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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!

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Content First: How Alexis Wolfer Made The Beauty Bean Worth Talking About

Alexis Wolfer, founding editor in chief of TheBeautyBean.com

Alexis Wolfer, founding editor in chief of TheBeautyBean.com

Alexis Wolfer is the founding editor in chief of TheBeautyBean.com, a TV host, a certified health coach, and a real beauty activist. She is also the author of The Recipe For Radiance: Discover Beauty’s Best-Kept Secrets in Your Kitchen (Running Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Radiant Bride (Running Press, Dec 2015). I recently had Alexis on my show to chat about how she turned her unique and forward-thinking take on beauty and health into a business.

Alexis was working in women’s magazines when she started her master’s degree in human rights and women’s studies at Columbia University. It wasn’t until grad school, she says, that she understood the importance of loving and respecting your own body, which is the ultimate human right. But she didn’t see any magazine out there with that message. That was her light bulb moment. She knew she wanted to create something that empowered women to feel great about themselves and treat their bodies well.

She had the idea nailed—beauty content with a feminist twist and a focus on natural ingredients—but Alexis had to learn everything about launching and monetizing an online women’s magazine, from soup to nuts. Here’s more from Alexis, including why you DON’T need a business plan when you’re starting out. You simply need to stop planning and start doing.

Click here to watch the episode. It's worth it.

Click here to watch the episode. It’s worth it.

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

Nope. My last day job was at Stylecaster.

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

Oh man…EVERYTHING. Literally from an archeologist to surgeon, I wanted to do it all (and still do).

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

Who said it isn’t!?!

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 would have never thought I would do TV!

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

In planning! Sometimes you just need to DO IT and figure out the details later.

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

To write a business plan. And NO WAY. For what I do (without investors) it would have been a complete waste of time.

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

I would just assure myself that it would all work out so I could stop stressing so much.

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

When someone tells you something about themselves, believe them! Learned this in a romantic relationship, but it holds for business ones too. Now, I always pay attention to how people describe themselves—they’re always right!

Any other advice you want solopreneurs/entrepreneurs to know? Resources you recommend or folks you like?

I re-read The Alchemist every couple of years. I know it’s not a business book, so to speak, but the life lessons are powerful and always a good reminder. And I LOVE TripIt!!! It’s the best if you travel often!

For more about Alexis and living a beautiful life from the inside out, visit TheBeautyBean.com and @TheBeautyBean on Twitter, and pick up her book, The Recipe for Radiance.

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