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

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

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.



Dealing With the Dictator

The problem with mind is that most of us don’t know how to use it.

And even if we do know, we often let it use us, instead of us using it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with mind itself – it’s a magnificent tool and we can do many great and wonderful things with it.

But only if we’re in control. Only if we’re master over our mind.

Because if we aren’t, then mind is master over us and it’ll control and dominate.

Which does us little good. A dominating mind burns energy, runs round in circles of thought over and over, doubts itself, second-guesses everything you decide or consider…

In short, being ruled by mind is a messy and unpleasant way to live.

Compare that by having your mind at your disposal, as the powerful tool it is… while listening to your intuition as your guiding source.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s so worth it.

When your instinct and intuition inform your choices, everything changes.

Suddenly (well, gradually instead of suddenly, to be precise) you start to listen to what comes from a deeper level of your being.

It’s hard to explain but believe me when I say that living from the heart, listening to what your heart tells you, makes for a very different experience of life.

Note that here I’m using instinct, heart, intuition, and gut feeling as various descriptors of one single thing: to not be stuck in the head.

The focus you take is fairly arbitrary – whether you call it a higher power or intuition really isn’t relevant to anyone but you – so long as you strive to gain control over your mind.

Because mind is a dictator: the moment something happens that mind doesn’t agree with, it stages a coup, takes control of your emotions and your thoughts, and off you go into things like anger, despair, doubt, self-recrimination, self-sabotage, destructive behaviour… you name it.

So how does one learn to control the mind?

I can’t speak for you, but for me the trick has been meditation. Not as a religious practice, but as a psychological tool for taming the beast.

Now many people will say they can’t meditate because their mind is in the way. They think it’s not for them because they don’t reach those beautiful peaceful states that others talk about.

If that’s you, consider this: those peaceful states might be nice, but in nearly all cases it’s mind thinking of peace. It’s not the real thing.

And more importantly: meditation isn’t about emptying your mind. That’s not the point of it.

The point of meditation is to train yourself to bring your mind back to one particular focal point, over and over and over again.

Each time you try to focus, your mind will wander, and each time that happens, you bring your attention back. That’s what meditation is about, and if you do that daily for a few months, you’ll start to see a very interesting change in how you and your mind relate to each other.

And yes, that takes work.

But consider the flipside: if you don’t learn to control your mind, it’ll control you.

And I bet you’ve experienced how little fun that is.

So… time to regain the control that’s yours to have?



Better Than Learning?

I often hear entrepreneurs complain about how hard it is to keep up with all the information.

The courses, trainings, webinars and blog posts… just so much to take in!

Whenever I hear something like that, my first thought is always: do you actually NEED all that information?

Because don’t forget: 99% of the people in the information business leverage the basic human fear of missing out, in order to persuade you that you really need this or that bit of information.

When in reality, you probably don’t. In reality, it’s very likely that if you put yourself on an information diet, and go all-out into creating and taking action, you’ll feel more relaxed and produce much better results.

So if you are struggling to keep up, consider this:

There’s two kinds of learning: “mile wide, inch deep” and “inch wide, mile deep”.

The first gives you a broad, intellectual understanding of things and the laterally connected topics. Useful when, for example, you want to go from running a bricks&mortar store to opening an online retail channel.

In a case like that, a broad general understanding is required. You need to wrap your head around all that goes into it.

The second kind of learning, that’s what they call ‘just in time learning’.

That’s when you take one particular topic, and you dive deep into it. It’s when you set out to become masterful, or expert, and one particular thing.

For me, broad learning happens every day: 30 minutes of reading in the morning, on whatever happens to interest me.

The ‘just in time learning’, I do that only when necessary. Usually a few hours of reading articles and PDF’s is enough to get me ready for… wait for it:


Because while I’m a lifelong student and a proponent of learning, there’s nothing as effective and important as taking action.

And that’s where the risk of learning shows up: it’s very easy to stay stuck in learning mode, always wanting to discover the missing link, the piece of info that will make all the difference, and not take the action that will produce results.

The biggest problem? Learning from books or trainings will only get you so far.

No matter how much information you cram into your head, it will never be complete learning until you put things into practice, and discover how you, and your business, and your market, actually work.

So if you feel overwhelmed with all the info, maybe your best move is to close the books. Unsubscribe from all the email newsletters, and start taking action.

Because each minute you spend on learning something that you don’t need now, is a minute you’re not putting towards building your assets and your business.

A minute spent learning what you don’t need right now, this very minute, versus a minute spent building something…

I know what I’ll choose, any day of the week.




Better Than Trying to Flog Yourself Into Productivity…

…is a little trick that I implemented recently, and it might help you too, get more done in less time, while having more fun while doing it.

Because while I can focus well and enjoy putting in hard work, it’s very easy for me to fall into phases where I jump from one activity to the next, from calls to emails to writing and drawing… without getting as much done on them as I’d like – without focus or hard work (you might be able to relate).

The trick (actually, it is nothing more than a decision) is simple: set an ‘hour of power’ in your calendar, every day. Can also be a block of two hours or three, so long as you take mini-breaks inbetween.

However much time you want to block out for work that’s not necessarily creative, but fruitful and productive.

The point is to have a pre-scheduled slot of minutes, reserved for doing the work. Getting the tasks done, the papers filed, the product shipped or the article written.

What you decide to do in that hour is up to you, but make sure it’s the things that you normally procrastinate on, and the things that you know will make a difference in your business.

(There are also things that you procrastinate on that are of the housekeeping nature and don’t cause a significant growth in your revenue or output. I’m not talking about putting those in your Hour of Power).

Right, so now you have a whole hour, every day, to move the needle on your business.

Make sure you set it up so that you don’t get distracted: disable email, Messenger and other notifications. Switch off the doorbell.

Next, prepare a list of what you want to do – in half the time you have.

Planning to fill half the hour instead of the whole bock helps you keep your goals attainable.

S.M.A.R.T. goals, remember? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound.

Point is that we tend to underestimate what we can do in a year, while we over-estimate what we can do in an hour.

So to keep it attainable, don’t set the bar too high, and give yourself time to dive deeper into a task if it’s called for.

Hunker down, get to work.

To make it more fun, you can create a checklist where you tick off items, or use a spreadsheet like I do. Instead process feedback rocks.

The result of setting this hour? I get more done, in less time, I enjoy it more, and I have more time to spend writing, drawing or creating ideas.

So if you feel your days are messy, or you’re aware that you never get around to doing the real important (and not urgent) work, create space for it.

Simple trick, with a massive impact.



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.



Is Failure Real?

There is no failure. Not in my world.

Oh I do things wrong, and I make mistakes, and I break things and what have you – but however badly something turns out, I never consider it a failure.

Because there IS no failure.

There’s only feedback.

And yes, I know that sounds like yet another wonderful motivational quote. Go ahead, I’ll wait while you post it to Facebook.

But it’s true. When you consider something or yourself a failure, that’s just a story you tell yourself.

And I sure prefer telling myself another story: that when it didn’t work, I learned something – that I now have data to base my new decisions on.

Which is why I’m not afraid to “fail”, in fact I’ll often do exactly those things that have a chance of not working out.

Because this way, I can’t lose. Either it works, or I learned something useful – about myself, or the world.

It’s an attitude that makes life a lot more fun, and it sure brings levity to your days.

Because after all, isn’t life one great laboratory experiment, where you constantly try things, and get better and smarter at living life as you go along?

You, the researcher… how cool is that!

Helping clients figure out which things to try that may or may not fail – and then helping them integrate the feedback (be it positive or negative) is one of the fun parts of the coaching process.

Try it sometime. Can’t fail.



The Case for Hedonism

Oh I get it: you don’t want to be selfish, and you care about other people and looking out for their wellbeing is part of your values.

There’s a deeply held belief you have that other people matter.

So far, so good. We’re alike, you and I.

But how can you give in to  pleasures, relax, take time off, play… when there are so many other people who are struggling?

How can you justify a bit of hedonism here and there, if you live in such an imperfect world, and if the good that you want to do with your work, has not fixed the world’s problems yet?

Please not that when I say hedonism, don’t think that I mean selfish indulgence. Not at all.

I’m talking about your subconscious, the agent that is there to drive you, make decisions for you.

The subconscious that determines the vast majority of what we do, if not everything.

That part of you has one mission: to protect you from pain, and drive you towards pleasure.

And part of that subconscious is the inner child. Not something that exists as such, but a very real aspect of your psychology.

And that little child is a perfect hedonist. The inner child doesn’t want to delay gratification, or do hard work, or have meetings or do marketing.

All it wants is to play on the beach with its friends.

And the problem with most entrepreneurs is that we starve that inner child.

We tell it that if it can sit tight and let you grind out hard work for a few hours or weeks or months, it’ll get its reward. It’ll get all the play and pleasure you promise it, after the work is done.

And then we forget. We keep pushing on, or instead we keep procrastinating and feeling guilty about it.

And for your subconscious, all that registers as pain. And it will do something about it, see if it won’t.

The inner child sits there waiting for the reward, which never comes.

Until it’s had enough, and it forces you to play. Except it’s not really play – it’s procrastination and self-sabotage. Which is hardly a reward at all.

So how do you break through the cycle? How do you live a balanced life, where your subconscious helps you instead of constantly slamming on the brakes?

You schedule time for play.

I know it sounds weird, but it works.

Because if you don’t play, you will, inevitably, pay the price.

You might burn out, or grow to resent your business and clients, or you might simply end up stuck in ongoing procrastination.

If you run a business, you gotta play. Either like I do, where I try to turn literally everything into play (which is awesome!).

Or at the very least, take a few moments a couple of times a day, to play. A game, some doodling or sketching – heck hang up a dartboard in your workspace for all I care.

Just so long as you allow yourself to play.

There’s nothing wrong with a little hedonism at times, so long as it doesn’t hurt others, and you don’t lose yourself in indulgence.

No time, you say?

Fair play (ha!). But don’t forget that the 30 minutes you spend in play will pay back in terms of better focus and less procrastination.

So if things feel heavy, or overwhelming, or it seems like all the hard work isn’t paying off?

Play. That simple.



REAL Learning

We all know that learning matters, and most of us know that learning applies to more than just books.

Sometimes a client asks me if I learn from them as well, instead of they just learning from me.

And, well, yes. Absolutely, totally. Lost.

Because whether you’re a coach, or trainer or teacher: if you’re not there to learn from the other, you’re only half a coach, trainer, or teacher.

And in a larger sense: if you go through life without looking for what others can teach you, you’re missing out.

For me, anyone can be a teacher.

Or better: everyone IS a teacher.

Parents often say that a child teaches them so much – how can that be, when the child is small and hasn’t eve learned how to speak yet?

It’s because the parent takes the attitude of the student.

It’s learner’s mind all the way.

In other words: your attitude determines whether or not you are able to learn from others.

And once you get that, you’ll learn from everyone around you.

Mostly, you’ll learn about you§rself.


So I often thank clients at the end of a session, when they thank me. I don’t evennn think about it – I’m just grateful that I got an opportunity to learn.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean that the coach/client relationship is set up for a mutual exchange: if that were to happen, we’d fall into constant role-reversal, and that’s just as damaging to a coaching relationship, as it would be to a therapeutic relationship.

As a coach, it’s my job to guide, to lead in a gentle but firm way. Otherwise I wouldn’t be worth my salt as a professional.

But, the learning does go in both directions. No wonder then that I love this work so much.

It’s amazing to see what happens when a client opens up and allows themselves to be guided – ESPECIALLY when it’s about being guided into seeing themselves and their world in a different, more creative and open way.

Anyway, if you’ve never experienced what it’s like to be guided by a coach who is very keen on protecting the nature of a coaching relationship, let me know and we’ll set up an appointment.

You’ll enjoy it.



Fire in My Street… and Authorship

A few weeks ago, some dimwit decided to set fire to a car in front of my house in the early morning hours.

Since I’m an early riser I was the first to see the flames, which meant that afterwards I was asked to go to the police station and give an eye-witness report.

Turns out, the Spanish word for perpetrator is ‘autor de los hechos’ – and with me being a word-fanatic, I found it fascinating:

Autor de los hechos – author of the acts (or deeds or doings).

Instant reframe on what life is: you are the author of the deeds in your life, you’re the one writing your own book of acts.

It wasn’t a brand new concept to me (which you’ll know if you’ve been reading me for a while) but it really drive home the point.

When we’re unaware of this, we tend to take life as a way to react to things that come at us. An opportunity, a problem, a conflict, a change that presents itself… and then we react.

But if you consider yourself – not just philosophically, but in every thing you do and decide – to be the author of your life, you go from being a reactor, to being a creator.

And suddenly, you’re in control, you call the shots… it’s YOU writing your book of acts.

When you’re a reactor, you have little power, because life will always throw curve balls at you. (Duck!)

But as a creator, you see them coming, because it’s almost as if you threw them yourself.

Which is why one of my favourite coaching questions (for myself as well as for clients) is:

What would you like to create?

And I’m asking you now: In this life, this business of yours, this day and this hour:

What would you like to create?



Don’t Measure the Money

Of course money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but if you don’t have enough, life can be hard.

And besides: money can buy you freedom – to travel, learn, create, be with friends and family.

Money matters, especially if you run a business.

But the problem with most people is that they measure the money – the financial gains or growth – and when there isn’t enough, they get frustrated.

So here’s the solution: don’t measure the money, but measure your activities instead.

Measure how consistent you are at taking action.

Two reasons:

First, money comes as a result of consistent action over time. I think we all agree on that one.

But secondly, and very importantly: seeing your own persistent action over time give you feedback, showing you that you’re doing it right.

“Hey, I’m doing this. I’m getting it right and if I keep this up, I’ll get there”.

And that will do wonders for your state, your ability to overcome procrastination, and your peace of mind. All very important, and all suffering terribly if you keep asking yourself why the money hasn’t shown up yet.

And any time there’s bills to pay and you feel the pressure?

Switch on, get busy, leap into action.

Chop chop, clock’s a-ticking.

Life can be so simple.

There’s one caveat though: Deciding which action to spend your energy on matters a lot.

So if you are the kind of person who takes action but it’s not paying off yet, you might want to adjust your decisions as to which actions are most important.

And if you’re not clear about it, let me know. I’ll help you figure out what actions in your business will move the needle the most.



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