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

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

Let’s Play a Game: See If You Know the Correct Answer…

As some of you already know, when I invite people for a complementary coaching session, there’s a little questionnaire to fill out before we talk.

It gives me insight that helps me create a more powerful coaching session, and it’s beautiful to see the answers to the time-machine question.

(Step into my time machine, and tell me what your life is like in 5 years from now).

The answers to that one are an indication of how big and bold someone dares to dream, and wow, some of the answers are just so awe-inspiring.

But in that questionnaire, there’s also the question:

“What is the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of achieving that goal?”

And that’s a real tricky one.

In fact, it’s a trick question.

Because while there are no wrong answers for the other questions, this particular one has only one right answer.

So today’s game is this:

Can you tell me the only correct answer to the question:

What stands in your way, what prevents you from reaching your goal?

Hit reply, and let me know…

I’ll tell you the answer tomorrow.



Self-Esteem, Value & Pricing | My Biggest Insight Ever | I Know Kung Fu

I just had an epiphany.

Probably the biggest insight of my professional life, ever.

You know that scene in The Matrix, where they upload a martial arts program into Neo, and Keanu Reeves gives his trademark deadpan look, and says:

“I know Kung Fu”.

That’s how I feel right now.

Minus Keanu’s glassy eyes.

This insight explains why I’ve spent thousands and thousands of dollars on training and coaching and education.

(Which proves itself over and over as a pretty wise set of decisions).

It also explains why once, when I was still a bespoke tailor, I bought 7000 dollars worth of suit cloth.

Which proved to be totally dumb, because for me to turn all of that material into suits would have taken me decades.

So the savings I envisioned from that investment were an illusion, while the 7K sat mostly unused on a shelf, in the form of many bolts of luxurious worsteds, tweeds and silks.

But enough with the stories: what IS that big insight?

It’s to do with pricing.

When you put something out there, and people want it, and you run a business, it needs a price tag.

And it can be REALLY hard to find the right price.

Most of the time, people price things too low, whether from the point of view of your enterprise’s economic sustainability, or in terms of value delivered.

And that last bit, the value of a thing (be it art, or an app, or a course or training) is where it gets hairy.

Up until now, I used to think that setting the right price on a thing had to do mostly with the value you-the-maker assign to it.

Tie that to self-worth and how much value you assign to yourself and boom: let’s do some psychology, so that you get to set a better price.

As of today though, there’s an extra element in how I see things.

Because while out on my morning walk, listening to a podcast, I learned something fundamental.

Whatever value a thing has, and whatever price you put on it, and however little or much you value yourself and your work:

Throw it all out the window.

The lot, all of it.

When it comes to someone deciding to purchase from you, none of what you think has any importance.

It’s not about you.

Take yourself out of the equation, because – and here comes the insight:

It’s only ever about ‘what it’s worth TO THEM’.

Maybe you think this distinction is no big deal.

But I know Kung Fu. And I’m telling you: it’s a huge deal.

How much is a piece of art, or a book, or a car or a training worth…


There are many reasons why this matters, but the first and most useful is this:

Now that you understand that it’s about them, and what your work is work to them, you can start to identify, and look for, the kind of people to whom your work is worth what you charge.

And that will make your business and your marketing a lot easier, because you’ll be able to filter out the people who don’t value your work enough to buy it.

So you save lots of time and effort and money, by being more focused, on the ideal buyer for your work.

If you have any questions about this, or how to use it in a practical sense, hit reply and let me know.



All of Martin’s Women

I have no idea why so far, all Cabal members are female.

I mean, I’m totally outnumbered – but I guess it’s a good thing, given that these Wednesday Cabal meetings are becoming more productive and more fun with every week that goes by.

Especially yesterday, after someone commented on how amazing it is that such exceedingly different individuals forge such a strong group, and such strong bonds, almost instantly.

To me, it’s no surprise.

In fact, earlier that day I spoke with a new applicant, who had doubts:

“Will the other members be ‘my kind of people’?”

A fair question, of course.

So during the Cabal meeting, I took a moment to explain why these bonds develop so fast:

“There’s a reason membership is by invitation and interview only.

“For someone to join, I need to know that you are ‘MY kind of people’.

“That’s the one thing you all have in common, and it’s why you’re here.

“That right there is what creates a group that bonds so quickly, and why I deliberately select who would be a good fit.

“That’s why I created this space, for people exactly like you.

“Because you each have the qualities that are required to be part of a team like this”.

To which one of the members replied:

“You’re making me feel like we’re your brides!”

I hid my face in my hands, while everybody laughed out loud.

And then:

“All of Martin’s women…”

More laughter.

“I’m sure he’ll write an email about it!”

Yep, you betcha.

Good times, I tell you.

But let’s get serious.

The qualities, the aspects of character I look for in people, they matter a lot.

Not just for being part of this group, but also for being part of any group.

And, they matter for you, no matter who you are or what your work is or what your dreams are.

These qualities – which you can develop and adopt if you don’t have them all at the moment – are required for becoming successful.

And it doesn’t matter whether your male, female, or other.

But to succeed in life, you need to:

* Take responsability instead of blaming others

* Be willing to learn

* Be willing to receive (help, recognition, money – whatever life throws at you)

* Be helpful to others

* Be able to take yourself not so seriously

* Be willing to face your fears and demons

* Take action, relentlessly

* See failures as a way to grow, learn, and build resilience

* Have values and a purpose that contributes to others and society as a whole

* Be driven to overcome fears

* Be willing to be challenged

* Have a big ambition

Of course this list isn’t exhaustive.

The psychological make-up of successful people is far more complex than I can state here.

But if any of these elements is missing, you’d better develop it, because without all of these, success is hard to come by.

Which I know from experience:

For years, I didn’t take enough action, and I so often let fear stop me.

It wasn’t until that changed, that my life and business and happiness improved.


Do you identify with that description, and do you have those qualities (or are working diligently to develop the ones where you’re lacking?)

And you want to be part of this small, powerful, elite group of ambitious action-takers?

Then answer a few questions, and let’s talk.

Questions are here –>

If not, that’s fine – just do make sure you get your ducks in a row with the description above…



Where Are You At, and Where *Should* You Be At

Where are you at… and where *should* you be at?

Whatever your answer is, the question itself is the wrong one to ask.

In fact, there’s no possible way to give ‘the right’ answer, because it doesn’t exist.

The question itself is broken, because it’s a trick question.

Where you ‘should’ be at is right where you are, right now.

Which of course sucks if you’re not in a good place for whatever reason, but worry ye not, because there’s a solution.

Isn’t there always?

See, we all have stations of success and achievement we want to reach.

And not being at the level we want, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.


Because from where you are now, you get to choose what you will and won’t do, will and won’t allow into your life, in order to advance to that next level.

But you can’t get there if you’re struggling with frustration for not having reached that next level.

Spending energy (mentally and emotionally, but also when speaking with people) about where you should be, that energy goes to waste.

It’s much better to preserve it, to not mind that you are where you’re at, so that you can invest that energy in taking next steps.

You’ve only got so much energy to spend on any given day, so why would you waste it on frustration?

I know it might be hard to accept, but where you are is where you’re meant to be.

Because where you are now – bad or troublesome as it might be – is exactly, precisely, 100% the perfect starting point for moving forward.

A situation is only that, and we all know that situations change.

So take the current situation, decide on an action step, and launch into it with all your might.

And that’s how an ex-monk treats whatever situation that needs change – and you can do it too.

What you can also do is join The Cabal – that will definitely change your situation.

Apply for membership here:



They Say I Have Psychological Issues… But I Don’t Think So

After my email yesterday, a reader wrote in commenting that wanting to save the world is effectively ‘messiah syndrome’.

Now, I’ve been called all kinds of things in my life, but this was a first.

That said, I don’t have messiah syndrome.

When I wrote that I want my headstone to read ‘Without Martin, humanity might not have survived’, it doesn’t mean I see myself as a saviour.

Nor do I have delusions of grandeur.

Like I said, I’m just a guy.

So then why did I say that?

And, why am I talking about myself again?

Because, of course, there’s a lesson you can take from it.

See, that ‘ultimate ambition’ isn’t about what I want to achieve or accomplish, at some point in the future.

Instead, it’s about the kind of person I want to be, right now, today, and every day.

I want to be an individual who helps, who serves.

Right now.

And also now.

In other words: stating that ultimate ambition has to do with my self-image, my identity.

The reason this is relevant to you, is simple:

What kind of person do you want to be, right now and today?

Someone who has a ‘someday dream’ and isn’t taking action on it?

Or someone who has a dream and takes action each day to make it a reality?

It’s an important distinction, because if your identity is ‘someone who’ll get to it some day’, chances are you won’t.

Whereas if you identify as ‘a person who does what it takes, relentlessly’, your dream will get closer to becoming real with every action you take.

An example:

I love living in an organised, clean, empty house.

That’s my dream.

But unless I take action on it, I live in a messy place.

So, I forget about the dream of it, and identify as a person who does what it takes.

And that starts over again every day, at the start of the day.

I get up, I make the bed.

Every day, instantly, and usually in that order.

Because I want to be the kind of person who does that kind of thing.

This distinction – the difference between being ‘a person with a dream’ and ‘a person who works on it’ – is huge.

It’s literally the make-or-break difference for you getting and building what you want.


How do you identify?

When looking at your big hairy audacious goal…

Are you the kind of person who works on it, relentlessly?



Am I Being Vulnerable Enough?

“Your problem, Martin, is that you’re afraid to be vulnerable”.

I reflected for a moment.

And I realised:

It’s not that I don’t want to show my vulnerable side – the problem was that I didn’t trust her enough to be vulnerable around her.

And at that moment, I also realised the relationship was coming to an end.

Now let’s change tack, and translate vulnerability to business.

They say that being vulnerable is a key strength, and I agree.

And over the last few weeks, I’ve been wondering:

Am I being vulnerable enough – with you, my readers and clients?

It’s not that I’m prone to holding back, but am I showing you the real me, including those aspects I’d rather keep to myself?

The author and speaker Brené Brown says that ‘what makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful’.

Which I find a lovely way of looking at things.

She also talks about a ‘vulnerability hangover’ – when you’ve opened up about something, and the next day you heart jumps: “Oh my god, did I really share that?”

And the truth is, I rarely feel that way.

There’s been a few moments – like when I wrote an article entitled ‘Make it hard, she said – and then we ended up having tea’.

That gave me a vulnerability hangover, to be sure.

And last Friday, when I sent an email to a friend.

In it, I told her my answer to the question posed the night before:

“Martin, what’s your ultimate ambition?”

The answer I gave, and which I told her in the email, still confuses and scares me.

Even now, writing this, I feel nervous and jittery.

My friend didn’t reply instantly, like she normally does.

And so I had a massive vulnerability hangover for a few days: Had I shown too much of myself?

And here I am, wondering if I should tell you what my ‘ultimate ambition’.

I don’t want to, it scares me, and I’m worried about all kinds of opinions you might have of me.

But since I preach that it’s healthy to move towards fear, I’ve no choice to eat my own dogfood, and share with you.

My ultimate ambition?

That my headstone will read: “Without Martin, humanity might not have survived”.

So there, I said it.

And I’m SO aware of the conceit present in that statement.

Who, ME? Having such an impact on the world?

C’mon Martin, you’re just a guy.

Who are you kidding?

The world needs you that bad?

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

All I know is that I want to have the biggest impact on the world I possibly can.

And my every day is dedicated to working on that.

Meanwhile, I sure hope the world will never depend on me for its survival, because I don’t know if I have it in me.

But still. My mission is there.

So there you have it, my ultimate ambition.

I hope it’s vulnerable enough for you.

Hey, so but: what about you?

What’s the vulnerable side of you, that you’d want to show but are afraid to?

And: what would your life be like, if you’d show it?



“Oh Hello Inner Critic. Let’s Be Friends. In Fact, I Want You On My Team” (Learn How)

Yowser, if the response to yesterday’s email is anything to go by, negative self-talk is a severe problem for a whole bunch of people.

So let me try and help you even more:

Let’s look at the inner critic.

That pesky little voice inside your head that keeps telling you that you’re not good enough, made a dumb mistake, or, in the words of a reader yesterday:

“The challenging part is that if you have told yourself for 20 years that you suck, it will probably take another 20 years to de-program yourself.”

Actually, that’s not true.

In fact, once you know how, it can be a matter of months, or even just weeks, to get rid of negative self-talk.

What’s more, you can turn that inner critic into an ally.

Hat tip to Cherry Jeffs, who left the below comment on where my dailies get published, after I told you yesterday to say ‘thanks for the information’ to the inner critic:

“I agree that when we acknowledge that voice, it not only feels recognised starts to come over to our side. The inner critic metamorphosises gradually into his alter ego – our critical faculty. Our critical faculty is essential for making rational judgements about the progress of our work :)”

Yes indeed.

And that notion, that you can transform into a helper, a friend and an ally, can transform your life.

Fast, too.

Asks another reader:

“What do you think the purpose is of the negative voices? The only thing I can think of is that maybe it’s in our programming, to keep us in the safety of our comfort zone?”

More or less, but not quite.

The inner critic is there to protect you.

The inner critic is part of your subconscious, and it wants to move you towards pleasure and away from pain.

It wants to shield you from disappointment and humiliation and shame.

But, as long as you don’t make friends with it, the only way to do it is to prevent you from taking action that could put you at risk.

Keep you in a ‘safe place’, where nothing changes and no risk is taken.

And the best way to do that?

Judging you, discouraging you, and criticising you.

So that you start to believe the negativity, and stay put, right where you are.

That’s why it’s so important to acknowledge the inner voice, say ‘thanks for sharing’, instead of fighting against it.

The effect of giving it recognition is that it starts to feel validated for trying to do its job.

Sure, it does the job in a bad way, but that’s something you can change over time.

It’s like that old Zen parable, where a student is trying all he can think of to coerce the bull to walk to the market.

But it’s not until he makes friends with the bull that the animal will follow him.

And it’s the same with your inner critic.

Befriend it, give it space, and ask it to help you.

I mean that literally:

When you hear negative self talk and respond with ‘thanks for sharing’, proceed right away into a question to self:

“So how do I change that/stop doing that/create a different reality to live in / [ fill in the blank ]

You’ll find that if you practice this, your inner critic turns into a true helper, an advisor, a supporter.

You get to turn your inner critic into your inner champion.

But only if you want to, and only if you work at it.

Because if you don’t take action and face the demons, not even 20 years will help you overturn old programming.

For me, it’s beautiful to work on these things – on my own, but also with clients.

Sometimes it can be so easy to break through old patterns, so quick to create change – if you really WANT change.

What’s that you say?

You do?


Let’s see if I can help.

Answer a few questions, and get a no-cost ‘inner-critic to inner-champion call with me.

Questions here –>



Pricing, Money, and Is There Ever Enough? (The Stifling Consequence of Modesty)

A very lively, and highly productive Cabal session yesterday.

I coached one of the members on pricing her artwork, which went rather well.

Within minutes, she went from ‘I’ll raise my prices next year’ to ‘I want to be selling my works at $25K before 6 months are up’.

Obviously there’s no guarantee things will go that fast, but by changing her goals and timeframe, things are bound to speed up.

But that’s when things got really interesting:

Another member spoke up, and asked some tough questions about the value and meaning of money.

Partially summarised in: “When is enough, enough?”

A very fair question, to be sure.

Because if you’re reading me, I’m pretty sure you’re like me:

Definitely not in it for the money.

But where it comes to that ‘what’s enough’ question, my answer is: there will never be enough.

Because I’m greedy?

Because I love money?

No x2.

I like money as much as the next person who wants to buy bread and go on a holiday now and again, but I’m not attached to it, and I’m not greedy.

So then, why is there no ‘enough’ number for me?

Several reasons.

For one thing, I have big, big, HUGELY ambitious plans, and they are going to require investments.

Building ecological villages is only the first step, if you were to ask me about my Big Hairy Audacious Goals.

And I’ve not done any numbers, but I expect the cost of building eco villages to be rather high.

And after that, I want to make an even bigger difference to the world.

So that’s one reason I don’t have an ‘enough-number’.

Another one is of a more transcendental nature:

I don’t see any difference between money, and something like a compliment, or someone saying ‘thanks for the work you do’.

To me, it’s just another form, another expression, of the same thing.

That ‘thing’ being: the impact I wish to have on the world and the people in it.

The more I put myself out there, try to serve, try to cause positive change, the more I see people acknowledging that.

Sometimes verbally, sometimes by giving me a hug, and sometimes by giving me money.

It’s all the same to me.

(Except for the fact that my baker won’t give me bread no matter how many hugs I want to pay him with).

So here’s the takeaway:

Would you ever – EVER – tell the world: “That’s enough thank yous, stop it now”?

You wouldn’t, would you?

As long as people happy with your work, let the compliments and gratitudes flow in, right?

Of course.

So then why would you put a cap on how much money you earn?

Why would you have an ‘enough-number’?

Sure, there’s one for ‘how much you need in life’.

But beyond that, where it comes to the value you provide and create… and the returns people give you for it… why would there be a limit?

That money, the ‘more than enough’ amount, that’s just another scorecard number of how much you affect the world.

More money?

Then apparently you’re creating more value for people. Yay you!

And what you do with that money?

Well, if you’re like me, you’ll probably put it to use so that you can amplify the positive effect you’re having.

And there’s never enough of positive effect that you could have.

So don’t put a cap on what you could earn.

Instead, know how much you need – modestly or not – and decide what you’ll create with whatever amount is above that.


On another note:

The Cabal has become a totally awesome place.

Or, in the words of Paula Mould:

“I F*ing love this group!”

There are currently only 4 seats left, so if you want to join in the fun and be part of this team, go here to apply:



More Tips for Healthy Self-Talk! (Don’t miss this one…)

Last week’s missive about ‘I have to’ vs ‘I get to’ seemed to strike a chord with my readers, so I figured I’ll share another tip about self talk.

It’s something I learned in the monastery – and I’m still learning it, everyday.

It’s called ‘Don’t feed the demons’.

See, I’ve been battling demons all my life.

Just like all of us, I tell myself all kinds of things that aren’t true, or aren’t helpful, or are outright self-sabotage.

Things like: ‘I don’t know how’, and ‘But I can’t’ or ‘I need to xyz first’.

‘You’re stupid for doing that, Martin’, or ‘You idiot, why didn’t you see that coming!’.

I imagine that everybody will have some form of negative self-talk, and you might too.

It’s just part of the human condition.

But what you do with it, that’s going to make or break your success, and your fulfillment, and your happiness.

See, most people will fight against the negativity:

You know it’s better not to talk to yourself that way, but you just did, so you feel anger or guilt or resentment about it, and then you feel worse because you feel bad about it, and next you beat yourself up for feeling guilty for beating yourself up…

And so on, in a descending spiral.

And that’s why you shouldn’t feed the demon.

As in: don’t fight the negativity.

Any energy you spend trying to work against it, is food that makes it stronger.

But, it’s there. You can’t ignore it either.

If you do, you open up a whole new can of problems.

Negating or ignoring parts of your psychology simply isn’t healthy.

So what then?

What do you do when that little devil sits on your shoulder and whispers negativity in your ear?

You acknowledge that it’s there, and you move on.

You tell it:

“Thanks for sharing” and you move on.

This might seems pointless, but it’s not.

It’s a very powerful psychological hack.

When you say “thanks for sharing”, what happens is that the part of your subconscious saying it, gets acknowledged instead of pushed away.

And that means you take away its power.

When that part of your doesn’t experience pushback, it’s not triggered to become stronger.

Whereas if you fight it, it just becomes stronger and your day becomes that much darker.

But if you tell it ‘thanks for sharing’, it suddenly loses its strength, and you get to move on with your day.

Try it.

Any time negative self-talk comes up:

“Thanks for sharing”, and move on, focus your attention elsewhere.

There you go, another lesson from the monastery, courtesy of the monk for entrepreneurs.

If you want lessons like these, and tips and tricks, and personal guidance, maybe coaching is what you need.

Here’s where you find more information and a link where you can apply:



What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Question for you:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with where you’re at with your life?

Could be around a variety of things, depending on your values and/or what most needs improvement:

– Career

– Personal relationships

– Fulfillment

– Recognition

– Income

– Progressing towards your goals…

Whatever is most relevant right now, what’s your satisfaction number at the moment?

The reason I’m asking, is that whether you rate your satisfaction high or low, there’s one universal notion:

What got you here will keep you here.

I’d almost go as far as calling it a truth, but I don’t want to pontificate (not today, at least ;)

What got you here won’t get you there.

Whatever stage you’re at right now, you got there because of your particular mix of skills, talents and abilities.

Combined with your networks, your efforts and your behavioural patterns:

That’s you, that’s what you built and that’s what you have achieved.

So: well done.

You’re still around, and still growing towards your dreams.

Or, maybe you’re quite successful, in which case: nicely played.

But whether you’re on the make or enjoying success, you might feel that there’s a limit you’ve reached, a glass ceiling.

And no matter what you do, you keep banging your head against it.

How does that work, why can’t you reach higher levels?

Others do it, and you sure aren’t lacking in drive or intelligence or skills…

So what gives?

This: you’ve reached the limits of what can be accomplished with your particular set of skills, mindset, effort, and behavioural patterns.

You got to where you are by virtue of you, but now ‘you’ needs to change in order to move forward.

So when you feel stuck and you do want to grow, something’s got to change.

And that change has to happen on the inside, it’s the only thing that works.

You work on yourself, so that you get to see different results on the outside.

That satisfaction number, it will never rise unless you work on yourself.

This is precisely why people work with coaches, and why I hired one for myself.

And yes, it changed me.

In various ways, some quite unexpected.

For example, my posture has improved considerably – which you might think doesn’t matter much in business, but now I get to feel more confident and show up more confidently when meeting people.

Which helps a lot, I can tell you.

Curiously, the subject of posture was never even touched when talking to my coach.

Yet a 40-year old habit of stooping got changed, and I didn’t even see it happen.

And, it’s a perfect example of how coaching changes you on subtle, yet fundamental levels.

Working with a coach will cause you to think differently, see things (and your world and yourself) differently, and as a consequence you will see subtle changes in your behaviour and your decisions.

And when that happens, you’ll have changed the ‘what got you here’ into a ‘what can get you there’.

So, want to raise that satisfaction number for yourself?

If so, let me know. I’d love to help you.



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