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E#208 How to Interpret Sleep Data

How to Interpret Sleep Data

Are you trying to get better quality sleep and want to know what your sleep data means? In this episode, I’m going to explain sleep hypnograms and how to use them to understand your sleep and help you sleep better.

Sleep is becoming recognised as a national health priority because it affects so many areas of life. More specifically, sleep quality and quantity are strongly linked to mental health, cognitive function, and physical injury. Sleep is regulated by multiple systems in the body including your circadian control as influenced by light and dark exposure (see previous episode).

So if you want a good night’s sleep, where do you start? Let’s consider sleep data and how you can use it to make positive changes for a better night’s sleep.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is sleep data?
* What is a sleep hypnogram?
* What does your sleep data mean?
* How can sleep data and hypnograms help improve sleep?

What is sleep data?

Sleep data includes any information collected about sleep.

It can range from information that you manually collect or write down, to data you can collect from a wearable device to data that is collected by experienced practitioners in a sleep lab.

Manual sleep data could include a sleep diary, where you write down information such as:

– the time you went to bed,

– the time you woke up,

– a subjective rating of how well you think you slept, and

– any factors that might have influenced your sleep (e.g. caffeine intake, alcohol intake, medications, use of devices, or any worries or anxiety).

The data is relatively subjective compared to other methods.

A wearable device can be used to capture physiological data while you are asleep. The data captured may include:

– the time you fell asleep,

– total duration of sleep

– sleep phases and how long you spent in each phase,

– sleep quality,

– movement during the night,

– heart rate during sleep,

– oxygen saturation during sleep,

– the time you work up.

These data may be available on a wearable itself, or in an app that syncs wearable data. Commonly, these data are combined using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide an overall sleep score that is visible on the device and/or on a related app. Examples include Whoop, Oura Ring, and Apple watch.

Other ways to capture sleep data can include nearables (non-wearable trackers that are placed near the bed which measures motion, temperature, respiratory rate, and other data), or mobile sleep apps (that detect motion in the night and/or may wake the person at the right time in their sleep cycle).

The data collected by devices like the ones mentioned may be more accurate than self-reported data but are likely to be 50 – 60% as accurate as data collected in a formal sleep lab using purpose-built equipment, according to some studies.

Many consumer wearable devices and apps use AI that is built purely from subjective data such as questionnaires, which may be biased and affect accuracy.

There is an emerging interest in wearable devices and apps such as PhiliaHealth, whose algorithms are based in actual physiological studies in a lab, and who report other unique and more actionable data. In comparison to wearables, clinical sleep studies monitor aspects such as:

– limb movement

– respiratory flow

– electrocardiograms (heart signals)

– electroencephalograms (brain activity and eye movements)

– electromyograms (muscle movements).

For most people, it is that manually-collected data or data from a wearable that is most relevant and accessible, empowering you to take action to improve your sleep.

What is a sleep hypnogram?

There are a few different ways to look at sleep data, and a sleep hypnogram is one of them.

A hypnogram is a graphical representation of your sleep cycle. It is a graph of polysomnography (PSG) data that is collected during the hours that you sleep.

The data is captured by a wearable as an activity, about every 30 seconds while you sleep. While not very precise, it allows you to capture data for different stages of sleep and graph them. These stages and the time spent in each are:

· Times you are awake and moving

· Non-REM 1 sleep (lightest sleep) (10% of sleep time)

· Non-REM 2 sleep (slightly deeper sleep) (50% of sleep time)

· Non-REM 3 sleep (also called deep sleep or slow wave sleep) (20% of sleep time)

· REM sleep (rapid eye movement, dream state, increased brain activity) (20% of sleep time

We cycle through these stages of sleep around every 90 minutes (plus or minus 20 minutes), and each person typically has 4 – 6 of these cycles each night.

Overall, 20% of sleep is spent in the REM, dreaming phase, and about 80% is spent in non-REM (also known as N-REM).

The hypnogram plot of your sleep cycle data looks something like this:

In a normal hypnogram, we might see more N-REM (Stages 1 -3) or deep sleep in the first half of the night (early sleep). Our hormonal balance is such that stimulation effects are lower at this time. 

Then, in the later part of sleep, we might notice more REM sleep in the hypnogram. During this time, the hormone acetylcholine increases to help you to process information and memories without disrupting sleep.  

People who have disruptive sleep show variations from the normal graph. They might have multiple awakenings, shorter or irregular sleep cycles, less deep sleep, and/or absent sleep stages. These changes can indicate psychiatric disorders, narcolepsy, sleep disorders, or medication effects (for example). 

Where can I find my sleep data? 

If you are using the PhiliaHealth app, your hypnogram can be found by clicking on the sleep icon on the daily dashboard, then scrolling down and click on your sleep session. 

The sleep icon shows an overall score, with total sleep time and your resting heart rate during sleep. 

Below that, the score is explained in terms of: 

  • contributing factors to good sleep (time spent in each stage and efficiency) which are colour coded in a traffic light system to show good, ok and not so good, and 
  • penalties that lower the score (restlessness, elevated heart rate and number of awakenings). 

Scroll down to see your hypnogram including the % time spent in each stage. Remember that 20% of time spent in deep sleep is ‘normal’. 

Below that, the other biometric data collected during sleep, and data on your sleep disturbances (based on arm movement). 

The traffic light colour system used in the sleep score section and the biometric data section make it easy to differentiate the positives (green) from the negatives (red). 

What does my sleep data mean? How can hypnograms help improve sleep? 

Sleep data can empower you with information that can help you make better choices to improve your sleep. According to Villanova University, sleep data can be used to: 

  • Improve knowledge and treatment of sleep conditions 
  • Identify root causes of sleep disorders 
  • Link behaviours to sleep quality 
  • Improve mattress design, and 
  • Personalise recommendations for better sleep. 

Even without going into the detail of the hypnogram and without the accuracy of laboratory-based methods, you can work out whether there are issues with your sleep and when they occur. 

  • Using your hypnogram, biometric data, sleep scores and disturbance data, you can figure out whether you’re getting enough deep sleep, and when there are potential sleep issues. 
  • You might notice that your sleep score, hypnogram and biometrics are abnormal on days that you do certain things like work late, drink alcohol, experience anxiety, use devices before bed or have noise or light nearby.  
  • Your hypnogram can show at a glance whether your sleep cycles are normal or not. 

With this information, you may be able to experiment with modifying your daytime or evening behaviours or situations to improve sleep. The data might reflect positive changes in response to behaviour change. 

By looking at trends over time and whether behaviour changes cause improvements, you can work out whether you are on track or need to get professional help from a doctor or specialist. 

Summary

This episode was a deep dive into what sleep data is, what hypnograms are, what the data means, and how you can use it to improve your sleep or identify a need to get help. 

References 

  1. Lavery, Michael & Stull, Carolyn & Kinney, Michael & Yosipovitch, Gil. (2016). Nocturnal Pruritus: The Battle for a Peaceful Night’s Sleep. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 17. 425. 10.3390/ijms17030425.
  2. How to Use Sleep Data to Effectively Improve Rest. Master’s in Data Science.org website https://www.mastersindatascience.org/resources/sleep-data-to-improve-rest/ accessed 23/8/22.
  3. Neubauer, David N. MD. (1999) Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, Baltimore, MD in American Family Physician, 59(9):2551-2558, May 1, 1999.
  4. 4. Schellenberger Costa, Michael & Born, Jan & Claussen, Jens Christian & Martinetz, Thomas. (2016). Modeling the effect of sleep regulation on a neural mass model. Journal of Computational Neuroscience. 41. 10.1007/s10827-016-0602-z.
  5. 5. Wahaj Anwar A. Khan, Russell Conduit, Gerard A. Kennedy, Melinda L. Jackson, 2020. The relationship between shift-work, sleep, and mental health among paramedics in Australia. Sleep Health, Volume 6, Issue 3, 2020, Pages 330-337, ISSN 2352-7218, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.12.002.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

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E#207 Sleep Hacks for Insomniacs

Sleep Hacks for Insomniacs

If you’re like me, sleep can be hit and miss at times and getting enough sleep can become a drain that affects your performance and productivity. In this episode, we’ll cover a few sleep hacks recommended by leading neurobiologists that can help you to improve your chance of falling asleep and staying asleep.

In the last episode of this podcast, we discussed sleep chronobiology and its impact on health and wellbeing, along with a few simple tips to identify your chronobiology and how to align your routines to your personal type.

Now let’s get specific with some hacks! Many recent (2022) journal articles have revealed how ocular light exposure – that is, light entering the eyes – affects our circadian rhythms and sleep, endocrine function, and cognitive function, which in turn influence human health and wellbeing.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Evening sleep hacks for winding down at night
* Sleep hacks for falling asleep and staying asleep
* Tips for setting your sleep clock

This conversation is partly based around “melanopic light”, which describes the way that blue light frequencies restrict melatonin production in your body until after dusk, after which time melatonin washes through the body to help you sleep.

The recent advances in our understanding of the relationship between light exposure and sleep have led to the development of new standards and practices. By understanding how different light sources and timing of exposure work, neurobiologists have been able to develop recommendations for improving sleep quality and quantity.

Let’s take a look at some of the hacks that you can use, for free, to improve your sleep.

Evening sleep hacks for winding down

An interesting hack is the recommendation for morning sun exposure (outdoors) which can mitigate any undesirable effects of indoor light exposure (during the day and at night), so that you can wind down more easily and sleep better.

We also need to dim the lights in our houses. Recent advances in our understanding of circadian rhythms means that light manufacturers have been able to produce blue light components so that artificial lighting systems in our homes and offices are very similar to actual daylight.

But while this is great for productivity during the day, it is not so good at night when we want to wind down and fall asleep. In that sense, after sunset, the experts recommend dimming the lights in your home, in the evening at least 3 hours before bedtime. This reduces the amount of light entering your eyes and helps allow the melatonin wash to occur.

This also applies to electronic devices. Televisions, computer screens, tablets or mobile phones all emit blue light and are often close to your eyes, so turning off in the around sunset might help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

While we’re talking about sunset, one interesting study showed that when you couple daytime outdoor light exposure with early evening light exposure (e.g. sunset), it can help to decrease the sleep disruptive effects of nighttime light exposure.

And if you have bright lights on late at night, you will suppress melatonin, the hormone that helps you relax and feel sleepy, which obviously affects your quality and duration of sleep.

Aside from light, there are other things that can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Food and exercise can affect your ability to fall asleep.

People who are early risers (see episode 206) might do better with an earlier dinner, exercising earlier in the day, and minimising socialising at night so as not to disrupt sleep.

In contrast, people who are night owls (see episode 206) could eat later without disrupting sleep but might need a lighter dinner, and to finish exercise before 7pm so as not to disrupt sleep.

Otherwise, and more generally, alcohol intake at night might help you fall asleep but might wake you up between 1 – 3am.

For some people, a high-carb meal (more specifically, higher in simple carbs) might delay sleep onset – in other words, it takes longer to fall asleep – or cause them to wake up hungry.

Similarly, caffeine or other stimulants after 3pm might disrupt sleep in some people, as it takes 3 – 15 hours to metabolise and excrete caffeine.

A heavy meal at night or overeating at night often disrupts sleep. Either can cause indigestion, heartburn, or simple discomfort before bed or during sleep. That’s because, during sleep, our digestive processes slow down but can also create competition for resources in the body if you have an undigested meal in your stomach.

Eating a heavy meal or too much food may cause you to wake up the next day without an appetite or even feeling heavy or sluggish because you’re still working through last night’s meal.

The remedy for this is simple – and twofold:

1. it takes around 4 hours to digest a meal, so finish eating at least 3 hours before you go to bed, and

2. eat a lighter meal before bed with lots of vegetables, and the right amount of complex carbs, fats and/or proteins for your HealthType.

Sleep hacks for falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up energized

The science shows that inadequate daytime light exposure is as detrimental as too much electric light exposure at night, with both of these having adverse effects on your sleep, circadian rhythms and health outcomes.

So, in order to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep, the experts recommend that you get outdoors and get daytime light exposure within 30 – 60 minutes of waking up, if possible during the day, and also around sunset.

During the day (before sunset), aim for at least 2.5 hours of bright light exposure including your early morning exposure, and another hour in the late afternoon or evening.

In terms of light exposure while you’re asleep, the experts recommend that your sleep environment is as dark as possible. If you do need to get up for the bathroom during the night, the recommended

maximum exposure to light is 10 lux (which is a unit of measure of light). You can download an app on your phone that measures light as a rough guide to help you determine exposure.

That aside, anxiety and worry can add to sleep issues. I have discussed this extensively in other episodes but it’s worth mentioning here – get some help, keep a worry diary and/or get on top of your task list to help you sleep easy at night.

Having some light, fun activities that aren’t too stimulating in the early evening can help you switch off!

Shift workers – a special case

Light exposure for shift workers is still an area of study and a challenge that neurobiologists haven’t yet been able to solve.

At this time, there is evidence that increasing melanopic light levels at work (e.g. office lighting) can improve alertness, as measured subjectively (e.g. questionnaire) and/or objectively, but this requires further study in the shift work population.

In any case, I speculate that even shift workers can create some improvements in sleep, and we will look at that in another episode in more detail.

For now, let’s assume that eating and exercise can be modified to improve the chance of a good night’s sleep, and further, block out curtains and getting the timing of light exposure right might help to create a rhythm that facilitates sleep.

Setting your circadian rhythm

In the previous episode of this podcast I talked about determining your sleep chronotype – in other words – the time you wake up and the time you go to bed. Whether you’re an early riser, a night owl or an in betweener, being consistent with wake and sleep times can help you establish a regular daily light-dark cycle which can further benefit sleep, cognition and health.

And as described earlier in this episode, getting outdoor light exposure soon after waking and again late afternoon can help you to sleep more soundly, and wake refreshed.

Summary

And as described earlier in this episode, getting outdoor light exposure soon after waking and again late afternoon can help you to sleep more soundly, and wake refreshed.

If you want to sleep well, also consider the timing, quantity, and quality of food and exercise in the context of your chronotype – nothing within 3 hours of sleep, and reducing or avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and high glycemic foods or heavy meals.

Think about switching off devices after sunset and dimming your house lights.

There is so much coming out about sleep right now, and today’s summary of research includes a few tips to help you manage your sleep better.

References

Brown TM, Brainard GC, Cajochen C, Czeisler CA, Hanifin JP, et al. (2022) Recommendations for daytime, evening, and nighttime indoor light exposure to best support physiology, sleep, and wakefulness in healthy adults. PLOS Biology 20(3): e3001571. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3001571

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

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E#206 Understanding Sleep Chronotypes

Understanding sleep chronotypes

Are you intrigued by the concept of chronotypes and want to know how it can help you (or your clients) to optimise sleep, performance, health and wellbeing?

Your sleep chronotype indicates whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and helps you optimise your sleep patterns for better focus, performance and productivity.

As someone in menopause, I want to get rid of night sweats, insomnia and brain fog as well as anxiety and low mood. For me, the research indicates that aligning with my sleep and other chronotypes will help me to reduce or eliminate these pesky symptoms.

I am trained in assessing and understanding chronotypes, so stick around to the end or check the show notes to find out how about a specific test I can help you with, to determine your chronotypes for sleep but also other areas of life like eating, exercise, focused work and so on.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What Sleep Chronotypes Are
* Are you a night owl or an early bird?
* Benefits of knowing your sleep chronotype
* Aligning to your sleep chronotype

What Are Sleep Chronotypes?

Feeling tired all the time has a massive impact on your mood, work performance, motivation to exercise, and willingness to get out and socialise.

We hear a lot about sleep hygiene and pre-bed routines to work out how to sleep better, but nobody is talking about chronotypes.

Chronotypes are what make us unique. Specifically, your chronotype is the behavioural manifestation of your circadian rhythm (also known as your ‘body clock’), such as when you prefer to sleep and when you are most alert and energetic.

Your natural rhythm also affects the timing of other events in your body like hormone release, meal timing, exercise timing and bowel movements.

In the dawning era of personalised healthcare, we are realising that the old, general rules like “you must get 8 hours of sleep per night” or “we should go to bed by 9pm” are not true.

The truth is – sleep is personal. You are unique in terms of your sleep needs. Emerging evidence suggests that there is a strong genetic component to sleep chronotypes, and that variations in chronotypes might have evolved in hunter gatherers who took turns sleeping so there was always someone to keep watch.

And once you know your needs, certain elements of your lifestyle affect your sleep and should be considered as part of the solution.

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

While there are several quizzes available that can indicate your sleep chronotype, your own personal experience is the key.

It can be challenging to identify your chronotype if your body is ‘out of whack’ for example if you are a shift worker, if you are carrying a sleep debt, or if you are going through menopause or acute stress that is affecting your sleep.

A simple way to work it out is to keep a diary over a week or two, perhaps when you’re on holiday, without work stress, deadlines, over exposure to devices or stressful travel to and from work.

During this holiday time, notice when you naturally feel sleepy and record the time.

Complete your usual pre-bed routine and let yourself fall asleep naturally.

Then in the morning, notice what time you naturally wake up, and record the time.

Over a period of days, without the normal external pressures and influences, you will start to see consistent sleep and wake times, and your natural sleep chronotype will be revealed.

Although we often hear the term night owl or early bird, there are four recognised chronotypes in a quiz by Dr Michael Breus, which are:

1. Lion – the early bird who likes to wake up early and be productive in the morning

2. Bear – accounting for about 55% of the population, their sleep and wake times tend to follow the sun

3. Wolf – the night owl, thought to make up 15% of the population

4. Dolphin – tend to be insomniacs

This is just one chronotype classification systems.

Benefits of knowing your sleep chronotype

If you know your sleep chronotype, you’ll be better able to manage your daily schedule and be alert, productive and focused at the right time.

Imagine of you knew how to structure your day so that you could get things done, get enough rest, feel motivated to exercise, and feel energized and at peace – and then have a good night’s sleep? That’s the power of knowing your sleep chronotype.

Sleep has a huge impact on your appetite, exercise and core temperature, so it also affects your ability to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Various studies show that your chronotype is also associated with some of the ‘Big 5’ personality traits. Lions or early birds (‘morningness’) tend to be associated with conscientiousness and agreeableness, while neuroticism and openness, impulsivity, anger, anxiety and using substances tend to be more common in Wolves or night owls (‘eveningness’). The same studies show that morning people tend to do better in school, and evening people might be better at creative thinking and musicality.

Evening people also tend to be less physically active and sleep less during the week, and more on weekends which can lead to a higher stress response, elevated cortisol levels and a higher resting HR which are risk factors for a variety of sleep, metabolic and mental health concerns.

These are trends, not set in stone, because each person is subject to various external influences that might affect their sleep patterns and overall wellbeing.

Having said that, by aligning your schedule with your chronotype, you will more easily reduce adverse outcomes and be more productive, energized and calm.

Aligning your schedule to your sleep chronotype

Once you know your sleep chronotype, how do you align your schedule so that you can optimise focus, sleep, performance, productivity and recuperation?

While I’ll cover some specific hacks and tips in the next episode, these are some general guidelines to start implementing.

A good starting point is to experiment with going to bed at the time that suits you best, for example, 10pm every night.

Once you establish this time, work backwards and start experimenting with pre-bed routines that will help you have a good night’s sleep and allow you to actually get into bed by this time.

When you have a handle on those two things, your wake-up time should naturally set itself, and you’ll start waking up at a set time every day.

From there, you can work with your energy during the day to adjust your schedule if you can.

For example, early risers might have more energy first thing in the morning and so might do better with exercise, detailed thinking work and any sort of focused action-taking early in the day and could try scheduling those things in the morning if possible. You might also find it better to socialise in the daytime or late afternoon rather than at night as you’ll be winding down.

In contrast, night owls who go to bed later e.g. 11pm might have more energy late in the day, and so could need a more relaxed morning, where you ease into the day slowly, leaving exercise, socialising and intense work for the afternoon and early evening.

If you’re an in-betweener, you may find your energy peak is closer to the middle of the day and could prioritise focused work and exercise from late morning to mid-to-late afternoon.

It may be possible to rearrange your work duties to fit with these frameworks.

A key takeaway is that we are all unique, so experimenting is key as is a need to remove the overlay of stressors, overwork and responsibility that often get in the way of us living our best lives.

Summary

Sleep chronotypes are about more than just optimal bedtime, sleep quality and quantity. By understanding and aligning with your sleep chronotype, you can unlock your full potential in terms of productivity, focus, mental health, motivation to exercise, getting your eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight.

Contact me for support with determining your personal chronotype.

References

David A. Kalmbach, PhD, Logan D. Schneider, MD, Joseph Cheung, MD MS, Sarah J. Bertrand, PhD, Thiruchelvam Kariharan, PhD, Allan I. Pack, MBChB PhD, Philip R. Gehrman, PhD, Genetic Basis of Chronotype in Humans: Insights From Three Landmark GWAS, Sleep, Volume 40, Issue 2, 1 February 2017, zsw048, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsw048

Gjermunds, N., Brechan, I., Johnsen, S.Å.K. and Watten, R.G., 2019. Musicians: Larks, Owls or Hummingbirds?. Journal of Circadian Rhythms, 17(1), p.4. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jcr.173

Tristan Enright & Roberto Refinetti (2017) Chronotype, class times, and academic achievement of university students, Chronobiology International, 34:4, 445-450, DOI: 10.1080/07420528.2017.1281287

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

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E#205 How to Develop a Magnetic Value Proposition

This episode is about how to develop a magnetic value proposition

A lot of coaches find it hard to really communicate the value of what they do in their marketing and craft a viable value proposition. Today, I want to unpack the ‘brand ladder’ with you – a helpful marketing tool that helps you define what motivates people to buy and craft a compelling value proposition that is guaranteed to attract new clients.

Before you develop any marketing strategies to get out there and start becoming known, liked and trusted to attract clients, you have to know what to say and how to describe the value of what you do. A solid brand ladder will make all the difference. It’s what will rocket fuel your opportunities.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is a Brand Ladder and Why Do You Need One?
* The Five Step Brand Ladder Process
* Crafting Your Value Proposition

What is a Brand Ladder and Why do You Need One?

In all marketing and advertising, we want to write, speak or engage with emotion and values that are aligned with what the clients want to feel and be, because this is appealing and attractive to them.

If you listened to my last episode, you might have heard me mention that 90% of a buying decision is based in emotion, and only 10% is based in logic.

So, how do you create that emotively based value proposition?

Brand laddering is one exercise to help you uncover the right language to develop your value proposition. This tool helps you to unpack the mental and emotional process your potential client goes through as they are becoming engaged to buy, and it leverages coaching concepts including positive psychology, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and unpacking the “why behind the why”.

They start from outlining your service’s most important feature, then it’s benefits, the emotional value to the person, and how those benefits and values might change someone’s life.

The Five-Step Brand Ladder Process

Let’s walk through the five-step brand ladder process, so you can use this to create compelling copy and a rock-solid value proposition that is irresistible to potential clients.

Bottom Rung – Features

Features are the factual statements about your service, about what it can do or what it includes, and why it’s the best choice.

This rung answers the question – “so what is this program, and who is it for?”

If your service is a coaching program, then factual statements might include:

· Weight loss program tailored to women in their 40’s

· 8-week, evidence-based program to help you reduce stress at work

You can hear the points of difference here – firstly both are specific to a problem, the weight loss program is tailored to a specific group, or the 8-week program is evidence-based.

These types of statements speak about the strengths or differences of your service and therefore why it is a better choice.

You will notice that the wording is specific, not general. That way there’s no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. This is important for all rungs of the ladder.

Second Rung – Functional Benefits

Next are the functional benefits that these features provide. These are the end results of what the service can accomplish for your client.

This rung answers the question – “so what do I get?” or “what’s in it for me?”

Functional benefits are things that help people to:

– Stay connected – e.g. friends, family, socially

– Save money – e.g. reduce time, add value, track success, reduce costs

– Make you smarter – e.g. build skills, support, information, step-by-step process

– Help you be healthier – e.g. prevent, restore, mental health, lose weight, exercise

– Work better for you – e.g. faster, safer, evidence based

– Help you take action – e.g. awareness, motivation, confidence

– Simplify your life – e.g. efficient, easier, time-saving, streamlined, organised.

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· Making simple changes to your eating habits to help you achieve a healthy weight

· Learning how to better manage your schedule and leave work on time, so you can switch off more easily and have the energy for friends, family and fitness after work.

Notice once again that the language is specific to the client and what their daily life experience might involve. Market research and conversations with your client can help you get there.

Third Rung – Emotional Benefits

Next are the emotional benefits that these functional benefits provide.

This rung answers the question – “how will this make me feel?”

It’s a bit like peeling off another layer of the why in a first coaching session, asking “so if you were to achieve that vision, how would you feel?”

Emotional benefits are commonly things like:

  • Curiosity for knowledge – e.g. competent, smarter, aware
  • Sense of optimism – e.g. motivated, successful, inspired, special
  • Feeling comfortable – e.g. relaxed, nurtured, compassionate
  • Feeling free – e.g. alive, excited, exhilarated
  • Getting noticed – e.g. playful, popular, sexy
  • Feeling liked or self-assured – e.g. friendly, happy, fulfilled, confident, empowered
  • Staying in control – e.g. respect, safe, trust, reliable
  • Feeling myself/my values – e.g. honest, standards, purpose, family, authentic
  • Feeling revitalised – e.g. active, more energized, youthful, getting the old me back
  • Having a sense of pride – e.g. leadership, overcoming, accomplishment

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· This program is designed to help you feel more confident, comfortable in your own skin and aligned with your values

· By mastering your work schedule, you’ll feel more in control of your time, gain a sense of achievement and have a more relaxed time with the ones you love.

Notice how we are tapping into the client’s aspirations here. We are not promising that the program does this – we are saying how they might feel if they can get on top of their obstacles.

Working with your niche clients to help them create a vision can help you to work out these ‘feeling words’ more specifically.

Fourth Rung – Transformational Benefits

Next are the transformational benefits that are possible when a client can make lasting change.

This rung answers the question – “how will this change my life?”

This is like peeling off yet another layer of the why in a first coaching session, asking “Why is this vision so meaningful for you?”

For a coaching program, these could be things like:

· I’ll be a better, healthier role model for my kids and know that I am doing the best for my health

· I’ll have better, more meaningful relationships with my family, have more fun in life, and perform better at work.

Notice how we are tapping into the client’s deeper values and motivators here. Reflect on how you feel even just listening to these transformational benefits!

(Sometimes) Fifth Rung – Social Impact

Some brand ladders have another layer – related to social impact of the company or even of the person using the company’s services.

This rung answers the question – “how does this change society?”

In a coaching context, this might only really apply to specific niches, but it could also speak to the values of your business and it’s greater mission in the world.

For example:

· XYZ Coaching is on a mission to put an end to diabetes and other avoidable lifestyle diseases. This is your chance to be part of the change and inspire your friends and family with healthier choices for a healthy weight.

· Burnout is a global problem. For every program purchased, we will donate $10 to Beyond Blue, an organisation that supports and advocates for better mental health.

By now, your potential client will feel on a high and be excited to work with you!

Crafting Your Value Proposition

So, how do you use this information to craft a value proposition?

It’s about pulling together the key elements of the ladder into something that speaks to the value of what you do.

Using the weight loss example:

If you’re a woman in your 40’s who is struggling to lose weight, XYZ coaching will take you through a step-by-step process to make weight loss easier. You’ll finally start to feel more comfortable in your own skin and be the role model you want to be for your family.

Using the stress management example:

If you’re sick of feeling overwhelmed by workplace stress, this evidence-based program will help you to manage your time better and feel more energized so you can switch off more easily and have more quality time with the people and things you love.

Summary

The brand ladder exercise is a great tool to help you unpack a statement that truly conveys the value of what you do – your value proposition – and taps into your prospective client’s emotional drivers.

You can build a brand ladder using the words your clients use in their initial vision sessions, by peeling off the layers of the why.

Assuming that you have the best intentions for your client and will do your best as a coach, this is an authentic way to get excited about what you do and the difference you can make in the world.

It helps you to stand out and be emotionally engaging to the right people.

And if you get this right, you’ll easily have more clients heading your way.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#204 How to Better Explain What You Do So You Can Attract More Paying Clients

This episode is about how to better explain what you do so you can attract more paying clients

A lot of coaches have trouble explaining what they do, what health coaching is and how it works. And that’s why I want to get a bit ranty today. We’ll talk about the #1 reason why you may NOT be getting the leads you want, and how best to explain what you do so that you can confidently speak to people and attract more paying clients.

Advocacy vs Niche Marketing

I want to start this episode by talking about advocacy versus niche marketing. The problem I see is that a lot of coaches are so stuck on telling people what health and wellness coaching is BUT they’re not really communicating the value of health and wellness coaching. Let me explain

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Advocacy vs Niche Marketing
* Appealing to Emotions
* Brand Laddering
* How to Attract Paying Clients

For starters, people buy things that they believe will get them a result.

But if you are trying to explain your services in terms of how your profession works, then you’re not really talking about how you help the individual or the results they will get.

For example, imagine a doctor explaining how doctors work. He might say something like:

“Well, patients come to see me when they’re not feeling well. They come in and make an appointment and then we sit down and go through the health history, and I work out what’s going on with them now and I may prescribe medication or treatment that will help them to get better. They might come and see me again in a couple of weeks to make sure everything’s been resolved and that’s how being a doctor works.”

Now, I know that’s a really obvious example, but it illustrates what some coaches are trying to do when they’re explaining Health and Wellness coaching to people.

When you talk about helping clients to set visions and create goals and make lifestyle change, then you’re talking much more about how professionals in our industry work within a session with a client.

For the sake of clarity, let’s call this type of explanation “advocacy”.

The term fits pretty well with the dictionary definition of advocacy, which is “the act of pleading for, supporting, or recommending; active espousal.”

How do you know if you’re going down the road of ‘advocacy’ in your marketing?

Well, your copy would include words that focus more on our profession. The language you use would be broader and perhaps more about you as a coach. If you are using more thinking, factual or logical words to describe what you do. He might be also talking about qualifications and standards, professional affiliations, or the science behind what you do.

Let’s be clear – There is a role for advocacy in your marketing particularly if you are talking to other health professionals for the sake of building relationships to gain referrals. But you are not likely to get clients this way directly, because you were not speaking to them emotively in their language.

This is why I’d like to talk about niche marketing now.

Niche marketing is very different to advocacy. In niche marketing, your language focuses more on person, not the profession. You’re using more feeling words and specifically, the words that your clients used to describe their pain points and desired feeling-based solutions. You’re talking about their unmet needs, their perceived problem, how that plays out in their daily life, their desired solution and your value proposition. As a refresher, a value proposition is defined as a basic statement that communicates the benefit you promise to deliver to your customers post purchase.

This is how the hypothetical doctor might discuss his value proposition to a prospective client.

“I’m a Doctor who specialises in helping people who have just been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or diabetes. I understand that being diagnosed with this might be a shock and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you are confused about your treatment options, mediation and their side effects, or which areas of your health require attention.

I understand how worrying this can be, especially with your work and family responsibilities at this time of your life. As someone who has treated metabolic conditions for 10 years, I am here to help you to navigate your condition, understand what’s going on in your body and take action to prevent the progression of this condition by taking action to lower your cholesterol, reduce your waist circumference, normalise your liver function and improve your physical and mental health.”

Can you hear the difference in the language? Of course, doctors don’t usually describe their work like that or use emotive language.

But if you had a metabolic condition and you heard those two descriptions, one based in more advocacy language and one about the challenges that someone with metabolic syndrome faces, which one would be more appealing?

Which one of those doctors would you trust more?

Appealing to Emotions

As I mentioned earlier, if you want to explain what you do really clearly and in a way that grabs attention then it’s important that you appeal to their emotions. And to appeal to someone’s emotions, talk with emotional words about things that they are emotionally engaged with.

You want to tell a story, but not just any story – you want to tell the niche client’s personal story.

You want to use descriptive and emotive words, and real examples of what the person might be thinking, living, experiencing and feeling. This portrays your understanding of them as a person and not just as a prospective client. This naturally brings a flavour of empathy, compassion, understanding and relatability to your words and messages.

Imagine how confident you’d feel knowing you had something that engaged people at their very heart and soul!

Brand Laddering

So how do you work out how to describe what you do in a more emotive way?

Brand laddering is one exercise you can do to bring more emotive language into your marketing copy, and to make it more about the person than about your profession. I will talk about that in the next episode, but the premise is that it helps you peel of the why’s behind the service.

It helps you to unpack the mental and emotional process your potential client goes through as they are becoming engaged to buy.

It works just like our very own coaching process of exploring the whys. As coaches, we explore a client’s challenge and desired solution with them by asking several why-type questions to uncover their values, motivators and drivers.

More in the next episode! But first, let’s back up a step and talk about a four step process to help you improve the way you describe your services to potential clients.

How to Better-Attract Paying Clients

If you want to get better at attracting paying clients, you will need to switch out of advocacy marketing and into niche marketing.

Here are four steps to better-explain how you work, and more easily engage paying clients.

1. Conduct LIVE market research interviews with your niche to hear what they are emotional about, and to hear the words they use to describe their problem, desired results and bigger why outcomes.

2. Create a brand ladder that captures the key words from these interviews, moving beyond the ‘features’ of what you do and into the emotional and transformational benefits.

3. Use this to craft a value proposition that clearly explains the tangible emotional benefits that your niche client wants.

4. Ask some of your niche clients for feedback on the value proposition. Why do they like it or why not? What does it mean to them? What would be more appealing, if anything?

Engaging people in your niche for feedback is ALWAYS, 100%, the best way to get your marketing copy, your explanation of what you do, and any descriptions of your services, spot on.

If in doubt – contact a business or marketing coach for support!

Summary

Today we talked about what coaches typically do wrong when describing what they do as a profession, and why it doesn’t work.

We compared the more factual, profession-based ‘advocacy’ approach to marketing, versus the more emotive, client-focused niche marketing approach.

Your ability to attract clients is all about appealing to their emotions. If you want to attract more paying clients, try following my four step process:

1. Conduct market research interviews with your niche

2. Create a brand ladder to draw out the more emotional, why-based words

3. Develop a value proposition using more emotive, client-focused words

4. Practice it on your niche before sharing your insights in your marketing

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#203 The Ultimate Guide to Health Coaching Prices

This episode is about the ultimate guide to health coaching prices

If you are a health coach and want to know how much to charge as a health and well-being coach, you’re in the right place. By the end of this episode, you’ll be clear on how to set health coaching prices that you’re comfortable to charge, and that are good value to your clients.

You know what it’s like when you start working as a health and wellness coach. You’re about to launch your business, and you have no idea of what to charge.

You look at all the other coaches out there and see coaches charging wildly different amounts – where do you even start with working out coaching pricing?

Let’s dive into this very important topic and help you get your pricing right so you can launch your business with confidence and certainty that you’ll find clients who are willing to pay you for your coaching programs and packages.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Health Coaching Pricing 101
* Perceived Value
* The Goldilocks Method
* Getting Your Pricing Right

Health Coaching Pricing 101

There are a few things to consider when it comes to pricing your health coaching services.

Which market are you targeting?

For any service or product, there are pricing ‘norms’ for different markets. In coaching, we could broadly consider four markets:

  1. Corporate
  2. Private niche clients
  3. Healthcare/Integrative Medicine, and
  4. Medical

I have listed them in this order on purpose – businesses or people with higher disposable income tend to pay more for health coaching services, or buy in bigger volume, or both.

In this list, I’ve put corporate clients at the top of the pricing tree as organisations will likely pay more and/or buy more to keep their employees healthy.

Next are private niche clients – those that are not covered under the corporate banner, they tend to have a specific health problem they want to solve and would rather seek support from an independent specialist rather than go to a doctor. Remember, a niche is defined as a group of people with a big problem they will pay to solve, and they generally pay more per session or package compared to people who have fewer big drivers for change.

Next are healthcare/integrative medicine clients. They typically have a big health problem to solve and are seeing multiple professionals to get support, to get to the bottom of things. They’re motivated to pay for a solution that will help them manage their condition but they might also be spreading their available spend across multiple health practitioners.

Finally, there is coaching in a medical setting. People who go to doctors and are referred are more likely to be lower income earners, possibly less motivated to make lifestyle change, and/or looking to get Medicare or Private Health rebates (not willing to pay as much as other cohorts).

If we take these four broad markets as a starting point, it’s pretty clear that there are different levels of motivation to buy, size of problem, and abilities to pay.

Their Demographic and Personality

As a layer over the target market, there is also the type of person you’re dealing with.

Certain demographics have higher disposable income, and they’re the types of personality who are already spending on other health services like massage, PT, supplements, food delivery services etc. This combination of demographics and personality will more likely spend money on coaching with fewer objections – if they can see the value.

Other people have very little disposable income and may be reluctant or simply unable to pay very much for coaching services. They’d more likely pursue the medical/Medicare route.

And regardless of income, some people are penny pinchers, some people have a victim mentality, and some people value health above all else and will do anything to improve it.

There are a lot of demographic and personality factors that affect someone’s willingness to pay for coaching services, no matter what the price.

Perceived Value and Pricing Psychology

Perceived value is a very important factor in setting pricing for health coaching packages and programs. A potential client’s mindset is that something must be ‘worth the money’ – meaning it must ‘give me the result I want’ and it also ‘must be proven to work’.

People are suspicious of anything that’s too cheap compared to the market rate. Cheap generally means ineffective, inexperienced or unqualified – or that a person doesn’t value or back themselves.

Think about how that affects trust, rapport and relationship!

There’s a saying that goes, ‘nobody wants free kittens’ which is really saying that there must be something wrong with it if it’s free or very low cost.

People are also wary of anything that’s too expensive. Part of this mindset is that the person thinks about what they stand to lose if they don’t succeed! This is a double-edged sword, because while a higher price implies greater skill, knowledge and specialisation, people who buy health coaching services usually lack confidence in themselves because they’ve failed before – and what if this doesn’t work for them?

What does this mean for you?

It means that as a coach, you need to be very clear on your value proposition – who your program or package is for (the niche), what problem it helps them to solve, how much they might save as a result of doing this program, what they will avoid, and what they will gain.

The value proposition outlines why your program or package is worth the money. Your VP includes:

– a list of benefits of what they get (not the features)

– your level of specialisation (niche clarity, lived experience and/or specificity) which conveys “perceived expertise”

– words that your niche clients commonly use, including ‘feeling words’,

– clear explanation of your process or system

– an outline of results (that they want, and including testimonials to back you up)

– a way of making it easier for them (process, money-back guarantee etc).

The Goldilocks Method of Pricing

I have done a whole episode on the Goldilocks method of pricing and I teach this in Passion to Profit.

It’s basically this:

– price too low and you’ll feel resentful and half-hearted about servicing your clients, and they won’t take you seriously

– price too high and you’ll feel scared to ask for the money, and your potential clients might have too many objections

– price just right, and you and your clients will both think your services are great value for money – and you will both ‘buy in’ wholeheartedly.

So, what do you charge for health coaching? Here’s a pricing guide for health coaches.

Getting Your Pricing Right

The common ways that coaches price their services are as follows. These pricing structures are relevant for both 1:1 coaching and group coaching:

– hourly or per session rate (fixed period of time or ongoing)

– price per program (fixed period of time)

– price per package (fixed period of time)

– monthly price with fixed number of sessions (e.g. membership style)

I’ll just distinguish between these options so you know what they are.

Single sessions, charged per session or hour, are typically either for an introductory needs assessment (as a one-off) or as ad-hoc sessions. Ad-hoc sessions can be offered after a program or package has finished, or as an up-sell within a membership.

A program is a set number of consecutive sessions, e.g. 8-week program, 12-week program, 6 month program with either weekly, fortnightly or monthly sessions or some combination of these.

A lot of people use the word program and package interchangeably.

I prefer to define a package as a program of some kind for a fixed period, but with other value-adds bundled in, for a higher price. For example, you package up a coaching program with 4 PT session, or a wellbeing journal and water bottle, or some other combination of services, products, ebooks etc. A package might have a more flexible time period within which it can be used.

A monthly membership implies a set monthly fee on an ongoing basis, with a certain number of group coaching sessions, and usually along with some educational or other content housed in an online social media platform, learning platform or shared folder (e.g. Google Drive).

Basically, the more you include, the higher the price.

So, how much does a health coach charge per hour?

A lot of new coaches think about pricing ‘by the hour’ or session, because we get used to the idea of ‘hourly rates’ as employees and customers.

A better way to go is value-based pricing, where you sell several sessions of coaching for one price, not based on hourly rates, but based on the value of the outcome to the client.

These are general guidelines, but you must work out your pricing in terms of:

1. your income goals,

2. how niched or specialised you are,

3. how experienced you are,

4. what you are comfortable to charge, and

5. how much proof of success you have.

After all, people are buying results, and the better coach you are and the more proof you have of success, the more likely people will pay you for your coaching services.

The best question to ask yourself is this – ‘If I were a prospective client coming to my own business, would I pay that amount of money for this program to get those types of results?’

Summary

There’s a lot of factors to consider when working out coaching pricing, and it comes down to a few key areas.

If you want to build a viable business, select a market that will pay enough money for and value the services you want to offer.

Next, decide on what type of service you want to offer.

Finally, make sure you create a compelling value proposition for your services so that both you and your prospective clients feel good about the exchange of value – that is, your services for their money.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#202 Should I Show Pricing on My Website?

This episode is about should I show pricing on my website?

This is a question that comes up a lot – should I show pricing on my website, or is it better to not have pricing on my website? This episode covers the pros and cons and helps you make this decision.

Recently in my Passion to Profit course, I had a conversation with my current students on whether to include pricing on your website. We had a great brainstorm on the topic including how individuals felt if they were in the customer’s shoes, and I wanted to share some of the insights here.

What do your clients like?

The really easy way to figure this out is to ask your existing clients or practice clients what their opinion is. A client-centric business always starts with this approach.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Getting client feedback
* Price Lists on Websites – Benefits and Inclusions
* Why you might not include pricing on your website

You can either send them a direct message, email or even have a conversation with them and just say “hey, I’m winding whether to include pricing on my website. Would this make a difference to you?” Done just ask any clients, ask your favourite clients. After all, you want more of those, so their opinion matters more!

If you don’t have any clients yet, then think about your own buying preferences, after all, your ideal client is probably a lot like you are in terms of their values.

Imagine that you were going to buy a coaching program from somebody, and you were looking on their website to see what their packages were all about. Would it make a difference if there was pricing there, or not?

Price List on Websites – Benefits, and What to Include

What are some of the upsides of including pricing on your website?

Well for starters, it might seem like you are more authentic, and have nothing to hide. It might seem like you’re very upfront and honest.

Most people assess value based on typical outcomes or results, but pricing is often part of the decision, especially if the person doesn’t know you very well or doesn’t have enough proof or trust that you can help them actually succeed and get results.

If you are going to include pricing on your website, you’d need to make a few things clear. These include things like:

1. What is included in the price (features written as benefits)

2. What are the different package and pricing options? (not too many)

3. What are the payment options?

Let’s unpack these a bit.

What’s included in the price

When we are talking about what is included, it’s tempting to think about features, like workbooks, coaching sessions, etc. And while these are all valuable things, there are ways to describe them that communicate the value clearly.

I call these ‘features written as benefits’. This is where you list a feature and explain why it’s important.

Here are two examples:

1. 8 x 1:1 coaching sessions to give you the support, self-awareness and accountability you need to work out what to do, problem-solve, celebrate wins and become consistent

2. A 20-page workbook to help you develop an action plan, stay motivated and see results

Doesn’t that sound way more exciting than just saying ‘8 coaching sessions and a 20-page workbook’?

I would use this as full descriptive text that goes into detail of what the program includes.

In keeping with consumer protection law, please make sure you are not promising a result that you can’t deliver. Rather, talk about how the feature is intended to help them.

Packaging and pricing options

In terms of pricing options, if you decide to show pricing on your website, make it really clear as to what’s included in each option so the person can see how they’re different.

It’s helpful to include a diagram showing three options and listing what’s included in each.

You can also outline what the market retail price for each option is, and what you are selling it for (e.g. valued at $900, price is $600). This highlights the value of what you are offering without discounting (stay away from that!)

People normally choose the middle of three options, and this is typically your core or main program.

Payment options

In terms of payment options, if you are going to put pricing on your website, it’s important that people know how you will charge them and whether there are options.

For example, is it one payment up front, or three easy payments, or something else?

Sometimes people are interested but don’t have the money upfront, so would potentially buy if they knew there was a payment plan available.

You don’t have to offer a payment plan! And if you do, make sure you have clear terms and conditions, and make it easy for them. This is a whole other podcast, for sure!

Why You Might Not List Pricing on Websites, and What to Include

There may be circumstances where you don’t want to put pricing on your website, and that’s totally ok.

Firstly, a person who sees pricing listed on your website might decide then and there, based on price that they don’t want to work with you – before you have any chance to talk to them about their needs and wants.

That means you potentially lose a customer. Of course, if they are price driven, they might not be the customer you want to work with!

Another consideration is that your program options might be fairly customised and it could be too difficult to communicate easily on a website or landing page.

For example, you might have two or three options for a package that really require an understanding of the person in order for them to make the right choice, so a conversation is necessary first.

Similarly, there might be pre-requisites for a client to complete before they work with you. For example, with my weight loss program DownsizeMe, I required all clients to have a health clearance from their GP before signing up, and that might dictate whether they would buy the program at all, and/or which option is best. I also had this program available via licensees in other states who might have charged different prices, so I didn’t list the price on the website.

If you don’t list pricing on your website, then what should you include?

There aren’t any hard and fast rules, but there are a few things I think are essential to still get enquiries for your services.

Firstly, lots of recent, positive testimonials or ratings are a good starting point. This tells the reader that a lot of people have succeeded as a result of your program, and what they liked about the program. It gets them hopeful and excited, and shifts them into the mindset of ‘value buying’ rather than ‘price buying’.

Secondly, you might like to explain why you don’t list pricing. For example, saying that there are pre-requisites, or options that can be highly customised, or other reasons, would be important to allay any fears of ‘hard sales’ in your website visitor.

Thirdly, you still need to communicate the benefits, value and comparison of your program options, indicating where any tailoring might occur. At least people can see what they’re getting for their money, and you are shifting them into that value-buying mindset.

Fourth, the way you position the enquiry is important. I provide a booking link to a 30-minute good fit call or give them the option to send a contact me message. In my reply, I tell them it’s a chance to see if they’re suitable and if we have the right chemistry – if not, I will be honest and refer them to someone else, rather than set them up for failure. This feels really authentic to me and has been accepted by everyone who has followed this pathway. And there are several I’ve said no to!

Fifth, it can be helpful to put a short video of you on your website (or at least some bullet list points) explaining why you developed this program and who it’s for, and not for. This helps people see that you’re not just desperate for anyone and that you truly are seeking a good fit and to work with the right person – that way, they are more likely to succeed and you’ll both be happy.

Finally, if you want to, you can provide an indicative price range or a statement like ‘programs start from $ (amount)’ so the reader at least has a ballpark guide. This can be effective for getting them over the line.

Summary

It was interesting to have a discussion with my Passion to Profit students on whether to include pricing on your website or not.

We discussed:

· The benefits of including pricing on your website

· The reasons why you might not show pricing on your website, and

· Things to include in either case to position your services and options appropriately.

If you need help with pricing, reach out to me via my contact page for a good fit call.

For enquiries about my Passion to Profit course, click here.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#201 Alcohol and Mental Health

This episode is about alcohol and mental health

Let’s face it – Australia has a drinking culture, which started in colonial times when convicts were partially paid with rum. (1, 2)

Most of us associate drinking alcohol with relaxing, celebrating, sport and ‘fitting in’ with social norms. We might feel that alcohol helps us cope better with stress and anxiety, but is alcohol good for mental health?

How We Think Alcohol Helps

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that drinking alcohol can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. Some people say it helps them manage anxiety in social situations. Others use alcohol to ‘blunt’ their heightened emotions at the end of a stressful day, or to fall asleep easier.

It’s tempting to think that alcohol is helpful, but is it really?

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* How We Think Alcohol Helps
* The Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol
* Longer Term Impacts of Alcohol Use and Misuse
* Who is Most at Risk of Alcohol-Related Health Issues?
* What We Can Do

The Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol

While you might feel that alcohol is relaxing you, it’s doing the opposite. There is overwhelming research on the effects of alcohol on mental health and physical health – and the news isn’t good.

A 2021 study shows that binge drinking increases muscle sympathetic nerve activity (fight or flight response), reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, reduces sleep quality overall and increases morning-after blood pressure and heart rate. (3)

In other words, alcohol intake in the evening causes ‘stress’ while you’re sleeping. For example, you might think you fall asleep easily after a few drinks, but then you wake up between 1am and 3am and can’t get back to sleep, or you have ‘night sweats.’

As Head of Growth at Philia Labs,’ I’ve certainly seen these sorts of results in our 2022 data collection studies, in participants who consumed alcohol. Even though they felt more relaxed after drinking, their heart rates were higher and they had a lower amount of deep sleep on the nights they consumed alcohol.

Adding insult to injury, this overnight stress disrupts your body’s natural rest and recovery process that occur during sleep. These processes include physical recovery, blood sugar regulation, brain

detoxification, immune system regulation, learning and emotional processing, and memory consolidation.

And depending on your intake, you might wake up to the symptoms of drinking too much alcohol.

These include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, irritability, mood swings, lower energy levels, reduced memory, poor focus and impaired work performance.

In other words, you’re starting the next day ‘behind the 8-ball’ in a ‘fight or flight’ state.

Longer Term Impacts of Alcohol Use and Misuse

Research shows that alcohol use and misuse accounts for 3.3 million deaths each year (6% of deaths worldwide) related to accidents, violence, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases. (4, 5)

We also know that mental health tends to have a reciprocal relationship with alcohol. That is, people who are dependent on alcohol are more likely to have mental health issues, and people with mental health issues may drink to self-medicate. (4)

This was reinforced in a cross-sectional study of alcohol intake and mental health during COVID-19 lockdowns. The study found significant links between increased alcohol consumption and poor overall mental health, depressive symptoms and lower mental wellbeing. (6)

The long-term mental health impacts can include increases in aggressive and/or risky behaviours, self-harm, anxiety and depression. (6, 7)

Other risks of alcohol use include the increased chance of having an accident or injuring yourself or others, poorer job performance and negative effects on relationships.

Who is Most at Risk of Alcohol-Related Health Issues?

Certain groups of people may be more likely to drink, or drink more, and therefore be at greater risk of (physical and) mental health problems. Research on US populations (4) shows that:

– men are more likely to drink heavily or binge drink than women,

– Caucasians tend to drink more overall,

– people of higher socio-economic status tend to drink more frequently, and

– lower socioeconomic groups tend to drink larger quantities of alcohol.

Isolation is another risk factor for increased alcohol consumption and related mental health issues, particularly for some age groups.

In 2021, a study of alcohol consumption during COVID-19 lockdown (self-isolation) in the UK showed that increased alcohol consumption was most prevalent in 18–34-year-old people compared with older age groups, and that poorer mental health was significantly related to increased alcohol intake (versus no increase during the study). (6)

Certain work sectors are also in the higher risk category, such as remote mine sites. The fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce experiences stressors including isolation, extreme environments and shift work disorder. Levels of psychological distress are significantly higher compared to the general population (8). Drinking is also part of the mining culture. Recent studies in the FIFO workforce in Australia indicate that the odds of risky and harmful alcohol use are much higher in certain groups (8, 9, 10):

  • males,
  • younger workers,
  • smokers,
  • people working primarily for higher income,
  • working in underground mining (vs open cut)
  • those with previous alcohol and other drug problems
  • those who report psychological distress, and
  • those with a history of anxiety and/or depression.

Advertising, marketing and cultural norms (including in the workplace) all play a role in drinking habits, as do lack of support and exposure to stressors.

What Can We Do?

Alcohol intake is a cultural norm in many countries, and it is linked with a complex array of individual and societal factors. There are several ways we can reduce the impacts of alcohol on health and mental health.

Firstly, education on the risks of drinking and binge drinking is important. Knowing the recommended drinking guidelines is a good starting point to work out whether you have risky drinking behaviour. You can use these yourself or share them with others.

Secondly, being self-aware of your drinking habits and after-effects is important for identifying your own risky behaviours and it might help you feel motivated to change your habits or get some support to do so. There are various levels of support available. Alcoholics Anonymous is one association, but also, several health and wellness coaches offer support and behaviour change for grey-area drinkers – those people who aren’t alcoholics but are concerned about their drinking habits. Sarah Rusbatch in WA is a leader in this area and has a free community. You can also ask a trusted friend, family, mentor or colleague for support.

Workplace culture is another place that can support positive change. A lot of workplaces support, condone or endorse a drinking culture that can be uncomfortable and create pressure for people who don’t want to drink.

As an individual, you can approach your HR department to discuss initiatives, find ambassadors and request support to change the workplace culture. As a business owner, you can review employee behaviour and social drinking norms to look for opportunities to better support your organisation.

Whatever you do, by drinking less, you will feel better for it, you will look better, and you will reduce your risks of chronic and acute disease.

Summary

The message is clear – drinking alcohol can seem to have benefits in certain situations, but the reality is, it’s putting stress on your body that can impact your physical and mental health.

There can be flow on effects to your work performance, career opportunities, relationships, and life satisfaction.

Self-awareness is always the starting point for change, so by understanding the guidelines and reflecting honestly on your own drinking habits, you are better equipped to know whether you need help, and what sort of help you might need to make some positive and more healthful changes.

1. VicHealth. Exploring the Role of Alcohol in Victorians’ Lives. Website accessed 16.6.22

2. Moodie, Prof. R. 2013. A Brief History of Alcohol Consumption in Australia. The Conversation Website, accessed 16.6.22.

3. Greenlund, I.M. et al. 2021. Morning sympathetic activity after evening binge alcohol consumption. Am. J. Phys Heart Circ Phys 310(1), H305-H315.

4. Sunhinaraset, M. 2016. Social and Cultural Contexts of Alcohol Use. Alcohol Res 2016; 38(1); 35-40.

5. Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 2021. Every alcoholic drink increases your risk of cancer. Website accessed 16.6.22.

6. Jacob, Louis, et al. Alcohol Use and Mental Health during Covid-19 Lockdown: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of UK Adults. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 219, 2021, pp. 108488–108488., doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108488.

7. Headspace. How does alcohol affect mental health? Headspace website accessed 16.6.22.

8. James, Carole et al. Correlates of psychological distress among workers in the mining industry in remote Australia: Evidence from a multi-site cross-sectional survey. PloS one vol. 13,12 e0209377. 20 Dec. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0209377

9. James, Carole L., et al. Alcohol Consumption in the Australian Mining Industry: The Role of Workplace, Social, and Individual Factors. Workplace Health & Safety, vol. 69, no. 9, Sept. 2021, pp. 423–434, doi:10.1177/21650799211005768.

10. James, Carole et al. Factors associated with patterns of psychological distress, alcohol use and social network among Australian mineworkers. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health vol. 44,5 (2020): 390-396. doi:10.1111/1753-6405.13037

11. Alcohol and Drug Foundation Australia. Australian Alcohol Guidelines. Website accessed 5.7.22.

12. Alcoholics Anonymous. Zoom Meeting attendance information. Website accessed 5.7.22.

13. Sarah Rusbatch – Grey Area Drinking Coach. Website accessed 5.7.22.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#199 How Does Diet Impact Mental Health

This episode is about how does diet impact mental health

In the 20th Century, we have seen global shifts in dietary intakes, with people eating more sugary, fatty, high-energy food and snack foods, and a decrease in fibre-rich and nutrient-dense foods, especially in younger generations and those who are ‘busy’ and looking for convenience.

But what impact does diet have on mental health?

Today I want to explore the latest research that links diet and mental health, and to discuss some opportunities for health coaching in this space.

 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Global Research from Nutritional Psychiatry
* What the Research Means for Mental Health
* How Employers Can Support Better Nutritional Health

Nutrition and Mental Health – Global Research from Nutritional Psychiatry

We know that many ‘common’ mental health disorders are associated with chronic health conditions. We also know that lifestyle behaviours including eating habits are intrinsically linked to physical health. Recent research is defining these relationships and revealing opportunities to improve mental health through diet.

Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging field that recognises the consistent link between better quality diets and a reduced risk of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders.

Most of us are familiar with the longevity and good mental health associations with Blue Zone diets – think the centenarians from Ikaria and Okinawa – and this association is supported by research. Here are some examples.

A study of Norwegian men and women who followed a traditional Norwegian diet reported more favourable mental health compared to those on a typical Western diet, even after adjustment for variables including age, education, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption (1).

An Australian study of 8,660 healthy men and women showed that a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with lower psychological distress as measured by a K10 score (2).

A systematic review of both observational and interventional studies of nutrition and bipolar disorder found that the intake of certain nutrients is associated with a reduction of bipolar disorder

symptoms. Those nutrients include omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and zinc. Promising results were also indicated for coenzyme Q10 and probiotics (3).

Many studies show that lower socioeconomic circumstances partly explain poor eating habits and depressive symptoms, but there is also evidence that depression is directly associated with long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet, independent of socioeconomic status (4).

What Does This Mean for Mental Health?

Medication, exercise and psychological intervention are well-known approaches that play an important role in treating and managing mental health disorders.

The research findings from nutritional psychiatry show that healthy eating is another impactful ingredient in maintaining brain health and mental health. It is important that we recognise these links with the rise in mental health disorders and body weight during the Covid 19 pandemic, and, that we apply these learnings in practice.

To that end, it is promising to see that the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry guidelines (2020) and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (UK) guidelines (2022) now recommend dietary improvement and other lifestyle modifications as a foundational treatment for mood disorders.

This is a positive starting point to augment the existing approaches to mental health. Yet there is still more that can be done on a day-to-day basis to improve eating habits and food choices toward better health, lifestyle and productivity.

Can Employers Play a Role in Better Eating Habits?

Dietary changes typically happen in our own households or via a medical setting, but there are also opportunities for workplaces to be involved in improving eating habits of the workforce for better mental wellbeing, productivity, focus, concentration and general health.

These days, it is an employee’s market with thousands of job vacancies on the market. This means that employees are looking for workplace benefits to entice them into a workplace, or to make it worth their while staying in an existing workplace.

Any opportunity to improve health could be seen as a value add, and a sign that the employer cares about their workforce.

What might this look like in a workplace?

Well, assuming you would do a needs assessment first and find out what sort of service is desired, there are a few ways you can package up your services for a corporate market. In other words, there are a variety of ways you can add value to workplaces in terms of employee nutrition.

Firstly, educational and coaching programs can be offered to any employees to help them understand the benefits of healthy eating and to empower employees to develop of healthier eating habits. If you don’t have a dietetics or nutrition qualification, education can be based around published government guidelines in an interactive, workshop style arrangement.

If you’re working with a rural or remote workplaces where the workplace provides meal, one offering you could make is to help them develop a strategy to improve the nutritional quality of foods on offer at the workplace and reduce the availability of unhealthy options. This is an important consideration where employees don’t have access to healthy food other than at the workplace.

Routine medical clearance and fitness for work checks can monitor body weight and waist-to-hip ratio as one indicator of nutritional health and can facilitate referral to a dietician or health coach to support behaviour change. Partnering with the EAP or medical service that the employer uses is another way to add value to the company.

In some cases, running workplace challenges can also offer individuals the chance to improve their nutrition in a supportive team environment.

Of course, individual coaching is also appropriate as an on-sell from or adjunct to any of these types of initiatives.

The evidence is clear – eating habits play a significant role in brain health and mental health.

And aside from medical and psychological support programs, there are many other opportunities for coaches to help organisations to improve the eating habits of their workforce, and consequently, improve their quality of life, health and work performance.

The Opportunity for Coaches

If you are a coach running a business that focuses on either nutrition, mental health or both, there are opportunities for you to approach workplaces to implement education and coaching strategies that will boost employee health, wellbeing, focus, productivity and performance.

Citing the statistics and research is a great way to position your services to employers and gain their buy in. It answers the ‘what’s in it for me’ question – why should I invest in your services?

Summary

Today we covered some of the groundbreaking research in nutritional psychiatry that demonstrates the links between nutrition and mental health.

I also talked about some opportunities for employers to have an impact on employee wellbeing – especially important in times when employers are trying desperately to retain their talent.

By presenting the facts and figures on the impact of nutrition on mental health and performance, and by outlining affordable opportunities for employers to offer a value add, you can position your coaching business to enter the corporate space more easily.

If you have questions on this episode, hit me up on my contact page.

(1) Jacka, F.N et. al (2011). The association between habitual diet quality and the common mental disorders in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21715296/

(2) Hodge, A. et al (2013) Patterns of dietary intake and psychological distress in older Australians: benefits not just from a Mediterranean diet. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23199436/

(3) Fernanda, C Gabriel et al. (2022). Nutrition and bipolar disorder: a systematic review. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1028415X.2022.2077031

(4) Jacka, F.N et al. (2014) Dietary patterns and depressive symptoms over time: examining the relationships with socioeconomic position, health behaviours and cardiovascular risk. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24489946/

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#198 The Impact and Potential of Health and Wellness Coaching

This episode is about the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching

The recent HCANZA conference showcased some of our leading innovators and impactful coaches, as well as the impact and potential of health and wellness coaching. This article summarises how health and wellness coaching is at the cutting edge of health behaviour change in a variety of contexts, and how huge the opportunity is right now for qualified health and wellness coaches.

The inaugural HCANZA conference on June 2-3, 2022 was an incredible opportunity for like minded graduate and professional health and wellness coaches to come together and learn about opportunities for our profession. The conference was made possible by the incredible work by HCANZA Chair Linda Funnell-Milner, whose tireless efforts (supported by the board and leadership team) ensured that everything ran like clockwork.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* The Award Winners
* The Speakers
* The Networking Opportunities

The conference kicked off on the evening of Thursday 2 June with a cocktail party, a keynote address from Grant Schofield, and an awards ceremony which I was invited to MC.

The Award Winners

Let’s start by recognising the movers and shakers in our industry, in Australia and New Zealand. The awards winners were:

1. Giovanna Stewart: Best Emerging coach of the year

Giovanna is a dietician who is gaining success by combining her dietetic expertise with client-focused coaching skills.

2. Jaala Dyer: Coach of the year in a clinic setting –

Jaala has developed a collaborative and creative platform for the most important chronic disease drivers that many in our communities face, and it is now being shared across the wider community.

3. Karina Morris (WCA graduate): Health & Wellness Coach Advocacy Award

Karina shows dedication in delivering coaching to a truly underserved population within the disability community, showing both courage and leadership to take Health and Wellness Coaching to areas that will make a significant difference to people’s lives. Karina is striving to have Health and Wellness Coaching recognised as a professional service within the NDIS that can be funded under many other parallel funding-based systems.

4. The Change Room (employs WCA graduates): Business Achievement Award

The Change Room has successfully adapted to the challenge of Covid and has created and provided resources for the unprecedented health and wellbeing issues arising in this time both for the individual and for organisations. They have adapted their use of technology to facilitate the ongoing

delivery of their core mission – supporting clients involved with return to work via insurance company funding.

5. Sharon Tomkins: Health & Wellness Coach of the Year

Sharon demonstrates committed to ongoing learning and training, individualises her client programs according to needs, and has engaged in many models of delivery and has been active running community programs. Sharon clearly works collaboratively with other health practitioners and shows leadership in her role of training health coaches.

6. Brad Hulcomb: Outstanding Contribution to Health

Brad is an influencer across multiple layers – medical, coaching and sports – and has impacted many on his journey, from his medical work to his ski instructing to now his health coaching. As the director of the Urgent Care Clinic on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu ski field, he led doctors, nurses and radiographers providing high-quality care in austere environments. He ran medical conferences to provide participants with more than just knowledge, but also focus on their own well-being. He is also a coach trainer with PreKure. He is someone who walks the talk.

As you can see, there are many ways that health and wellness coaches can have an impact, and these are just a few – the top six of over 50 coaches nominated for these inaugural awards.

The Speakers

On Friday, the audience was treated to a jam-packed day with speakers from different realms sharing knowledge and innovation from the coaching front.

Session 1 was about thinking big and exploring the possibilities.

Michael Arloski talked about how important it is to deepen our craft – and he discussed the concept of craftsmanship, which is very close to my own heart. Michael says that in the face of global well-being challenges that our clients face, we can double down by focusing on masterful coaching and staying within our scope of practice. Practice, patience and presence are required to become good at what we do, and focusing on this will help us to deliver incredible value to our clients.

Paul Taylor presented a summary of his new book ‘Death by Comfort’ – why modern life is killing us and what we need to do about it. Paul discussed some of the latest research around the benefits of ‘uncomfortable’ things like exercise, cold therapy and heat therapy, and how they can truly improve quality of life and longevity.

Suzie Carmack talked about creating value as a coach, and about building your personal brand and business with a portfolio career. A portfolio career is the idea of having multiple income streams as a coach, but also organising your days and working in batches to avoid burnout.

Session 2 shared exemplars of partnerships from the field.

We heard from Grant Schofield, Troy Morgan, Dr Sandra Scheinbaum, Bee Pennington and Sam McBride.

The speakers illustrated various ways in which coaches can build and leverage partnerships to build their businesses and have an impact.

One thing was definitely clear – as a coach, we need to engage our target market and build relationships there to truly understand their needs, before going in to ‘sell’ anything. It is truly relationships that give coaching a platform to really shine and make a difference.

Troy Morgan discussed two ways to succeed in corporate – firstly, to develop strong partnerships with all stakeholders, and secondly, to collect data that proves the impact and value of the work you are doing. Those two things can make you indispensable within an organisation.

Sam McBride’s ‘Men’s Muster’ in NZ was a particularly interesting example of how to engage men with the idea of health behaviour change, with a little beer and a lot of engaging outdoor activities.

Session 3 was about breaking business ground.

David Carroll, myself, Philippa Flowerday and Michelle Yandle discussed how coaches can establish thriving businesses in a variety of contexts.

We explored different models that can create income and add value, and discussed coaching success in organisations, workplaces, communities and solo businesses.

Michelle showcased a unique ‘ Empowered Eating’ model that is based in the ancient wisdom of her ancestors, and which is relevant to the issues upstream of eating – family,

A key message is that being specific about the problem that you want to solve, is the best and easiest way to build your business and have an impact.

Session 4, the final session, included speakers who are inspiring best practice and stepping into new specialty fields.

Dr Cam McDonald, Shivaun Conn, Sarah Rusbatch and Fiona Cosgrove talked about cutting-edge research and emerging niches in coaching.

Cam discussed the power of combining coaching and technology, focusing how we are extremely variable in terms of our exercise, nutrition, psychology and medication needs, and how digital metrics can identify and predict the needs of individuals so as to fine-tune their habits and protocols in these areas.

Shivaun talked about trauma-informed care – what it means and how to work with it and manage your own triggers as a coach. She explained the signs of a dysregulated nervous system (stuck ‘on’ or ‘off’) and the language that someone might use in either state, as signs that a coach could use to identify a need for referral or support.

Sarah outlined how (and why) her grey area drinking practice has skyrocketed in the past 14 months and shared the personal story behind her journey to becoming a grey area drinking coach. Her talk hit home with a lot of questions and commendations related to her work.

Fiona Cosgrove discussed her PhD research into the development and care of the health and wellness coach, and the four key areas that changed for coaches themselves during their coach training journey. These are self-knowledge and acceptance, better relationships, professional optimism, and personal health and wellness. Fiona’s was a fitting final session that pulled together the essence of the conference – that Health and Wellness Coaching has important impacts on both coaches and clients in terms of physical, mental and emotional health.

Networking Opportunities

The networking sessions created invaluable connections for all who attended. As the MC on the Thursday evening session, I invited everyone to introduce themselves to someone they hadn’t met before, to forge new connections.

By Friday, the ice was well and truly broken, and everyone was eagerly swapping contact details and sharing ideas in the breaks between speaking sessions. Several people were discussing opportunities to work together or to try the services of someone else. All in all, there was significant cross-pollination and the generation of new ideas.

Summary

The recent HCANZA conference was a huge success. It was an event that bought coaches together, showcased new and innovative research in our field, and highlighted coaches who are breaking ground and having an impact. Further, the conference showed that success is available to all who qualify in this field.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#197 Business Pivoting – Do I Need New Branding and Social Media Pages?

This episode is about business pivoting – do I need new branding and social media pages?

Recently I was asked whether pivoting your niche requires you to set up all new social medial profiles and pages, separate from your existing ones. Let’s talk through this today and summarise a few key points.

No matter who you are, when you start your business, it will take a long time before you truly, deeply understand your niche. Even if you have your own lived experience with your niche’s main problem, your experience of it will be different from theirs.

And as you know, being on a journey yourself means that more and more layers of the onion (as we call it in coaching) are peeled away revealing the true meaning and beliefs behind our habits, thoughts and actions.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What is your brand?
* How to evolve your brand – Option 1 – the Tweak
* How to evolve your brand – Option 2 – the Happy Ending

And invariably, as you peel off those layers and learn more about yourself and your niche, you will likely become more specific about who your niche is. You may even pivot your niche because you finally understand who your best clients are or because you may have outgrown the niche clients that you started with, or realised that some aren’t as committed as others and you want to work with people who are totally all in.

What does this mean for your business?

In short – it probably means you need to rebrand.

What is your brand?

You’ve probably heard the word branding being used in a marketing sense. Your brand includes the images, personality, position, values and traits that your business is known for. Your brand is designed to attract the right type of customers to your business.

When you start your business you have an immature brand, because you have somewhat limited knowledge of your niche and ideal client.

Your brand matures and evolves as you get to know your ideal client.

What I mean by that is that you start using their language in your marketing, using more images that look like them, sharing personal anecdotes that resonate with them, and connecting more deeply. Maybe your customer journey has evolved.

As a result, you set up your website and social media accounts to appeal to those people.

So if you pivot your niche or evolve it substantially, what do you do with all those social media pages?

Do you create new pages and run them in parallel?

Do you move to a different social media platform?

Do you close everything down and relaunch?

How to evolve your brand – two options

Right up front I’ll be clear that I’m not an expert in this – but I have heard the same stories from some true experts.

And here’s the general agreement on how to do it.

Option 1 – Tweaks and specificity

Let’s start with option 1 – you’re going to be more specific or make some upgrades but essentially work with a similar type of client.

Start telling your people that things will be changing around here.

Let them know you still love your followers but they’ll notice you sprucing things up and maybe talking a bit differently or more specifically than you have in the past. Or let them know that you are having a complete change and revamping everything!

If you’re doing a similar version of what you currently do, then let them know that you’re still the same amazing business owner, and you’re still there to serve them as you are right now.

It’s great to email your list and send a personal message about the exciting new change, and create a similar version or a live or reel saying the same thing on social media. Repeat the messages over about a 4 week period so everyone hears about it.

Share your new vision and mission and be excited about it to generate momentum and get your audience Re engaged with you.

It’s important to also know that if your audience don’t feel connected to the new way of doing things, that’s ok, you won’t be offended if they unsubscribe or unfollow. After all, we all outgrow things in our lives, and that’s ok.

After the four weeks, you can start introducing your new branding, messaging and images and weaving it into your posts and communications.

Or, you can make it fun and create anticipation by counting down to a relaunch, and make an event out of it!

Option 2 – The Happy Ending

What if you’re totally pivoting to something completely different and no longer want to work with the old niche, or you’re discontinuing some services?

This is option 2, and it means you’ll need to break up with them, in a way, to draw a line in the sand and be very clear that you are making a complete change.

Still make the announcement and share your new vision, share stories about the good and bad times, and all the success, but draw a line in the sand.

Let them know whether there is a cutoff date at which old programs finish or a date at which you’ll wrap up with certain clients, or you might decide to continue working with some of your original clients simply because you love them.

Whatever you choose, make a clear decision and be transparent and consistent about it.

Don’t create false hope or set weak boundaries. Be honest and upfront about your plans. People will respect your honesty.

Someone who has done a full pivot really well is Denise Duffield Thomas. She ran lucky bitch boot camp for many years and then let everyone know she was closing it down and pivoting into a money mindset course. She closed down her old website and social pages and started fresh – and that makes sense if you are doing a complete and total rebrand into a different area.

Denise had a last hurrah celebration and a big goodbye, and everyone still loved her. Some people left, and some stuck with her, but everyone respected her efforts over the years and her honesty.

Summary

Today we talked about how to pivot your business in a way that is seamless and considerate of your audience – whether that pivot is minor or major.

There are a series of steps to take to make it work properly – but no matter what you do, consultation with the audience is an important part of pivoting without upsetting or losing your audience.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#192 How to Network Effectively at Events

This episode is about how to network effectively at events

I have a slew of networking events coming up and I am mapping out my business and marketing goals for these events so I can network effectively and make the most of my time there. Today I’ll take you under the hood and share my top tips for effective networking at events.

If you’re like most people you might attend networking events, listen to the speakers or meet a few people, swap a few business cards and then go home. You might spend a lot of money or time to get there, for little or no return.

I want to walk you through a process to make the most of any networking events that you attend so that you do more than just show up – you learn how best to network effectively, exchange value and gain important insights that will help you grow personally and/or professionally.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Finding relevant events
* Starting with the Why – and Clear Goals
* Speakers and Attendees
* Breaking the Ice and Connecting
* How to follow up

Finding Relevant Events

It’s one thing to decide that you’ll attend events, but I suggest that you focus on finding truly relevant events that are going to give you the most impact on your business.

For example, it might be tempting to attend events that are short, cheap or purely online, when it actually might be better for you to attend live events or to pay more money for bigger or better events that will progress your business.

You’d be looking for events that interest you, are related to your specialty, and might link you with potential clients and/or referral partners. The idea is to maximise your exposure to quality people and good opportunities for collaboration, introduction to clients or professional visibility and reputation.

Most industries have lists of events that occur throughout the year. For example in coaching, you can find relevant events in a few different ways:

– Search online for ‘coaching conferences 2022’,

– Join a newsletter list of a coaching organisation that regularly hosts events e.g. HCANZA, ICF, Institute of Coaching, so you can see what’s coming up and find something relevant.

– find events in your niche area that might attract niche clients or collaborative businesses. o Event Brite is a good place to start o LinkedIn Events is another great option.

Start With the Why – and Clear Goals

There’s generally at least one good reason why you decide to attend a particular event.

Rather than just showing up to the event ‘because it’s interesting’ like a lot of people do, I encourage you to unpack all the whys for attending in advance. Doing this might help you to identify some marketing or other opportunities to make the most of your time at the event, which enables you to set some really clear goals for the event.

For example, I am presenting at or attending three events soon

– The Share Your Brilliance Online Summit (May 23 – 27) (Free tickets here!)

– The Digital Health Festival in Melbourne (May 31 – June 1), and

– the HCANZA Coaching Conference on the Gold Coast (June 2 – 3).

I have mapped out a why for each of these events so that I make the most of my attendance.

For example, I have three marketing goals for the Digital Health Festival:

1. To connect with like-minded people who are working to advance remote monitoring in mental health, so I can stay abreast of cutting edge knowledge that might help the company I work for (Philia Labs),

2. To meet some important networking contacts who can refer potential partners or investors, or who can provide support to Philia Labs, and

3. To secure a certain number of appointments for demonstrations of PhiliaLabs’ product.

Also, I have three goals for the HCANZA conference (tickets here!):

1. To inspire coaches in my presentation by explaining how to break ground and create an impact in your coaching businesses (with some great case studies)

2. To meet network connections and potential collaborators on digital health and women’s health projects I’m working on, and

3. To engage with my students and clients who I have only ever met online, catch up on their business progress and identify how I can best support them or connect them with opportunities.

For each event, I have worked out which people I want to talk to and how many follow up appointments I’d like to book.

Having these more specific targets means that I can show up and network purposefully and professionally and achieve some goals that will progress my business activities and growth

Speakers and Attendees

As you’ve heard with my goals, it’s great to identify both speakers and potential attendees at an event you will be attending.

For example, at Share Your Brilliance Summit, I have identified some wonderful speakers who could help me or my clients with different specialist areas of business.

At the Digital Health Festival in Melbourne, there are definitely speakers I want to talk to, but I also know that potential clients, competitors or collaborators might be wanting to see those same speakers. That means I’ll be primed to network with the audience at some of those presentations.

Breaking the Ice and Connecting

It’s one thing to attend an event and identify people you want to meet – but on the day, you need to be clear and confident about how you will approach them! It’s great to think about some interesting ice-breakers to start conversations and to practice your elevator pitch, so you feel ready and confident with engaging.

Check out the link in the episode notes.

Once you get past that first hurdle of breaking the ice, then you’re ready for connection – simply put your coaching hat on and ask, listen and reflect.

See if you can work out the person’s needs, wants, gaps in knowledge, common ground or synergies.

And if they seem like someone that you’d like to build a professional relationship with – invite them to follow up.

Those people would probably fall into one of six categories:

– Ambassadors for your business

– Influencers to help you gain visibility,

– Referrers (to clients or opportunities)

– Collaborators or partners

– Leads (potential customers), or

– Prospects (engaged and interested in buying).

It’s great to keep notes of the people you like (perhaps in your phone) – add their name and perhaps their website, phone number and also the category you’d assign them to.

Following Up

You’d probably be looking to create follow-up situations in one of several ways.

At a live event, swapping business cards is a great way to follow up – but take it one step further and agree on a date for a ‘coffee catch up’ online or in person.

The way you decide to connect would depend on the type of category that person falls into

For example, if you met an ambassador who wanted to showcase you or an influencer who wanted to mention you, then following them on social media and sending a private message would be one way to stay connected to them. You might also share some of their posts.

For referrers and collaborators, you might organise a Zoom meeting or a coffee date so you could talk about how you could help each other out.

For leads and prospects, you might invite them to follow you, and you might email them an article or podcast you created that might be interesting and valuable to them. Following that, you could organise a Zoom meeting or a coffee date to follow up.

Summary

As you can see, there’s more to events than just booking one and attending.

They present an opportunity to create connections that can help you to grow and build your business.

As we discussed, it’s about finding relevant events that give you the best opportunities first, then working on your why, your goals, who is attending, and how you will connect and follow up.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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E#191 Share Your Brilliance!

This episode is about sharing your brilliance!

Today I want to talk to you about sharing your brilliance. After all, you are an amazing practitioner who wants to change the world, and therefore, you need to be able to let people know how you do this, and then, to do it well.

I am talking through the lens of a summit I’m speaking at shortly and will share some tips and insights to help you get your brilliance into the world!

In the show notes, I’m sharing a link to your FREE ticket to the Share Your Brilliance Summit, being held from May 23 – 27, 2022.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* What Sharing Your Brilliance is All About
* What Gets In the Way of Your Brilliance?
* The FREE Share Your Brilliance Summit
* Three Steps to Share Your Brilliance

What is “Sharing Your Brilliance” All About?

Brilliance means splendour or magnificence. And in a business context, I think that sharing your brilliance is about bringing your greatness, your zone of genius and your special skills and talents into the world.

Why does this matter?

Because as an authentic person who is in the business of helping and supporting others, you are on this world to make a difference, to have an impact, to help others to overcome their fears, challenges and find the joy and fulfilment they deserve.

Further, if you have greatness and the power to help others, it would be an absolute travesty if you DIDN’T share your brilliance.

Everyone would be missing out on the impact of your superpowers!

What Gets in the Way of Your Brilliance?

I think you and I both know the answer – it’s the stuff between your ears. Your fear, your lack of confidence, your scattered thoughts, your impostor syndrome.

Feeling not good enough.

Not knowing where to start.

And when you say those sorts of things to yourself repeatedly, they become beliefs. This is how beliefs are formed!

Now, I know how confusing business can be – especially if you are running an online business.

You’re on the journey of building a client base and getting things right in your business. But if you have any sort of impostor syndrome or self-doubt, there are a billion people out there trying to sell you the magic solution.

With SO much noise and information out there, so many people to compare yourself with, so many shiny objects….it can lead you away from your integrity.

It can be a challenge to work out how to get started and succeed in sharing your brilliance, and, find business strategies that suit multi-passionate, intuitive types like us.

The Share Your Brilliance Summit

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about the Share Your Brilliance summit from May 23 – 27!

Most importantly, this event is totally, 100% FREE. No cost.

For 5 days, May 23 to 27, Natasha Berta of Connected Marketing is bringing you presentations from 25+ heart-led business owners who have found ways to grow their business without selling out on their soul. You’ll hear about everything from mindset, sustainable business foundations, content creation + creativity, your offer, how to reach more people, and more.

It features 25+ amazing presenters who are ready to teach and mentor you on how to book more sessions and have greater clarity about your value.

Let’s face it, these things are the secret sauce for building a purposeful, profitable business. Communicating your value and booking more sessions with paying clients.

The goal for this summit is different than most. It’s going to be more like an online retreat than a summit with morning movement sessions, daytime learning sessions and wrapping up each day with a sound healing to integrate it all.

Plus, there is a theme for each day tailored to people in business who are just like you – waiting and wanting to share YOUR brilliance.

For example, I am going to be speaking at the summit, on How to Create a Client Centric Program that Sells.

I am so excited to be featured alongside some pretty big names in business, including:

· George Kao
· Danielle Gardner
· Karen Humphries
· Lucine Eusani
· Bridget Avgoustakis
· Claire Kerslake
· Aesha Kennedy
· Chantal Khoury
· And a whole lot more

There’s a free option and an affordable VIP pass with tons of goodies.

Each presentation will be available to you for 24 hours, but you can also get lifetime access (along with some other amazing bonuses) by grabbing the VIP All-Access Pass.

There’s more I’d love to tell you about this summit, but I’ll let you check out all the details for yourself – and you can grab a free ticket for the Share Your Brilliance Summit using this link!

How You Can Share Your Brilliance

So, how do you share your brilliance?

Here are some ideas to get started.

Firstly, clarify the value of working with you and the service you offer.

  1. Write down all the skills and strengths you have – think about the things that come EASILY to you but are hard for others to do.
  2. Make a list of your top three strongest values. What drives you, and what makes you passionate about your work?
  3. Write down three important reasons why your work is so meaningful. If you can do this work, what sorts of impact or result does it have?

Secondly, define the turning point that causes people to reach out for help.

  1. What is the moment of realisation that they need to change? Where are they, and what is the situation?
  2. If you’ve been on the same journey, what was YOUR turning point?
  3. What is the pain that becomes so big, that the person reaches out for help?
  4. What is the result they know they desperately want?

Finally, work out who your target audience is, and where they might be. 

  1. Think about the people that light you up, who ‘get you’, and who you love to be around. What kind of people are they? 
  2. The saying goes that your niche is the version of you from 5 years ago. What kind of person are you?
  3. Think about where you like to hang out and find out about or buy services in your area. Where would you go, and what would your requirements for buying be – would you need to follow someone on LinkedIn for a while before speaking to them, or would you listen to their podcast, or something else? 

    These three sets of questions help you to define your value, your people, what they need help with, and where to find them. Feel free to write out your own set of questions in these areas to help you get clarity. 

    Also, go back to my previous episode 186 Three Proven Marketing Roadmaps for Coaches to help you get clarity on using your communication strengths to build your audience. 

    Summary

    Today I talked about what sharing your brilliance is, and some of the things that get in the way of that. I mentioned a totally FREE summit in May 2022, with over 25 experienced speakers to help you learn how to share your brilliance. A link to your free ticket is in the show notes.  

    Finally, I walked you through a three-step process to share your brilliance. What are you waiting for? Get out there and share your greatness with the world. I dare you! 

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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:

    Posted on

    E#184 How to Beat Overwhelm and Achieve Simplicity in Business

    This episode is about how to beat overwhelm and achieve simplicity in business

    Are you a coach who is setting themselves up for your first clients and feeling overwhelmed about all the things you have to do, manage and create? Let’s take a step back and slow down and get clear on some simple things you can do to start meeting and creating more clients.

    Why Simplicity?

    In our fast-paced, always-on world we have so much stuff and so many things going on in our minds and lives.

    Did you know that at any one time, your brain contains around 60,000 thoughts?

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * Why Simplicity Matters
    * How to Do Business Simply
    * Five Simple Things For A Successful Business

    When we are always on, going fast and being ‘busy’, we tend to act without thinking, accumulate things that we don’t really need, and get talked into things that we don’t really want.

    We can become overworked and reactive, and then we lie awake at night with our huge to-do lists.

    The unwanted emotions kick in at 3 o’clock in the morning and we create mountains out of molehills.

    It’s hard to run a business effectively if you are caught up in the drama of all the things.

    The principle of simplicity can help you stay afloat and to thrive.

    Here’s how to achieve simplicity in business so that you can be freed up to build relationships – which is really the heart of what you’re doing.

    How to do Business Simply

    One of the easiest ways to be simple is to define what you need RIGHT NOW and the easiest way to meet those needs.

    In life, your needs include basics like water, exercise, good food, rest and time to reflect.

    If you think about your business in the same way, it boils down to five simple things:

    – maintaining relationships,

    – scheduling,

    – delivering services,

    – storing information, and

    – invoicing.

    As a coach, you know all about that first list of things. Now let’s talk about the second list – those five simple points – that can help you run a business with simplicity.

    Maintaining Relationships

    What does maintaining relationships involve?

    This is the essence of marketing. I think it’s about deciding who you will meet, and how often you need to meet them.

    For example, maintaining relationships could be as simple as meeting 5 people in your network each week, or showing up to a Facebook group you run each day, or making 5 phone calls per week.

    That’s it.

    SIMPLE!

    That’s all it takes to introduce yourself, build relationships and keep them warm. And when the time is right, these are the people that might buy from you or help you spread the word.

    Scheduling

    What does scheduling involve?

    There are two parts to this. Firstly, there is how you organise your time.

    You already know that you need to maintain relationships, so that would go into your schedule each week as a regular, set activity.

    You also need a way for clients to schedule enquiries or coaching sessions with you.

    How do you do that?

    Well, at a basic level they can phone or email you.

    At a more sophisticated and automated level, they can access you via an online booking platform like AcuityScheduling or Calendly.

    The beauty of these platforms is that they include reminders and even payment gateways so it’s easy to do two or three things at once.

    Delivering Services

    What does delivering services involve?

    As a coach, you either need a room, a phone or an online meeting service.

    Simple!

    A room could be a by-the-hour hired space in your local area, for example, a room you hire ad-hoc in a wellbeing clinic.

    The phone is easy – you can definitely coach by phone if you want to.

    Alternatively, you can use an online system like Google Meet (free), Zoom (low cost and better quality) or Microsoft Teams (higher end). These are all simple and easy to set up.

    Storing Information

    What does storing information involve?

    Well, you have client notes, procedures, policies, tools and resources that you might want to store.

    The old-fashioned way is a filing cabinet with printed documents. This is totally fine!

    Otherwise, you might want to have a folder structure set up on your computer where you store different types of documents.

    For example, you have one folder for client files (one folder within that for each client).

    You might have one folder for policies and procedures.

    You might have one folder with resources in it – a vault of information – that you can share with clients, via a link.

    That’s it. Simple.

    Invoicing

    What does invoicing involve?

    The in-person way involves a Word document template and a receipt book.

    If you want to get a bit fancier, Wave App is a free software that gives you basic invoicing functionality.

    Fancier than that is Xero or Quickbooks on a monthly subscription, with more bookkeeping features.

    Simple. You really don’t need much more than that.

    What about an online presence?

    I know, I know, you are thinking now – don’t I need a website or a Facebook page?

    NOPE.

    For free, you can set up a LinkedIn profile (professional) and you can also set up Google My Business for free.

    Both of these are great ways to build an online presence and get testimonials. Why get a website when you can do this?

    It’s the reviews that really count in the beginning.

    Summary

    Today, I discussed the concept of simplicity and how it can help you run a business free of overwhelm, and full of time, calmness and clarity on what you are doing each day.

    Your business is all about relationships, and the key things you need to focus on are

    – how many people you speak to each week,

    – scheduling your time and booking in clients,

    – a method for delivering your services,

    – a simple way to store information, and

    – a way to invoice and track payments.

    People are going to tell you that you need fancy systems and software. I’m here to say, No You Don’t.

    Keep your business simple and it will be WAY more enjoyable. If you need help to prepare for market research interviews and analyse your results, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business.

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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:

    Posted on

    E#183 How to Invite People to Market Research Interviews

    This episode is about how to invite people to market research interviews

    Are you struggling to work out what your niche is, refine your messaging or get clarity on your offer? Market research interviews with your niche are the key to getting these things right. But it can be tricky to find people who are willing to talk to you, and you may feel uncomfortable about asking.

    Let’s talk about some easy, non-threatening ways to ask people to do market research interviews with you, that they find hard to resist!

    Market research is a critical part of creating a client-centric business. It is a process that allows you to understand your client and their specific problem in great depth.

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * Why Market Research Matters
    * A Simple Written Formula
    * Two Other Methods That Work

    You will get a sense of what they want and need, why that matters, their triggers for seeking help, the results they want, what they’ve tried before, and what stands in their way.

    When you know these things, you will be able to build a business that people love, where they felt heard and understood, and that truly serves them.

    As you can see, finding out what people want, why and how, is an absolutely essential part of your success.

    Market research can involve searching online to understand buying habits and main trends but speaking to people in person gives you much more information.

    You get to hear the emotion in their voice, see it in their body language, and truly understand what matters to them. Plus, you build rapport and trust in live interviews that might be lacking in a written message or survey.

    Once you have done those interviews, you can look for common trends, common words used, and which parts of the conversation created heightened emotion or a more in depth response from the client. These are the more important parts that matter to the interviewee. They give you clues as to where to focus your programs, marketing content and support.

    This episode came about because a student in my current Passion to Profit course asked how to approach people to take part in market research interviews, and it was such a great question I decided to podcast on it.

    A Simple Written Formula

    In response to that student, I created a ‘template’ – a simple written formula that could be used in an email, private message or post to invite people to do market research.

    You can adapt this to suit your niche and needs. Here it goes.

    Do you want to (stop/start doing something/solve problem), but aren’t sure where to start or are finding it hard to stick to?

    I would love to have your help. I am a student Health and Wellness Coach with a passion for YOUR PASSION (which relates to the problem).

    As part of the course, I have an assignment to speak with 5 people about their opinions, needs and challenges in these areas so I can more easily help people with these struggles to achieve (result).

    If you are available for a private 20-minute phone conversation with me (no strings attached), please contact me before (date).

    This is really short and sweet, and it contains elements that get people interested in helping you.

    These elements are:

    1. Starting with a question engages interest.

    This question qualifies the person who is not just struggling but is ALSO ready, willing and able to get help. This screens out tyre kickers and time wasters, or people who are ambivalent. You want people in the preparation stage of change, so your question should speak to them specifically.

    2. People love helping and giving opinions. This is a key hook in this formula.

    3. Mentioning the results that they want gets them more interested.

    4. If it’s a short, private conversation, they might be more willing.

    5. Be clear that there are no strings attached and no pressure to buy anything. It’s just an assignment.

    6. The due date compels them to take action.

    When you get this right, you get people engaged and ready, willing and able to help.

    Two other methods that work

    Beyond sending out an email, message or broadcast, there are other methods you can use to engage people in market research interviews.

    1. Make it a competition, with a prize

    People love competitions, so if you offer a $20 gift voucher or similar, it might appeal to the right person.

    To make sure they’re not just in it for the prize, you might want to be more specific about who the offer is targeting, and who it’s not for. In this case, it’s totally ok to list a few more criteria about the person you want to interview.

    2. Offer a freebie in exchange for their time

    Some people might be attracted by a free coaching session or a tool or resource that will help them with the specific problem you are interviewing about.

    Summary

    Today we talked about how market research interviews give you so much valuable information and can help you to clarify, understand and market to your niche more effectively.

    But it can be hard to engage people to help.

    There are a few things that motivate people to do interviews like these – the idea that they are helping you, getting the chance to be heard by giving an opinion, or that they receive something of value in exchange for their time and insights.

    I covered these things in a simple written formula that you can use to invite people to speak with you on various forums.

    We also covered two other methods that involve an exchange of value:

    1. Creating a competition, and

    2. Offering something of value in exchange for the session.

    In any case, your success in securing interviewees depends on you going out and speaking to people to proactively invite them to do you a favour.

    Some people will say no, but some will say yes. Ultimately it is a numbers game.

    Rather than focusing on the potential rejection, I encourage you to focus on the number of invitations you make, knowing that is actually your secret to success. If you need help to prepare for market research interviews and analyse your results, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business.

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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:

    Posted on

    E#182 Three Ways to Find New Customers Even If You’re Just Starting Out

    This episode is about three ways to find new customers even if you’re just starting out

    Have you been watching other coaches online and wondering how they’re attracting all these clients, while you’ve just got crickets?

    Today, I’d like to share three super easy ways to find new customers even if you’re just starting out in business. Your core coaching skills are a key ingredient!

    When you’re starting out in business, it feels like you have all these things to do and yet you don’t have any clients. It’s a strange kind of limbo. You’re probably posting all sorts of things in an effort to stand out, yet nobody’s liking, commenting or watching

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * The Evolution of a Niche
    * Leading With Your Why
    * Why Listening is Critical
    * Niche Content Marketing – Getting It Right

    What do you do?

    If you’re like most people, you think you need to do another course or learn how to do social media marketing. But like most things, the problem is waaaay upstream of these things.

    Let me explain.

    Meredith Hill said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.”

    What this means is that if you are speaking broadly and generally, using generic content that covers a lot of topics or problems, then it’s hard for the audience to understand who you are and who you help. People might glance at your content and scroll right past it because it doesn’t speak to them.

    Consider the analogy of fishing. Your broad, general content is much like someone standing on the beach with a hook and a pilchard, hoping to catch a fish, but catching nothing.

    Next to you, there’s a person who is smashing it online. They’re like the fisher who knows what they can catch at that particular beach, and they have the right hook and bait to catch that fish. If they’re catching tailor, it’s probably a gang hook with a pilchard. But if they’re trying to catch a mulloway, fresh or even live bait like yellowtail is better.

    Hopefully, you’re getting the picture – the more you know about who you want as a customer or client, the easier it is to be visible and connect with them in your marketing.

    This is what ‘finding your niche’ is all about, where your niche is a problem that exists, that certain types of people are desperate to solve, and will pay money to get help with.

    Just like the fisherperson using a specific rig and bait to catch a certain fish, knowing your niche means you can go online and speak about specific topics to attract specific types of people who have specific problems – and in doing this, you stand out like a beacon to them, making it easy to be seen, trusted and purchased from.

    So, how do you get started?

    The Evolution of a Niche

    If you’re in the process of career change, have just completed a training course in a totally new area and you’re starting a business, with no prior experience – please take a moment to acknowledge that that’s a pretty steep learning curve!

    And just like you can’t go out beach fishing for the first time and expect to know everything about tides, weather, gutters, rigs, and which bait to use, please know that you can’t expect to know or perfect your niche and connect with them easily when you’re first starting out!

    Your niche WILL evolve over time. The way to even start defining your niche is by actively speaking to people, using your coaching skills in daily life, and working with practice or paid clients.

    Your clients are your teachers. You can start to notice common trends in the conversation, which people you have the best rapport with and how they describe their problems.

    This is the evolution of a niche.

    As you get more and more experience in using your coaching skills, you will get more and more clarity about your niche.

    In my experience, there are three levels of niche clarity:

    1. You are totally clear on your niche.

    This is usually because you have been engaging in your own or other groups about this problem, have a lot of experience with clients who have a specific problem, or have been on your own journey as part of a group.

    2. You have some level of clarity on your niche.

    This is usually based on a passion you have or experience with a specific problem area that is meaningful to you. In either case, you can do market research to further your understanding of your niche person and problem, and work out what they want your help with, so you can find the common ground.

    3. You have a great idea but have no clue on who would need or want it.

    If you’re really stuck wondering how to attract customers, you’ll need to get started with something. Beyond working with practice clients there are three ways you can start to work out your niche and attract new clients online, beyond just doing practice coaching.

    1. Start with your why

    When posting online – any kind of post – focus on your why, values and passion area.

    One thing’s for sure – when you get ranty and fired up about something, some injustice or area of need, that sense of conviction will be appealing and attractive to the right people. It’s the values and beliefs that we have in common with others, that create attraction between us.

    In other words, people form relationships because of shared values. When you lead with your why you put your values on display. This gives people an insight into who you are, and they can work out if you are someone they would like to know more about.

    By zooming in on your why, you can find some things to talk about and start to create ideas on specific topics of interest.

    The key word here is specific. Having a why of ‘wanting to help people’ is pretty vague. Be more specific at least about an area of health and wellbeing, like weight loss, or exercise, or mental health.

    Assuming you are on a social media platform where people can search for content topics easily, you can experiment with why-driven posts to see which ones get the most engagement.

    2. Start listening and reflecting

    Once you have identified a few topics, do a little live and online research to gain opinions and insights, and to see how engaged other people are with those topics.

    For example, if you’re getting ranty about impostor syndrome, or weight gain after 40, or anxiety in menopause, what are other people saying and thinking about those things?

    Take your coaching skills out into the world and ask people for their opinions. Notice how fired up they are too – or not. See the problem from their point of view.

    How big of an issue is that thing for them? Why or why not?

    What is their magic wand solution?

    What possibilities might open up, if they could solve that problem?

    As you do this work, notice the physical shifts you experience. Notice which topics or particular conversations excite you, grab you by the heart, or make you irritated.

    And most importantly, notice how your sense of clarity and confidence develops as you talk to people about what matters to them.

    3. Explore niche content marketing

    The third way is to explore what’s in the news and social commentary about niche content that’s already out there. This is a slower, longer-term game compared with live conversations.

    Think about whether online research is an initial project to help you understand your niche, or whether you will continue building information and content over time as part of your marketing. If you have skills and strengths in research, detail and writing, then this might be a good strategy.

    Here are some questions you could ask yourself while exploring niche content online:

    • What are the most popular angles being talked about?
    • Where is the gap?
    • Do you agree, or disagree? Why?
    • Which posts or episodes make you irritated or frustrated? Why?

    Write down all the things you like, agree with and disagree with.

    Then, look for qualified facts to back up your views, for example, from Google Scholar, or recognised institutions.

    Check in with yourself to work out which topics are most meaningful and interesting to you. These are the ones that will create a natural energy that is attractive to your audience.

    Based on the topic or related topics you have identified, develop some blogs, live videos or podcasts that map out the problem, and outline 2 – 3 things that back your position.

    Then, you’re ready to promote these topics to your audience – but not all at once!

    For example, let’s say that you are really into natural methods of managing and avoiding stress, and you are super interested in managing the nervous system.

    You’d talk about one or two related topics per month over a series of months.

    Start your first month talking about one topic in-depth online and offline – in this example, let’s say you focus on comparing different breathing techniques to manage stress. You could find research papers and share the findings, and also your own experience.

    Note which conversations or posts get the most interest.

    In the second week, start refining the conversations to focus on the specific parts of the topic that are most popular. For example, you might find that people have been talking about the 4-7-8 technique because it’s been in the news and was developed by a Harvard-trained medical doctor, Dr Weill, so you could ask for people to comment on their experiences or insights about the technique. This will get engagement and organic reach.

    If you wanted, you could collate all your insights from the month and do a live presentation or in-depth blog at the end of the month. Invite people to attend, invite comments and/or sharing through your networks. The next month, you might start talking about something that goes a bit deeper, like polyvagal theory, which is related to and goes deeper into the topic of the first month.

    The first thing that happens here is that by posting on specific topics, you will either attract “your people” – the people who like and trust you based on your messaging and promotion – or you will attract people who are curious and interested in your topics.

    You will also be ignored by people who aren’t interested – but that’s a good thing!

    This process takes you closer to understanding and clarifying who has the problem that you can help to solve, and what the problem means to them in their lives.

    Over the series of months and topics, you will find out which topics are most interesting to your audience, what types of people like each topic, what their main challenges are, and you will be closer to defining your niche.

    Over a longer period, you can refine your content and topics to meet the audience, and you can also go back and update older content you created so it is more up-to-date and polished.

    Summary

    When you’re new to the business, it can be easy to compare yourself to others and wonder why they seem to be so successful, when you’re just getting crickets.

    If this is you, remember that your clients are your teachers. By using your coaching skills in daily life, and by working with practice clients, you will start to get a deeper understanding of the people you want to work with, and what sorts of common problems they have that you can help with.

    At the same time, you can do three things online to fast-track your understanding.

    You can:

    1. Develop posts and content built around your why (be specific)

    2. Start listening to what people say (live and online conversations) and reflect on the trends, and which topics and people light you up.

    3. Explore niche content marketing, by assessing what is in the news, what is a hot topic right now, and which posts irritate or inspire you. Then, start developing content around specific topics that are relevant and meaningful to you and your potential audience and start getting a sense of their reactions.

    Live conversations take the least amount of time, whereas online research is more time-consuming and takes longer to engage your niche. Reflect on your skills and strengths to help you decide which way to go.

    Welcome to the evolution of your niche! If you need help to understand, define and connect with your niche, book a good fit call to see if I can help you. My books are closed to personal clients until July, but I have space in my June Passion to Profit program if you need help to build the foundations of your business.

    References

    Balogh, A. Polyvagal Theory: A Simplified Explanation. Swan Counselling website accessed 28.2.22. https://www.swancounselling.com.au/polyvagal-theory-a-simplified-explanation/

    Cuncic, A. October 2021. What is 4-7-8 breathing? Very Well Mind website accessed 28.2.22 https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-4-7-8-breathing-5204438

    Shatto, R. May 2019. Here’s Why Shared Values Are so Important in Couples, Experts Say. Elite Daily website accessed 28.2.22. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/why-are-shared-values-important-in-relationships-experts-weigh-in-on-this-common-thought-17917975

    Passion to Profit Program: Wellness Coaching Australia Website https://www.wellnesscoachingaustralia.com.au/business-resources/passion-to-profit/

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    E#180 Engaging Clients With an All-In-One Community-building Platform

    This episode is about engaging clients with an all-in-one community-building platform

    Do you want to start an online group or membership, but aren’t sure where to start?

    Are you sick of Facebook and want something independent and more personal?

    Are you trying to work out payment systems, landing pages, booking software and all the other things that go with an online business, and aren’t sure how it all works and how they connect?

    Then today’s episode is for you. I’ll walk you through a tour of the latest low-cost all-in-one platforms that you can use to build and host a connected, engaged community, promote events, book appointments, and even sell services through – without all the noise and ads.

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * Why People Love Communities
    * Why Businesses Need Communities
    * Two Platforms to Consider – That AREN’T Facebook

    Why People Love Communities

    At the tribal level, humans want to be part of a tribe because we have an innate need to belong.

    In years past, we lived in large tribes for our whole lives. These days, our tribe is often our immediate family. Our tribe is much smaller than it used to be, we’re working from home, or have moved away, so we seek connection in the online space to meet this basic, primal need.

    Being part of a group helps to give you a sense of self and of identity, and common purpose and support. A group of like-minded people gives us protection from others who challenge us, and it helps us avoid loneliness.

    As a collective, we share ideas, gain new perspectives and build confidence and strength with the backing of those who support us, champion us, and believe in us. It gives us happiness and emotional resilience.

    Why Businesses Need Communities 

    Smart businesses target a niche because it’s easier to be specific about who you help and how, and therefore, it’s easier for the right people to relate to you, and buy from you. 

    I see communities as a great way to bring your niche clients together into a place where they can support and connect with each other, where you can learn about what they want, where you can have more intimate conversations with them, build trust and relationship, and offer value to them (free and paid). 

    It totally makes sense for businesses to leverage this intrinsic human need and build a community of like-minded people who come together for a common purpose. 

    With that said, let’s look at some platforms where you can build a community that AREN’T Facebook. 

    Two Platforms to Consider – That AREN’T Facebook 

    I will give you an overview of two platforms that you might like to explore. 

    Some common features include spaces or topics for separate discussions, increasing amounts of storage with the more expensive plans, group chat function, posting, member profiles, and integration with other software. 

    But more than that, the great thing about these new platforms is that they are starting to offer more features so that you don’t have to have multiple systems running at once. 

    For example, right now you might be using an email program like MailChimp or Gmail to send stuff out to your email list. Some of these new community platforms have built-in email. 

    Similarly, you might be wondering about building a website and the cost of that, or how to set up booking software. Some of these new community platforms have features that will allow your members to book and pay, so you may not need separate software for that. 

    When looking at these options and their pricing, consider these sorts of features that could save you some money and help you have an all-in-one solution, rather than multiple payments and platforms. 

    Regardless, I suggest you sign up for the free trials offered and set aside at least 3 hours to explore and learn about each platform, watch some YouTube clips about the platforms, and check the ratings and examples before you decide. 

    That’s because if you don’t like the layout, features, look and feel etc, you won’t want to keep using the platform! Try before you buy! 

    Mighty networks – Build Communities, Courses and Memberships 

    Mighty Network is a platform for building an independent online community or business. It was founded by entrepreneurs who wanted to offer a framework for people to build their own social networks and run businesses from them. 

    Mighty networks have three plans:  

    1. Community (includes a website plus Livestream and video, chat, zoom integration and paid memberships),  
    2. Business (includes online course options, live course creation and analytics), and  
    3. Mighty Pro plan (app listing in Apple App and Google Play stores, account management and support). 

    Their value proposition is that you own your members (as opposed to the platform), you invest in a community (not an audience), and you build your own network effect (not just a content conveyor belt). 

    Their basic plan includes a website, plus a community function with live streaming and video function, chat and messaging, an app, unlimited members, event and zoom integration (e.g. from separate platforms) and the option to offer paid memberships. Higher paid subscriptions include an online course add-on. 

    Community messaging is available but there is no native email, so you’d need to run that separately. Otherwise, you can use Zapier (which has a small cost per transaction) to integrate Mighty Networks with MailChimp, ConvertKit and other programs. 

    I’ve used this platform for a pilot test group and found it easy to navigate, with plenty of helpful tips and hints delivered along the way in the trial.  

    Circle – the all-in-one community platform for creators and brands 

    I first learned about Circle through a community I was in, that migrated from Mighty Networks to this platform. 

    The look and feel of Circle is similar to Mighty Networks, and the pricing is similar, but the features available at each pricing level are slightly “rearranged”. 

    Circle has three plans: 

    1. Basic (simple community with essential features),  
    2. Professional (live stream and video with higher usage limits), and  
    3. Enterprise (including concierge, dedicated support team). 

    Their basic plan includes a community function, iOS app, a community function with chat and messaging, unlimited events and up to 1,000 members. Higher paid options include live streaming and video function, and advanced analytics. 

    You can also offer tiers of membership and include ‘gated’ access to paid or VIP groups or content and have a range of member subscription options including free trials and upsells. 

    The Circle group I am in loves using this platform as they say it’s easier to use and seamless. 

    Summary

    Today, we looked at the innate human need to belong, and how you can leverage that to build a community of niche clients around your business, building and maintaining a relationship based on trust, purpose and aligned values. 

    I talked briefly about two new so-called all-in-one platforms that are great alternatives to Facebook, where you can create, host and own your own community, app and membership/service offerings. 

    If you’re interested in creating an online community around your business, I recommend you set aside a couple of hours to trial each platform to see if either will suit your needs. 

    If you have feedback on these, please leave a comment on this episode for the benefit of others! 

    References and Links 

    Melanie White’s Passion to Profit program – foundational business building to create a profitable, purposeful business. 

    Winch, Dr Guy. The Importance of Belonging to a Tribe. Psychology Today website https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/202002/the-importance-belonging-tribe accessed 10.2.22 

    Mighty Networks 

    Circle – the all-in-one community platform

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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    E#179 How to Create a Digital Legacy Strategy

    This episode is about how to create a digital legacy strategy

    Have you got a pile of online passwords, subscriptions and accounts for your business, and are wondering how to handle that when you pass on? Today, I share with you my own personal how-to guide for what I call a digital legacy strategy, so that you can leave a clear wind-up roadmap for your loved ones.

    Background

    At the moment I have two elderly unwell parents and my family has been talking a lot about their preparations for end of life. It’s a really difficult conversation to have. But my parents are at that age where they are thinking practically and logically about what they will leave behind. There’s a house, the car, the furniture, bank accounts and all of the household bills etc.

    I was speaking about this with my husband and we got to talking about how simple their estate actually is, compared with ours.

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * How I came up with the idea
    * What a digital legacy strategy is
    * Four steps to creating your Digital Legacy Strategy

    Living in a digital world, and with me running a largely online business, there is so much more to think about when one is preparing to document their estate.

    My husband and I are quite different in terms of our assets. He has a lot of toys and physical goods, whereas I have a lot of online digital assets. He wouldn’t have the first clue about my passwords and how to access those assets, and which ones need to be closed down in the event of my passing.

    I realise that unless I did something about this, then I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and their would be subscription payments coming out of the business bank account every month and annually without him even knowing where to start winding all of those things up.

    In all likelihood, you will live to a ripe old age and may not feel a sense of urgency about this. But for some people, loved ones are taken away suddenly and without warning.

    It’s a serious topic that is worthy of careful thought and attention so that your loved ones know how to wrap up your affairs with ease at a difficult time.

    What is a digital legacy strategy?

    After having this conversation with my husband, I decided to create a document that would equip my husband to sort out my business affairs and online presence with ease, if the worst-case scenario happened.

    I decided to call this document a Digital Legacy Strategy.

    It’s essentially a 2-page document that describes exactly what I have in terms of an online presence, how to access it, and what to do with all the pieces.

    I created it in under 30 minutes using two tools that I had already been using in my business.

    Let’s walk through the process that can help you to create your own digital legacy strategy. It might take you a little longer than me if you’re not already using these tools that I have suggested. In any case, I’m going to provide some tools for you in the show notes so that you can create your own version of this

    Four steps to creating your Digital Legacy Strategy

    Step 1 Set up and categorise a password database

    The first thing that you will need is a password database. If you don’t have one already, there are plenty of options that you can subscribe to online or that may be included with your Microsoft or Internet Security software.

    If you already have one of these, then it might just be a matter of tidying it up and updating it

    And that’s exactly what I did. I have been using Keeper Security password database for the last five or so years.

    So my first step was to open my password database and create some sub folders within it so that I could categorise all of my login details for different websites.

    I created the following categories

    • Finance
    • Business
    • Paid subscriptions with auto-renew
    • General

    The website links and login details in the financial category are all things like my Internet banking login details, my PayPal account, my stripe account, and all of those sorts of things.

    The website links and login details in my business category are all things like my ASIC login details, my Service NSW details, The website where my ISBNs for my published books are stored, my self publishing book subscriptions, and anything else to do with business management and the government

    The next category is paid subscriptions with auto-renew. This includes anything from any other category that has an auto-renew feature set up for monthly or annual payments.

    The website and login links in this category include things like my zoom account, my Xero accounting subscription, my Vimeo account, the online quiz subscription software that I use, domain renewals, Dropbox subscription, Microsoft subscription, Netflix, and anything else that is paid automatically via a digital subscription.

    The final category is anything else that is not set to auto-renew and will expire itself. While it is tempting to think about having nothing on auto-renew, it’s simply not possible in many cases, or it a very inconvenient and takes a lot of time to manage.

    Step 2 – set up a digital asset register

    If your password database is set up properly you may not want to or need to do the second step. But if you want somebody to be able to remove your digital footprint entirely, then it’s probably helpful to have a list of all of the digital assets that you have online.

    For me, I have lead magnets, I have podcasts, I have a YouTube channel and a whole bunch of other things on the internet. By including a link to my digital asset register, my husband will be able to see the extent of my whole online footprint, and he could easily pass it all over to somebody if he decided to sell the business in the event that I pass on.

    This is quite a time-consuming step but once you have a clear register of all of your digital assets, it’s just a matter of maintaining and incrementally adding to it.

    I said this is an optional step.

    Step 3 – write your strategy

    The strategy is simply a high-level summary of steps one and two, along with some instructions on what to do in the event of passing on.

    You could make explicit instructions for what you want to be done with those items, or you could simply provide some options so that the other person can make the decision at the time.

    In my case, I would prefer my husband has the option to do what he thinks is best, rather than forcing him to sell my digital assets as part of my will. At the simplest level, I want to know that he can easily get into and turn off any automatic subscriptions In the event of my passing so that he is not unknowingly keeping up payments on something that’s no longer relevant.

    Step 4 – access and update

    The last thing I’ve done is to save this strategy in a shared digital folder that we both access regularly.

    But of course, it’s no use just leaving it there and forgetting about it. My digital footprint is going to change and evolve over time, so it’s really important that I schedule a recurring calendar reminder to review and update my password database, asset register and digital legacy strategy about every 12 months.

    It’s a surprisingly easy task to do once it is set up properly, it’s just a matter of having a calendar reminder so that you do.

    Summary

    To wrap up what we discussed today, it’s never pleasant when somebody passes on and you’re left with the task of unravelling all of their stuff at a very difficult time.

    This is even more tricky and intricate when somebody you love has a digital legacy and you have no idea what that legacy is or where to start in closing it down.

    Today I described a concept that I’ve developed to help me clearly express some simple instructions to help my husband if the worst-case scenario ever happens.

    The four steps I followed are:

    1. Set up a password database

    2. Create a digital asset register

    3. Develop a digital legacy strategy

    4. Schedule a review and revision time slot every 12 months

    If you need help with this, please check out the links in my show notes, or hit up my contact page for more assistance.

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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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    E#177 Tragic Optimism

    This episode is about tragic optimism 

    Are you sick of the relentless stream of drama and bad news and just wish you could find something positive to read and share? 

    Then you might be interested in tragic optimism and the opportunities it might bring you to feel more positive and purposeful in these challenging times.

    What is Tragic Optimism? 

    If you’ve read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, you will know that he discusses this concept through the lens of life in a concentration camp.  

    He talks about making suffering meaningful, seeing guilt as a chance to improve ourselves, and interpreting life’s fragility and unpredictability as motivation to find meaning.  

    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * What Tragic Optimism means, and the research behind it
    * Avoiding the ‘happiness trap’

    He found a way to transcend suffering through his own inner decision-making. 

    Frankl defined ‘tragic optimism’ as a state of optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential which, at its best, always allows for: 

    1. turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment 
    2. out of guilt, defining the opportunity to change oneself for the better, and 
    3. out of life’s transitoriness, defining an incentive to take responsible action. 

    He doesn’t claim that we must suffer to discover meaning, but rather, that meaning can be found despite or because of suffering. 

    Where does real happiness come from? 

    Frankl says it comes from finding meaning in our lives because this is what provides our reason to be happy.  

    More recently with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, research by Anna Gotlib (1) backs Viktor Frankl’s concept of tragic optimism.  

    Her study indicates that people who cope better in crisis can do so because they can acknowledge suffering without being pulled under by it.  

    Gotlib says it’s not about finding happiness or even distraction from sadness. It is about repairing our narratives and our lives – about learning to let go of the stories around isolation, defeat, loss of control and worthlessness – and to create new narratives and recast a more meaningful future where hope exists. 

    I would consider myself to be a tragic optimist in many ways. I believe that the negative stories we tell ourselves are instructions on how to act. It is only when we define new stories that we provide clear instructions to our bodies and brains on how to step into our future selves and flourish. 

    Let’s be clear – this is not a ‘don’t’ worry, be happy’ concept. 

    It is about honouring uncertainty and encouraging hopefulness. It is about recognising that we can turn inwards to find new words, ideas and valuations, and then share them outwardly and begin again. 

    So, how do we do this?

    Avoiding The Happiness Trap 

    Well, for starters, we can avoid the Happiness Trap. 

    What is that? Well, it’s a concept offered by Dr Russ Harris (2).  

    In his book of the same name, Russ describes an empirically supported model known as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an effective model that can help you to address suffering and find meaning. 

    And sure, there are many ways and disciplines that can help you to tackle suffering and find meaning, such as self-compassion, mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy. 

    ACT includes aspects of all of these and more.  

    Rather than focussing on striving for happiness, it teaches you to undermine struggle, avoidance and loss using mindfulness, acceptance, cognitive defusion and a focus on values-based living. 

    ACT has over 35 years of evidence in treating conditions from anxiety and chronic pain to weight loss and performance enhancement, and over 300 randomised controlled trials that support the efficacy of ACT in alleviating suffering and promoting human flourishing.

    Isn’t it amazing to think that by changing your relationship with your thoughts and feelings, you can transcend both physical and emotional pain? 

    In my opinion, if you want to find meaning and become a tragic optimist whose life is based on meaning and fulfilment, I think Russ is the best person to help. 

    He teaches you how to blow your own mind, so to speak, by naming your stories and becoming a better storyteller, by separating yourself from unhelpful thoughts, and by learning simple tricks and techniques to defusing those thoughts and find true acceptance. 

    By doing this, you can stop chasing happiness (which is the trap he describes) and transform your relationship with painful thoughts and feelings to lessen their impact and influence over your life. 

    In turn, you create space for a rich and meaningful life, a sense of vitality and fulfilment that is satisfying and long lasting.   

    Now I know that some people might rail at the thought of having to ‘accept’ things.  

    But have you considered the true definition of acceptance? 

    It’s not tolerating or putting up with things – it literally means taking what is offered. It is opening yourself up to what is happening right now.   

    And it is your first firm foothold to stop suffering and to start taking action toward more of what you want in life. 

    Summary

    In these uncertain times, it can be hard to feel positive or find hope in the difficult circumstances that are affecting us all. 

    But there are pioneers and researchers such as Viktor Frankl, Anna Gotlib and Russell Harris who have done great work to prove that we can rise above the painful thoughts and feelings we have, to become tragic optimists – people who are able to transcend the unhelpful thought loops and re-craft stories that give us more meaning, purpose and ultimately, freedom. 

    References 

    1. Gotlib A. Letting Go of Familiar Narratives as Tragic Optimism in the Era of COVID-19. J Med Humanit. 2021;42(1):81-101. doi:10.1007/s10912-021-09680-8 
    1. Harris, Russell. The Science. The Happiness Trap Website accessed 26.1.22. https://thehappinesstrap.com/the-science/ 

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

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    E#174 Your Foolproof 2022 Business Plan

    This episode is about your foolproof 2022 business plan

    The start of the year is a great time to make plans. But how do you make a plan that is realistic and will guarantee results?

    Today, I cover the three ingredients of a successful business plan that will ensure your success.

    Ingredient 1: Start with Strategy

    What do you think of when you hear the word ‘plan’? The internet defines a plan as:

    1. An orderly or step-by-step conception or proposal for accomplishing an objective.
    2. A proposed or intended course of action.
    3. A systematic arrangement of elements or important parts; a configuration or outline.
    In this episode, I’ll talk about 
    * Why starting with a strategy is so important
    * How to create a structured, SMART plan
    * Reviewing and course correcting

    What do you notice about these definitions?

    I see that they are all about taking action. And taking action is great, and important….but in the words of organisational theorist Kenichi Ohmae:

    “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”

    In other words, planning your actions is important, but there is a step BEFORE that.

    The step is creating a strategy.

    A strategy is the overall aim, objective or goal that you want to achieve.

    When it comes to your 2022 business plan, you would define your primary aim for the year BEFORE you start the planning process.

    I believe the best aims or outcomes are inspirational, realistic, aspirational and measurable. Here is an example.

    “By 31 December 2022, I want to have helped 50 women reverse diabetes.”

    If you think about this as an outcome, it meets all those criteria.

    For the right person, this is:

    · inspiring (ties in with a passion),

    · something that can realistically be achieved with the right support, systems and effort (the timing and number and content has been done before by others),

    · something to aspire to (reversing diabetes), and

    · measurable (it has an end date, and a number of people).

    So my question to you is – what is the overarching strategic goal you have for this year?

    All of your plans will be borne out of that.

    Ingredient 2: Create a Structured SMART Plan

    This one is essential and it’s where a lot of people go wrong with a lack of detail, specificity and not seeking help. If you’re new at business and/or planning, you will need help with this!

    Like the strategy, a structured plan has very specific actions, dates, milestones and metrics so that you can schedule tasks and check that you are on track.

    Using the example I just mentioned, we can start teasing out elements of the plan.

    “By 31 December 2022, I want to have helped 50 women reverse diabetes.”

    In this example we can see that we need two things: a way to solve the problem, and a way to engage the clients.

    Firstly, you will need to have a program and/or method for helping people reverse diabetes.

    1. What is program or method you will use?

    2. Has it been created yet?

    3. Do you need to test it/get social proof?

    4. Who else might need to be involved to help you?

    By answering those questions, you can work out the actions that need to be taken, in which order, who will help you – and you can schedule those into a timeline.

    Secondly, you will need to have a channel to find those 50 women with diabetes.

    1. What does your market research indicate?

    2. Where will you find them / where do they hang out?

    3. What is your best marketing strategy that plays to your strengths – e.g. writing, speaking, PR etc?

    4. Who can connect you with them?

    5. What opportunities are there in your existing networks?

    6. What will your marketing plan look like?

    By answering those questions, you can work out the actions that need to be taken, in which order, who will help you – and you can schedule those into a timeline.

    Ingredient 3: Review and Course Correction

    A plan is great, but things invariably change as you progress, so you need to schedule time at least once per month to review your progress, and course correct so you can achieve your goal, or change the goal as needed.

    We all find this bit hard because nobody likes changing the goals or goalposts!

    Change requires a shift away from what we know and feel safe with, into the unknown.

    BUT, as we know through coaching clients, the process of experimenting invariably changes the journey.

    Making time to reflect, review, let go of what doesn’t work and change gears, is the absolute key to success.

    In the example above, let’s assume that you did all your actions in January to find prospective clients through your networks…..but you drew a blank.

    Or perhaps you thought you’d have your program finished by now and ready to pilot, but you haven’t gotten there yet and can’t find any pilot clients.

    Eeek! Now what?

    Well, simply go back to your plan and review it.

    What didn’t work?

    What did work?

    What other opportunities are there to find pilot or real clients?

    Who can help you get clarity on these things, so you can progress your plan?

    As you can see, it’s one thing to come up with a strategy and plan, but life and business don’t go according to plan.

    Your ability to problem-solve, troubleshoot, brainstorm, seek help or even pivot are what will help you succeed.

    Please know this – there is no magical solution to any of these or any other problems. They require focus, attention, and work.

    This is the reality of running a business, and you will gain valuable experience not just for yourself, but also empathy for your clients who are going through exactly the same process!

    Summary

    Today I mentioned that planning is essential for a successful business, but many plans go awry or fail.

    The three ingredients for success are:

    1. Start with a big-picture strategy

    2. Turn the strategy into a structured, SMART plan

    3. Review and Course Correct with help in order to stay on track for success.

    If you need help with business planning, I have three spots available in January. Click here to book.

    Otherwise, you can waitlist for my June Passion to Profit Course where we go through the foundational work behind the plan that is essential for success.

    Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

    Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business 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: