Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Lead vs Lag – Are You Looking at the Right Thing?

A while ago I read Cal Newport’s excellent book Deep Work, where he talks about how isolated, almost monastic blocks of highly-concentrated work are something increasingly rare in our society, but utterly essential for growth and innovation.

Which is ironic: here’s an ex-monk who tends to struggle with productivity, and who needs to read a book by a researcher in order to remind him that ye olde monastic practice (being devoted to the work, and taking action, i.e. active devotion) is what’s been missing.

‘Scuse me while I facepalm.

Anyway, he also talks about lead indicators vs lag indicators – a very important distinction.

Everybody has dreams. Results we want to create. A lifestyle, and an economy, that we work towards.

The result of those efforts show up in things you can measure, like the amount of free time you have, or the number of dollars coming in.

Between those metrics and the effort needed to create them, there’s delay and lag. Depending on what you’re building, that can be weeks, months, or years.

Now if you pay a lot of attention to the lag indicators (free time, money, number of customers etc etc), it’s very easy to get disheartened.

Growth usually starts slow, a nearly flat line for months or years, until it suddenly sweeps upward.

That happens when you reach the tipping point, and the flattish line suddenly sweeps upward – and you get the hockey-stick graph we would all like to see in our bank accounts.

Until you get to that point, you really want to avoid looking at the results too much.

Meaning: ignore the lag indicators.

Instead, focus on the lead indicators: the actions that will, eventually, bring you to the tipping point.

Look, measure, plan, schedule – get serious, scientific, monastic and scholarly on that stuff, and become a veritable pro at executing on the activities that will *lead* you to the tipping point as fast as can.

Create those blocks of single-pointed attention, to work on the growth-driving activities, and keep executing. Whether that’s an hour a day, or a 5-day bout in an AirBnB each month depends on what works for you.

But do that important work, and measure how much of it you do. Measure tasks checked off. Reflect on and measure how focussed and productive you were. Journal so as to find ways to optimise your output in those blocks.

Keep chipping away at – and improving – the lead metrics, while basically ignoring the lag metrics.

Those will show up, but ONLY if you execute on the lead metrics.

And the best way to do that is to ignore everything that comes after lag.

This is what my new accountability&business coaching programme is for:

To keep you focussed on, and executing on, those most high-value, growth-creating activities.

It’s an affordable way to get 1on1 time with me, and I’ll be sharing more info soon.

Meanwhile, just get in touch if you’re ready…




An Argument You’ll Win 100% of the Time

“Well”, said my coach: “You’re lucky I’m not buying that story, otherwise you’d really be in trouble”.

And once again, I was confronted with the fact that I was arguing for my own limitations.

Problem is, if you argue for your limitations, you’ll win the argument 100% of the time.

Like a few years ago, when my friend Tone said I should create slideshows and record videos and webinars and stuff.

“But I don’t know design! I can’t be on camera! Learning how to make slides makes me anxious just thinking about it!”

And so for years, I didn’t.

Nowadays though, I create slides on the fly, and in fact it’s one of my most fun activities.

But I argued for my limitations, won the argument (of course) and spent years not doing something that’s super fun and super useful for business.

Whenever you’re looking for reasons why you can’t, or shouldn’t, you’re arguing for your own limitations, and when you win, those (usually imaginary) limitations become a fixture.

Limitations are real, we all have them.

But what if you leave them, and argue for potential and possibility instead?

Because for every limitation you may have, you also have an opportunity, or a potential, that you can argue for. Gets you a lot further.

And that’s where coaching comes in – especially the accountability coaching programme I relaunched.

It’s fast: 20 minutes a week, to get you focused on the projects that most move the needle on your business, and to help you hone in on – and execute on! – the activities that get you the biggest results, the most efficient way.

Some of you who have spoken to me know that a regular, full-on coaching programme has a significant price-tag, but not so with accountability coaching.

Instead, I designed the method and process to be as efficient as possible for both of us, so that you can get guidance and keep moving forward, at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

If you want to finally make waves and you’re looking for help to keep you working on what matters most, hit reply and I’ll fill you in on the details.




He Not Busy Being Born…

I never got into Dylan, but I do know he’s an awesome poet – and I love me some good lyrics.

Saw this the other day – you may know it: “He not busy being born is busy dying”.

At times like these, that’s truer than ever.

If right now you’re not reinventing how you operate your business and marketing and sales – if you’re not working to reinvent yourself or rebirth your operations – you might end up in trouble.

Of course this isn’t new.

A business is either constantly being innovated and optimised, or it should expect ‘shock by change’, at some point in the future.

Soon or later, problematic or disastrous – trouble ahead unless we reinvent.

And if, at this moment, you’re trying to figure out how to reinvent things and you’re asking ‘How do I keep selling?’ rest assured that you can stop doing that.

If you want to keep selling, the question should be:

‘What are my people’s needs, right now, under these circumstances?’

This, too, applies to business under any circumstances – but if right now you want sales keep to keep rolling in, that empathic way of approaching your market will a) give you answers as to what solutions people need, and b) make you stand out from all the tone-deaf competitors who simply keep pushing out their offers, as if nothing has happened.

If you want to be busy being born, be busy learning people.

What do your people need?

What if you’d be in their shoes?

What’s it like to be them?



Every Business a Publishing Business

It’s said that every business is a publishing business, but I’d say it goes further:

Every individual is an independent publisher.

We publish all the time, it never stops.

We publish our thoughts, the food we make and share, we publish our helpfulness and our embrace, we publish our values and our goals and our tweets and our care and concern…

It’s all there, for everyone to see, so long as they pay attention.

Now why is it that so many businesses don’t get the attention they deserve – people don’t pay attention?

Because those businesses don’t make publishing a focal point in their marketing. They just do it willy-nilly, or as an afterthought, or as ‘content strategy, guys – we need a content strategy’.

At the far end of doing it wrong are the companies you bought something from 3 years ago, you never heard from them since then, and suddenly they mail you to say ‘We’re still open, despite the virus!’.

Yeah, wow. Man I suddenly love that company SO MUCH! *clicks unsubscribe*

A little bit better but still not the kind of publishing people really pay attention to: companies who only mail their list when they have a sale going on or something new to offer.

And then, there’s pretty much the holy grail of publishing: Seth Godin, who has been sharing a useful idea with his list 7 days a week, for years running.

And while your humble narrator isn’t quite as steadfast as Seth, I can tell you that sending daily emails is magnificently powerful.

It takes 20 to 30 minutes a day, and clients show up to work with me, when they’re ready, and all I need to do is share something that I hope is useful, daily, and publish it.

What could be easier?

Meanwhile, the process automatically creates a library of articles – actual assets – that I can repurpose and turn into books, trainings, slideshows and so on, creating more assets that I can then publish.

Whatever it is you do, you’re a publisher. And whether you write daily, or publish videos on Instagram or Youtube or articles for an industry publication:

It pays dividends to take your publishing seriously.

And that is one of the things I help people with: building a lightweight, easy to maintain publishing strategy that creates visibility, a loyal audience, and sales.

Are you ready to get serious about publishing your business, strategically, with minimal effort and maximum efficiency?

Then let’s talk, and see if I ought to help you…



Let’s Make Things Simpler

After receiving feedback on the training webinar, and how it was actually quite overwhelming for some of the attendees, I thought I’d make things simpler.

So, here’s a short outline that describes the system – intended for you to see how easy it can be to generate business, once you connect the dots…

Where the dots are:

– Your USP, or: the reason why people give you money instead of your competitor

– The current, urgent, changed needs your customers have

– And of course, the specific, narrow solution to those needs that you can offer.

I won’t go into the details here, because you’ll find the outline (10-minute read) in the PDF.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for a few people who are motivated and committed, but want some help staying on track.

Meaning: strategic planning, choosing the right milestones and actions, and accountability.

So if you’re switched on and working hard, but you’d like to be more efficient, more focused and get faster results, I have space for a few people to enroll in accountability coaching.

It’s the most affordable option to work with me and it gets you daily support by email plus a weekly strategy call – so if now is the time to get more results for your efforts…

Let me know and I’ll send you the details on how it works.



Stacking Your Assets

A list of customers is a terrific asset to leverage. If people have paid you before, there’s a good chance they’ll do so again, if you show up and talk to them.

Your specific, individual talent or ability – that’s another valuable asset. If you package it into a programme or system, you can&clone yourself, and get your work into the hands of more people.

(Incidentally, it’s why I built the IP to Profit system, to help you do exactly that).

Then there’s your values – the things you’d stand on a barricade for – that too is an asset, because when you identify and contact people with similar values, you instantly have rapport with them.

And there’s more: your team, your intelligent ability to think up solutions or systems, your likeability, your network… lots of assets, and each can be put to use for greater results. Assets to leverage.

What most people do, is take one asset and try to make it work. Create a course, and sell it. Analyse and segment your customer list, and get on the phone. Redress your ideal client profile, and start seeking more narrowly for people who match your values.

All that is good, useful, and can even be necessary?

But what if you stack your assets?

What if you make each one work better, and together, and have your assets work to leverage each other?

Look at all the building blocks you have, all the assets present and under-utilised…

What if you stack them?

What could you build?



Making People Happy

Sane and ethical people don’t just want the money: they want their buyers to be happy they bought, as well.

But wanting happy buyers isn’t enough.

Not if you don’t also want the money.

If you don’t have financial goals for your business, and you only measure how happy people are, or how many of them you have, you’re working to reach a moving target.

How much happy? How many people happy? How scalable is your happy, given that you’re not looking at the financial goals that enable you to re-invest, scale up, reach more people?

I meet a lot of wonderful people, committed to doing stellar work and serving clients.

But everyone I meet who only wants happy customers but does not also want to reach narrowly defined, specific money goals, struggles.

And you don’t have to struggle.

All you have to do is want the best of both worlds: want happy buyers. Want the money.



Rising Tides

Yeah it’s a messy time, and yeah every business on earth is under stress…

But while some are under threat and the stress threatens to crush them, others are under stress because suddenly, in this changed world, there’s so many opportunities.

The restaurant that kept all their staff and went full-on delivery based, they’re under stress – the good kind.

Zoom, who saw their userbase go sky-high in a matter of weeks, is under good stress.

Online educators, the smart ones, are suddenly able to reach and sell to far more students than before: people have time, have more disposable income, and there’s only so much Netflix one can ingest.

And there’s a large demographic of people who are keen to learn things but never had the time. So I predict that the online learning market is going to grow massively.

Now what do all these have in common?

They benefit from a rising tide.

Sure you can look at how the tide has fallen across industries, and lament how people just ain’t buying. But that does you no good, and it won’t land you in contracts where you get to serve your people, either. Double-bad.

So instead, move towards the rising tide. If you read some articles on entrepreneurialism and how people are adjusting their businesses, you’ll find plenty of smart moves people are making, that you can borrow from and implement for yourself, in order to also get lifted by the rising tide.

Because while the economy may change or slow down, it’s not going to stop. And parts of it are going to rise, in a big way.

Go towards the rising tide, and I’ll bet there’s one in your industry as well, if you look close enough.

Happy to have a conversation about what that looks like in your situation. Just let me know you want to talk, and we’ll set up a time.



How to Make it Easier to Pivot Your Business (and Why It’s So Hard Without a Recipe)

The other day I remembered my old piano teacher from 40 years ago – Mrs. Wamelink.

Lovely old lady. Good teacher. And, fierce!

Whenever I played a piece and made a mistake, my next step was always to start all the way at the beginning.

But obviously, that way you keep getting better at the parts you know, while doing nothing about the part where it gets tricky.

Oh and I remember those long lessons, with the warm Dutch sun highlighting dust motes and me being as bored as can be.

But, she made me repeat the hard bits, over and over, and over, until I got them right.

Now any business consists of various bits – some are hard, and some are easy.

And the only way a business runs well, is if all the parts work. Together, and by themselves.

Marketing, outreach, followup, advertising and enrollment conversations: each of these need to work, and then there’s a ton more:

Your target market, your pricing, your messaging, your ability to find and fill your customer’s needs… it’s a lot.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably have most of those parts working well to some degree.

But what if you need to pivot? What if right now, clients are not buying, but you do need to keep business rolling?

Then essentially, you’re looking at learning an entire new musical score, with all the hard bits to challenge you.

Because ‘making work business better’ is very different from ‘reinvent my revenue stream given that there’s a crisis going on’.

Now one way to do it is trial & error.

Or, you can use a recipe – a manual that says ‘do this, in that order, in that way’.

In other words, a system that shows you all the individual parts, and how to do them.

And that recipe – that system  – that’s what you get when you watch this training:

I’m putting together a workbook and a shorter, easier to grasp webinar, but for now, this training is one of the best things you could put in your mind, if you find yourself needing to scramble and/or pivot.

(And yes, I’m here to help if you don’t want to go it alone. Just let me know).



A Lesson George Bernard Shaw Wants You to Learn

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” — George Bernard Shaw

Ok, it’s presumptuous of me to speak for Mr. Shaw, but whatever – I’ll take that liberty, because I’m sure he’d be happy if more people realised the wisdom of his words.

Because yes, we often think we communicate, when actually we don’t.

That is: we think we communicate thing A, and then act all surprised (or even upset) when it appears that the other person heard thing B.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you found yourself thinking ‘why are they not getting it?’, then that’s what happened.

You said one thing, but the other heard another thing.

Of course you can blame the other for being stubborn or contrary, and in some cases that may be at play – but even then, that does not exonerate you from the responsibility of communicating in a different way, and try to find out how to get your message across.

And this applies everywhere: In business and selling, at home, with your spouse or kids, with your students or team mates or prospects:

It’s on us to find the way ‘in’, figure out how to get the right message across.

And here’s the secret: saying more won’t help more. In fact, when two parties think that communication has taken place when it hasn’t, the number of things said are inversely proportional to the degree of understanding.

Put differently: if the other person doesn’t seem to get you, explaining harder will be counterproductive.

Instead, ask questions.

Because unless you learn more about the other person and what they heard and what they think of it, how are you going to accurately adjust your message?

When you find that a buyer (or friend or team mate or spouse) isn’t getting what you mean, ask yourself this:

What did they hear me say?

How does it differ from what I meant?

What should I ask them, to figure out how to adjust the message I’m trying to communicate?

A useful tool in all communication – and especially in the context of selling and signing up clients.

Which I’m happy to help you with, when you’re ready.



get the book

and discover how to sell the way nice people do

You’ll also receive a short daily email on ethical selling and business growth.

Get the FREE eBook...
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy