The power of raw authenticity

wheelchair

We’re in business to make an IMPACT, right?

One problem for many of us, is that we hide behind safe content to build our brand. You tweet inspirational quotes from historically revered figures. You share your new blog article with a comforting theme and no real challenge to your followers ego.

I’m not saying you should kick your reader in the balls (metaphorically), but by all means give him something to snap him out of the status quo he’s been living.

He comes to you to show him a way to a better result, respectfully and yet strongly. You and I aren’t teaching babies how to walk are we? No, we’re teaching adults how to run, climb and soar by taking risks. I’m not saying you should be a dick, nor should you coddle them. You must be clear about the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with the path you’re qualified to lead them down. You must also be clear about your approach to succeeding regardless. 

I’ve begun taking more risks with my social media content and honestly, it was an unconscious step. It wasn’t part of a thought out strategy, it was simply a desire to cut the crap. I’ve been going through a health crisis and sharing my journey on social media. In fact, I’ve been sharing it with zero sugar coating. I’m not talking about 1cyberbitching here. I’m talking about letting my tribe in on my falls as though they are trusted friends I can count on to help me get back up.

What does this have to do with business? EVERYTHING! When we take risks in business as well as in our personal lives, we may experience success and eventually we do if we stick with it long enough. But on the way to that success we experience a string of slamming doors, hell no’s and faceplants. Each one of them presents us with the choice to quit or get back up and keep moving forward.

I’ve been more raw on social media than I’ve ever been before and here’s what I’ve been discovering. The bigger the fall I take and recover from, the more credibility I have with others that I can help them to do the same. In fact, just by virtue of modeling resilience to others, many become inspired and say to themselves, “If he can do it, I can do it.”

As I’ve been sharing in this way I’ve gotten my share of support as well as my share of shit from people who don’t like what I’ve been sharing. At first I let it hurt me because my situation has left me feeling more vulnerable. Then it hit me, being afraid to speak up may protect me from the 2haters, but it will also prevent the helpers from hearing me.

So I made a decision. I will NOT fear sharing my message, in fact, I look forward to using my content to banish the haters from our tribe, all those who only contribute negativity.

My filter hasn’t come off completely, mind you, but it definitely has a leak. Here’s an example. After a barrage of comments that were blaming, shaming and downright mean. Because I had the audacity to ask for donations to help defray the overwhelming expense of making my life wheelchair accessible. I responded with the following post:

FB

As you can see, the number of likes is admirable and the comments I received were very encouraging. What you don’t see in this post are any comments from the negaholics that had previously damned me. Interesting, huh?

The authenticity and transparency of my post brought a flood of positive response from those it resonated with, and I suspect, was the equivalent of insect repellant for haters.

I’ve written several posts since then which you can view on my Facebook profile here, posts in the same spirit of raw authenticity.

I have also received more donations and more calls asking for my services. Why do you think that is? My theory is because it is becoming abundantly clear that I’m not bullshitting people.

I’m not pretending to be an entrepreneurial superhero with no chinks in my armor. I’m showing my bumps, bruises, falls and failures to my tribe. My emphasis is on the fact that none of it can or will ever stop me because my vision is bigger than my pain.

Does your life teach that? That your vision and bigger than your pain, and thus, no adversity can stop you? Then show your people that.

People can’t learn much from someone presenting themselves as picture perfect. A person who emerged from his mother’s womb successful.

People learn from other human beings. Those who walk a similar path, understand the struggles and persevere regardless.

My friend, you and I are both sick of the smoke and mirrors many marketers ship to the public. It’s suffocating us and makes us yearn for a breath of fresh air.

Breathe in courage, and breath out raw authenticity. The world needs it and you’re sick of hiding it.

Thanks for being you.

 

Terms:

1hater – someone who resorts to personal attacks in response to a piece of content they disagree with.

2cyberbitching – the incessant whining about one’s problems in search of sympathy without any interest in changing one’s circumstances.

Please save your leads from hard sell HELL

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Have you encountered the in your face salesperson who sounds like s/he’s begging for your business?

I attended the Abilities Expo in Shaumburg, Illinois yesterday. I may be in the market for a wheelchair. I approached the vast variety of vendors with the eyes and ears of a consumer as well as a marketer. What surprised me most is that NONE of them asked me some of the most important questions. “So what brings you here today” or “Tell me about yourself.” It was right into the sales pitch.

Booth after booth staffed by high energy people. Wanting to show me their latest innovations, talk about their great TODAY ONLY deals. One was virtually demanding that I take their on-site assessment. That would determine whether their services would be right for me. Of course, if the assessment was right for me, they’d schedule an expensive in office consultation.

A part of me was wondering what the hell was going on. I went there because I have a progressive, debilitating condition. One that is affecting my ability to walk and is leaving me feeling more and more vulnerable. The convention center was filled with a thousand people like me.

And yet, I didn’t see compassion or conversation. I did see plenty of pouncing though. My wife and I approached one vendor who provides conversions for vehicles so they accommodate a wheelchair. It took him less than a minute to tell us how exclusive their service was and how we get financing today. He even pointed to the booth where we could check our credit. In the few minutes we spent there, I don’t remember him asking a single question about us.

I’m happy to say that there were a few positive moments. They came in the form of two, young entrepreneurs. Who understood that we were looking for more information. They answered our questions, then asked for our email addresses to follow up. Now THAT’s my kind of marketing. Build the relationship instead of bullying someone for the transaction. When your prospects encounter you. They need to leave feeling lifted up, NOT beaten up. 

An important key to connecting your prospects with your products and services, is to hear their story. Once you know who they are, how they arrived here, and where they want to go from here. Then, you can begin telling them the story of your brand, and how it intersects with their story. 

Build a connection to establish genuine trust. They need to want to do business with you. It’s absurd to ask someone for a $10,000 transaction before they even have a sense that you care about and understand them. Give the sales-man a rest and let the hu-man do the talking.

What’s your approach?

Thanks for being you.

You’ll want to sit down for this

Sitting

 

When was the last time you hesitated because you doubted your ability? I’ve been doing it a lot more lately.

You see, I’ve had a condition (called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) my entire life. It was only diagnosed a year ago when the severity began affecting my ability to walk.

Recently, it has become so severe that I’m more dependent on a cane for walking. I may need a scooter soon to join my family on outdoor activities.

I’ve been struggling with feelings of low self-worth and depression, as I try to wrap my mind around these changes. None of which fit into the plan I had for my life and my future. I have a saying, “Life goes one of two ways. It goes the way you planned, or it goes different.”

Life is going different alright. I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to incorporate this difference into my long term plans. I felt stuck in my ego.

I’ve been speaking professionally for well over 10 years. Part of my brand has included my high energy and tendency to move around on the stage to speak to different parts of the audience etc.

I’ve studied other speaking professionals throughout the years to improve my craft. I remember one who said, “It is unacceptable to sit while presenting.”

I took that statement to heart, so much, that I felt like I was cheating the audience by having to sit.

It’s somewhat akin to feeling like you’re doing a disservice to others because you have a hard time remembering names. But you believe you’re supposed to be good at it.

My wife pointed out that she noticed I was beginning to isolate more. She was getting the impression that I felt like I was becoming a burden.

I knew I needed to nip this descent into a pity party in the bud.

I reached out to my friend and colleague Dale Spencer. Dale has been in a wheelchair for 26 years after an accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.

I explained my situation as well as my psychological struggles to him. Then Dale asked me a question that was so powerful that it blew the door on my thinking wide open. He asked, “Is the ability to stand and walk necessary to accomplish your mission in this world.” Take some time to think about this question for yourself, and really let it sink in.

In fact. Replace the words, “stand and walk” with whatever you’ve been telling yourself is necessary for you to be successful. Try it now, “Is the ability to _________ necessary to accomplish your mission in this world.”

I responded to Dale’s question with a resounding, “NO!” He explained how, psychologically, it takes a while to adjust to such dramatic changes. As well as dealing with the pain that hits you at the most inopportune times. It’s important to realize that although my physical abilities are changing, my mission remains the same. How I travel through this world as I fulfill my mission doesn’t detract from it.

Thanks to Dale, I now understand that the power of my mission is communicated through my passion for it. Whether I stand and deliver, or have a seat and speak from the heart. Thank you for your wisdom my friend.

Thanks for being you.

Why marketing is not scary

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Photo Source

I started marketing my coaching services five years ago, using newsletters and social media. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I may as well have had the word “naive” tattooed on my forehead.

I went forth with the misperception that marketing was about pleasing everyone. After all, our products and services are right for everyone, right? How long did it take to burst that bubble for you?

One of the problems with that line of thinking, is it requires you to avoid taking a stand. Your customers need to know what direction you’re qualified to take them in. They can’t figure that out if all you do is stand in the middle of the road without a compass. 

Taking a stand doesn’t mean you must become stubborn or irritating. It just means you’re passionate about a set of beliefs and behaviors. More so about the results they create for you and your customers. 

Marketing Maestro Mike Koenigs said, “Marketing is designed to attract as well as repel.” Eureka!

It’s about making it easier for your ideal customers to raise their hands. 

Marketing, by design, is for showing the door to anyone who won’t pay you for your products and services. While inspiring enthusiasm in those who respond eagerly with “show me the way.”

I was talking with my business partner Barry Schimmel the other day. He told me of a recent meeting with someone who just wanted him to design a website. His response is, “I don’t do websites.” What he went on to explain, is that we provide a comprehensive marketing solution. Our purpose, is to help entrepreneurs achieve explosive growth and profits. You can’t do that with a website alone. Baby steps aren’t what we do.

Now for those who are interested in baby steps. One can easily find 10 people to do their website, social media, logo design etc. None of whom talk to each other. To assemble the pieces, one at a time, without a long term strategy to connect them hurts your business.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to do things this way. I’m just saying that Barry and I are clear that piecemeal isn’t what we do. Being clear on who we serve and who we don’t is critical for attracting the clients we want. Even if other people get angry because we won’t do it THEIR way.

I spent years hesitating to hit the send button on my latest newsletter. I would remove Facebook posts every time someone was “offended.” All that thinking ever did was make me afraid to stand for something. It was even harder to grow my business. 

One thing in abundant supply in this world, are people who believe the world should revolve around them.

I remember, when I would exhaust myself calming someone upset by my wording in a blog post. S/he would insist I apologize for upsetting him/her. Of course, an apology is good form in general. But to spend so much energy, over and over, to pacify the hoard of dramatics distracts from your core brand.

The lesson I learned, for how to deal with such push back is to say, “I apologize if the words I chose were upsetting to you. Clearly, my message isn’t a good fit for you and I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

This approach allows you to get back to taking care of those who do resonate with your message. With complete piece of mind. 

If some people love your message and convert, while even more don’t. That means your marketing is working. The presence of the haters within your brand conversation, can be useful. They help you determine whether your messaging is being interpreted the way you want by the people you want to attract. 

Those who don’t cheer at your latest tweet or post are okay to leave. The only thoughts you need to have about them is to wish them well. You weren’t put on this earth to serve them, somebody else was.

Your job and mine, is to keep honing your message so that the people you were put on this earth to serve, can find you.

Thanks for being you.