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

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:

Artist

Ambitious

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

Action-biased

Persistent

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?

Cheers,

​Martin

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:

http://martinstellar.com/business-growth-coaching-when-putting-off-the-important-work-is-no-longer-acceptable/

Cheers,

​Martin

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?

Exactly.

Furthermore: before someone buys…

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

… FOR THEM.

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 – RobbieKaye.com”

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”

Cheers,

​Martin

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.

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

I’ve Been Underserving You. Sorry About That

Do what I say, not what I do… don’t you just love it?

Me, I don’t.

And yet, I’ve been giving you the wrong example.

Here’s the deal: these emails coaching emails I send each day, they serve a series of purposes.

* It’s a public service – a free virtual coaching experience for those who benefit from it

* It’s therapeutic for me: it forces me to stay on track with my business goals, and it’s a daily return to performing an act of service, which is ultimately what each business is about. To serve a customer (and please, don’t ever say that you ‘service’ your customers. They’re not a car, but I digress)

* It’s a way to show you how email marketing is done

* The list goes on, but I’ll end it today with: it’s a fantastically fun and effective way to create clients

But here’s the rub: The last half year or so, I’ve been doing it wrong.

Meaning, I’ve been showing you how not to do it.

Why? Because I’ve stopped including a daily call to action (CTA) which is ultimately what will get you the buyers.

Oh I use CTA’s frequently, for example when I ask you to reply, to read a certain book, to implement something in your life and so on.

But, that happens to benefit my business because of a certain set of circumstances, unique to me and my business and my audience.

And, it’s showing you a wrong example.

So yeah. Sorry.

This became clear to me yesterday, when I saw a client send one of her own daily emails, where her CTA was ‘Click the link to share this email’.

Which isn’t bad as a CTA, but clearly you are more likely to get a share than a buyer.

After all, when you ask someone to do thing A, they’re probably going to do that thing, and not thing B.

But when you want to sell something, shouldn’t you be asking for the sale? Shouldn’t you be inviting people to consider buying from you?

Would you like another rhetorical question?

So if I want you to grow your business and leading by example is the name of the game, it’s only normal to show you how it’s done.

Now that doesn’t mean that you need to turn every email into a hard sales pitch. In fact, don’t do that. It would decimate your list.

But there’s nothing wrong with being in business, and if you want to sell, there’s nothing wrong with *looking* open for business.

And no, talking about your art or your book or your massage therapy isn’t enough.

Showing it isn’t the thing.

I mean, are you a museum or a gallery? Are you a library or a book store?

If  you want to sell it, say so.

Not in a pushy or aggressive way, that’s not necessary. Don’t be a used car salesman or telemarketer, except in writing.

Be a trusted advisor, whose interest is for the buyer to make the right decision for themselves, even if that decision is to not buy (today).

How that’s done?

Like so, for example:

A coach is someone who makes it safe for you to look in the mirror.

Someone who guides you through a process where you do the things that need to be done, in order to get you the results you want.

It’s fun but it requires commitment.

It’s effective, but only if you’re willing to do the work, so it will only work for a specific type of individual.

Is that you?

Then hit reply, and let’s talk.

Now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

95% content – designed to serve, engage, inspire, educate or a mix of these – and 5% pitch.

You can do it too, and you’ll see sales go up if you do.

Cheers,

Martin

Being in Love… But With What?

I’ve spent a great deal of time contemplating love, recently.

Not the interpersonal human love, but Love as a deeper, higher, divine, or transcendent concept.

And I realised that I’m in love with the wrong thing. (Bear with me – this article will help you with your business).

See, I wonder why I have so little patience lately. It’s unlike me.

These drawings I do, it’s almost as if I can’t bear spending time on them.

(Aside from the drawings you see daily and which I make on my iPad, I also draw with ink on paper, and it’s especially clear there: no patience).

Part of the reason is that I really like Japanese art, where something like three strokes can depict an entire personality.

And yes, I know that the only way to get to that kind of skill is if you spend years (or rather: decades) practicing.

And the strange thing is that I respect that, and that I’m able to work like that.

For instance, back when I was a tailor. Never mind the many years of learning – even when that phase was done, I still had to apply ridiculous amounts of patience, every time I made a suit.

80 hours of work for a two-piece. At a minimum.

And 80% of that time, sewing by hand.

Some 400 tiny hand stitches, for each side of the chestpiece that lines and shapes the outer shell cloth – and that’s just on the inside. Another 500 or more for the outside and finishing. On each side, left and right.

A double-breasted suit can have up to 6 buttonholes in the front, plus 4 on each sleeve. Each one done by hand, placing stitches less than a millimeter apart. An hour for each one, more than an entire day of making buttonholes. That picture? Less than half of the inside of one lapel, all stitches done by hand.

In other words:

Patience? I’ve got it – in spades, buckets, and wheelbarrows.

But when it comes tot drawing? I want it done, done now, done fast.

And as I write this, something is becoming clear to me:

I’m in love with the result, but not with the process.

As a tailor, I loved – absolutely adored – the process. Seeing the progression of the stitches lining up, noticing the irregularity, seeing the exact moment where I got up to pour some coffee, because there’s this tiny skip in the line at that point.

I loved seeing all the hundreds of individual pieces come together, seeing the 2-dimensional pieces turn themselves into 3-D.

But with drawing? I’m not there. Not yet.

The lesson here?

The end result is nice. It’s good to love it. It’s the goal you’re trying to reach.

But if you don’t also love the process, you’re missing out. If you don’t love (which is not the same as enjoying – the one can exist without the other) the process, you’re frustrating, and maybe even sabotaging, yourself.

Because by only loving the end result, you’re robbing yourself of falling in love with the process.

Why this matters to you?

Because your business result (the recognition, the money in the bank, the thrilled clients who paid you a high fee and so on) are a beautiful goal and something to love.

But if you don’t also love the process of building up to that, you’re letting your impatience take the fun out of it.

And where’s the fun in that?

So I’m going back to the basics: I’m going to practice doing the work in drawing, for love of the process. Forgetting about the result while I’m at it.

What about you and your business… what about being in love with the process, regardless of the results?

Cheers,

​Martin

Turning Pro & Things That Ain’t Fun?

By now you’ll know that I’m big on fun.

Having fun, sharing fun, making things fun.

In business and in life in general.

But that doesn’t mean that life can be an ongoing hedonistic indulgence.

I mean, where’s the fun in getting your car serviced, or changing diapers, or filing taxes, or taking out the trash?

It would be highly puerile and immature to not do any of the things that just ain’t fun and can’t be made into fun. It would also mean problems: car won’t start, baby stinks to the highest heavens, IRS wipes you out, and the trash would pile up to epic heights, much like what happened to Sara Sylvia Cynthia Stout in the Dr. Hook song (brilliant lyrics, look it up if you’re in the mood for a chuckle).

In other words: there’s non-fun stuff that you just can’t get around. Has to happen, or else.

And this matters a lot in business.

Especially when it comes to acting like a professional whilst being a creative or an artist.

Because let’s face it: we’d rather be in the studio, right?

Except that’s the attitude of an amateur.

The pro is different. He or she acknowledges that there’s stuff that has to happen, or else.

And the pro then proceeds to make those things happen.

A true professional is someone who is able to suck it up, and get the not-fun things done ASAP, so as to get back to the studio ASAP.

And the one thing that’s the hardest, for most people?

Marketing. Showing up. Being – and looking – open for business.

Getting your name and your work out there.

Finding, and communicating with, your potential buyers.

Because even if you’re a full-time creative and manage to live off your work, you’re not an actual pro unless you also make showing up and all that goes with it, part of your work. (I know: harsh. But it’s important that you get the pro attitude&behaviour into your life. Also: I didn’t make this up, but got it from Steven Pressfield’s brilliant book War of Art which I HIGHLY recommend. And I’ve just bought the followup ‘Turning Pro’. He’s that good).

Anyway: as long as you’re still shirking the kind of work that literally every pro does, you’re operating on the level of an amateur.

The pro gets to build a thriving business, by virtue of acting like a pro, while the amateur will continue to struggle and fret and worry, until such time that they accept reality, and start acting like a pro.

So what side are you on? Pro or amateur?

If you’re the former, and you know you could do better but you’re not sure how to get better results, maybe we should talk.

I’ve built a career and a business out of helping people like you create your own pro business.

So let’s talk. It’ll be fun.

Cheers,

​Martin

And What If You’d Stop Squandering Your Resources?

And what if you’d stop squandering your resources?

Oh I know: you’re doing all you can. you’re leveraging all you’ve got: your cash, your network, your talents and skills and your audience.

But I put it to you that despite all that, you’re still squandering your resources.

When you’re stuck, you know that action – any action – will get you unstuck. Except, do you actually leap into action?

When you’re confused about what to do next, you know that talking to someone impartial and experienced will help you gain clarity. Except, did you pick up the phone?

When you feel unable to complete certain tasks or projects, obviously it will help you to learn some more skills. But I’ll venture that you have a pile of unread info-products in your download folder.

When you’re stressed, you know that meditating or going for a nice long walk will calm you right down. Unless you don’t meditate or walk.

When you don’t have a plan for making your big dream come to life, you know that writing things out, and planning them, will be the start of a plan that might actually work. Except there’s all those updates to scroll through on Facebook and Instagram first!

The common element in all this?

Your untapped potential. Resources such as the ability to learn, to take action, to plan and to create clarity: all those things are yours to use, and they work. IF you use them.

It’s so easy to feel as if there’s a shortage in this or that area of your life. But there’s probably not a single so-called shortage that can’t be fixed by using your own, innate resources.

Question is: do you actually use them? Do you put your many talents to use, or do you let them just sit there idly?

C’mon people. You were built to be a problem-solver and a maker of things. And you have all the tools you need to solve problems, and to make whatever you want to make.

Those resources in you, they work – but only if you use them.

Do you? All of them? All the time?

Cheers,

Martin

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