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Close The Gap Between Dreaming And Doing

Everyone wants to sit around and think up cool stuff. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to actually build something. The energy isn’t in the idea, it’s in the execution. ~ Seth Godin

I think you’ll agree that sometimes we get stuck, even when we know we have a great idea. Sometimes it’s easier to sit and wait for just the right time to execute, to see if it’s safe. The thing is if you’re waiting until it’s safe then it probably is. Most of what inspires us in our world didn’t come from a place of safety. Don’t wait to feel safe. Go be audacious!

Obvious to you. Amazing to others. from Derek Sivers on Vimeo.





Jason Fried @ Big Omaha 2009 from Big Omaha on Vimeo.


Tim Brown on Change By Design from IDEO on Vimeo.


Image by Chris Devers.

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Acknowledging The Fear

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Marianne Williamson

People are scared. Especially people with big ideas and vision, who are doing great work. They are scared of doing the wrong thing, of making a misstep. Scared of being invisible and frightened their idea might not work. They’re afraid your design may not tell their whole story, or draw customers in. They’re worried about losing money and terrified of looking stupid.

Maybe their fear is partly what brought them to you in the first place?

Once they’ve paid for the coaching program, the copy, the intangible you probably sell, they worry that they won’t get a return on their investment, they fret that you won’t have the answer. This has little to do with trusting you, your expertise or your art, and a lot to do with expressing a tiny bit of self doubt about the place where they are on their own entrepreneurial journey.

Your job is not to get rid of the fear. Fear is normal. Fear has it’s place and you can’t make it go away.

Fear was the fuel for every great idea that ever was.

Your job is to recongnise it and show your people that you understand their anxiety. Your job is not to buy into it. Your role is definitely not to be afraid alongside them. As their expert, their mentor or their creative genius, your job is not to allow their fear to stall them right when they are at the threshold about to push past it.

Your job is to understand where your client is at, acknowledge that, then go ahead and deliver anyway.

*Update* new from Seth Godin today 2/7/11;
“Fear is the lone barrier almost every product and service has to overcome in order to succeed.”
I’d love to hear about your experiences of dealing with client fear, or how you acknowledge this in yourself sometimes on your entrepreneurial journey. I’ll share alongside you.

Image Paolo Margari.

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People Want What They Never Asked For

Everybody’s obsessed with finding a niche when what they should be doing is expressing a worldview. ~ Amy Hoy

Have you ever been to a chocolate cafe? There’s a new one in town and we went to see what all the fuss is about. I’m not talking about a big franchise operation here— I’m talking the real deal chocolatier. The kind that displays individual chocolates in glass cases like jewels, where the assistants handle everything with gloved fingertips. A place that labels itself a chocolate salon and not a cafe at all, where you blissfully buy $12 brownies, $8 chocolate bars and can’t get a seat.

Now all chocolate cafes are not created equal. This one just happens to be expressing a worldview with knobs on. It is gently whispering into it’s customers ear, giving her an opportunity to feast her eyes and imagination while appealing to her very soul. The extravagant $12 decision is made based on nothing to do with taste or facts and everything to do with what she cares deeply about.

Your customer cares that you made an effort to seduce her. She wants to be able to tell herself a story about being flamboyant, outrageous, passionate, determined and successful.

The reason you exist is to allow your customer to express her worldview.

People don’t just buy your physical product, they invest in their unspoken worldview reflected back to them. Things that they really care about like success, freedom, happiness, fear, popularity, legacies and love. The sort of stuff that matters more than just chocolate sauce and caramel swirls.

Image by teddy-rised.

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“Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Heather Spriggs is an artist. She’s a gifted designer and visionary stylist, with a fine arts degree. Heather is a one off, an original.

When I first started working with Heather she had been blogging for two years about modern romance and vintage style, at Gathering Spriggs using the typepad platform. She had built quite a following over that time but wasn’t earning any income from her blog. Heather also ran an Etsy store, selling beautiful hand crafted pieces online for way less than their true value, taking into account the time and talent that had been put into them. As if that wasn’t enough Heather had built a full time home decorating business over a period of eight years. She clearly had no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit and drive!

One of the first things we spoke about was moving Heather’s website to it’s own .com domain, (something she was in the process of working on with her designer). The timing couldn’t have been better. But instead of launching as a result of our consultation Heather re-launched her blog at At the time I think this was a big decision for Heather and part of her journey to stepping into her light.

We covered a lot of ground quickly, including what was working for Heather, what was taking up her time and energy and where it might be better directed. We worked out who she really wanted to speak to on her blog and what their worldview was. We discussed her audacious goals, her vision for her brand, plans for her business and where she wanted to be. We had some soul searching conversations along the way.

Once she called herself a decorator, now Heather is an artist, stylist and designer.

Contact and services pages were added to her website. Her craft store closed but her vintage store remained. Rooms by Heather became Interiors by Heather, for that is exactly what they are, beautiful whole world transformations. She offers new services like styling, decor and colour consultation, which she has been doing for years, but not profiting from as she should be.

Heather is increasingly showcasing her own work on her blog, (where she used to mainly showcase the work of those she admired). In July she is releasing her own 100 page magazine ‘Gatherings’, with paying advertisers getting on board. And we’re just getting started, this is only phase one!

Heather just continues to rise to every challenge. She now owns her unique vision and extraordinary ability to see beauty in the world and put it together in ways others could never do. She also values and expresses her vision and talent enough to earn an income from it.

Your attitude defines your brand.

Here’s how Heather and her brand are evolving and why she is embracing ‘living in the shift’, in her own words.

I’d love you to share your own experiences and stories of evolving in the comments.

Image by Heather Spriggs.

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The iPhone Doesn’t Matter To Everyone

“Ideas that spread win.” Seth Godin

Seth is one of my heros, he’s probably one of yours too. But I’ve been itching to qualify this quote for some time now. Here’s what I believe.

Ideas that matter spread.

If you want anything you conceive, launch, or care about to ‘win’ then you’ve got to make it matter first. I’m not talking about mattering for a day while your offer is on Groupon, or during your opening week buzz. I mean ‘really’ mattering. The kind of mattering that makes people cross the road (or town), passing your competitors on the way, to buy from you. The sort of mattering that touches people in a place way deeper than their pockets.

This might be the cue to throw your hands in the air and give up, because you wonder how your thing can ever matter that much. But wait… I haven’t gotten to the best bit.

You don’t need to matter to everyone.

In fact you positively don’t want to matter to the whole universe. Quite the opposite. You can succeed by simply mattering more to the few.

Apple has 5% of the global mobile phone market share. They’re doing okay just mattering to the few. Make your market tiny. Create significance for the outnumbered on the sidelines. Investigate the edges. Quit trying to please everyone and woo a handful.

Whisper softly to the people who want to hear from you. Then you’ll matter.

Image by Something from Nancy

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Your Best Idea Might Be The One People Laugh At

“The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is but that you can see the world as it isn’t.” Kathryn Schultz

You can probably picture the scene. Over a quiet dinner and a few drinks early in 1984 Richard Branson announces his plans to a few close friends. He explains that he is going to cream some of the profits from his successful Virgin Records business and use it to lease a second hand Boeing 747. His intention is to start a commercial airline and take on mighty British Airways in the process.

Some would have thought it was a joke and actually laughed aloud. Others, their forks suspended in mid air, might have looked him dead in the eye to work out if he really was joking, or if he had finally gone mad.

How many times in his business career do you think that Richard Branson was laughed at? From being the dyslexic teen editor of a magazine to his vision of galactic missions and changing the face of every industry from money to health care; I’m guessing quite a few.

People will probably laugh at you too.

They will laugh at your ideas both big and small. Those devil’s advocates will challenge your vision of the world as it could be. They will tell you it can’t be done. Just like they told Muhammad Yunus that the poor wouldn’t pay back their micro loans. They will urge you to be careful.

People will call on you to realistic and sensible. Just like them. They will urge you to wait for the ‘right time’. And maybe you will.

You might wait to work on the idea that simply can’t fail. Why? Because you don’t want to feel like you are six years old again. Because you can’t bear the thought of putting something imperfect out into the world. Something that might fail.

That would-be failure you’re working on, like Virgin Airlines, will never become something that has a chance to succeed unless you get over the fear of having ideas that people will laugh. And begin having enough faith in them (and you) to put them to work.

Image by David Vo.

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What Is An Idea Worth?

“A single idea, the sudden flash of a thought, may be worth a million dollars.” Robert Collier

If you’re here and reading this article you probably make your living, (or want to) by selling your art. You market your creative genius and your ideas. So what do you think one of your ideas is worth?

How much value do you think you add to the client who has spent $30,000 remodelling her kitchen but has no clue what colour to paint the walls? What should be the price tag for your coaching service that finally gets a client unstuck and gives him the clarity he needs to move forward. Do you know the true worth of a website design that draws her visitors in and makes them click?

Your clients are not paying for a sixty minute interaction with you or for a chunk of your day.
They are paying for two things:

1. The accrued value of your knowledge, experience and creative genius built over a lifetime.
2. The recurring benefit that even a single idea could make to their business, home, life or future.

Working with you and experiencing your genius means entertaining in the perfect room or having the momentum to move forward. It means being one step further to building the perfect business or getting clear on what’s really important. And a thousand other things that matter more than you realise.

So never underestimate what your one idea might be worth.

Image By Xurxo Martinez.b

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The Strawberry Chocolate Box

It’s not how good they say you are, it’s how good you believe yourself to be.

The community fair was in full swing. Proud gardeners and pushy mothers turned up in equal measure at every event. I had my eye on a prize. Having learned to bake at my mothers hip by the age of twelve there wasn’t much I couldn’t tackle. This year I was going for it in the junior baking competition. I wanted to attempt The Strawberry Chocolate Box. That exotic creation I’d seen on the front cover of Woman’s Weekly magazine.

I’m sure my mother spent a quarter of the usual weekly shopping bill buying the ingredients for that cake. For a start strawberries were a luxury in our suburban Dublin home. We usually ate three kinds of fruit apples, oranges and bananas. And there seemed to be an awful lot of expensive dark chocolate and cream required too. I locked myself away for two whole days working on that cake. I picked perfect rose leaves from the garden and painstakingly painted the backs of them with chocolate, peeling them once they’d set to reveal perfect edible leaves. The fatless sponge rose like a dream and each ripe strawberry was drizzled with even more chocolate. The whole thing was a masterpiece. It looked just like the magazine cover almost too good to eat. And too good to have been made by a twelve year old.

We lined up at the battered blue door of the community hall to hand in our entries. Mum in the apple tart section, me in the open children’s category. The Strawberry Chocolate Box stood proudly alongside the rice crispy cakes and fairy buns with their wobbly icing.

There was a lot of oohing and aahing over The Strawberry Chocolate Box and more than a couple of questions about how much help my mother had given me with it. There was no contest. When the big moment arrived the judges came forth and commended people announcing results in reverse order. Patience; followed by devastation. The Strawberry Chocolate Box and I didn’t get a look in. Plainly the judges didn’t believe that a twelve year old was capable of producing something that good (it tasted better than it looked too).

It was a hard lesson to learn. When you’re twelve you believe that if you really are the best then you win. What I learned that day is sometimes I would be limited by the small dreams that others had for me. I learned that in the future I could choose to allow myself to be limited by their worldview or that I could just be audacious.

Don’t be limited by the small dreams others have for you. Be as good as you know you are. Go, be audacious.

If you enjoyed this post you might like Paul Arden’s book.

Image by Melly Kay.

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Ruby Slippers

Every single idea becomes what you can communicate.

Dorothy’s ruby slippers were magical. They sparkled, they shone and everyone including the wicked witches with all her power coveted them without knowing exactly how they worked and why.

Naturally you want to explain to everyone how to tap their heels together three times. But maybe all the world wants for now is your ruby slippers.

You set out to give people proof about the features and benefits of a great product or service when you want them to understand why they ‘need’ your particular something. And yes, results matter. In the end even the ruby slippers would have been worthless if they hadn’t been able to get Dorothy back to Kansas.

Sometimes though it’s okay to sell the sparkle first and the heel tapping later.

Ideas don’t necessarily fail because they are bad but they often succeed when you work out how to put the magic back into them.

Which businesses are doing this best right now? How could you put the magic back into your business story?

Image by Dennis Sylvester Hurd.

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The Goodbye Window

“Sure we need thrills, spills and big gestures, but we also need closeness, trust and intimacy.” Kevin Roberts. Lovemarks

It might sound like a bit of a cliche but the small things really do matter, in business as well as in life. Children teach us that every day. We might think that they care about grand gestures, like holidays to Disney World and an Xbox on Christmas day. And yes, while these things might seem fabulous in the moment the stuff that really impacts on kids happens out of the corner of your eye. Tiny little things that seem insignificant which are the real highlights of their everyday.

Nigel Marsh tells a story about the day he took off work to drop his son Harry to kindy for the first time. Job done Nigel headed to the local cafe. After his first coffee he met a neighbour who remarked how cute it was that Harry always waited for his mum at the ‘goodbye window’ to wave and blow kisses. In a panic Nigel dashed back to school to find Harry, perched on top of his bag, tears streaming down his face still waiting at the ‘goodbye window’.

Your customers care about the little things too. Things that they sometimes can’t even articulate. They care that you notice, that you understand them, that they matter.

They want to be reminded that they are the reason you exist.

Making people fall in love with your products and services is about paying attention to the little things. The things that other businesses forget. The tiny things that matter most. Like ‘goodbye windows’.

Image by Maskingtaped.

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