Seeking Failure…

Edison tried a thousand times to create a lightbulb, and all attempts failed until he got it right.

Michael Jordan famously missed 9000 shots in his career, yet became famous and successful.

Stephen King used to pin rejection letters from publishers on a nail in the wall, until one day the nail was full and he had to get a longer one.

Me, I’ve spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours speaking with potential clients, only to hear ‘no’.

If you want to go places, create success or wealth, it’s not enough to accept the no. To simply live with the inevitable rejection.

No, if you really are hell-bent on getting what you want, the best way is to embrace the rejection. Seek it out. Cheer when you hear a no. Get your science on when a plan doesn’t work out, so that you can treat it as a moment to investigate what did work, what didn’t, and how to do another experiment to see if you got it right this time.

People who make it are willing to fail, because failure means you get valuable data.

Because there is no failure that can ever damage you, but your attitude makes it injurious.

Be bigger than that.

Treat failure as micro-damage, be anti-fragile.

Like a martial arts student punches wood and stone for years, creating micro-fractures in the bones, so that they heal full of scar tissue and become strong as stone.

That exact same mechanism works for psychology too, but only if you set out to embrace failure.

Like they say in Silicon Valley: Fail fast, fail forward, fail often.

Not only does it make life a lot easier and more fun if you have the right attitude and mindset about this, it also makes you far more likely to create the success you wish for.

Never be afraid of rejection or failure: seek it out.

You’ll be amazed at how strong you’ll become.



What If… (How Would You Like Your Eggs…?)

What if building a business wouldn’t have to be a struggle… but a joyful process of discovery instead?

Where you play with moving parts, see how they fit together – what if you would play at building a system, instead of slogging through all those things you don’t enjoy doing?

What if you would make that process the goal, instead of whatever end-game spells success for you?

Because most all of us get stuck into doing the work that should bring us that coveted success-reward, thinking that if we work hard enough and long enough at those things we don’t enjoy, the reward will be worth all the effort and teeth-gritting.

But what if it doesn’t have to be that way?

What if you would only do those things that you enjoy and that you’re really good at?

And all those other things – what if you would delegate them, or replace them by other actions that are more fun, and that get you the same result?

Would be a whole different world, right?

So, what if that world could start today?

Because the notion that XYZ is required no matter how much you loathe it – that’s just a story you tell yourself.

Because everyone else says you should be on Instagram, does that mean you should too even if you don’t like it there?

Nah. Instagram is just a method to get a result: views and website traffic. And you can get those results in many different ways.

Martin says daily emails are good for business, but you don’t like the idea… does that mean you should do it anyway? Of course not. There’s many different ways to create relationships with your potential buyers.

If you want eggs for breakfast, you get to choose how you want ‘em: poached, fried, scrambled, and so on.

When you want a result and the default method to get it makes you cringe, ask yourself:

How else can I get the same result? In a way that would be fun?

Start this type of inquiry today, take action on the answers that come up, and there you have it: instant reduction of struggle and frustration.

And if you need help figuring out what other methods would work better for you?

Then I’m here for you, as always.



Real Incremental Growth That Adds Up VS Unicorns

If your goal is to grow your business revenue by, say, 30%…

What would you do?

What would you tackle first?

Most people would pick one thing and then work hard to try and drive results up.

You could try to create more customers out of your email subscribers, or you could try to get more traffic to your website, or invest more time in social media…

But for any of those elements to cause 30% growth in your bottom line, that’s a tall order.

After all, any one element you pick to work on is only a smaller part of the total system that is your business.

So here’s another model to consider.

It’s based on the assets that your business has, and how you can improve the usefulness of those assets, in small increments that add up.

Any business will have these three elements:

1: Potential customers

If you manage to get seen and considered by more people, your sales and revenue will go up.

But instead of going for 30% increase of prospects, let’s try to raise the number by just 10%.

That doesn’t sound so crazy, right? 10% is doable.

2: Conversion ratio

This is the number of people who do business with you, divided by the number of people who find out about your product or service.

Example: if you have 200 website visitors a day and 10 people buy from you, that’s 10 divided by 200, which gives you a conversion ratio of 0.05, or 5%.

And getting your numbers up from 10 to 11… that shouldn’t be too hard to do. That’s only 10%.

3: Customer value

We all know that it’s cheaper to acquire a repeat sale from an existing customer, than it is to create a new one.

So, if your average customer currently spends $100, can you find a way to offer something else, and bring the total amount they spend with you up to $110?

Has to be a way to do that, don’t you think?

Maybe even as simple as – hey, novel thought! – raising your prices (I’m making assumptions here, but given the number of people I meet who charge too little, that might be you as well). And raising your rates by 10% shouldn’t be a problem, right?

The logic behind this thinking – that if you raise each of these three by just 10%, your total increase in turnover is 10% times 3, in other words: 30% – you can work on incremental growth across three primary areas, instead of trying to fix and improve one single element.

And further logic:

When we set out to create impressive changes and growth and we want it all to come from one area, we’re essentially hoping for a unicorn to show up.

You know, that magical, fix-it-all solution, the one thing that will make all the difference.

But there is no one thing that will fix everything. Growth comes from persistent improvement across a number of areas – not from some magical solution or miraculous turnaround.

Lust like unicorns don’t exist, neither do magical solutions. You’ll never have a breakthrough just because the universe thinks you’re such a nice guy or gal.

No, breakthroughs and increased results and growth come from strategic action, in the right areas, coupled with grit and the willingness to iterate and optimise until stuff works.

And I promise that will work much better than hoping for magic to fix your economy or business or sales.

Work the three areas mentioned, and try to get a 10% rise in each. There’s growth, guaranteed.



What’s Broken?

When your car won’t start, you know that changing the tires won’t help.

Cold soup doesn’t get hotter if you add more salt. (I’ve tried)

Speaking louder to someone who doesn’t understand your language doesn’t help them understand you (happens to me each time I go to this one particular shop in town. Which is ironic because I do actually speak the language. But I digress).

One more example: shutting down communications when there’s a problem won’t fix the issue.

The underlying theme?

Trying to improve the outcome by ‘fixing’ something that ain’t broken.

And don’t think you’re immune: we (myself included) do it, all the time.

We see a system that isn’t getting us the results we want, we make an incorrect assumption about what’s broken in the system, and then we modify what might well be working brilliantly, while ignoring the one thing that is in dire need of fixing.

For example: that daily emailing thing.

I know that if you do it, and stick with it, and get good at it, it’s going to get you inquiries and sales.

Has to.

But if your list is small and it’s not growing, you won’t get those results.

And if it is growing but you’re getting signups from people who aren’t your ideal buyer: same thing. Cash register says ‘no sale’.

For you to then decide that daily emails just don’t work means you’re making an incorrect assumption.

Back to basics: systems thinking.

Every system is 100% perfect, for the results that it produces.

If you want different or better results, you’ll need to modify the system.

But before you do, it’s REALLY important to analyse the different moving parts in the system, and figure out the bottleneck or weak link or stuck cog, before you make any changes.

Otherwise, you just might break the system even more.

This – looking at what works and what can be improved – is one of the most fun parts of coaching people.

In many cases we discover that there’s a practical, technical thing that needs changing, but very often we find that there’s a psychological reason.

Sometimes in terms of beliefs (i.e. “people just don’t spend money” or things like that) and sometimes in terms of self-image (i.e. “I’m just not good at doing XYZ”).

Whatever the cause or reason, working with a client on changing the status quo is a dream of a job.

Because when you gain insight into what exactly is the thing you need to change in order to get different results, and you decide to take action on making the change?


Let me know if you want some of that. We’ll set up a time for a 30-minute strategy session (no cost), and we’ll take a close look at what works in your systems, and what needs improvement.

Let’s see if we can’t create some magic.



How to Replace “Must” With “Fun”

All those things that you “must” do as a business owner…

Taxes, marketing, social media… shipping products, making sales… etc etc.

Wherever you look, you’ll see people tell you that as a business owner, there’s things you just have to do. Suck it up, it’s part of the game.

Well, I question that.

Because there’s a big difference between an outcome that you want or need, and the way to get that outcome.

For example: paying taxes belongs to being in business. It’s an outcome.

But who says you need to file your taxes yourself? (the way to get the outcome).

You can just as easily have an accountant do it for you, right?

Same thing with social media: the outcome you want is visibility and for new clients to find you and end up doing business with you.

But who says you need to run social media yourself? If you don’t enjoy it, why force yourself?

You could also outsource the job, or you could create a different way to connect with new clients, for example by using networking, or advertising, or participating in forums.

See, you can always pivot, change, create a different approach to get the same outcome, whether that means outsourcing or going in a lateral action.

But the one thing I don’t recommend anyone do, ever, is to force yourself to do things that you resent or.

When there’s a hundred different ways to choose from, each of which can get you the same outcome? Folly to do it in exactly the way you don’t like.

So here’s a simple tool to help you make life and business easier, and more fun.

Step 1: define a desired outcome. Make it specific, or even better: use the SMART goal model: A goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. So “Get more clients” isn’t a useable goal, but “Create 3 new clients this month” just might be.

Step 2: Consider the method you’re about to use for that outcome, and ask yourself:

a: is it fun?

b: can you make it fun? (for example, by turning it into a game, or a creative pursuit)

c: if you can’t make it fun, drop the method and ask yourself: what other method can I find or create that will get me the same outcome?

There’s many ways to fry an egg. Don’t let some guru or so-called expert sell you on the idea that this or that way (or worse: his way) is the only method you should use.

You should use the method that works for you, which automatically includes the notion that you enjoy it.

And boom: life suddenly becomes more fun, and business results become easier to attain.

Working with clients to find hacks or workarounds for the things they don’t enjoy is one of the most fun parts of my job, because it’s a process of you discovering how to use your creativity for reaching your goals.

Tell me that doesn’t sound good…

And yes, I’m here for you when you’re ready.



Me, Make, Meet

How much time do you tend to give to taking care of yourself – mentally, emotionally, physically…?

How much time and attention do you give to making things?

Whether art, or writing, or whatever your creative activity is?

And, how much time goes into connecting with people?

Emails, meetings, social media, phone calls…

For most of us, one or more of these things get underserved.

Especially in the artist world, there’s a lot of ‘mostly creating’ where the other two suffer.

But in order to have a healthy business, each of these three need to get the attention they deserve. Otherwise it’ll be hard for you to prosper.

One of the things I’m doing to improve my business and live and productivity, is – you guessed it – creating systems around how I spend my time.

Because while I can – and usually do – get a lot done, I often end my day wondering what exactly I’ve accomplished.

Horrible feeling: you can tell that you’ve been hard at work, you can feel it – but you kind of forget at what.

So here’s something that I’m going to be putting in my calendar every working day:

Three blocks of time: Times for Me, Make, and Meet.

I came across an article by a former manager at Google, called Graham Jenkins, where he explains – and it makes so much sense!

Sure, I already have my ‘me-time’.

That’s my morning ritual, which includes reading and meditating and going for a walk.

But very often, because I don’t have an actual plan, I jump from task to task without actually really being focused.

And inevitably, either the make time or the meet time suffers.

But that’s going to change.

I could try to explain how to make use of the me, make, meet principle, but Graham does a much better job at it.

So today, I’ll simply point you at the article:

Because hey, I’ve got things to make, you see?

Check out the article, see if this is something you should also implement.

Obviously, you might not have ‘meetings’ like a startup founder does – but you still need to connect and communicate with people, so when he says ‘meet’, just think of it as connect&communicate.

Have fun, people.



Better Than the ‘Law of Attraction’

There’s a lot of talk about the law of attraction.

And while there’s helpful ways of thinking, in some of the books and videos about it, it sure ain’t my thing.

I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but hey: thinking that you’ll be rich, or find a dream spouse, or become very successful, isn’t going to magically make it happen. No matter how much people tell you that it will.

You can’t dream, or wish, or think, things into existence. Believe me, I’ve tried.

(And yes, I know that the idea is about more than just thinking – but that doesn’t change the point I’m making today).

So allow me to propose something else, something FAR more powerful. A much better law.

And something indisputable too.

I call it the law of creation.

As in: what you create, will then exist.

Can’t argue with that, right?

You create a painting, a meal, a conversation… you name it.

That’s why I call a human being a natural born creator.

We’re always, constantly, creating things.

The nice thing about that is that it gives you full control.

There’s no universe or godhead that you need to rely on, because you’re the one in charge.

You create.

Maybe right now, you’re creating an opinion about Martin, because you disagree with me.

Maybe later, you’ll create a decision. Or a thought about something.

And that last thing – the thoughts you create – are important.

Because what you think directs your feelings and decisions and actions.

And actions are the tool you use to create things.

So if you want to create a certain end result, start by creating the right thoughts.

Because while it might seem that thoughts come at you, and are not of your making, they are.

Except we usually let the mind create thoughts on its own, instead of taking charge of mind.

Don’t let your mind be your dictator – that’s not what it’s for.

After all, you’re the boss in your mind, right? Or at least, you’re supposed to be, and you can’t be.

One of the things I enjoy most in coaching, is helping clients change their way of thinking, making them more likely to actually get to their goal.

So, let me know if you want some of that.



Loathe Being Sold To

If you look at the amount of money that gets made each year at times like Christmas, you might think it’s simply because of the aggressive, pervasive, inescapable advertising and marketing that gets thrown at us.

But that’s not really why.

The real reason so much stuff gets sold, is that people love to buy.

A book, shoes, a holiday, education and training: each time you decide to spend money on something, it’s because you want to.

You’re willing to part with money so as to have that thing that’s on offer.

But at the same time, we loathe being sold to, and we notice that especially at seasons like these, when we’re bombarded with ads and discounts and sales.

So people love to buy, but loathe being sold to – where does that leave us, the friendly, non-pushy business owner?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re nice and your product or service rocks, clients will find you and show up to give you money, all by themselves.

I used to think that, and it cost me a small fortune and a tailoring company. You do need to get out there and find the buyers.

But people don’t like being sold to, so what can you do?

It’s simple, really really simple.

If you want to sell your work and you don’t want to be pushy or manipulative – but you do believe in your work and you know that people would benefit from buying…

Then make it your job to facilitate the purchase.

Be the trusted advisor.

Position yourself as someone whose interest is in the world and benefit of the buyer, instead of making money in your pocket the primary interest.

Yes of course you want to get paid, but if someone wouldn’t be happy with their purchase… do you really want their money? (If the answer is yes, I’m afraid you and I don’t have a lot in common).

Everyone else here, who does really want the buyer to be happy, remember this:

The trick to ethical, non-pushy sales, is to facilitate the buying process.

Turn yourself into a helper, whose job is to assist the buyer in making the right decision.

Even if that decision is to not buy at this point.

When you’re willing to lose a sale if that’s the best choice for the potential buyer, you’ll have achieved something essential for a healthy business: the other person will know – feel – that you’re not just in it for the money.

Or to borrow a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And how does it feel when someone does not force a sale on you, but has the grandness and fortitude to let you walk away? It feels awesome! And you bet people will remember that.

And that means that even if you get a no, you’ll still have a healthy relationship with that person. Which makes it far more likely that they’ll come back at some point, compared to someone who walks away feeling like they made a narrow escape.

Never forget: if people love to buy, the best thing you could possibly do, is facilitate the buying decision.

Me, I never try to convince, coerce, or persuade a potential client.

I show what I do by giving people a coaching session, and if there’s chemistry we might talk about a coaching programme.

If that leads to someone becoming my client: splendid.

If not? No problem. You’ll have gained something, and I’ll have served someone – we both win.

In other words: if you’re on the fence about speaking with me, but you’re afraid you’ll be sold to, don’t worry. I’m only interested in you making the best decision for you and your life and your business.



Did You Buy the Story?

All of us, we tell ourselves stories. And, we buy into them. We believe the stories we tell ourselves.

And some of those are not at all helpful. Allow me to explain:

Right now, I’m preparing a series of talks that I’ll be giving in Malaga soon.

It’s part of a project I’m running with my friend and business partner Antonio, who runs a co-working office, which is the place where I go on Thursdays.

Anyway, the talks will be around the subject of sales – something we all need in business, but at the same time, there’s a bunch of misconceptions.

So let’s play dispel-the-myth for a moment, shall we?
Myth #1:

Selling isn’t ethical

Oh I don’t know. A hammer is as harmful as the person wielding it. Likewise, sales are exactly as ethical as the business person conducting a sales process. So long as your primary interest is the customer’s well-being, and your mission is to have them make the best possible decision (including if that means not buying, and you accept that gracefully) you’ll be fine and perfectly ethical.

Myth #2:

“Sales require being pushy”

Hey now… the fact that too many companies use aggressive sales techniques doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to go. And in fact, a non-pushy, conversation-based sales process is quite effective. Equally effective, maybe even more so, as the pushy kind. See Myth #1 and the bit about “it’s about them, not you”.

Myth #3:

“People these days are smart and informed. They make up their own minds to buy, I don’t need to sell.”

Let me know how that works out for you. Even though the first part – people are (generally) smart and informed – is true, that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t do them a favour by being active in the process.

It’s a fact that people take more action the more you prompt them, and if your product or service really delivers and improves things for the buyer, your being with them as a trusted advisor, and guiding them to the best decision is effectively an act of service.

But if you leave it up to the buyer to decide what to choose and when, they might get distracted by life etc, and never take action. Which means they wouldn’t benefit from what you sell.

And worse: they might end up buying from a competitor whose work isn’t as good as yours, but whose marketing is more effective. That would be a disservice to your prospect.

Myth #4:
“Selling isn’t required if the product is good”

Ha! Pardon me while I laugh my head off. I have a misspent $150K inheritance saying this isn’t just a myth, but a full-blown fallacy-cum-sophism, with a side of delusion, wrapped in speciousness. Add foolishness, makes its own sauce.

See, I used to make suits, by hand, that would fetch $3K, and people were more than happy to pay the price. They were that good. But I believed in the myth that quality sells itself and so I did almost no marketing.

Consequently, I went bankrupt and I had to close my tailoring company.

Quality may, in some cases, sell itself. But if you don’t get out there, show up, and invite people to buy, the odds are high that it won’t work. Very very very high. Don’t make the mistake I did, but learn (ethical and fun) marketing and selling before it’s too late.

Myth #5:
“I’m just no good at selling”

This might be true on the level of business agreements and actual sales (and you can learn to improve in those areas), but on the level of being human, it’s outright false.

You sell all the time, every day, we all do.

We sell our spouse on getting milk on the way home. Sell our kids on eating their greens. Sell our colleague on helping out with a project. We sell someone on an idea we’d like them to consider. We sell a friend on spending some time together instead of each lounging on the sofa watching Netflix at home.

But here is where it gets interesting: we also sell ourselves on the idea that we’re no good at selling – and we buy into that story! How’s that for disproving that you’re not good at selling!

Food for thought methinks.

So anyway. Any time you want to talk about growth, or sales, or relationships – if you want a no-cost strategy session, let me know.

I promise that IF we end up talking about working together, your best interest, not ‘the sale’ will be my primary concern.



Choices, Decisions, and All Those Good Things

The gent who used to be my abbot has a saying: “Life is made up out of choices”.

Which is so self-evident, it might as well go without saying.

Except that in many cases, we make decisions that don’t serve us (or others).

In which case it makes a lot of sense to stop and consider what the decisions we make actually are.

Learn more when sales are lacking? Might not be the best choice.

Unless you don’t know how to find prospects and create clients. In such a case, it makes more sense to learn more about psychology and communication (which is what sales are made of – pushiness not required or appreciated).

Other examples: Fritter away time on social media, thinking that we’re ‘networking’ when in reality we’re having random conversations that have nothing to do with the actual work we’d like people to buy. In such a case, it’s a useful decision to “only engage in conversations where I get to help people and demonstrate the value of my work”.

Or, here’s a decision that I tend to fall prey to: get involved with projects and people because I see a chance for future payoff… when in reality it means a long-term investment of time, without any guarantee whatsoever.

So, to cut through the clutter and make decision making easier, try this:

First, ask yourself what is your ultimate, most important goal.

Very likely, this will be big and seemingly impossible to achieve.

If so, break it down into milestones.

If your ultimate goal is, say, “Buy a villa and start an academy”, you can’t get there from here.

But if you break it down into steps, one of the milestones will be “create 1000 true fans”.

Far more attainable, right? But still big.

So, break it down further: “Create 100 clients”.

Easy? Maybe not. Doable? Of course.

Ok, so your first ‘most important’ goal is 100 clients. Check.

Next, the fun part: decision making.

Use the goal as a benchmark for your decision.

With every opportunity, activity, task, or project, ask yourself:

Does this directly contribute, in a measurable way, to reaching my 100-client goal?

If so, go for it, and go all in.

If it doesn’t?

Then I challenge you to boldly say no.

Because when you choose various things that are interesting but don’t directly contribute, you’ll disperse your energy, you’ll see little progress, and you’ll end up frustrated. Or worse: you might end up feeling you’ve failed.

And failing is not an option or a reality.

One person will close bankruptcy a failure… where another will call it a priceless learning experience.

And you get to – wait for it – choose how you perceive things.

Because yes: life is made up out of choices.

And I’d take it one step further: everything is a choice. Even not making one.

So… what can you eliminate, in order to have every task, conversation and project… be aligned 100% with your primary goal?

Let me know if you want to talk and create clarity on making the best choices.



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