When you take a copywriting  or marketing course, people teach you how to write headlines that get clicked.

The problem is, once all of us take the course (and who can resist? It’s only $97!) we all know the “formula” and every headline starts to look the same.

When all headlines look the same, they are boring and blah and nobody clicks on them.

This is why I tell everyone to create and innovate because those dang blueprints just get too popular…

Anyhoo….when marketers find out their typical “high traffic” headlines aren’t getting clicked, they up the ante. They start to write even more compelling headlines so we can’t help but click. Of course, most of them play on your fear. Because we all know fear sells.

These new, more clickable headlines are ridiculous. Out and out stupid. So I don’t click on purpose. I ignore tabloid-esque headlines, just to be one less person who feeds the stupidity.

Actual headlines I will not click:

“5 Negative Thought Patterns You Need To Drop Now” Shut up. If we could just drop the negative thought patterns we would. And if I don’t do it now, then what? I’m a loser? This reminds me of this Bob Newhart piece. “Stop it!”

“89 Things You Need to Know to Simplify Your Life.”  89 of anything and the word “simple” in the same sentence is stupid.

“100 Things You Should Be Talking About in 2014.” Are you kidding me? There are only 365 days in a year. I have to talk about 100 things. For how long? Two minutes each? What’s the point? How about I talk about things that matter? I won’t count them so I can leave space in my brain for the ideas.

“Plug All of Your Leaks Or You Will Die.” I’m going to die? Am I on a sinking ship? Huh?  Just no.

Notice how these stupid headlines play to “shoulds” and “needs” (Because it’s no good, Honey, if the headline doesn’t make you feel ashamed, or that you are going to die.) and have long lists that make you twitchy thinking, “Hell, I’m missing out on 100 Things!”

The reason for the hyperbole is because no one cares about 7 things, or 21 things. We know that trick. Now we need to be enticed with 100 things we don’t know. We need someone to suggest we could die to get the fear-o-meter really ramped up.

Of course in a year, 100 things will be passe and we’ll be told we have 1001 things we are missing out on. By the time my kid is in college, he’ll have to sweat out lists of 1.1 million things he’s missing/failing or otherwise leading to his eventual demise.

The game is up. The pure quantity of content and ease of creating it has made the old school marketing schtick DOA. There is only so much exaggeration and fear we can tolerate before we get numb (and I argue most of us are numb right now). Making the lists longer, the shame and fear bigger isn’t going to get the attention it used to.

And remember, you get to choose if you react to these lists of projected shame and loser-ness. You know that you don’t need 89 things to simplify your life. The idea is ludicrous on the surface. Just laugh. Don’t click. And give your attention to people doing real work that matters.

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When I talk to innovative entrepreneurs, one theme always emerges – it all starts at the (literal and metaphorical) kitchen table.

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, tells the story of Nordstroms calling his dying cordless phone while he sat in his kitchen eating breakfast tacos.

John and Bert Jacobs sold their Life is good shirts out of the van they were living in for several months. Let’s assume they had a hot plate.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak stored the first Apple computers in a garage.

All the good stuff starts small.

And it is not glamorous.

Whether you are selling services using your cell phone and cheap ear buds to connect with clients (raises hand) or stacking your product in the living room while you wait for orders to come in, you are in very good company.

Innovation usually spawns from just an idea. There is no infrastructure for a new thing. There’s no already established authority or space to tap into.

When we start something new, we often don’t have the resources to start with all the bells and whistles. Hell, we often have no idea what the bells and whistles are yet.

I encourage you to use your kitchen, garage, living room ( try to avoid living in the van if you can) and start something.

View it as an adventure and trial run, a beta test. When you don’t have to invest a lot of capital up front to get the wheels moving, it gives you the flexibility to grow organically and follow the paths that open ahead of you.

When you grow, you can formalize things, move to a bigger space, hire a few folks.

But use the kitchen table. The cookies and coffee are closer there anyway.

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If you want to build a real true business that supports you financially and emotionally you have to come to the understanding that you will make many investments to get it up and running.

You will invest money, time, emotional and physical energy.

Anyone who tries to tell you building a business can be done on the cheap, with little time or emotional investment is lying.

There’s an example on every corner of the person who had $100 and built an empire. Yeah, yeah. I can sell you a bridge, too, wanna see it?

{Side note. Unless you see cold, hard facts, spreadsheets and tax returns, those stories you hear about riches and money and numbers of clients, blah, blah could be fairy tales spun for our naïve ears. Shelve them with the Harry Potter books when you’re done reading them.}

Think I’m the buzz kill of small business entrepreneurship? Let’s chat over lattes shall we?

Question: Before the dawn of the internet, did people check out a “Start a Business” book from the library and think they could start a business with sticks, a pen and a phone? No, because they needed an upfront investment for physical space and furniture and often inventory.

Then the internet came along and a bunch of yahoos decide to sell the idea that the internet makes it cheap and oh-so-easy to work from your kitchen table, in your underwear and make a living.

No one bothers to tell you that you either a) need to know how to code your own website, shopping carts and leverage social media like a boss or b) you need to pay someone to help you do those things if you aren’t a ninja at them (which you probably aren’t because they aren’t skills we learned back in the ‘80s and ‘90s BECAUSE THE TECHNOLOGY DIDN’T EXIST.)

Now, yes, you can go learn all that stuff. But can you learn it for free? And if you can, will you learn it fast enough so you can actually build a business using it?

Trust me, you can’t. Sure, I can learn how to code, but how long will learning take me? Can I learn it out of a book, “Coding for the Clueless”? I doubt it. If applicable learning was that easy why would we go to high school, college and graduate school?

You probably already invested in an education to get you to where you are now. If you want to build a new kind of business, you’re going to need to invest in learning and growth again.

So many people bump against resistance of this reality.

They think, “I can do this new business thing on the cheap.” And there are a lot of people who will take what little money you have to give you a “blueprint” that supposedly gets you raking in the dough. Know any mega success stories who used the cheap blueprint? I don’t.

If we could build real businesses for little money, what the hell are those people doing talking to investors on Shark Tank? What is this asking for $150,000 to sell cupcakes? You mean I can’t do it for a $197 six week coaching program?

Fact. If you want to build a real, honest, to goodness business, you need to invest.

If you don’t really want to invest your money, time and energy, don’t chase cheap, duct-tape-it together crap that just bleeds you dry 97 bucks at a time. Just stop planning  to grow a business and get on with it. I always say, there is nothing wrong with staying where you are. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” to entrepreneurship. It isn’t for everyone.

However,  if you do really want to open your own business, invest the money, time and energy wisely. Set a realistic budget. Plan to hire contractors, a coach or consultant, set benchmarks and plans to get a realistic return on your investment.

If you don’t have the means to invest, you need to take a good look at how to get the capital. I wish I could say “Here’s a book that will get you started,” but you’ve probably read the books and you are here.  There is no “secret” formula. No one is out there just waiting to fund your business.  I bootstrapped. I borrowed money from my bank. I made money and reinvested it in the business while keeping my day job. That’s how most small businesses grow over time.

Realistically, you can start the process of doing everything yourself. It will take a long time. You will have to do it in your spare time when you aren’t  at your other job. But even then, you’ll need to pay for a phone, website hosting, back end tech like a shopping cart and credit card processing. You should have a PO box. You’ll need to market somehow and that takes cash. Yes, even on Facebook and Google (especially on Facebook and Google). Even sending snail mail letters to colleagues and referral sources will cost you for the letterhead, envelopes and stamps (snail mail isn’t cheap).

Can’t swing investing in marketing but still determined? Start saving. Get a second job. Freelance, sell some stuff, stop weekend outings and put the cash in savings.  Almost every entrepreneur I know has a story of “the days of Ramen Noodles,” “living in my car,” or “no cable.” I once lived in an apartment with no furniture except my bed. I probably see two movies in an actual theater every year. I worked retail for awhile (Working retail was highly motivating to start my own business).  Buying new clothes is still a luxury for me.

It’s ok. I’m doing work I love. The clothes don’t make me happy. Doing this work, writing this blog, coaching my clients, being home when my son flies through the door on a Friday afternoon  –  that gives joy.

We have choices about what we invest in. Know that investing in your business is a way to invest in yourself, your family and your joy.

The idea of investment in self and business is what inspired my Pay Your Own Rate  approach to business coaching. You can read more about the philosophy here.

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What day is it? Monday, which means it’s ANTHEM DAY!

Today’s anthem is Good Day by Luce.

Because it’s a pretty good day.

And I’m singing.

Looking for tomorrow.

And you know you need to step up!

I’m posting two versions of this. The first is Tom Luce and his band live. The sound quality isn’t awesome. So I posted a link to the song alone.

Rock Your Monday!

 

Sundays are good days to have hope.

Some of us spend time with our God on Sundays.

We have a big beautiful new week ahead.

We’ve had a few days to rest and recover from the busy of the week before.

In a world full of hard stuff, hope matters.

When you dream of doing your work, helping more people, living a fulfilled life you are deep into your hope.

Sundays are good days to have hope.

I hope you can see the possibilities every day of the week.

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Should you wear white, black or red to a funeral? It depends on what country, culture, time zone, person you are mourning.

This is true in all things. It is true in your business.

Should you have an opt in on your website? It depends on what you offer, who you offer it to, when you offer it, how it’s offered.

I could give you 100 examples, (I’ll spare you). Everything is context based. The business plan, marketing, social media you use (or don’t use) and on and on.

When you ask someone to help you guide your business growth, pay attention to their awareness of context.

Someone selling a “blueprint” model isn’t considering context at all.

When context gets forgotten in the business coaching space it’s usually because the “expert” either:

a)     Doesn’t understand the role of context, or

b)    Totally grasps context, but underestimates your intelligence so sells you a pretty box with fluff in it because it’s easier to sell boxes than a deep process of analyzing context.

We might assume that many people fall into the “b” category. But the more I study the business coaching space, I think more folks fall into “a.” They really don’t get that what works for their business may not work in yours based on….yes, context.

I test this out. I follow people here and there on social media and indirectly make comments that are context-oriented. When someone asks a question like, “Should I have an opt-in on my site?” I watch. If someone swoops in and says, “Absolutely! You must!” or “Absolutely not and here’s why,” they missed the context boat.  The right answer is always, “it depends.”

If someone knows your business goals intimately, they can advise your progress. If they have no clue what you do or what you sell, they need to find out more before giving you blanket advice.

I think we had a short period of time where people tried to build “color by numbers” businesses and a lot of people ended up with little to show for it.

If you are going to invest in building a business, I suggest you find a guide who will dig into your goals, needs and dreams to help you build something that works for you in the context of your plans.

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Here’s the real truth about happiness. It’s temporary.

It is as temporary as every other emotion. Sadness,anger, overwhelm, confusion are all temporary.

When I used to work in suicide assessment and crisis intervention back in the day, my job was to give people hope and a reality check that, whatever was making them feel so desperate in this moment, was temporary. Everything is temporary. Everything.

We have a cultural weirdness about the pursuit of happiness and the complete avoidance of pain. Maybe it’s Constitutional. Whatever drives the happiness compulsion, it’s not healthy.

There is a big industry around the issue of “being happy.” We have books, websites, motivational speakers, workshops and classes all about how to be happy.

You don’t need to spend the money. You can be happy. You just can’t be happy 100% of the time.

Happy is an emotion. And like every emotion, it comes and goes. Happiness is temporary.

The life we live is temporary. Our relationships are temporary. Our pets are temporary.

I know this is unpleasant to think about. Which is why we work so hard to control every little piece of our lives as  a delusional denial tactic to the fact that our existence is temporary.We think if we can control every food we eat, our children’s lives from birth through adulthood, measure every step we take on our FitBit that we will somehow control the biological and time-space continuum.

Temporary, friends. All of it.

I accept temporary. I don’t like it, however. I don’t like change and my loved ones aging. It sucks.

I can choose denial, overcompensation and constant angst about that reality, or just breathe and accept it and live each day with meaning.

Which brings us back to happiness. You can be happy. You will be happy. You can recall times when you were happy. That time was awesome and special and will be again. But it won’t  last forever.

What we can work on is becoming content. Content is a nice equilibrium. When we are content we accept that life has ups and life has downs. We can look at what we have and graciously accept that it is enough. And if it is not enough, we can make choices about how to feel about that and what to do about it, too.

The real truth about happiness is that it’s special. When we feel happy we should enjoy it, savor the time, be fully present. Then we times aren’t so happy we have a memory that matters and hope for better days ahead.

 

 

 

You know I’m a supporter of people doing work they love.

I firmly believe that when we do work we enjoy, we are happier and can do our part to make the world a better place.

We suddenly have a backlash against the idea that we can do work that we love.

“In the Name of Love” in Slate.com, is written Miya Tokumitsu, a woman with a PhD in art history who seems to have a bone to pick about PhD’s not being paid well to do work they love. But she throws in people who do blue collar labor as her guilt hook, hence arguing leveraging choice “devalues” those who can’t choose.

I vehemently disagree with the multiple levels she argues against DWYL (do what you love).

From my perspective, it promotes a regressive message of “Stay in your place,” career and life advice. The author has an agenda as a PhD in art history (You can’t see her bio on the Slate page. You can see it on the link to the original article).
I don’t appreciate the author lumps people who do blue collar work with PhD level academics in doing “devalued” work. Her argument is disingenuous and as a person with a PhD in art history, I think she has a broader, not clearly articulated, agenda. She is assuming that people who do less skilled work don’t have a a choice. It is also insulting to presumptively assume people who do less skilled work don’t enjoy it. Some do. Some don’t. Underpaid PhDs may not enjoy their work, but that has nothing to do with truck divers, harvesters or waitresses. We can only speak of our own experience. I know many people who do hard labor and put their heart into it. My dad’s father immigrated from Italy and was a successful farmer. My mom’s dad was a factory foreman. Both took great pride in their work and did their jobs with love and dignity.

There is also an insulting assumption  that people who choose to do work they enjoy buy into an idea that we toss confetti and clap our hands all day. Choosing work that matters means we choose to do the work. We aren’t 8 year olds who think that we get to avoid the heavy lifting, paperwork boredom or nitty gritty detail work that makes a business succeed. Doing what we love doesn’t mean we are naive or lazy. What we do is choose to focus our energies in an area of work that matters to us. We can shuffle papers for a faceless employer or dive into managing the bookkeeping for our meaningful business.
Rant aside, on a deeper level, articles like these don’t contribute positively to the bigger issue of choice and autonomy in our careers. We need more of these conversations as the corporate/institutionalized work that supports the middle class is quickly disappearing. Even those who do less-skilled work will be forced to make choices as manufacturing, harvesting and other repetitive tasks get sourced to robots. Even UPS/FedEx delievery will soon be outsourced to drones.

The idea of knowing what you are good at and what you like to do will increasingly be relevant to workers at all levels, as many of us will be self-employed by necessity during our life times.

DWYL (do what you love) is targeted to all people who empower themselves to choose. In America we used to pride ourselves on the idea that people can move up the ladder. Now we tell each other to stay in our place and “get over” the idea we can do work that we enjoy.

I’m not supportive of that message. It reinforces many stereotypes and a rigid class system. If we embrace that we all can’t DWYL then we can justify not funding higher education, job retraining, career development. It’s a regressive mindset that is classist and anti-mobility.

Also, this message comes from people of privilege, which is even more concerning. Who are we to decide who gets to choose work that they love? Especially those of us who can do work we enjoy?I fully admit I have the privilege of education, social economic status and demographics that allow me to choose how I work. I am fully aware this choice is not available for all. Rather than rail about the naivete of those who support DWYL, those of us with the means to choose should consider doing what we can to shift that option to more of the community at large.

Overall, this piece is  a “keep ’em in their place” message backlash from people who have the the power to choose, but are confused and ambivalent about that privilege. She seeks the establishment to fulfill her needs. I suggest she take her skills and create her own career (which is is choosing to do by writing for Slate).

Please remember, you have the opportunity to choose. Always. The choices may not be ideal, but the choices do exist to start something new. No matter where you start. Choose wisely. Work hard. You can do work that you love.

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It’s Tuesday (after a holiday Monday), which means it’s WEEKLY ANTHEM time!

This week it’s Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us.”

Because this is the moment.

Let that stage light c’mon and shine down.

We put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us.

Let’s Go! Rock your week!

(I love the joy in this video. These are people doing work they love!)
 

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Shama Kabani is a supernova.

I had the distinct pleasure to interview Shama as part of my Real True Success Summit last September. We talked about her path from “devastated” 23 year old who was told by big business that her passion for social media was a fad, to building her thriving multi-million dollar social media company, “The Marketing Zen Group.”

shamaShama’s story is inspiring, not just because she chose to do her own thing when traditional career doors closed on her, but because she has a gorgeous mindset of seeing the universe as a friendly place and valuing the spirit of play as she works and grows her business.

Shama is doing big things with her business, encouraging youth around the world in their entrepreneurial career development and clearly is having a great time doing it all.

I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did as we discuss blazing new paths and changing the world for the better.

Feel free to download the interview. It’s all yours.

To learn more about Shama and her work, you can visit n her website: http://www.marketingzen.com

Or follow her on Twitter. She’s @Shama.