Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Martin Stellar - Coach & Consultant for ethical sales and business growth

Monkeys, Habits, and Shattering Your Glass Ceiling

Amazing how the past year has flown by.

Only 12 months ago I started the LEAP Newsletter, and to tell you the truth, the experience has been massively rewarding.

The sheer dedication required to study, and learn, and to write 16 brand new pages each month have completely transformed my life.

And that ties back directly to the email I sent you the other day, the one about how the limitations I imposed on myself by taking monastic vows gave me enormous freedom.

And so, I’m bridging that same notion over into the next issue of the newsletter.

In other words: we’ll talk about habits, and how to create and develop habits in such a way that you get to be more creative, more focused, and more open for business.

All with the purpose of selling more of your art. Here’s a preview of what’s in it:

* Why we get told lies, and how to un-believe the lies we’ve been told since childhood

* How to build a new internal dialogue, one that fosters instead of prohibits success

* How to use suspended judgement and non-attachment to quickly get rid of limiting beliefs

* How the Buddhist principle of ahimsa (non-violence) has a very simple yet powerful application. Practicing non-violence can by itself fix decades of destructive psychological self-abuse

* What a certain scientist can tell you about monkeys and how that enables your success and profit

* Why doomsday thinking can help you increase your sales, and how to perform a pre-mortem

* Why you want to cultivate a warrior mindset and learn to love iterative improvement

And a whole lot more…

In a way, this issue is like a follow-up to the November LEAP, the one about Bushido (which is available on back order for subscribers)

Except, this month I’m going to delve even deeper into mindset and the psychology of success.

Signup for the June issue ends today – so if you want to shatter your glass ceiling, if you know you should sell and earn more, and if you’re not afraid to take massive action and build new habits…

Then this is the link you click to get your good self on board –>

See you on the inside…


Why You Don't Deserve to Earn Good Money for Your Art (Not What You'd Expect)

The answer is no – but not for the reason you might think.

Let me ‘splain.

On a superficial level the answer is yes.

Yes of course you deserve good pay.

Why the hell not?

Do you not put your heart and soul into creation?

Do you not need to eat, pay bills, buy paint, save up money?

Why would you not deserve the bounty and riches that life is more than willing to bestow unto you?

Of course you do.

But like I said, that’s just the surface: the level where we’re talking about value, worthiness and running a healthy business.

If you go deeper, something else appears.

As an artist, you serve a higher purpose.

Ooh, Martin’s sure getting lofty this morning, isn’t he?

Yes. Suck it up, Pablo.

“The purpose of art is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls”.

To me that means it’s not a matter of deserving good money.

It’s a matter of being aware that it’s your duty to earn good money, your obligation.

Yes I know that nearly all of us doubt ourselves, and compare ourselves and our work.

That we feel it’s more noble to be poor than wealthy.

Which is complete bunk: the nobility is in not being attached to wealth, and to not be greedy or selfish about it.

So why is it your duty to charge high prices?

Many different reasons:

When people pay more, they appreciate things more. Tested and proven fact.

If you charge more, people who buy your work don’t just buy art, they also invest in your future success and in the value your art may one day have.

It enables you to be more at peace and therefore create better work.

It allows you to invest in learning new techniques and experimenting with new media, and become a better artist.

It shows the world, and other artists, that there’s an economy in art, which foments the art industry as a whole – thereby motivating more budding artists to get serious and create more art.

Which in turn makes the world a better and more beautiful place, because I don’t think there can ever be too much art.

So yeah, that higher purpose?

It gets served better if you earn more.

That’s why I call it a matter of duty and not one of deserving.

See what I mean?


So then, what if you go to your website and raise your rates, right now?

You’d do everyone a favour, and I mean that literally.

Interesting new perspective, isn’t it?

Just goes to show what can happen when you put your art-head on straight.

It’s all about your mindset.

Which I’ll happily improve for you in the next LEAP newsletter.

Deadline for registration is tomorrow, so go here to get in on time –>



"I Know I Should Meditate More. It Would Do Me So Much Good, But…"

“I know I should meditate more, it would do me good, but…”

“Stop”, she said.

A coaching call I received, last year.

“Why is that something you ‘should’ do?”

I frowned and started listing benefits: tranquility, better sleep, better focus, more peace of mind…

She cut me short: “You know full well, Martin, that if you ‘must’ do it because of any reason, you’ll get none of these benefits”.

I sighed, and agreed. She was right.

“What if, instead, you find why you want it?

“What would be the reason for you to WANT to meditate every day?”

Instantly, a picture started to form in my mind.

Myself, in the dark, deeply peaceful, in the dead silence of pre-dawn.

I fell in love with that image, and said: “You’re absolutely right.

“So ok. We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning. Maybe I’ll meditate, maybe not”.

In the monastery, I had meditated 7 times a day, for years.

But after leaving there, the habit completely disappeared and I hadn’t sat for years.

Understandably, I had issues with that.

The next morning, I got out of bed and the first thing I did was sit down and close my eyes.

No pressure, no must, no fuss – the natural thing to do.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

That was more than 18 months ago, and I think that since then, I’ve missed only one morning.

Amazing, isn’t it? The difference between a self-imposed obligation, and complying with a desire.

One simple shift in thinking, and an issue over 8 years old was resolved in a flash.

It’s all in your mind, people.

It’s about mindset.

It’s about thinking about how you think.

Observe your internal dialogue, and you’ll find that there’s all kinds of ways frustration and failure are built into your thought-processes.

Change the way you think, and your world changes accordingly.

I’m going to go real deep into these matters in the next LEAP.

If you’re someone who’s made to achieve more, but for some reason you’re driving with the brakes on, the June issue will take your foot of the brakes and put it gas-pedal to the metal.

With turbo.

I’ll show you how to look at yourself and your inner world, how to identify the ways you hold yourself back, and I’ll share psychological tricks to help you transform your thinking, your actions, and your life.

Sign up here before the Sunday deadline –>
Get set… GO


Eyes Wide Shutter

I’ve never noticed exactly how much vegetation actually bursts out in blossoms here on the coast, in May.

It’s amazing: the colours, the shapes, the sheer tenacity of things clinging to the side of a rock, broiling in blistering heat – yet flowering.

One reason I started to notice could be that it was only last year that I developed a habit of going for walks.

But that wouldn’t really make sense – I did go out often enough, just never noticed.

Maybe this year I noticed because I walk different routes, instead of to the supermarket and back.

Or, it could be because I started experimenting, taking photos.

It’s really odd though:

It’s not just the flowers.

It’s the very way I look at the world – it’s changing.

The more I look for views and details that inspire me to whip out my phone and snap a shot, the more I see things.

Shapes. Colours. Lines. Spaces. Harmony.

It’s very different these days, to walk along the beach or through the narrow streets.

Quite a beautiful experience.

So yeah, I um, I’ve decided I want to be an artist.

And no: while there’s no sane person in the world who would say Martin is devoid of arrogance, I’m not about to call myself a photographer. I know my place.

Nor do I have the inclination to become one, or learn what it takes.

All I want to do is develop a habit of looking, of seeing in a different way, and to record things that inspire me.

In other words, I’m giving myself permission to not be a pro, and to not sell.

I’m doing this for its own sake, for my own enjoyment, and for the one or two people who might come across a pic on Twitter and say ‘Hey, nice one’.

Maybe one day I’ll give myself permission to become Really Very Good.

Permission to sell.

But not today.

Today I just want to enjoy the process, notice the scenery.

Smell the flowers.

I have permission for just that without anything more.

Just like you have permission to not sell, and to simply enjoy making art.

You don’t HAVE to sell.

But if you want to, and if you want to be successful, you have permission for that too.

Question is, are you willing to learn to love selling and marketing and being in business as an artist?

What’s that?

You are?

Hey now, then why not LEAP? –>



Happiness and the Freedom Paradox

“Martin, you’re throwing away the best years of your life.”

I smiled.

“You’re in your 20’s, you should be out seeing the world, chasing girls, experiencing life.

“It is such a waste, such a shame, that a man like you is locked away in a monastery.”

I liked him. His name was Jos, and he was the neighbour of our monastery.

I’d visit him and his wife a few times a week, and they’d feed me Belgian beer and teach me French.

It’s not that I disagreed with his opinion – I just knew, somehow, that living in a monastery was what I needed.

And yes, I had given up everything.

Life was extremely restricted, what with all the vows I had taken.

Poverty, 7 rituals a day, obedience, and yes: celibacy.

Which, if you do it right, goes beyond simply ‘no sex’.

Meaning, a complete sacrifice of personal relationships of any kind.

I had no friends – only brothers.

So yeah, I threw away a lot.

Life was very, very limited.

And yet, in that extreme limitation, I found enormous freedom.

A freedom that people in general don’t know about.

See, there’s a problem with the way we’re being sold ‘individual freedom’.

‘The freedom to live the life you want, the business you choose!’

‘The freedom to do whatever you damn well please!’


Doing whatever you want isn’t freedom: that is the prison of self-interest.

Bear with me here, because I’m not going to get spiritual on you.

I’m talking about psychology, and learning the difference between true freedom and fake freedom can help you a LOT.

It can help you be happier, more at peace, and that can help you to be more efficient, effective, successful, and prosperous.

The reason a monastic regime brings so much freedom is that every possible decision about your life and you day-to-day has been made.

You know what clothes you wear: the same you wore yesterday.

You know what you’ll eat: what the cook puts on the table.

You know what you’ll be doing every hour of the day: work, or meditate.

And in that complete absence of choice, suddenly the mind is utterly free to focus on what matters.

In our case, that was introspection.

In your case, that will probably mean creativity and creation.

So that’s why I’m telling you this:

If you can find systems, and build habits, and automate everything that isn’t necessary to think about, you suddenly find an enormous inner freedom.

For example, our abbot: he was a master at automating things.

He had a suitcase full of little bags and pouches. Each one made specifically for an item: socks, underwear, toothbrush, comb, keys – literally everything he needed to travel had its own container.

Which meant that whenever he had to travel, he could pack his bag in no time at all, and he’d never forget anything.

If there was an empty bag or pouch left, he knew he was about to forget something.

Packing for him was totally automatic, required no thought whatsoever.

Myself, I have a system that automates my ideas: my wallet is a leather pouch that holds credit cards, money, index cards and a fountain pen.

I’m never ever without a writing utensil, and therefore any time I have an idea or need to remember something, I can record it.

That simple trick has done wonders for my creativity and my writing.

Writing in my journal: I used to keep putting it off, but these days I bring it with me on my morning walk, and sit on the beach at dawn to write. Fixed.

Or doing laundry: it’s easy for me to forget that there’s a load in the machine, which means that after a few hours in this climate the laundry smells stale.

My system, to not forget? I leave the door to the laundry room ajar instead of shut.

If you think about it, there are tons of things that you can automate.

Things that you can create failsafe systems for.

Last year, the mailman had a package for me.

I stepped into the hall to sign for it, and then the wind blew the door shut.

Which was a real bother, because I’d just showered and was wearing nothing but a towel.

The mailman thought it was hilarious and said “No te preocupes! There’s a locksmith downtown!”

Yeah right, as if I’m going to go through town in a towel.

I’m not, like, Arthur Dent, you know?

He was nice, he found me a stiff piece of plastic I used to jimmy open the lock.

But these days, I never forget my keys, under any sort of circumstance: The moment I get home, I stick them in the lock, so each time I leave, taking them is the most logical thing to do.

The paradox: clever self-imposed limitations increase freedom.

Automate things, systematise, take a load off your mind.

Be free, more creative, and happier.

There’s actually a whole bunch of psychological research behind the reason habits and limitations are so effective for well-being and success.

You can get my 16-page report on why, and how to use the power of habits and systems for your own benefit, in the next LEAP newsletter –>



I Have An Etsy Shop, Now What?

A local friend created an Etsy shop last weekend.

Facebook page to go along with it, a whole bunch of crisp new photos of her paintings.

Love the camels she does.

The sweltering dry heat coming off those frames makes your throat dry.

So I scraped said throat, and said: “So *cough* how are you going to get people to see your work?”

Yep, you can always count on me for asking the questions you don’t want to hear.

But hey, I wouldn’t do her any favour if I’d just laud her for taking action.

Because there’s also a ‘next’, a ‘what now’.

No surprise, she had no answer.

So I told her this:

Start with lists, of everyone you know who might be interested.

First one, all the people who have ever bought from you.

Next, all the places where you’ve had exhibitions.

Then, all the friends and family you have who support you in your art sales endeavour.

Don’t think about it too much, don’t ask yourself if they would want to hear from you or buy from you – just fill the page, and then take another page and fill that.

You want names, as many as possible.

If you don’t have their contact details, don’t worry.

You’ll be able to figure out most of them by Googling, or by asking mutual contacts.

Then, you create a short, happy and excited email for each of those lists, to rekindle the connection and chirp that you’ve started posting your work online.

Include links and share buttons, and do make sure you end with a call to action.

Not to buy your art, but to ask them the favour of sharing your page on social media.

That simple.

Of course this by itself won’t get you all the sales you want, but it will get your name out there, and your art in front of people.

And that’s where it all starts.

A shop – online or sticks&bricks is no good unless people see it.

Even more so if it’s Etsy, where you’re right in the middle of countless other artists.

And if you want to build in a turbo, connect a contest to it:

Tell them that the person who share most often will receive a free framed print of a painting of their choosing.

Use a service like Rafflecopter or similar to track the numbers, and you’re off to the races.

Next, build your email list with the people who shared.

Either add them directly, or send an email to ask if they want to sign up.

In the first case you get a higher number, in the second case it’ll be fewer people, but with more explicit permission – a strategic choice.



Also simple: clicking this link, and signing up for LEAP –>



You'll Never Think Yourself Into Different Behaviour

Curious how things tend to come full circle.

All my years in the monastery, I was taught that it doesn’t matter how much I want to change.

That I’ll never reach non-attachment by thinking about it.

That the mind isn’t where change begins.

That loving-kindness doesn’t spring forth from a decision to not be more patient.

Frustrating, let me tell you that.

This morning out on my morning walk, listening to a podcast, I heard a marketer say:

“You can’t think your way into different actions. You can only act your way into different thoughts”.

Which I wholeheartedly confirm.

For example: the fact that I decided to own the first hours of my day, to first read, then go for a walk with a podcast, and only then start working:

That’s made a massive difference in my thinking.

Practising that habit every single day is what gradually shaped my thoughts, my attitude and my focus – and as a consequence of that, my life has turned around.

No more stress, more productivity, higher resilience, and a more profound level of service to my customers.

While before, I was always chasing deadlines, always late, always running around like a headless chicken (another one of the curious quotes I inherited from the monastery).

Once I developed simple, smart habits, my inner state changed and so did my outer circumstances.

Anyway: if you’re not happy with where you’re at, stop trying to change things.

When your emotions aren’t positive, and tell your mind that your mind and your body should behave differently, you get one guaranteed outcome:


Sounds familiar, maybe?

Instead, start by taking care of yourself, every day.

Take care of Self in a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual way.

From that everything else follows.

You’ll read a lot more about how to do this in next month’s LEAP.

Get it here –>



Take the Test: Are You a True Artist?

Did an interview yesterday with Anook, the artist I mentioned the other day.

Is she kicking ass… unbelievable.

But, she did tell me that to get where she is, she had to overcome a massive obstacle.

Said she: “I’m very stubborn.

“I think all artists are stubborn”.

To which of course I replied: “No, really??? I never even noticed”.

Much laughter ensued, because yes, artists are a stubborn bunch.

Myself included, even if I’m not a painter.

But she also said that time and time again, when she followed something I suggested, she had no choice but to admit, that dammit, that Martin IS right. Again.

Like daily emails – oooh she really didn’t want to do that.

No, because what would people think.

It would decimate her list.

Until she finally did it, and guess what:

Only one person unsubscribed, and it was a guy she didn’t actually like much anyway.

One who would never become her buyer anyway.

So, let me ask you: Are you stubborn?

Then you just might be an artist.

In fact, being stubborn is very likely part of what enables an artist to create.

Just please – don’t be too stubborn for your own good.

You never know what will happen if you carefully consider, and decide to follow good advice.

The best advice I have for you today?

Sign up for LEAP –>



Behold: The Vegetarian Meat Sandwich

Had a fun interaction with a reader yesterday.

Himself an artist, he was witness to something interesting.

At a show where he displayed his project, there was another artist as well, with a conceptual art thingamabob.

Quipped my reader: “…it was conceptual stuff but without much original concept. Which I didn’t mind as it made mine stand out. ;)”

Ah yes, a meat sandwich without the meat.

Reason I’m telling you this, is that while you might feel overwhelmed by all the artists out there, tweetin’ and-a facebookin’, marketing and selling, there’s one thing you should be aware of:

It’s not quality that sells, not by itself.

Which you probably have noticed.

It’s marketing that does the trick.

Which means that a lot of the art that people pay for isn’t all that good.

I’m sure you can relate: there’s a lot that isn’t necessarily art, but vacuous, run-of-the-mill and uninspired… stuff.

And yes, that sells. Because it gets brought to market.

For you as an artist who actually creates beauty and can turn people on to the experience of beauty, that’s great news: it makes you stand out.

But, only if you actually go and stand somewhere.

On a streetcorner, at a festival, in a gallery or on your website, that’s just a matter of strategy, feasibility and preference.

But getting out there is your duty.

Because if you don’t, someone else will, and a buyer might end up parting with cash for something that a few months later gets sold for a few dollars at a rummage sale.

When actually, that cash should be in your pocket, because you make actual, real art.

So once again: a compelling and persuasive reason to fall madly and passionately in love with marketing and sales.


So let me take you on a honeymoon –>



How About You Stop Lying to Yourself?

The other day I spoke to a Dutch architect.

His field is in durable construction.

Which, given the current economic state and the fact that the Dutch construction industry is basically halted, means that he no longer gets much call for his projects.

Instead, he now needs to go out and hunt for projects.

In his words: “The architect needs to become an entrepreneur”.

These days, you can no longer rely on the economy to keep you alive.

You need to rely on yourself: you’re captain of the ship called MS Your Life and you’re the one who needs to steer that puppy towards bountiful coasts.

Of course you might want the help of a navigator, in which case you can hire me for consulting – but it’s not a requirement.

Plenty of captains – and artists – get by quite well with their sextant and a few maps.

But, map out a course you must, or else you might flounder, like so many artists do.

Which is a pity, because if you put some effort into it, building a sustainable art business doesn’t have to be all that hard.

Provided you’re willing to fail, and have the grit to get back on your feet and push on through.

Like so many other artists do.

Same for me: I’ve seen my own share of trouble, and I’ve failed majestically, to the tune of $150K wasted.

But does that stop me?

Ha. As if.

But here’s the thing that makes that possible for me:

I am very aware of the BS I tell myself, and over the years I’ve become able to ignore my own lies and keep moving.

Because don’t think for a minute that I’m perfect or have it all figured out.

I’m not, and I haven’t.

I just know a lie when I see one, and then I laugh in its face.

But I’ll admit that this can be difficult.

We all so much want to believe.

We believe in art, in love, in science or God or capitalism or Buddhism – and in that mix of whatever you believe in, there are also falsehoods.

Especially when it comes to the things you believe about yourself.

Here’s a false belief lots of people deal with (or rather: don’t deal with):

Thinking that we’re not capable of more.

That our current level of success, performance, income or happiness is basically what we’re made for.

Well, no.

No matter where you are at right now, I guarantee that there’s more in you. 100% fact.

Maybe you’ve just run a marathon and you’re conked out, your muscles full of acid.

And you feel justly proud for the achievement, but the fact that your energy is spent doesn’t mean you’re done.

If at that moment you see your child on the train tracks and there’s a train coming, can you run some more?

You bet.

Today, a guy runs a marathon. Next year, he does an Iron Man.

There’s more in you than you think.

Question is: how badly do you want it?

Badly enough to take a close hard look at yourself, and do away with the lies you tell yourself, the limiting beliefs that hold you back?

What you believe will either stop you in your tracks, or it will motivate you and drive you on to more than you thought possible.


Or, choose this –>



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