Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Can I ask a favor?

Signify holiday 2017 promoCan I ask you a favor?

Since it’s my first full year in business, I’m celebrating by giving away a Communications Strategy Session to one lucky nonprofit or social enterprise.

I love supporting small cause-focused organizations that are trying to do good things in the world. There are so many of them out there, working hard, and making a difference in their own little corner of the world. They are the kinds of businesses that I support personally, and through Signify, I’m also able to support them professionally.

However, many of them can’t afford to have someone like me on their staff full-time. That’s why I mostly work on projects for small organizations. They can afford some help now and then, and I’m happy to provide it.

But with everything on their plates, they often get behind in their marketing and communications. I totally get it, and it’s a common problem. As a solopreneur, I definitely feel their pain, but I have a different set of skills and expertise to lend.

That’s why I wanted to give a Communications Strategy Session away for the holidays. It will help them get on track, or back on track, with their marketing in 2018. It’s a resolution that I can easily help them keep.

So . . . the favor . . .

If you know of a nonprofit, social enterprise, or other for-profit organization doing good, would you mind sending them to the page that outlines this giveaway? I’d love them to throw their hat into the ring for the opportunity to win this prize, valued at over $500.

I really appreciate your help.

You can also learn more about Signify here, or read the interview I recently did for Ideamensch. Or if you prefer to hear me talk about my company, you can listen to this episode of Business RadioX, starting at 36:40.

Thank you, again!

 

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My 2017 Reading List

While there are many 2017-reading-listbenefits to working at home, the downside is that I don’t get to listen to near as many audiobooks as I used to. I really miss that, and my Wish List is piling up as we speak (or as I type).

However, I did manage to sneak a few in this year, and wanted to share them with you in case you’re looking for a good read.

And if you read something wonderful, please let me know about it!

2016 Reading List

2015 Reading List

2014 Reading List

2013 Reading List

2012 Reading List

2011 Reading List

By the way, if you haven’t yet discovered the magic of Audible, you can snag two, free audiobooks here. They’re yours to keep, even if you decide not to get a membership.

And if you don’t have much time to read, try Blinkist, where they summarize books into just 10 minutes of content.

I spend most of my car time listening to podcasts these days. Here are a few of my favorites. What would you add?

Happy learning!

 

PS: Some links are affiliate links, which means I get a small kick back for introducing awesome people to awesome things. I only promote what I love. 

 


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Black Friday / Cyber Monday Business Deal Roundup

Hey, everyone!mike-petrucci-131817

I just sent a roundup of my favorite Black Friday / Cyber Monday business deals to my business email list, but I thought the information might be relevant to some of you as well.

If you are a solopreneur, small business owner, or key employee, these sales might just be right up your alley. You’ll see offers for:

  • Easy-to-use legal documents
  • A conference
  • Online tools
  • Website domains
  • Printed materials
  • Financial stuff
  • Book skimming
  • Email marketing
  • Social media scheduling

Read the email here.

Happy shopping!

And don’t forget about Small Business Saturday, the new Shop for Good Sunday, and #GivingTuesday as well!


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Tribe Conference 2017 Notes & Quotes

TribeConfThis past weekend I attended my first Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tenn. Unofficially sponsored by various local donut companies, because they got mentioned from the stage so often, this gathering for writers is the brainchild of Jeff Goins. It was only my second writer’s conference, and even though I’m probably not quite the target audience for the group, which focuses mostly on book authors, I really enjoyed it. In fact, I’ve already signed up for next year!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a few months or longer, you’ve likely seen other conference notes on here. I attend a lot of conferences. I LOVE conferences. I’d attend one every month if I could. But the events I usually take part in for my business are often centered on social justice, leadership, entrepreneurship or other business topics. Of course, I write all the time for myself and my clients, but this was a bit of a different slant, which was great, because it meant my brain was working in a different way. So, it was lovely to be around other writers for a few days.

I believe that one of the hallmarks of a great conference is when you see the speakers hanging out with attendees and taking notes—and I definitely saw that at #TribeConf. A couple of the speakers even noted that they had previously purchased tickets to this year’s event not knowing they’d be on stage! Another great indicator. So, if you’re a writer, I’d encourage you to look into this annual gathering.

Below you’ll find all the things I scratched down in my notebook, and I hope you find them helpful.

Jeff Goins, founder of Tribe Conference

  • “Isn’t it interesting that we have to learn shame, but we are born knowing how to dance.”
  • “Real artists don’t have to starve.” (His latest book.)
  • “You may have to ‘behave’ as a writer, before you ‘believe’ you’re a writer.”
  • Conference rules: Be present. Be helpful. Be brave.
  • Most of our failures are invisible to others, but they consume us.
  • “Why does your definition of success not include struggle?” – Jeff’s therapist (for the times we get caught up in what’s going wrong)

Rachel Bagby

  • Check out her Dekaaz for how to reduce complex thoughts and concepts to 10 syllables.

Marsha Shandur, storyteller

  • Author of Off the Mic: The World’s Best Stand-Up Comedians Get Serious About Comedy
  • Marsha taught us how to not be awkward at conferences and in networking. 🙂
  • “Networking is just talking to people you like about things you’re both interested in.”
  • Your storytelling must be vulnerable. (How did you feel? Name the emotion. What was your internal monologue at the time?)

Pamela Slim, small business coach and author of Body of Work: Finding the Thread the Ties Your Story Together

  • Think about your beloved readers.
    • What problems do they face around your topic?
    • What do they aspire to?
    • “Do not define your audience by your demographics; define them by their problems.” – Susan Baier
    • Who do they admire?
    • Where do they go for answers?
    • What do they read?
    • Be the weirdo in the room.
    • What can I create that will solve their problems and light them up?

SESSION 1: HONING YOUR VOICE

Jonathan Fields, serial entrepreneur and growth strategest

  • The Good Life Project and Camp Good Life
  • Author of How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom
  • “WHAT you say will usually be similar to someone else. HOW you say it will be unique. It’s your voice that makes it different.”
  • “Better input means better output. What are you putting into your process?”
  • You cannot respond appropriately to a “bid” you can’t see. – Gottman Study (a bid is an attempt at getting someone’s attention)
  • “Exquisite attention” allows people to rise to the occasion. – Walk to Listen book
  • People respond not to text, but subtext.

Ishita Gupta, consultant and publisher of Fear.Less Magazine

  • How to Turn Your Mess Into Your Message
    • To find your voice, you have to use your voice.
    • To find your voice, amplify your quirks.
    • Keeping your mess from the world may be slowing your work/art.
    • Her coach tells her, “New level. New devil.” Every success comes with a new challenge.
    • Confidence isn’t a personality trait. It’s a learned skill.
    • Do the scary thing.
    • Use your life and story. Start with solving your own problems and struggles. Others will identify.

Chris Marlow, Help One Now

SESSION 2: ESTABLISHING YOUR PLATFORM

Tsh Oxenreider, The Art of Simple

  • Author of At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe
    •  Traveling
      • Gives you empathy.
      • Gets you out of a rut.
      • Slows you down. (Provides forced essentialism.)
      • Gives you more perspective.
      • Is good for you as a person. Your audience wants your authenticity.
  • Listen to your frustration. “What am I doing right now because I’m supposed to?”
  • Listen to your life.
  • Dream and scheme.
  • Take the leap and make a plan.
  • Do one thing that breaks the rules.

Sean McCabe, Building an Audience

  • Author of Overlap: Start a Business While Working a Full-Time Job
  • He developed a writing habit of writing 1,000 words per day. Now he writes over 1 million per year. He wrote a 75,000-word book in 15 days!
  • He wrote and created hand-lettering for two years before anyone really noticed.
  • “What if you created as much as you consume?”
    • “I’m tired of reading about the achievements of others.” – Game of Thrones character
  • You have to show up and keep practicing.
    • Get the imperfect words out.
    • You can’t edit what you haven’t written.
    • Your best work is ahead.
      • Studied famous composers. Almost all of them didn’t have their most popular pieces until 10 years into their career. A few had them at years eight or nine, but only a couple, and none prior.
  • Keys to Building an Audience:
    • Curation (kind) – Selectively project a focused thing. Simplify.
    • Consistency (frequency)
    • Quality (value) – Make something remarkable.
    • Time (patience)
  • AudienceBuildingCourse.com
  • Show up everyday. Publish at least weekly. (Daily to stay top of mind.)
  • Doing your normal work is not how to get better. You have to identify your weak spots to improve them. Deliberate practice makes you better.
  • Motivation is a result of doing.

Leslie Newman, Journey to Imperfect

  • “Courage sets things in motion. Determination keeps them going.”

Crystal Paine, Money Saving Mom

  • Author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life
  • 3 Countercultural Lessons to Building Your Business Without Killing Your Soul
    • Ditch the Hustle
      • Why do we live as if we are a slave to our Inbox? We’re self-employed!
      • Rest is the new hustle.
    • Determine your boundaries.
      • Create a framework for decision-making.
        • Is this commitment in line with my goals for this year?
        • Am I excited about it?
        • Do I have the time, capacity, and energy for it?
        • Are my “people” on board? (ex: family)
    • Dare to focus and finish.
      • One project at a time. (She commits to one thing to learn and one task to complete each week.)

Benjamin Hardy, the #1 Writer on Medium.com

  • Author of How to Consciously Design Your Ideal Future
  • Medium.com tips:
    • Headlines are important.
    • Be bold in your message.
    • Good, easy to read layouts (ex: short paragraphs and using headings)
    • Real, raw emotions work well.
    • Make sure there is a Call to Action in the post. (Must be easy.)
      • Sending to landing page is ok.

Shaunta Grimes, author and teacher at WhatIsAPlot.com

  • Author of Viral Nation series
  • “A story well told can change the world.”
  • “Your books may be your babies, but be prepared to move on to the next one. Your first one may not be successful, and sometimes it takes an entire body of work to get noticed.”

Leo Babauta, ZenHabits.net

  • Author of Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly
  • The Habits That Built My Blog
    • Solitude
      • Your best work is done in solitude. (including without the internet)
      • Write daily.
    • Connection
      • Get to know your readers.
      • Focus on their problems.
      • Help as much as you can.
      • Put them at the heart of every decision.
      • Put yourself into their shoes.
      • Connect with fellow bloggers.
    • Joy
      • Change lives.
      • Motivate people.
      • Make a connection.
      • Help them move past their fears.
    • Fear
      • Overcome procrastination.
      • Be okay with uncertainty.
      • Find the joy.
      • Relish the groundlessness.
  • How I Build the Habits
    • Have a why and a passion
    • Audience = accountability, connection, and community
    • Start small and lower the barriers to the habit.
    • Set up a positive environment.
    • Deal with the uncertainty.

SESSION 3: EXPANDING YOUR REACH

Dan Miller

  • 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal
  • “We become what we think about.”
  • Invest 3% of your income into your success. – Brian Tracy.
    • At $50K, bump it up to 5%.
  • Don’t wait until things are perfect to put your work out there. Try things, get feedback, and edit.
  • Check out The Lean Startup
  • When you’re trying new things, find someone to coach you.

Frank McKinley, author and tribe builder

Jackie Bledsoe, author focused on marriage

SESSION 4: GOING PRO

Ryan Holiday, Meditations on Strategy and Life

  • Author of Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts
  • If you want to keep your happy employees, pay the unhappy ones to leave.
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing book – get it
  • How to Last
    • Do the work.
      • If you can rush through it, it’s probably not made to last.
    • Uniqueness
      • Where does your work fit into the market?
      • Where is the least competition? Where can you have the monopoly?
      • What’s the book that only you can write?
    • Timelessness
      • “Focus on the things that don’t change.” – Jeff Bezos
      • Fine the timelessness in the timely.
    • Effectiveness
      • This is the _______ that does ________ for __________.
      • “It’s not what a book is, but what it does.” – Niki Papadopolos
    • Community
      • Who is this for? You have to get your audience right.
    • Time
      • This isn’t an overnight success.
      • Put more time into marketing than creating it. But spend plenty of time creating something great.
      • It’s easier to keep something going than to start and stop.
      • It keeps you humble to keep working.
      • Always taking on hard projects keeps your ego in check.

Natalie Brenner, author of This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the Gifts of Grief and the Fullness of Life

  • She decided to self-publish. (Used Create Space)
  • $3,000 can create a quality self-published book according to Guy Kawaski. This is Natalie’s breakdown:
    • $1,600 for editor
    • $400 for interior layout
    • $300 for cover and social media images
    • What’s left bought the ISBN number and things like that.
  • She recommends Amazon Advantage for pre-orders.

Jon Acuff, author and speaker

  • He recommends Grant Snider’s The Shape of Ideas
  • Has a new book called Finish.
  • 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail, according to a Scranton University study.
  • Your remember incomplete goals more than complete goals. – The Zeigarnik Effect
  • 1. Get the size right.
    • We often believe we can get more done in less time than we actually can.
    • Cut the goal in half to make it 63% more successful.
  • 2. Make it fun if you want it done.
    • We think it needs to be a bad experience to benefit us. (ex: running for exercise when we hate it)
    • We typically measure satisfaction and performance, but we should make fun a metric.
    • Two main types of motivation: Reward and fear.
      • If you want a new idea, finish an old one. (ex: He had the money for new ski boots, but wouldn’t let himself buy them until this book was done.)
  • Eliminate your secret rules.
    • We have secret, unspoken, maybe unconscious things that hold us back.
    • Borrow someone else’s diploma. Learn from others and don’t reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to.
    • Don’t snub a formula. See what works.
    • You’ll never finish if you don’t know the rules.
  • The future belongs to finishers.

 

*Amazon links are affiliate links.

 


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7 Lessons From the First Year of Business

7 Lessons From the First Year of BusinessI still have a hard time believing it, but I launched my business, Signify, on July 1st of last year! Some days it really does seem like yesterday, and others feel more like a seasoned pro. Regardless, it’s been an intense learning experience.

I created Signify out of a desire to help my friends. I knew people with small nonprofits and purpose-driven for-profits and social enterprises that needed someone like me who could lend another set of hands and breakdown marketing and communications for them. They cared deeply about their mission, since it was the driving force of their organization, but marketing and communications weren’t their strong suite. They knew they needed to look and sound more professional in order to get noticed and grow, but they didn’t have time, or maybe even the know-how.

So, I stepped in. I’d already been freelancing, giving them advice, volunteering, and helping them as best I could along the way, but with this as my full-time business, I was going to be able to help them even more.

Many of these relationships became my first clients, and they’ve even stuck around for multiple projects, or referred their friends to me. It’s been a wonderful way to sustain and grow my business. Whether they need writing, consulting, or strategy help—and most often a combination of all three—these organizations have been a privilege to serve. I wanted to assist cause-focused organizations who were doing great things in the world. They were already making a difference, and I knew I could help them create a bigger impact.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m eager to start year two.

But first, here are seven lessons I learned from these first twelve months.