Every Day is New Year’s Day

New YearNot to be a party pooper, but I’m SO not a fan of New Year’s Eve. There. I said it. And, here’s a little secret: There are a LOT of people who don’t like New Year’s Eve. But, they live in the shadows because they’re afraid to admit their dislike of the holiday out of fear of not getting invited to parties they really don’t want to go to in the first place. So, if you’re reading this and thinking to yourself “OMG! That’s ME!!”–this post is dedicated to you, my friend.

New Year’s Eve is such a loaded holiday. There’s the pressure to party like it’s 1999–or whatever. And there’s also the pressure to act like you’re really enjoying partying like it’s 1999 when you’d really rather be curled up on the sofa in your comfy clothes binge watching something on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon. (For me, it’s Narcos on Netflix. FABULOUS!) But, most of all, there’s a ridiculous amount of pressure about making the upcoming year BETTER THAN EVERY FREAKIN’ YEAR THERE’S EVER BEEN. If that doesn’t bring you to your knees and cause just a tad bit of hyperventilation, then give me a call and tell me your secret.

Let me be clear: I’m a HUGE believer in setting goals and finding ways to achieve them. Yes, I have a vision board. And, yes, I’ve consumed ridiculous amounts of information about goal setting. But, what I don’t like is the idea that there’s a set day and time (namely New Year’s Day) that I’m expected to have to have my handy dandy list of New Year’s resolutions ready for primetime. Seriously????  But what if I’m not ready??? What if, during all of that partying like 1999, I failed to make my list? Or what if I forgot something? And how in the hell am I supposed to achieve all 42 of my resolutions–including running a marathon in under 2 hours, traveling to at least 10 new places all over the world, writing a best-selling novel, climbing Mt. Everest and bringing peace to the world–during the next 365 days? (Well, I do get one extra day since 2016 is a leap year–so 366 days.)

A New Year’s REVOLUTION

Truth be told, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I have in the past and have found them pretty useless. They end up just being a list of stuff. Not thought out. Not prioritized. Not things that I really and truly care enough about to want to work at consistently. And, based on the significant drop off in gym attendance after January, I’m guessing I’m not the only one with that problem. So, what’s the answer? Well, here’s mine:

Every day is New Year’s Day. You can set goals and map out how to achieve them ANY DAY YOU WANT TO DO IT.

Each day we wake up is a fresh start and an opportunity to take a lives in a direction that best suits us. Maybe January 1 is that day for you. Or maybe it’s April 21 or September 4. The day itself doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you set goals that will help you build the life you want for yourself and start working toward achieving them. There are a lot of gurus out there who are probably filling up your Inbox with emails about how to approach goal setting–particularly during this last week of the year. And I’m sure they have great solutions to offer. As for the advice I would offer, it’s pretty simple:

Set goals that:

1. Make you excited to get up every morning–not just the first few weeks of January.

2. Push you, but don’t overwhelm you.

3. Create the small and important steps that lead you to exactly the place in your life you want to be.

4. Manifest themselves in happiness, confidence, fulfillment and self-worth.

Then, rinse and repeat.

So, what are my goals (not resolutions) for 2016? To be honest, I’m still working on them. What I can tell you is that I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon in under two hours or in any length of time. And I also don’t have any plans to be climbing Mt. Everest. Now, writing a best-selling novel? Well, that certainly holds some interest for me. As does growing The Page-Turner Mission community and finding new ways to provide value to all of you. That sounds just right.

I’d love to hear what your goals are. So, if you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments!

 

Some Other AWESOME Stuff

ARE YOU A LICENSED OR CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL (LAWYER, THERAPIST, PHYSICIAN, COACH, ETC.) WHO WANTS TO COMMUNICATE IN A WAY THAT WILL BRING IN MORE CLIENTS? I totally get it. As a licensed attorney, I know the unique challenges you face when it comes to marketing. And I can help. The first step? A no-obligation free 30-minute consultation. Email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to schedule a session.

HEY, WRITERS! INTERESTED IN ONE-ON-ONE COACHING THAT WILL GET YOU MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION WITH YOUR WRITING FAST? Let’s chat! I develop customized programs for each of my students. So email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to set up a free 30-minute consultation. (No strings. PROMISE!!)

 

Did you like this? Did you REALLY like it? Then please shout it from the top of your social media rooftops! (In other words, do a little SHARING!)

A Funny Thing Happened (in my head) on the Way to a (non-existent) Speaking Gig

Public Speaker A businesswoman giving a speech to a crowd of people. The businesswoman & podium, crowd, and background are on separately labeled layers.

As I was checking my email on the way into a meeting last week, I saw a message from a former colleague of mine. It started by explaining how she had been in a brainstorming session at the (MEGA) large company where she works and they were trying to identify potential speakers for an upcoming event. So, she was reaching out to me. That’s as far as I got before the meeting started.

In my head during almost the entire meeting, this is what I heard:

OMG! OMG! I’ve finally made it BIG!! They want me to come speak about something really cool–like branding and storytelling and–well–something cool!! This is AWESOME!! I’m AWESOME!! I need to update my bio, put together a list of topics they can choose from and GET A NEW OUTFIT!!! Yay!!!!!! This is so AWESOME!!!

Okay–besides the fact that I use the word “awesome” far too much in my daily conversations–I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong all of that stuff going on in my head was. Bottom line: I wasn’t being asked to speak. Once I got out of my meeting and had a chance to read the entire email, I saw that what I was actually being asked to do was to provide some names of potential speakers who I thought would be a good fit. (Cue the screeching brakes sound effect.)

Yep. No glory. No recognition of awesomeness–real or otherwise. No new outfit. BUT–it was an opportunity to reconnect with a former colleague and provide value where it was needed.

So, What’s The Lesson Here?

Well, besides the need to read ALL of an email before jumping to conclusions, this experience also serves as a reminder of this critical lesson:

NEVER ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT!

Yes–I know the person contacting me wasn’t a customer. BUT–she was someone who was looking to me to provide a specific thing of value: my opinion and suggestions. And by delivering on that, it provided an opportunity to build a more authentic and meaningful relationship. And that’s exactly what we need to do when it comes to our customers.

When we assume we know what our customers want, we’re typically wrong. And you know what the result is? Lost sales, lost opportunity, lost interest, lost trust. We’re not mind readers–and we should NEVER fool ourselves into thinking we are.

Do you want customers who love you and what you do? Who will tell all of their family, friends and colleagues how AWESOME you are? (See–there’s that word again.) Who will look to you for solutions to the challenges they face? Then, here’s how you do it:

LISTEN TO THEM, HEAR WHAT THEY’RE STRUGGLING WITH AND DELIVER THE SOLUTION.

How do you do this? Here are a few ways:

  1. Monitor them on social media. What are they talking about on Twitter, in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn?
  1. Conduct a survey. You can send it out to your email list or post in on a social media platform. It’s easy to do with services like SurveyMonkey.
  1. Read reviews on platforms like Amazon. The negative ones can actually be really helpful because they’ll often include information about what a customer needs–but isn’t getting–from a competitor.
  1. Talk to them! Identify people in your target audience who would be willing to talk to you for 15 or 20 minutes on the phone or who will meet you for a quick cup of coffee. This can lead to a goldmine of information and insight.

Now, about that new outfit.

So, I don’t have a speaking gig to use an excuse to get a new outfit. But, why should that stop me. Right? I’m thinking that it might be just the thing I need to put all of the little, tiny pieces of my shattered  pride back together again. Good thing no one knows that I actually thought I was going to be a rock star keynote speaker. Whew!

 

Some Other AWESOME Stuff

ARE YOU A LICENSED OR CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL (LAWYER, THERAPIST, PHYSICIAN, COACH, ETC.) WHO WANTS TO COMMUNICATE IN A WAY THAT WILL BRING IN MORE CLIENTS? I totally get it. As a licensed attorney, I know the unique challenges you face when it comes to marketing. And I can help. The first step? A no-obligation free 30-minute consultation. Email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to schedule a session.

HEY, WRITERS! INTERESTED IN ONE-ON-ONE COACHING THAT WILL GET YOU MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION WITH YOUR WRITING FAST? Let’s chat! I develop customized programs for each of my students. So email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to set up a free 30-minute consultation. (No strings. PROMISE!!)

 

Did you like this? Did you REALLY like it? Then please shout it from the top of your social media rooftops! (In other words, do a little SHARING!)

 

Hey, Writers! You Have Superpowers!

Superhero Writers
I spent most of summer 2015 watching the ENTIRE Marvel cinematic universe with my 13-year-old son. What does that look like? As of right now, that consists of 12 feature-length movies and 4 television/Netflix series (with multiple seasons). If I was good at math, I could tell you exactly how many hours, minutes and seconds that equates to. But I’m not. So I won’t. And I think I might actually cry if I knew.  (Yep. I’ve cleared a place on the mantle for that Mother of the Year Award. I freakin’ EARNED it!) 

To be perfectly honest, I actually liked the movies and television shows. Some more than others. But none of them had me looking at the clock to see how much longer I had to sit there in front of the TV or in the theater.

What dawned on me as I watched movie after movie and television show after Netflix episode is that, when we writers use our storytelling abilities, we actually have WAY cool superpowers. And that makes us at LEAST as awesome as Iron Man and Thor and Captain America.

 

Pretty Super Superpowers

As writers, we totally get how to write a good narrative. We know how to tap into emotions. And, most important, we understand what makes people tick. I’d go so far as to say that we know how to do these things better than anyone else in the world. So, when we put these gifts to work for our own brands and/or for the brands we serve, we have the power to:

Change Hearts and Minds

People make buying decisions based on emotions—not on facts. That’s not saying that facts aren’t important. They are. And they should be included in what we communicate. But how we feel about a product or service or the person doing the selling is typically the tipping factor. So, when we create communications for a brand, we absolutely have to remember that–and we have to be sure to include a strong emotional appeal that surrounds the hard data.

Let’s think about our own buying habits. For instance, let’s say we’re looking at two courses about how to make a marriage healthier—both of which offer basically the same information. The features–when looked at side by side in a spreadsheet–are almost identical. But the product story that authentically acknowledges the difficulties that all couples experience, that clearly shows us what’s possible for our own marriage, and demonstrates how this specific course is the solution that will work for us is the one that will drive our choice—even if that choice is more expensive.

 

Make Trust Magically Appear

Know. Like. Trust. Those things have to be in place before someone will buy from you. Particularly if you’re thinking about offering anything online. The hardest of these three things to come by? Trust. That’s where storytelling comes in.

The right story told at the right time can increase the trust current and potential customers have in you and what you offer. Stories about real customers. Stories about a brand doing something really nice for a customer–without any expectation of recognition or reward. Stories that provide value and help customer better understand their own world. Brand storytelling–when done well–helps consumers build trust in your brand, your product and YOU. And that’s what leads to better (and quicker) sales–as well as longer and richer customer relationships.

 

Transport People to Other Places

Have you ever noticed how quickly time goes by when you’re watching a great movie or reading a great book? Hours feel like minutes. Because, in our minds, we are dancing with kings, slaying dragons, saving the world, or going on grand adventures with characters we really, really like. Words and images work like a time machine, transporting us to other places. Brand communications can do that, too. Just take a look at this beautiful love story from Extra Gum.

What happens when we see brand stories that resonate? We want to become part of those stories. We want to find true love. We want to be in on the joke. We want to be that kind of dad or that kind of mom. And, to achieve that, we buy what the brand is offering.

 

Move People to Action

In their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck, Chip and Dan Heath talk about the power of stories to make people act. As the Heath brothers put it, they “act as a kind of mental flight simulator, preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.” That might mean purchasing a good or service, contributing to a cause, voting for a candidate, changing how something is done at work. You name it. But the important takeaway is that we are wired for stories. We remember stories when they resonate with us–and we act on them.

 

So what happens when we apply our storytelling superpowers to communications we create for companies, organizations, causes or even ourselves? We provide value to customers. We build brands with meaning. And we make a difference. Not bad for a day’s work. Now–get to work superhero!

COMING UP NEXT: Connection Communication. What is it? Why does it matter? (DON’T MISS this if you have a product or service to sell!)

If you enjoyed this post, join The Page-Turner Mission community at www.smarterwritinglab.com where you’ll find all kinds of cool stuff about how to make a great living with your writing skills!

ARE YOU A LICENSED OR CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL (LAWYER, THERAPIST, PHYSICIAN, COACH, ETC.) WHO WANTS TO COMMUNICATE IN A WAY THAT WILL BRING IN MORE CLIENTS? I totally get it. As a licensed attorney, I know the unique challenges you face when it comes to marketing. And I can help. The first step? A no-obligation free 30-minute consultation. Email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to schedule a session.

HEY, WRITERS! INTERESTED IN ONE-ON-ONE COACHING THAT WILL GET YOU MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION WITH YOUR WRITING FAST? Let’s chat! I develop customized programs for each of my students. So email me at michele@smarterwritinglab.com to set up a free 30-minute consultation. (No strings. PROMISE!!)