The Three Most Important Things I Learned as a Monk

1: Everything gets better and easier if you make it an act of service. And that’s true no matter what you dedicate that service to: self, other, god, humanity… whatever works for you. It’s about the attitude.

(Oh, and if you’re one of those people who euphemise ‘serving customers’ into ‘servicing customers’: that’s not how it works. You can’t service your customers – they are not cars).

2: No matter what you think something is, that’s always, without fail, only part of the picture.

And, it’s a damn useful habit to always ask yourself: ‘What else? What else is this, can this mean, can this represent, does this indicate, asks me to consider… what else?’

3: Self-importance is at the root of every single problem we have, and that’s the same for everyone.

On a deep level, part of us still believes the world revolves around us, and that part can get mighty boisterous – tyrannical even – if the world doesn’t bow to its splendour and majesty.

If you’ve done some self-discovery, you’ll have found, and hopefully somewhat tamed, your own version of this little beast.

Self-importance is at the heart of things, because it works from a fundamental assumption, that ‘the world should be different than I say it should be’.

As long as you still let that influence how you think, feel, talk and act, you can end up with all kinds of problems:

From ineffective marketing and sales, to depression and argumentative relationships, from self-sabotaging behaviour and a life less lived, to team members who oppose you and a career that won’t take off… a whole bunch of fun things.

If you want the best action in order to improve your life, at the very heart, root and core of it all, start there:

Tame your self-importance. Learn (and practice!) humility. Perform acts of service, and turn the others into acts of service as well.

If self-importance is the root problem when our well-being isn’t optimal, service is the antidote.

Reducing self-importance in your words, feelings, deeds thoughts and beliefs, is the most important thing you’ll ever do for yourself.

Cheers,

Martin

The Real Reason I Always Talk About My Former Life as a Monk. Hope it Helps

And it’s not because I like talking about myself.

Ok, full disclosure: I do. Not because I consider myself all that interesting, but I’m the only person about whom I have ALL the insider information – the good bits, the funny, the naughty, the learning curve and the mistakes made, and above all else: all the things I learned while spending 12 years in a monastery.

And there was a lot I learned, and they are things that can help you. That’s why I’m always bringing it up.

(Dissident voices have claimed I also do it because it’s a great way to break the ice at parties, but I’ve found that to be anecdotal. Which happens to be an anecdote I often tell when meeting people at parties).

Anyway, back to something more lessonful:

In an email convo with a reader last week, I used the words: “…when I was a monk…” and she replied asking me to write an article called about ‘when I was a monk’ – but I found myself unable.

Because that would be stuff about me, and my rule for writing these articles, is that “if it’s gotta be about me, it’s gotta be so that it’s useful for them”.

Or informative, entertaining, or triggering an insight, or whatever might help someone out there today.

So logically, just ‘about Martin’s former life’ wouldn’t work.

I chewed on it for a week and didn’t find a solution, but just now it hit me:

Make it about what you learned there, and how people can apply it, Martin. How could you have missed it?

At the moment I’m working out a few ideas in my mind for tomorrow’s article which will tell you exactly that, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s lesson #1, in the shape of this very email.

As in: if you want to get results with people, make it about them, and their interest.

You’ll get fastest results if you consider the other before yourself, by default, in every situation.

Whether you want readers, buyers, supporters, happy kids or

Just ask: “What’s going on there on the other side? What motivation for that thing I see, is there?”

That’s something I learned in the monastery.

If someone lashes out at you, ask what’s causing that, before you reply.

If a relationship isn’t working, ask yourself what the other might be afraid of, or protecting, by acting in that way that gets you so upset or that obstructs improvement.

If you’re going to tell a story to your audience or your buyer, and it’s about you, ask which lesson or benefit from that story would be best for that client at this time.

(Any professional wordsmiths or linguists here: sorry for that last sentence).

If you have a project and you need collaboration, ask yourself what would make the other parties want to actively engage.

You get the picture: it’s always about the other. And that was one of my biggest lessons in the monastery.

More tomorrow.

Cheers,

Martin

Greed vs Generosity

A while ago I ran into a local acquaintance, who hosts retreats and events.

“Hey Martin, do you still coach people?”

Told them that yes, I sure do.

“Well, if ever you want to work together, our premises are available”.

Ooh nice, I thought: collaboration!

“As in, organising a retreat together, you mean?”

And then they hit me with probably the biggest turnoff ever:

“No, as in: you bring us the people, and we host a retreat for them”.

My jaw dropped at the staggering and blatant greedy selfishness of it.

They expect me to do their marketing for them, because what – I’m such a nice guy?

To make this even more painful, this person is rather well-connected to an up-market audience, has a huge following, and is actually world-famous in a niche that isn’t very small.

In other words: they have everything in place to draw in a crowd.

And yet, they have this idea that other people should do the heavy lifting for them.

I’m still baffled by how clueless it all was.

In the past, I used to like this person, and have often considered programmes we could run together.

After this though? I no longer consider them. No longer part of my world. Bye.

Not that I expect them to care – after all, I’m just a dude who does a thing, and there’s 100s of dudes and lasses like me, here on the coast.

But in terms of marketing, what they did was display greed – the greatest sin you can imagine in business, sales, and marketing.

When you want to enroll people (whether in an idea, a collaboration, or indeed into paying you money for something), give first.

When you do that, you make it about them, which is a powerful way to enable people to trust you.

And without trust, people don’t buy.

Instead of being greedy and selfish, be generous.

Serve people with your marketing.

Just like I do with these dailies: a way to show up, to give something, a public service, to remind you that I’m here, and available if I’m the right coach for you.

And though I no longer teach email marketing, I can still coach you on how to generously write daily emails that people love, share, and buy from.

Holler when you’re ready.

Cheers,

Martin

Nobody is Crushing It?

That is correct. No matter what picture of success and wealth and awesomeness someone paints for us, it’s never the whole picture.

Nobody is crushing it.

You might think it’s all roses and money in that person’s life, but I guarantee there’s also consequences that ain’t all that fun.

But we only get shown the fun parts.

The bit below is from a reply I gave to one of my clients, who saw others – apparently – make lots of dosh with almost no effort.

And I don’t believe that story.

My (edited) reply to my client, who asked if those people are misrepresenting things:

###

Yep, because that’s how crooks and wannabe’s swindle people into buying stuff.

I’m not saying that everyone who shows success is a crook, but we are NEVER shown the full story, or the history behind it.

Literally everyone had to work for their success, most of the time at great expense (money, health, happiness, wellbeing).

It took them decades to become an overnight success. Always.

And the more successful someone is, the bigger the doubts become (am I worth it? am I an impostor and will get found out? Will it last? Can I make payroll? Will the investors come through? Is my business solid enough to survive my competitors?)

So no, literally nobody is crushing it the way it’s being shown.

And the more people show it that way, the more we need to protect ourselves from being gullible.

Never believe the showreel unless you’ve been present at the behind-the-scenes.

###

Success is earned, not given.

And no matter what someone wants us to believe about their earnings or their success or whatever looks sexy and accomplished: they either paid the price to earn it, or – and run for the hills if you even remotely sense it – they’re simply conning people.

Like I said the other day:

Comparing yourself to others is pointless and disappointing.

Instead, compare yourself, to the person you were yesterday.

That’s how you earn your own success.

Cheers,

Martin

Gullible Breed…

There’s a scene in Men In Black, where a group of people accidentally see an alien get caught.

Tommy Lee Jones flashes his memory wipe thingy at them, and proceeds to tell them a BS story, to replace their memory. Something to do with light reflecting off of a cloud of swamp gas, so that they won’t remember that they actually saw an alien.

He sees the empty faces, and sighs: “God, you’re a gullible breed”.

And yes, we are. We’re exceedingly gullible.

Something shows up in a Facebook timeline, and people just take it for truth.

News outlets spin a story so as to fit their purpose, and people buy it.

Marketers online and off tell us that without product X our life will be crap, and folk whip out their credit card.

It’s incredibly easy to fool people.

Here in Spain, people put doctors on a pedestal. As if they’re some kind of miracle workers.

Point in case: when I fell with my motorbike a few months ago, I got up and saw I had some scrapes on my legs.

Nothing that hasn’t happened before, nothing that won’t heal.

But the bystanders were in shock: “You need to go see a doctor!”

I checked my legs, and said: “It’ll heal by itself. Why do I need a doctor?”

“So that he’ll cure it!” they replied.

Hang on, how on earth is a doctor going to ‘cure’ scrapes?

The best he can do is disinfect it, and I can do that just fine by myself. (Or perhaps innocculate me against tetanus, but I already had those a few years ago and so I’m still protected).

So I stopped at the pharmacy on my way home, got some betadine, done.

But people in Spain think a doctor is a demi-god. They were sold the story, and they bought it wholesale.

But it goes much deeper than that kind of thing.

I’m not talking conspiracies here, but there’s an insidious, worldwide exploitation of an evolutionary psychological trait going on.

See, in order to survive, humans need to recognise patterns in their surroundings.

Which is why we evolved to be pattern-seeking machines.

If claws cut us once, we’ll run the very next time we see them.

If these particular berries make us ill, we’ll stay away from anything that looks like it.

If a particular fish is especially tasty or easy to catch, we develop a bias for fishes that look like it.

Seeking out patterns and acting on recognising them has kept us alive. People who ignored patterns ended up having a very niche chat with Darwin in the afterlife.

And marketers exploit this like you wouldn’t believe.

They know how easy it is to fool people and get them to buy things, by tapping into that gullibility that exists in all of us.

And that’s how they have learned how to steal our most valuable asset: our attention.

Because any time you pay attention to something, especially online, someone is making money.

Ever hear of ‘Pay Per View’? That’s a fine example. Each time a PPV ad gets seen, Google makes money.

So there’s this enormous drive and competition, to get better and better at stealing our attention.

That’s why Facebook is so addictive: it’s literally been engineered that way.

But your attention is valuable, because where you place your attention determines directly where your life and your business will go.

If you binge-watch Netflix, you get entertainment but little else.

If by contrast you read a biography or a book on growing your business, you get an upgrade to the mind.

You get to choose – but not if you’ve fallen for the trap, the one that says that letting others steal your attention is the new normal. It’s not.

It may be the norm these days, but there’s nothing normal about being addicted to others stealing our attention.

Your attention is your most valuable asset, and I say: protect it.

And if you notice you can’t unhook yourself from something, ask yourself if it’s because someone is profiting from it.

If so, you might want to eliminate it from your life, or at the very least, severely restrict the time you give it. But better to just do away with it altogether.

Final tip? Think, don’t be gullible. ‘The norm’ is usually not the same as ‘normal’.

Hey, do you think someone in your life would benefit from these daily emails?

You can do them a favour by forwarding this one – and I’d seriously appreciate it if you do…

Thanks!

Martin

Create Your Own Dopamine Drip, Steal Back Your Attention

They say we live in an attention economy, but that’s the euphemism of the century.

What we actually live in, is an addiction economy. And it’s sinister.

The attention you pay (and I mean ‘pay’ in a literal sense) is worth money to companies.

When your attention is on Facebook, or Instagram, or Pinterest or Youtube, someone somewhere is making money.

Can be by selling a product or service, or simply by showing you advertisements. People make money when ads get displayed, and when they get clicked on.

In itself that’s nothing bad (though a business model based on nothing more than revenue from advertising is a pretty lame thing IMO), but there’s a seriously insidious side to it.

In that, the attention (I mean: addiction) economy preys on one of the most basic, fundamental, primordial survival instincts.

Meaning: the need to not miss out. Because back when we were primitives (I’m not actually sure if we haven’t become more primitive than millions of years ago, but hey. Topic for another day),  we HAD to make sure that we got
fed and didn’t get killed.

We could only survive by noticing opportunities and threats.

The sound of a breaking stick in the shrubbery could mean a predator was about to leap on you, or it could be an animal you could hunt and eat.

And while that primal need is gone, the instinct is still in us.

The addiction economy makes clever use of that, by constantly making us feel that if we don’t buy this thing, read that book, watch that video, or install this [random thing] in our lives, we’re missing out.

And while you’re an evolved, intelligent, thinking person, the lizard brain in you doesn’t reason.

It reacts to whatever potential threat or opportunity it notices, and tells your mind: “Oooh, look there!”

And the scuzzy scammy side of the marketing industry has developed its methods to scientific perfection. Literally.

Because, again, when you pay attention to something, someone somewhere makes money.

And the best way to get someone to pay attention?

Make ‘em feel good. Put ’em on a constant dopamine drip.

Endless scrolling on social media, Youtube presenting you with one delectable video after another…

Cat videos, ‘3 MUST HAVE tricks for XYZ’ headlines… attention attention attention. Money money money.

Sick, isn’t it?

Because in the end, you don’t grow or benefit from that excessive attention-paying. Others do.

This is why I deleted my Whatsapp account (I did WHAT???).

The thing nags at me every second day to turn on notifications, when I actually had a limited set of notifications switched on – just enough for me, but not for Whatsapp. Because I wasn’t paying attention to the thing enough. So, out with it. Plenty of other ways to communicate. Especially given how the app is engineered to keep users addicted to using it.

Now, I want you to be aware of how deep this goes. How desperately companies need your attention, and how deep and evil it gets into manipulating you into paying attention.

Into, literally, making you addicted to dopamine.

(Which, incidentally or rather: intentionally, lights up like a christmas tree the same brain centers that light up as a result of taking cocaine. Think about THAT for a moment).

And, I want you to know there’s a better way to feel good and to get your dopamine drip.

It’s real simple too.

Every morning, make a list of small, ultra achievable but useful tasks. Preferably on paper.

As you go through your day and execute on them, check them off.

Each time you do, you are rewarded with a little dose of dopamine.

Simple neuroscience: set a task, do it, mark it as done – instant positive feedback.

You might think it’s an insignificant thing to add into your life, but you’ll find that it’s a MUCH more pleasant, rewarding, and helpful way to feel good  – while also making sure you get better at executing on the things that make your life and your business better.

Because really, life is too short to pay attention to the things that make some a**hole company, which uses you as a product and not a client, better.

Cheery stuff today, no?

Well, put my recommendation to use, and watch how quickly you’ll end up feeling cheery, instead of that horrible hollow feeling you get after wasting away an hour on Flakebook.

Or not, your choice.

But I’ll make my own dopamine drip any day of the week. And it makes me a pretty damn cheery person.

Cheers, cheerio, and cheery,

Martin

The ‘New’ Form of Marketing? Oh, and Tractors

PSA: Yesterday I said that I would ‘send 5 to 7 articles daily’, but that was a typo. I meant ‘weekly’, obviously.

PSA #2:

Saw an article that explained the ‘new’ form of email marketing, recommending we all use it.

They called it NaaS: Newsletter as a Service.

Which is a pretty nifty idea, but of course it’s nothing news.

In fact, value-based marketing has been around for ages.

For example, the John Deere tractor company was in bad weather sometime in the last century. I guess someone had figured out a better way to market horses.

Anyway, they did something clever:

They started a magazine for farmers, with actual, proper content. Articles and tips and instructions, on how to work the land and all the things that go with farming.

Obviously, farmers loved receiving the free magazines.

And obviously, John Deere made sure that any reader would see the advertisements of the tractors they made.

Double win: you create marketing that is actually useful, and people don’t mind that there’s also a product or service offer.

Sound familiar? Of course. It’s exactly what these daily articles are about. Hello.

It’s service first (for me, writing these is a public service in itself) and marketing second.

And since you read this, apparently that’s a method that works and delivers value.

This is nothing new – the only new thing, is that marketing and sales degenerated into pushy, sleazy, and often unethical ‘squeeze ’em for all they got’ practices.

That doesn’t make marketing bad – it just ended up being abused by unscrupulous folk.

Marketing done right has value in and of itself for your reader.

Whatever way you want: inform, entertain, inspire, teach, or mix it up… you can easily take the conversations that you normally have with buyers face-to-face, and create content (articles, audio, video, slideshows, photos) that *gives* people something.

And if you do?

Then people give you permission to also market your work.

That what I do, in these emails?

TOTALLY something you can do for yourself.

And, I’ve never seen a client take on email marketing (and stick with it!) and not have it lead to business growth and sales.

Oh sure, you’ll need to be growing your list.

And yes, it takes time before email marketing reaches the tipping point of probability, but personally, I don’t mind that.

I’d much rather plant and nurture an orchard, rather than go picking apples.

Wouldn’t you?

Cheers,

Martin

Don’t Play the Butternotes

Once upon a time, Herbie Hancock was on stage, playing with Miles Davis.

And he wasn’t feeling it. Herbie was not a happy bunny. Everything he was playing sounded trite, old, familiar, and uninspired.

He got increasingly frustrated with himself, which Miles picked up on. (Obviously).

Walks over to Herbie, leans in, and rasps in his ear: “Don’t play the butternotes”.

Took a moment, but then Herbie got it: the butternotes, those are the easy, the familiar, the standard and the bits that go down smoothly.

In music, those would be the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of a scale.

Herbie stopped playing those notes, started to play around them, and everything shifted. So much so, in fact, that it changed the course of Herbie’s musical career.

Playing the butternotes… what a brilliant concept!

In business, the parallel to playing butternotes would be things like phoning it in.

Coasting. Pushing the buttons, keeping the show on the road. Business butternotes are the attitudes and activities that are in your comfort zone, that don’t stretch you, that don’t do anything to create growth.

For me, playing butternotes is doing things like staying on top of my inbox. Publishing my daily article. Having chats with entrepreneurs. Good stuff and necessary, but not the kind of thing that drives growth. Which is what I (you too?) ultimately want.

And so, I study lots. I push myself. I get on a stage with barely any experience behind me, to deliver a 3 hour masterclass on marketing.

Sure I play the butternotes, but I do the other stuff as well.

So what about you?

Are you playing butternotes, too much?

And if so, what ‘wildly creative and jazzy solo-notes’ would you like to be playing as well?

When you’re not ‘phoning it in’, what actually is your greatest, most high-leverage activity?

And what if you’d make it a priority in your days or weeks, to work on it?

Cheers,

Martin

When a Buyer’s ‘No’ Is a Good Thing

Which is, basically, always. “No” is nowhere near as bad as you think.

Hey look, it’s never fun when someone decides to not buy from you.

But me, I welcome it. Because a No is the start of a relationship.

Not a professional one, sure. Doesn’t help your business… YET.

Follow my thinking here: most people consider a failed sale as an endpoint. Closed case.

One of those that got away.

But that’s a shame, because you never know when someone ends up being ready to get down to business.

Could be a week, a year, or three years.

And all you need to do is maintain a relationship with people.

Stay in touch. Share a book when you find one that’s perfect for them. See what they’re up to on social media. Answer a question, exchange emails.

You know: be a human being – which comes down to ‘being nice people’.

In my business, lots of clients ended up working with me months or even years after initially saying ‘nope’. Maybe as much as 50%.

That’s sales that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t stayed in touch and kept the relationship alive.

That ‘no’ you might dread so much?

Welcome it.

Here’s something for you to say no to, btw: my brand spanking new business-building, spot-coaching programme: http://martinstellar.com/business-growth-coaching-when-putting-off-the-important-work-is-no-
longer-acceptable/

Just don’t say no to putting off the important work, mkay? You’re welcome.

Cheers,

Martin

A Cold, Hard Business Lesson We All Need to Learn

It’s never about you.

It’s a cold hard lesson because it’s a fact, but at least it’s rooted in care. Behold:

It’s never about you, no matter how good your work is, or how beautiful, or how worth it.

No matter how much you need the money.

No matter how passionate you are about your work and what it does.

If you want a healthy business, it’s always, only and exclusively, about them:

Your buyer, and whether or not their life gets better by buying.

This attitude shows, and creates trust – a requirement for sales.

And if you can also step away from the sale, be 100% ok with it if they don’t buy, you build even more trust.

And you can’t fake that.

The only way you can create that level of trust is if you genuinely, really, have “the right decision for them” as your first and foremost interest.

But doesn’t that contradict the notion that a business must make money, and that you need to look out for #1 first?

No contradiction at all, because the more trust you create in others, the more you’ll end up selling.

That’s why in the enrollment conversations I have with potential clients, I’m not trying to sell anything.

I show up, I serve, I coach.

That either makes someone want to work with me, or not. Whatever’s best for you.

Cheers,

Martin

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