By Denise M. Michaels
I was standing in the back of a dark, cavernous seminar room, where the staff always stands. That’s because we might’ve heard the speakers’ stories numerous times before or we get called out to take care of something. But mostly we’re fans and we’re there because we want to be. We learn something new every time.
During the seven plus years I worked for a couple mega-bestselling book authors and speakers I noticed characteristics about human nature I found fascinating and that propelled me to do things my way. There’s an old saying, “I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission,” and it describes how I approach marketing and getting the word out about my teensy, little business as a ghostwriter and book coach. I’d rather jump out a bit too far and see what happens rather than take mincing steps to see if anyone validates my point of view.
What I saw in those seminar rooms was a few wealthy guys on the platform talking strategy, tips and sometimes just the mindset necessary for success. No problem so far. The 1,000 plus people in the seats were seekers. They wanted a better life through more income, but didn’t know how. So, listening to someone who’s arrived seemed like the right thing to do. Everyone in the room came to get something and the majority left happy.
But beyond all the tips and information which often are never implemented when they get back home, lies a deep chasm of unhappiness, a problem crying for a solutions. Here it is: they often appeared to need some kind of permission or validation to do certain things or make bold moves in their business.
You can say they need to:
- Get unstuck
- Get out of their comfort zone
- Go out on the skinny branches
… or one of many other similar terms. It all means stepping outside your normal, safe boundaries and doing something a bit extraordinary, audacious and scary. It means taking a risk. As John Maxwell said in one of his many books on leadership, “A leader is someone who goes first.”
Maybe it’s because I bought my first business at the young age of 25 that I developed the “creativity muscles” to try new and different things. Actually I did enterprising things in high school and college to make money, too. After graduation, with degrees in Journalism and Marketing, I only spent three years in the corporate world as an advertising copywriter before setting myself free. Perhaps my spirit wasn’t broken yet and I never kowtowed to the chain of command.
Somehow, over the years, I developed the ability to trust my creativity and intuition. Okay, I’m not saying I’ll jump off the side of a cliff and figure out how to build a parachute on the descent. I mull things over – and then move powerfully forward.
Need I remind you – the buck stops with you. If you’re looking for someone who will say “attaboy” or “attagirl” it doesn’t necessarily happen that way. You put out whatever it is you’re offering and the attaboys come back in the form of people who say “yes” and you turn it into dollars. If you’re waiting for permission before you put your message and brand out there in a big way – you may need a great business coach. Or, it might help to toughen up a bit and learn to roll with the punches. Or, a combination of both.
I recently started working with a client who hails from a rural state and has built huge network marketing organizations in other countries. He did it in Europe with a company that exploded and then flamed out. He’s done it with an old guard MLM in a Pacific Rim country. In a few months he’ll do it once again on another continent. He’s as entrepreneurial and innovative as they come. The nicest guy you’d ever want to meet with a pretty wife and two young kids. He’s willing to get out on the skinny branches in an industry that attracts a lot of followers. I’m ghostwriting a book for him on how to go international with your business.
Point is, I want to encourage you to look at how you approach the business activities that fall under the banner of marketing and ask yourself:
- Am I being innovative or following the pack?
- Am I willing to do something different or slightly outrageous?
- Do I move boldly or frequently seek validation from others?
Authoring a book is a big, bold move. It tells every person who sees it online or in a bookstore, “I got something to say. And, if you’re smart and want to know more about what I know, you’ll pay attention and read. Now.”
If your business is about selling your expertise and wisdom to clients or customers like a consultant, a coach, a therapist, a professional speaker, trainer or a CEO that’s already true, right?
Or, are you one of the millions of small business owners hiding in the shadows with some confidence in your skills – but not enough to have confidence in your ability to be creative or innovative? If so, you’re the one who’d rather not hold your head up high and possibly get caught in the Tall Poppies Syndrome where the brightest, most standout folks might get their heads lopped off. (Figuratively speaking, not literally.)
If this is you I suggest you explore two essential questions:
1. Am I good enough to go out and say, “I’m the world’s foremost expert in ________?” If you are, great. If not, perhaps there’s something you need to add. Trust me – it’s not a college degree or ten more years of experience. It’s more about how you message the “________.” When my book came out I claimed loud and proud, “I’m the world’s foremost expert in marketing for women in small business.” Why could I say that? Because no one else claimed it. I dreamed up the category. Maybe you need to dream up your own specific, highly niched category. Authoring a book will make it and you more credible.
2. What do I need to do to improve my self-esteem or confidence to feel comfortable speaking with audacity? Remember, it all starts from within. I’ve always been a powerful proponent of the notion your business growth cannot happen any faster than your personal growth. What tired old bromides are rattling around in your subconscious saying, “Don’t toot your own horn?” Or, “Nice people wait for others to praise them.” Hey, I love when that happens, but most businesses aren’t successful purely on referrals alone. The process of authoring a book invariably increases your good feelings about you and communicates it clearly with future readers.
I hope you walk away from reading this article feeling a sense of, “Ahhhhhh, now I know what I have to do to differentiate myself and get a flock of new customers and clients.” Remember bold is beautiful. Getting out on the skinny branches and taking a risk is attractive and builds your courage and confidence muscles. When you combine the two and offer stellar products and services your success and growth as a business owner is assured.
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, therapists, speakers and aspiring authors become recognizable and influential. Using the leverage a book provides you can become the go-to expert in your niche. Contact her by clicking here now.