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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 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 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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Episode 90: Working From Home

If you want to master working from home, this episode is for you. 

 I want to walk you through a four step process to set up a really effective working from home situation so you can more easily adapt to a new way of doing business.

Before we start I want to share a bit of my story with you so you get some context for the rest of this session.

Twelve years ago my husband and I did a sea change. 

We moved from our businesses with busy offices and staff, and our nearby friends and family, to the opposite side of Australia where we knew nobody and at the same time I was doing a career change.

So as you can imagine we went from being very well-connected and very confident in our skills to having no external connections with others, no other close relationships, spending all day with each other and grappling with the steep learning curve of doing something new and different then we were used to.

It took a long time for me to get my head around how I was going to operate in the world. I felt like I had lost my sense of purpose, who I was and what I stood for. 

I want to mention this because a lot of people right now are feeling this way too. 

Maybe you’ve had to give up your job or change your job, or have suddenly faced the new and uncomfortable reality of being faced with your life in the home environment as you work from home. And perhaps as part of that you’re really questioning your capacity or whether you can cope with this situation. 

My answer to you is yes you can. You can absolutely cope with this.

The secret is to figure out how to adapt, and to do your way. 

That’s what I want to talk to you about today

I want to walk you through the four steps that I went through to be able to work at home and be productive and feel connected as an example of what’s possible.

I hope this helps you to come up with your own ideas about how to transition into this way of working, yourself.

Let’s walk through the four steps!

1. Connection

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

When I first moved to rural New South Wales I intuitively knew that I needed some sort of connection to feel sane and normal, and that things were working. My logical brain was telling me that I needed to make contacts for my business. 

But emotionally, I was missing the day to day camaraderie of like minded people in the office. I was missing catching up with friends and I was missing interacting with my family. 

So one of the things that I did when I first moved to a new place was to start going to different sorts of association events, social group events, sporting groups and meeting people in different contexts, so I could figure out where my people were and how best to connect with them.

For me, this was finding smart, positive people who are interested in health and wellness, who like brainstorming and being creative, and who like a laugh.

Connection is the first important step, because without a sense of feeling supported, you can quickly spiral into fear, doubt and lack of confidence.

Even if physical meetings are impossible for whatever reason, there are still plenty of online communities that you can join and be part of. 

One of the things that’s great about connection is the chance to get to know your neighbours, the people in your street, the people who run your local businesses, and those who own the coffee shop down the road. 

Even without friends in an extreme case like a sea change, these become points of contact and help you feel socially connected even if you don’t know them that well. 

Let’s be clear – when you move interstate you will be starting off with fairly superficial relationships because it’s pretty difficult to replicate the friendship of 25 or 30 years. But what I have made peace with is that you can build those relationships again in a new place or in a new context simply by showing up regularly in social situations where your tribe is.

First, you have to find them.

Beyond getting started in a new place, I think it’s really important to know that when you work at home and you’re with yourself and perhaps your partner 24 hours a day.

You can feel a bit claustrophobic, so it’s important to schedule in meeting opportunities so you can get enough connection with others. 

What could this look like for you?

It could be having a daily trip to a local cafe to write a blog. 

It could be that during the week you schedule time slots to get you out of the house and go to places where you will see people, whether that be the shop, the gym, getting a massage or any other sort of social interaction. 

Add another level if you feel that you need to be able to brainstorm ideas with other people in business. 

Perhaps then you could hire a co-working space for a day, book a room in the local library, or join your local Chamber of Commerce and meet other people in business who might like to get together and brainstorm ideas at one of these venues, or a cafe, or at someone’s home or a Zoom meeting.

All of these things are possible, it just requires creative brainstorming. 

2. Planning

Once you have a plan for connecting with people you will be able to fill that very primal need to be part of a tribe.

The next thing to do is figure out what you need to do each day. 

It sounds simple but it can be challenging when your whole environment, schedule and context has changed. 

Planning is super important if you are somebody who is used to following directions or collaborating with teams on how projects will be delivered. It’s also important if you’re prone to distraction, or to procrastinate as soon as an obstacle comes up.

The easiest way to get your planning right is to start with one month at a time. 

Within that month, block out your must do activities like taking kids to school or shopping or other sorts of life appointments.

The reason that I recommend you plan one month at time is because initially, you’re going to need to experiment with what works for you. 

You’re going to find that some days or some times a day you have more energy or more focus or more creativity than others. 

So in that first month your goal will be to understand your natural rhythm and then to adjust your schedule to fit with that. 

There are also some ways that you can proactively change your state to be focused or analytical or creative but I will cover that in a separate podcast.

Once you have your month planner in front of you, the next thing to do is to schedule:

1. any set work meetings that you have and any of those connection points that you’ve defined, and then;

2. the obvious things that you need to do like reconciling invoices once a month or doing social media posts for business or submitting monthly reports for work.

By now you should be feeling pretty good, because it feels great to have identified some concrete regular tasks to do each week and to know when exactly you will do them.

3. Now think about how and when you will check your email and social media.

You may not normally schedule that kind of thing in a normal work environment, but at home, these are rabbit holes for a lot of people. 

One idea to get you started is to think about coming up with one or two time slots per day where you will check emails and allow a bit of time after that to attend to any immediate business. 

For example you might decide that you will spend 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at the end of the day checking email, and allow another 20 minutes after each of those sessions to follow up with schedule any tasks that arise. 

So that’s 2 x 30 minute email slots, for checking and taking immediate action.

I was speaking with a client yesterday about the best time to do the morning email. 

What actually happens in the morning is that it’s often a very good creative thinking time and if you launch into email right away, it can lead you into a hyper-responsive, detailed focus pattern that stops your creativity. 

Experiment for yourself; you may find it best to do a block of work or a creative task first before you do your first email check.

4. The next step is where you need to be a little bit creative and work out how to deal with bigger, project-level tasks. 

These are bigger tasks that you need to do that aren’t so easy to identify, or quantify. 

They are usually things that you haven’t done before, that you might usually brainstorm, or that you usually have guidance and direction to complete, or that usually involve getting other people‘s opinions or advice or expertise.

With these sorts of tasks you will need to break them down into smaller steps, and identify which segments require external help, review or ideas.

I like to use the Getting Things Done model to tackle projects and I’ll explain that here, because it’s been a game changer to help me quantify and chunk down project-style jobs. 

You may have a different way of working with projects but I’m just going to explain this model now.

The idea is that you identify separate projects and I have a folder for each one and a sheet of paper or a blank document to outline what the project is and what the main steps are. At the very big picture level I have a time frame on that project and A series of main steps. Here’s an example. Let’s say that my project is to overhaul my website. And this was an actual project that I snoozed for 40 weeks because it lacked clarity and definition of the step-by-step process. 

So if my project is to overhaul my website I could break that down into main tasks of revamping the homepage, revamping the services page, and revising the blogs. I could prioritise those main steps from most to least important and then what I could do is take the main priority step and brainstorm some smaller steps within that. 

So let’s say that revamping the Homepage was my first goal. I would need to decide what that actually means. It could be that I want to read and possibly update the copy. It might be that I want to add some new photographs. 

For somebody else this task could mean that they want to totally change the layout. So as you can see doing that sort of breakdown process allows you to get clear on what the individual tasks are and it makes it easier for you to assign times and timeslots to each of those. 

For example I might decide I will allow an hour to read my homepage copy and revise it. If you’re unsure about how long something will take it’s best to add an extra hour to the end and be prepared to need to have a second session later on if required

Then what I would do is pick the very first task of the project and schedule it into my calendar. And when I do that task I would go back to my project list and identify the next task and schedule that in. 

Working in that way avoids overwhelm and it helps you to get clear as you’re navigating that project on what the tasks are as they arise. Because let’s face it we can’t necessarily know all of the steps in the right order up front and it’s possibly better to define them as you go. Our brains have a tendency to want to latch onto predefined schedules even if they stop making sense.

3. Brain Breaks

Planning aside there is something else that needs to happen when you work from home. And that is taking breaks. If you get really focused on your work and are working effectively and there’s nothing else to do chances are you’re going to work too much. 

I put my hand up this happened to me a lot in the beginning and still does sometimes. 

That’s why doing number one first and establishing those outside connections and commitments socially is really important because it gets you out of the house and gets you away from work so that you don’t overwork.

There’s two types of breaks. 

The first is taking a brain break while you’re working so that you’re not staring at your screen all day. It can be useful to put house work or other small tasks in between work tasks to give your brain a break, want to go and take a shower or to walk outside into the garden or something to give your eyes a rest and give your brain a chance to shift the focus.

The second type of break is taking a more extended break and knowing when to switch off at the end of the day and having a set lunch break. 

It’s really easy to work through lunch and to sit at your desk all day and for the slumped over desk posture become your new ‘asana’, and for digital eye strain to creep in, and to start feeling disconnected and snappy.

Discipline is often required to disconnect. Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

4. Self Care

I coach a lot of business owners who work from home. And their universal lesson is that they need to do something for themself FIRST thing in the day in order to maintain emotional balance, to feel calm, and to eat well and exercise.

Many of them have learned the hard way; that when all work and everyone else’s needs come first, they start reaching for the chocolate, the wine and the weight watchers subscription, they sleep poorly and feel flat, snappy or moody.

I am thinking of several clients who do one thing for themselves before starting their day, and that allows them to do so much more and feel satisfied without needing to reach for comfort.

They typically start with either:

  1. Journaling or writing goals, or
  2. Exercise of some sort, or 
  3. Meditation, or
  4. Doing something creative or doing creative work FIRST before the meetings and clients. 

There are other options; these are just a few things that my clients are doing to stay sane, grounded, happy and productive.

Create rules and boundaries, and know that when you stick to them, you will be powerfully productive when you ARE at work.

Summary

We’ve talked about the challenges of working from home, and it may take you up to a year or more to get your head around how to make it work for you.

In this episode I’ve talked you through four steps that have helped me to gain enough connection, structure and balance ro adjust and adapt to a productive, happy work environment.

Ready to be more productive while working at home?

You can proactively change the way you function and even the way your brain works! 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 89: Stretch Goals

Do you want to develop courage, confidence, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief? Then you might just need to set a stretch goal.

Imagine if you could achieve a huge goal, something bigger than ever you thought you were capable of?

How much self-belief would you have if you could do that?

What else would be possible?

And how sweet would it be to overcome your fears and overwhelm, so you could bask in the glow of achievement?

It would be amazing.

Many more doors would open for you, and the world would have many more possibilities because you’d taken a leap of faith, and grown as a person along the way.

Would it be an easy process to get there?

Probably not.

It would be a baptism of fire – a situation where you must immediately cope with difficulties and obstacles.

But you would be a stronger, better person for it, more confident, accomplished and ready to tackle the next thing.

Welcome to stretch goals – the topic of today’s episode – guaranteed to supercharge your business and your life.

What is a Stretch Goal?

According to Harvard Business Review, a stretch goal is a blend of extreme difficulty and extreme novelty.

Extreme difficulty means going beyond your current capability and performance.

For you, this could mean going all out to lose 15kg, or holding a big marketing event to attract 100 people to your business, or just saving an extra $300 this month.

Extreme novelty means working differently, creatively, following new paths or approaches never tried before.

For you, this could mean trying a totally new exercise approach, or making a complete change in your business model.

Why Set A Stretch Goal?

You’re probably thinking that the whole stretch goal idea sounds a bit hard, a bit crazy and a bit scary. It sounds like a risk.

And it is ALL those things.

BUT the results you get from a stretch goal are worth it:

  • courage
  • determination
  • agility
  • the ability to manage risks, and
  • self-belief.

So in summary, a stretch goal is a hard goal that pushes you outside your comfort zone so you can truly discover what you’re capable of.

Top performers know that failure is part of the process so more than anything, stretch goals are an exercise in developing self-belief, acceptance and persistence by achieving bigger things than you thought were possible.

A Crazy Example (Do Not Try This At Home)

In 1997, my then-boyfriend, an avid motorbike rider, suggested that we do a trip across Australia from Perth Western Australia to Cairns Queensland through the middle of the country on dirt and sealed highways. 

It seemed like a great idea – but I had never ridden a motorbike before in my life.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

At the time, I had to take stock and think seriously about whether I could actually do this. Whether I had the resources within me to be able to take on such a big crazy goal.

I had to consider the time it would take me to learn to ride a bike. What would it cost me to buy a motorbike, lessons and to get my license and riding gear.

Then of course there was the whole rest of the trip to plan, like where the fuel stops were, how to modify the motorbikes to carry enough fuel between the fuel stops, how physically strong I’d need to be to ride the 10,000km and endure the harsh conditions of the desert. 

We had to think about safety check ins, sleeping arrangements, dried food and water given the limited carrying capacity of our motorbikes. 

I figured that between us we had what it took to do this trip and to plan it really well, so I said yes, let’s do it. And we developed and rolled out our travel plan over a 12 month period.

This was going to be a monumental stretch goal that would shape my beliefs, attitudes and the course of my life going forward.

In the weeks leading up to the trip people told me I was crazy. They laughed at me. They said things like, ‘you’ll never do that’ and ‘you’ll kill yourself’ and ‘who do you think you are?’

I didn’t dare tell my parents I was going because they would have been horrified. 

After all, I was 26 years old and was about to ride my own small off road motorbike – a Yamaha XT-250 – across the desert with no off road experience and only three months of lessons, license and riding time.

But I forged on. I created a 6-week gym training program for myself to build up some strength for the long haul ahead and I added 2kg of muscle to my skinny little frame. I felt strong, and physically and mentally ready.

A week before we left, I came down with a really terrible flu and was bedridden with a chesty, green-phlegmy cough in the week prior to our departure. I was SO sick. I had barely any energy and I lost all of the gains that I’d made in the gym. 

But we delayed our departure by a week, had a farewell party, and decided to go ahead anyway. 

The first 2 days it rained solidly and we made it on the sealed roads via Merredin and Kalgoorlie to Laverton where we holed up for a day and waited for the rain to pass.  

But when the rain showed no signs of letting up, we decided to hit the dirt highway so we could get ahead of the front. 

That meant riding a bike with 3 months of experience under my belt, heading into slippery mud holes, slimy sliding muddy roads, rocky hills, deep sand river beds  and of course coping with any cows, camels, kangaroos, wild horses and other wildlife sprinting across the road. 

There was not a soul in sight for most of the ride, and being the middle of winter in Australia it was freezing cold at night and crisp and sunny during the day – great for riding but not so good when you have the flu and a fever and a constantly runny nose. 

We wore balaclavas during the day under our helmets to keep warm and my balaclava was stuck to my top lip because of my runny nose. 

As you can imagine, I felt miserable and like giving up. I spent the first few days crying, sending daggers at the back of my boyfriend’s head, realising that there was no way out and I had to keep going. 

It felt bloody awful and terrifying. I was riding at about 40 km per hour while my boyfriend rode on ahead then impatiently waiting for me to catch up. 

On about day 6 of the trip something interesting happened. We were riding through the desert near Peagull Caves in WA, and up ahead on the dirt road I could see this little shape.

As we drew closer, I realised it was an Italian guy riding a little Vespa with a small suitcase and a hat box (of all things!). He was smoking a cigar, grinning broadly, and pottering along at 30 km per hour. I passed this guy and waved, then suddenly I felt like the queen of the world because finally there was somebody going slower than me on a smaller bike and he was enjoying himself.

You would not believe how good I felt in that moment. It was a huge lesson – that I could actually enjoy this journey and make the most of it. I didn’t have to be the fastest or best rider, I could simply ride, and be happy for being here and doing this huge feat.

Then I started to gain more confidence in my riding and although I was still to be sick with the flu for another six weeks, I really made progress. I felt like I was accomplishing something.

Then after a couple of nights’ stopover at Ayers Rock and Alice Springs, we hit the dirt again, and one of the most rugged tracks in the Northern Territory desert called the Cattle Water Pass. 

My boyfriend convinced me it was a 60 km shortcut but it ended up being one of the most hectic, eroded, difficult, windy tracks I could have ever imagined (he did apologise for taking me down it later on). The upshot is I ended up nearly falling off my bike and collapsing in exhaustion covered in sweat and feeling defeated. 

I was in the middle of Australia and the only thing I could do was to keep riding.

We ended that day at the Urandangi Roadhouse and all I could see ahead was a dusty road with rocks and big bulldust holes that could easily cause an accident. Bulldust holes look like the normal road, but they are actually gaping holes that can be up to a couple of metres wide and maybe half a metre deep, filled with very fine dried silt.

So on the surface, they look like road, but when you ride a motorbike through them at 70km/hour, your front wheel plunges in and you go flying over the front. Which is NOT what you want to do in the remote central desert.

I was terrified of the road ahead, so I asked every person I saw at the pub – both of them – what the conditions were like. 

The first guy said “it’s a great road, you could drive a regular 2WD car on it, you’ll be fine”. Phew, what a relief!

But then the next guy said “it’s the worst road I’ve ever been on it’s full of bulldust holes and you’re at high risk of a serious crash – it’s not safe to drive on”. 

It was at that point that I realised that nobody could predict what the road ahead would be like. Nobody could guarantee me that I would be safe. I had to just get on that road and ride it; to make my own decisions about how to ride, and how I was going to talk to myself about that journey (mostly, I prayed). 

But, isn’t that a metaphor for life? 

The trip got easier from then on. We made it to Cairns, stayed a few weeks and by the time it came to do the journey home I was a confident and competent rider and I was riding at 80 km per hour off-road and was able to handle all different sorts of terrain with confidence.

What Stretch Goals Create

I mentioned that that trip was a defining moment for me.

At the time, I felt like I was the queen of the world. I had a huge sense of accomplishment and achievement. I had so much more self-belief. 

I knew that if I persisted I could get through anything, even when it seemed there was no way out.

That trip helped me to develop character strengths and skills that I would not have had otherwise.

And in the years after that, I have used those strengths, skills and that self-belief to start businesses, to change careers, to move interstate, backing myself the whole way.

Why was I able to do these things? 

Because I knew that I could make them work. I had proof. And without that baptism of fire, I might never have achieved everything I have so far in my life.

That, my friends, is what stretch goals can create. 

For me, that was a stretch goal worth pursuing.

Summary

Yes, the whole stretch goal idea is a bit hard, crazy and scary. 

It involves getting out of your comfort zone to tackle something huge – something that seems impossible – knowing that you could fail along the way.

Some people will tell you it’s easy, others will tell you it’s hard. In the end you’ve just got to back yourself. 

Is it worth it?

You will have to decide for yourself.

But if you want to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, determination, persistence, agility, strategic thinking and self-belief, I highly recommend setting yourself a stretch goal.

It will totally change your life.

If you want to study stretch goals with me, jump on into my monthly membership at https://www.melaniejwhite.com/habitology.

Ready to set a stretch goal?

It’s a great way to grow as a person, and to develop more courage, persistence, and self-belief! 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 88: Packaging Coaching Part 2 – Interview with Irena Geller of Irena Geller Coaching

Confused about how to package coaching with an existing service? This is part 2 of a series of interviews explaining how to do it.

Today, I talk to Irena Geller about working with a ready-made coaching program.

Ready to package coaching with your existing service?

It might be what you have been looking for. 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 87: Creating A Vision For Your Coaching Business

Any time, but especially now, it’s a good time to review and revise your business vision. 

This episode explains two vision traps to avoid, and two steps to creating a compelling, inspiring, get-me-out-of-bed vision.

You might be asking – why write a business vision, and further, why would you revise it? 

Well, because your vision is a clear and vivid image or statement describing where you want to take your business and what it will achieve in the world.

It’s the thing that gets you excited. It’s a get-me-out-of-bed statement that inspires you to persist, no matter what, to overcome any obstacles that come up.

It is the outcome you seek to create, therefore your vision creates a framework for setting specific, actionable goals.

And of course, your vision may change over time, so you need to review and perhaps revise it from time to time – especially when your life and/or circumstances change.

A vision is SO important to your business because strong emotions are what drive us to persevere and what cause our customers to buy.

We need to create business vision statements that are aspirational, motivating and speak to a purpose that is bigger than ourselves.

A vision is SO important to your business because strong emotions are what drive us to persevere and what cause our customers to buy.

To get it right you need to reflect on your why – your values-based motivators; your deeper purpose, and what lights you up emotionally and touches your heart.

As you can guess, it takes some work to uncover these things. 

And that is probably why I see a lot of business owners struggling with creating a business vision – because they aren’t sure how to peel off the layers to find and explore their values and purpose.

So today I’m going to walk you through a process of defining a business vision so that you can firm that up and then, as a result, start to set and achieve meaningful, realistic goals.

I want to help you to create a vision for your coaching business that is realistic, meaningful and purposeful, so you can work every day on purpose.

Vision Traps

Before we talk about creating a business vision, I want to point out two main vision traps that people fall into. This will help you to understand why you might be getting stuck with your business vision.

The first main trap is the ‘looks good on paper’ trap.

If you’re like most people, you think that you operate and make decisions from a position of logic.  

In this case, rather than digging into what’s important to you and why, you are simply using your logic to examine some superficial facts about yourself and using those as your basis for creating a vision. 

Vision traps can happen to anyone who lives in a world of shoulds, or who isn’t that connected with their emotional side or values. Maybe you’re not sure if what you’re thinking is ‘right or not’.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say that you have had experience as a personal trainer, so it seems logical that you would set a business vision that builds around your skills in those areas.

For example, you might say to yourself, ‘I’m a personal trainer, so my business vision is that I want to help women in their 30’s to be fit and healthy and to have strong bodies that look good in a bikini.’

And let me just say – this is totally fine if that’s truly meaningful to you.

BUT maybe in your heart, you want to work with women who want to be consistent with going to the gym because they are struggling to manage stress, and they aren’t eating well or exercising as a result – and that’s meaningful to you because you’ve been in that situation yourself and it felt awful and out of control..

What I’m saying is this – If you looked a little deeper into what is truly meaningful for you, you might uncover that deeper sense of purpose, the stronger values behind the work, the bigger reasons for you to take action no matter what.

Think about how very different those two business visions might be – one around helping people to exercise, and another around helping people to manage their time, responsibilities and their minds.

The key message here is this: your past doesn’t necessarily dictate your future.

You get to choose a business vision that is meaningful and purposeful to you, in simple terms – it’s heartfelt

Sure, it may draw on any of your life experiences, skills and qualifications, but not necessarily the most obvious.

The second type of trap is the ‘this is working for other people’ trap.

It is similar to the ‘looks good on paper’ trap that I just described.

The main difference is that in this case, you’re not sure what you want to focus on, so you look at what others are doing and try to do the same thing – because it’s working for them, so it must be the right thing to do.

Notice once again how your logic is jumping in and taking over from the heart. Perhaps you are afraid of failing, or you’re unclear, or you aren’t backing yourself.

The same thing applies as for trap #1 – you need to get in touch with your feelings.

I am NOT trying to be your therapist here – just to explain what you need to do instead of using logic to define a vision.

And, I do want to say that yes, it can be useful to look at what others are doing to help you get perspective and ideas, and to help you to define what you like and don’t like.

But a business vision is a very personal thing and you probably won’t find that same level of emotional connection to someone else’s vision. 

Now that you’re aware of the traps, do either of them resonate with you?

Or are you really in tune with your heart and higher purpose, and working to that?

If you’re stuck and need help, let’s go to the next part – my process for helping you create a business vision that compels you to take action and persist.

Step 1 – Getting Clarity on Your Vision 

To clarify on the values behind your business vision, or the main areas you wish to focus on, I invite you to zoom out of what you think you know about yourself and start asking yourself some thought-provoking, coaching style questions, with a very open mind.

Here are a few of my favourite questions that can help you connect to what’s most meaningful and authentic to you.

  1. What did you love to do as a child when you were playing?
  2. What is your struggle to success story with your own health and wellness?
  3. What are your strengths and how have they helped you to change habits or maintain habits more easily?
  4. Who sees you as a role model, and why?
  5. What is your passion area of health and wellness?
  6. What really irritates you about a specific area of health and wellness?
  7. What do you feel is lacking in a specific area of health and wellness?
  8. What do people need more of? Why is that?

Using the previous example of a personal trainer creating a business vision, going through these questions might uncover things like:

  • You always struggled with body image
  • Your role model was Oprah – and you could relate to her yo yo weight struggles
  • You are passionate about helping women accept themselves and feel strong, without needing to turn to food
  • You are irritated about the unrealistic body imaging out there in the media
  • You feel that self-compassion is missing from the gym environment
  • You feel that the current advertising around gyms is disempowering and could speak more to strength, confidence and personal power
  • You want to help women to feel more confident about exercising in gyms so that they can be their fittest self

So as you can see, when you ask yourself for your opinion on things, your values are revealed in that conversation and you can uncover some more emotive statements that could be used to create a powerful, inspiring vision.

This exercise is a great starting point for creating a new business vision, or to clarify or test the relevance of your existing business vision.

Step 2 – Going Deep

To make sure you have gone deep enough into your values and motivators, you can use the Five Whys exercise.

This is really simple – it’s about digging deep to explore what’s behind the things you want to do or achieve.

It’s great to do this as an exercise for either a new business vision or an existing one – it is a reality-check that the vision truly represents what you feel, believe and stand for.

Basically, you look at the vision you created and ask yourself why five times in a row.

Those are all why type questions that might reveal values.

Here is an example to illustrate how it works.

Let’s say your business vision is to inspire women to feel confident about exercising in public so they can be strong, fit and confident role models in life.

Now you can use the five whys to see whether that really does matter to you, and what the values or motivators are behind that.

You’d first ask yourself – why is that important to me, personally?

Maybe you want to smash society’s body image issues and right the wrongs of the media.

Then ask yourself another why question, like – So what? What difference will that make?

Maybe you feel that if we all had better body image, we’d be more confident in our daily lives.

Then ask yourself something like – why does that matter?

Perhaps you know from personal experience that when you feel good about yourself, you can achieve more and be more and that feels amazing. You feel happier and healthier. Stronger.

Why is that important?

Maybe you feel that women are role models for their kids and peers, they have the power in the family unit, and they have a unique opportunity to end the cycle of body shaming.

You might then ask yourself – What could that create in the world?

And perhaps the answer is equality. Peace. Confidence. More women in more powerful roles, making the world a safer, happier, healthier place.

These are all just made up examples, but I use them to illustrate how you can go deeper into what’s important to you personally, so you can polish up your vision and make it more meaningful.

Road Testing Your Vision

Exploring the values behind your vision is designed to uncover the deeper stuff that is personal to you, so you will probably know when you get it right. 

But in case you are unsure, there are a few ways to road test your vision to make sure it is true, values-aligned, meaningful, exciting and compelling.

1. Read it aloud, with gusto.

Do you feel a swelling in your chest, or goose bumps, or feel a little teary, or hear the word ‘yes!’ in your head? 

Then it’s probably on the mark.

2. Ask a client’s opinion.

How does your client respond to the vision when you read it out? Are they visibly and audibly excited or inspired, does it resonate?

If so, then it’s probably on the mark.

3. Read it on a day when you feel tired and flat.

We all have bad days. And if you read your business vision on a ‘tired, flat’ day – does it perk you up, get you interested and fired up again?

If so, then it’s probably on the mark.

A word on perfection here – it may take you time to get it right. Maybe 3 months, or a year.

It may change over time, as your stage of business, life or priorities change.

And that’s ok. 

Review it once every year as part of your business planning process. And as long as your business vision inspires and excites you, it’s doing its first and most important job.

Then, you are ready to set some goals to achieve it.

Summary

Your business vision should be an inspiring, vivid statement that describes what you want to achieve in your business, and why that’s important to you.

A lot of people try to create a vision based on their logical thought processes, or leave their vision on the shelf for years without revising it.

Your business vision should be an inspiring, vivid statement that describes what you want to achieve in your business, and why that’s important to you

Today I talked about how important it is to bring heartfelt emotion into your vision, so that you are truly and emotionally connected to it.

That will bring energy and emotion into your marketing and help you to set relevant goals for achieving it.

Using a process of big picture questions to uncover what you want, and the five whys process to clarify the values behind it, is a great way to create a compelling vision statement for your business.

If you need help with this, visit melaniejwhite.com/contact and drop me a line, we can make a time for a free coaching call to see if this is something I can help you with.

Ready to create an awesome business vision?

You will love the feeling of having the right energy and emotion in your business! 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 86: The Central Governor Theory

As we enter the so-called third phase of isolation, what can we learn from Dr Tim Noake’s Central Governor Theory to help us cope better and go the distance?

I was reading an article on the ABC news, where they were talking about the stages of isolation, and that we are entering the third stage of isolation right now.

A pile of studies have been conducted Into the mental health of people who live in Antarctica and in other isolated areas such as submarines and polar bunkers and they’ve worked out what happens when these people are in isolation. 

Apparently in the beginning when you are isolated there is this period of anxiety and confusion – which we on dry land but in isolation, have seen as ‘panic buying.’

It’s followed by the second phase they call the ‘honeymoon period’- a stage where we settle into a routine that feels a bit novel and different. 

For example, you may revel in the opportunity to work in your pyjamas and not battle morning traffic and it feels good, a little bit special.

The ABC article says we are entering a third quarter of “hollow-eyed stares, odd fixations and brooding resentment. Where time grows sludgy, day blurs into night, and weekdays into weekends as you start to become lonely and to feel more offended and a bit desperate.”

In psychological studies of extreme confinement it’s called the third quarter phenomenon and apparently it’s where we may see a rise of emotional outburst, aggression and rowdy behaviour, as we anticipate the end of isolation but it does not come. 

As the article rolled on, I could see the parallels with a phenomenon called the central governor theory – described in 1997 by Dr Tim Noakes, an emeritus professor in the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town.

The Central Governor Theory

The theory applies to exercise but I believe our brains could be operating under the same model right now, while we are in isolation.

Here’s how it works. The premise of the model is that your brain will override your physical ability to run and “shut the body down” before you’re able to do serious or permanent damage to yourself.

And I would like to explain how this works in the context of running, then you will see how it also works and applies to the context of regular life.

CGT in Running

Runnersconnect.net describes CGT really well so I will quote them directly here:

“At around mile 8 of a marathon, the race pace becomes difficult and the thought of running further seems impossible even for just a minute. Yet within a few hundred metres of the finish line, you are somehow able to summon a kick that finds you running minutes per mile faster than goal pace.

Once your brain realises it won’t die if you pick up the pace, the biological pathways open up so you can run faster.

That’s not to say that the physiological demands of a race aren’t real. Rather, the central governor theory posits that racing is a balance between: 

(1) physical preparation and biological systems; 

(2) emotional components, such as motivation and pain tolerance; 

(3) and self-preservation. 

The exact combination of these factors is what leads to how hard you’re able to push during a race.

I love the way they describe the central governor theory in running and break it down into those three elements – which you can see are totally applicable to our lives right now.

CGT in Isolation

The parallels with the so-called third stage of isolation seems to tie in with that 8 mile mark of a marathon.

We knew isolation was coming so we went through some physical preparation.

We may see a rise of emotional outburst, aggression and rowdy behaviour, as we anticipate the end of isolation but it does not come. 

Now we are needing to manage the emotional components, like motivation and tolerance.

We anticipate the end but it seems so far away, it’s uncertain, and we can’t judge how long there is to go. As a result, we feel stuck, flat, in pain and unable to cope for just another minute.

We also have the element of self preservation, where we want to protect ourselves from harm, and also to manage our own expectations and avoid disappointment. We are trying to temper both our enthusiasm and our frustration as we await the lifting of restrictions.

But when we have a date around when the restrictions will be lifted, and what that entails, we will feel safe and confident about moving forward enthusiastically to that finish line.

I think the question here is not so much ‘when will this all end’ – because that keeps us in a lost, stuck and catatonic state.

The question is really – ‘how can we move through the current pain and uncertainty, and just keep running?’

Tricking Your Brain

It’s clear to me that the central governor theory applies as much to life as it does to running. 

Maybe we can discover a solution from the runner’s world.

The problem that many runners face on race day is that they try to push themselves beyond their comfort zone when their mind is telling them that they can’t go any faster.

Here are three techniques that runners use, and how we can apply them to our own brains in the context of isolation.

1. Workouts

In the running world, regular workouts don’t normally train you to give it your all at the end of a session, but you can integrate bursts of energy that push through the barriers at the end.

In an isolation context, we can persist with our daily lives without holding back, and continue to do what we can, when we can, without falling into fear. 

The next two steps will help you with that!

2. Mental training

In the racing world, they say that no matter how well rested or prepared the body is, racing hurts, so you need to prepare for that mentally so that your brain doesn’t override your physical abilities at the end.

In an isolation context, the same applies. Be prepared for it to be challenging at times, but remember that our bodies and brains are wired to push through challenges and succeed. 

Recall a time when you have felt this way, and visualize yourself pushing through that moment. Remember what it felt like to push through the challenges and how it felt to make it to the other side.

This will help you to deal with any difficult times in the months ahead.

3. Pacing

In the racing world, there is a focus on improving your sense of pace, because pacing is one of the ways the brain self-regulates the central governor. 

That is, your brain “anticipates” all the known variables of a race and calculates an optimal pace that will get you to the finish without dying.

If the path deviates from what you anticipate, that is, if you try to go faster on race day, the brain reacts by forcing you to slow down. 

In an isolation context, you also need to pace yourself and in this case, it is difficult to anticipate the end without information about what it will be like and when it will occur.

However, you can anticipate how you will operate based on what you know right now.

It may help you to focus on smaller, more immediate periods of time, such as next week, so that your brain has something concrete to anticipate.

Summary

The central governor theory, first proposed by Dr Tim Noakes in 1997, describes how our brain tries to protect our body when things don’t go as we anticipate them.

You can anticipate how you will operate based on what you know right now.

In the context of social isolation during the current period of self-isolation, our brains are doing the same thing.

We can learn from what marathon runners do to outwit their brains, and stay strong until the finish, with a burst of energy as the finish line approaches.

If you need help to manage your emotions at this trying time, contact me on https://melaniejwhite.com/

Ready to cope better?

You can train your brain to better manage your emotions. 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 83: Connection

Humans need connection to survive. Let’s look at the three ways you can increase your connection so that you can be more resilient and calm in these trying times.

At a time of global lockdown and enforced isolation, we may need to make more effort to connect, and to find creative ways to connect.

Why? Because connection is directly related to longevity, resilience & wellbeing and, let’s face it – we all need a bit of that.

In the so-called ‘Blue Zones’, the areas where there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the world, social connection is one of four essential pillars within the magic formula for longevity.

Today I want to talk about connection – what it is, and how to do it more effectively.

According to the Blue Zone model, Connection is one of the four essential pillars, and there are three parts to connection:

  1.     Belonging (some sort of faith-based community)
  2.     Loved ones first (families come first)
  3.     Right tribe (choose social circles that support healthy behaviours)

Let’s explore each of these, and I invite you to consider which elements you have access to right now and how you can draw on these to stay calm and build resilience in these uncertain times.

Belonging

Belonging is to do with a feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself, when you transcend the day to day goals, feel alive and more interconnected.

In essence, belonging is a search for meaning. 

For some people this equates to religion or spirituality but for others it’s about that connection that can be found via music, altruistic pursuits, philanthropy or passion projects.

In a time when physical connection is difficult, I think that being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience, and to escape the anxiety of what’s going on.

I invite you to ask yourself a couple of questions. 

Where does your sense of belonging come from – a higher power, or a higher calling, or both?  

What sorts of feelings does that connection create within you?

Loved ones

Your family and loved ones provide love, support and a framework of values. They are the people you count on, and who you respect and have shared responsibility for.

These are your primary relationships; they give you a sense of security and protection.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that beyond the basic human needs of food, water and shelter, humans have psychological needs that are met through both belonging and loving relationships.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

In other words, when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced by the people closest to us.

I think that’s because of our desire to belong (and fit in), partly because of the trust we have in our intimate relationships, and also the fact that emotions are contagious.

I’ll talk about that in a separate episode but for now, a couple of questions for you to ponder.

Which are your healthiest, positive and most robust friendships and intimate relationships, and why do you think so?

Who are the people that are most important for you to connect with in difficult times or during hardship?

Your Tribe

We are wired to belong and be part of a pack, and when we belong, it eases our sense of loneliness and isolation.

According to Seth Godin, one of our most powerful survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, where we contribute to and gain from a group of like-minded people.

Effective tribes have good leadership, a shared interest and a way to communicate.

But beyond that, a powerful tribe is more of a movement.

It’s a place where many people work together to seek something better, and bigger than themselves.

It transforms their shared interests into passionate goals and big visions for change, creating energy and transformation.

And in the definition provided by the Blue Zones research, tribes are about like-minded people who engage in healthy behaviours.

The more tightly-knit the tribe and its shared interests, the greater the power of a tribe.

And an effective tribe doesn’t have to be big. Sometimes small tribes can be super powerful.

How do you know that you’re part of a powerful tribe?

Well, you feel powerful and energized when you’re engaged with it.

Maybe even reading the words above, you feel this way.

Tribes can exist in real life and online.

Powerful tribes can transcend the bounds of physical isolation and can close the tyranny of distance.

Tribes can be found in Facebook Groups, LinkedIn groups, community groups, not-for-profit organisations, social causes and workplaces.

Once again, I invite you to consider two questions:

Which tribes are giving you the support you need right now?

What role do these tribes play in your motivation and your mental and emotional wellbeing?

Summary

Today I’ve discussed three aspects of connection to others – one of the pillars of longevity in the Blue Zone communities of the world.

Belonging, loved ones and tribes are all types of connections that we have access to in our daily lives, and they are more important than ever right now in helping us deal with change, uncertainty and stress.

Being able to create a sense of belonging within yourself is a powerful skill that can help you to stay calm and build resilience.

Knowing this, I encourage you to think about which of these areas might need some attention so you can get the support and nurturing you need at this moment.

I also recommend that you invest time in self-connection, because self-reliance is a powerful way to stay calm and have a sense of control when the rest of the world is in chaos.

If you have thoughts or questions about this, please connect with me on melaniejwhite.com/contact

Are you accessing enough connection?

Do you need support to create a sense of belonging within yourself? 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 81: How To Run A Business In Stressful Times.

This episode describes three levels of resilience and helps you to get clarity on what to do at YOUR level to keep your business on track in stressful times.

Everyone responds differently to external pressures. The way you respond depends on your personality, your thought processes and your personal circumstances.

But at the core of things, stress starts in your mind. Your perception (thoughts) determines your resilience. Resilience simply means the resources and capacity you have to cope with the circumstances around you. 

When your resilience is low, it affects your ability to make decisions, to think clearly and to be fully present with your clients – all of which are obviously important in relationship-based businesses like coaching.

When you’re running a coaching business in stressful times, there are different approaches you can take to support your wellbeing and to feel at peace with your business decisions. 

Your best approach depends on how resilient or stressed you feel. Most people will fit into one of three categories.

Three Categories of Business Owner Resilience

Category 1 – feeling resilient, seeing opportunities to be of service, and feeling ready, willing and able to reach out and help others. These people may have fewer external pressures, may be more extroverted, or could be people who have done a lot of their own coaching around beliefs and behaviours. In any case, they have the resilience to be able to cope with stressful times.

Category 2 – feeling fearful or overwhelmed, seeing roadblocks, and feeling unable to cope with the responsibilities of both business and life. These people may have more challenging circumstances, may be more introverted, or are yet to master the skills of emotional balance. They are unlikely to have enough resilience to cope with stressful times.

Category 3 – wanting to help, seeing opportunities but becoming easily overwhelmed. These people may be managing internal and external pressures but are close to capacity. They may have some skills around emotional balance and some level of stability in life. This means they feel resilient at times and are able to cope, yet can fall back into overwhelm. Their resilience is ‘inconsistent’.

These are generalisations but they may help you identify yourself for the purposes of making rational decisions about what to do with your business.

Let’s look at some approaches for each category.

Business Approaches for Stressful Times

If you’re in category 1, seize the day. Despite stressful times, you are best positioned to continue running your business or even expanding it, so that you can help others.

You may offer services that help others to;

  • Get some respite (e.g. online retreat)
  • Cope better (e.g. plans and strategies)
  • Maintain positive habits (e.g. visions and goals, accountability groups)
  • develop new habits or routines (e.g. challenges or programs)
  • create more joy, fun, freedom (e.g. uplifting classes or events)

Remember that showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

Showing up for others in stressful times takes time, energy and effective planning.

You may tend to attract clients who have similar resilience to you, but be mindful of others who are struggling and may have less capacity to cope with higher energy activities or sharing of information in a group setting.

If you are in category 2, your primary concern is your own wellbeing, stability and your loved ones. In stressful times you probably have limited capacity to truly be of service to your clients.

You may like to define a period (e.g. 2 – 6 months) to focus on your own physical and mental wellbeing, during which time you:

  • close your business temporarily (e,g, block your calendar)
  • Subcontract another coach to service your clients
  • Reduce business activities to a minimum (e.g. working with a few select clients)
  • Consider Centrelink or other options for financial support if needed. Business offsets, grants or hardship payments are sometimes available.

Remember that as a business owner you may have legal obligations to clients such as coaching out their contract, refunding them, putting payments on hold or suspending memberships.

There is also the common courtesy of emailing your clients to let them know that you are taking time off, and to let them know what to expect from you in the interim.

Maybe that’s nothing, or you may continue newsletters, or you may schedule social media posts, podcasts or have a VA do that for you. Just make sure you tell your clients how they can stay connected or when you’ll be back in touch with them.

If you’re highly stressed then it’s likely you’ll be in decision fatigue, so you may find it easiest to discuss a strategy with your business coach or mentor to help you develop a clear plan going forward.

If you’re in category 3, then your biggest priority will be emotional balance. 

That’s because you may feel motivated to make offers in the heat of the moment, or be super responsive to clients, but then realise you lack the energy or capacity to follow through with an appropriate level of service.

Your best approach will probably be to:

  • create a clear schedule of work and non work activities and stick to it (e.g. a weekly plan)
  • reduce the number of clients you see each week, and set a maximum number of sessions per day
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when a client asks for help rather than just responding  
  • pause and reflect on your capacity when you get an impulse to offer help or run and event, rather than just rushing into action  
  • Automate your marketing activities.

Remember that a successful business is consistent how it shows up. It underpromises and over delivers in value, not the other way around.

If you run your business in fits and starts, it may damage your reputation. You’re better off to dial down your activities and be consistent with them. 

SUMMARY

Those of us who serve others can fall into the trap of overhelping, overcommitting or overextending ourselves, and burning out.

The most important thing for us all as individuals is to check in with ourselves each day and reflect on how we are holding up, what our capacity is, and to maintain our own physical and mental wellbeing habits. We must do this to meet our own needs and to have the capacity to serve others.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

In times of stress, I encourage you to reflect on your resilience and make a decision as to what your business approach will be. Decide how long you will do this approach for. (E.g. 3 months? 4 months?) then take the appropriate actions.

The most important thing for any business – in good times and hard times – to be is consistent. Consistency builds a sense of trust, reliability and professionalism.

You can revise your plan at any time but definitely at the end of your defined time period, and get clear on how you’re feeling and what you will do next.

If you need support with your business in stressful times, these resources may help.

Summary of state-by-state stimulus measuresAustralian Tax Office information for COVID 19Business support for sole traders

Small Business NSW (includes info on financial hardship and bank loan deferment), Business Qld (includes information on economic relief, payroll tax relief,  power bill relief and support facts), Business Victoria (includes different support options including low cost business mentoring), Telstra small business supportTips for coping with COVID anxiety (Psychology.org, includes a list of resources)

Ready to navigate your business through this stressful time?

Now is a time to have a clear and realistic picture of what your business can do. If you’re looking to break old habits and get through this, I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 79: Interview with Terri Sparrow on packaging coaching with a product

Confused about how to package coaching with an existing service? This is part 1 of a series of interviews explaining how to do it.

Today, I talk to Terri Sparrow about packaging coaching with a product.

Ready to package coaching with your existing product?

It might be what you have been looking for. 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: