Who Influences You – and Who Do You Trust?

Thought leadership is nothing new. Strong personalities make up the fabric of business success folklore. Henry Ford. Richard Branson. Steve Jobs. Oprah. Sara Blakely. Mark Cuban. Jessica Alba.  Tony Hsieh.

Since becoming an entrepreneur in 2008, I have been exposed to so many more of these cult personalities that many folks who still work in corporate life have never heard of. Marie Forleo. Chris Brogan. Gary Vaynerchuk. And further,  there are those thought leaders that influence us in the personal development and lifestyle space: Mel Robbins.  Lisa Bilyeu. Glennon Doyle. Tony. Robbins.

Influencer marketing may be a fairly new concept, but thought leadership (which I equate as somewhat similar) has been around a long time. It’s a fabulous and authentic marketing tactic. Establish  yourself not just as a successful leader in your organization, but as a leader in your industry. Someone who has their finger on the pulse of trends and customer insights.

There are many influencers and thought leaders that inspire me. From whom I learn a lot. But I am very skeptical of those who get elevated to gurus, saviors, and absolute truth-tellers. 

It got me thinking about how we decide which influencers we will trust. Which we will follow. I don’t even like the word “follow”as it implies discipleship. 

And that is my fundamental problem with many of the “gurus” out there. When I started out in entrepreneurship, I immediately spotted such snake oil salespeople a mile away. They promoted how they knew the “secret” to your business success. If you learn their formula or do things exactly the way they will tell you (for the low, low price of $5,000), you will be able to buy a jet! They planned extravagant conferences, walking onstage to pounding rock music and fire torches going off. 

I saw new entrepreneurs, mostly women I have to admit, spending THOUSANDS of dollars they didn’t have to take a short cut promised by the so-called prophet.  It made me so angry, I even tried to pitch a Wall Street Journal reporter to do a story on it.  

We definitely need influence in our lives. But we have to be more discerning about who those people are, and what we expect from them. So how do you decide who to trust?

I believe it’s wise to avoid experts who raise these red flags:

  • Make you pay exorbitant amounts of money to learn their “secrets.”If they can offer a framework, or valuable lessons within a curriculum, that is one thing. But if they start making me think there is some secret shortcut to success or a
    “7-figure business”, I keep my guard up.
  • If their social media feeds are full of acolytes agreeing with every word that drops from their lips – or if followers expect them to have all the answers to the challenges in their own lives, I back away. We should never give anyone else that much power. 
  • Anyone who encourages people to go into massive debt to fund their dreams. Not responsible. And not sustainable. Just gross. I’ve heard one such current trendy expert tells her “students” that if they don’t go into debt and max out their credit cards, they don’t want it badly enough. Big no for me.

How do I know who to trust? Well, that’s harder for me to put my finger on. I value authenticity, but not manufactured authenticity. It’s kind of like pornography: You know it when you see it. With our eyes wide open, we can tell when someone is genuinely trying to help people or when they are trying to hustle them. I also value those who treat others with kindness, respect, and empathy and don’t believe they are “too good” to talk with them. And I especially value those who you can disagree with and they invite this with curiosity rather than having their authority questioned. 

We should always be questioning and conversing, not blindly following supposed influencers or experts. (TWEET THIS!)

No one has all the right answers, and we shouldn’t act like these people are gods. They are human. We can definitely be inspired by them, learn from them, and be open to new perspectives, but do so with our own self-confidence fully intact. 

Who do you love to follow and learn from? What makes you trust them? Who do you currently avoid? Would love to know so please DM me on Instagram @redslice.

Photo Credit: Zac Durant on Unsplash

Gain an Empathy Advantage: Global Workshop

Furious customers and failed business launches. Dysfunctional work teams. Workplace inequity. Partnerships abandoned out of fear, projects destroyed by misunderstanding.

Almost every problem that exists in the business world can be traced back to a single, common origin: Lack of empathy. (TWEET THIS!)

When we are unwilling to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes—unwilling to talk, listen, or understand another point of view—we remain paralyzed. Instead of finding solutions, we repeat the same mistakes. This impacts our brand reputation, team productivity, customer experience and organizational performance.

Our digital world does not let us off the hook in showcasing this deeply human connection. In fact, savvy consumers today demand that brands do more than ever to connect, engage and earn their loyalty. Companies and leaders have to be more authentically empathetic in everything we do if we want to keep customers, gain market share and thrive.

Empathy is not just good for society. It’s great for business and a true competitive advantage. But what does that look like in practice?

So glad you asked! Please join me on February 17 for a unique 3 hour global workshop like no other

Branding expert, best-selling author (any my own brand mentor) Marty Neumeier and his business partner, Andy Starr created the Level C Masterclass, a certification program for the next generation of brand professionals and are now offering Artisan Workshops:

“The Artisan Series of workshops presents accomplished practitioners guiding you through focused deep-dives into the nuances of brand. They’re brilliant thinkers, bold makers, and demonstrated leaders in core disciplines, and we’re joining forces with them to bring the power of difference-making to you.”

And they invited me to facilitate Empathy Advantage on February 17, 2022!

Learn how you as leaders and marketers can amplify empathy through your work, create a more empathetic brand experience and bring your organizations along with you to create a better world.


  • How to make the business case for empathetic practices that proves bottom-line benefits and market advantages to skeptical CFOs.
  • How to gather useful customer insights and turn them into personas that better inform who they are, what they want, and what they aspire to be.
  • How to craft richer stories and experiences that speak to emotion and logic to ignite action and loyalty.
  • How to create mission, vision, and values statements that serve not just as internal motivators, but as external magnets that attract exactly the right people to your tribe.

This interactive workshop will be held online via Zoom. Network and learn from other brand leaders, marketing experts, business leaders, innovative designers and other renegades who are changing the rules and putting people and purpose first in order to lead to profit! from across the globe. Sign up right here, right now  and hope to see you on the other side!

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas to Keep Your Ideas Flowing

5.5.15 7EasyBlogPostIdeas (blog)
You’re staring at the cursor and it’s blinking at you, taunting you. You sigh.

When you were out driving earlier today, you had a ton of clever blog post ideas that just came to you with no effort. But you couldn’t write them down. And now – poof – they are gone with the wind.

This happens to me all the time. I seriously wish I could record the thoughts I have right before falling asleep. I’ve written 5 novels in my head this way. But I can’t remember a damn thing once I wake up. So I was inspired by a hilarious video from my buddy Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social to share my own take on 7 simple and stunning blog post ideas – these will help so much when you can’t think of anything to write about.

And BONUS TIME: Any of these can easily be turned into a free email opt-in download, a lead magnet for your next course, an eBook, a podcast, a video…..you get the idea. Recycle, people.

Oh, and the numbers below are arbitrary. It’s up to you to pick how many you can create – but play around with being short and sweet (3 quick tips…) versus providing a more exhaustive resource (64 ways to….). See what resonates with your audience the most.

7 Simple and Stunning Blog Post Ideas – When You Can’t Think of What to Write About (Tweet This!)

  1. 3 Crucial Tips for… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA HERE). …Building a Website, …Finding Inner Peace, …Choosing a Killer Date Outfit, …Buying the Right Engagement Ring. Whatever your business does, surely there are 3 basic tips that you always seem to share with prospects or customers. This worked well for me when sharing 4 Clever Ways to Make it Easy For Others to Promote You and 3 Tips for Smarter Small Business Marketing. Don’t fall into the trap (as I once did before a wise woman slapped me upside the head – with love) of assuming “everyone know this.” They don’t. It’s why you have a job.
  2. 6 Questions to Ask When… (YOUR SUBJECT AREA): People love to read articles that guide them when making a decision. And, heck, no one says you can’t choose questions that would immediately point them to your products or services if it’s a good fit – just make sure you’re being unbiased, as people may feel like you’re being slimy instead of helpful. So how about: …Choosing the Right Accounting Software, …Picking the Perfect Executive Coach, …Creating Your Social Media Strategy.
  3. 5 Powerful (YOUR FIELD) Lessons from (POPULAR NEWS TOPIC/CULTURAL REFERENCE): This one is super fun, because it allows you to be timely (and show up in what people are searching on right now) and showcase your cleverness in relating your expertise to something that culturally binds us. One of my most popular blog posts was 4 Powerful Business Lessons from James Bond and Skyfall. The other form this can take is “What (POPULAR TOPIC) Can Teach You About (YOUR FIELD).” Relate key lessons or tips you always talk about to something timely and hot and give it a fun spin (if the topic allows for it) or simply analyze a current news story through the lens of your expertise, as I did in popular posts about Lance Armstrong’s and Susan G. Komen’s epic brand fails.
  4. 7 Lessons Learned When (YOUR FIELD OR INTEREST): You have wisdom to share based on your experience (See #1 above) and your audience is thirsting for it. What can you share about mistakes you’ve made, unique things you’ve done, or clients you’ve worked with? What can they learn from your story? Remember, share your lessons but ensure you make it about how it applies to the reader. I loved sharing 7 Lessons I learned While Writing A Book…And What They Can Teach You as well as, yes, the 7 lessons that a brain injury can teach you about your brand.
  5. Pose a question related to your subject area: Think about the most popular questions you get asked about your business, brand or profession and turn that into a single-threaded blog post. How Do I Write Good Sales Copy? How Do I Work with a Stylist? How Long Does A Website Take to Build? What is a Brand Strategy? This helps you showcase your expertise, offer great advice and even make it easy for new people to join your tribe and not feel like they don’t know some inside joke. Remember, your audience may be at different phases of the buying cycle and are only just now getting to know you and your brand.
  6. Interview another rockstar expert: Are there folks related to your field from whom your audience would loooooove to get the inside scoop? You don’t have to be the expert in everything. But you can be the go-to resource for curating that info and brining those guests to your community. Are you a health and wellness coach? Interview a stylist to help your clients showcase their brand new health bods. Are you an Etsy store selling handmade jewelry? Interview a party planner on how to throw the perfect jewelry party for your friends. Do you sell customer management software to small businesses? Interview a branding expert to give them tips on how to build their brand online and create compelling content. These can be super easy to create. In my Slice of Brilliance column, I interview experts in related fields that are of interest to you and send them a 3-question form to fill out. You get a great blog post, your audience gets great content, and you get the added bonus of that rockstar also promoting your post! #Winning
  7. Make one observation on your industry and present your point of view: These are the thought leader posts, the ones that inspire, delight, provoke thought – and get shared. There must be something you love or hate about your industry that you have a view point on: your disgust with smarmy sales pitches (if you’re a sales consultant), your crush on brands that give back to the community (if you run an advertising agency), your confusion over why contracts can’t be written in plain English (if you’re a lawyer), your deep hatred of hyperbolic software sales claims (if you run a software company). How can you make this personal commentary interesting and relevant to your audience? Ensure there’s a strong takeaway that they can ponder or act upon – otherwise it’s just a rant. I tried to do this with my observations about how perfection holds many people back from birthing their great ideas into the world or why you are called to create something that matters, rather than spew more noise into the world.

P.S. Need help coming up with more compelling content? Want to learn the secrets to writing copy that seduces your audience? Want more content creation tips? Get it here.

Image credit: qnuckx via Flickr

What Happens When You Don’t Match Your Brand

match BLOG

A friend recently passed along this story about branding gone bad. I thought it was so moving it warranted a blog post.

Last year, this friend-of-a-friend found herself sniffling into a kleenex at the first of many therapy sessions, pouring her heart out on topics like identity and authenticity. This, in and of itself, isn’t particularly noteworthy; many of us have found ourselves on a therapist’s couch.

But her friend was in therapy because of her brand.

See, her funny, ballsy, brassy friend spent almost a decade building a demure, buttoned-up brand. For ten years, her products were featured by Martha Stewart and Oprah and sweater set-types bought her pieces in bulk. She’d attend networking events and people would swarm her, asking for advice about breaking into the industry she didn’t even like. Left to her own devices, she’d live in Levis and t-shirts, eating only buffalo wings and beer.

Instead, she felt she needed to wear heels and dresses, drink $13 cocktails and schmooze with wedding planners. She needed to reign in her swearing and act like she cared about manicures.

When I heard this story, I realized many of you may go through this and it is a recipe for disaster. Her company was successful but she was unstable and unhappy. Every single day, she felt like a fraud.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Her friend went through a year of therapy, eventually shuttered her company, and got a 9-to-5 at a creative agency. These days, she’s living the jeans-wearing, wing-eating dream.

This is a real, life and blood example of what can happen if you build a brand that runs counter to who you are.

And it could happen to any of us! We get caught up following business advice that – while solid – just isn’t right for us. Or we work with a super-talented, slightly pushy designer and end up with a gorgeous website that’s perfect … for someone else.

This can also happen if you work for a company whose values and brand image run counter to what you believe, who you are and what you stand for. And if you own the company? This could be happening to employees you’ve hired who were never the right cultural fit to begin with – and that’s when it starts impacting their productivity and work.

So before you find yourself in a pile of tear-filled Kleenexes or on the therapist’s couch, here are four questions to ask yourself as you brand.

These will help you create or work for a brand that’s true to you.(Tweet this!)

When I look at my site, does it feel like me?

Are the colors ones I wear or use in real life? Do my headshots really look like me? Does my copy include words that I use in my daily life?

If you’re not a particularly buttoned up, corporate person, you needn’t convince the internet that you are. And if you’re a sweet, modest person, don’t let your site paint you as a gregarious extravert.

Just because you work in a traditional industry, doesn’t mean you’re traditional and it doesn’t mean your brand needs to be. Laura Simms is a successful career coach who shares photos of her pet rabbit on Instagram. Danielle LaPorte runs a million dollar business while showcasing her tattoos and dropping the F-bomb. We feel like we know, like, and trust these women because they’re showing us who they really are.

Do the people who know me best think it looks and feels like me?

We all suffer from forest-for-the-trees syndrome from time to time. Ask your partner, your best friend, and maybe your mom to take a look at your online space. What do they think? Does it ring true for them? Or are you nearly unrecognizable?

Of course, you should take every opinion with a grain of salt, but if everyone in your life is confused by your blazer-wearing headshot and your jargon-filled Twitter bio, it might be time to reconsider.

Do I really, actually like providing these services?

There’s a lot of wisdom in creating a scaleable business and leading large workshops – but if you’re an introvert, leading a group might feel like an ill-fitting suit. Likewise, if you don’t like big, on-going projects you might not want to have clients on retainer.

It’s possible to like doing something – writing, design, coding, marketing – but not really enjoy the way you’re delivering those services. Think about how you thrive and how you like to arrange your day and then design offerings accordingly.

Do I feel like I can be myself with my clients, on social media, on my blog?

Do you feel like you can talk about your love of wine? Or crossfit? Or share funny photos of your dog? Can you make a Walking Dead reference or drop the occasional curse word? It’s important that you show and tell your clients who you really are. There’s a 99% chance they’ll love you!

Have you ever struggled with a brand/self disconnect? How did you get past it? Tell me how you dealt with it in the comments!

P.S. Need help fine tuning your brand? I can help with that!

photo by =Nahemoth= // cc

What Are Your Competitors Success Secrets? Here’s How to Find Out

04.14.15 secrets BLOG

Is it possible to check out your competitors without falling into a deep, dark pool of insecurity and self-doubt?

Yes. Here’s how.

Paramount to this process is the act of objectively, strategically seeing what your competitors are doing. There’s little benefit to weeping with envy over your competitor’s perfect prose but it is helpful to notice how many service offerings they have or how often they post on Facebook.

There’s a  fine line between diligently staying your course and sticking your head in the sand. It’s just ego to think you never need to change and adapt. You must know what is going on in the marketplace and more importantly, what your prospective customers are seeing and experiencing if you want to stay relevant and compelling. Great businesses understand the fine art of this balance between nimbly reacting to competitor moves and staying true to their own vision.

With that in mind, I created a handy, dandy worksheet for you. This worksheet will help you gather tons of helpful information and remove a lot of those self-esteem ruining moments.

Share this worksheet and help others learn about their competitors the objective way. (Tweet this!)


How many products or services do they offer?

Do they post their prices? If so, how much do they charge? If they have similar offerings to what you have, are there features they include in the price or do they charge extra?

Are their offerings one-on-one and customized? Do they offer packaged info products? Group offerings? A mixture of both?

Are their offerings evergreen and always available? Or do they open and close periodically?

Does it seem like they’re a one-person operation? Or do they have a large team?

Do they have testimonials? How many? Are their testimonials on a separate page or on specific service pages – or both?


Does their site look professionally designed? Is it easy to navigate?

What is the vibe and the main messages or benefits they tout?

How do they present their offerings: by industry, by audience, by type?

Do they have a newsletter? How do they entice people into signing up for their newsletter?

How many places do they link to or promote their newsletter and other offerings throughout the site (cross-linking)?

Do they have a blog? If so, how often do they post?

Are their blog posts related to their offerings?

How long is their About page? Are there outgoing links on their About page? If so, where are those links going?

Do they use a pop up to capture emails?

Social media

Which social media platforms are they on? Where are they most active?

How often do they post on those channels? What type of content do they post?

How many followers/fans do they have on each channel and more importantly, how ENGAGED are those fans? (RTs, Shares, Likes, Comments).Which posts get the most comments, shares or likes? Are there common threads you can see in their topics, format or which posts are most popular?

Do they @mention people or use specific hashtags?

Do they use images?

What “voice” do they use in social media? Is it consistent with their brand? 

What link do they use on their social media profiles? Does it go to their home page? A landing page?

Print this out, pour yourself a glass of wine (I may be drinking a nice shiraz) and see what insights you can gather from your competitors.

And then use that information to tweak your online space accordingly.

Have you ever researched your competitors online? Share your best tips in the comments!

P.S. If you find that most of your competitors are using Twitter more effectively than you are, this will help. If you need help with Facebook, read this.

photo by Grey World // cc

How to Understand Your Competitors Without Falling Into a Jealousy Trap

04.07.15 jealousy TWITTER

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

An intelligent, experienced marketing professional gives you the sage advice to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.

So you do.

You subscribe to their newsletters. You pore over their lush, beautifully written blog posts. You stalk their social media profiles and notice that their followers number is in the tens of thousands. You read all their testimonials and then stalk the people who gave those testimonials.

And instead of feeling inspired and informed, you feel completely, horrifically consumed by jealousy.

How can he get away with charging so much?! Why do her tweets get retweeted so many times? How’d he get 12,000 Facebook fans? I’m doing all the same things … why is she so much more popular than I am?!

(cue minor melt down)

It’s important to know what your competitors are doing. It’s a lot more important to maintain your self-esteem.

With that in mind, here are five things you can do to stay abreast of your competitors without losing your mind or your sense of self. (Tweet this!)

1. Know your strengths and preferences
Maybe your biggest competitor has an amazing Instagram account, filled with photos of her sweet toddler and handsome husband, but you’re super private. Maybe they publish five long, thoughtful posts each week and you’re more of a once-a-week blogger.

Before you check in with your competitors, take a few minutes to remind yourself of what you truly love doing and what you could do without. If you’re loathe to use Pinterest, it doesn’t matter how many Pinterest followers your competitor has, you won’t be using that platform.

2. Build your success backwards
What does success look like for you? Is it attending mid-week matinees because you can? Taking a month off every summer? Paying off your school debt in one fell swoop? A high-ceilinged, light-filled loft in Tribeca? However success looks to you, it’s probably more complex than Instagram followers or numbers of retweets.

When you know what your version of success looks like, you can reverse engineer it. You can work time into your schedule for matinees and summers off. You can save or earn with your school debt in mind. You can check out Tribeca’s rental prices. When you’re taking steps towards your personal version of success, you’re less likely to be threatened by what others are doing.

3. Know that popularity doesn’t always equal profitability
One of my most successful friends didn’t have a website till a few years ago. She ran an incredibly successful consulting business that relied exclusively on word of mouth. And she was raking in a six-figure income with a wait-list that she’d refer out to others.

Likewise, I know a few people with tens of thousands of Instagram followers who are barely scraping by. Or writers with New York Times bestsellers who still work part-time at ad agencies. A person’s numbers – their social media followers, their retweets, their blog comments – don’t tell the whole picture. Not by a long shot.

4. Look at their bigger picture
Some of my favorite bloggers and online personalities have lives that are very, very different from mine – which means their offerings, blog posts, and social media updates will be very different. Marie Forleo is a wildly successful business coach who speaks mostly to women through highly-styled, polished videos she produces each week. Natalie Sisson of The Suitcase Entrepreneur lives life as a global nomad and provides fabulous tools, content and resources for fellow wanderlust-seekers who want to create lifestyle businesses that don’t tie them down. Pioneer Woman lives on a cattle ranch and home schools her four children and her successful blog following has led to her own show on The Food Network. The Glamourai is a ridiculously stylish 20-something fashion blogger who lives in NYC. Joy The Baker is a single, childfree, cat-loving food blogger who makes a home in New Orleans. I love these women; our lives couldn’t be more different.

And because our lives are different, we approach business differently. I’m a new mom; I’m not interested in devoting 60 hours a week to my business. I don’t want to just target women. I have other passions such as acting and writing that I want to build into my work. When you feel the green-eyed monster rearing its head, take a few steps back and consider the bigger picture – both yours and theirs.

5. Follow and research strategically
Checking in on your competitors doesn’t necessarily mean reading their blog daily or noting each and every time they tweet or post a photo. That’s a recipe for anxiety and neurosis.

Instead, set aside a few hours each month to see what a few competitors are up to and then approach this practice as an objective investigation. Less “I’ll never write as well as they do!” and more “I can see they post once a week, every Wednesday and tweet five times a day.”

In fact, next week I’ll be sharing a worksheet to help you objectively check in with your competitors. You’ll emerge with tons of helpful information, self-esteem in tact. Want it sent directly to your inbox? Sign up for my newsletter!

How do you walk the line between information and insecurity? Do you make an effort to see what your competitors are up to? 

P.S. More self-esteem boosting marketing and branding advice here.

photo by Javier Morales // cc

3 Things You Must Do For Your Brand Story to Bloom

03.31.15 ArticulateMessage(blog)

It’s all well and good for us to talk about having a strong brand story. But that’s only part of the “story” (pardon the pun).

Whether you are a one-person consulting business or a 1000 employee technology player, there are 3 phases to brand “storyhood” that must all be addressed in order to have real market impact – from hiring the right people to attracting the right customers or clients:

Define: Sure, everyone who works here “knows” your quirky brand personality or strong values, right? Wrong. If your brand story is simply a wispy tale that only old-timers will understand – or worse, simply lives in the minds of the founders – you are lost before you even begin. How can you expect the market to know your story if YOU don’t even know your story? What is it? Have you defined your brand strategy? Have you nailed down the most important points, stories and practices that make up your business’ DNA? If you talk to different people across the organization, will you get a different answer? And don’t forget the one answer that makes cringe: “Well, I don’t know…it’s kind of hard to explain. You just know it when you see it.”

If you can’t define your story, how can you expect your customers or clients to do so? You know your business best. Define your brand position internally: What are we about, what makes us tick? What is our vibe? Who are we talking to? Where do we fit in the competitive landscape? Button this down for yourself or your internal team before moving on to Step 2…

Articulate: Now that you’ve hashed it all out, pulled it apart, examined it from all angles, gathered the stories, emotions and benefits that make you special, you have to WRITE IT DOWN. Articulating the brand story is where most businesses fall down. It’s not enough for you to know your own story if you can’t give the market words to describe it. What is the mission and vision? What are you value statements? What is the tone of your copy? Which benefits will we tout over and over that we want to own in the marketplace? Bring in a talented copywriter if words are not your thing because you must choose your words wisely. Words matter. What is the script you want others to say? Wal-Mart is about low prices. Nordstrom is about exquisite customer service. Virgin America is just wonderful, hip, cool and cheeky. ASPCA is a voice for abused and neglected animals. Tom’s Shoes gives a pair of shoes to kids in need when you buy a pair.

Share: Now that you’ve defined who you are and articulated the story, are you just going to pat yourselves on the back and adjourn the meeting? Heck no. It’s time to share the story – internally first. Are you sharing this story with every single functional area such as HR, Finance, Customer Support so they can apply the story to their own everyday actions? Does HR know the brand story so they can hire the right people who will support it? Does everyone in marketing know the story so they can make smart campaign decisions? Does sales know the story so they can pitch to the right prospects about the right value? Build your brand equity from the inside out. Once everyone inside understands the brand story, then you can better share it with the outside world to generate leads, serve customers and differentiate from the competition.

Define, Articulate, Share: You must go through these 3 steps to make your brand bloom (Tweet this!)

Image credit: GotoVan via Flickr

Stuck? 4 questions to summon your inspirational muse

03.24.15 Summoning your muse (blog)

Everywhere you look these days, it seems inspiration is on everyone’s mind. Inspiration for your business, your family life, your soul. Heck, inspiration to help you find – and make – meaning in your world.

I’m currently working with two clients who are all about inspiring others in unique ones: one teaches mindfulness principles so that manic people can take a breath, shift perspective and choose healthier actions, leading to less anxiety, stronger relationships and better quality (and satisfaction in) work. Another is inspiring soul-seekers to peel back the dusty layers and get back in touch with who they really are and what they really want by running creative workshops, soulful camp experiences and more.

If you’re like me, you often need to find your inspirational vitamin boost in insightful people or special places. I call this “Summoning Your Muse.” Where are the places you go or people you seek when you need that motivational high? It’s not enough to keep your head down, locked on your work and your to-do lists: every human being needs to reflect, make space and see things differently in order to recharge.

Ask the right questions and inspiration can find you (Tweet this!)

When summoning your muse, here are 4 questions to ask and invite her in:

  • Do you enjoy your physical space?: I firmly believe our environment affects our mood and creativity. Do you work in a cramped, messy corner of your living room, or do you have a small, cozy nook that lights you up? Do you need space? Do you need color? Heck, is your chair comfortable? I find that working outside my home office in a funky little coffee shop helps me focus better and sparks new ideas. Think about your physical environment and what you need to be your most productive and create or find that space for yourself.
  • Who is on your cheerleading team?: Do you have a team of people you can call of when you need inspiration in different parts of your life? I have a friend I call when I need quick-hit, practical advice about life, one I call when I need a soulful, spontaneous girl chat about love and desire, one I exchange email missives with when we need to work out angst or transition, one I turn to for business motivation when I’m stuck or feel down…..you get the idea. Who is on your team and do you have any gaps?
  • Can you make space in your schedule?: I’m realizing that I don’t have space to think and create these days so I’m taking steps to change that. I’m going to be scheduling sacred time on my calendar to write, plan for the business, take an afternoon off at the park with my baby boy. If you get all crazy and fidgety when you end up having some time on your hands, then you have a problem! We all need quiet time, non-busy time, reflection time. Your schedule won’t magically open up for you so you have to put your foot down and demand what YOU want from your calendar. How do you want your day or week to look? What are you willing to give up, on what will you absolutely not budge? The weeks go faster as we get older – do you really want to look back and see that your year was filled with crap that you really didn’t want to do?
  • How can you shift your perspective?: A friend recently told me that I need to “change my conversation” about time. Time is, after all, a construct, and if I go in with the mindset that “I’m crazed! I have no time to do anything! I am way too overwhelmed” then, darn it, that’s my reality. But if I let go a bit and shift my mindset to “I have plenty of time to get everything done” or adopt a more curious or joyful approach, then I will indeed impact my reality. What is your mindset? Approach your work, life and relationships with joy, with curiosity, with abundance. Instead of “I have to…” think, “Wow! I get the opportunity to…” This could apply to working out, visiting family, attending a child’s school play. It sounds woo-woo but I swear, it really, really works.

Speaking of my “team” of muses, these lovely friends of mine have some great wisdom to share with you, too. Enjoy:

Want to more fully, richly commit to giving your best in everything you do? Read Empty the Tank by the soulful Alexandra Franzen

Looking for a snappy pick-me-up to make your spirit soar? Check out 9 Promising, Powerful Quotes Your Business Will Love by the witty and wise Sarah Von Bargen

Need a heart-boost about the great content you put out into the world when you think no one is listening? Devour Not getting the comments, likes and shares that you crave? Behold: the Silent Obsessor by the feisty Melissa Cassera.

Looking for ways to shift your mindset about the things you “have” to do to make them more joyful? You will adore Finding Prayer in All Things by the lovely Jamie Greenwood.

What inspires you? How do you handle being in a rut? Please share in the Comments below!

Image Credit: John via Flickr

Leprechauns, Charms and the Space to Make Magic

03.17.15 Recharging (blog)

I took two weeks off for vacation and prepped everything in my life for a work detox. I call it a “work detox” not a full-on digital one, because I specifically set things up to take a break from work email, while still enjoying personal connections via social media: Coordinating a meetup with a friend via Twitter. Posting pics of my sweet babe playing among neon lights at London’s Museum of Childhood or a family photo atop the London Eye, bundled up in the cold weather despite the bright sunlight. Instagramming new fallen snow in the Scottish Highlands before it quickly melted away. Sharing a hilarious video of my mother-in-law’s Boxer and Jack Russell up in Scotland licking my baby boy with love and gusto – and his attempts to kiss them back.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and my mind is filled with lucky charms, Irish blessings and pots of gold. It seems appropriate to talk about how to make more magic in your life on this special day.

But since I’m not a leprechaun, I can only share some ideas for how this two-week playdate away from work on foreign soil helped me recapture a bit of magic and verve in my own life – and how you might be able to do the same:

  1. Remove or Outsource the Clutter: I knew my Type A personality would go mad if I just “didn’t check email” for two weeks. But I didn’t want the time-suck that email brings distracting me from my family and vacation time. So I asked for help. My rockstar VA checked my email while I was gone, with instructions on how to respond, what to delete and when to send me an urgent text. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. No one was upset. I had zero junk email piled up. My business didn’t shatter to pieces. If anything, more new business and opportunities awaited me upon my return. And more importantly, I used that time to create magical memories and slow down. Now that I’m more used to it, I’m also finding ways to check email only a few times a day.

What is taking up space in your life that doesn’t serve you or your business? Can you outsource it or delete it completely to make time for silence, laughter, and peace? You have to remove what’s not working before you can replace it with what does.

  1. Change your Environment: Okay, so we can’t always travel 6000+ miles from where our obligations and responsibilities surround us in order to “get away.” But shifting your location, surroundings or context can do wonders for throwing you just a bit off kilter so you are more aware, more alive, more thoughtful. When your surroundings are new, they tend to have a magical, sparkly glow. You’re simply paying more attention because things are unfamiliar. That shift in focus can result in amazing connections – like when I happened to meet the CMO of Pizza Hut for the UK at a café over breakfast. It can spark new dreams – like our desire to pick some other travel destinations for the year. And it can laser-focus you on what is important and what can simply fall away. Hint: A lot more can fall away than you keep telling yourself.

How can you change the scenery in your everyday life? Is it a staycation at a great boutique hotel or perhaps working out of a new coffee shop instead of your old office? Can you take a new route to work or repaint a room? Shift your surroundings so you can shift your focus.

  1. Appoint a Muse: Upon my return, I was lucky enough to have a call with one of my dear gal pals who is also a trusted colleague, inspiring entrepreneur, business-scheming partner-in-crime, idea generator and all-around cheerleader. I realized my joyful talks with her help me focus and keep me motivated on the bigger picture. She inspires me to dream big and find out what I want. Our calls are magical and I always hang up buzzing with energy, as if she’s weaved a little spell around me.

Who can you meet up with regularly to be your personal muse – and for whom you can do the same? Make sure you have these magical elves on speed dial and set up regular dates with them so you get out of your own head and your own ruts. Collaboration breeds all sort of creativity and wonder.

Bottom line: Don’t wait for the leprechaun. There are lots of way to create your own charms and spells to inject magic into your world. (Tweet this!)

Now it’s your turn: What are some ideas you can share about how to rejuvenate your business, spark our creativity or create magic in your world? I’d love to know so please leave a Comment below!

Image credit: Judith Doyle via Flickr

3 Crafty + Creative Ways to Set Goals

02.24.15 setting goals (blog)

Are you tired of goal setting? Confession time: I’m kind of over it.

This, from the woman who used to lay out her new year’s goals in nice neat bullets, organized by category: Fitness, Career Travel…I even had a category for Fun. The woman who makes lists and loves to be measured, assessed, graded. “You’ve never met a test you didn’t like,” says my husband.

Yes, I’m a recovering goal setter.

A few years back, after my major health crisis, I became gun-shy about goal-setting. I tried setting goals the old way but holding myself so accountable to a laundry list of big dreams overwhelmed me. During my fragile recovery, I tried to manage stress by removing as much friction from my life as possible – and that included all pressure to perform.

So what did this Type-A, former Honors student do to stay ambitious, motivated and organized? I started playing with new ways to set goals. And it has not only made me happier, it makes my life less stressful, more fun – and I actually achieve more while still keeping myself open to new opportunities.

If your goals are crushing you, it’s time to rethink how you set them (Tweet this!)

Here are 3 crafty and creative ways to help you enjoy setting goals in business and in life:

Pick a theme or two:

A few years ago, I decided to set New Year’s themes instead of New Year’s resolutions. In 2013, I chose Creativity and Abundance – and I achieved a lifelong dream of being accepted into an elite summer theatre program, plus I got pregnant. Creative and abundant indeed. This year, those themes are Enrichment and Savor. By enrichment, I hope to nurture great stuff that I already have rather than spending so much time inventing new things. And by savor, I mean presence, mindfulness and slowing down enough to appreciating the fleeting moments of my son’s babyhood and my current life, just as it is. Picking themes not only attracts the feelings you want into your life, it creates open space to discover that many different roads can lead to what you really want internally and externally, rather than merely following a checklist of things to do.

Experiment with choosing two themes that cover both the types of things you’d like to experience in your work or life, as well as the emotions and mindset that go with them.

Determine the feelings behind your goals:

This idea is courtesy of my friend Danielle LaPorte. She talks about goal setting not from the perspective of WHAT you want to do but HOW you want to feel. Danielle created the Desire Map program and teaches that, most of the time, you are not chasing a goal, but you are actually craving a feeling. So what if you flipped your intentions around and started with the how you want to feel and then map out what needs to be done to get you there? It’s an intriguing concept – and somewhat related to my point above about themes for the year.

Experiment with determining how you’d like to feel next quarter in your business or in the next six months of your life. Elated? Accomplished? Recognized? Naughty? Financially secure? Wise? Then you can map the activities that lead to achieving that emotion.

Outline broad-brush achievements:

This is a method I’m playing with this year (in addition to my Themes). Now brace yourself: this one goes against everything that this measurement-oriented woman and marketer has always believed. This year, I’m simply laying out large achievements, with no numbers or metrics attached to them. That’s right. I have no revenue projections or book sales goals. No website visit metrics. No target number of speaking engagements. Instead, my goals are broad brush starting from where I am now: Build up my platform and fan base, sell more books, focus on larger projects and less of them and make space to create my next book in 2016. This method is not for the faint of heart, but I have to tell you: I haven’t been this energized by goals in a long time. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how this worked out!

Experiment with letting go and determining some broad-brush achievements that will light your year on fire. You’ll be surprised how when you remove the pressure of numbers, you start to creatively brainstorm ways to make your goal a reality.

What do you think? Do any of these goal setting approaches resonate with you? Please DM me on Instagram – and let me know if you’ve got a unique spin of your own to share.

Image credit: Benno Hansen via Flickr