Remember when you was a kid and you desperately wanted to be everyones friend?
Are you still like that now?
Do you crave “being liked” or at the least “not being judged”
I have struggled with this over the years. I like to think I don’t care what people think of me but I do….not as much as I used to, but I still need to remind yourself from time to time that you are never going to be everyones cup of tea, because then you are just a mug.
(Love that joke…but goes down better in person)
So it got me thinking, if not everyone is going to like you how do you rationalise that, how do you use that fact to your advantage both in business and in life?
How can we remind ourselves to stand out and not worry about fitting in, without the fear of judgement or worst still the inevitable conflict that comes with being visible and available to so many more people?
As a business owner, a very visible one at that I have put myself out there for judgement, ridicule, opinion, and scrutiny.
Appearing on TV brings all the crazies out on social media,
“Oh look a fat person telling us to be healthy”
And when I started charging properly for my services, or saying no to freebies,
“Oh your just too big for your boots, who do you think you are”
People lash out, sometimes because they are just dicks, sometimes because what you are doing is triggering them, and often because people just can’t see the value you offer to them…or you have different values than yours.
And that is OK
I think there are 3 main reasons people can’t always be your cup of tea and why you shouldn’t try to be, and here they are…
We all have a set of values. Things which are important to us. Some of these are core values we have had since childhood, the things which drive us, which help us navigate the world, and some which come later in life as our world around us shifts and changes.
Someones core value might be equality, but that will mean something different to me, as what it will to you, because our stories are different. So even if we have similar values, we can express them and understand them differently.
And just because some values are less important to you, it doesn’t mean they are not important at all, or that you can’t appreciate their importance in other people, it just mean we focus our energy in the places which matter to us most.
And a big lesson for me is you can’t force people to care about the stuff you care about, but you can outline why you think the way you do and hope people at least respect your position on things.
We all believe we are wonderful communicators. But often things get lost in translation. We read into what we see according to a range of factors, how we are feeling about ourselves, the influences of others, and sometimes because it serves a purpose to read something in a certain way…because it helps us create evidence for our own views on the world.
Edward De Bono said,
Communication is always understood in the context and experience of the receiver, no matter what was intended
He also said,
Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic
Which means we have a duty to give people the benefit of the doubt and not make rash decisions around meaning. So much conflict is to be had through misreading of information, and the assumptions about intent.
Things change. Your world view shifts. Your priorities may be different. From year to year, month to month, week to week…what we want, need and expect from the people around us can completely change in an instant, and sometimes it takes a while for the other people to catch up.
But we can’t go around making sure every individual we have a relationship with knows where you are at on everything, we just have to do our best to be authentically ourselves and hope people come along with us if it feels like alignment.
People come into your life for a reason, a season and a lifetime…and you have to make peace with that, because otherwise it can drive you mad.
So my advice is just be yourself, do your thing, shine brightly, try not to piss people off on purpose, say sorry when people need to hear that, give people the benefit of the doubt, and try to live within the integrity and guidelines you set for yourself.
Something which makes us stand out from all the other coaches, experts, speakers or entrepreneurs?
Am I talking about a niche? Am I talking about a Gimmick? Am I talking about personal brand stuff?
Well, it kind of doesn’t matter, as long as it helps to differentiate you, AND (and this is the important bit) it helps your customers and clients to take action.
So let me give you some examples…
I have a friend and fellow health coach called Melissa Wells, she does a self love challenge on line and on Day 1 she gets her followers to buy themselves flowers, as a reminder that they are worthy of being loved, and that where possible should surround themselves with things which bring them joy. When I first did this challenge I realised,
I never by myself flowers, yet I love receiving them
So now, most weeks I buy myself flowers…and I have Mel to thank for that.
And on to my underwear drawer….cos you knew I was going to go their right?
Another coach I follow is a lady called Denise Duffield Thomas who helps women to address their money mindset issues. In her bootcamp programme she gets us all to upgrade our underwear drawer, and literally it is the funniest week with women posting things like,
Look at the these beauties
While posting photos of panties in all kinds of distress
My ex husband bought these for me in the 80s why do I still have them?
As a coach she gets us to think about something we all have (underwear) and she gets us to take action (by chucking out the old and buying new ones) and so forever more I will associate the upgrading of my pants with this woman…and never again will I think so badly of myself not to own gorgenous undergarments.
And now onto things which BUZZ…yes I am going there.
Imagine the scene, a tall handsome German guy arrives into the scene, and after a well pulled together talk he pulls out of his bag, a BIG yellow buzzer.
A buzzer that once you push it says,
I met Ilja at a Professional Speakers Association meeting that I myself was speaking at too, I didn’t know who he was before, but we have since become friends and may, in fact, be giving a shared talk in the states later this year.
Ilja Grzeskowitz is an award winning Keynote Speaker and bestselling author of nine books, who has given presentations in fifteen countries on four continents. As a change management expert he inspires, influences and motivates leaders, entrepreneurs and employees to combine innovative thinking with taking massive action.
His buzzer is a visual aide, and a reminder to the thousands of clients he speaks to (who all get one of his yellow buzzers) to take action, and it 100% differentiates him from the other keynote speakers out there.
So what’s your thing?
What are you going to be known for?
How are you going to motivate your tribe into taking action?
How are you going to get people to love who you are, what you do, and what you stand for?
Me personally? Its words, or seeing as its Valentines Day here in the UK lets call it poetry.
I am a blogger, a speaker, a writer who has a way with words. I have been able to grow a powerful tribe of followers, fans, customers and partners through the power of words.
Yes, I have provocative branding
Yes I have a love of the F word
Yes I’m different because of my East End roots.
But my thing….is most definitely my ability to use words to share my vision with the world, helping people to buy into the ideas I have, and therefore come on a journey with me.
Isn’t that we all want as business owners?
Would you like to know more about how to levergae your personal brand and the things which make you YOU, to build and monetise a loyal community of customers and clients, who keep coming back?
Tribe Builder is a 8 week programme, with an ongoing business mastermind, for business owners who want to make more money and more impact online.
There are 10 spots left, and you have until 22nd February to take advantage of the Payment Plan.
When I was little I used to live in East Ham, and I will never forget the sound of the fruit and veg man shouting at the top of his lungs,
Come and get your juicy pears
And a range of other call outs, rhymes and jokes telling anyone within ear shot just how wonderful his fruit and veg was.
In fact there were more than one fruit and veg men in the small market outside the indoor market on East Ham High Street, each competing for passing trade.
I assumed you just went for the first stall you see, but my Mum told me once,
Not this one, we go to the bloke further along
And I can remember wondering why?
This morning I remembered that story as I walked through the shopping centre near where I live and I saw a guy setting up his stall with his Avon products.
He was busy setting out all the perfumes, make up and other toiletries, oblivious to the hundreds of people walking past him. There was nothing attracting customers, nothing to make me ever consider having a look at what he had on his stall.
It made me wonder how many hours of his life he must spend setting up and then packing up the hundreds of products he sells…and whether he made any money from this stall.
The fact he was missing the morning trade, not making eye contact, not being available if anyone had forgotten their mascara or worse still their deodorant, not making eye contact…or maybe even having some testers…and plus don’t people mainly sell Avon online or via their network these days?
As I walked past the other stalls I wondered about the sales and marketing (or lack of) activities of the other traders.
I walked past the guy who sells the fruit in plastic bowls. Not the best quality fruit (I know it will go off a few days after buying it) but perfect if I fancy something to eat on my way somewhere. It is like 30% cheaper than the other stalls, and I like the guys that sell from there.
The other place I buy fruit from, the bloke always says “alright darlin” whether I am buying that day or not. Plus the fruit is always good quality and service is fast and proffessional.
Each of these serve a different purpose and I am happy to support both businesses….wheras I am indifferent to the 4 or 5 other fruit and veg stalls in the market.
I also realise I get great joy from buying my eggs from the egg stall. Mainly because its an old guy who runs it and he has been there for years, he sells all kinds of eggs (including pickled) and I get a sense of old east end nostalgia…I don’t care if I can get the eggs cheaper in Sainsbury’s, or can get double the number of eggs for the price in the 0.99p shop.
But here are my top lessons which I think are applicable for most small businesses.
Don’t waste too much time and money making everything pretty, it doesn’t need to be perfect to make your first sale. So many entrepreneurs fiddle around with logos, and colour pallets, and think they can’t launch things until everything is perfect. This is a waste of time and energy, especially if you haven’t tested the market yet.
Setting up your stall is important but don’t ignore the early footfall in your business. If there is a need, be ready to go immediately. The rest you can do when there is a break, or gradually while still serving customers.
Think about how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors, can you have quirky slogans, better customer service, a fast turn around, friendly staff. Bring your personality to the front
You don’t have to compete on price, but know that people will always want things at different price points, so be comfortable with what you charge…and even if your products are the cheapest you can always add extra value without it costing you massively. (The cheap greengrocer lets you taste the fruit to check for sweetness)
And finally, my favourite one…Treat your customers, or even your potential customers nice, even if they are not buying from you today…they might tomorrow.
Hope that has given you some food for thought, would love to know how you can implement any of this in your business…or any other business lessons you can learn from business traders?
Every day this week at 12.30pm I am doing a FREE lunch and learn over on my Facebook Page all about growing online businesses.
On Thursday I am offering some FREE clinics where I will give you some ideas for easy ways to attract new clients, and to make more money and more of an impact online. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot.
If you are a female business owner who would like to find out more about how I help entrepreneurs grow their business by building authentic tribes of followers, customers and partners, then click here to read about my new programme Tribe Builder
Nor a question asked in a team meeting in a care home?
This is the question my boss asked me when I unveiled a crazy plan I had back in 2010 when I came back from an old age pensioners community meeting which hadn’t exactly gone to plan.
It was back when London was getting itself ready to host the greatest show on earth…long before Hugh Jackman and his tribe were on the scene. I was working as an Olympic Development Manager in an outer London borough, Redbridge. My job was to get everyone excited, to bring opportunities into the borough and to help teams across the council understand the impact of those 6 weeks of disruption.
It was a tough job.
Not everyone wanted the games.
I’d been putting off going to the Redbridge Pensioners Forum because I had heard that there was a lot of unhappiness about how little they were being consulted, and how it wasn’t going to impact them in a positive way at all.
But I braved the meeting, I gave my presentation, and then I braced myself for the questons and comments from the floor…and lets just say they didn’t hold back.
I held my own though, I told them my job was to involve EVERYONE, and one way or another I would find a way to get them involved.
And a few hours later while back at my desk it came to me.
“I’m going to get 100 old age pensioners from Redbridge dancing in the opening ceremony”
I said to my collegue
I think was the answer.
But the following month I headed back to the community forum and I revealed my plans. There was a mix of excitement and some skepticism, but I asked them to at least give it a go and see where we got?
I employed a chair based exercise expert, and I utalised my skills from my performing arts degree, and together we choreographed an 11 minute piece which used the Olympics as inspiration….with the Chariots of Fire and Rocky theme tunes, it was an absolute blast.
We went from rehearsals of 10 people, to regular rehursals of 80-110 pensioners. From every corner of the borough, from every ethnicity you could imagine. 50 year olds and 90 year olds…we even had a couple of chaps that were at the 1948 games, who took great pleasure in sharing their stories.
These were folks that never really had a reason to spend time with each other before, and now they had this shared vision of being involved in the Olympics.
They never did get selected to be in the official opening ceremony at the games, but they were involved in every celebration that happened across the borough, and even performed at an event where the Queen visited…the actual QUEEN OF ENGLAND imagine that?
Some of those old people went on to become volunteers at the olympics, some went on to get involved in other arts programmes in the borough, and many will just have been left with lasting memories of that year where they were involved in the 2012 Games.
Let me tell you…The Golden Years Dance Troupe…was not in my job description. My bosses boss I am sure started having real doubts about taking me on when he heard about this scheme, but can I tell you out of all the projects I have ever been involved in…this one was 100% the most satistfying.
My daughter Rose has just started a new dance class at a local arts centre, the same arts centre I took my old people too, to get them performance ready. Seeing them see themselves in the full length mirror in the proper dance studio for the first time was so powerful I thought I might cry, and now every time I take my 6 year old there I remember just how magical that was an experience.
I love bringing people together.
I’m good at it.
I can create something out of nothing (well my mum always did tell me that…as have many of my ex partners, but thats a different matter)
There is something really powerful about allowing yourself to be part of a community, embracing the diversity of a group, helping others to shine, allowing yourself to also.
I am so glad that I have gone back to my roots and started to fully embrace the skills that I have in bringing people together with a shared goal.
Today is the last chance to sign up at the early bird price for my new programme for female entrepreneurs called Tribe Builders, its designed especially for female bloggers, speakers, influencers, experts and coaches…or women who run businesses where they want to grow a loyal customer base.
Sign up before midnight tonight and get in for just £300
The programme is designed to help you understand the power of community not only for doing good, but for driving profits, and creating capacity within your business.
I may not be able to get 100 female entrepreneurs dancing, but I can sure as hell get them smiling, and feeling ready to step up and be visible in the world.
Have you ever looked at your work plan for the day and been so terrified of what it entails that you instead make a cup of tea, grab the peanut butter and oatcakes and lose yourself for the day on the sofa with Netflicks.
Give me a blog to write, a programme to deliver, an audience of 1000 to speak to, a challenging client to attend to and everything is gravy.
But ask me to reach out to my colleagues, connections and friends for a bit of help and man oh man it’s all over.
I know that asking for help is what we should all be doing. No man is an island and all that jazz, but the fear is just so powerful.
What if they ignore me?
What if they say no?
What if they say yes but secretly hate me?
What if they talk about me behind my back?
What if they lose trust in me as a business owner?
What if they realise I don’t always have my shit together?
You see I have always been fiercely independent.
I’ve always had to be…I haven’t got time to wait for someone to come save me…if something needs doing, I will find a way of doing it and just get on with the job at hand. But that can be exhausting, especially if you have massive goals like I do.
I know now that I can’t reach the level of success I want without utilising my network, reaching out for support.
So…yesterday wasn’t a complete write off.
For a start I wrote down a list of people who could potentially help me with a new business venture I am trying to get off the ground and made a start by contacting the least scary person on the list, my wonderful friend and colleague Pam Burrows – The People Booster who was of course as supportive as I knew she would be.
But it still wasn’t enough for me to tackle the rest of my list.
No I would need something else to boost my confidence.
So I did what I always do in these situations….I took to Facebook.
“Why is asking for help so Damn hard?” I asked.
What followed was a string of comments from 20+ friends and colleagues, people I respect dearly, people who couldn’t help but let me know I am not alone.
A new business colleague Connie said,
Asking for help is hard because your tribe holds you up to a higher standard and now you are fearful they will look at you as weak, not a strong tribe leader.
Ain’t that the truth.
My lovely friend and fellow coach Joanna Hunter said,
I think in society we are taught to accept only perfection, (that is obviously getting better but its deeply ingrained) so to ask for help for some is like admitting your less than perfect, we are so conditioned to not show any vulnerability or flaws in the perfection – it becomes this ego battle with oneself to not ask for the help even though you know you deeply need it.
However one of the greatest acts of self love is to allow yourself to ask for help you need followed by allowing yourself to accept it in
And yet the fear is still there.
People often describe me as fearless, but I 100% am not. I do things which make me appear fearless perhaps, but even those are driven by a powerful underlying fear, which is about not living a life which is insignificant.
So I guess fear doesn’t have to be a bad thing hey?
My fear of being broke and losing my home when I got made redundant prompted me to start a business, my fear of never having a night off as a single mum prompted me to get a babysitter one night a week, my fear of always having to do the dishes (the struggle is real) prompted me to get a cleaner.
So today I faced my fears.
I contacted more than 50 people on my list. I reached out. I asked for help. I offered to jump on phone calls (one step up in the fear ratings) in many cases I was open and honest about my apprehension about asking for the support.
And guess what?
People have started to offer their support and it feels super good.
The next step is to silence the mind monkeys that tell me “I now owe them something” or “what will I need to do in return?”
I realise looking back at those Facebook comments that 90% of them were from women, not sure if that is indicative of a gender difference or just the way it landed.
One of the best comments was from a bloke though, my pal (and flipping incredible photographer) James Burn who said…
Bloody pride that’s what. Stupid ass pride / ego
Couldn’t have said it better.
A massive thank you to everyone who has offered to support me in the launch of my new venture Tribe Builder. I have been growing and building tribes (online and off) for more than 20 years…I know my stuff.
But getting it out to the people who need to see it, in the short window of time I need to make this happen…well I just couldn’t do it alone.
The good news? Inquiries are starting to come through, and I’ve already had 4 women sign up which is awesome…as is the fact I haven’t reached for the peanut butter or the remote control today.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Remember, your tribe is probably bigger than you know, and they are more willing to help than you might expect.
If you are a female business owner who would like to understand more about how to build a community of loyal customers, partners and fans to grow your business, make more money, and ultimately have more impact in this world then get in touch.
Tribe Builder starts on the 4th March…and I am 100% adding a bonus module on effective ways to ask for AND accept help