Interview with Andrea Owen: 52 Ways to Live a Kick Ass Life

52ways_bookcoverOnce upon a time, my life was decidedly not kick-ass. (In fact, does yesterday count? Tee hee – I (mostly) jest.)

I had no idea how much what Andrea Owen said to me when she was my coach two years ago would actually lead to my own imperfect but really cool version of a kick-ass life.

Things like, “What if you are absolutely perfect exactly as you are?” (Which at the time I thought was ridiculous.)

And other things like, “What if there is not one single thing you need to change about yourself?” (Clearly she didn’t know just how wrong these things about me were.)

It took me a bit to actually getting it that the straightest path to kick-ass life was actually radical acceptance of exactly who I am. That process began directly from my work with Andrea. I love that I got to share that story with her in our intervew.

You’re going to really enjoy this recording of our call. We do spend some time talking about what it takes to live a kick-ass life (quite a bit about taming the gremlins here) AND we get into some nitty gritty goodness about writing and publishing a book.

She gives some cool insider tips as well about what publishers are looking for when they seek out new authors. (Here’s where you can order yourself a copy of the book – click here.)

Also, you can see what happens when I try to get fancy with technology and fail – twice. (It’s not too painful. And I resolve the whole thing below.)

Here’s the recording below, to play straight from your computer or mobile. If you’d like to download it for your next driving, running, walking or house-cleaning adventure, click here then enter conference code 343322. (The service assures me that they do not use your access information for anything other than reporting to me the login.) Enjoy!

Loading the player …

 

And in case you are wondering what the %$&& I kept trying to play during our call, here it is:

Did you dance? C’mon – tell the truth.

Since our call, I’ve been thinking a lot about the real ways to live a kick ass life. The ones that actually work for me. Things like radical self-acceptance and commitment to things, even when they get hard. Those are things that make my life more kick ass. I’d love to know – what practices make your life kick ass? Please share so we can all learn from each other.

 

Lack of Clarity Is an Excuse

The essence of this video message (without giving away the punchline – that would be no fun!):

I’m telling it to you straight today:

Lack of clarity is an excuse.

Please note: I get paid to help you get clarity! I’m not kidding around here by telling you this.

And YET, you don’t need me and these processes to start doing big things today.

Because you are already way clearer than you realize.

So, if lack of clarity isn’t the issue… then, what is?

Well, it would ruin it if I gave it all away here in the text. Click play on the video, watch at least the second half.

Heed its wisdom!

And get out there and do awesome things right now, will you?

Start today, with one thing that you’ve been holding back on because you “aren’t clear enough.”

Proclaim the action you will take from exactly the clarity you have right this minute (especially after the big insight in the video) in the comments below.

This will be an act of courage for you today.

Can’t wait to hear what you are ready to no longer be “not clear enough” about!

The Simple Steps to Set Up Your Business to Magnetize Clients

howtosetupyourbusinesstomagnetizeclientsWhen I decided to go into business for myself five years ago, I went to the bookstore to find a book on how to start a consulting business. Isn’t that what we all used to do – go to the bookstore when we had a great new idea? Or maybe even the library? (I went there, too, but I do love a brand new, all-mine book so much.)

I bought that “How to start a consulting business” book – along with a few other gems that I found in the entrepreneurial inspiration section. Those books took me on a heck of an unexpected adventure. They introduced me to the possibilities of online business, of virtual coaching and self-study programs, of branding and “expert status” and so much more. It was delicious, learning so much rich new stuff. I became a scientist with my own new business lab.

How to Get Deep Attention

we_are_cheaper_bycdsessumsThere was a guy in my high school Spanish class who commanded the attention of every person in the room every day.

He was lanky tall, with longish hair and a slouchy walk. He was smart – the clever kind of smart that brings so many unexpected surprises to conversations. Every day, he’d use that clever, slouchy smartness to fling  words – and other items – from his seat in the corner of the room. The teacher would freeze and turn toward him, dragging all 50 of our eyes with her.

That guy knew how to get attention.

Guess where that attention got him in the long haul? Yup – nowhere interesting.

Why? Because he was calling forth Cheap Attention.

Cheap attention may work in the moment – all eyes may be glued, people may be magnetized to the scene (or product) – but it is empty and, well, dangerous really.

Cheap attention is:

  • the irrelevant joke told at the beginning of the speech
  • the vaguely related, drama-filled story used to capture the hearts of listeners and take them on an emotional ride that goes nowhere useful for them
  • the strange dance with oversized teddy bear backpacks on grown ups without a stitch of artistry in the choreography (I’m not even going to link to that fiasco – I’m confident you’ve seen the footage)
  • the name-dropping sidebar that only very tangentially fits with the content your audience or readers are wanting from you

It’s clear why these strategies are empty (they aren’t serving the audience, which is what your work is all about), but why would I say they are dangerous?

Cheap Attention strategies crush trust.

Trust is absolutely essential to impactful communication. If your listener or audience does not trust you, then why would they trust your information? They won’t. And so, from moment zero in your expression, your job is to evoke and strengthen the trust between you and the human beings who make up your tribe or audience.

When it becomes clear that the attention getting strategy you have employed was only for the purposes of hi-jacking attention and had no long-lasting value to the people in your audience, they begin to distrust your subsequent actions. What else will the person do just to get attention? It may be overt thinking or it may be a “sense” they have in their primal brain that says, “Danger. Watch out for this one.”

Attention-getting is a science and an art. It is also one of the most (maybe even the most) important elements of impactful communication that you must master. After all, how can you possibly make a real difference in anyone’s life if they aren’t paying any attention to you?

Cheap Attention vs. Deep Attention

We’ve touched on examples of cheap attention above. What makes this kind of attention cheap? It’s like those plasticy, brightly-colored toys at the dollar store – they look fun, they might even call you forth with their clever shapes and promises (this plastic frog really JUMPS! Watch the slinky walk down the stairs!) but when you actually engage with those items, they quite literally fall apart. They break, they fail miserably to perform. They fill our landfills, just as shiny new as when they were in their package.

You’ve seen the equivalent of this in speeches, in self-study programs, and even in big-promises books. There are costumes, slick covers, and grand testimonials. And yet, the content simply fails upon engagement.

I’m not concerned that you are planning to go for cheap attention. You are here in this digital learning sanctuary, which means you have no interest in that kind of crap.

You are here to learn powerful Deep Attention strategies so you can make a difference in the lives of others.

Deep Attention is grounded in service. It captures and engages a person because it speaks directly to their needs and desires and – this is the critical difference: it delivers tangible, meaningful value in exchange for the attention given.

It takes more work to earn Deep Attention.

It requires that you really understand your audience, that you dig in on not only what they desperately want but how you can provide truly impactful service in response to those desires.

In order to keep the attention going, you must provide:

  • rich, credible, unexpected content
  • engaging stories that your audience will relate to
  • activities or examples that will stay with them long beyond their interaction with you or your material
  • continuous reminders that you understand where they are, that you “get it” and can help
  • useful ways of taking their learning forward and applying your teachings to their own lives again and again

These are simply some examples… the key is that the engagement is customized specifically for the audience and has their transformation and growth powerfully at the center.

This will take risk and vulnerability on your part – to push the edges of your sharing, your storytelling and maybe even what you are capable of pulling together in terms of content. You’ll need to research, rewrite things, work hard to tie in your audience’s needs and desires with your ability to serve them.

Yet, the rewards are crazy awesome.

The reward is that you make a real, meaningful, long-lasting impact with your expression – your product, service, book, speech, workshop, web copy, article… whatever. You actually realize your own vision for your great work by investing in the powers of inviting Deep Attention from those who need you and what you provide.

Isn’t that what all of this is really about?

Now you – given that Deep Attention takes some real digging and thinking, we can surely help each other here!

Share your favorite strategy for engaging your people, audience, friends, kids… whatever. Do you have a story that people just always love? Maybe it will prompt a similar story in someone else in our community here. Do you have an exercise that works great for your workshops? It’s possible it can be adapted for another workshop of a community member as well. Let’s all learn Deep Attention strategies that we can “try on” in our own great work and in our personal lives, too! Share in comments, please.

 

[Thanks to cdsessums on Flickr for the cheap (free) image]

 

Quit Networking

networkingbyRedHead5147onFlickrI don’t belong to BNI – or any other official networking groups.

Someday, I might decide to join. I’ve been attending a local BNI group and considering whether it’s a good fit for me. The jury is still out on that. Not because they aren’t awesome people (they really seem to be) – just because I want to be sure it’s the right investment of time and resources for me and my business.

In case you aren’t in the BNI loop, BNI is a networking and leads sharing group. Essentially, each member becomes a “salesperson” on behalf of the other members in the group. So, when I’m at a party and someone mentions they are building a new house, I tell them about my amazing window coverings consultant friend (who is in my BNI group). At some point, my window coverings consultant friend will be at a home show and someone will be looking for a speaking coach. She will then hand the card over of her amazing speaking coach friend (that’s me!) It’s a cool concept and I know quite a few people who have built a large chunk of their business through the BNI connections.

BNI isn’t the only group like this, of course. But the gist is the same: gather with others who are looking to grow their businesses and support one another in that effort.

Pretty cool, right?

And yet, so many of these “networking” events just feel… strange. Off.

For much of my early business life, I avoided them because of this. Until, at one of the women’s networking groups I attended, I somehow got talked into being on the programs committee. At first I spent most of my time dreaming of ways I could get out of this new commitment I didn’t really mean to make.

Then something unexpected happened.

As I invested time and energy in my role on the leadership team, I started to really care about the programs and speakers we put on the agenda. I began to use my great strengths in research and planning to put together what would later be called by the board and members, “our best program lineup ever!” I began to get to know the leadership in the organization on a much deeper and more real level. In a way I never had before, I began really looking forward to the monthly meetings.

I also began signing on clients at a pace that surprised me.

At one point, I stopped to check in with myself about what had changed so much in my experience of networking at this group. Why was I enjoying it so much more – and why were clients coming to me without my really trying very hard?

It was then that I realized, I had stopped “networking” and I had simply begun doing what came completely naturally to me:

connecting with lovely, brilliant people and contributing from my greatest strengths. No wonder I was having such a great time.

I wasn’t “networking” at all – at least not in that contrived way I avoided for so long.

As my role in the organization shined a light on my strengths – and added greater visibility into me and my work overall – conversations and connections across the membership became more natural. Since we do business with people we know, like and trust, this lead to more clients coming my way.

I’m wondering – is there anywhere that you have been showing up (or not) where you can quit “networking” and start making real connections and contributing from your most awesome strengths?

I triple dog dare you to make this switch in your approach. Send me a note and tell me what happens for you, will you?

Meantime, I’m continuing my own search for the right place to get really connected and make a meaningful difference with other business people here in my new town across the country. Because I’m just not into “networking” anymore.

 

Thanks to RedHead5147 on Flickr for this slice of life networking image.

 

Your Expression Élan Could Mean Love at First Sight (Part 3)

lookingwithinIn the last article in this series, we explored the three parts to Expression Élan. And, I told you I’d share some tips on how to reveal your three words. After all, this is an archaeological process designed to help you get lazer-focused on your core expression style – the one that will most naturally and powerfully attract clients you love.

This process is going to require that you listen and give yourself recognition for your most awesome qualities, so give yourself time and space for it.

The facilitated Expression Élan process that we would do together (if you were coaching with me) is a deeper, collaborative dive, so this initial self-study question process is quite different from that. But, the process outlined below will help you reveal some pretty powerful words that I know will serve you and your business building desires powerfully. So, take the time to do this.

Process for approaching your Expression Élan
(the modified, DIY version)

Step 1

Close your eyes and think back to the last time you were in a conversation with a group of people that you enjoyed a great deal. This could be at work or in your personal life. You felt awesome about your contributions and the conversation was flowing easily.

Notice, as you remember this conversation, how you were being (what you were feeling, what you were saying, the ways you imagine you were being received by others in the group). What words would you use to describe the way you were communicating in this conversation? Remember, this conversation is feeling fabulous to you, so these descriptors are going to be complimentary to you. They are going to represent the ways in which you were contributing to the goodness of this exchange. Give yourself a little time for this part.

Step 2

Write those words down on a piece of paper. They might be words like; funny, thoughtful, insightful, smart, open – whatever words come to you. Don’t limit yourself and don’t close yourself off with judgment. When you are doing this part, don’t think too much…just put your pen to paper and write. This is a brainstorming exercise.

Step 3

Now, go to the thesaurus and look each of those words up (I love to use www.visualthesaurus.com). Dig around in there.  Go layers deep with words until you land on a set of words that feels true to you. The words should also make you want to be more of the qualities that word represents.

Don’t be afraid to get creative during this part of the process. Use big paper with paints or crayons. Lean into the essence of words. Say them out loud and see how it feels. It’s okay to make up new words too. Look for colors and images of things you think represent who you are as well.  I’m not talking about just any images…I mean the kind that make your heart chakra light up (or simply make you want to do a spontaneous jig.)  The important thing is that you make it beautiful and make it your own.

You’ll know you have a great set of words when they light you up… when they push the edges of your own brilliance.

Step 4

If it feels good to you, see if you can choose which of those words fits into each category – soul, personality and verb. But that part isn’t required to start applying your three words immediately. When I do the facilitated process with my clients, I guide them into those three categories through the deeper-dig discussion. But for the purposes of this self-study exercise, just put these new words of yours to use! You are going to love the clarity they bring to your expression.

Your Expression Élan really will become a powerful guiding light in your business and your life. Use these words to stop more fully into your authentic expression. Commit to being more of them – infusing these qualities in your writing, speaking and networking.

This modified do-it-yourself version will give you a really good idea of how powerful just three words can be in feeling confident and clear as you express your work in the world. Spend real time on this and have fun! If you find that you want a partner in the process and really want to do the deeper, collaborative work to reveal your full Expression Élan, I’m here to help. Feel free to contact me at or learn more about it here http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/your-expression-elan/.

Your Expression Élan Could Mean Love at First Sight (Part 2)

Expression ElanLast week I told you Expression Élan is the three words that you choose as reflections of your most authentic, powerful expression. It is your best resource for your distinctive, memorable self-expression and business communication.  Your business name, tagline, website look and feel, and product and service titles—as well as your Hello Intro (more on that coming soon)—will all be way more interesting when you apply your Expression Élan deliberately throughout them. These three words act as guiding lights for decisions about word choice, brand colors and even what you will wear at your next speaking event. You will be amazed how clear and easy everything is once you reveal your three words.  Your Right Client will be drawn directly to you. But why three words? What am I talking about?

Your Expression Élan is a combination of:

  • your Soul Word
  • your Personality Word
  • your Verb/Action Word

Your Soul Word makes up the substance of your style and often resonates most with your internal experience of yourself.

Your Personality Word is experienced often by those around you and people may describe it as part of your personality.

Your Verb represents your primary mode of action in the world, your way of being.

Together, they work like this:

Soul Descriptor = Internal Experience

+

Personality Descriptor = Noticed by Others/Outward Expression

+

Verb = What you do, your consistent action play

______________________________________________________

Expression Élan

Now that you know what you’re trying to excavate, you may be wondering how in the world to do it. I know from getting to work with many individual business owners on core messaging and brand style that landing on how we want to express ourselves in business is really tricky and frustrating for so many.  Good news – in next week’s article, I’ll share my sure-fire process with you.

Until next week, you can read testimonials and learn more here http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/your-expression-elan/.

 

 

Your Expression Élan Could Mean Love at First Sight (Part 1)

ExpressionElan-button-150x150At some point, you’ve probably seen an ad or website for Coca-Cola. Have you ever noticed how you feel when you see the logo/colors?  In an instant you get a sense of what the company is about…classic, iconic, family-oriented. They use a traditional font and color scheme that tells you they’ve been around for a while, they keep their website and products simple, and they post information like recipes and contests that are meant for families to share. Their message is strong and clear. Can you say the same?

If each of us could explore and understand ourselves and our message as well as Coca-Cola, success is eminent. Your Right Client will be able to identify exactly what you do and who you are in an instant…and they will decide if they have fallen in love with you or not. That’s right! Love (or lack there of) at first site does exist.  It’s human nature to determine whether or not we like someone or something within 7 seconds of experiencing it/them using our 5 senses. Identifying your natural style of expression and allowing it to shine through is what I call your Expression Élan.   It is three words that you choose as reflections of your most authentic, powerful expression. It is your best resource for your self-expression and business communication.

From the language you choose in your marketing materials and business planning to the colors and images you associate with your brand, your Expression Élan will provide the zing that makes your business exciting and intriguing to your potential clients. I’ll talk more about what each word should represent and how to reveal it in next week’s blog.

In the meantime, If you want to read the excited stories of those who’ve revealed their Expression Elans, you can do that here http://www.michellebarryfranco.com/your-expression-elan/.

What to Do on Your Working Retreat (part 4 in series)

In this working retreat series, I’ve covered:

  1. What is a working retreat and why you really should take one
  2. Where to go on working retreat
  3. How to afford a working retreat on any budget

And in this final video on what to do on your working retreat, I’ll share the way I structure my own working retreat days to get the most out of the experience. I’ll talk about the flow of the day(s) – digging in, expansion, contemplation. I also talk about the ways I weave in fun and non-working breaks.

In this video, I also share with you some essential supplies for a fun and productive working retreat. In case you need this supply list in writing, here it is:

  • large whiteboard (two, ideally)
  • many colors of dry erase pens
  • large flip chart size post-it paper
  • many colors of sharpies or watercolor based flip chart pens.
  • Also useful: a blank calendar, healthy food & drinks and walking shoes.

Note: I don’t know how I didn’t mention it in the video but I get tons of writing and video production done on working retreats as well. After all of that planning, checking in with my vision and contemplation, I often get to the gritty work of pen to paper (letters on screen) and set up a video studio to shoot a bunch of videos in the beautiful space of my retreat. So consider putting big writing and video, painting or other art-centered projects on the “To Do” list for your working retreat. They are perfect for the retreat energy!

(Originially posted on michellebarryfranco.com (with a few minor modifications here) in Jan. 2011 – but just as useful here today!)

How to Afford a Working Retreat on Any Budget (Part 3 in series)

For some of us the vision of a retreat includes massage tables nestled under giant banana trees. I’m in for that for sure!

However – though that’s an awesome plan for getting away from it all – that’s not the only way to have a retreat. By definition, a retreat simply means to pull away from regular life (or the situation at hand.) A working retreat means, then, to pull away from regular life to do some work. While the inclusion of a massage table (and accompanying brilliant massage therapist) under tropical foliage would be an excellent addition to your working retreat, relaxation and massage are not the focus of a working retreat.

And therefore, you don’t need to hop a plane to a tropical island in order to experience the fabulous productivity and rejuvenation that can come from a working retreat.

Remember – the reason to take a working retreat is to give yourself time, space and a creatively generative environment to get unusual amounts of work done. My working retreats involve long hours of beautiful and crazy-productive work. My best, most creative work gets done on retreats.

Listen to this video for some tips on how you can afford a working retreat, no matter how small your budget. I share the wide variety of places and ways I have taken working retreats (from completely free retreats to indulgent inn and spa retreats). And please, if you have your own ideas for affordable and awesome working retreat spots – share them with us in the comments.

(Originially posted on michellebarryfranco.com (with a few minor modifications here) in Jan. 2011 – but just as useful here today!)