Copying the Tactics vs Modelling the Thinking

You see someone online doing awesome with their business, using really interesting and effective tactics.

Maybe they’re rocking Twitter, or Instagram, or webinars or a podcast…

And logically, you think that if you use the same tactics, you can get yourself the same kinds of results. Seems to make sense, right?

Except, a tactic is pointless if there’s no strategy behind it. You can throw spaghetti at the wall as much as you want, but all you’ll create is a very dirty wall. (pro tip: try throwing without the sauce).

Anyway, the real problem is bigger: even if you closely observe the way the other’s tactics combine into a strategy, you’re still missing the most important point:

The thinking behind the strategy.

And even if you really get the thinking, you still won’t get far if you just copy it.

Because that thinking, and the way it works in their business, is inherently that of the other person. And you’re not the other person.

You don’t know the connections they have, the books they’ve read, the trainings they’ve followed… the way childhood and previous careers and untold failures have shaped them.

In short, you can maybe see what the thinking is, but you’ll have to create your own thinking, from which to build a strategy, which you can then break down into tactics.

Obviously it’s extremely useful to look at others and learn from them, and implement elements from their business operations.

Just make sure you never copy what you *think* is their thinking, because it’s impossibly to have the full picture, and you’ll end up building a Frankenstrategy.

If you want a business and marketing strategy that works, start with your own thinking (inspired by others as it might be), and then roll your own.

Which I can help with, because coaching is all about shining a spotlight on your thinking, and helping you change your thinking and decision making for maximum results.

Holler when you’re ready, alright?



Of Mice, Cheese, and Whiskers

A mouse runs for the hills when you show it a cat’s whiskers.

Whiskers = danger, and you’ll never catch a mouse if thinks it perceives something threatening, no matter how docile Mr Socks might be.

Which explains perfectly why that guy who tried to pitch his programme at me got nowhere: he went straight for the jugular – not that he literally threatened me, but in terms of sales conversations, it was a threat and not an enticement.

(Kudos to Dean Jackson for the cheese/whiskers analogy btw).

No, when you want to catch a mouse (i.e. have someone buy something, or buy into an idea, or pick up a suggestion you make etc etc) you’ll get far more results if you show something that the other wants, as opposed to what the other might perceive as a threat.

In other words: show them cheese, instead of whiskers.

I’m reminded of this by an email I just received, where a reader said they’ve tried to get someone to contact me, but that other person hasn’t done so yet. Doesn’t feel they need it, isn’t ready – who knows what’s going on in the other’s head.

But trying to get someone to do something can very easily be perceived as a threat on some subconscious level. Can be something as subtle as a (perceived) threat to autonomy.

And you’d be amazed how easy it is to “threaten” someone, on subtle subconscious levels.

Like last spring, when I was at an art walk, entered one of the houses, said ‘nice work’ and was greeted with the reply: “Thanks. It’s all for sale”.

Whiskers. Run!

No, if you want someone to take a certain action (be that buying your work, putting the cap on the toothpaste, or adopting a different view on something), you’ll do a lot better if you present cheese, and let them get closer in their own time.

Point is, we’re built with a highly sensitive, always-on radar for anything that’s even remotely threatening.

And it’s extremely easy to trigger the defense-mechanism – and off goes your mouse.

Want someone to take an action that you know for a fact will be good for them?

Paint the ‘after’ picture, IF they take action XYZ.

And then let them get ready in their own sweet time.

That way, there’s not a whisker in sight, and the memory of the cheese will stay with them until they’re ready.

Another benefit: when you let someone make the choice themselves instead of being pushed into something, it means they own the decision. They’ll ‘become a customer of change’, as it’s called in therapeutic circles.

Which makes it far more likely that they’ll actually benefit from the decision.

Because an imposed ‘purchase’ very easily leads to buyer’s remorse, which won’t help that person, or the relationship you have with them.

So think: in what way do you show whiskers, when actually showing cheese would work better?



Who to Be… Suits to Wear… Let’s get SERIOUS! :)

It’s very nice to hear an idea like ‘the suits you wear’, ‘how you show up’, or ‘who you need to be in order to achieve xyz’.

But does it help, in a concrete, practical sense?

Because if you don’t actually ‘wear the suit’, if you don’t show up to lean into the archetype of those who have created what you want to create, then how much does it help?

Right, so let’s make it tangible, and practical.

In psychology, there is what’s known as the big 5.

These are personality traits we all have, and there’s something interesting about them:

Your score on these five traits, predicts with scary accuracy how well you’ll do, and how easily (or not) success will come to you.

The big five are known as OCEAN:

Openness (to experiences, learning, meeting people – we’re talking curiosity here)

Conscientiousness (Comes in two parts: industriousness, and orderliness (mental as well as in your surroundings)

Extraversion (in a different sense than the extrovert/introvert spectrums)

Agreeableness (easy-going, cooperative, friendly etc)

Neuroticism (or rather: emotional stability and fortitude)

Researchers came up with these big 5 decades ago, and there’s been a ton of study into how people’s score on these five relate to their levels of success, income, and overall well-being.

Turns out, the majority of super-successful people (whatever definition of success you might have) score really high on the first four, and super low on the neuroticism scale. (exceptions do of course exist).

So today I’m suggesting you assess how you yourself score on these 5.

Because the cool thing is that each of the 5 psychological personality traits can be trained, developed, and evolved.

So if you find that you’re low in one particular area, it might be very useful to find a way to quickly improve your score on it.

Here’s a quick test, will only take you a few minutes:

Once you have your score, let’s play a game: send me an email with the area where you score lowest and where you see that show up in your life…

And I’ll reply with my best suggestion on how to stop it being a problem for you. Let me know…



Are You Selling Them a Problem?

Did a coaching session the other day, which gave me a stupid-useful insight you might find handy.

I was asked: “Martin, I have the hardest time recruiting people for these franchise opportunities. What do you suggest?”

I had him explain his process to me, and when he was done, I told him:

“Stop trying to sell people a problem”.

Obviously he was confused, because what he’s selling is actually a great opportunity.

But for whom?

Because to start a franchise, even if the cost to entry is $0, means that you’re taking on a huge, enormous, all-consuming ‘problem’.

You know this, since you’re an entrepreneur. Building and growing and running a venture is HARD work and will be so for many years.

To 99.99% of the population, that’s a ‘hell no!’ kind of problem.

It’s only for the daring, the crazy, the true, heart&soul entrepreneurs.

Starting a business, of any kind, takes a very special kind of person.

The kind of person who LOVES big hairy complex enduring problems.

An entrepreneur is someone who doesn’t just accept the ‘problem’ of being in business – people like us, whether consciously or not, we love problems. Getting our hands dirty, extracting every ounce of creative problem-solving we have in us.

So this franchiser, his solution is simple: go present the option to just that kind of person. Skip talking to anyone who is the employee-type, and not the entrepreneur type.

But what about you?

I’ll assume your work is excellent, worth the money, and yet… why are not more people buying your thing?

Could it be that, in the buyer’s perception, buying your stuff somehow represents or causes a problem?

Think about it: what, in your offer and your marketing, could be problematic for the buyer, in some way?

Sure, ‘finding the money’ or ‘am I willing to part with that cash’ is a possible problem, but beyond that:

In what other ways might you, unwittingly, be selling a problem?

If you’ve felt stuck in your business, and if you just can’t figure out how to increase sales, a conversation about that might lead to a breakthrough.

Want to find out?

Let me know.

(And the only ‘problem’ I’m ‘selling’ you here, is for you to show up and spend one or two hours in conversation. Not that big a problem, right?

K, talk soon.



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?



Multiply Revenue by Ten in One Year? Can be Done, but…

Multiply revenue ten times, in one year? Yes, it can be done. But…

…But it takes a very special kind of person to pull it off.

And that doesn’t mean in terms of skill or abilities or talent, or anything innate or genetic.

The ‘special’ you need to in order to create 10X results have mostly, almost exclusively, to do with how you show up.

As in: who do you need to be, in order to get such results? How do you need to show up, to make it happen?

I’ll show you exactly that, by using Katrina Gorman’s testimonial as a sort of mini case-study.

I’ll piece it apart first and comment, and I’ll put the full testimonial at the end.

Says Katrina:

“Since having coaching sessions with Martin and being in the Cabal, I’ve seen an increase in my art sales x10 in my first year”.

Yes, ten times. In one year. (I previously mentioned her and said 4 times, but I had incorrect information. She actually multiplied by ten. Amazing).

Now before we go on: I had my part in it, but just my coaching by itself would never have been enough. If Katrina hadn’t brought her grit, persistence, eagerness to learn and her attitude to taking massive action, nobody could have made it happen. She’s a real tough cookie.

“Great things are working by doing the work of taking on better business habits and suggestions that are given. That’s the biggest thing I’ve found with being coached. Staying open to different perspectives, then taking action. ”

Note: habits (yes!) and taking on suggestions. (Which is not the same as ‘following advice’. It’s ‘choosing the advice that works for you’, but it also means not bypassing the advice that doesn’t).

Sometimes, an idea or suggestion might show up for the right reasons, but in a format that just doesn’t do it for you. Then we simply create a different format, to get the same result. And then you’ll want to take it on. Right?

“Learning how important your mindset really is in your art business”.

Oh and she got that part right, dear ole’ Kat. Like everyone, she came in with mindset-elements that weren’t serving her, and by and by she replaced those with new ones that got her that 10X result.

Mindset and self-awareness are really where it all starts.

“The other part is by continuing to do what’s working with support of encouraging people.”

Here, she’s talking about me but also the coaching group I run and that she’s part of, called The Cabal. Info here.

“Martin will ask questions for you to find ways to help you get out of your own way.”

Yep. That’s in essence my job description. I’m like an icebreaker for your mind. Asking you those questions that will free up the way for you.

“So if your ready for it, and thinking about it, it’s a great move”.

As in: ready to join us as a new Cabal member. Because at the moment we’re 3 artists strong, plus one artist-coach, and we’ve decided we would like to invite someone new into our midst. Would that be you…?

“To keep moving forward. Best thing I can say is give it your all and see what happens for you.

Being in the Cabal has been invaluable for my personal and business growth. And thankful that I found them when I did.”

We’re just as grateful as she is, because she’s in invaluable part of the team.

Right, now who is The Cabal for?

If you read her testimonial, you’ll see the kind of person we’re looking for:



Open-minded, yet feet-on-the-ground



Able to muster up patience

Helpful and willing to accept help.

And, able to keep watering the crop until it yields, like a good little farmer (instead of expecting miracles. 10x can happen, but it’s never guaranteed and as all results: it takes time).

And above all: willing to be coached. Because that can be the hardest part – to allow the guidance and direction you get in a group like this, to have its bearing on your mind, your habits, and your results.

Like I said: it takes a special kind of person.

Are you?



P.s. Here’s her whole testimonial in one go:
“Since having coaching sessions with Martin and being in the Cabal, I’ve seen an increase in my art sales x10 in my first year. Great things are working by doing the work of taking on better business habits and suggestions that are given. That’s the biggest thing I’ve found with being coached. Staying open to different perspectives, then taking action. Learning how important your mindset really is in your art business.

The other part is by continuing to do what’s working with support of encouraging people. Martin will ask questions for you to find ways to help you get out of your own way.

So if your ready for it, and thinking about it, it’s a great move. To keep moving forward. Best thing I can say is give it your all and see what happens for you. Being in the Cabal has been invaluable for my personal and business growth. And thankful that I found them when I did.”

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

I’m reading 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. One I have zero problems with, fortunately – but not everyone is that lucky.
So allow me to offer a view that might help.

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. Usually in the range of weeks to years, depending on what you’re building.

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.

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 there’s more info here:



Blatant Self-promotion

Two things for you to consider today: The first is something that we all need to do to some degree, at certain stages, and most of us don’t do enough of it.

Which is: self-promotion.

Not in a boastful “Just LOOK at how frigging AWESOME I am!” kind of way though.

No. Not nice.

More in a sense of “Got something here. It’s REALLY meaningful to someone I know, who might be just like you. You might like it. Look”.

And that bit ‘someone like you’, that’s crucial – in all your marketing and communication, really.

Think about it: if someone you LOVE working with is happy with what you do, don’t you want more people, just like that?


Furthermore: before someone buys…

They want to have the trust and confidence that it’s the right purchase…


And what’s a better way to have the buyer judge that, than to have them consider another happy buyer, and wonder if they’re sufficiently similar?

Right, so with that out of the way: Thing #2:

Consider if you will, taking a small step towards massive change.

Consider what your life could be like, and imagine yourself taking the first step towards making it so.

What step?

Hold on, first we need to see if, perhaps, you’re like Robbie:

“Martin Stellar’s coaching was the compass I needed to guide me in my career and life.

I showed up as an eager yet somewhat jaded artist/entrepreneur and not only did he help revive my career, he realigned me, on so many levels, with my purpose.

His no-nonsense way of coaching inspired me to be the best version of me, which affects everything I do.

I am eternally grateful to be a student of Martins’, to receive the gifts from his expertise, coaching and wisdom.

He is a great facilitator of creating change within and throughout.

~ Robbie Kaye –”

So the question is: Can you identify with Robbie, and her story and her goals and her findings?

Does it *feel* ‘like you’?

And, do you want to get the guidance and alignment purpose and best version of yourself that she found?

Then the first step to making it so, is clicking reply, and writing:

Martin, let’s talk.

Next, I will send you a short questionnaire, and a link to schedule a call.

That call will not be a sales talk, but a coaching conversation, where I coach you on whatever’s most important to you. I’ll support you in any way I can.

At the end, if we both find that there’s a ‘click’, you will be able to choose an ongoing coaching relationship, but this is not an expectation. Up to you.

And, you don’t need to be an artist – I help all kinds of people: From CEOs to architects and from designers to therapists. And artists, obviously.

So, consider:

1: More self-promotion in your work, for instance in a way similar to how I just did it – but always by answering the question ‘for who is this perfect?’ so that people can identify, and:

2: Your first step towards creating lasting change in your life and/or your business…

It’s simple.

Just tell me “Martin, let’s talk”



Your Definition of Success… Are You Doing it Wrong?

When you look at your life, and the results you’ve built for yourself…

Do you consider yourself a success?

Regardless of whether you’re an artist or author or you bake cakes for a living…

Are you… successful?

For most people, the answer will be ‘not yet’.

Not fully, not the way I want.

But are you the one who should cast the verdict?

Think about it:

As long as you still have higher goals to reach for, you might never feel that you’ve made it, that you’re successful.

And while that’s useful for keeping you going, there’s also another side to consider:

How people view you.

You might not think you’re there yet, but to others, you’ve achieved things that are still in their future.

Others look at you and see a success story.

They probably don’t even know that you still feel like it’s not complete yet.

And that matters.

Because in becoming more successful, you need others.

To help you, buy from you, share their platform or audience with you…

And as long as you ignore the fact that others do see you as a success, you’re robbing yourself of the power you need to connect with those people.

If the only criterium for success is your own opinion and the opinion of others isn’t included, you’re effectively preventing yourself from reaching out and connecting with the kind of people who will get you to your next level.

So, own it.

Whatever more there is for you to achieve, accept that to others, you’re admirable and remarkable.

Next step?

Build your network, connect with people.

You’ll find that people will be delighted to meet and get to know you.

Yes, even the ‘big names’ that you’d love to connect with, but the thought of it scares you.

In Australia, there’s this thing they call the ‘tall poppy syndrome’.

You know, the tallest one, that gets cut off.

It’s that little voice that says ‘But who am I to xyz?’

I’ll tell you who you are:

You’re a beautiful, accomplished, ambitious and driven individual.

And if your mission is to make a contribution, then the world is waiting for you.

You’ll see.

With that said: action stations, action stations.

Get out there and connect.

With me if you feel like it, or with the people whose level you wish to reach. Which could also be me.

Either way: You’re worthy.

So, go connect with folk.



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.



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