Unlock the Magic in Your Story Now

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Get the Free 20 questions to Ask Before Launching Your Idea workbook when you sign up for occasional updates.

Articles filed in: Entrepreneurship

Being Successful Isn’t About What You Do

Why is it that we’ve all got heroes that many of us haven’t ever met? If heroes are just ordinary people who do something extraordinary, how can they be so ubiquitous and uncommon all at once? I think this video goes part of the way to answering that question.

That was you when you were four. What on earth happened?

For a start you learned that you weren’t superhuman, that you couldn’t really fly and jumping off walls might actually hurt. You learned that you made mistakes and that sometimes people would laugh at you. You learned to be careful about what you said, not to stand out, to fit in. Most importantly though you learned to stop believing in yourself.

Then you grew up and you learned to worry about the important things in life like; Does my bum look big in this? And how many friend requests have I got on Facebook today? You learned how to put your best face forward. And you were saved by the greatest invention known to every the lost hero. The delete key! You might not be a hero anymore, but you could be ‘super’.

You know we’ve got this notion that we’re inspired by the extraordinary stuff that we see happening around us. We’re so focused on the ‘big what’, that we’ve lost sight of the truth about what really inspires people.

Being successful isn’t about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

Heroes touch us by being masters of how. Seth Godin shows us how to inspire. Bono shows us how to be passionate. Richard Branson shows us how to believe in our dreams. And Steve Jobs showed us how to live before we die. You see real heroes aren’t always out there doing extraordinary things every day. They’re often doing stuff you and I could do, if we chose to.

Every Person you impact you leave a heart-print, or not,
and that is your legacy. ~ Oprah

I’d like to propose a new definition of the modern hero. A hero is an extraordinary person doing ordinary things. You have the potential to reach out to people every day and how you do that is what makes your ideas matter.

Image by Charles Van Den Broek.

7 Steps to Building A Successful Online Business

Think about an online shopping experience you’ve had lately. If you covered the website header could you spot the difference between Joe Bloggs web design and Blow Joggs website design? Are you so busy trying to be good enough, that you’ve forgotten what makes you unique along the way? Potential customers are looking for a reason to do business with you. So why not give them a great one?

Let’s assume that you are not competing with your competitors on price because your customers value what you do or sell above it’s utility. That means you’re not the cheapest logo designer or life coach in webville. So what will attract customers to you? What’s unique about what you do or how you deliver it? Does your mission, service, website, packaging, business name, bio and logo spell the ‘whatever it is’ out to people?

Customers want to feel your difference and they need you to help them get there

Tara Gentile is more than just a savvy an entrepreneur, who built a six figure online business from scratch, she is setting out to build the new economy with her own unique brand of enthusiasm. Tara and I had a conversation about what it takes to build a successful online brand and business.
Enjoy the interview!

And our seven take aways:

1. Understand Your Mission
Build your business backwards. It’s important to understand and be able to articulate why your business exists.

2. Make Your Map
Set business goals to keep you on track.

3. Sing In Your Own Voice
Every brand should have a unique voice. Something that sets it apart. You need to find a way of communicating to customers that your values are aligned with theirs.
It’s one way to stand out from all the marketing din and a great way to build profitable long term relationships based on mutual respect and trust.

4. Get Clear
Potential customers are looking for a reason to do business with you. So why not give them a great one?

5. Be Enthusiastic
If you’re not excited about what you’re bringing to market, how can you expect your customers to be.

6. Stand Out
Be less vanilla! Say and do things that others aren’t doing.

7. Change what isn’t working
Don’t be afraid to make strategic changes along the way.

Image by Eddie Lin.

Connection Vs Attention

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. ~ Steve Jobs

Did you meet yourself coming back today, because you are working so hard to get noticed and trying to be picked? How much energy do you put into building your business and communicating the value of your unique gifts? A lot! You’ve got all the online tools and a hundred and one communication channels at your fingertips but something is missing, that’s why you’re not creating enough traction.

What’s missing in your business, on your about page and your marketing is more of you. If you don’t believe me go cover the header and profile picture on your website, then read your about page. Does this sound like you, or could it be describing any one of a hundred people in your industry?

In your quest to be the ‘best’, the perfect, obvious choice for your clients and customers, you’ve rounded the rough edges of your profile. By trying to give them what you think they want you’ve morphed into iStock girl, you look so professional and flawless that your right audience is having a hard time connecting to you. Your people want to trust you, they want to make virtual eye contact with you and understand the intention behind what you do.

To really connect with your potential clients and customers you have to build trust and that happens when you show more of yourself. When you share more of the ‘real you’ in a strategic way, in your bio, on your about page and in profiles your target market finds you! And it’s such a relief to really connect with your audience by just being you. Connection feels so much more fulfilling than attention and when people truly understand your difference great things happen to your bottom line too.

Want to illuminate the best of who you are and what you do?

Today I’m opening registration to a coaching program that will put ‘you’ back into your profile. I usually only do this work with clients 1 on 1, now though to enable me to show more leaders how to become heroes I’m offering an intimate coaching experience for a small group. I’m looking forward to working with the heroines who have already committed via my email list.

The Hero’s Story program starts on 12th September and runs for three weeks. Registrations close on September 1st.

Image by Torpore.

The Business Plan For The Social Web

The business plan for the social web is….. that you just never know ~ Mark Schaefer

I’ve been talking a lot lately about having the courage to bring more of yourself into your work, bio, about pages and your online presence. I’m not talking about the traditional perception that many people have of ‘personal branding’ which is likened to putting lipstick on a pig. I want to encourage you to amplify the very best of what you’ve got, the ‘real’ you.

The bottom line is this, your biggest point of differentiation is the fact that you are different. You’ve got a unique set of experiences, your own voice, perspectives, values and opinions. Talk about stating the obvious! The thing is that I can almost certainly guarantee that you haven’t turned up the volume on your differences enough. And once you start expressing those in your business magical things happen. They did for my guest Mark Schaefer who I was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak a couple of weeks ago (link to the audio of our interview at the bottom of this post).

Mark writes the hugely popular marketing blog Business Grow. He is a marketing and social media expert with more than 28 years of experience under his belt and author of the Tao of Twitter. Mark has successfully grown his business online by having the courage to be himself and tapping into his unique experience, values, personality, and heart. Some of the things we touch on in this interview are:

  • Why traditional marketing skills still work online
  • How to be successful using social media by following your instincts
  • Why your unique perspective is actually your point of differentiation
  • The secret to finding your target market ~ it’s not what you think
  • Why approaching social media from a sales mindset is a bad idea

Image by Frozen Capybara

You Are The Map Maker

If you invest in that expensive viral marketing campaign will it definitely work? What’s the formula for blog posts that will get the greatest number of retweets? Which new product or service will make you the most money? Do you know?

The truth is that nobody knows for sure what’s going to work. If they did the J.K. Rowlings of this world wouldn’t get rejected by twelve publishers. There is no cast iron guarantee, no secret formula. There is no map to your success.

This means that you are the map maker. You are responsible for shaping your journey and creating your own success. I know many inspirational entrepreneurs and creative business owners who have done just that and I wanted you to hear some of their stories.

So today I’m sharing a beautiful book with you that’s been six months in the making.

YOU ARE THE MAP MAKER features contributions from entrepreneurs like Chris Guillebeau and Derek Sivers; stories from designers like David Airey and Jessica Hische. There are twelve inspiring creative business stories in all. It’s free to download and yours to share. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to keep drawing your own map.

My thanks to the amazing creative team, Blair, Darren and Jamie at Believe in, for the inspired design and art direction, along with their dedication to this project.

Image by Dave Makes.

The Quest For Perfection Makes You Invisible

One of my favourite times when my three boys were little was baking days. You can picture the scene, sticky, half licked spoons, flour and chocolate chips everywhere. Those baking days taught me a lot about the value of imperfection.

When a three year old is making a gingerbread man he doesn’t ever want to just give him two eyes and three buttons down his middle. He wants to add lots of currants and plenty of mismatched decoration. He will tell you that because his gingerbread man is ‘special’, he doesn’t just have three buttons, but wears a coat covered in spots. He also has an extra eye to help him see better. A three year old understands the need to mark his guy out, in order to recognise him through the oven door.

I can still remember moments where my self conscious, perfectionist adult wanted to start rearranging the features of said gingerbread men. To make them neater and perfect. Can you feel your fingers itching to do it too?

Even if you’ve never baked gingerbread with a three year old you understand this. That’s because you do it every day of your life as you craft your personal brand. You do it on your resume, in your bio and in any situation where you feel that your credentials are under scrutiny.

You are hiding the most intriguing and compelling parts of your story

What happens when you are afraid to stand out is that you unconsciously make sure you blend in. You become just like every other gingerbread guy and gal in the bakery, with two eyes and three buttons down the middle and no way in the world to set you or your brand apart.

Your tiny differences, flaws and imperfections are what make you unique. Don’t be afraid to shine a light on them. Begin today by making a list of your quirky gifts and talents. Think about stories from your past, a time when you didn’t fit in, or challenges you may have faced because you are different. Start crafting a real story that people can believe in and care about. Build a window, not a wall.

Image by Rick Waller.

Seth Godin On Being An Entrepreneur, Telling Stories And Making Ideas Matter

It’s not every day you get to speak with one of your heroes. I had the opportunity to do just that when I talked to Seth Godin recently. Seth and his work need no introduction and I hope you get to take something away from the conversation we had about being an entrepreneur, telling stories and making ideas matter.

If what you’re doing matters, then I hope you’ll take the time to tell a story. A story that resonates and a story that can become true.
~ Seth Godin

Image by Life Supercharger.

There’s Something You’re Forgetting To Tell Us

It’s time for me to get really honest with you and let you know that there’s a reason why people are not crossing the street or the Inter-webs to buy from you, and it has nothing to do with how good your idea is. People might be noticing you left and right, but you’re not giving them a good enough reason to go beyond simply paying attention. Forgetting to do this one thing means that you are sabotaging your chances of being a leader, or an influencer. It stops people from trusting you enough to care about your idea. It makes them hold back and keeps their credit card firmly in their wallet.

I want you to stop telling people what you are, and start showing them what you are not.

You need to start telling people why you’re and showing them how you’re different

Do you know? Have you given much thought to what makes you and your idea extraordinary?

It’s not enough anymore to say I’ve got an MBA, a really reliable product or a bazillion twitter followers, plenty of other people have those badges of honor too. You need to do more than just wear your ribbon on the opposite side to everyone else. You’ve got something more valuable than all those credentials put together, you’re just keeping it hidden.

Your gifts are too precious, your ideas too important, don’t squander your opportunity to make a difference.

Once upon a time, an amazingly gifted client of mine thought she was an Etsy store owner and a decorator, when what she was all along was a stylist and interior designer. She just wasn’t telling people.

Are you up for the challenge? Deep down you know what makes you different it’s time to start articulating it.

Image by Emar.

Take Off Your Little Black Dress

Maybe you look amazing in a little black dress with no help from anyone. Very few people can pull it off without at least a leg wax, high heels and an airbrush tan. Think about why you wear that dress in the first place. Is it to make you feel good about yourself? Possibly…..or is it to attract attention?

You know deep down that you won’t attract the right kind of attention with your little black dress.

When will it be time to show the best of your real self, not just in your life but in your business too?

Are you spending so much time working on the ‘how to attract people’ part, (tactics); that you’ve stopped focusing on making a difference to people, (objectives)? Have you forgotten the unique value of your own message?

You have something important to share, but if you’re wearing the equivalent of a little black dress to attract people to your idea, blog or your business then you’re doing yourself a disservice. You are diluting your idea and making yourself invisible to the people who need what you have.

You are one-of-a-kind, your story is what makes your idea unique, and that idea it is going to make a difference to someone. Don’t bury it by dressing it up in 10 inch heels and covering it with lipstick.

Image by Zar Cor.