"Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life." [Proverbs 4:23]
What was that thought today that held you back, made you mad, wrenched your stomach, served the cold soup?
How long did you let it influence you? A few moments, 30 mins, an hour? Are you still simmering? Were you even aware until now that it was simply a thought?
As human beings we revere the power of our consciousness. It’s what separates us from the animal world. What make us think we are superior and special. Yet, on closer examination - most of you would agree, we spend a great deal of our time in unconscious thought and belief.
Some of those beliefs have been formed over many, many years and have become so commonplace in our mind, that we believe it to speak the truth:
"I’m not good enough…"
“I’m not smart enough…”
“I’m too much…”
“It will never work…”
“Why should they care…?”
Get the idea?
Every single one of us has a least one inner voice, some have dozens - and you are not alone.
The key is to notice that it simply is just an inner thought. Stop it right there in its tracks. Choose whether you want to believe it or not. And then, act.
I speak to people all the time who want to make a positive change in their lives, and I guarantee you 98% of the time - that inner voice is both the truth and lie. The answer is to know when to listen and when to say “Go…take a hike!”.
TRY IT OUT
Here’s an activity for you. Over the weekend try to notice when that inner voice is speaking. How many times a day can you catch it talking? What does it say?
The more you become conscious of your thoughts, the more you’ll be in choice about what you believe, and therefore you’ll be in choice about how you act.
One of the most wonderful things you can do for a person is to truly see them. We are rarely witnessed, and even when we are - we are rarely acknowledged.
It’s easy to miss the human being as we go about our busy lives at work, at the supermarket and even sometimes even same house we live in. My belief and experience shows me - we are yearning to be truly seen. That means another has noticed the uniqueness we bring to this life, they are grateful for what that means, and they are wanting more.
Here are three powerful statements which were shared with me recently as part of the CTI trainings:
"What I am longing for you is… "
"What’s next for you is… "
"My vision for you is… "
Try speaking these statement to someone you noticed, and watch their reaction of being seen by you. Keep your words short, it will land deeper. Also try answering the questions for yourself, at times we forget to see ourselves too.
For those who like a challenge: try those statements out with people you’ve only just met. You’ll be surprised by how much you already know, and how much you want for that person.
This has been a second year of awakening for me. It was in the spring of 2012 that somehow things seemed adrift. I was out of sorts and there was a longing, but I didn’t know what for. I decided to leave my big important job, and figure it all out. And I tried, and I failed. And I learned a bunch.
Then, in the summer of this year, I had a very visceral experience. A head injury after falling from my horse bolting at a rattle snake. It was a wake up call. An epiphany. A resuscitation jolt.
I knew in an instant. All that time spent laboring over what I wanted, and what I could bring to this life - was suddenly clear. I’m a coach. I’ve been doing it my whole life. Coaching school friends, college buddies, the hockey team, work colleagues, my own teams, mentoring start-up founders, recent graduates, neighbors, fellow equestrians, people on planes. It was staring me down the whole time. I was completely blind to my natural talent, and disposition to help people find their passion and live their purpose.
Now, I’m delighted to state - I’m doing this full time. It’s a joy. It’s a drug. It’s like coming home.
And I’m so very thankful.
I was struck by so many of her and Michael Krasny’s analogies to the act of writing: the courage required, of beginning, of creating, of laying oneself bare, of persisting — and how beautifully it appears that writing is like any project or desire you wish to accomplish, or even of life itself.
Shapiro spoke of starting a new book, like “diving into a swimming pool and not knowing if there’s any water” and then once beginning there’s a comfort of returning, and persisting and working each day - a looking forward to the journey, that there is a job to be done.
My favourite metaphor from the show spoken by Michael Krasney was by E. L Doctorow:
“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
I adore this quote, and personally want to surplant “Life” for ‘writing’ in the sentence. It’s true. We don’t get to look very far into the future, life wants us to live squarely in today!
Take full pleasure dancing in the moment with full knowledge that you can make it all the way home.
One exquisite moment every day. Everyone should have one.
I used to keep a diary of the three things I was most grateful for that day. It was a ritual I practised. Taking time to reflect, be thankful and celebrate. My ‘things’ ranged from important life events, such as my Dad getting the all clear on his aneurism for another 6 months, to watching a humming-bird feeding on our bird of paradise in the morning, to making supper with Pascal.
Practising giving thanks makes one happier, healthier, observant and self-aware. I did this for more than four years, taking small breaks when I ran out of time, and life just got hectic.
Recently, I tried something new — making sure there was at least one exquisite moment in my day. This is working for me in two key ways:
(i) Firstly, the word ‘exquisite’ itself defines the type of moment. The dictionary defines exquisite as “extremely beautiful and, typically, delicate”.
(ii) Secondly, this practise is active - not passive. If no exquisite moment has occurred in your day by 6pm, you still have a chance to create one!
It’s interesting to observe that most of my exquisite moments include Pascal, my animals, and nature. It tells me what fills my heart and what makes me happy.
Why not try it for yourself for one week, and see what comes up for you? Remember, you only get so many trips around the sun. Make each day count!
I’m collecting the most wonderful moments in my life. And for that I am thankful!
Today, I’m starting a new exciting role. I’m thrilled to be joining Gooru Learning as their VP of Community and Engagement.
The last few months have been an amazing voyage of discovery and experimentation for me. After leaving Mozilla last year, I deliberately took time to decompress, really listen to my passions, and think about where I can next make the most difference in the world.
With the support of many friends (old and new) and the great people at Astia where I became an Entrepreneur in Residence, it became clear I had to find a new role where these components came together:
User as central to design and purpose
(Some of my dear Mozillians will recognize a bunch of those important values!)
If I could just find a new home with those attributes, I knew I’d be creating the most value and impact — and be the most happy. However, for several months it felt very much like finding a needle in a haystack. Turns out there simply aren’t that many organizations who think and act this way. Then, the fabulous Sharon Vosmek introduced me to Prasad Ram - founder of Gooru Learning. And in less than one hour of meeting with Pram, I knew this was it.
Gooru is a non-profit organization honoring the human right to education. Through technology they are providing access to the very best educational content. They are leading the charge with a new open way for educational content to be found, collated and shared.
I’m absolutely honored and over-joyed to be joining this amazing team. Over the coming months I’ll be writing more about my role, and the intersection of community and education. But for now, it’s time for me to get started!
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey. Please know I’m truly grateful and really excited for the future!
My guess is – not really. I’m not going to tell you what marketing mix is right for you, but there are a few basic lessons that apply when it comes to marketing any start-up.
Embrace good is good enough
Somehow when a product is ready to market, folks freeze, and won’t ship until the ‘marketing’ is perfect. And, this will be the certain death of you. Believe me, you can and will eventually change everything: your app or website design, the messaging, even your name, but you won’t have a chance unless you get yourself out there.
Now, whatever you launch still needs to be good. I said good, not perfect. Don’t have a designer at hand? Check out sites such as 99 Designs, or Squarespace. And when it comes to your name and messaging, why not ask 20 people in your network, or even in the queue at Starbucks? You will always be evolving your marketing (it’s a living thing); but in the beginning you can get very far asking for advice from a small pool. The important thing is to get the ball rolling.
Don’t boil the ocean
Who is your customer? It can’t be everyone. You must choose. By focusing on a core audience you can focus your resource and energy. Ideally, it will be a group who are super-connectors and influencers who will love what you do – and then tell others.
Presumably when you started to build your product this was the audience you had in mind, the one whose problem you were solving. It’s tempting to want to market to (and build features for) several different audiences and widen your prospect pool, but doing that will actually dilute your appeal.
Start with a clear customer segment, and set out to own it. Then you can look to grow the pie.
Choose wisely and be fast
Whilst you are small, you can be: incredibly agile, react to the market and capitalize on trends. This is your advantage as a startup. But, you only have so much time – so you need to choose wisely. Resist the urge to do everything.
Social media is an area which I love to point out to start-ups. Why have a presence on five different social sites? Are you managing all of them (well)? Is that where your core audience are engaging (see point 2)? This is the trap of believing you need to do everything.
You can play where bigger brands cannot, and you can capitalize if you are fast. But you can only do that if you haven’t spread yourself too thin. Do a few key things really well.
Experiment, Test, Learn
Your product / service is new, and you don’t yet know what’s going to really work in terms of marketing. So you must try often. Test often. Learn, and then try again.
Growth hacking has become all the rage, and it’s easy to see why. Take your website for example, you can do a lot to optimize sign ups or your checkout process. That action might yield greater conversions than any social media / ad campaign.
Every company is different, and this is your journey, so you must be open to experiment with new ways of reaching and engaging your users. You have to find the best path for you, and that will take time and creativity. If there’s no room for experimentation, there will be no innovation.
You must follow the golden rule though: Don’t do it, if you can’t measure it. Your time and resources are limited, so don’t waste them.
As you’ve probably guessed marketing your start-up, sounds a lot like lean development. No surprises there. So don’t only apply it to building your product, start applying it to marketing today!
This post was featured on the Heretic (April 11, 2013)
These days it’s so taboo to talk about things we’ve bought: a new house, new car, clothes et al (yes, with the exception of gadgets my beloved geeky friends). It seems all the conversations I have with people these days are about experiences: things that happended to them, things they know, things they care about. Or experiences they want to have: places they want to travel to, things they want to see, read, take in, have happen.
Haven’t you noticed this?
So marketers when you market your products and services, please bear this in mind. Someone will talk about you when you made their life better, when it created a delightful experience, when they had fun! It won’t only be because they bought something new.
As a marketing person, I get asked a lot "So what ‘type’ of Marketing person are you? You know there are so many different kinds: brand people, growth hackers, the social media ones and creative ones…". (Sigh). Are there really? Are we all not truly in the business of customers?
Regardless of what ‘type' of marketing person you are though, there is one thing I can guarantee you are not doing enough.
> Are you testing your email subject header?
> What about the shade of blue on your buy button?
> How many people know what your brand promise is?
> Which campaign slogan works better?
If you are not a data junkie marketer (most aren’t), there can be a tendency to shy away from testing. A lot of marketers I know like to use there gut as an indication. Sometimes they are right, and mostly they have no idea how much success they had, and how much more there could have been.
Testing does not need to be complex and take weeks to find conclusions; it also does not have to cost the earth.
Ask yourself - what was the last thing I tested before implementing? How long ago was that? What am I afriad of?
You owe it to yourself and your organization to get better at testing. You might not always like the results, but it will always increase the quality of your work.
If there was ever a proof point that the age of participation is here – look no further than the Harlem Shake phenomena. Apart from the fact I think I’m getting too old for the Internet (!), it’s amazing to see how a bunch of folks dancing weirdly has become a global craze. Everyone from a college team on a Frontier Airline flight, the English National Ballet, to the Simpsons and every office, and swim team in the land have joined in. If you don’t yet know what the Harlem Shake is – go here (and if you don’t know - with respect, where have you been?)
Shake vs. PSY?
When I first saw the Harlem Shake, I thought my god – we’re heading back to the seventies and eighties when group dancing was cool. First it was Gangham Style and now this! Please no!
Then the Internet memes came pouring in, and I mean pouring – with torrent like force and speed. Unlike the Gangham Style copycats (my fav from Nasa Johnson) that took weeks to make up new lyrics, learn the pesky dance steps, curate and film - anyone can do the Harlem Shake. All you need is a smart phone, and a bunch of folks (i.e. more than two) willing to freakishly throw their arms around their heads. Alas, they are in plentiful supply.
The average Gangham Style meme must have took upward from two weeks to make, the Harlem Shake; less than an hour. Maximum.
I’m not making a judgment on whether one is better than the other; only that Gangham Style was about audiences (1.3 Billion YouTube views) versus Harlem Shake being about participation. YouTube claimed more than 4,000 Harlem Shake videos were being uploaded per day as of Feb 12 2013.
So what lessons shake out here for Marketers?
-> Lower the barrier to participation
If you make something complicated, only a few people will understand and be able to take part. When you make something simple, the whole world can join in.
-> Video is here – BIG time and it’s personal
Today almost everyone walks around with a video camera in their pocket, you see eyewitness videos on the news daily. And with the advent of Vine and other apps, video is now becoming part of personal communication. It’s time to start experimenting with what video means for your strategy.
-> Be Authentic
As crazy as the Harlem Shake memes are, they are authentic. Made fast, with little curation, the raw quality is visceral and refreshing. There are no scripts or stage. Communicating authentically is being seen, showing you are real. Make real connections.
-> Move Fast
Not only are the Harlem Shake memes easy and quick to make, and short to watch – they are a sign of how lightening fast ideas can now spread. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The infamous Oreo Cookie’s spontaneous ad regarding the Superbowl blackout made them the darling of marketers at a fraction of the cost. But, you have to act and be prepared to react rapidly. Risk being swept aside by the rising tide, or ride the ripcurl.
Yes, the pace is insanely fast, and there are new tactics to learn and embrace — and at the same time, we get ever closer to an environment where we can build authentic, real time, personal engagement. Let the Harlem Shake rattle your cage, whether you like it or not, it’s the poster child of more to come.
Made with ♥ in Saratoga, CA.