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Articles filed in: Worldview

The Secret To Building Ideas That Fly

Every single successful idea is born from tapping into just one thing. It’s the secret to the success of entrepreneurs the world over, from Derek Sivers to Richard Branson, Seth Godin to Jack Canfield. You know what it is, but sometimes you get so caught up in creating momentum around your idea, that you forget to pay attention to the one thing that really matters.

Ideas that fly are born from discovering neglected worldviews, then creating something to fill the void

Each business in the Virgin stable was built on this foundation. The neglected worldview is the first perfect brick. Think about any successful business, book, movement or cause you care about and ask yourself the question; what neglected worldview did it set out to fulfil?

I want your idea to fly, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at the foundations of this thing you’re trying to build. What is your first perfect brick? What void are you filling?

Image by AmpamukA.

Forgetting The Facts

We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts

Ric Bixter was given a college assignment; to take something boring, that you could buy for less than a couple of dollars and repackage it to make it more interesting and valuable. So Ric set out to tell a different story about elastic bands. One that had little to do with the facts.

Your customers will sometimes need to know the facts about what you’re selling. How many sessions? What’s the fuel consumption? Does is come with a guarantee? But that’s not always where your story has to start. Take a look around you at all the marketing messages you see working. The products and services people fall in love with aren’t just about the facts or specs. They are about the story and things people care about.

Your job is to communicate more than the facts

This doesn’t mean telling a story that isn’t true. It means getting people to take a second look and giving them a reason to fall in love with what you do. We all know that love affairs don’t begin with facts. If you want to make people believe your true story, then you need to ask yourself one simple question.

How is this adding to my customer’s worldview?

Take a look at how perfectly Ric told a new story about elastic bands, with colour, typography, nuance and humour.

How could you do this in your business? What story can you tell? How can you make your idea matter to the people who need to hear from you?

And if you’re looking to add a great storyteller to your design team in London next year, give Ric a shout @fellbridge. He’s sure to be snapped up!

Images and package design by Ric Bixter.

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.

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.

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.


“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 GatheringSpriggs.com as a result of our consultation Heather re-launched her blog at HeatherSpriggs.com. 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.

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.

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

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.

The Idea Validation Roller Coaster

“There’s a difference between achieving your goals and realising your work matters.” Seth Godin

Yesterday was a good day! You logged on first thing and found you’d sold a dozen eBooks overnight. You had five email queries about your latest online program and ten enrollments…..not bad. Your blog post got eighty retweets and your designer came back with some great concepts for your new logo.

Today though didn’t start out too well. That email from X Corp before breakfast cancelling your talk didn’t help.

Every single one of us is in love with our own idea. Yes solo entrepreneur, creative genius, blogging king, Mr Startup CEO, lifecoach, guru, Etsy queen, empire builder, rock star designer and social changer, I’m talking about you too.

What you do is important and it does matter. You just don’t need to get on ‘the idea validation roller coaster’ to prove it.

Of course you need to get feedback about what’s working and what’s not and make sales to pay the rent but you don’t have to give away control to the external locus that is your inbox.

Anything worth doing will mimic a roller coaster at times with it’s hills and dips, highs and lows. Those highs and lows though relate to the ‘what’ and not to the ‘why’ of your idea. The ‘why’ is what keeps your grounded and sane.

I read an article by Noah Kagan founder of App Sumo today. In it Noah talked about micro burnout that feeling of deflation and demotivation that starts when your inbox doesn’t send you the right signals.

Yes it’s fantastic when things fall into place. When your income goes up by 20% on last month, when your non-profit gets that additional funding and you’re invited to do a high profile guest post.

But on the days when it’s not going so well remember that you don’t need the permission of anyone to be awesome.

Image by Raphael Goetter.