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.



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.



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.



(Sometimes You Need to) Choose a Side

There’s an interesting phenomenon here in Spain – or at least, in the Andalusia area where I live.

And it’s a phenonemon that clearly spells the difference between who will go places, and those who will very likely stay stuck.

The difference is in accepting the status quo. Settling for. Resigning to what is.

When the economy started to fall a few years ago, I was amazed to see how flat so many people were.

Flat as in: resigned, overcome, powerless.

“Well of course business is bad. The economy is in the tank. We just have to wait for it to fix itself again. It always does”.

And yes, in the end there’s always ups and downs. A downturn never lasts.

But why on earth would you just resign to it and wait?

Don’t these people know that if a) you make smart decisions and b) you take massive action, you can actually solve problems?

In a sense, it’s one of the charms of the culture here: a non-stressed, accepting, why-bother-getting-mad attitude.

It’s one of the reasons I like this area so much. It’s free of pretence and there’s tons of genuinely wonderful people here.

But many of those people are still in trouble. Many companies are closing down. Houses and cars get repossessed.

And the only thing people in those situations need, is a simple shift in thinking.

A shift to “Yes, I can take action to fix this”, instead of “It’s an external problem, I need to wait”.

This difference, between those who resign and those who get busy, is important.

And you get to choose which side you’re on.

Me, I know where I stand. I’m the kind who takes action.

And this is why when selecting who I should or shouldn’t work with, I look for the markers.

Is this person switched on? Taking action? Looking for ways out, or forward? Willing to discard dysfunctional self-talk?

Because unless someone fits that kind of profile, I can’t coach them.

Coaching isn’t magic, and even the best coach in the world couldn’t help someone who isn’t coachable.

Maybe there’s no difference between Andalusia and other parts of the world, where it comes to the percentage of people who believe that patience is the only solution.

Even so, I’ve given up trying to tell others that yes, there is a way out.

Someone who is stuck in that kind of thinking isn’t going to listen to reason.

The only thing that can possibly help, is to lead by example.

Because when you try to explain and convince, you’re battling somebody else’s reason. And reason is smart, it will always find a way to argue its way to being right.

Much better to simply show what can be done – because you can’t argue with results.

But, maybe you don’t need no convincing. Maybe you already know that smart decisions and massive action will work.

If that’s the case for you and you want to be sure you make the right decisions and take the right actions, that’s when you talk to a coach. Hello.

Just reach out if ‘n when you’re ready.



How to Solve the Upper Limit Problem

A couple of weeks ago, the girls in the Cabal coaching group came up with an idea: what if we all read the same book at the same time?

I thought it was an excellent idea, so I suggested The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

A brilliant book, and highly recommended.

One of Hendricks’ core concepts is what he calls the Upper Limit Problem.

Which works like a thermostat of sorts: it’s a maximum level that we have set in our subconscious – for wealth, happiness, fullfilment… it can be anything.

And, if that thermostat is set too low, there’s a good chance that as we reach that (arbitrary and false) upper limit, we start sabotaging ourselves.

Just so that we don’t go above or beyond what we subconsciously believe is the maximum allotted to us.

And as is to be expected: within a few days, Upper Limit Problems started to show up.

And not just for the girls:

I too have my own upper limit problems.

So I asked my coach about it, and it quickly became clear where my own upper limit originated.

So many experiences in my childhood, where I’d be ‘put in my place’ by authority figures.

Teachers saying that I might as well drop out of school since I’d never graduate anyway.

Another teacher bullying me in front of the classroom, telling me and them that I’ll never amount to much.

My dad, even: “Hey do you see those chords Paul Simon is playing? I know I can play that song too!”

“Son, I wish you’d focus on getting better grades instead”.

Gee, thanks dad.

Now, I’m not saying this to elicit your sympathy. I’m no different from others, and we all have our upper limit problems.

The question is – to quote Paul Simon – what are you going to do about it, that’s what I’d like to know.

For me, the solution is simple:

To forget about me.

Because in the end, the upper limit problem I have is about me. The feelings I have, the subconscious convictions, the limiting experiences from the past… me me me.

And that just won’t do.

Because as anyone with some sense and some ethics will tell you, life gets better the more you make it about someone else.

And for me to navelgaze and be involved in my own problems and limitations… well, that just won’t help anyone.

Instead, I turn the Martin-now, with his insecurities and upper limit thermostat setting and everything, into a baseline state.

This, today, me, is the new normal.

And so from this new normal, what do I want to create?

What can I do or say that isn’t about me?


Each of us, we have some sort of upper limit. You too.

And the more you run into it, and get annoyed by it, the more energy and power you have at your disposal in order to run right past them.

Make your work and your life about the other, and you will benefit automatically, and so will the other person.

AND you’ll be running right past your upper limits.

Want me to run along with you?

Then all you need to do is get in touch…



Are You SURE You’re Wearing the Right Suit? (This One REALLY Matters…)

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, and the tools and attitudes you have at your disposal for dealing with life and work are ‘just not right’?

Well, then why not wear a different suit?

After all, we’re the ones who get to chose how we show up in the world. Today, this afternoon, tomorrow… at any moment, we get to decide how we will be.

Most of the time though, we simply default to what we’re used to.

But you get to choose, you know?

It’s like wearing a suit. You can wear the suit of the warrior, or the worrier, or the helper, or the victim, or the creator, or the spiritually minded, or the CEO…

All these are actual and chooseable attitudes, and each of these will bring its own unique consequence in your day.

And that way you can steer your life and day and business in a specific reaction.

But only if you’re deliberate about it. Only if you choose.

Which many people simply don’t.

We default to what we’re used to – be that the worrier or the chief or the confused puppy or whatever.

But for every not-positive attitude that you might ‘suffer from’, there’s another one that works around that. And all you need to do is choose.

If your default is to worry, then why not wear the suit of massive action? Good chance that being hard at work will reduce your worries. Or at least take your mind off them.

If your default is to be confused and indecisive, then maybe more learning will help.

If your default is to be indecisive despite having learned so much, then maybe the berserker suit will help you: make a choice however arbitrary, and then run with it.

If your default is to think top-level and not get into action, then maybe the worker’s cover-alls are what you need to wear.

If your default is to fret when money is low, then why not wear the suit of the salesperson (where I must note that ‘selling’ is not a matter of being pushy, but of connecting with people, and inviting the right people to buy. In case ‘selling’ would cause you to wrinkle your nose etc. We all like it when people buy our stuff, and when we’re not pushy, people tend to like buying from us).

If your default is to blame others, what would happen if you wear the suit of responsibility (i.e. “I’m the one to make change, I own the situation, I’m taking charge of what I can do and I’m going to bypass whatever someone else did or didn’t do”).

If your default is to observe others and feel like you got the short end of the stick, then maybe wear the suit that says “I’ll act as if, and do the work to get to the other person’s level”.

What matters is this: we’re all used to going with a default attitude.

So when you notice things ain’t working or running smoothly, ask yourself:

As who am I showing up? What suit am I wearing here?

Next, realise that you can wear any suit you want. Remember, we’re talking about attitude here. Attitude is something you can adopt, experiment with, and get better at.

Finally, pick a suit – an attitude – that will move you forward.

Don that sucker, and wear it with pride.

And watch how your state and day and results change, the more you practice this exercise.

Sounds like fun, right?

I tell you, it is.

Want this olde former-tailor help you create a suit that will make a true difference in your life?

Then all you need to do is reply, and I’ll give you a complementary discovery session.



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