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.
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 email@example.com 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.
I signed up another brilliant 121 client yesterday who will be working with me for 6 months to help grow her own coaching business, and make things a bit easier in her life.
This evening at midnight the early bird price for the next round of my 12 week mastermind Living a Bigger Life Mastermind will finish, and next week the doors will close until 2019.
These things are very much interconnected, they feed into one another.
Its hard to find people to invest in you unless you are willing and able to invest properly in yourself.
And by investment, I mean allowing yourself to spend
On making things better for you.
Sometimes that feels a bit selfish, but a way of remembering just how important investing in yourself is asking yourself the question,
Who wins when I win?
Because, as women it is never wholly about us is it?
Our goals are often about providing more for our loved ones, and making the world a slightly better place to live in where we can too.
Support from like-minded women is always a huge part of my online coaching programmes, it always has been. So many of us feel alone in our struggles both in life and in business…and just having a safe space to share “our stuff” works wonders for being able to make sense of our lives.
A significant part of my life coaching work is around helping women to identify first what they want, and then to put a plan together to go on and achieve those things. I can’t really take credit for the incredible achievements they make, but I am there holding their hand the whole way through, even if for most of them I am hundreds of miles away.
Will you let me hold your hand over the next few months?
If you are interested in working with a life coach who is fantastic at both hand holding and butt-kicking this side of Christmas (sorry I said the C word) then you need to act fast. I have just 2 spots left to work 121 with women, and just 7 spaces left on the Living a Bigger Life group programme. Feel free to drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
So it has been a whole week since my TEDx talk video about Living a Bigger Life went live on YouTube, you can watch it by clicking here if you haven’t seen it yet.
And here’s the thing.
I am super chuffed with how it has turned out, I think I came across as confident, knowledgeable and passionate about my subject
AND…I don’t completely hate how I look in the video…which is just as well because I talk a lot about not caring what you look like
We are not what we look like
But this is the irony of my work.
I believe 100% that we are held back as women because of the fear of judgment, and I am I guess more in tune with this than some, but I can’t kid you that I don’t have moments where I worry about what I look like and how people might judge me.
More than 1800 people have watched my video over the last 7 days and the feedback has been incredible, but I wanted to share with you some of the things you might not be able to tell from that 13-minute video.
My rehearsal was shockingly bad.
I didn’t stick to my script.
I wasn’t wearing what I had planned to.
So, I found out I would be doing a TEDx months and months before the big day. The lead up is intense, and feels like it goes on FOREVER!!!!
When I submitted my proposal it was based on a very loose idea…that of,
If women are not playing sport because of the fear of judgement, what else are they not doing
I wasn’t 100% sure how I would fill 15-18 minutes….like clearly I can talk for that long, I am a professional keynote speaker for goodness sake, but it was more around what I would focus on. What I would include, what I would not…how much of myself I would bring to the talk.
I literally spent 3 months crafting that talk, writing and rewriting it….sharing it with valued colleagues for feedback.
But a few things happened in the last few weeks which forced me to change it in the final few days
I went to a conference in San Diego with Lisa Nichols and learned some incredible things about creating impact through your speaking, by sharing your authentic story
I launched a new online programme “100 Ways” which was going down a storm, I had also collated some new data from surveying 100+ women from this group
I had some dental work which affected the way I spoke…like seriously there were some words from my original talk that I literally could not say any more
So when I turned up on the rehearsal the day before I felt completely underprepared as my talk had changed significantly from the previous one which had been just 2 or 3 weeks before.
I think to see the space adorned with its TEDx branding and the red-carpeted dot brought it home to me just how important this talk was.
So during the rehearsal, I tripped over my words, lost where I was in the talk…oh yeah and swore a lot
I went to sleep that night gutted with myself for not being better prepared.
But the following day I refocussed, and with eh support of one of my speaking buddies, I worked on the talk and did a whole heap of relaxation and visualisation techniques, to ensure I didn’t let the nerves get the better of me.
I was last on.
Which added even more pressure…save the best to last and all of that.
I had decided not to get into what I would be wearing until the last minute, just in case I spilled something on myself.
So with 30 minutes to go, I headed backstage and started getting ready. Hair, makeup, clothes…should have been the order, but I got dressed first and then started to do my make up….and much to my horror my foundation squirted onto my white short and all over my red jacket…I could have cried.
I had spent the best part of 3 months working out what to wear and in the last few minutes before going on stage I had to change it somewhat.
Luckily I had another white top with me, and baby wipes took most of the makeup off my jacket (as I didn’t have another one of those), in the end, I didn’t bother changing from my Primark jeans that I’d been wearing all day into my more expensive River Island ones…as I suddenly thought to myself,
This has happened for a reason…it shouldn’t matter what I wear on that stage I just need to show up as me
I stepped onto that stage after a very long day with the simple belief that what would be would be, like whatever I delivered on that stage would be enough.
The talk I give would be the talk I give
And I think that attitude served me well because no less than 3 minutes in I got completely lost in the script and jumped right the way to the end of the talk.
I could see the stage manager sitting with the script folder shaking her head like
Where the F is she going with this?
But it was OK.
I knew the talk well enough to bring it back. All those months of practicing meant I knew my content inside out, even if it wasn’t completely the order I wanted it to be in.
So there you have it.
It wasn’t perfect
But neither am I
Neither are you.
We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to show up as yourself.
That is enough.
I was enough.
You are enough.
If you have been inspired by my Living Bigger TEDx talk and would like to use the Living Bigger message to work on your own life goals, no matter how scary then give us a shout.
My next group programme starts on the 1st October you can find out more about it here
What would you talk about if you were given a platform to speak out to the world? Which one message would you want to share?
Do you even have something worth sharing?
Now I have always been an opinionated person.
I’ve always had something to say….just ask my Mum.
So it probably comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me or watches me from afar that at some point I would put myself up to do a TEDx talk.
What you might find surprising though is I’ve always been quite fearful of public speaking.
In my twenties, I would do anything to avoid having to talk in front of a crowd of people…I’d go all red-faced, I’d sweat and my voice would wobble all over the place if ever I had to.
Throughout my 30s though I worked as a project manager and consultant on the Olympics and I often had to give presentations and deliver training, and so it got a little easier, but I always suffered from nerves and also a bit of imposter syndrome, you know that feeling like you are kinda blagging it, and perhaps people shouldn’t take what you have to say too seriously.
Well…let me tell you, I have never felt as nervous as I did on Saturday standing in front of an audience of a hundred and fifty people in a theatre in Folkestone…knowing I had 15 minutes or so of time to fill with my idea worth sharing.
Especially knowing it would be filmed and the video could haunt me FOREVER!!!!
But before I share with it how it actually went, and when the talk will be ready for you to watch, I want to share 5 lessons from the process which you can use for any BIG goal.
Start to Visualise
In December last year, I created a vision board of all the things I wanted to achieve in 2018. On it, I included a Tedx talk…I knew I wanted to do one, I didn’t know how, but I knew I had to put it out there as a goal and start visualising how doing one could complement other business and life goals for the year. I pinned the vision board next to my desk and looked at it daily. It didn’t take long for the opportunity to find its way to me when a friend forwarded me details of Tedx Folkestone who had an open application process for potential speakers.
One of the easiest ways to make your goals happen is to actually sign up for them. I know it sounds basic but so many women say to me, “I really want to do a half marathon” and I reply “well sign up for one then”. When I sent in my application back in January I had a very loose idea of what I wanted to speak about, but I didn’t worry too much about the talk itself because I knew I would have months to prepare and that there was a process to follow. We grow into big goals like this…the process of overcoming fear helps us to grow as people.
Trust the Process
When you sign up for a marathon, you don’t head out the following day to see if you can cover 26.2 miles, you basically sit down and work out a training plan right? So likewise, I knew the first time I attempted to write my talk I knew it would be nowhere near the finished one. If I had started panicking and second-guessing myself right at the start I wouldn’t have had the time or headspace to really work out what it was I truly wanted to say. The passage of time helps you to form and then reform your ideas.
Ask for help
You don’t have to do scary stuff by yourself. Get yourself a support team. I had all kinds of help over the last 6 months preparing from this. Support from the Tedx team in Folkestone, and my fellow speakers at the event. My speaker friends from The Professional Speaking Association, including the folk from the various business masterminds I am in. Also, I asked for feedback from my clients…the ones most aligned to the audience I wanted to impact with this talk. The thing with asking for help though, is you have to be willing to take feedback onboard, otherwise whats the point in having it….and let people go over and aboard for you, one of my awesome friends came down to Folkestone on the day to help me with a final rehearsal, she went over and above to support me, and it felt a little weird at first…but it was 100% what I needed.
And then finally and most importantly
Believe in yourself
Now baring all of the above, the bottom line is when it comes to your BIG GOALS…often you have to actually do them yourself. You will find a moment where you are like “This is it…its just me up here, nobody else can help me now” then you have to dig deep and fill your head with positive thoughts. You have to have faith in your own abilities to pull something out of the bag on the day no matter how nervous and unprepared you are.
So how did it go?
Well, I was last on out of 11 speakers, so the nerves had been building all day.
20 minutes before I was due to go on I managed to get makeup all over my white vest (luckily I bought a spare), my heart was racing and other than being able to remember my opening line my head was actually quite blank.
But I had been working on this talk for weeks, I have been working on the topic of this talk for years, and in many ways, I had been preparing for this moment my whole life…I know that sounds proper dramatic right? But its how I feel.
So I stood in the wings listening to the intro, took some deep breathes, did some last minute facial warm-ups and then I heard
Next up we have Julie Creffield with her talk Living A Bigger Life
And I stepped up onto the stage with a smile and positioned myself in the spotlight on the infamous small circular of red carpet.
And sorry my lovelies I simply can’t reveal what happened next…you will have to tune in next month for that!!!
The video recording from my talk won’t be available until the end of July, so you are going to have to wait until then to see how it went. Trust me I am as frustrated as you…I just want to see it NOW. My memory of how it all went is a bit patchy, it went by in a blur…there was laughter and lots of nodding from the audience who I could just about see…and I think I made most of the major points I wanted to cover…even if I didn’t keep exactly to script.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to share my views on the world in this way, but I am not going to lie…as scary as that day was, nothing compares to how nervous I am about letting the video out into the world. But this is what I signed up for right? I have set myself the lofty goal of getting 1 million women to watch my talk…because I know if 1 million women stopped dieting and instead started to love themselves, we could really start some momentum with radical self-love and the pursuit of big dreams, at whatever size you happen to be.
I will need your help to get this video seen by other women around the world. I can’t do it all by myself. So keep an eye out on social media over the next few weeks for ways you can help with this.
Ready to start living a BIGGER life yourself?
The next round of my Living a Bigger Life group coaching programme starts in September, and places are already filling up nicely. I also have 3 spaces for 121 clients this summer.
Check out my life coaching programmes here or drop me a line to email@example.com to start a discussion about how I might be able to support you.