Did I ever tell you about the plus size fitness programme I launched for men a few years ago that was a complete and utter flop?
Or do you recall the time I started selling fabric pens on my website so that people could customise their running tops with inspirational messages?
Why would you?
Those business ideas never took off, they never got any traction and in short, they were just shit business ideas….but it didn’t really matter because I didn’t really lose anything by launching them.
I have a lot of business ideas, and sometimes some of them are genius and sometimes they are just rubbish…the problem is sometimes it’s difficult to know which is which.
Which is why I pilot.
Even when I worked in a proper job, I would always pilot an idea before investing any time or resource into doing it properly, helping people to buy into the concept with little risk and then let the results speak for themselves.
This week 14 of my clients on my new Tribe Builder Programme (which YES I am currently piloting) launched new ventures.
Some of these were extensions of what they already do in business, and some were completely new business ideas. (You can read about them here in an email I sent round to my email list on Monday)
Launching stuff into the world is scary because it plays on those universal fears of being judged and ultimately big embarrassing, soul crushing failure.
But when something doesn’t get the traction I hoped for, when my new fantastic thing gets nothing but tumbleweed responses, and the deadline for signing up comes and goes…I am grateful (well at least I have learned to be) because it tells me this wasn’t quite right.
People vote with their wallets…and if people haven’t rushed to buy my thing it means one of 3 things
The offer was wrong
The timing was wrong
Its not what I should be doing
I used to think it’s because I am shit at business, nobody likes me, and I am not worthy of success (recognise any of those?) but a whole heap of mindset work, and surrounding myself with the right people to talk things through means I don’t have those highs and lows so much anymore.
Piloting things somehow takes the pressure off.
It says, “I don’t know yet”, it says “let’s see”, it enables me to be playful and to involve the end user in shaping it and making it something awesome for the next round.
People are interested in the process, they are interested in the journey, some people are curious about how things evolve…these are the folks that you want in your beta testing teams.
I am testing a few things at the moment, and they are all super exciting.
I had been pondering on a new business model for my Living a Bigger Life Mastermind for a while. I love the work that I do with my clients on that programme but something felt off…in some ways it felt unaligned to my values…especially the one about fairness.
That programme was saying, I care about women living bigger, but only the ones that can afford to pay handsomely for it…and that didn’t feel good, even though it was a VIP type of offer.
So my thinking was, how can I make the same amount of money but make it more accessible, more vibrant, more impactful, and in some ways less work for me?
And so I came up with an idea for piloting this new model.
I put a call out for 100 women to test a new mobile app version of this, a community approach to life coaching and personal development, and guess what?
6 days in and its kinda awesome.
So far I have 72 women all signed up and using this fab new bit of tech, feeding back what works and doesn’t, giving me ideas for features and content.
It is an absolute dream.
Now if I had spent 6 months developing this, looking into all the stuff, asking people if they were interested and all manor of other procrasti branding activities I might never have taken the plunge and just launched it.
Now I am not yet at the stage where I can say confidently this is a resounding success, and this community app is going to revolutionise my life…but it bringing in income, its bringing joy to my working day, and its already having a positive impact on the lives of the women involved.
And I am learning a heap of stuff about apps, and the like
Fear stops us from trying new things
Fear stops us from making mistakes
Fear stops us from learning
Fear stops us from growth
You know that thing you have been wanting to do for like FOREVER? I bet you that you could get something up and out there as a pilot in like 10 days. Especially if you let go of any idea of it being perfect and let go of any need for it to be successful in its first round…and then who knows where it might lead to.
Remember the Wright Brothers? What would have happened if they chose not to keep at it trying new things and learning each time. It’s an overused phrase but there really is no such thing as a failure….so get out there are fail a bit more often…who knows where it might take you.
PS. I won’t be saying that if I completely mess up next weekends London Marathon attempt ha ha
If you are a female who is done with playing small, and would like to get involved in my current Living a Bigger Life pilot, sign up here for $12.99 per month…the price will be going up after the pilot phases…and you get to see me figuring all this stuff out before all the shiny more polished stuff goes live on the 1st May.
If you are interested in joining the next round of my Tribe Builder Programme for speakers, experts and entrepreneurs…which includes a quick and dirty pilot launch then get your name on my wait list…find out more here
Do you ever get stressed about what to wear, or worry about how you look when you know all eyes are going to be on you?
I know those are kind of stupid questions, because so many women I work with talk about this stuff.
I’ve always felt like this.
I have never felt very stylish, I’ve always struggled to feel completely confident in the way I present myself. Sometimes in the past, this has been because of my size, sometimes not having the funds to buy the kind of clothes I like.
It has got better over the years but I still have real moments of panic.
Often when I get invited to speak at things or attend various different events I find that I can’t truly enjoy them because I am worried about what to wear.
I took 8 dresses with me to the conference I closed in OCtober…and I had 4 more at home that I had bought for the occasion…that’s ludicrous!!!
I think it’s because of phrases like “Dress to impress” and “you have to look the part” the part for what?
I remember a few years back when I was unemployed and the job centre put me up for this job and I had nothing to wear, I mean NOTHING…I had been out of the working world for almost a year, I had new baby weight and no money to buy anything.
The job centre sent me to the shops with gift vouchers to choose something appropriate, but of course their idea of appropriate meant a cheap suit from the high street, and there was only the option of two stores, one of which didn’t even stock my size.
I remember going to that interview in my cheap nylon suit thinking they would be mad to employ me, not because I wasn’t employable but because I looked like I was dressed for a funeral and had never worn smart clothes in my life.
Needless to say I didn’t get the job. Just as well really because a month later I turned Too Fat to Run into a business, and I haven’t had to wear a bloody suit since ha ha.
For me clothes are not really about having an outward image, for me, it’s more about feeling comfortable in my own skin. It’s not about being photographed and looking flattering, it’s about not letting how I feel about what I wear detract from the message I want to share with the world.
As an entrepreneur, a speaker…as someone who sometimes goes on the tele or gets photographed for various things there is this pressure to always get it right, to look well put together.
It’s hard not to compare yourself to others in your field, and ask yourself why don’t I look as good as them?
The thing is I don’t want to wear designer dresses and heels, I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl, a rebel…I don’t want to have to wear stuff that restricts my movement, or makes me feel vulnerable…and trust me some clothing makes me feel like this.
I want to feel grounded, and authentically me.
2019 for me is a year of really being me, of sticking to my vision for how I want to show up in the world, a year for being led by my values, and for celebrating the things which make me unique.
It’s one of the reasons that I am collaborating with the fabulous Lauren Jobling.
Lauren is a stylist working with big brands and ordinary women like me, she also runs body positivity workshops and has a lot to say about fashion, style and womens issues.
I have been following her on Instagram for about a year and really wanted to collaborate in some way. Yesterday we met for the first time and went on a treasure hunt around the charity shops of London, starting with Barnardos in Brixton.
Oh my days we had so much fun.
I was a little nervous because Lauren always looks so well put together and has great taste in clothes, whereas I can often be found in food stained, unironed stuff…no make up, hair unwashed.
But it was fine.
I realised that I actually know more about the kind of stuff that works for me than I thought. My statement jewellery, my faux leather biker jacket, retro headbands, bright block colours, or bold prints.
Love this dress we found in Banardos…it’s so me!!!
Yeah I have a style.
I just need to make more of an effort to be consistent with it.
You are going to be seeing much more from Lauren and I over the next few months as we work on some things together, and hopefully you will notice an improvement on my sometimes dishevelled look…not because I want to look the part of a global entrepreneur with big plans…but because I don’t have the energy to be stressing any more about what the hell to wear.
First step…clear out my wardrobe of all the shoulda, coulda, woulda clothes that make it hard for me to see what I have, and then step two is book another session with Lauren to sketch out what I am going to wear for a few big things coming up next month.
Super excited to have another epic woman on my team.
Go check out Lauren on Insta, you can see some of the finds we had. Also, note to self Julie…take more photos, I got home last night and realised I didn’t take even one of our time together…I was having far too much fun.
I have been coaching people for as long as I can remember.
Or have I?
In fact maybe I have just been bossing people around, giving my advice (asked for or not) maybe I have been more of a mentor, a confident, a consultant?
And maybe none of these titles even matter.
I took on the title coach by accident a few years back when my business Too Fat to Run started to take off. I was offering, advice, and support and specific running expertise to women new to running.
Sports Coach…that’s a role we kind of understand right?
But then my advice started to fall outside of those parameters, and I started offering more productivity, and mindset and life coaching support. Drawing on tools and techniques I had read or learned about from other coaches….or sharing tools I used to live a bigger life.
Women started asking specifically for programmes that were not just about running, but were applying BIG FAT STUPID GOALS to other areas of their life.
And it wasn’t long before I had a few online programmes in this niche, and some 121 clients and was proudly calling myself a life coach. Apparently you don’t need a coaching qualification to do that…in fact you can buy a course of Udemy for like £10 and say you are qualified.
Although I have always had quite robust insurance (just in case you were wondering)
The thing is I knew I had some natural ability as a coach, as I said I have worked with people in community engagement for more than 20 years. This has involved supporting and advising young people, managing thousands of volunteers, and mentoring people who worked under me.
But I wanted to be able to say I was a life coach, and say so proudly.
So I set about finding out what it would really mean to get qualified, and I remembered a friend/colleague of mine worked for the coaching company Animas…in fact he has just been promoted to CEO (Well done Robert)
I went on one of their open days, and that was it I was hooked.
There was one phrase that the coach said which really struck a chord,
It was something about our clients being whole not broken, and our role as coaches is to help them uncover the answers that are already there.
I loved that.
I guess in part because I always found it a bit uncomfortable thinking I was some kind of guru with all the answers…trust me I have days where I am clueless about my own life.
So for the last 6 months or so I have been on a wonderful journey of discovery since, learning new skills and techniques as a coach as I work towards being accredited by the International Coaching Federation.
The tools I have been learning have made me a better coach on all of my main programmes, and with the 121 clients I now work with, and it is giving me the confidence to grow and expand my own coaching business, developing my own models and techniques.
So anyway, what is coaching?
Animas describe it as
…a conversational approach to moving someone from where they are to where they want to be
Founder of animas Nick Bolton (who has just stepped down as CEO) says of coaching,
It has a rare quality as a pragmatic journey of self exploration
One of the things I know from my groups, but am recognising even more in my 121 work, is that for many women it is simply having time to just think about their own needs for a while, and to have a non judgemental set of ears at the other end of the line.
I have seen some truly spectacular shifts in some of my clients, and it is joyful to see them go on to achieve their goals, or simply going through life feeling better about things.
Who do I work with?
I work primarily with women (I guess I’m open to coaching with men 121, but it does seem to be women who come my way) and the women come from all walks of life.
These women are not “broken” women, without direction or at their wits end with life. They are not looking for therapy. With coaching we look forward, we are future focussed…looking for solutions, and ways through, rather than wallowing in the past.
These are strong, capable, funny, successful women who understand the value in putting themselves first and getting additional support when they need it. We have an absolute blast on the calls, and I always leave energised.
The kind of challenges women come to me with include
Wanting to go for promotion
Wanting to start dating
Wanting to have better boundaries at work and in their personal life
Wanting to work towards big life goals
Dealing with imposter syndrome and self sabotage
Wanting to live healthier more balanced lives
Wanting to explore and find their purpose, and have more impact
This is BIG stuff, and I love that I can help in a small way.
So how can you work with me as your coach?
My next round of Living a Bigger Life which is my signature group programme goes again mid May (there is currently a ridiculous super early bird offer or a pay now in installments feature) Click here for more details
I do in person days called “Stop Playing Small” in Stratford in East London, these are charged at £479 and include a pre-call and some follow up support, email me email@example.com for more info, I can also travel for these subject to logistics.
I currently have space for 5 new 121 clients, to work with me on a 6-session initial basis via Zoom. These 60 minute can be taken weekly, fortnightly or monthly. This package costs £500 again email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And what about business coaching?
I am no longer offering 121 business coaching at the moment as I am focussing on a new programme called Tribe Builder, which will be open for new people to join at the end of May.
I am 100% using these new skills with my clients, in fact I have developed a whole new planning and goal setting system around one of the coaching models called STAR (or my version “START as you mean to go on”)
But watch this space 121 business coaching may be something I return to in the future.
I am so glad I bit the bullet and embarked on this coaching journey. I have always been a fan of learning, but learning skills and tools which you can use for the rest of your life is just a blessing.
You might not think that coaching is for you, you might be one of those people who think Life Coaching is an industry full of young attractive people with massive Instagram accounts who use it as a cover for their self development habit (cough cough I can assure you this is not the case for me) but how would you know if you don’t give it a go.
If you do have any questions, I am always open to hearing them, it is helpful for me to know what womens concerns might be.
If you want to check out what some of my clients are up to head over to Twitter or Instagram and do a search for #iblamejulie the hashtag a bunch of my clients came up with a few years ago which seems to have taken up a life of its own.
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.