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Episode 110: Coaching in Corporate with Christine Boucher

Today I interview Corporate Health Coach Christine Boucher on how to launch your corporate health coaching business.

Christine Boucher is super passionate about transforming the health and workplace culture of organizations, big and small, and helps coaches to bring their coaching businesses into the corporate sector.

Melanie: Christine, I’m so happy to have you here. And I’m just looking at all of your qualifications, and I can see how much work you’ve done. How did you find the time to do all of those things?

Christine: Hi Melanie! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here. I think looking back I have done have done a bit now – accumulating a few certificates under the belt, but I think I’m just driven by my passion. My passion for education, my passion and value for health, and I figure out ways to really be proficient and efficient with my time, I could sit there and watch TV, or I could, you know, read a book and learn something new. And I choose to do the latter.

Melanie: I bet love of learning is one of your signature strengths.

Christine: Absolutely. Yeah. My top three values, health, education, and adventure. And to me adventure is something like putting myself outside my comfort zone, whether that’s standing on a stage in front of a large audience or climbing a mountain, I like to put myself outside my comfort zone.

 

Melanie: Awesome. That sounds amazing. And just for the people listening, I want to read out your qualification. So everyone has a bit of a understanding of the breadth of what you’ve done. And I guess that kind of leads into what we’re talking about today is you helping coaches coaches bring their businesses into corporate, I mean, the depth of your experience, you’ve got a Bachelor of Nursing and you obviously worked as a nurse for many years, there’s a diploma of intensive care nursing, a diploma of Bowen therapy, level three health and wellness coaching. You’ve got an MBA, a Gippsland Community Leadership Program, and President of Empower Her East gippsland. East gippsland. That’s right. You have a lot going on.

Christine: Yes, yes. I’m juggling a few balls, plus, on the personal side, a single mom of two little redheads and they sit like me on my toes. How do How are your kids 12 and 13. So one in primary school, one in high school, so that you know as everyone else, it’s been challenging here, Victoria homeschooling pretty much the last six months. So I’m so happy that they’ve just returned back to school. For a few weeks before we break up for Christmas.

Melanie: You get back some business time and some me time during the day.

Christine: Yeah, that’s right. 

Melanie: Well, thanks so much for being here today, Chris. And I’m really excited to talk to you about the topic of expanding your health and wellness business into the corporate sector because I know so many people want to do this. And they just say: Where do I even start with that? What do I do first? So what do you think of some of the challenges that people face coaches face when they’re getting ready to get their businesses into corporate?

Christine: Well, if I take myself back to five years ago, when I first moved into corporate so I started as other health coaches do with that one on one model and trying to find clients and I was really struggling with finding new clients, I was struggling with sustaining the clients, I was I was struggling with bringing in a decent income. And I, you know, I really thought to myself, how can I work with more people? And how can I leverage my time? And how can I make more money in my business? And so then I started doing some group coaching.

So I would formulate, instead of doing a one on one model, or formulate small groups of women, back then I was really focused on prevention of chronic disease and coaching these women through through that and that was quite successful. But again, I was challenged by bringing these these women together and sustaining that. So I thought, How can I find a group within a group and that quite naturally led me into the corporate space where there’s groups of people within an organization that were just, you know, ready to roll, so to speak.

And so when I think back at, you know, that making that transition from the one on one into the one to many in the corporate health workplace wellness space, what I was really challenged with was: where do I start? How does this look, and what do I do? I didn’t really know how to how to begin.

And I think another thing that I was really challenged with was my confidence. You know, I thought to myself, who am I just to walk into an organization and sell my services. You know – I need to have a psychology degree, I need all this the self study. Self sabotaging talk that I had, that I was that I was saying to myself – that I needed more to enable me to do this – which actually wasn’t the truth at all.

What I had was was more than enough, I had the knowledge I had the experience. So it was I guess they were the two biggest things was my uncertainty, which exacerbated my lack of confidence, and it was just that uncertainty of how I was to make this happen and where I was to start. Probably the biggest challenges, and I often hear from other health coaches, they tell me that working in corporate health, workplace wellness, that’s just for the large health organizations to do that, you know, I’m just a solo business person, I can’t do that. Well, they tell me that, yeah, again, like I was saying to myself, I don’t have enough experience, I don’t have enough qualifications I don’t… So it’s sometimes just us as individuals, we limit out ourselves. And if we have a belief that you know, we don’t have whatever it takes, then we’re not taking the action, then we’re not getting those results. So it’s really about breaking through that mindset.

Melanie: I love that you said “sometimes,” and I would say, most of the time we have those beliefs. I don’t know anybody who hasn’t struggled with that sort of mindset. And I love that you tell it as your own story and having been there, and you totally understand what it’s like.  I think it’s really valid what you’ve said, too, I mean, there is a steep learning curve, when you learn how to coach, and then you’ve, you go through that phase of doing one to one so you can learn your methodology, you can get really become really confident in the how the program will work and what sorts of outcomes people can get. And then generally, there’s a natural movement into all what if I could do this with a group? And there’s that next step of working with groups and becoming comfortable. But as you say, then you’re faced with a choice: do you go down the track of learning how to do marketing in the online space or in your local community and having to be on that marketing treadmill, or do you get into more of a corporate environment where you have, I’m guessing, fewer clients and anymore, as in less marketing effort for more return?

Christine: Yeah, that’s right. I remember the very first client that I had, my very first corporate client. So I’d secured this client, we’d sign the proposal, we’re ready to roll. And I remember sitting at the front of my car at the front of this organization, and that fight or flight kicked in. All I wanted to do was was run I was just thinking, “I can’t do this” – this impostor syndrome, this lack of confidence, and I was on the phone with my business coach at the time I mentor, going through this, this state of mind that I was in and he said: “Chris, you’ve got the knowledge, you’ve got the experience, you know, you’ve coached people before, it’s just a different setting, you can do this.”  And I went in, and I faced my fears and I did the program. And, you know, no one found me out because I was successful. And I WAS successful. It was just that that initial hurdle, once I got into it, I’m like, I can do this. And then this is repeatable to other clientele. And as you said, Melanie, it’s you’re working with far fewer clientele, I will generally work with no more than six organizations, because that’s enough to work with at any given time. So there’s this marketing, but there was a whole lot of other turning parts that over the five years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve made lots of mistakes, and learn how to now work with corporate clients. And that’s what’s now led me into mentoring other health coaches to move from that one on that one model to that one to many model.

Melanie: That’s the thing, it sounds like a great pathway, and there’s always going to be things that you need help with. The fact that you’ve been there and helping people through – that’s fantastic. Because it’s the straight line method, is what I would call it. Like when I help people start their businesses, I think I made lots of mistakes, I help you to set up a business and bypass as many of those as possible. And you’re doing this in the corporate space. I think it’s also a very exciting opportunity for coaches right now to get into corporate. There seems to be this real shift in the way people view well being, particularly mental health and well being. Then recognize the recognition that it’s so important for employees to really bring a more targeted approach to their workforce.

Christine: 100%. It was seen as like a sort of an added value, now I believe that it’s seen as more of a norm – like a necessity. Particularly what we’ve been through this year, you know where I’m from, Gippsland, we’ve had the bush fires and then COVID. We’ve had a lot of stresses, and working with your employees and investing in your employees is essentially an investment in your business.

And the return on investment for how a general health and wellness program is about three fold. I’ve managed to get some of my clients six plus fold, when we calculate what it’s costing the organization, when they tallying up things like absenteeism and presenteeism workers compensation claims, staff turnover – all those things as a result of mental health and well being and physical health and well being emotional health and well being… if they’re not taken care of is a significant cost to the business. And by the employer looking after their staff, looking after their mental, physical, emotional health and well being is really an investment in their business. The return on that is productivity and having the emotional intelligence within the organization. So there aren’t issues with with relationships, and helping to keep that net mental health base. They’re able to manage their their stresses, and they’re able to focus on the job.

So this, therefore, is no accident. It’s a significant return on investment, by investing in your employees with a health and wellness program. And health coaches are well set up and suited to sort of slip into this organization, this corporate world. They have the expertise, they have the knowledge and sometimes just perhaps need a little bit more guidance on the business acumen to deliver that and make that happen.

Melanie: There’s two things really that come to mind as you’re speaking and one is this. It’s almost like now is a golden opportunity to step into this space, there’s never been a greater need, or a greater awareness of the need for coaching in corporate health. And the the other thing I hear is that the way you’re talking about the benefits to the organization, I think that’s a big gap for coaches to really understand. How do I get people to buy coaching?What is the language around them, the marketing of what you do, and the positioning of the benefits… I’m imagining that is something that you bring to what you teach coaches?

Christine: Yeah, 100%. So they’re not purchasing the coach or seeing the coaching, they’re purchasing the outcomes of benefiting what’s in it for them. And that’s what they care about. And that’s what we really need to focus on, when we’re utilizing our language through, the sales conversation or language within our copy copy within our marketing, and to really portray the those outcomes and those benefits. So that it’s, it’s a no brainer for them to invest into your program, so that they reach those outcomes and move away from their pain points and move away from what it’s costing their business into where they want to be, which is healthy, energetic, happy staff that are that are really performing optimally and that are really productive. And therefore, that’s going to be most financially optimal for that organization.

Melanie: I would imagine that makes the sales conversation a whole lot easier as well.

Christine: Yeah, that’s a big component of what I teach, because there’s a lot of turning parts in that. And several years ago, I did some training around the psychology of selling. And it’s really helping them to shift, to hold them in the pain point of where they are at with that emotional or that logical challenge or problem, until they’re wanting to move away from that. And then you’re showing them that emotional and logic future that they can potentially have.

And you’re what comes in between that cognitive dissonance. So you’re bringing them from that pain point to where they ultimately want to be in the future. And you’re helping them to realize that they need you.

That’s a really big point because it takes in working in the corporate space it takes really can take quite a bit of time to build those healthy, strong relationships, that trust and rapport. So once you have the opportunity to sit in front of the decision maker and have that sales conversation, it needs to be seamless – it needs to flow. You don’t want to get all the way to that sales conversation and have it fall flat. You want to get them across the board, so that you can help them with your services, they can gain the benefits from working with you. And therefore it’s beneficial for your business’s health coach because you’ve got a sustainable ongoing long term client where you’re making good profits from.

Melanie: Yeah, it’s a great explanation, and I teach much the same concept when working with coaches in starting up their own business and working directly with with B to C. It’s that whole use of the coaching approach in your sales conversation to take them from the “pain point” to the desired outcome. And so positioning is part of what you teach, and I guess I don’t want to reveal all of your secrets about how you work with people, but I know that you are running a webinar. It’s Thursday night this week. Is that right?

Christine: Yeah, that’s right. So Thursday, the 22nd 7:30 Australian Eastern Standard Time. So it’s really a webinar for health coaches that are interested that have been considering it, or maybe I’m sure, just to come along, and I’m just going to really be touching on the basics, we’re going to be looking at basically what you can earn working in the corporate health workplace wellness space, as opposed to that one on one model, we’re going to be looking at, you know, how to get the corporate client to really love what what offerings you have, what services that you’re already delivering, and how that can be transported into the corporate space. And we’re going to talk a little bit about just basically how to get started how to get your first corporate client.

Melanie: Okay, fantastic. They’re very important things. And I bet a lot of people are really interested to know what you’re going to talk about. Are there any prerequisites, Christine, for coming along? Do you have to be at a certain level? Or, you know, anything else like that?

Christine: I think it’s important, if you’re serious about moving into corporate health and workplace wellness, that you have an established business, and that you have some coaching hours under your belt. I don’t think you can expect to sort of just get your certification and walk straight into the corporate sector, I do believe that you need a some experience under your belt. But having said that, if you’re just curious and interested, maybe this is something for you later, and in the future, by all means everyone’s welcome to come along to the webinar and hear about it. Because I know when I first started in corporate health, you know that the biggest thing for me was just to make that decision. Did I really want to move my one on one and quite successful business into the one to many in corporate health? And so it really took me some time to get very clear that it was the direction I wanted to go in, to get into that mindset to then transition my business in into corporate health. So the more clarity you have, and the more certainty you have around something, it makes a whole lot easier to achieve, if that’s the way that you want to go.

Melanie: It makes perfect sense, and actually, as you were talking earlier about all of the fears, and the imposter syndrome, and all of the things that come up for people, I was wondering if those sort of things are just simply a lack of knowledge of how it actually works. And when you understand the mechanics, which you’re obviously going to explain in your webinar of what’s involved in getting into the corporate space as a coach, what are what are the main things you need to do? I think kind of dissolving some of those myths and getting clarity on the process will help people to say, yes, that’s for me or not, for me, at some point down the track. And, and therefore, as you say, having that even if you’re not ready to step into that now, understanding what’s involved would be really important and almost like part of your vision for your business, if you have clarity on Yes, I know what’s involved in being in the corporate space. And that’s where I want to take my business, how much easier then does it take? Is it for you to align all of your personal and professional development plans to go down that path?

Christine: Yeah, 100%. If you if you know where you want to go, and you have you have certainty or have some sort of clarity around that, then you kind of reverse engineer and you can put all those steps into place. What do I need to do now to achieve that ultimate goal? What resources do I need? What education do I need, what mentoring what support and then you could put all those things into place to help to expedite that process. So I’ve developed a whole program to help coaches move from that one on one into the corporate house, and it just sort of came about quite organically. It’s just all the mistakes I’ve made, like speak to the process. And as I was doing, and I thought, well, I wish I had this when I first started. I really do and would have really guided me along the path so much so much quicker. But um, yeah, I just love it.  I love seeing the transition. I’ve put some other health coaches through and to see them come out the other end and actually start to sign corporate clients and start to make some good money in their business. It’s really exciting. I love seeing that transformation.

Melanie: Yeah, and I guess that’s the message. It’s powerful. You’ve done it. You’ve been there. I don’t think anyone else is doing what you’re doing, Christine. It’s such a valuable service that you offer. And I love it that you’ve got this webinar. It’s a free webinar, right?

Christine: Yeah, that’s right. It’s a free webinar, it goes for an hour, and I’ll be giving away some free resources at the webinar. Since I help coaches get started – if they’re interested, if they’re serious, then there’s going to be lots of value there.

Melanie: Great. And even if they’re not sure, then obviously it’s a place to get clarity on whether that’s something they’d like to do in the future.

Christine: Yeah, that’s right.

Melanie: Absolutely. And of course, now is a very good time to think about it and to plan for it, because I think we’re at the tipping point of a big move into coaching in the corporate space being taken a lot more seriously. And there’s going to be a lot of opportunities coming up for people who are positioning themselves in that way with the right skills and knowledge to do that.

Christine: Yeah, there seems to be really significant demand. And particularly, there’s a lot of investment from the government, a lot of funding going around, particularly in the mental health space and sector. And that falls through into organizations, of course, and as I said before, with everything that we’ve experienced this year – there seems to be a really significant demand. And what I’m noticing more of is the that kind of that tailor made program, as opposed to that sort of generic program that a lot of the large organizations might offer. So to be an individual and to really listen and understand the challenges of that organization to tailor made a program that fits that organization to reach those outcomes and achieve those benefits of is of great value.

Melanie: That’s the coaching approach. It makes it hard for anyone to copy you. And it makes you stand out and really deliver value. Thanks so much. We’ve covered so much today. Christine, is there anything else you want to add? Before I point people to the registration link, which hold attached to this Show Notes for this episode, and all of your social media links? Is there anything else you want to say?

Christine: Yeah, f you know if this is something you’re interested in or perhaps you’re unsure about, or you want to perhaps learn a bit more about… by all means, come on to the webinar, jump into our Facebook group health coaches in corporate health we are a group of over 300, like minded people who are interested in some are breaking through. Some are doing it, some are actually quite experienced in that area. So it’s just a real community of people supporting each other in transitioning into that space.

Melanie: Sounds like a great place to be, and thank you so much.

Anyone listening who’s interested, I’m going to put all of these details in the notes, and I advise you to get in touch with with Chris before Thursday, the 22nd of October, otherwise, the Facebook group is the place to go if you’re listening to a recording after that date.

Christine: Thank you. It’s great to have a chat and have a lovely week.

Melanie: You too. Bye for now.

Interested in corporate coaching?

Follow the links to learn more about Christine. I can also recomment the Habitology Membership as the perfect tool if you’re ready to break old habits and start a new chapter. I encourage you to check it out. Learn more here:

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Episode 109: Overdrinking Coaching with Sarah Rusbatch

Today I interview Sarah Rusbatch about alcohol consumption and how and why she is developing her coaching business in this space.

Melanie: Hi, Suzanne, lovely to have you here on the podcast today.

Sarah: Hi, Melanie, it’s lovely to be here.

Melanie: Thank you, and I’m really interested in talking to you, because you’re developing your coaching business at the moment, and you have a niche that you’re quite connected with, and it sounds like you’re very passionate about making a difference in this area. So, I thought it would be a great way to illustrate one of the many ways that coaching can be applied and also to find out a little bit more about your vision, and we’d like to take your business. Does that sound okay?

Sarah: Yeah, sure, that’s fine.

Melanie: Alright, so could you tell us a little bit about your niche to start with?

Sarah: Sure. So my niche is working predominantly with women because I guess that’s what relates to my own story. That’s where I can kind of picture my ideal clients sort of being in that same area as where I was, who have got to a point where perhaps they’re drinking more than they want to. They’re drinking to a point that isn’t making them feel so good about themselves anymore, but because we do live in such an alcohol centric society, it’s actually really hard to, to stop doing that when it’s become quite a habit. When it’s become something that everyone around you is doing all of the time, and that everyone expects you to be doing when you’re socializing. It’s something that I addressed in myself, I stopped drinking about 18 months ago.

 

Sarah: And it really did have a massive impact on my life in so many ways, and I’m now really passionate about spreading that word and letting people know that there is actually another way to live.  Of course, I appreciate that for some people, they’re absolutely happy with the level that they’re drinking, and they don’t want to change that. Of course, I’m not preaching and that’s definitely not my philosophy. But when I was contemplating and giving up alcohol, I didn’t have anyone at that point talking in the way that I’m talking now and showing me the way I had to really look for that. So I want to be that person for other people who perhaps do want a bit of help and a bit of support with addressing how much they’re drinking and how to reframe that.

Melanie: Right. And as you describe that I’m hearing, it’s clearly not somebody who’s ready for Alcoholics Anonymous, and it’s not somebody that’s enjoying a bit of social drinking. It’s somebody that you said, I think is feeling like within themselves, they are just drinking a little bit too much and it’s having an impact on how they feel about themselves.

Sarah: And it’s something that’s where I’m from in the UK, it’s been talked about a lot, and they call it an alcohol use disorder, or grey area drinking. So it’s that whole area where people don’t identify themselves perhaps as alcoholics, which I think is a whole other conversation of what IS an alcoholic. But I think that people who are not drinking every single day, they don’t have a physical dependence to drink every single day, but they are definitely drinking more than the recommended guidelines. And they’re definitely using alcohol as a crutch to perhaps help either relieve stress or escape emotions that they’re feeling that they don’t want to be feeling, or finding that once they start drinking, they really struggled to stop, and they’re always having more than they ever set out or intended to for that kind of area, which is definitely where I was before I thought.

Melanie: Okay, so it’s just that little bit past the comfortable level, and noticing that it is a problem. And I think one other thing I heard you say was that they’re people who are going out socially, and there are these expectations of others that perhaps they don’t know how to manage. They don’t know how to set boundaries, in a social context, perhaps.

Sarah: That was one of the hardest things for me was how other people reacted to me, and I was really shocked. I didn’t think it was anybody else’s business, or that anyone would be in any way concerned as to whether I was drinking or not. But they really were, and people had a lot to say on the matter. And I would get told, “let’s catch up when you’re drinking again”, and “when are you going to stop being so boring?” Yeah, things along those lines. And because I think that we are just in a society where it is just expected that any social occasion will have alcohol. And I think that there’s a stigma around if you don’t have alcohol, you’re not going to have a good time. And that’s what I’m really keen to show people that you can still have a really active and full social life without alcohol.

Melanie: Mmm, interesting. And how did she feel when people were saying those things to you?

Sarah: Horrified. It was… it was really hard. It’s hard to, to not drink. And it’s really hard when your friends are making you feel like they don’t approve of you not drinking, and they’re not being fully supportive. There was a lot of debate around, a lot of people would say to me: “but why don’t you just have one?” I was like, “Well, A why is it any of your business, whether I have one or not? And B and I’ve never been someone that really wanted to ever just have one.” Like, I’ve always loved having a few drinks, and I’ve always had one or two more and more. And for me, it was so much easier to have none than to just have one or two. But people… some people just really didn’t get that at all.

Melanie: It’s interesting, isn’t it? It says more about them than it does about you. It’s they’re uncomfortable with you’re not drinking, and they feel like they need to do something to make themselves feel better, is how I kind of look at that.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely.

Melanie: Yeah, I can think of two occasions a bit like that, that stand out for me and not for me directly, but with others. I remember maybe seven or eight years ago when Facebook groups were first a thing, I was in this group called “Clean Eating”, I think it was called. And one of the moderators came into the group, and she had 30,000 members, it was a huge group. And she said she’d gone out on the weekend and said she didn’t want to drink and was trying to drink less alcohol. And one of the friends said, “What are you pregnant?” And “what’s wrong with you?”, “Why aren’t you drinking?” and “What’s wrong with you?” And I thought, wow, that’s that’s amazing. And  then we had this whole discussion on the thread about judgment. And then, more recently, one of my clients stopped drinking for eight weeks, because she was eating a special way trying to lose some weight. And one of her friends was pressuring her and saying, “Why are you drinking?” And she said, “Well, I don’t want to drink for eight weeks.” And she said, “Well, why not? Why can’t you just have one?” – that same thing you’ve said, and she was saying: “Because I don’t want to.” And they ended up having a falling out. They’d been friends for 20 years. And the friend could not accept that her friend was not drinking for eight weeks. Yeah, she took it personally. It was incredible.

Sarah:  Yep. And I just wasn’t expecting that, when I stopped drinking. It was it was my journey, and my thing. And in quite a lot of sober groups that I in, people say, well, if you turn around and said that you were stopping smoking, people would be like, “Good on you! Well done!” Or if you said, “I’m giving up cocaine,” I would be like, “Well, good for you.” As soon as you say alcohol, it’s the only thing that you can give up and people say “Oh go on!” It’s quite astonishing, isn’t it?

Melanie: I agree. And actually, to be fair, I have heard this same conversation in my in my weight loss program that I’ve run in the past where people would come in and say, “I don’t eat that food” or “I don’t want any cake,” and people say “Go on, Just a skinny slice won’t hurt… why no? What’s wrong with you?”And so I’ve have heard that’s similar conversation around food. And once again, I think it’s more about the person who is not is eating the food or drinking the drink that feels uncomfortable about are now it’s just me, they’ve got no one to share the guilt, as I call it.

Sarah: Absolutely, absolutely. And at the beginning, I used to have to kind of get my readymade little black book of excuses, though, that I was prepared for when I would start to get grilled and sometimes I couldn’t be bothered. And I’ll just say “I’m on antibiotics.” Or I’d say “I’m training for a triathlon.” And “I just don’t want to drink for a little while because I’ve got to get up early to train.” But I just got to the point where I was like, why should I be having to justify in that way and actually lie about the fact that I just don’t want to drink just so others can accept my reason? If it’s a reason that they can understand that they’re okay with it. But if you’re just saying I’m choosing not to drink, a lot of people don’t understand that.

Melanie: It’s almost like just saying “no thanks,” is really all you need to say, I guess is what you’re saying.

Sarah: Yeah. So that was definitely an interesting part of the process for me.

Melanie: And what sorts of symptoms were you experiencing? Like, if you’re thinking about the types of people you’re working with? And they are, where you were in the past? What sorts of things would they be noticing as signs or symptoms that they need to do something or that they are ready to do something?

Sarah: Yeah, so I think for me, and as soon as I hit 40, it was that typical thing of I started to get really bad hangovers. I’ve never really got hangovers in my 20s and 30s. I had pretty much sail through it. And then it was as if I as soon as I hit 40 I started to get really bad hangovers. It was really affecting my sleep. So I would just have even just having two glasses of wine, I would be awake at 3am and just restless and just couldn’t get back to sleep. And depending on how much I had had to drink, I might have a dry mouth need to get up and have water, but it was really affecting me. And I’m someone that really needs my sleep. So that was having been a real negative impact the next day because I was tired and grumpy. I definitely started to feel a little bit depressed The next day, which I’d never had before, I would have a bit of anxiety. And I would sometimes worry about what I’d said the night before. And I would sit kind of ruminating over it, which I’ve never done before. And it was just something that just in my 40s It felt like it had gone from drinking had been something that had been fun, and something that I did with all of my friends. But then I could see that my body was starting to give me signs that that there had to be some other way.

And I just felt like even just having a small amount of alcohol, I would feel so rubbish the next day, and I wasn’t being the mom that I wanted to be I wasn’t being the wife that I wanted to be. I was kind of getting through the weekend, but not being present in the weekend, if that makes sense. And then it would be back to school back to work.

I never really drank during the week. So that was that. But you’re so busy, you know, keeping your head above water with kid’s activities and work and pick up and everything else. So the week would go by and then it would be the weekend again. And there has to be another way to live than just having this low level feeling of a bit of anxiety, a bit of depression and bad sleep tired making bad food choices, because I was a little bit hungover. So not eating the food that I wanted to be eating that I knew made me feel good. Then with that came a bit of guilt. So all of that started to happen and that was when I kind of had those first signs of going, maybe this the alcohol is the thing that needs to change, because everything led back to that.

Melanie: It’s interesting, you mentioned food, there was the food or consequence of being too tired to want to make healthy food? Or was that while you were drinking, you are making unhealthy choices or combination or something different?

Sarah: No, it was definitely the next day. So I was never someone that ate and drank at the same time – I just drank. So I wasn’t someone who would sit, you know and get out all the biscuits and the crisps. Alcohol just never made me hungry. Whereas I know with others, they get munchies and chips. But for me it was the next day. And maybe because I hadn’t eaten much like before. And the next day, I would just crave really bad food. And because I was tired and feeling a bit rubbish I couldn’t not give into that craving. And so it was, you know, eating the foods that I would never normally eat, and that that didn’t make me feel good about myself either.

Melanie: Mm hmm. Yeah, I can relate to that. I can think of times where I’ve, but but not exactly that way, like the next day, I may not eat that well. But for me when I have too much alcohol, then I want carbs, I want sugar, which obviously makes the sleep worse. So I remember even as a young person drinking one night with my boyfriend, and we’d had a full dinner, it was midnight, and I ate a whole family pizza to myself.

Sarah: Yeah.

Melanie: At midnight, like, that’s a lot of pizza. And yeah, I just had this intense craving for carbs  – I couldn’t stop eating it, I was so full, but I just kept going and going. And I think part of it was that maybe the lack of inhibition around the alcohol, which is something you’ve alluded to in it maybe in social context as well. But then this craving as well as not having an off switch was a diabolical combination.

Sarah: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Melanie: And so how much do you think? Well, maybe it’s not possible to put a limit on our amount on it, but what does somebody in this zone actually drink? Is it… How many standard drinks a day? Or is it sit number days? Or does it not really matter is in a particular trend you’ve noticed?

Sarah: I don’t think it matters. I think it just is whatever is the number for you. That is crossing the line of being taking you feeling comfortable and happy with how much you’re drinking to the point where it’s having a terrible effect, and that might that number will be different for everyone. And some people drink every single day and a bottle or two of wine a night. Some people might only drink on a Friday and have two or three bottles and then feel so terrible for the three days after. So I don’t think there’s any rule around that.

I think it’s just when you are questioning yourself. Am I drinking too much? That probably means you are if it’s even come up as a question at all.

Melanie: Yeah, that’s a great, great way of looking at a great indicator is your own concern that you feel yourself stretched outside your Yeah, healthyzone ort your comfortable zone or whatever that is. And I heard you say earlier you’d have a couple of glasses of wine only and then not be able to sleep from three o’clock. Yeah, so that’s an indication to I guess there’s also as you’re in that, or if you’re in that perimenopause, or menopause age, you’ve got all of this other stuff going on. And it just seems to compound things like the hot flashes. I know if I have alcohol, one glass of anything. I’m gonna get hot that night, at least once my cup of tea flushed.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. ‘ve just finished reading a book on perimenopause that pretty much says that if you want to kind of have the least impact of some of those symptoms, then cutting out alcohol is one of the first things to do. Because when your hormones are so imbalanced, and your body just can’t also cope with having to break down the alcohol that you’re taking in, and that will then have, you know, more of a knock on effect on things like hot flashes, and impact of sleep, impacting mood, things like that.

Melanie: It’s quite an important time of life, I suppose to I mean, if you’re going through hormonal changes, and that’s women and men go through menopause, you know, in their 40s, or 50s. You kind of feel like you’re at a crossroads, you’re saying: “Am I going to continue doing what I’m doing and head down the path of setting myself up for chronic disease? Or am I going to take the initiative now and nip things in the bud?”

What are your thoughts on that?

Sarah: I totally agree. And I think that most people who I know, who are asking themselves that question are in their 40s, or 50s and have just to have got to that point where perhaps the hangovers haven’t been as bad before, and then they’re starting to feel worse, or what might be a whole host of reasons… it might be that they’re wanting to lose weight, it might be in lots of different reasons. But it definitely has got to the point where alcohol is not serving them anymore in the way that it used to just be a fun social aid to increase your fun on a night out. It just then becomes a bit different, and you start to see the negatives of it, whereas before you haven’t.

Melanie: Right, so that the negatives are starting to outweigh the positives. Yeah. Feel good in the moment and feel terrible for the next three days?

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. And that was one of my techniques, which now that I’ve started learning and doing the coaching qualification, I’ve realized I was using but I didn’t, couldn’t put it into words at the time, which was always talking that in many of those sober groups or playing it forward. So when you have that real craving of wanting to have a drink, play it forward, how are you going to feel that next morning, like when you wake up, with the hangover? You’re not going to get all the things done that you wanted to do, you’re going to feel all these different things. So that was always the thing that I would do was, you know, the cravings still come even now.

And it’s been 18 months since I have a drink and you know, in a certain situation after that glass of wine now, but then all I have to do is think how nice it will be at three in the morning when you’re wide awake, and think about when the kids are jumping on the bed and think you know, and then when you start to do that you actually realize for the fleeting moment of happiness or joy or whatever it is that you get from that glass of wine… Is it worth it? And in the end, for me, it passed that tipping point where it wasn’t worth it.

Melanie: So good. So you’re talking about really looking at the longer term gain rather than the short term? Fix or, or benefit? Yeah, yeah, looking longer term and how it’s affecting you.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. But I wish that I’d had more support to articulate some of that when I was going through it. Because I’ve realized now through the coaching that I’ve been doing that that’s exactly what I was doing, and there’s so many of the coaching techniques that I’ve realized now can be applied to this situation. And that’s why it’s got me so passionate and excited about it, because I can see how much support it could give to other people who were in the same situation that I was.

Melanie: Yeah, absolutely. And just building on that something you said is that you still have cravings now and I guess that what came to mind when you said that is that whole micro habits or atomic habits, as James Clear calls them. You know, if you think about something like smoking and all of the situations in which someone smokes, when they wake up after a meal when they’re drinking, when they’re stressed before bed, you know, there are all those little tiny situations where someone might be triggered to have a cigarette or want to crave one. And all of those are micro habits that need to be unraveled and rewired.

And it’s the same with alcohol, right? You drink when you’re tired you drink when you’re stressed. You drink when you’re this or that and you get this immediate feeling good feeling and your brains fighting with you saying I want that good feeling and you’re going no you can’t have it and then there’s deprivation… but there are all of those many situations that you may not even realize are a trigger for you. Not just the visible ones, but the unconscious ones too. Right?

Sarah: Absolutely. And I think that it’s the more that you practice –  we call it like flexing that silver muscle -it’s kind of like the more you practice “The Firsts” all those firsts – the first Christmas, the first holiday, the first girls night out, the first hen weekend, just any of those things. And once you get through it, it’s just another thing that you’ve done to kind of retrain your brain to, to condition yourself that you can go and do those things without alcohol and you can still have a really good time.

Melanie: And so Suzanne, how are you feeling now that you’ve been sober for 18 months? What’s the difference in your life?

Sarah: So many! So the differences are, I think we’ve lost a lot of weight because I haven’t had the Sunday morning trips to Maccas, for the Bacon and Egg Mcmuffins and the rest of it. So I think I’ve lost about 12 kilos now. And I have always been an an exerciser. But I am definitely getting more of the results from the exercise and enjoying it more. I think before I was exercising, as a kind of punishment for the alcoholics, you know what I mean?

Whereas now I think I exercise as something that I just absolutely love and enjoy. I would say that I sleep so much better, I have more energy, and more present and more connected to my kids. I’ve done a lot more work on myself, to understand myself and what things trigger me and what doesn’t, because I think when you stop … And, and so, yeah, all around I’d say that I’m just a more content person than I was before.

Melanie: It sounds like the only cost really has been that occasionally. There’s a sense of missing out. Absolutely.

Sarah:  Yeah, and I have to make that decision.

Melanie: It’s an interesting topic, and I love that you’re working in this space. I think so many people don’t have much else in their lives. And I remember it other than alcohol and social occasions around it. And I remember going to do a job once. And I met a girl who would who’s 18 and when there was a lull in conversation, she would start talking about this awesome time when she got so drunk and so sick. And so this and I thought “Is that all you got?” All she could talk about were all these famous war stories of when she’d drunk too much and vomited everywhere. And, yeah, that wow, that’s the conversation you’ve got. Yeah, you know, to me, that was a really important moment to say, do I want to be like that? Or I’ve been like that myself in the past and had that kind of a conversation. But to hearing it from the other side, I thought, yeah, I think I could aspire to something better.

Sarah: And that was definitely it for me as well. I’m 42 years old, I thought,  is that all I’ve got? I just like going out and getting drunk on a Saturday afternoon is like, is that my hobby, like just drinking? And that was definitely, you know, a question to ask. Myself, and then stopping drinking, it’s definitely allowed me to explore the things that I love doing and want to do more of. I’m just devouring books all the time and, and lots of friends in my sober circles if have taken up theater, one has started learning tap dancing… people have gone back to uni, but like everyone is just having this whole new lease of life, energy and time that they just never had before.

Melanie: And so I guess, apart from strategies that you would help people to discover and develop, I’m guessing a lot of your work is also helping people to build confidence and courage to set boundaries, to help them come up with safe ways to be a little bit uncomfortable in social situations and still feel okay about not drinking. And there would be a lot of work around that area I’d imagine.

Sarah: There is and I think that if you’re prepared for the obstacle before it happens, you’re halfway there already. I definitely think that’s an area that I would be looking to help people identify what the obstacles will be before they reach them so that they’re better prepared to deal with them when they arrive.

Melanie: And it makes me think that one of the great benefits is that you become a role model for others, and you help others find if you’re a non drinker in a social situation. It’s like you help others to find their voice and their courage to stand with you. If they’re kind of feeling the same. And you’re saying, hey, well, I’m not drinking tonight, but I’m still gonna have fun. That just might help somebody else who’s been feeling the same way. Right?

Sarah: Yeah, and the massive sober community online, like through Instagram, and through various Facebook groups, I’ve met people who I’ve just instantly connected with I can reach out to them anytime. I’ve never met them in real life, but I’ve just been on such a journey with them over the last 18 months or so. And even if it’s not physical, but just knowing that there’s someone there that you can send a quick message and that that definitely helps.

Melanie: And so Suzanne, thank you for explaining what you’re passionate about why and what difference it’s made to alive. And it’s really clear to me, and I hope to everyone that listens to this, how many ways people may need support, and now can get support going on a journey to drink less or to stop drinking. And so if people are interested in finding out more about what you do about joining your Facebook group, or getting on your email list, or whatever that is, what what’s the best place for them to go to get in touch?

Sarah: So I’m running a challenge at the moment, sober October, and which is I think we’ve got about 3540 people in the challenge. Everyone’s been hugely supportive of each other, some people have never gone more than three or four days without alcohol before. So it’s their first time of doing something like this. So that’s called the SLR wellness, sober October challenge. And I’m on Instagram, SLR wellness. And then I’ve got a Facebook group called the Women’s Wellbeing Collective, and that group was looking at everything to do with health issues for women in their 40s. So that’s looking at pre menopause hormone imbalance, nutrition exercise, and then for those that want to talk about it, and the area of alcohol free as well.

Melanie: Fantastic. So lots of ways that you’re available to get to know people and support them to get started on a journey of getting healthier. Thank you so much for being here today, Suzanne, and I’ll put all those links in the notes and hopefully, some people who are on the fence thinking about their relationship with alcohol, especially in the lead up to Christmas, they’re gonna reach out to you and have a chat.

Where you can connect with Sarah:

Sarah’s facebook group “the women’s wellbeing collective” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/342319476897067/?ref=share

Link to sober October: SLR wellness sober October 2020 https://www.facebook.com/groups/870302750042381/?ref=share

Link to the Perth meet up group for ladies who want to socialise without alcohol: SLR wellness Perth meet up group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1093211501076062/?ref=share

Link to Sarah’s Instagram page @slrwellness – install the app to follow her photos and videos.

https://www.instagram.com/invites/contact/?i=jyvp6068ofy9&utm_content=gygtk7h

 

Do you need support to change your life?

Would you like to hear more about the Habitology membership? It could be the change you are looking for. Learn more here:

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Episode 108: AmIOK?

This episode is about taking care of your own mental well-being. 

 I want to start by talking about the RU OK campaign in Australia and then to talk about the need to manage our own mental well-being as well.

RUOK?

R U OK? is an organisation whose vision is a world where we’re all connected and are protected from suicide.

Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Their goals are to: 

  1. Boost our confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
  2. Nurture our sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
  3. Strengthen our sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
  4. Be relevant, strong and dynamic

I love that the RU okay campaign exists. It gives us all an opportunity to think about the people around us and consider how we can offer support. 

It means that we are proactively reaching out to check in with people and to help them to speak up about what’s going on for them so they can get help.

I had a conversation with somebody one-day who I knew was severely depressed and going through a major incident and I had reached out to say are you okay. 

It was a difficult conversation because I hadn’t yet trained as a coach and this person was very upset but I was concerned about their mental well-being so I did the best that I could with the skills that I had at the time. 

Months later that person phoned me and said they were considering suicide the day I had called – they were getting ready to do it – and the conversation we had stopped them from taking action and caused them to reach out for help. 

Truly, I was taken aback that the conversation had had such a powerful impact on that person and it made me thankful that I’ve been able to help but also concerned about my skills and education and knowledge in this area.

So where and how do you start getting these skills?

What if you’re not a coach or working in a support capacity but want some basic understanding and skills?

Mental Health First Aid

It’s worth mentioning the mental first aid course.

Several organisations deliver this course: Mental Health First Aid Australia says that: 

Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. Many people are not knowledgeable or confident to offer assistance. Physical first aid is accepted and widespread in our community, however most do not cover mental health problems. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaches people the skills to help someone who they’re concerned about.

What About Me?

All of this got me thinking recently about the fact that there are many campaigns that are outward directed – helping us to check in with the other people about their own mental health and well-being.

But just as important is the ability to be self-aware and identify our own mental health challenges.

As a coach, I know that one of the main reasons people hire coaches is simply that they lack self-awareness of how they are thinking and operating in the world, and what their habits are.

People are either too busy to notice themselves and reflect on their behaviour, needs and wants, OR, they notice an issue coming up for themselves but say ‘she’ll be right, I’ll just push through.’

The old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

In either case, most people simply don’t know HOW to check in with themselves or to ask for help.

They say, I’m okay, don’t worry about me, everything is fine. I don’t need any help, I’ll put on my big girl pants or I’ll pull up my boots and I’ll just get on with it. 

I can totally see how we came to be that way. That attitude comes from the hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves, hard-working people who founded modern society in our nation.

Think about it – once upon a time, not that long ago, we were a nation of pioneers in a new country who travelled long distances, lived off the land and managed many hardships to establish towns and cities. We were the kind of people that pitched in and did things and got on with things and to build a great nation.

But these days, there is a changing of the guard.

We have the rise of Gen Y (with more of a values focus, in my opinion) as dominant players in the workforce and leadership positions. 

We have an increase in multiculturalism in our society, and a need to consider people with different cultures, ethics and values.

And we are giving more attention to well-being, health and mindfulness. 

With all of this going on, we are starting to realise that the old ‘she’ll be right attitude’ is a mask that many Australians have been wearing for a long time.

The old stigma around mental health issues, not wanting to show any weakness or to be judged, has to come off.

We have to learn how to ask for help.

But first of all, we must be self-aware enough, to know when we need to get that help.

AmIok – a new paradigm 

I propose a concept that sits alongside RUOK, to acknowledge that it’s just as important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

I want to ask you to think about a new paradigm. 

The AmIOK paradigm. 

Certainly check in with the others and ask are you okay, but at the same time give yourself the attention to – how am I travelling? 

Am I ok? 

And if not, what do I need, how am I feeling, what’s my capacity, and what do I need to do differently? 

I had this experience myself recently. 

I noticed a few things were becoming difficult for me. 

I was starting to avoid certain situations and certain tasks that I didn’t like. 

Normally I can do tasks that I don’t like or don’t enjoy, but when I’m stressed, under a lot of pressure then I go into avoidance of those basic tasks. And to me that is a sign that I need to step back and check in with myself. 

Other signs that I need a break or to get help are that my cooking is boring, I’m not sleeping well, and I feel frustrated, and starting to look for more coffee.

Basically, I lose my enthusiasm and creativity. 

When those things start to ebb, I know it’s time to take a break or to get help.

Summary

RUOK is a wonderful initiative that helps us to lower the risk and rate of suicide, by reaching out to others.

It’s important to check in with yourself rather than to ignore the warning signs and push through. 

Mental Health First Aid is a great training course to gain basic skills.

I propose a new paradigm – AmIOK? – as a means of learning to give our own needs more attention and to get help sooner rather than later.

Ready to pay more attention to your own needs?

It’s OK to be not OK, but it doesn’t always have to be like that. If you need help to feel more in charge of your life, I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 107: Just-ification

What you say to yourself matters. It has consequences. Learn how to rewire your reticular activating system in this episode for a calmer, less rushed, more grounded way of living.

How are you going right now? How are you feeling?

There’s been a lot going on in my life lately and it seems to be the same for a lot of people I’ve spoken to.

Today I want to talk about a topic related to hard times, but that is also relevant at ANY time. 

I want to help you to identify when you’re telling yourself some fibs, playing small and talking yourself into overwhelm, so you can quickly back out of that rabbithole and get back on track.

Sound ok?

What is Just-ification?

A few years ago, I remember a point in the year and in my life where I was feeling low, harried, and overwhelmed.

For a little while, everything felt hard.

I felt swamped by urgent deadlines.

I felt like I had to push through things and rush to get things done and meet targets.

I was rushing from one appointment to the next, doing some things at the last minute, and racing out the door to simply meet friends for coffee!

Yes, as you can see, the key theme here was feeling pressured and rushed.

Of course, if you’ve listened to my previous episodes, you know that this stuff that we ‘feel’ happens because of what we tell ourselves.

And this is where I noticed something interesting about my language – when I felt like this, I was always using the word ‘just’. 

I was saying things to myself and others, like:

  • I just need to finish this document (to justify my working late)
  • I just have to do this job, then I can come out and meet you for coffee
  • I will just squeeze in some quick emails in this 5-minute break before I have to leave for an appointment
  • I just need one more minute

This pattern in my language, and variations on it, made me realise that they were metaphors for how I was living. 

With most of the ‘just’ statements that I thought or verbalised, I was unwittingly loading myself up with JUST one more thing.

And I was justifying behaviours that were causing me to rush through life and become overwhelmed and overloaded!

I’m sure you can see the pattern.

Do you do this too?

Is your language full of just-ifications that are creating stress, unnecessary busy-ness, a sense of being rushed and pressured?

Your Words Are Instructions

Just-ification is a real thing (to me at least), and it has me wondering what other language clues there are to indicate when we are talking ourselves into stress, strain, drama or heaviness.

What are you telling yourself about your business or your life?

What are the words that you use regularly, and what do they mean to you?

“Be careful of what you say, because your body will hear you and obey.”

If you say openly that you are playing small, procrastinating, ‘not ready yet’, I can’t do that, I’m no good at that, or any version of this kind of self-talk, please be aware of the implications.

When you say things to yourself, I believe you are giving your body and mind instructions on how to behave.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Let’s say you describe yourself as a chocoholic, or a workaholic, a sweet tooth or an insomniac. At that moment, what kind of instruction are you giving your body and mind?

What kind of information is getting plugged into the reticular activating system in your brain – your brain’s GPS?

When you make any sort of written or verbal assertion, your RAS takes note and filters in everything that fits with that assertion, and at the same time, filters out anything that doesn’t fit that paradigm.

On that basis, let me ask you this – what kind of behaviour are you condoning or even actively promoting for yourself?

What kind of claim are you making about yourself as a person, and what does that say about your identity?

Lots of questions from me today, but I have to say how important this is.

 Summary

By virtue of the way our brains work, specifically, your reticular activating system, when you think or say something about yourself, your body responds in a way that reinforces that statement.

I coined a phrase years ago while teaching a bellydancing class, that sums it up.

“Be careful of what you say, because your body will hear you and obey.”

Ready to have better self-talk?

What you tell yourself matters. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 106: Essential Advanced Business Systems

Today I want to talk about essential advanced business systems that you will need to set up once you’ve been working in your business for at least 6 – 12 months.

On the last episode of his podcast, I talked about essential start-up business systems that you need in your first few months of operation.

The systems I describe today will help you to get organised and deliver a more professional, efficient, and seamless experience for your clients.

Before starting

Before you build more advanced business systems, it’s best if you have some experience under your belt, and have a fairly good understanding of your niche and ideal client, and some experience with working with clients.

What I’m saying is this – it’s only through experience and market research that you can get clear on how you like to do your work, what your ideal clients like or dislike, where you connect with them and how they like to buy from you. 

Imagine setting up a complicated sales funnel on a social media platform and then finding out your clients don’t like that social media platform and don’t spend any time there! 

That would be wasting time and money.

To get some clarity on what your ideal customers want, just ask them! It’s called market research, and it’s one of the best ways to start client-centred conversations with the people you wish to serve. It’s good marketing.

When you are doing pro bono sessions or your preliminary programs, weave in a few questions to learn more about them.

Do they prefer to meet you on Zoom or on the phone? 

Would they visit a website to download information as part of a membership or not?

Are they involved in Facebook groups or not, and how do they use Facebook? 

Do they spend any time on LinkedIn or Instagram and how do they interact there? 

Who do they follow, and why?

Do they really want to learn about something specific and to get help with that, or do they just want someone to talk to?

Do they like to read blogs, watch videos or listen to podcasts?

Do they subscribe to email newsletters and what sorts of topics do they like to hear about? 

You have to keep doing this research on an ongoing basis in your business so that you can keep your finger on the pulse in terms of what your clients want and need.

That way, everything you do will be on point, and meeting their needs. It means you’ll be able to give excellent customer service.

Now let’s talk about three advanced systems that you might need in the next 6 – 12 months!

1. Your customer relationship management system (CRM)

A CRM is usually made up of one or more software programs that improve how you interact and do business with your customers. 

CRM systems help you manage and maintain customer relationships, track sales leads, marketing, and pipeline, and deliver actionable KPI data.

When you have a system or systems that work well and are easy to manage, it can streamline the administrative processes in the sales, marketing, and service delivery areas of your business so that you can focus on engaging with prospects and working with clients. 

The foundation of every software based CRM is an email list. It’s what you can do with that list, and how you can engage with the list, that makes a CRM different from just a regular email program.

This is one of those systems that has a LOT of features that you’ll only really make the most of if you have a good understanding of your niche and ideal customer, and are prepared to set aside blocks of hours for training to help you set up and use the system.

Here are some examples of how you could use a CRM;

  1. Track how people are responding to your emails and interacting on your website, what they are clicking on or not clicking on, and then to follow up with them depending on how they interact.
  2. Set up an online sales funnel – e.g. a landing page to advertise a specific service, and the page has a built in buy now button that captures payment, delivers a welcome email and signs the buyer up to a DIY program or membership that they purchased.
  3. Develop a membership that can be embedded in your website and give members access to surveys, quizzes, blogs, member forums and events calendars within the membership.

These are 3 common examples of how you can use the integrated features of a CRM to do specific things in your business. Of course, you need to know who your ideal client is, what they want and whether they’ll buy it from you before you’ll get any value out of having this sort of system.

A lot of software companies claim to have an all in one system that “does everything”, but in reality I have found that each software I’ve looked at covers their own select suite of business functions.

Some options that are popular include: 

  1. Active Campaign email system which has facility to upgrade to a CRM to track leads and enquiries, 
  2. Kartra, which includes inbuilt landing pages, email automations, pre-built sales funnels, a membership platform, and quiz and survey functions are coming soon.
  3. Clickfunnels, which is a similar product to Kartra but has been around longer
  4. HubSpot, which is focused on email communications, ad management, booking sales calls, live chat facility and providing quotes. 

Some of these have free or low cost trials, and I highly recommend taking up the free trial option before you dive in.

Here is a link to the $1 trial for Kartra.

2. Your Document Management System (DMS)

If your office is strewn with paper and post-it notes, with duplicates and different versions of things, then you probably need to set up a document management system. 

Even if you don’t have a lot of experience in business or clients, you can start setting up a DMS once you have a feel for how you like to work with documents.

A DMS is simply a standardized way of receiving, tracking, managing and storing all of your business documents. It can help you store data securely, and maintain version control and ensure all your documents are current.

A DMS means you can find anything quickly and easily because you have a logical system and process for all the documents you handle.

You can set up a manual DMS with file folders, file dividers and a lockable filing cabinet!

But there are software programs to help you set up a digital DMS that helps you to organise and manage your documents.

If you have completed my Passion to Profit training, we cover this in Module 6 of the program, in business systems.

Here’s an example of how it works.

In my business, I use Dropbox, a cloud based platform, to store all of my documents.

I organise my documents into several main folders: 

  • Business assets (all the content I develop)
  • Policies 
  • Procedures 
  • Templates
  • Registers

All of my admin, financial, IT, legal and marketing guidelines fit into those folders.

One of my key registers is an Asset Register, which contains a hyperlink to every video, blog or landing page or booking page that I have created. It’s like a library catalogue for all of my intellectual property which makes it easy to search for and find resources to give to my clients.

I also have dedicated folders for Marketing, Advertising and Training Courses.

My client folders are stored on Google Drive as I find this easier to share with people because we can both have a document or spreadsheet open at the same time and work on it together. 

It’s pretty straight forward to set up a document management system – the main thing is that you find a way of filing everything that is logical to you, so that you can use it in the same way consistently.

3. Your Continuous Improvement System (CIS)

 

A continuous improvement system is a way to constantly evaluate and improve the efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of your business systems and the delivery of your services.

There are four parts to a CIS:

  1. You have some performance goals, and a way of monitoring or tracking progress and performance toward those goals, e.g. customer satisfaction, total sales per month, new enquiries etc.
  2. You take time to review this data and evaluate how you are tracking as compared to your goals
  3. You reflect on your data and identify areas for improvement if relevant.
  4. You schedule those improvements, which might include revamping a program you wrote, hiring a specialist to help with an area of business, or doing a training course to learn how to do something better or at a more advanced level.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that you want to deliver a pilot coaching program to a group of target clients so you can deliver a high value experience to them and be sure it’s exactly what they want and need.

You’d have some specific goals around the customer experience and quality of service you deliver, and you might measure that in two ways:

  • Asking the customers specific questions each week about their experience, and
  • Asking them to complete a survey for the whole program, at the end.

The customer feedback would include things like how they liked the process of being signed up, your between session communication with them, the coaching process, and the support and resources they received.

You might also do your own coaching log after every session, and a formal post-program review for yourself to gauge how you felt about the program, what could be improved and to see how your own impressions compared with the participants’ feedback.

Then, you can reflect on all of the internal and external feedback and decide what you want to change to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and perceived value of the program, as well as the customer experience.

This is just one example but it’s an important one.

You can use the same process for your financial processes, marketing campaigns, sales strategy and any other areas.

Summary

When you have had a bit of experience in your business, you can create a more professional, efficient and seamless experience for your clients and yourself!

One of the triggers is that you find yourself spending as much time bumbling around with administration as you do working with clients, unsure of where to spend your energy, and lacking any sense of organisation. You want to feel focused and do more of the work you love to do, and less of the boring, clunky administrative stuff.

Or maybe, you simply want to do things a little easier and free up more time, and you now have some income to invest in automating some of the manual things you’re doing. 

Today I’ve outlined three advanced business systems that you can use in your service-based business to achieve any or all of these aims.

You want to feel focused and do more of the work you love to do, and less of the boring, clunky administrative stuff.

You can start with two of them right away, but I recommend getting more clarity on your niche, ideal client and your own work processes before investing in a CRM.

If you are looking at CRMs, I recommend using their free trials and allow several hours of training over two weeks to properly assess if something is right for you, before you buy it.

If you need help with business systems and are ready to create your own rinse-and-repeat way of doing business, hit me up on the contact page and we can talk about how I might be able to help you get this up and running, quickly and easily.

Ready to get your business systems up and running?

Having the boring bits taken care of will give your business the space it needs to thrive. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 105: Best Essential Business Systems

This episode details some of the best essential business systems available, as well as low cost software options that will help you to get started and boost efficiency.

I’ve just finished the latest round of my 12-week Passion to Profit business training course for coaches. 

I find that a lot of students in this course are unclear on which systems they need to set up a streamlined, professional, tickety-boo coaching business, how those systems can save them time and money.

So in this episode, I want to walk you through four of the best essential business systems that all businesses need, plus to talk about some low cost software that will help you to get started and run your business more efficiently and effectively.

In the next episode, I’ll talk about more advanced business systems.

But for now, let’s dive in.

1. Your Financial System

The first system I want to talk about is your financial system. 

Every business needs a financial system – sorry to be Captain Obvious here!

Your financial system needs to perform several functions, including things like: 

  • tax-compliant invoicing, 
  • reconciling bank statements, 
  • keeping track of business income and expenses, 
  • keeping track of capital purchases, 
  • budgeting, and 
  • keeping track of debtors (people who owe you money) and creditors (people you owe money to).

When you start out, it’s possible to do most of these things in spreadsheets or word processing software on a cycle of regular tasks that you put into your calendar.

This is a really low cost way to go.

But there are two problems with this method: 

  1. You need to know what all the moving parts of your financial system are, in order to be able to do them properly, and
  2. It is a very manual process and one that can be fraught with mistakes.

In my experience, most people don’t like finances or spreadsheets very much. So your options are to get a bookkeeper to help you with these regular financial tasks, OR, to find a more effortless way to do the financial tasks. 

After all, why would you use a cumbersome, difficult system to manage an area of business that you don’t particularly like?  It’ll just make things harder and will be an energy drain.

I have come to believe it’s actually way better to get straight into a software that will help you to run your books in a way that is accurate and time-efficient and that makes your business look professional.

I have two recommendations for software; one free, and one paid.

If you are ready to commit to subscription for a software that does the work of your bookkeeper and accountant, and can even be accessed by them, then I recommend Xero.

But if you can’t afford that yet, I suggest looking at a free software that does all of the essential financial functions that Xero and similar softwares can perform.

That software is called Wave Financial and you can do basic accounting, invoicing and receipts in the free subscription.

2. Your Payment System

Most accounting systems are designed to manage the books but not actually take payments, so I want to talk about your payment system now, as a kind of a subset of your financial system.

There are lots of ways to collect payment and a lot of people who are starting out will usually take either cash or direct debit.

Those are fine, but there are three issues with taking payment like this:

  1. A lot of business owners feel uncomfortable about asking for money and more manual payment systems bring those conversations to the forefront e.g. you have to physically ask for money in a session.
  2. Manual payment systems require a lot more time to administer, additional forms, and good planning to reconcile your books. 

Probably by now I’ve convinced you that an up-front payment system is way better.

I’ll talk about how to get payment up front in a moment, but first, we need to talk about the system for collecting money – also known as the payment gateway.

A payment gateway is a means to receive money – it is the middle man between your customer and your bank. 

Online platforms offer a great way to collect money in many different ways and there are a lot of options available. 

I personally use Stripe and Paypal, which are two payment gateways that are secure, well known and trusted. There are other gateways for collecting money, but I like to use those that have the best reputation.

The great thing about Stripe and Paypal is that they work internationally, they can collect payment in a variety of different currencies, and they only charge a fee per transaction rather than on subscription.

They also integrate with a variety of websites and booking forms, which means no tech headaches for you – everything in your client onboarding process can happen at once!

You will need a business bank account to use these platforms, and can use them to collect payment even if you don’t have a website. 

You can manually enter customers and send invoices from either system.

But let’s talk about automating things!

3. Your Booking System

You can manually book people in for sessions in a diary or a spreadsheet, but there are two main problems I discovered with doing this: 

  1. You can accidentally double book yourself, and
  2. You can accidentally overbook yourself.

Picture this – two people want to talk to you, and you offer them both a few time slots. 

But you realise afterwards that you aren’t actually available in one of those slots, and then one of your clients wants to book into that time, so you need to go back and break the news.

Argh! Not very professional.

Further to this, if your booking system is separate from your payment system then it means multiple manual, administrative steps to get bookings and payments sorted out.

And then, there is the challenge of manual reminders, and sometimes needing to chase overdue or declined payments which can feel uncomfortable and take up your valuable time and energy.

Luckily, there are booking systems that take the pain out of things and help you take bookings and payments at the same time up front, including all your client contracts etc, so that you can simply get it all done at once without needing to lift a finger!

I like using Acuity scheduling because it integrates seamlessly with my payment gateways Stripe, Paypal, and it ALSO does reconciliation for me automatically in Xero.  

In fact, Acuity links with a whole bunch of different webinar, email, accounting, website and CRM platforms. Those linkages are available with paid plans, although there is a free scheduling version available too.

But for around $150 per year, it’s a steal for a software that saves you hours of time.

4.  Your Coaching System

Finally, there is your coaching system, the last part of the essential business systems that you need to run a service-based business.

When I talk about your coaching system, I mean the sequence of documents that you might use in a coaching program that you deliver, from worksheets your clients use to set goals, to any emails you might send afterwards.

I tried a few different coaching software programs out there (and there are about 30 different kinds) but I didn’t want to pay upward of $30 per month for two clients, increasing from there, for a software that didn’t do what I wanted and overlapped with some things.

Maybe that’s just me and my Rebel tendency, but I decided nothing fit the bill therefore it wasn’t worth the fees.

SO I set up my own system using Google Drive and Google Forms, Sheets and Docs.

I use google forms for questionnaires and quizzes, client feedback surveys and my own coaching log. These forms dump all the answers into a Google Sheet for each form, so everything is consolidated automatically.

I use Google Drive to create sharable client folders and as a place to share Docs and Sheets used to contain notes, plans, schedules and other important information.

There are other ways to do this, but I find the Google system is easy to navigate, cloud based and all in one.

For example, you could use Word and Excel to do these things but the form/quiz function isn’t as easy to set up and run with.

Taking Time to Learn

Don’t expect to buy a software and ask someone to teach it to you. That won’t work, and it will be a long and frustrating process.

If you want to use a software, do the free two week trial (or whatever they offer) first and test it out to see if it suits your learning style, and makes sense to you.

Use the help videos and blogs to help you learn how to use it. Don’t ask someone else to do it for you. Set aside several 1 – 2 hour slots over two weeks to have a good go and understand it.

As the future manager and owner of any business systems, you need to start developing these skills right from the start unless you plan to outsource these things.

My litmus test for anything is if you can’t get the hang of it within two weeks, it isn’t the right system for you.

Summary

When you start your business, you want to run it as efficiently as possible to eliminate mistakes and reduce arduous admin tasks by using simple, efficient and effective systems.

Today I’ve outlined four of the best essential business systems that you can use in your service-based business to run a start-to-finish client process, from onboarding and taking payment, to running sessions and closing a program.

The right software will help you to run your books in a way that is accurate and time-efficient and that makes your business look professional.

Use the free trials and allow several hours of using the free training and help videos over two weeks to properly assess if something is right for you, before you buy it.

Then, you can say goodbye to tedious paperwork and manual, laborious, error-laden spreadsheets, and hello to some efficient and effective systems that give you confidence, professionalism and a rinse-and-repeat way of working.

If you need help with business systems and are ready to create your own rinse-and-repeat way of doing business, hit me up on the contact page and we can talk about how I might be able to help you get this up and running, quickly and easily.

Ready to get automated?

Using software will help you to simplify the tasks that you don’t love. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 104: Purpose Case Studies

These case studies present a more organic approach to finding your purpose – an alternative to the method described in episode 102.

Today I want to continue the conversation about purpose. I would like to invite you to do some deep thinking work about what matters to you, where you come from, what your journey has been and why you do what you do.

I talked about purpose in episode 102 and walked through a process for discovering your purpose. 

Perhaps you will see yourself in this journey. Perhaps you will be clearer by the end of this episode about what is most important to you and what your contribution to the world really is.

The first thing that I want to say is that unless you already know what you want to do and are clear on that, a big part of discovering your purpose is discovering yourself. It’s a process of self-awareness and self reflection. 

So if you want to get really clear on your purpose, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about where you’ve come from, what you’ve achieved, what you love to do and what’s most important to you.

Here are a few examples of how that could play out.

The first story is about someone who is super good at organising and planning. This person was trying to figure out her purpose and her niche. 

What she has come from is a life of needing to help out in the family and get siblings and family members organised. She’s come from a place of needing to be self-sufficient with her schooling and study. So organisation is a natural strength and skill that she has.

Through a process of being organised, this person has been able to juggle work and study, family commitments, and to start up and run a business. People come to her when they’re stuck and not sure where to turn, she helps him to get clarity and to make a plan to start taking action – normally starting with getting organised first.

What she loves to do is see the relief on people‘s faces when they get stuff sorted out. And what’s most important to her is having a great routine for her own self care and well-being – in other words being self organised – so that she can show up with energy, confidence, and a sense of calmness.

Example number two is somebody who comes from a public service background, and who has had a lot to do with project management. She comes from a very formal work environment, working for the government, and is very familiar with the policies and procedures.

She was recognised among her peers as one of the best project managers in the division, largely because of her great attention to detail and love of doing things properly and finishing things in a high-quality way. She loved doing that type of work but not necessarily the role that she was in. 

She wanted to start her own business because that’s what she loved – the creativity of building a business and the control that she could have by owning the business rather than working for someone else.

So her purpose is to bring that detailed focus, high-quality and finishing aspects to helping people get their business admin sorted out in a really professional and structured way.  She does tasks for you as a VA and holds you accountable to getting your stuff delivered so she can do her job of making you look really good.

If you want to get really clear on your purpose, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about where you’ve come from, what you’ve achieved, what you love to do and what’s most important to you.

Example number three is somebody who really values spirituality and connection, is very honest and values driven, and comes from a religious background.

She’s become known in her community as a connector as an empathetic listener, and has a wonderful support.

She loves maintaining a spiritual practice of her own and she loves helping others to do the same. What’s important to her is creating peace and calm in the world and a sense of connection with people supporting each other.

So it’s really clear that her purpose is to coach people in groups around their spiritual practice and the impact that they can have on others by being in a place of calmness, self-care and resilience.

Example number four is somebody who has lost over 50 kg. She has had a journey with food, her body and her emotions over many years and has struggled with her weight. 

She has been through cycles of weight loss and then re-gain, and finally realised that her secret to moving forward into a permanent healthy weight situation was simply to manage her mindset – in other words her thoughts and beliefs about herself and food.

What’s important to her is family, relationships, creativity, freedom of expression. Food and weight and her challenges with mindset was stifling those things for her.

What she loves to do is help other women who are busy, ambitious and overcommitted, to do less, be more organised, reduce stress, and find healthy ways to manage their emotions.

Her purpose is to help women to stop over eating and to start living their lives so that they can show up for their loved ones in a really present connected way.

Example number five is somebody who has always loved cooking, even as a little kid. She was always creatively experimenting with food, trying out new ideas. She also spent many years battling low-grade health issues and anxiety. She realised that her gut health was an issue and that she was feeling sluggish and tired because she wasn’t always making healthy choices or cooking the healthiest food.

She experienced a significant improvement in her health by following a plant based diet. And as a result of this and her love of cooking she realised that she loves interacting with people and helping them to avoid chronic disease and take control of their health by eating more plants.

What’s important to her as a value is health, and also spirituality. She regularly meditates and practices yoga and this fits really well with her beliefs about food and health in a holistic sense.

She feels passionate about helping people realise that a disease diagnosis is not a life sentence, and that they can make significant improvements simply by eating more plants more often.

So she feels that her purpose is to educate people about healthy eating, and to coach them around adopting lifestyle habits that will help them to feel more connected to themselves, but also to nip any looming health issues in the bud.

As I work through these examples I realise that I have many hundreds of stories like this. Of people who have figured out their own journey, their own values, what lights them up and what’s important to them in the world.

The stories are shortened and simplified. They don’t reflect the many years of searching or wondering what they’re here for.

What I can say is that if you zoom out from your life and you look at the major highlights, the struggles, and the lowlights, you might see some things that help you to get closer to defining what your purpose is.

Ready to find your purpose?

Finding a way to use your strengths to do something you love can be a life changing! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 103: Four Legal Essentials for Business

Are you unclear on how to be legally compliant and protected in your business? 

Today I want to answer some questions that have come in from students in my Passion to Profit business training program and from some of my private business coaching clients, about the legal essentials of business.

I’m sure you’re aware of why it’s important to operate your business in a legally compliant way, so I want to introduce you to some of the basics that you need to have in place to do that.

In this episode I’m going to list four legal essentials for business that you need to be aware of, so that you can operate your business in a safe, professional and compliant way.

Just a note that I previously published an episode on must-have legal agreements for coaching businesses, and you can listen to that episode here.

I am hoping to secure a special podcast guest on this topic in future – stay tuned.

1. Appropriate Insurance

Any practitioner needs insurance that’s appropriate to their profession and level of risk associated with it, which could include the sale of products. 

There are two types of insurance that you normally buy in a package:

  1. Medical Liability / Professional indemnity, and
  2. Public liability.

Let’s talk about the professional indemnity aspect first.

This is designed to protect you if someone sues you for loss, injury, omission or breach of duty from using your health coaching services. 

In partnership with taking out indemnity insurance, it’s essential that you work within your scope of practice and can prove that it’s your intention to work that way and that you actually ARE working within scope.

This is where formal policies and procedures come in. 

Policies state your intention and include statements of your scope of practice and the standards by which you deliver services and/or products. 

Any practitioner needs insurance that’s appropriate to their profession and level of risk associated with it.

Procedures back up your policies by outlining the specific steps you take to ensure safety, quality, privacy etc in your day to day operations. 

Note that policies and procedures are only evidence if you are actually running your business in alignment with them!

Now let’s talk about public liability.

This is designed to protect you if a third party sues you for accidental injury or damage sustained while using your service.

Imagine that you are holding a workshop in your home and someone trips on your extension cord and smashes their nose on the side of a table and needs costly medical attention.

OUCH! 

That person might decide to sue you to cover their medical bills, claiming that you didn’t take due care to provide a safe environment.

Apart from ensuring safety basics for any events or services you deliver, such as putting a slip-proof mat over your cords and tucking them away safely out of reach of people’s feet, it’s essential that you have public liability to cover you in this situation, and many others that fall under the banner of liability.

It’s important to ensure that your policy includes legal defence costs so that you have adequate legal support to defend allegations made against you arising from your Health Coaching advice or business operations.

If you run a coaching business, then I recommend checking out insurance cover via our industry association – Health Coaches Australia and New Zealand Association.

2. Website Disclaimers

Do all Australian websites need a disclaimer?

Your website needs disclaimers to prove that it is fit for purpose and to state the intention of how the information you provide should be used.

Remember that you can’t control how people interpret your words and ideas. 

So if you give opinions or advice, even inadvertently, a reader may decide to sue you because they experienced loss, misfortune or health issues after reading one of your blogs, or buying one of your DIY products, and misinterpreting the application.

Here is a great blog by Legal123 on this topic

They say that “every website contains information, and in most instances there is a specific intention for the information on the website. A disclaimer will help prevent a viewer suing the website and owner for any loss suffered from taking this information and interpreting it in the wrong way.”

3. Complying with Copyright

According to the Australian Copyright Council, copyright is free and exists the moment you create something in material form. There’s a great fact sheet that I’ll link to in the notes.

In other words, the programs, resources and client worksheets that you create automatically have copyright applied.

When it comes to your website, the whole website is not protected but all of the content you create and add to it IS protected by copyright.

And if you decide to quote somebody or use somebody else’s images or words, you need their permission to do that otherwise you are breaching copyright.

So, what about all those great free images that you get from places like Unsplash.com to use in your blogs or on your workbook covers?

Some sites like Unsplash say that you can use images for free, but they do prefer you to attribute authors in your blogs, and they have a couple of conditions on use.

In the design platform Canva, you can access free images and have freedom of use, but there may be conditions on how paid images may be used in a commercial setting.

The takeaway is – if you are using images, text or music that someone else created, you may need permission to use it but you will need to check the terms of use for that item.

In any case, make sure you include a references section with a hyperlink to the source in any published material that draws on others’ work.

4. Client Data Storage Security

Life was easy before the internet. You simply needed a lockable, fireproof filing cabinet and a pledge to keep records safe and secure for 7 years, before archiving them until the 15 year mark at which point you would shred them.

If you operate in the hard copy world, this is still valid.

But if you’re working online in any capacity, you need good digital security.

There are two parts to client digital data storage and security: 

  1. Making sure that clients sessions are stored on a secure cloud platform if using, and 
  2. Ensuring security of your own PC.

Regarding platform security, I want to share this blog that seems to be independent and gives a great comparison guide. It rates OneDrive as the best for security and privacy as compared with Dropbox and Google Drive at the time this podcast was published.

Even if you’re not using the cloud to store client information, you need to ensure that your computer and digital data are secure.

Individual businesses may be less likely targeted/attacked by hackers, but it’s no guarantee.

Two things you can do to beef up your security are:

  1. To share files with clients via a secure upload/transfer program like wetransfer, then move them to your C drive (off the cloud) or a plug-in external drive that you can lock away in a cabinet.
  2. It’s also critical to have a firewall, virus and malware software to reduce or eliminate the issue of hacking. Malwarebytes is a free online, trusted tool for scanning for and eliminating malware.

Summing it Up

Aside from business law, which I’ll discuss in a future podcast, and legal contracts, which I discussed in a previous podcast, there are four essential ways to ensure that your business is legally compliant and protected. They are:

  1. Appropriate insurance, backed up by policies and procedures
  2. Website disclaimers
  3. Complying with copyright, and
  4. Client data storage security

I have included links in the notes that will help you with these areas. I’m not a lawyer but I’ve been in business and around contracts for a long time and have seen things go pear shaped for others – as well as having a couple of near-misses myself and am grateful I’d done the right thing in both cases to protect myself from client misuse.

Putting the necessary legal infrastructure demonstrates that you’re serious about your business and about operating to a high, professional standard. 

Let me be clear – most of your business activities are probably safe, compliant and harmless. 

But I encourage you to safeguard that by putting the necessary legal infrastructure in place to get your business up to an appropriate standard of legal compliance and protection.

Aside from anything, it demonstrates that you’re serious about your business and about operating to a high, professional standard. 

Ready to get savvy about all aspects of your coaching business?

Knowing what to do can make it easy. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 102: Purpose

This episode is all about purpose, and how understanding your purpose can change your life.

Our self-coaching topic for the Habitology membership in September is PURPOSE. 

Today, I want to talk about what purpose is, why it’s important, and how to figure out your purpose so you can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

My First Thoughts on Purpose

This is one of the earliest memories of asking my mother a question; ‘Mummy, why am I here?’

I was about three years old and was stuck on the reason for my existence. This floored my  mother and she had no idea of what to say. She was concerned about why I was asking such deep questions. 

Fast forward to today, and I am on a path to fulfilling the purpose I identified several years ago.

Purpose Defined

According to Dr Paul Wong, purpose and meaning are linked.

Purpose is simply the reason you exist, while meaning is the intention or reason for doing something – in other words, the beliefs that sit behind your purpose and cause you to take action toward it.

Some people refer to it as ‘your why’ – the big reason why you do what you do in life.

So why is purpose important, and how do you figure out what your purpose is? 

Why Your Purpose Matters

There are lots of reasons why your purpose matters. Here are a few.

Beyond Blue has a great fact sheet that I’ll link to in the notes.

They say that your sense of purpose is the motivation that drives you toward a satisfying future and helps you to get the most from the things you do and achieve – large and small – right now.

When you know your purpose, you feel enthusiastic about waking up. You have plans, intentions, the drive to keep going, motivation and importantly, resilience.

Positive psychologists say that knowing and working toward your purpose helps you to identify and use your strengths, to grow, to feel happy and to thrive.

Think for a moment about the flow on effects of that.

Imagine yourself being someone who knows what they want and how to get it. 

Imagine that you are clear on what you will be doing today, next week and next year, and why you will be doing that.

How does it feel, right now, to think of those things?

By now you should be feeling motivated, alive, vital and all warm and fuzzy, thinking of that result that you could create by having a purpose.

That said and done, let’s talk about how you discover your purpose.

Discovering Your Purpose 

Let me be very clear. 

You can’t necessarily just discover your purpose and live happily ever after. 

For a lot of people, discovering their purpose is a journey that takes time, reflection and life experience. Having said that, there are some things that you can do right now to start getting clarity about your purpose. 

Knowing and working toward your purpose helps you to identify and use your strengths, to grow, to feel happy and to thrive.

Remember I said earlier that your purpose – or the reason you exist – is driven by your reasons for doing something – that is, your beliefs and values.

On that basis, a good starting point for discovering your purpose is to explore your values, character strengths and beliefs.

I also believe you can access more information about your purpose by reflecting on your hobbies, past experiences and successes, times you felt proud, moved, and motivated.

In other words, the times you feel most moved and emotional in life are probably sign posts that you’re close to discovering your purpose.

There are plenty of online quizzes you can do to discover these things about yourself if you’re unsure.

But let me ask you some questions now, to help you get the idea of how it works and to start narrowing it down.

1. What is most meaningful to you?

 

At the big picture level, you can start working out your purpose by figuring out what is most meaningful to you.

According to Psychologist and researcher Dr Joel Vos, there are five main sources of meaning:

1) Materialism: finding meaning through your animals, possessions, professional successes, finances, nature, leisure activities, sexual experiences, health, and/or sports.

2) Self-growth: finding meaning through resilience/coping, self-insight, self-acceptance, creative self expression, self-reliance, reaching daily goals, and/or self-care.

3) Social: finding meaning through feeling connected with family and friends, belonging in a specific community, contributing to society, and/or taking care of children.

4) Transcendent: finding meaning through purpose in life, personal growth, self-development, the temporality of life, justice and ethics, religion, and/or spirituality.

5)  Being here: finding meaning through your own uniqueness, for simply being alive, connecting with others and the world, and/or freedom.

Reflect on yourself right now – are your interests spread across these areas evenly, or do one or two stand out for you?

This is a starting point.

2. What are your values? 

Now, reflect on your values, or what’s most important to you.  

Values are things that are important to you and that you feel strongly about.

A rough definition of values is that they are the principles by which you live your life. They guide all of the thoughts and beliefs you have and actions you take.

When you live in alignment with your values, in other words, when you are being authentic, then you are living in integrity – which simply means your behaviour is consistent across all areas of life, driven by your values.

Think for a moment about different people that you know. 

You probably know some people who place high value on achievement and spend all their time striving to innovate, or get ahead. Others you know may be passionate about creating community, and others are focused on spirituality.

It’s great that we’re all different and have different values, because each of us contributes in some way to humanity, the world and our human ecosystem.

With all that said – what are YOUR values? 

If you’re unclear on this, I will place a link to a ‘defining your values’ booklet on my website that you can download to help you get some clarity. 

I think about what’s important to me, and it’s definitely being of service, achievement innovation, and fairness. 

These are huge for me, both important and meaningful. 

They drive nearly everything that I do in my life.

2. What are your strengths?

 

The next step in working out your purpose is to consider your strengths, as these are the things you’re good at, and which you use to overcome challenges. 

Strengths are things that you role model for others – that means others come to you to get help with the things that you’re masterful at – so they are also part of your purpose.

Strengths are strong character traits that you use often in life, and in most cases you’re using those strengths to help you succeed or overcome challenges.

Strengths are defined as things that you are good at AND enjoy.

You can take a VIA test and work this out but better still, ask your closest friends and family to describe three of your greatest strengths.

What do people say about you?

I collect words that people say about me in my coaching log. The list I have says that people think I’m calm, non-judgemental, persistent, productive, creative, inspiring and knowledgeable.

If you’re still unsure about your strengths, you can reflect on the qualities you like most in others, as a clue to what your values might be.

For example, if you admire people who are honest and forthright, then you are probably that way yourself, and they are probably strengths of yours.

Another way you can work out your strengths is to reflect on what people rely on you for.

Do they always come to you for help with sorting out their messy schedules?

Do they come to you for a friendly ear when they’re down?

Do they beg you to bake your famous biscuits?

Do they seek support with massive cleanups?

Do they get your advice on gardening?

Everybody has something that people turn to them for. What is it for you?

People often come to me when they’re doubting themselves, overwhelmed or unclear. 

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve helped people write resumes, or reviewed blogs or marketing copy, or are unsure about something – and I’ve helped them to acknowledge and get perspective on their strengths, achievements and their greatness.

3. What gets you fired up?

Finally, purpose is ignited by passion. The things that you get fired up draw on what is meaningful, your values and also your strengths, so even if you aren’t clear on those other three areas, your passion can be a very good indicator of your purpose in life.

Zoom out from your thoughts for a moment and think about what gets you ranty.

What is the injustice that you feel emotional about, or the outcome you’re passionate to see?

Be very specific about this.

Think about situations or injustices or exciting innovations or visions that get you fired up.  What are they?

Pulling it Together 

I’ll give you an example of how to pull this all together, walking through these four steps.

For me, all areas of meaning are important to me, but self-growth and contributing to society are big.

Below that, my core values are being of service, achievement, innovation, and equal opportunity. 

Feedback says my strengths according to the VIA test are creativity, gratitude, perspective and fairness. Client feedback is that I’m calm, non-judgemental, persistent, productive, creative, inspiring and knowledgeable. I think I am innovative and have a pioneering spirit and I value achievement.

People come to me when they lack self-belief, when they are bogged down in overwhelm or self-doubt.

What gets me ranty?

Well, I get ranty about the fact that we waste so much food. I get ranty that there are people who could be healthier if they just knew what to do and had support to do it, that we could solve our nation’s health issues if people ate better and were less stressed.

I get ranty that there are people who have amazing businesses that could help so many people – if those business owners just had the self-belief and the means of getting their greatness out into the world.

If I pull this all together, a few things are clear: I am passionate about creating health and wellbeing in the world, but I realise I can have the greatest impact in the world by helping people start business in the health and wellbeing space, and to believe in themselves and back themselves.

That, my friends, is my purpose.

What’s yours?

For a lot of people, discovering their purpose is a journey that takes time, reflection and life experience.

Summary

Finding your purpose can seem a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

But if you follow this four step approach – to look at the pillars of meaning, to define your values, to get clear on your strengths and to find out what makes you ranty – then you’re well on your way to finding the answer.

If you need help to figure out your purpose, join the Habitology membership now, because September 2020’s self-coaching topic is finding your PURPOSE.

Ready to find your purpose?

Our September intake is all about finding your own purpose. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 101: Two Hot Marketing Success Tips

In this episode I’ll be sharing two powerful aha moments that my clients have had this week, so that you can get really comfortable with marketing AND do it with confidence, and sell your stuff like a boss.

This past week I have had two really interesting conversations with a couple of my clients about what marketing is and what marketing isn’t and how to get into the right mindset to really embrace marketing and do it well. 

These conversations were eye openers for my clients and it helped them to totally get a different perspective on  marketing, so I wanted to share them with you here today. 

The tips are to help you 1. feel totally comfortable about marketing and how to do it, and 2. To sell your services with a sense of conviction.

Tip #1 – a comfortable marketing perspective

One of my clients is SUPER good at connecting and networking with people, yet she has always shied away from the idea of ‘marketing’

I explained to her that, essentially, marketing is exactly like the process of making friends.

You need to invest in friendships and earn the right to be a friend before you can ask them to help you move house, or babysit your three kids for a weekend, right?

So in the same sense, marketing is a process of getting to know your kind of people who have a common problem and interest. And it’s about networking with colleagues in the same way, having general conversations on points of interest and staying in touch.

You’re staying connected with those friends (potential clients) and talking about things that matter to you both. 

You can do this on an email list, or in a FB group, or via a WhatsApp feed, or a meetup group, or whatever way you want.

The point is, whichever way you choose to build and maintain a community of ‘friends’ (prospective clients), you need to show up consistently and talk to them about what matters.

By being a good friend – supporting them, offering help and value, helping them stay motivated or inspired – they will want to reciprocate.

So every now and again, when you DO make an offer, free or paid, they’ll either want to buy it, or recommend it to others, because they think you’re amazing.

Once I’d explained marketing this way to my client, she had a massive shift and it suddenly opened up so much understanding and possibility for how her marketing could look, going forward.

Tip #2 – celebrating success to sell more, more easily

I have helped several clients with sales conversations recently and there seems to be a common theme – the feeling of I’m not good enough.

Sound familiar?

Most of us are taught that we shouldn’t be boastful, or that we should be humble, or that we shouldn’t talk ourselves up.

I totally agree! Humility is an important and attractive trait.

BUT you can be humble AND promote yourself at the same time in an authentic way, so that you can sell more easily.

The main obstacle most people face is that they’re stuck in the ‘I haven’t done anything amazing’ headspace.

The way to get around that is to celebrate your success – then the authentic sales copy will come tumbling out.

Here’s an example.

I was speaking with someone trying to reach people in a new niche, and she was feeling pretty disheartened by what she described as a ‘lack of ideal clients’ in her latest program.

With some coaching conversation around her successes, it was revealed that she had more clients than she thought. In fact, 50% of her current clients were her ideal clients.

Further, those 50% of clients were all very well networked and could introduce her to potential opportunities in the corporate space.

Celebrating success created a fresh perspective on things.

Coupled with Tip #1 above, suddenly a whole new world opened up for this client of mine, in terms of marketing and she left our session feeling energized, excited and very proactive about connecting with people (instead of marketing) and expanding her niche.

By celebrating her own wins, she was able to see what she had achieved and how to go out and talk about the wins of her clients so she could attract more of the same.

I had two other experiences like this in the past week and it made me realise that I had to share this with you!

In all cases, it all comes down to that good old coaching question – what are you making this mean?

The facts of the situation never change – it’s your interpretation of them – or what you make them  mean – that affects whether you feel like a loser or a winner.

The great thing is that you can control your thoughts.

And to succeed in anything, in business or life, you need to believe in yourself and your methods. 

In Summary

Marketing and making friends follow roughly the same sort of process. You have to have some general conversation to build trust and rapport over a period of time – at least a few months – before you can expect anything in return. You need to give first in order to receive, as Stephen Covey would say.

Marketing is a process of getting to know your kind of people who have a common problem and interest.

In addition, when you celebrate your successes, you see valuable wins which can help you to either feel more confident in talking about what you do, or even better, to help you speak about the results your clients achieved, so you can attract more of the same.

It all comes down to your thinking patterns – they rule your results.

If you want to master your thinking and beliefs about your business, visit melaniejwhite.com/habitology and join my monthly membership where you’ll gain the skills, structure, support and confidence you need to take action and get traction in your business.

Ready to get more comfortable with marketing?

There are habits can help you sell more easily! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 100: Client Centric Business with Bridget Healy

Today’s interview with Bridget Healy is a great example of how you can create a global brand using a client centric approach to business.

Visit Bridget and buy quality, values-led products online!

https://www.noopii.co.nz/

Ready to up-size your business?

Everything is possible with the right tools. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 99: Money Values

Today we’re going to talk about how your money values affect the quality of clients you attract and how to hack your own brain to improve both!

Today‘s episode is a short one, but a powerful one.

There is a pile of research that shows the old adage – that ‘like attracts like’ – is true.

An article in the Huff Post, written by PhD Margaret Paul, provides a great summary of how and why this occurs in relationships.

This is very relevant to today’s episode, because let’s face it – your life and your business are FULL of relationships, including relationships that are based around money.

I want to read you a direct quote from the article:

“While no one deliberately seeks out someone who is closed, negative and needy, if this is you, this is what you will attract into your life. If you want a loving relationship, then you need to do the work of learning how to take emotional responsibility.” 

Dr Paul’s antidote for attracting the wrong kind of people into your life is to take stock of the way you treat yourself, and to work on your own mind, thoughts, feelings and actions.

Who Are You Attracting?

Start by looking at the types of clients you typically attract.

Are they penny pinchers? 

Are they fearful of spending money? 

Do they find it hard to say no?

Do they see spending on themselves as wasteful, or a risk?

Let’s first acknowledge that this is NOT a sustainable business model.

But further, if your clients behave like this then it is a pretty good indication that your money values are similar and you’ll continue to attract people like this.

What you say to yourself repeatedly is both an instruction to your body on how to act, but also, it creates or reinforces your beliefs.

If you don’t value yourself, if you find it hard to ask for money, or if you just want to help people who have nothing, then you’ll remain stuck in this space and it will be difficult to build a business, let alone a viable one.

So, what’s the answer?

It’s that you’ll need to work on your thoughts so you can change your own beliefs.

What you say to yourself repeatedly is both an instruction to your body on how to act, but also, it creates or reinforces your beliefs.

The first question I’d invite you to ask yourself is – is business really for me?  I recommend thinking long and hard about whether you are willing to do the mindset work required to run a successful business.

This means actively working on your self-talk and your self-worth, so that you can start to change your money values over a period of time – perhaps a few months.

If you feel that this is definitely what you want – not to work for someone else but to truly run your own business, then let’s talk about what you can do in the meantime to start shifting your money values.

Becoming Buyable

Even if your money values need a bit of work, there are some things you can do right now to help you communicate value to your clients – and yourself – more easily.

1. Describe services as affordable and set prices that feel good to you, right now.

The word affordable has a positive ring to it and creates openness around pricing for both you and your client.

Now, to get your pricing right, I developed something I call the goldilocks pricing method, and it works like this.

If your fees are too high in your own mind, you’ll feel scared to ask for the money and it will block you from selling. Your clients will sense the doubt in you and it will transfer to them!

If your fees are too low in your mind, you’ll feel resentful about being paid too little and it will show up as negative energy around your product.

Remember that this pricing is relevant right now, and that you can revise and increase it whenever you like.

2. Communicate value, not price

When we focus on talking about price, we draw attention to the price, and it becomes the main event and the main factor affecting someone’s decision to buy or not.

It’s WAY better to prove the value of what you offer.

To do this, you can talk to potential clients about the value of what you’re doing in terms of:

what it will save them e.g. they’re no longer going to spend $100 per week on wine

  • what they might be able to let go of e.g. no more toxic relationships, or may be able to come of medications with doctors help
  • the value of tangible elements e.g. physical resources that are included such as a welcome pack, a journal etc
  • what it’s worth e.g. testimonials, where clients gush about the value of working with you and how it’s changed their lives
  • what they will gain e.g. typical results from other clients, outcomes they wish to realise that are valuable to them.

3. Make charity a longer term goal

I have seen people start businesses with the sole aim of helping those who are less fortunate – and not wanting or being able to charge very much – then failing in business because they couldn’t meet their income needs.

Quite simply, it’s better to make your money first, then you are way better positioned to help people who are less fortunate!

Summary

Today we discussed the fact that like attracts like – it’s a proven phenomenon.

That means if you have poor money values, you will probably attract those kinds of clients into your life and it will hinder your ability to build a profitable business!

The first thing to ask yourself is whether you are really cut out for business – whether you are prepared to do the mental or mindset work required to do it justice.

And if you are, then changing your self talk around money will be a priority for you. 

In the meantime, how can you attract clients who are willing to pay?

Coaches help people accumulate good habits that will help them achieve. 

Firstly, by describing your services as affordable, and setting a price that is comfortable to you, using my goldilocks method.

Secondly, by shifting the conversation away from price and onto value.

Thirdly, for those of you who want to help the disadvantaged, it will probably be easier if you create profitable business first, then make charity your longer term goal.

Coaches help people accumulate good habits that will help them achieve. 

Ready to change your money values?

You can change your relationship with money by changing the way you think! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 98: Consistency with the CARE Model

Today I want to walk you through a model I’ve developed – the CARE model – to help you be consistent with self-care and build resilience.

As I mentioned in episode 96, resilience is the ability to adapt to and cope with life’s challenges with ease, and to bounce back and thrive in spite of them.

As I’ve mentioned previously, if resilience were money, it would be a $50,000 buffer in your bank account. In other words, building resilience requires a regular investment in your own physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

One of the challenges people face is being consistent with self-care.

You know what it’s like – the kids need something urgently, or you get loaded with extra work, or your partner wants you to spend some quality time with them and your exercise session or meal prep or book chapter gets shelved – yet again – for later.

In the short term, that’s ok, but if that keeps happening, then you’re adding nothing to your resilience bank account, so your ability to cope with stress, be creative, make decisions is going to decrease.

Now is a great time to decide how you want to respond to stress in the future – whether it’s a downwards spiral or to lift yourself up out of the chaos you feel.

And assuming you want to choose the latter, then you will want to choose some self care activities that are absolutely not-negotiable, and that you can be consistent with.

Let’s look at a simple, five-step process to get it right – the CARE model.

Self Care to Build Resilience

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

It could be described as a more positive set of habits that can create an upward spiral rather than a downward one.

Some self-care activities that build resilience could include exercise, being in nature, painting, gardening, singing, reading, cleaning up or getting organised, cooking and eating healthy nutritious food, speaking aloud, writing, drawing, playing with your pets, sleeping well, doing puzzles or playing games, speaking to friends or families, being part of a community. 

A friend of mine came up with a novel self-care activity recently.

She sat with her partner and they looked through photos from their 2018 European holiday, while reading their travel diaries together and reflecting on the memories of some wonderful experiences.

Reflect on your own life for a moment – how would you rate your current level of self-care? Are you attending to it as much as you’d like, and in ways that you enjoy?

Here are some clues that you might need more or different self-care habits:

  • You’re experiencing insomnia
  • You have food cravings
  • You are overeating or overdrinking
  • You feel stressed
  • You are short of breath, feeling rushed or have fast resting pulse
  • You have aches and pains
  • You feel run down, tired or unwell.

Any of these indicates something needs to change!

To that end, what are some creative self-care activities you can think of that would help you to build resilience?

Step 4 is to ask: What does my ideal self-CARE routine look like to meet all my needs?  

Now, for each of the activities you’ve listed, use the CARE model.

Is the activity:

  • Convenient – does it fit easily into your existing lifestyle?
  • Attractive – do you want to do the activity? Would you enjoy it?
  • Realistic – can you enjoy a benefit from as little as 5 minutes up to 50, depending on available time? Does it fit in?
  • Energizing – do you feel good afterwards? Remember, this could be accomplished, productive, uplifted or have a calm energy.

Score each activity according to this model.

If an activity ticks all those boxes – great! 

If an activity doesn’t tick all those boxes, it could become a source of guilt, so you’ll want to change it or replace it.

Firstly, look at any activities you currently do and ask yourself how you could change them to fit with the CARE model.

Then, look at any new activities and ask yourself how you could make them fit with the CARE model. 

Step 5 is to develop a realistic, not-negotiable schedule.

Start with what’s already working – the things you are currently doing consistently.

Schedule those into your calendar, making sure you feel at least 9/10 confident that you could do them each week, in that time slot.

Now, consider whether you have room for any more right now, and can add to your self-care routine without stress, pressure or guilt.

If you can’t, keep your routine as it is and review it in a couple of weeks.

If you can, then consider one or maybe two things you could add, even just once or twice in the coming two weeks, to build more self-care into your life.

It takes about 12 weeks or 86 days to habituate a new routine on average, but often much longer.

This is a gradual process, and you’re building up your self-care activities in a way that is low-pressure, comfortable and achievable. 

Remember:

  1.     Keep it simple – rather under-commit and exceed your own expectations, and
  2.     Be extremely specific about what you will do and when so you always win.
  3.     Build your habits gradually, starting with what suits your current capacity.

Summary

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

It’s a positive set of habits that can create an upward spiral rather than a downward one.

When people struggle to be consistent with self care, it’s usually because they expect too much of themselves, try to do too many different things, or do things they think they should rather than what they like.

Self-care is any activity that builds and maintains your physical, mental, and emotional health and it’s therefore essential for building resilience.

I described a CARE Model to help you overcome those obstacles, and to help you get clear on the habits that will be sustainable in the long term.

Then, there was the five-step process I outlined to help you implement habit change on your own.

What I’ve described today is exactly how a Health and Wellness Coach works. We can support you to become motivated and self-accountable for building your own realistic, not-negotiable self-care routine that will build resilience, capacity and a better quality life.

Ready to be consistent with self care?

Habitology can give you the support you need to create your own realistic self-care routine that will build resilience and improve your quality of life! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 97: Defining a New Normal in Business

As a result of lock down, a lot of people and businesses have been re-thinking what’s important to them, their values, and how they want their business to run.

Today, we’ll look at these related aspects and walk you through a simple process for defining a new normal.

The Need for Change

Before lockdown you were probably doing what you loved, had business goals and aspirations, a plan of attack, and you were using some marketing processes that allowed your business to hum along.

But since lockdown, our clients’ priorities have changed, and so have ours. 

Think firstly of your ideal client. 

They may no longer want a body transformation, but have decided their priority is to be healthy and mentally stable enough to support their families. 

They may have decided not to go out for coffee or food and to rather cook at home or, they may be working at home such that going out for food is no longer part of their work day.

They may be afraid of going back to the gym in case they become ill.

On the other flipside, some people may want to get outdoors to connect with nature, to grab a take away, or to redefine their health goals and weight loss approach.

To sum it up, business the ‘old way’ may not suit your customer anymore. Your business may need to rebuild customer trust if they are reluctant to attend businesses in person or you may need to pivot your messaging and products or services to speak to what’s important right now to your customer.

Also, think about what’s changed for you as a business owner.

Maybe you have realised you need more work life balance, so the way you do business needs to change.

Perhaps you’ve been forced to downsize, leave your premises or shift the balance of your work to a more online format.

Or even further, maybe you’ve decided to pivot at a bigger scale and pursue a different type of business model or a different niche.

In any case, because of all that’s changed for both you and your ideal client, you’ll need to rethink your business vision and what you want your new normal looks like, and map a clear path to get there.

What’s Important to Your Clients

A lot of people have realised that their families and significant relationships, self-care and health are more important than they used to be.

They are more aware of, and focused on, their mental health.

As a result, people are looking at at-home solutions for health, fitness and wellbeing.

People are talking about taking the pressure off, doing less, and being more mindful. There has been a shift away from the idea of big goals and more into maintaining what they have.

Since lockdown, our clients’ priorities have changed, and so have ours. 

They are shopping more online, but may be more mindful about their purchases and more price sensitive due to economic uncertainty.

They are seeking contactless or more efficient ways of buying.

Consumers may be more ready to leave their old brands and try new things.

They are more willing to buy local and support local businesses and economies, and are looking for ‘value’.

They are more values-driven in their purchases, looking for safety, equality, environmental stewardship, and businesses who are giving back or supporting their community.

In any case, the businesses who’ve done best during lockdown have been those who are actively supporting their communities.

People are risk averse and generally avoiding public social events, but may be engaging more in online communities with like-minded people to feel connected.

They are spending more time viewing media, especially video.

What’s Important for You

Remember that business owners are also consumers. You have probably exhibited a lot of the shifts in thinking and action around your purchases as your customers have.

This puts you in a perfect position to pivot, move sideways or reinvent the way you do business.

You may be ready to shrink or scale your business, to shift to an online presence, to engage with your clients on different platforms, or to rethink your value proposition.

Whatever your situation, it’s time to rethink your business vision, strategy and goals.

Defining Your New (Business) Normal

It’s typical to start any business with a vision of what you want it to stand for and become, and how you will operate going forward.

I think exactly the same process is useful here and I’d like to walk you through it.

Step 1 – Define What’s Important (to you and your customer)

Let’s start with you.

Considering what you’ve gone through, your skills and your strengths, what’s important to you right now?

How will that play out in your business?

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you run a cafe. And let’s say that you’ve realised how important family and your health are to you and in your life. That your strengths are warmth, connection and giving back.

Looking at your old business vision, you might decide that you want to pivot to a delivery or take-away model, offering a healthier menu of family-sized meals, along with a personal hand-written note of thanks for supporting a local business and some staff training on customer service and care.

Or perhaps you run a fitness studio, or work as a coach in a face to face setting. Your strengths are compassion, zest and vitality. The personal connection with clients is important to you, but is difficult in lockdown.

Perhaps your new business model will be to shift from 80% face to face services, to 80% zoom services so that your clients can connect with you from their home, and altered work hours so that you can get enough downtime from the screen.

You could still offer services or events in an outdoor setting with social distancing as allowed, or organise online fitness community events that support your clients around motivation, energy and fear.

So, what about your customer?

We know that pricing is a consideration, yet they want connection and a values-driven approach.

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes will help you work out the best way forward. 

Perhaps you need to shift your messaging. Perhaps they no longer want a “body transformation”, but are looking to “stay on track” with their eating or exercise or to be kinder to themselves, or develop consistent self-care rituals.

I had this conversation with a coach today, who has seen a shift in clients away from the idea of transformation and into staying on track and self-care, and into more of mental well- being habits than eating and exercise.

Customers want safety and convenience right now; how can you deliver that?

Customers want positivity and some fun; what could you do that offers that?

Creative thinking is required, and so your own resilience and self-care are essentials for facilitating that. After all, nothing creative comes out of a stressed brain.

Step 2 – Ask Your Customer

In my experience, most business owners don’t consult with their clients to find out what they want and need.

But the purpose of any business is to find out what customers want, and then give it to them.

Phone surveys, email surveys, written surveys, competitions with survey questions and other methods can be used to ask your customers what they want and need.

You can ask simple questions like; 

  1. How do you prefer to buy from us? 
  2. What do you like best about working with us? 
  3. What can we do better? 
  4. Is there something we don’t currently offer, that you’d like to buy from us?

I worked with a business once who added $100K revenue to their business and saved $50K on an unnecessary software just by doing a survey like this of their existing customers.

Surveys are part of your marketing; they demonstrate that you care enough about your customer to find out what they want and need, and how you can serve them.

Even better, post a thank you note to their address as a personal touch for participating in the survey.

Your customers feel heard, appreciated and valued. And they will stick with you, possibly spending more, or referring others.

Step 3 – Develop a Strategy

Most of the time, it’s best to make only one or two changes, or a few small changes to your business at a time.

If you survey your clients first, it gives them advance warning that changes may be coming.

Gaining their feedback means you can start working out a strategy that is feasible.

Your strategy could include one or two of the following:

  1. Changing your pricing strategy e.g. 
    1. discount, 
    2. packaging, 
    3. bonuses
  2. Adding a new service or product line e.g. 
    1. smaller purchase, 
    2. product to suit the at-home arrangements, 
    3. product or service to suit their altered priorities
    4. delivering services via video or 
    5. offering a low cost community membership
  3. Collaborating e.g. adding perceived value and/or convenience
  4. Convenience e.g. home delivery, online delivery

It’s important at this stage to see what others are doing and what’s working, not for the sake of comparison, but to validate the idea and give some certainty that it could work for you. 

The final steps would be to get clear on your support, resources and partners that you might need to bring it into action, and then develop a plan.

I’ll cover that in the next episode.

Summary

Today, I’ve talked about how our world and our priorities and values have shifted.

This has undoubtedly changed the way we buy, and the way we sell.

Business the ‘old way’ may not suit your customer anymore.

I’ve outlined the first three steps in a process to review and revise your business vision, to find out what your customers want from you right now, and to brainstorm some strategies to achieve it.

Hopefully, you’re clear that consulting with your customers will tell you most of what you need to know.

And if that aligns with what you want and can deliver, it’s time to pivot and make it happen.

Ready to find your new normal?

Considering what you’ve gone through, your skills and your strengths, what’s important to you right now? If you’re ready to break old habits and move forward I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 96: 5 Tips For Coping With Uncertainty

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s not until you’re tested that you realise how much resilience you actually have, or not.

In this episode, I’ll define resilience, and talk about five things you can do to better cope with uncertainty and build resilience.

Here are three definitions:

  1. “Advancing despite adversity”
  2. “Recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”
  3. “The capacity to respond to stress in a healthy way

When you’re resilient, you’re better equipped to cope with uncertainty.

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently.

If resilience was money, it would be like having $50,000 in your account as a buffer. Just like savings in the bank, resilience is a kind of personal wealth that must be built over time.

Firstly, I’d like to talk about the skills of coping with uncertainty.

Then I’d like to talk about habits you can develop to build resilience and help you cope better.

5 Tips for Coping With Uncertainty

1. It’s normal to feel stressed

As we have seen, uncertainty is a normal and unavoidable part of life. 

We have control over many things, but we can’t control everything that happens to us. Life throws us all curve balls at times. We lose our jobs, people pass away, our kids leave home, and relationships change.

We may feel stressed about what we can’t control, and that is normal.

Stress is a response that helps us to survive. Healthy or positive stress allows us to adapt and make good out of situations.

It’s unhealthy or negative stress that feels difficult and needs attention.

Recognising and accepting that you feel stress, and understanding which type it is, is a first step to being able to cope and build resilience. 

It can give a sense of relief to recognise that you’re feeling something right now, that is normal and will pass.

2. Process negative emotions (feel the feelings)

 

For a lot of adults processing the emotions around these types of events is difficult. Many of us have forgotten how to do it, or we are too busy to give this attention. 

It’s a really important skill to have because we cannot suppress negative emotions. They hang around in the background and eventually come out like a big volcano when you least expect it or, when something stressful happens.

If you want to learn how to process emotions properly, watch your kids. Think about the last time your child fell over or got in a verbal fight with a sibling or friend. 

They probably talked about how they felt, they probably cried a lot, and eventually the crying would have stopped and they would have settled down and moved on.

Making time and space to acknowledge and process your emotions, with self-compassion, can help you to cope better with stress.

3. Focus on what you can control to dial down stress and emotional intensity.

Please know that stress is caused in your own brain, and therefore, you can use your brain to resolve stress.

What I’m saying is that we are the ones that decide how we will react to life’s circumstances.

While your brain can tell you a big story about how bad things are, realise that you are not your thoughts. Thoughts come into your head, but they are not necessarily facts.

Rather than get bogged down with your thoughts, it can help you to see the flipside – what I call factualising.

By focusing on the things that you can control, you can shift out of an emotional state and back into some logical thinking which can help to calm things down.

This could include:

  • Listing things that you do have control of
  • Identifying all the things that ARE stable in your life right now
  • Recognising how you have succeeded in the past

4. Use Your existing skills

Think about any uncertain times you’ve faced in life, and what you learned from those times.

What skills did you use? How did you use them? What was the outcome?

Here’s an example.

A client of mine said she had struggled with uncertainty around her job. Every week she was told a different thing, and she felt a lack of control over her future, and even her ability to make a weekly plan.

When we discussed this further, she identified that one of her skills was organising and another was persistence, and a third was being able to ask for help.

She realised that in the past, she had been able to develop a week by week schedule to help her cope with the uncertainty, and she realised she could do this again, and reach out for help to make sure it was the right thing for her.

By focusing on using her skills, she was able to get through her period of uncertainty.

5. Self Care

 

Self care simply means doing things that boost your physical, mental or emotional health.

Most of us don’t make enough time to do these important things, but they help to create healthy hormonal responses, remove us from the uncomfortable situation, give us an outlet for stress, and help us feel mentally and emotionally replenished.

Self-care activities can also feel like an achievement, even when life is uncertain.

Some self-care activities tick all of those boxes, for example, exercise.

Let’s say that you’re able to go out into your yard and use a skipping rope for a few minutes. You break a sweat. You release some tension and you release endorphins.

Your mind is on the present moment, not tripping over the jump rope and staying upright, or counting your reps.

Meanwhile, you’re outside in nature. You experience physical sensations that distract your mental worries. You remember what it’s like to be outside again. 

After all that, you feel like you’ve achieved something and you have something to show for it – an elevated heart rate, knowing you’ve done some good for yourself, and you’re feeling calmer and more in control.

As you can see, self-care is a way of building and maintaining resilience. It’s what puts credits in the bank for when you need them.

If you actively practice self-care activities each week you can keep building your mental and emotional savings account.

Summary

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

Resilience is your ability to bounce back from stress and it’s something you need to be able to cope with uncertainty in a healthy way. 

It’s often not until your busy life is disrupted that you realise that you’re not coping well and need to build your resilience.

I described five ways to cope with uncertainty and start building resilience:

  1. To acknowledge it’s normal to feel stressed 
  2. Processing negative emotions – feeling the feelings and letting go
  3. Focus on what you can control 
  4. Identify your existing skills and decide how to use them
  5. Develop a consistent self-care practice

Ready to build resilience?

Resilience is built by using a set of skills and doing certain habits consistently. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 95: Validation and Profit

This episode shows you why and how validation using rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, more sales, higher prices and better profit.

Today’s episode is called validation, and I’m talking in relation to results that your clients get in your coaching business.

In my last episode I talked about how to sell more coaching programs with the inclusion of monitoring data, and that’s the backstory for today’s episode.

I’ve chosen the title ‘validation’ because I want to show you why and how rigorous, high quality data is your secret weapon for helping your clients to get better results and make long lasting change, and to create more value, sales and higher prices.

What is validation?

Let’s start with a simple definition.

  • The action of checking or proving the accuracy of something.
  • The recognition or affirmation that something is valid or worthwhile.

 Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Why Validation Matters

Let’s start by talking about why validation is important.

Let’s say that your client is living a stressful life, and she quite likes the idea of regular meditation and wants to start up a regular habit to help her relieve stress.

To create a consistent habit, you know she’ll need to convince her brain that it’s worth it.

That’s because the human brain prefers to run efficiently, on autopilot, doing the things it already knows how to do well, so it can focus on threat, survival and fun stuff.

Therefore, according to your client’s brain, having to bring focus on developing a new habit is a chore and possibly a risk. 

Change is hard for our brains, and data gives our brains the validation they need to decide a habit is worth continuing.

Aside from learning how to do the habit, her brain requires a process of ‘learning’ a whole bunch of micro habits and rewiring entrenched behaviours that happen before and after the meditation, before it can get the habit to happen automatically.

For example, she’ll have to learn to stop what she’s doing, say no to people, set aside time, stop saying she’s too busy, and then do the darn 10 minutes of meditation.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

As she juggles her competing priorities and her already entrained habits that create stress, her brain will start to realise that starting a simple habit like 10 minutes of meditation is actually hard to fit in, commit to, and do consistently. 

That will probably feel uncomfortable. She’ll have the urge to continue with her ‘more important’ stuff.

And a day after she meditates, she may feel totally stressed again, so her brain will question how effective it really is, because the results may not be huge or immediate. 

Her belief system could jump on the bandwagon. She might start telling herself that this is too hard. She might tell herself that I might as well give up, because I am probably going to fail anyway.

This is why validation with evidence-based data is so important.

It does more than just prove to your client’s brain that a habit is safe and worth the effort. 

It also provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

This is especially important for habits that have little to no visible, immediate impact.

For example, there are habits like physical exercise where you feel the endorphin rush and sweat afterwards. There’s a tangible impact.

Compare that with deep breathing exercises to lower your blood pressure and stress hormones. Those are two pretty invisible measures that your habits had a gradual, positive impact. No immediate reward there.

That begs the question – how do we help our clients monitor and measure progress? What kind of data are going to be meaningful?

Let’s look at two types of data – qualitative, and quantitative.

Qualitative (subjective) data

Normally coaches use tools that are subjective, that is, where the client rates themselves.

We use various quizzes, questionnaires, 1 – 10 rulers, sleep diaries, logging sheets and other self-rating tools to help clients understand what they feel, who they are and what’s changing for them.

They use these to rate hunger, energy, mood, stress, sleep quality, response to food and similar types of information.

Qualitative data is very important because it captures how the client feels at any given moment. The problem is, that information is subject to bias.

A client who self-rates may feel exuberant one day, and miserable two days later, so their mood will skew the data.

Even the more high level, scientifically validated questionnaires can be influenced by bias.

I had a client do a quiz several times because she wasn’t sure that her answers were accurate and she got a different answer every time.

How would you feel about the data if that was you? 

How much would you trust it? 

Could you rely on it?

That’s why coaching programs can be bolstered by rigorous data collected in an accurate way.

This kind of data provides the validation our clients need to believe that they can do something, and to believe that their new habits are ‘working’ and ‘getting results.’

Quantitative (objective) data

This is essentially what quantitative data is – objective data that is measured accurately using numbers.

Even better, using calibrated devices to measure physiological data that shows the impact of our habits on our bodies and minds.

One of the best examples is the bioimpedance scale which measures body composition – in other words – bone, fat, muscle and water. 

While not as accurate as a Dexa scan, bioimpedance is an easy and accessible method to quantify body weight, muscle mass, bone mass, hydration and body fat percentage.

Obviously the more expensive models give more accurate data, and a Dexa scan is the most accurate.

I used this scale early in my business – from 2005 onwards – as a marketing tool. At health expos I had lines of people out the door wanting to get their body composition measured, while other vendors stood at empty stands, wondering what was going on.

 

Data provides tangible evidence that your client is capable of change and that the results are worth pursuing.

I used this scale in my coaching program to help clients see tangible changes in their bodies – inside and out – in conjunction with other qualitative and quantitative measures.

These methods gave my clients plenty of evidence that their bodies and minds were changing and, it gave me a huge data set that could be used to demonstrate typical client outcomes in my marketing.

For example, I could specify that 99% of my clients lost weight during my program, ranging from 3 – 15kg, and with the majority of that being body fat based on the numbers recorded.

These were all things that they measured during the life of their program, so they had great awareness of what had changed.

They loved the physiological data as it proved their lifestyle changes were having an impact and it validated how they felt.

You can imagine what that did for my marketing!

My clients would say things like – “there is real science behind this”, and “I have gotten so much more out of this program than I ever expected!”

That’s just with a simple scale.

More recently, some higher tech options have come up to get even better quality data.

One that comes to mind is the heart rate strap and watch that measure exercise performance.

There are a variety of wearable watches that measure various physiological data. 

I can imagine what my clients will say in future when I use these devices as part of their coaching program and I’m very excited about the value, precision and accurate response measurement that can be developed.

It will help us to add tangibility to our somewhat intangible services.

It will help your clients to quickly identify which of their habit based interventions are having the greatest impact, and help them pinpoint where to focus their energy.

They will have a greater appreciation for the effectiveness of habit-based intervention, and a greater awareness of their own best solutions for managing physical and mental health.

And finally, it will give coaches a competitive advantage over others, help them to sell more programs, at higher prices and retain clients for a longer period, as has been my own experience in my own coaching business.

I am excited to share some new research in this area in coming months.

For now, if you would like to know more about monitoring and measuring, please get in touch at melaniejwhite.com/contact.

Ready to use data to improve your coaching business?

Knowing howto use data effectively can make all the difference. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 94: How to Sell More Coaching Programs

In today’s episode, I want to explain how to add massive value to your coaching programs so that you can sell more programs at a higher price, and secure raving fans.

You might be wondering what’s this all about? It sounds too good to be true?

I’m going to explain it all in this episode and it’s so ridiculously simple that you will wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

Today I want to talk about why data is important to YOUR clients, and how you can use it to benefit your business, and what sort of data to collect.

Why Clients Buy

Let’s start with a concept of why clients buy from you in the first place.

This is marketing 101 and there are some key elements that drive a purchase, especially something worth over $600 like a coaching program. People will:

  1. Spend big money to solve a big problem.
  2. Buy from you if they like you as a person and see that you are trustworthy, that you have a similar journey or that you have an area of specialty.
  3. Buy from you if you can prove your service can get results. 
  4. Buy from you if your offer is tangible and makes sense to them.

Let’s look at that first point. In marketing language, a viable niche is a group of people that are spending big money for paid support. 

The second point – buying from YOU – requires you to put yourself out there professionally, with your best foot forward, and being relatable, listening and building relationships.

I find that for most of my business coaching clients, especially those just starting out, the challenging parts are proving the results, and offering something tangible that makes sense to them.

Now I’m going to explain an easy way to do this, right away, even if you have limited runs on the board.

Your Secret Weapon: Monitoring Data

As a scientist by training, I’m a strong believer in high quality data to position yourself as professional, evidence-based and offering repeatable results. 

Part of the reason I was able to help build a multi-million dollar business was that we had 10 years worth of data that none of our competitors had.

We used this data to shift legislation, to position as experts, to develop specialty skills and expertise, and to be the go-to company for two specific types of service.

Further to that, the weight of data that we had was compelling evidence that our management services were effective and could get results.

What would it be like to achieve those things in your business?

In my last episode, I talked about how you can use the data from client strengths surveys to understand your ideal client and rocket fuel your marketing. 

Let’s talk about why data is important to YOUR clients, and how it benefits your business.

Our brains love proof (evidence)

Part of the reason that it’s hard to make change is that we don’t believe what we’re capable of, or that we can change, until we have proof.

That’s because the human brain is wired to want proof that any new behavior is safe, and a good idea.

Quite simply, good quality data provides that proof.

Data provides tangible evidence.

A coaching program without any monitoring data is lacking a critical piece of the puzzle because that data gives your clients the evidence they need that what they are doing is worth it, and getting results.

Now, think about all the opportunities you have to introduce data into a coaching program.

The two aims of a coaching program are to raise self-awareness, and to help people move through the stages of change.

Data gives your clients the evidence they need that what they are doing is worth it, and getting results.

If you ask your clients to capture data at the beginning of a program and the end, they can see quite tangibly how far they’ve come, what’s changed, and by how much.

If they monitor data throughout their program as they are experimenting with change, they will more quickly learn what is working, and more specifically, what is working best.

This will help them to tweak their goals and set better quality goals, so they get even better outcomes by the end of a program. 

In my last episode, I talked about how you can use the data from client strengths surveys to understand your ideal client and rocket fuel your marketing. 

Let’s talk about why data is important to YOUR clients, and how it benefits your business.

Our brains love proof (evidence)

Part of the reason that it’s hard to make change is that we don’t believe what we’re capable of, or that we can change, until we have proof.

That’s because the human brain is wired to want proof that any new behavior is safe, and a good idea.

Quite simply, good quality data provides that proof.

Data provides tangible evidence

A coaching program without any monitoring data is lacking a critical piece of the puzzle because that data gives your clients the evidence they need that what they are doing is worth it, and getting results.

Now, think about all the opportunities you have to introduce data into a coaching program.

The two aims of a coaching program are to raise self-awareness, and to help people move through the stages of change.

If you ask your clients to capture data at the beginning of a program and the end, they can see quite tangibly how far they’ve come, what’s changed, and by how much.

If they monitor data throughout their program as they are experimenting with change, they will more quickly learn what is working, and more specifically, what is working best.

This will help them to tweak their goals and set better quality goals, so they get even better outcomes by the end of a program. 

Summary

Today I talked about a simple way to increase coaching value and sales, reputation and clients.

Clients buy to solve a problem and because they trust you – but beyond that, they need proof and tangible results that are meaningful to them, in order to truly value and be an advocate for what you do.

The simplest way to do this is with high quality data that your clients will collect before, during and after their program.

Since it’s such a juicy topic, I am going to deep dive into specifics in my next episode, next week. Stay tuned!

Ready to sell more coaching programs?

There are tools that can make it easy when your know how! If you’re  ready to break old habits and make your life easier I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 93: Client Strengths = Better Marketing

In today’s episode, I want to show you a great way to capture important information about your clients so that you can learn more about who your ideal client is, who you naturally attract, and how to become more of a client magnet.

There are really two parts to working with clients in a coaching relationship. 

The first part is to help our clients become more self aware so that they know what thinking and doing habits need to change. 

When our clients are more self-aware it facilitates the second main part of coaching clients, which is helping them to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them, their needs and their personalities.

Coaches use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to help clients become self-aware. I call this ‘grow’ content because every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

And one of the main tools that coaches use is the VIA strength test.

In this episode I want to walk you through a step-by-step process of enhancing the professionalism of your practice, and using the VIA strengths test information to enhance your marketing.

VIA strengths test

The VIA Institute on character is an organisation that combines the science of strength with the practice of well-being. 

According to their website:

The VIA Institute on Character helps people change their lives by tapping into the power of their own greatest strengths. Established as non-profit organization in 2001, we set out – and continue to – advance both the science and practice of character, and empower those on their strengths-building journey. That’s why we make our research accessible to everyone and offer the VIA Survey free of charge, worldwide.

 

Every time a client learns something about themselves it helps them to grow a little.

They say that “your character strengths are the qualities that come most naturally to you. They say that every individual possesses all the 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character strengths profile. And when you know your strengths you can improve your life and thrive. The research reveals that people who use their strength a lot are 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who do not use their strengths.”

The VIA character strengths test is a core piece of strengths-based coaching and it sets the scene for introducing positive psychology into your coaching sessions, and helping your clients create an upward spiral with their health and wellbeing habits.

Enhancing Your Professionalism

As a scientist by training, I’m a strong believer that every time you do something in your business it makes sense to do it in the most professional, replicable, efficient and streamlined way possible. 

And the first tip that I want to share with you today is something that is going to help you build your professional, credible reputation.

You can actually create your own professional account on the VIA website and you can store basic client results in that website. 

Firstly, what that means is that you can give your client a personalized link to the VIA website that has your practice name or business name in the URL.

Here’s how you set that up.

Firstly visit www.viacharacter.org

Click on the ‘Professionals’ menu link in the top right of the screen.

Choose ‘Pro Sites’ from the dropdown menu.

Read the information on that page, scroll down and go to the Create Your Pro Site Now button, and follow the prompts.

Now, you can send your clients a unique URL with your business name in it, taking them to the VIA test.

My link is http://melaniejwhite.pro.viasurvey.org

Now, when your clients take this survey you will be sent an email letting you know that they have completed it and you will be able to log into this website and see a list of clients who taken the strengths survey, the date that they took the survey, and you’ll be able to click through to see their results. 

This is all free. 

There are other things that you can get with a paid account but you probably don’t need those things yet.

Know Your Niche, Enhance Your Marketing

Here is the really interesting thing about the data that you collect over time.

I have a couple of coaches that work in my business as licensees for an 8-week weight loss program that I developed. 

Recently, I downloaded The VIA survey data for all of our clients from that program.

Then, I made a spreadsheet that lists the top 5 strengths of the clients who have recently taken the test. And then I sorted them by coach. 

My theory is that we tend to attract people who are 80% like us and I wanted to see if this strengths data reflected that different coaches are actually attracting different kinds of clients.

And the results are pretty amazing. 

For the clients that I have coached recently around weight loss, their top 3 strengths fairness, gratitude and honesty. All of my clients have had at least two of these in their top 3 strengths.

For another coach in my business, all of her clients top 3 – 4 strengths were honesty, kindness, love and humour.

So very clearly the two of us are attracting slightly different kinds of people. Honesty is something that all of our clients have as a very high ranking strength. 

But hers are slightly different to mine. 

I also see that my clients are much more consistent in the top 3 strengths than the other coach, and perhaps that means that she works with a slightly broader range of clients or that her niche is less defined than mine.

What does this all mean, and how can we use this to improve our marketing? 

Well looking at my client list, and knowing that I seem to attract people whose top strengths are gratitude, fairness and honesty, I know more about my ideal client AND I can more likely attract them with sales copy that creates those sorts of emotions.

I can present my offer in a way that seems fair.

I can be open and frank about who it is and isn’t for, and what is or isn’t included.

I can share my gratitude for being able to help others around through the power of their transformation.

This is just a bit of an idea of how you could use this information but it’s really amazing to see these trends and to understand the power of this information.

Regularly checking in with strengths survey results and collating the data in this way might make a big difference to your ability to attract and engage potential clients. 

Summary

To wrap up today’s episode as coaches we like to help clients become self-aware and to use their strengths to experiment with and form new habits.

We use a variety of quizzes and questionnaires to create aha moments and raise self-awareness.

The VIA character strengths questionnaire is a recognised tool that many Health and wellness coaches use.

You can go to the VIA website and create your own professional account, as part of your professional positioning.

Being more self-aware helps our clients to experiment with new lifestyle habits and make those changes in a way that suits them.

In addition to that, you can collate client data in a spreadsheet and identify trends that tell you important things, like how clearly defined your niche is, the common ground between you and your ideal client, and the types of strengths and emotions that might resonate with them in your marketing copy.

I’ve included links in the transcript of this episode to help you get started on getting to know your clients better.

Ready to know your client better?

Quizzes are just one of many tools that can make your coaching business easier and more effectictive. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and make your life easier I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Eppisode 92: Feeling Connected and Creating Clients

If you are finding solo business hard, and want to feel more connected and create clients through networking, this episode is for you. We explore five ways to start building professional and personal networks to achieve these aims.

When you work in an office as part of a team, you get a sense of connection each day as you interact with others and share ideas, jokes or brainstorm work problems.

But when you start your own business, things can be a little bit different.

Some people run their business from within another business such as a wellness clinic or studio, and so they experience that much-needed peer interaction.

But what happens when you are flying solo, and operating from home?

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

On top of that, building professional and personal networks is a wonderful way to meet potential clients and referral partners who can send qualified referrals your way.

Let’s look at the various ways that solo business owners can build networks.

Joining a Health Professional Network 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

 

Allied Health professionals often have either formal or informal meetings, social events and/or online groups for the purpose of networking, referring and collaborating.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By reaching out to the Allied Health professionals in your area and catching up for a cup of coffee or brief Zoom introduction, you can quickly find out which ones are ‘your kind of person’ and find out where and how these professionals network in your local area.

If you are a member of the Coaching Success Accelerator, you can find a downloadable, step-by-step process for reaching out to Allied Health Professionals.

  • Action step: make a list of 10 practitioners in your local area, relevant to your niche or specialty area of coaching, and phone or email to book a time to chat.

You might also like to listen to episode 74 where I do a deep dive into how to build a referral network with Allied Health Professionals.

Also, check out episode 65 which is about communicating your value.

Joining a Professional Industry Association

Every reputable profession has an industry association that acts as a voice for its members.

Their meetings are typically monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

Being a member of a professional association can provide opportunities to vote on important issues, but also, it lets your clients know that you work in a serious, credible profession that has a formal self-regulation process and quality standards.

Being featured on the home page of an industry association is another way for people to find you online, positioned in a professional environment.

In Australia and New Zealand, the premiere industry body is Health Coaches of Australia and New Zealand Association.

  • Action step: Contact HCANZA to enquire about membership.
  • Action step: apply to sit the NBHWC exam and become board-certified

Joining a Social Networking Group

LinkedIn is a globally-recognised platform for networking with other businesses and potential clients.

It has an advantage of being “more professional” than other social media channels, so may lend credibility and good business positioning.

You may make valuable connections for referral, collaboration or potential clients here.

There are industry-specific groups where you can network with peers in specific areas of health and wellbeing.

This is a great place to go if your niche group is a professional, entrepreneur and/or manager.

Facebook also offers support in the form of industry-specific groups, like the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.

  • Action step: Jump into LinkedIn, brush up your profile, and explore groups.
  • Action step: Join the Students of Wellness Coaching Australia group.[MW1] 

Joining a Local Business Network

Your local Chamber of Commerce is an active business hub where you can meet and rub shoulders with decision makers in your community.

Their meetings are typically monthly.

Depending on where you live, your local Chamber may be quite active or not so much.

In any case, it’s worth exploring the network to see who is involved, and to ask to attend a first meeting as a guest to see if it could be mutually beneficial.

Often, Chambers of Commerce have an active role in community projects, Council grants or industry-level initiatives that may be relevant to you (e.g. health related).

  • Action step: Google search your local Chamber to enquire about meeting dates, opportunities to attend and what is typically discussed

Start Your Own Group

An easy way to build professional alliances is to start your own group.

This is a good tactic for you if you are outgoing, love people and enjoy networking (otherwise it may feel like too much work – and you’re better off joining someone else’s network/group).

In a professional sense, this could be a mastermind, a specific collaboration project, or simply a peer support group.

Or even better – you can start your own Facebook or LinkedIn group to attract potential clients.  This is a bigger job than the others, but if you are ready to build a tribe of like minded people and have the energy to show up every day, this is a good option.

There are a variety of training courses that can help you do it right.

  • Action step: Consider whether you’re ready to start your own group and find a training course to help you do it right. 
  • Action step: If you are not ready, join a big group where your clients might be, and observe how it’s done.

Summary

It’s easy to feel isolated when you transition from a workplace to your own solo business.

However, I’ve listed FIVE options that you could start exploring to build professional and client networks for the purpose of feeling supported, brainstorming ideas and creating clients.

We need a way to feel connected and supported in business so that we can find the motivation, energy, confidence and enthusiasm to persist.

To get started, choose the one that feels like the best fit and make plans to join and explore what it’s like to be a member.

If that works well, schedule in the number of meetings or days you would like to attend (keep it small and simple!) and start getting into the hang of participating, contributing and collaborating.

When that’s working well, you may like to explore another option.

Now, it’s over to you.

What is your easiest and most obvious starting point?

Ready to get more connected and create clients?

It becomes a whole lot easier when you know how. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 91: Being Authentic

If you want to be more authentic, there are three things you need to do – create courage, be honest and act with integrity.

Nearly everyone I speak to wants to be more authentic. Authenticity is something most people value, and it is a key part of building strong personal and professional relationships.

But what does being authentic mean, and what does it involve?

I created this episode to help you understand what being authentic really means, the squeamish parts of being authentic, and the three things you need to do to start being more authentic.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity means being yourself. It’s when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values.

The VIA Institute on Character describes authenticity with this statement:

“I am honest to myself and others, I try to present myself and my reactions accurately to each person, and I take responsibility for my actions.”

VIA Institute on Character 

In other words, courage, honesty, and integrity are the three skills that create authenticity.

Here’s an example of what being authentic looks like.

One day I made a biriyani for dinner. My first one ever. We ate the meal and at the end, I asked my husband how he enjoyed it.

He said, firmly but kindly, “I really appreciate the effort you went to in making dinner, but I would prefer not to have this again. I don’t really like it, but I’m glad you tried it and am thankful you took the time to make a lovely meal.”

My first reaction was to feel deflated. He saw my face drop, and we talked about the importance of honesty.

It turned out that he didn’t want to pretend to like a meal then lie to about it later. It would mean that I’d made it again, thinking he liked it, and he’d have to lie again. He might become frustrated, or resentful about that.

It totally made sense to me, and I appreciated his honesty and courage and I could see that he was genuinely speaking with empathy and giving feedback from a place of love.

This one conversation opened a whole new way of thinking and personal growth for me.

It deepened our relationship and helped me to examine my own beliefs, thoughts and actions about honesty and integrity.

It helped me to identify the skills that I wanted to develop, so I could be more authentic.

As you can see it might be easy to assume that authenticity just happens.

But it doesn’t.

It’s more than just appearing to say something nice, or honest. 

Have you heard of the smell of fear? It’s a real thing. When we are afraid, we give off chemicals that send a warning to others.

If you have any fears, doubts or lack conviction in your beliefs and values, or are ‘faking it’ or hiding something, then you will be given away by your body chemistry, posture, tone of voice and facial expressions. Your body will contradict your so-called authenticity. 

Have you ever heard people say one thing and seen them do another?

Or have you ever had the sense that someone was lying to you?

How did that feel? 

And how did that affect your opinion of that person?

Authenticity is a wonderful thing but the fact is, being authentic can be challenging.

That’s because being authentic means that you need to be honest, to speak up for yourself, to voice an opinion, perhaps to be vulnerable, to expose something or to face a challenge.

Being authentic often requires us to develop certain skills, like courage.

If building relationships is important in your business and life, then it will serve you to improve your authenticity skills.

Let’s look at the three main skills of being authentic.

Courage

In interpersonal relationships, it’s courage that allows you to name what is happening to raise awareness, acceptance and understanding.

It’s when you can express observations, feelings, needs and requests and to shake up the status quo without offending, violating, blaming, shaming, or demeaning others.

For example: I don’t like it when you do X, it makes me feel Y. I would like it if you didn’t do that around me anymore.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

It’s about being able to stay on the right side of that fine line.

And let’s be clear: people pleasing is dishonest because it usually involves pretending to be someone that you’re not to meet someone else’s needs. It involves putting your own feelings and needs aside.

As you could guess, it takes courage to break out of that cycle and say no, or to be clear about what you will or won’t, can or can’t do.

If you have been in a cycle of people pleasing, it can be hard to find the language of courage, especially knowing that the other person may feel sad, disappointed or angry.

You will also need to learn to be ok with other people’s discomfort.

But courage is a powerful skill that can transform your relationships and build personal integrity.

I recommend that to build courage, you start with some small challenging situation in your life where you want to speak up for yourself or set a boundary, or a place in your business where you need to ‘show up’. 

Choose something that is just a little uncomfortable.

Then rehearse what you will say in that situation and how you will say it in a way that is calm, rational and non-judgemental.

Then schedule that into your diary and do it. Reflect on how it felt. Reflect on what you learned.

I promise you, if you do this one small thing, and do it regularly, you will build phenomenal courage, diplomacy, self-assurance and emotional balance.

Honesty

The second part of being authentic is being honest.

Honesty goes hand in hand with courage.

It means you are speaking the truth and more broadly, it means that you are presenting yourself in a genuine and sincere way, without pretence.

The research shows that honesty achieves more than just trust and positive relationships – it also helps you to set more accurate goals – in other words, goals that reflect your true values and interests.

When you set realistic goals, you can more easily achieve them, and this in turn builds self-confidence.

Honesty can be challenging because we are often afraid of the consequences; of hurting other people’s feelings, or of letting others down.

The most important thing you can be, though, is honest with yourself. If you aren’t happy about something, or if you are living out of alignment with what you believe in, then it’s going to create more tension within you than if you lie to protect the feelings of others.

This is worth thinking about.

And the truth is, if people can’t handle your honest and tactful truth, spoken diplomatically, then they are probably not your people.

Integrity

The third part of being authentic is integrity.

Integrity is when you are who you say you are and act consistently across all areas of your life, rather than behaving differently around different people.

Integrity is when you live your life in alignment with your values, morals and ethics.

It’s been described as ‘doing the right thing, even when no-one is looking.’

In other words, integrity is a personal choice.

And it is a choice that builds confidence, courage, and authenticity.

Here’s why.

When you live with integrity, you never have to question yourself or doubt yourself. You are doing what you know is right for you. 

And when you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

You become a role model and develop a positive reputation.

I feel that it’s easier to forgive someone’s mistakes if they have integrity, because you know that they are coming from an authentic, honest place.

Integrity directly impacts on your success in life because it improves your chance of promotion, leadership and attractiveness, generally.

Right now, think about someone you know who seems to have a lot of integrity.

How do you feel about that person?

How much do you trust them?

What is it specifically that causes you to feel this way about them?

You can hone your integrity by being clear on your core values, your decisions and by developing your strengths.

For example, if your strongest values are around family, community, contribution, love and responsibility, then it makes sense that you will cultivate thoughts and actions that align with those values.

In another example, if your strongest values are around achievement, competitiveness, courage, hard work and helping society, then it makes sense that you would cultivate thoughts and actions that align more with those values.

Neither of those two people is better than the other, they are just different.

But if person B presented to be family-oriented, but was more interested in creating ventures that helped communities, you would easily identify the incongruence between words and actions.

Similarly, if person A said that they badly wanted to get promoted at work, they might secretly rather prefer to focus on their family and loved ones, and might not be able to get the promotion they say they want.

As you can see, one of the foundations of being authentic is being self-aware.

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic.

When you take responsibility and are accountable for your actions, other people will trust you and respect you.

Summary

Being authentic is a wonderful way to build personal and business relationships, to feel fulfilled, and to follow your purpose.

But it’s more than just saying certain things or acting in a way that impresses others.

Being authentic requires three core skills; courage, honesty and integrity.

When you are self-aware, and act consistently with your values across all areas of life, with honesty, you are well on the way to being authentic.

Ready to be more authentic?

When you understand what your values are and what drives you, then it’s way easier to act congruently and to be authentic. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: