Resist “The Drift” on Your Coaching or Consulting Business (Part 1)

raftingIf you haven’t already, it’s a good time to think about how you can simplify, leverage and work smarter as we cruise into another new year.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, a story . . .

Years ago, I went on a white water rafting trip with some buddies up in The Forks of Maine (yep, that’s me in the back under the arrow). The first day we paddled our arms off through class IV rapids on the Kennebec River. There’s something so thrilling about eight people sitting on the edges of a rubber raft paddling in unison as big water tosses you around like a cork. It takes great focus on doing the ONE thing that’s going to get you down the river without falling out or flipping the raft. As long as you paddle at the right time and stop paddling at the right time, you’ll avoid going for a violent swim.

On day 2 of our trip we went rafting on the Dead River. Even though the water on the Dead River seemed tamer than the Kennebec, we made a paddling error that pinned the side of our raft against a huge boulder in the middle of the river. The water pushed the ends of the raft around the boulder as we all tried to scramble to the top of the rock but one by one we all tumbled into the water.

I’ll never forget the rapids pushing me down and smashing me into the rocky riverbed. I couldn’t believe how fast I was moving compared to how slowly our raft seemed to be going downstream just moments ago. I popped out of the water just in time to see that I had missed my chance to get into another raft. Other rafts were within my sight but they felt miles away as I rapidly drifted downstream.

Then I heard a man screaming “SWIM. SWIM. SWIM.”

And I finally realized I was just floating along. No wonder I was at the mercy of the shockingly swift current.

I swam like a mad woman until I felt someone hoisting me out of the water and into a raft. I was stunned and exhausted.

I was also alive. Damn that was close.

Many entrepreneurs experience this with their business. They get pushed down and around by external forces and find themselves far away from where they thought they’d be.

At best, it’s disappointing and exhausting. At worst, it’s a terrifying fight for your life . . . or at the very least a fight for your livelihood.

Michael Hyatt, virtual mentor & author of Platform, calls it “the drift.”

This time of year you may be picking up your head only to realize you’ve drifted away from where you intended to be at the start of the year.

If you feel that you’ve drifted off course, stay tuned. In the next email I’m going to give you guidance and an action plan to help you get back on track now so that you can go avoid swirling around in an eddy in 2017.

If you’d like to minimize your drift and take control of your business like the boss you already are, take advantage of my free Simplify Your Business Session.  

You’re Elevator Pitch Sounds Goofy (Here’s How to Sound Like the Real & Outstanding You)

Entrepreneurs have been asking me lately how to introduce themselves and their businesses. Essentially, how to deliver an elevator pitch without rambling or clamming up while sounding like the REAL you.

I break it down for you in today’s video and I challenge you to try it on for size.

There’s an optional element — The Call to Action — that I will sometimes use ONLY when it feels right. I don’t include it in the video but this BONUS section is simply inviting someone to take the next step with you. For example, “If you’d like to learn more, you can . . .” and add a free offer — “schedule a complimentary consultation” or “request my daily affirmations”.

What’s your “Free to Be Me” introduction? Share it in the comments below. 

When you don’t want to tell your story (& what to do about it)

I didn’t want to tell it.

There I was in front of 50 woman, standing on a dark stage because the lights had eerily gone out moments before. As I began to tell my story . . . alone, in the dark, completely exposed, I felt just like the child and young woman I was speaking about. Small. Scared. Wanting to be anywhere but there.

Then, poof, the lights flashed back on . . . and I froze.

Alone, lights blaring, completely exposed.

I forgot what I wanted to say next so I didn’t say a word for what seemed like two cycles at a stop light (think very dramatic pause).

Life is going to throw curve balls at you. You will feel resistance around telling your story. First, know that this is NORMAL! Then check out the video for some powerful insights to help you tell it anyway.

What pieces of your story sometimes feel like a burden to you or (worse) your audience? Let us know in the comments so we can breakthrough that resistance once and for all. 

5 Overlooked Ways Great Entrepreneurs Get More Clients With Story

When your audience is bombarded with nearly 5,000 marketing messages, 250 ads and hundreds of email every day, it can feel nearly impossible to get them to pay attention to you, never mind open their wallets and buy from you.

The secret to silencing all the noise and turning yourself into client catnip?

Tell a great story. Tell your great story.

I know people are telling you that you need to tell your story to attract clients.

 

Maybe they’re giving you some advice. Things like:

Be authentic.

Have a turning point.

Talk about how great everything is now and how it sucked before.

 

But they’re not telling you HOW

Or where to get started

Or what to say

Let’s change that today and dive into the 5 overlooked ways to get more clients with your story.

1. Be Brave: Telling your story is truly an act of courage. You’re putting yourself and your message out into the world for everyone to see. It’s a liberating and (at first) terrifying experience when you’re sharing personal details that shine a spotlight on who you are and how you’ve come to this place in your business and life. How do you bust through the fear? Write down all the times in your life that you were brave. Write down what happened. Now go look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Will telling my story kill me?” No, it won’t. Just like all those other brave things you did, what happens on the other side of the telling will surprise and delight you.

2. Be detailed: Include the details in your story. Don’t just string together a makeshift timeline of events. Pick a moment and go deep. Tell us the date, the place, the names of people, the things you saw, heard, smelled, felt. One of my clients starts her story by putting her audience in the kitchen with her as she feeding her twin babies, listening to NPR when she hears on the radio that 1 in 8 kids get cancer. Another client walks out of Trader Joe’s parking and sees a million dragonflies swarming her car just as she’s contemplating making a major life change. Do you see that? Are you in that scene? You can  create the same experience in your story when you paint the picture with words.

3. Tell Your Truth: Comedian Norm MacDonald (aka Col. Sanders) says

Comedy is best when it’s truthful, but it doesn’t have to be factual.

The same can be said about your story.

Your audience cares more about the truth, than the facts. A fact from my story is that I almost died in 1998. The truth surrounding that fact is that I almost died at my own hands because I felt hopeless, worthless, invisible . . .

Most people if not all people have felt at least one of those emotions at some point in their life and, as uncomfortable as it is for me to share that truth, I know that’s the very place where my story begins to stir the emotions of my audience and mirror back something deep within them.

4. Share Your Failure & Redemption: You must have failure in order to have redemption. Be vulnerable. Get messy. Your audience is hungry to hear it all. In her latest book, Rising Strong, social work researcher, TED speaker, and author Brené Brown points out just how little time we devote to the messy parts of our stories:

Embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear that it can cause, or the complex journey that underlies rising strong, is gold-plating grit. To strip failure of its real emotional consequences is to scrub the concepts of grit and resilience of the very qualities that make them both so important–toughness, doggedness, and perseverance.

Nicola Taylor, a talented fine art photographer, says in her post about the stories of creative entrepreneurs . . .

I want to hear the stories filled with failures and missteps. I want to hear from the person who says I can’t tell you how many times I nearly gave up. I want to hear how they found courage and determination when they kept getting shut down. I want to know how they trained themselves to sleep like a baby while they were screwing up left, right and center.

You want your audience to love you? You want them to remember you? You want to matter to them? Bare your grit.

5. Rally the Audience: You’re story is about you, but it’s for your audience. When clients tell me their story isn’t working, this is the place we look at first. The job of your story is to get the audience to change their story. When you tell your story well, it will get your audience from “It won’t work for me” into “If she can do it, so can I”. That’s why I tell my clients to start with their message first. Before you even write a single word about your story, get clear on what you want people to know, feel and do after hearing your story. Because that’s where you convert stone cold listeners into followers, fans and clients.

What do you struggle with most when it comes to telling your story? Tell us in the comments!

What Dating & Business Has Taught Me About Value, Clients & Commitment

Going strong since 2001!

Going strong since 2001!

A wise and successful entrepreneur once told me “The value that you believe you have is what your price tag is.”
Looking back on my single years, I see now that I dated lots of guys who didn’t value me. They talked a good game and somehow convinced me (or got me to convince myself) that they really, really liked me.

So why they heck was I always getting dumped or feeling like I didn’t matter as much to them as they did to me?

The truth is, I didn’t really know what I wanted in a relationship. And while going through the lousy ones helped me sort that out, it was often a painful experience. Finally, after pining away for one particular guy for two years (yes, two years . . . ) and not getting what I wanted from him or from love in general, I got fed up.

One Saturday morning I raced along the Massachusetts Turnpike in my little black Mazda MX-3 and showed up on his doorstep, without telling him I was coming.

(I know, it’s a little cuckoo-cachoo).

I simply said “I want to be with you. No one else. You.”

And it was immediately clear from his reaction (or lack of) that he didn’t want the same thing.

It sucked.

For a week.

But then it was liberating.

Because I finally knew what the hell I really did want . . . a respectful, mutually loving and healthy relationship. I was ready for the real deal.

Three weeks later, I met my husband.

And that happened because:

1. I got clear and committed about what I wanted

2. I shifted my own value (from “please love me” to “I deserve love, real love . . . and I’m done with even entertaining anything less than that”.)

Business sometimes feels like you’re going on 100 bad first dates. You keep putting yourself out there and attracting duds for clients. Or maybe you feel like you’re going for a potential client who is “out of your league” and you blow it because you get freaked out. So then you go back to courting the wrong prospects. You know, the comfortable ones. The warm leads who will tell you that they love you, think you’re great and REALLY want to work with you, but they never commit. You let them tell you this for months. Maybe for years.

And at first you’re OK with it. It feels good because hey, they like SOMETHING about you right?

But after awhile it feels like hollow promises.

Just like I spent two years waiting on the wrong man to finally commit to me, I’ve spent far too long waiting for less than ideal potential clients to do the same thing.

Can you relate?

If so, here’s what you do about it:

1. Draw your line in the sand. It’s one thing to know and say you want a different kind of client (you know, the kind that can’t wait to work with you, happily pays you and is committed to doing what it takes to get results?), but until you say “enough is enough” to those less than ideal clients and commit to something different, things rarely change.

2. Get clear on your perfect fit. Marketing and brand strategists (myself included) love to talk about creating ideal client profiles. It’s good advice, but sometimes it’s really hard to extract from yourself what would make an ideal client. Talk to someone else. Some of my biggest revelations about the type of clients I want to serve don’t happen when I’m sitting at my computer filling out an ideal client questionnaire. They come from having conversations with my coach and my peers about who I do and don’t want to serve. You need the combination of your own experiences, reflection and discussion to get a clear picture of who is the perfect fit for you.

3. Cut your ties. You’ve got to let go to make way for something better. Wrap up whatever remaining agreements you have with existing clients who are less than ideal for you. Stop chasing leads who want to nickel and dime you and don’t respect your time. It’s much harder to focus on attracting Mr. or Ms. Right Client, when you allow the wrong clients for you to take up your time, energy and attention.

4. Feel, then move on. Breaking up stinks, no matter what the situation is. You need to take time to process what happened, what you’re feeling and what you’ve learned. Take the time and feel what you need to, but don’t wallow. With each day, focus more on what you want and what you’re moving toward and less on what you lost.

5.  Go for it. With your new clarity, you’ll know the right client when you see her. Step into your value and be bold with your intentions. When I met my husband at a cookout, he was flirting with another woman most of the night. He talked with me too but he seemed more interested in her. I was discouraged at first so I didn’t make a move that night. When I went home, I knew I really wanted to get to know him more so I found a way to stay in touch. Soon we started talking on the phone almost every day, and not long after we had our first date. This happened in a matter of weeks. Within a month we were seriously dating and that other girl was long forgotten.

The same happens in business. Maybe your ideal client is working with someone else or simply just considering working with someone else. That doesn’t mean you have no chance. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation. I’m not saying go out and steal clients, but a little competition can be a good thing. It helps you see how much you really want this relationship, and what you’re willing to do to create something amazing for both of you. Be curious about the person you’re courting. Find out how you can complete them. Go for it . . . the worst that can happen is that they say no.

And wouldn’t you rather get a definitive answer either way than wonder how awesome it could’ve been if you’d just gone for it?

As always, I’d love to hear your lessons learned from running your own business. What would you add to this list? 

 

 

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