall. I didn’t take enough to understand business models and educate myself early in my career.

Any other advice you want solopreneurs/entrepreneurs to know?

I don’t believe the average person really appreciates how powerful our thinking is. If we did, we’d invest so much time in mastering it.

MAKE YOUR THOUGHTS DISAPPEAR!

This, says Gary, is the key to pushing through your inner obstacles and achieving more than you imagined. Because those thoughts really are the problem. Find out more about how to gain emotional control in your life by banishing thoughts.

For more about Gary and how to create lasting results in your business and life, visit www.garycoxe.com and @garycoxe on Twitter, and pick up his book, You Can’t Fillet a Nibble: It’s the Catch That Counts

Watch a new episode of Solopreneur every Tuesday at 4pm on the Whatever It Takes Network. 

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Passion is Not a Business Plan: Why Mission Trumps It, Every Time

Click to watch the Solopreneur episode of Selena Soo

Click to watch the Solopreneur episode of Selena Soo

You’re passionate about what you do. But is anyone else? I mean really—are they? Everyone loves to talk about how pivotal passion is: find your passion, live your passion.

But the fact is, passion itself is not a business plan, nor an imperative for anyone else. Your job is to make me care about a thing, period. Then, and only then, can you get me to pay attention long enough to become a client, customer, fan, or advocate of what you do.

This is what I do. And yes, I finally figured it out: I help people make what they care about compelling to other people. Because you can be passionate about stamp collecting, and that doesn’t mean you’ll be setting the world on fire.

I had the opportunity to spend a half day with the members of Selena Soo’s S2 Publicity Mastermind Group, to work with them on their own messaging (they were about to deliver them to members of the media at a dinner the next night). Not just the words or what they’re saying, but the how. That’s where people really get hamstrung.

I work with lots of really brilliant, successful people, many of them women, and the women in particular get caught on this thing. Because any attempt to distill what they do becomes an alarming internal question: “Who am I, anyway? And oh God, why WOULD anyone listen to me? Does anyone care?”

You can see how easy it is to get stuck on that. I know I have. And that’s why I say to people: Don’t question if you’re smart enough, or if you know enough, or if you’re qualified to take up space. Consider the people who devour scads of our collective attention, with very little to offer in return but an eyeful of their sizable rear ends. Your job is to give something worth focusing on! The fact that you have passion for whatever it is you do is great—but you’ve got to give me something I care about, too.

In this episode of Solopreneur, I talk with publicity expert Selena Soo about what it takes to not just engage, but influence other people (her course, Influence, is now closed, but check it out for the next time you can enroll). And it has to do with knowing what you want to do, not just what you care about.

Shift your frame from shameless self promo to responsibility. In Selena’s words, if you have a message and a vision for helping other people, it’s your responsibility to share that message. When you look at it that way, it changes things. Business strategist Gary Coxe says, you might feel “bad” about banging on your neighbor’s door at 3 a.m., but not if his house is on fire!

Focus on the message. Some of the shyest, most self-effacing people are fantastic teachers! Why? Because they’re not “marketing” to their students. They’re on a bigger mission: to change their students’ lives by setting them up for success in the real world. They have a passion for it yes, but they’re focused on that mission (and, some teachers are better at getting students to care than others). Your passion drives your actions, but the results depend on whether or not you can connect with what someone else cares about.

Think about what they need, not just what you want. Yes, there’s a big difference. Say I’m trying to sell you a yellow highlighter. I don’t sell it to you by saying, “You need a highlighter.” Because you don’t know you need one (yet). I sell it by identifying your need to make info easier to spot. Ok, this is a very boring and analog example. (Is anyone using them anymore anyway?) But you see my point. Get outside of your product and see the need; better yet, create one (see: the iPad).

Case study: Julie Parker. Julie, one of Selena’s Mastermind clients, is a life coach. But that’s not what she’s trying to get you to pay attention to. That’s because she owns Beautiful You Coaching Academy. She doesn’t necessarily want to talk you through your break-up; she wants life coaches to enroll in her program.

She wants to pitch what she’s passionate about: Training life coaches. But how does she do that? Not by using the media to just talk about how passionate she is about it. Who cares? And then again, the media isn’t interested in promoting her school just because.

The answer? To pitch herself instead as an escape artist. Because that’s what she does: She helps people escape the drudgery of boring careers—and find more meaning in a whole new one. The real moment of genius was when, in our session, Julie mentioned offhandedly that second careers were quite like second marriages—better because you have a better idea of what you want.

I said, “Have you been married before?”

“No,” she said. “But my husband has.” Aha! There you go. A very personal and authentic truth that serves as metaphor. She helps people out of their obligatory “first” marriages to jobs they took because they felt they should, and into more fulfilling second marriages—as life coaches.

In her talk to the attendees of that media dinner, I had her say just that: “Second careers are like second marriages. They’re always better. Just ask my husband.” Nailed it.

This is what you need to do: Find the thing that the other person is passionate about doing or solving—or, for that matter, escaping!—and show them how you can help them achieve it. This is your secret sauce—and it should be so irresistibly delicious that not only does it taste good, but they come back again for more.

Watch a new episode of Solopreneur every Tuesday at 4pm on the Whatever It Takes Network. 

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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Overcome Busyness with Carson Tate, founder of Work Simply

Carson Tate, productivity coach and author of Work Simply: Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style

Carson Tate, productivity coach and author of Work Simply: Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style

Carson Tate was working in sales when she realized there was a direct correlation between how organized she was and how much revenue she brought in. When her colleagues adopted her system and started earning more, she knew she was onto something.

Carson saw that as her cue: She left her full-time job and launched her business, Work Simply, Live Fully, which helps professionals of all stripes to take back their time and grow their bottom line. Today, she is a dynamic teacher and coach known for personal transformation and simple, powerful, actionable content. A nationally renowned expert on productivity, Carson has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times, Working Mother and more. And she’s just published her first book, Work Simply: Embracing Your Personal Productivity Style, with Penguin Group (2015).

I recently had Carson on my show, where she shared some no-BS insight on how and why to stop wasting time on things you think are productive (but aren’t), and a way to think about time in terms of investment, not just tasks, by keeping your activities and revenue aligned, and maximizing unexpected free time. Here’s more from Carson on the biggest lessons she’s learned throughout her career on how to conserve time and energy, everyone’s greatest assets.

How did you make the decision to leave your last job and go out on your own? What was that job, and how did you know it was time?

I was working in outside sales and had been asked continually over the years by my colleagues how I got my work done so efficiently and stayed so organized. I developed a process to help myself manage a new facet of our compensation system and when it went viral in my organization I knew that there was an opportunity to serve others and it was time to leave my job.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A doctor 🙂

Click here to watch the episode.

Click here to watch the episode and take back your time.

When did you realize this was (or wasn’t) going to happen?

In my freshman year of college when I was taking chemistry 101. This was only the beginning of my science journey and none of the concepts made any sense. There was no way I was going to make it through organic chemistry. I quickly moved down the hall to the psychology department.

What is it about your life now that you can’t believe you do, and wouldn’t have believed if someone told you 5-10 years ago?

That I would be serving others through my writing, coaching and teaching.

Where do you think most of us waste our time? What do you recommend doing to change it?

Meetings. Before you automatically accept that next meeting request, ask yourself if this meeting will produce a significant return on time investment for you. If not, consider declining the meeting.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given (and did you take it)?

Just stick with it. I have learned that the goal as the entrepreneur is to fail and fail fast. Don’t stick with it. If it is not working, let it go and learn from the experience and then go try again.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time 10 years?

Focus on today and the rest will take care of itself.

What lesson(s) did you learn the hard way (could be your career, or life in general)?

Sticking with things that are clearly not working is a significant waste of time and energy. Let go. Learn and move forward.

Any other advice you want solopreneurs/entrepreneurs to know? 

Every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Time is your greatest asset and liability. Invest it for the highest return in your life.

For more about Carson and how to manage your time in a way that gets creativity and inspiration flowing, visit www.carsontate.com and @thecarsontate on Twitter, and pick up her book, Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.

Watch a new episode of Solopreneur every Tuesday at 4pm ET!