Reflecting on May and June 2018

Every week I try to find time to pause and reflect on the happenings of the week – asking myself what I learned, where I can grow, and how I can improve. However, I began to notice that just reflecting on things wasn’t enough for me to make change. So this year I began writing about it. Once a month, I look back at my calendar and the events that took place. I take some notes and then share them here. May and June kind of melted into each other, so I’ve put them together.

Business Development Experiences

ZOHO: Some fun new projects arose in May in June, especially in terms of offering challenges to me. If you’ve read previous posts, then you know that I’m using Zoho for my business operations (CRM, Project Management, Lead Generation, etc). I have been using Zoho CRM for about 9 months and the other modules for 5 months. I have tinkered quite a bit, plus I’ve attended seminars and a conference about it. Armed with this growing knowledge, I started helping clients with their Zoho CRM setup and workflows. Not only have we learned together about what works best, but it’s forced me to think about my own business processes and how to improve them. Throughout the past 2 months, I’ve made a ton of updates to my own Zoho setup and workflows – making me a stronger trainer too.

WEBSITE: The other area of my business that is long overdue for some attention is my main website. I spoke with one of the WordPress developers I respect and like working with about making updates. My first piece of homework was to get the content in a place where I’m happy with it, so that he can focus on design and layout. It is still a work in progress, but with some help things are getting updated. The Kajabi site got some needed design updates, thanks to my kick-awesome hubby’s design efforts. I couldn’t have done it without him.

BRANDING: May was the month when the big Branding workshop happened. Along with 2 collaborators, we hosted a 2-hour workshop about brand language, working with a graphic designer, and protecting your brand with IP laws. There were many hard lessons learned, but I have no regrets. This experience forced me to work on my own branding leading up to the workshop, and following it. It feels like my five year old business is finally developing into something more than a freelance hustle.

Photo from the branding workshop

PEOPLE: One of my main service offerings is the creation of an in-depth marketing strategy for small businesses. It is customized to the business, and it includes a detailed implementation plan (step-by-step instructions). The feedback I’ve received in the past is that getting a clear structure really helps the marketing person or assistant to get things done. In May I finished up a strategy for a local business, and the outcome was that he needed additional support with his CRM. We planned on reconnecting after his vacation to hire someone to implement the work and some CRM tasks. I didn’t want to be pushy, so my follow-up was quite relaxed and somewhat delayed. I thought this would give him the space needed to digest the information and decide how best to move forward. Instead, he disappeared on me – didn’t want to talk about next steps or hiring someone. Now I find myself asking what I could have doen differently to better support him, or was this bound to happen?

The other interesting interaction I had was with a prospect. He found me online through mutual connections, filled out my business assessment, and we had a good call where we discussed his business needs. During the call I could tell that he is a very creative person, but he may not have structure in his marketing approach (the thing I love most). When the call ended, I had the understanding that he would reach out to me once he was ready to talk more. It seems this was a miscommunication because he was expecting a proposal right away. It may be me, may be him, or maybe we are totally miscommunicating with each other. More to come on this later in the summer…

I was finally able to connect with a new friend, Mahani. She’s a super cool storyteller, so we totally clicked. And we decided to team up on something fun. In June, we did our first Facebook Live together, talking about storytelling and local businesses. It was clunky, but we got through it and had fun.

MONEY: I’ve taken on a ton of new expenses in 2018. These are all important investments in the business such as Zoho, Kajabi, Calendly, other software, and hardware too. In May I had to closely evaluate my income and expenses and think about how I can be more efficient. This required more than just looking at places to cut back, but the things where I was essentially paying twice. The outcome is that expenses have gone up, so income needs to as well.

Client Consulting and Training Work

The past two months have been jam packed with consulting work, but there is a slow growing need for personalized trainings. Some of the work I did included quarterly strategy sessions, finishing up a couple of marketing strategies, adding new CRM plans to existing clients, customer journey maps, content marketing structure, and marketing operations plans.

While I love all of the strategies and planning, the most interesting work for me is supporting others by sharing knowledge – then seeing them apply it. I began working with one client’s intern and a part-time employee for another client. Working with Abi, the part-time employee, has presented a somewhat new challenge for me. She is an artist and an entrepreneur with experience in accounting, but not very experienced in marketing or being a virtual assistant. Those are the kinds of people I’ve grown to really enjoy supporting. They enter the conversation with more general marketing background knowledge. Both people have tested my processes and way of thinking. It is exactly the challenge I need.

CELEBRATE: Last year I met the owner of the South Austin Barber Shop. At the time, he was struggling most with keeping the high quality barbers that he had worked so hard to recruit. He filled out my business assessment and we met to discuss what was happening in the business. We decided that he did not need to hire me at the time, but I shared as many useful insights as I could to help him. Well, he has been working hard over the past 8 months. He got most of his barbers back and is doing so well that he is opening a new location, and I get to help him prepare for the grand opening. It’s really exciting!

MISTAKE: There is a double-edged sword to having faith in people. I want to believe everyone is good at the core of their being, but the reality is that some people are just toxic, self-serving, and manipulative. Last month I made the mistake of accepting a meeting with a former client who I know is toxic. Now I need to turn her down or redirect her, because I can’t allow that in my life. It’s hard because she is a nice woman, socially.

Professional Development

Some of the highlights of my professional development experiences from the past couple of months include:

  • Participated in a Mastermind group with the other board members of IAW
  • Connected with an old contact, Myrna, who I haven’t spoken to in about 6 or 7 years. She made an introduction to an interesting video production company that I may get to collaborate with.
  • Hosted a happy hour with one of my strategic partners, Trusty Oak.
  • Attended an Infusionsoft Event where I met a fellow marketer, Christina. I’m excited to have a colleague who could also become a friend and reference.
  • Met up with a technology trainer, John, who I originally met in a meetup group. We planned on talking for 45 minutes that turned into more than an hour. He has so much to share and is totally passionate about training and passing information on to others.
  • Introduced me to a super young entrepreneur who is really talented and living his life to the fullest.
  • Connected with a prospect who I quickly realized is a better fit as a partner than a client. Good timing since I’m working with Randi on refining the partner program.

Personal Care and Development

There were a few interesting personal experiences over the past two months including an accident on highway 183 where another car drove over a piece of plywood that flew across the lane and hit my car. This experience led to me needing to buy new tires – an expensive problem, but important for my safety.

In the past 2 months, I have been learning and practicing a LOT of music for chorus. I finished reading Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. That book got me thinking about my definiteness of purpose and my connections with others who align with that way of thinking. It always seems that my best relationships start from a place of business and develop into personal connections. Why is that? Perhaps I’m more confident in my business-self than my personal-self. I’m also thinking about how I use my time – every day, not just on weekdays, weekends and holidays. How is my time being spent and does it all support a higher purpose?

 

 

 

Looking Ahead at July

I’ll be reconnecting with the folks at Smart Marketer to take notes for their conference in August, which is always an interesting experience. My goal is to generate lots of small customized trainings this month. I also need to work on my online course about market research in preparation for speaking at Freelance Conference in September. The other big focus I have this month is on growing my official partners and the partner program.

 

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Tell Me a Story vs Sell Me a Product

You can shout from the hills all day long about how amazing your product or service is, but there is so much competition out there that it is difficult (even rare) for you to stand out from the crowd.

There is no meaning in a product description, but there IS in the story behind it or the company that developed said product. Our brains process information in story-like patterns and words into meanings. So when someone tells us a story, it reaches more than just the language center of our brain – it activates other senses.

Invite People to Experience Your Product Through a Story

This isn’t a “Once Upon a Time” scenario, but more of a mini-documentary or biography. Remember the VH1 show Behind the Music? That show brought so much attention to artists who were long forgotten and it triggered huge music sales. Why? Because we (the viewers) engaged on a deeper level with that musician or band, felt connected, and wanted to be part of their story somehow.

Brand Story, Marketing, Company Story, Marketing story, storytelling

Yes, there are absolutely instances of huge companies that do not tell their story in the way that I’m describing. They simply have a tagline that includes sensory words to trigger your interest. Then they repeat the phrase everywhere you go so that you can’t forget.

“Mmm Mmm Good”

Melts in your mouth, not in your hands”

“The Happiest Place on Earth”

Customers want to hear about why the company or product exists, the way the founder feels about the product, the first-ever store opening or sale made. Those small moments in time will take people from liking a quality product or service to connecting with it and becoming loyal.

 

What’s Your Tribe?

During an event that I attended this week, the speaker posed 3 key questions to the audience:

1. What is the purpose of your tribe?

2. Why would your tribe talk about you?

3. Who, How, What, When, and Where is your tribe?

Though it may seam daft, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by “my tribe”. So I started to think about the people I surround myself with and those who I associate with in business. If you feel like your colleagues or coworkers don’t make you feel inspired or challenged, then you may need to find your real tribe.

Steps to Find Your Tribe

1. Identify the type of people you enjoy being with. How do you use your natural talents when you’re with them?

2. Find those people and spend time with them, learn from them, and be inspired by them.

 

Related Articles on Finding Your Tribe:

How Finding Your Tribe Can the Key to Finding Your Ideal Career >>

7 Tips to Finding Your Tribe >>

Finding Your Tribe May be the Hardest Thing You Do >>

 

 

The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling Your Marketing Message

That’s what content marketing really is anyway… telling a story to your target customers.

Art of Storytelling, storytelling, CEO Candi

 

Interpretation – When someone hears your story, he or she will usually redefine it and the story becomes new ideas based on how the listener (your customer) interpreted it.

Shared Experience – As you tell a happy story, listeners will also feel happy. Through the inflection in your voice, the words you choose, or how things are described the listener will experience what you are feeling or revealing.

Emotional Ties – The difference between telling a story and just talking is the flow. Telling a story moves in a specific fashion that causes people to become emotionally attached to your story. These emotions help people to remember the story. In the long run, this is what creates customer loyalty.

Creating Brain Activity – A well-told story can cause several parts of the brain to activate. Make someone feel hungry for the food you provide feel the relief of the massage you can offer, or smell the sweet roses you will deliver – all through the words you choose.

So what is your brand’s story and how are you telling it?

Open for Business, Storytelling, Content Marketing

46 Girls Changed My View in 46 Seconds

3 Powerful Moments

I drove along a rocky and winding trail to a series of cute white cabins and a larger building that I would later discover is the dining hall. Though I have done a million presentations and workshops before, the butterflies were there reminding me that I will always be 10 at heart.

Moment 1 – The Energy

As I stepped into the dining hall, I could feel the energy coming from this group of powerful young women. Smiles, waves and friendly glances in my direction as I walked through the space – that’s all it took to pull me into their energy.

Moment 2 – The Sound

The chanting began. Without instruction or request, the girls began to sing a song. It sounded like nonsense words at first, but a song book was quickly offered so that I could follow along. They simply love to sing and chant fun songs with empowering lyrics.

Moment 3 – The Fearlessness

Suddenly it was my turn to stand up. We went around the room offering up what we want to be one day. There was a ton of honesty in the “I don’t knows” and confidence in those who said multiple careers at once. No fear in this group.

Camp Lantern Creek

46 Girls Changed My View

Last weekend I had the pleasure of being the Bright Lights Speaker at Camp Lantern Creek (also called CLC) in Montgomery, Texas. CLC is the camp that you send your incredible daughter to so that she can try a little bit of everything with other awesome girls while surrounded by the beautiful outdoors. They coin the camp’s focus as developing renaissance girls, but it is so much more than that.

For a while, I thought that it was most important for me to be working with women in college and in their twenties. Those are the women who need the most help with understanding business, finance and how to succeed – right? No! If you delay learning or thinking about these things, then it is much harder to develop the critical skills related to being successful.

Tweens and teens – that’s where it’s at.

During the hour and a half that I spent with these 46 powerful young women, I could see that today’s girls are the risk takers, creative thinkers, and collaborative workers of tomorrow. It was in the small moments throughout the day that I saw glimpses of powerful leaders and entrepreneurs. I could see more potential in a 12 year old girl than I’ve seen in most any adult that I’ve met.

If you want to shape the world in a positive image, then start with the girls.

 

Quality People Around You

Parents and Email

Parents, especially moms, are good for life advice and annoying chain emails. Today I received both from my mom. She sent the following email to me:

There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.

I’m supposed to pick 8 women who have touched my life and who I think might participate. Please send this back to me. Remember to just read the quotation. That’s all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to 8 women you would like to sit at your table and let me know what happens on the 4th day. Thank you!!


“Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”

Surround Yourself with Quality People

While mom’s email was another annoying chain email (which has not been popular since 1999), the advice was clear and precise. When you surround yourself with quality people, then you enjoy life more. As we get older this seems to be even truer than before. We are no longer forced into classrooms or groups setup by institutions such as school, so we have the freedom to filter people as we wish.

Having all of that freedom is harder than you’d think it is. It forces you to reflect upon your personal values and what is most important to you at this point in your life. It’s so rare that someone asks you a question like, “what do you value most in this world?”

Start by checking in with yourself once a week. Take a walk, meditate, go to the gym, or do something else that helps you to clear your mind; and then check in with yourself. Reflect on the relationships in your life – love, friends, family, roommates, coworkers.  Who makes you the most happy? Who makes you the most miserable? Why?

 

I am grateful for the dear friends living both near and far who make me smile.

Old Friends. Quality People

Listening and Respect

Bad Habits

I have a new appreciation for good listeners after practicing my active listening skills over the past week or so. When I asked myself, “why do you talk so much” the answer was not completely clear… until my mom called me. I barely got a word in with her. She talked at me, rarely listened to anything I had to say, and then talked over me to complain. We really are shaped by our parents at such a young age that the habits become unconscious.

After that frustrating phone call, I sat back in my chair and reflected for a moment on what had just happened. It felt like a talking attack. I don’t ever want someone to feel that way when he or she is with me. While I am definitely a better listener than my mom, I absolutely have my work cut out for me.

There’s Time

I still have some deep seeded habits like wanting to tell people my parallel story or offer advice. What I have noticed in my practiced listening is that there is time for my stories, but I need to provide a space for others to share their stories first. It’s like holding the door open for someone. You don’t hold it open to then push past him or her and go through the doorway.

Part of me always feels like there is a time limit on things, like the opportunity to share my “hilarious story” is a short time period and I may miss it. Lately I realized that my story doesn’t always matter to the conversation, and the more I listen the more I realize how unrelated my first story may have been.

Focused Listening

Slowly I’m also noticing my attention span for truly listening to improve. Clearly, I am of the “ADD Generation” with all of our fast technology, short video clips and 140 character updates. I can be easily distracted at times and wander off in my mind. However, when I listen to someone with my whole self it feels better – the conversation feels complete and more meaningful.

This was more of a stream of consciousness rant than a blog post, but consider it a check-in on my 2014 resolution progress. Thank you to all my friends who love me no matter how much I talk. Looking back, I know that you are the few whom I made time and space to listen to (even when I wasn’t practicing it).

A Clever Little Cartoon About Listening