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

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

I’ve Been Underserving You. Sorry About That

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

Me, I don’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, it’s showing you a wrong example.

So yeah. Sorry.

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

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

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

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

Would you like another rhetorical question?

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

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

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

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

Showing it isn’t the thing.

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

If  you want to sell it, say so.

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

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

How that’s done?

Like so, for example:

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

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

It’s fun but it requires commitment.

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

Is that you?

Then hit reply, and let’s talk.

Now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

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

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



Your Attitude?

Once upon a time, an old and wise Rabbi suffered greatly at the hands of several of his neighbours. Legal disputes, public shaming, threats, theft, you name it…

They really had it in for him.

But the man was persistently unperturbed and upbeat.

One of his students asked:

“Reb, how is it that none of these problem affect you?”

The Rabbi said: “Which problems?”

“Well, all the terrible things that people do to you and say about you. It’s like your days are filled with problems”.

“Oh that”, said the Rabbi. “Those are not problems – that’s my medicine!”

Look, we all have problems and issues to deal with.

But it’s in your mindset where you determine whether or not those things strengthen you or bring you down.

As George Clinton (the grandfather of funk) said: An attitude is all you need to rise and walk away.

Yes sir. (Also: make my funk the P-funk, but I digress).

Obviously, problems or issues don’t go away. Pretending you’re an ostrich won’t work.

But, you only have so much control over the things in your life. You can influence some, change others, and some are just completely beyond your control.

But your attitude?

That’s always, 100%, fully in your control.

So which attitude do you choose for yourself?

And when today is done, which attitude will you choose tomorrow?

To what use will you put the power you have?

Don’t let society, competitors, or the news tell you that it’s hopeless or that you’re helpless.

Choose your attitude, and choose it wisely.

And, choose it every day, several times a day. Because a strong resilient habit is the result of practice.

Turn your choice of attitude into a practice, and watch your resilience grow, bit by bit. I promise it will.

Now, sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t change even your attitude.

When that’s the situation, reframing the issue is what the doctor prescribes.

And the best doctor for that kinda thing?

A coach.

Read here what that means, and how it works:



A Gift I Really Think You Ought to Give Yourself

I take off my shirt and shoes, and lay face down on the table set up on the beach under a party tent.

Nice. I’ve been looking forward to this.

She rubs the oil between her hands and starts working my back. She’s good, too.

A gentle breeze rolls in from the sea.

The sound of children playing in the surf, and seagulls, and occasionally the sound of the girl in the restaurant kitchen nearby, yelling the order the cooks need to follow so that all the meals show up at the right time. “Cantar las comandas” – singing the orders.

As my back receives the treatment, I meditate and slowly sink into deep, deep relaxation.

Damn, this is blissful.

An hour later I get up, pay, and ride my bike back up to my house. Refreshed, renewed, ready for some serious client sessions.

I never realised it, but these massages are just one of the ways I go on ‘artist’s dates’ with myself.

Never realised it until last week, when my coach recommended I’d make a habit out of going on artist’s dates.

Truth is, I frequently do them. Sometimes I’ll drive to a spa to lay in a flotation tank for a while. Sometimes I take an unknown road and get hopelessly, beautifully lost, and sometimes I spend a day rearranging stuff in my house.

And every time I do one of those things, it feeds the soul and fills the well.

Last weekend (because it’s really useful to do what your coach tells you) I turned the entire weekend into an artist’s date. Spent time to carefully create a playlist (old school funk music, my fav). Cleaned out a bunch of old stuff, reorganised my studio, relaxed watching videos in the middle of the day. So nice. Thanks, coach.

So while I might not be your coach, I kinda am in a virtual way, with these coaching emails.

And it’s going to REALLY be worth your time to also go on artist’s dates.

I know that I will, like before, except no longer ‘by accident’ – no, I’m going to plan them. Got my next one figured out and planned already.

And, I really hope you’ll do it too. It’s good, even if you’re not an actual artist.

To go on a date with yourself… the way Julia Cameron describes in The Artist’s Way (excellent book btw, I recommend it).

If you do a Google search, you’ll find a ton of ideas, from planting things in the garden, to being a tourist in your own city. So much fun.

So, if you feel stressed, overwhelmed or just looking for more fun, why not go on a weekly artist’s date?

And drop me a line, I’d love to know what your choice of artist’s date is…



Being in Love… But With What?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And 80% of that time, sewing by hand.

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

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

In other words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lesson here?

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

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

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

Why this matters to you?

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

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

And where’s the fun in that?

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

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



Turning Pro & Things That Ain’t Fun?

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

Having fun, sharing fun, making things fun.

In business and in life in general.

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

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

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

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

And this matters a lot in business.

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

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

Except that’s the attitude of an amateur.

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

And the pro then proceeds to make those things happen.

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

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

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

Getting your name and your work out there.

Finding, and communicating with, your potential buyers.

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

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

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

So what side are you on? Pro or amateur?

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

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

So let’s talk. It’ll be fun.



Question For You…

What are you done with? Fed up with?

What is there – in your life or in your business – that you’ve come to accept, though really it shouldn’t be there?

What unacceptable thing have you resigned to?

A client told me ‘wasting time’, which is a nice one. Because time is precious, and no matter your age: it’s running out.

Another client said “making my life secondary to the business” which is also a good insight – and a trap that we all risk falling into.

For me?

I’m fed up with living in isolation.

Not that I’m lonely, but my tendency to live like a hermit has caused me to mostly connect online with people. But when the girls in my Cabal Creative group visited last September, I realised that I’m no longer content to live this way. I’m done with that, which is why this year I’m bringing everyone back here to Spain – because these people REALLY matter to me. Far more than I could have imagined.

They are not just clients – these girls have become important, personal, close friends. And I’m no longer content to only meet online, so I’m changing that.

So what about you?

What are you done with, fed up with?

What in your life needs to go, change, be discarded or replaced?



The Simplest Model Ever for Growing Your Business

Building a prosperous business around your creative work can be utterly simple.

Not necessarily easy (it very likely won’t be) but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated.

So when people ask me what they ought to do in order to grow their business, I like to start out with two questions:

Are you building your list?

And secondly: Are you talking to your subscribers?

Because in the end, these two elements (growing your list of potential buyers, and regularly communicating with them) are essential.

If one of these is missing, you’ll always find yourself struggling to grow your venture.

But if you base your business decisions and growth on them, you have a simple framework that you can use, test, and optimise.

So if you ever find yourself stuck, or unable to grow, ask yourself those two questions.

If the answer is ‘no’ to either of them, you know what to do: grow your list, and talk to your people.

Real simple, and more importantly: real nice. Because what I experience (as does everyone who decides to follow my recommendation and starts talking to their list) is that a consistent email habit with your list doesn’t just lead to sales and business growth.

No, if you do email marketing right, you’ll also be building a fanbase, and a platform, and strong relationships with people, not to mention conversations. And as always: sales happen in the context of a conversation, always.

So if you want to grow? Then grow your list, and talk to folk.

And if you have questions on how to do one or the other, or both?

Then you talk to me, and we pull from my decade of business psychology and marketing experience, to create a method that a) works for you (i.e. aligns with your values and priorities) and that b) actually engages people to convert them into fans and buyers.

Should be fun. Let me know when you’d like to talk.



And What If You’d Stop Squandering Your Resources?

And what if you’d stop squandering your resources?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The common element in all this?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you? All of them? All the time?



Sure, Believe Whatever You Want… But That Don’t Make it True

Some people believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, others that god is a flying spaghetti monster from outer space (true: they call themselves pastafarians), and there’s also a large group of people who believe the earth is flat (also true. They even try to use science to prove their point. And fail miserably, hilariously, and unscientifically).

And I’m sure there’s people who believe even crazier things.

The thing that all beliefs have in common, is that they tell us that something is or isn’t true.

And with the examples above, we know that no matter how hard you believe it, it simply isn’t true.

Your conviction doesn’t make anything true, no matter how convinced you are.

Now, you don’t need to be as crazy as a flat-earther in order to believe things that clearly are not true.

In fact, everybody (yes, even you the fully-science-minded) believes things. We simply do not have enough data, or processing power for the existing data available to us, to correctly assess whether or not everything is or isn’t true. We simply can’t know, which means that we’ll always have to have beliefs. And that’s fine.

What isn’t fine though, is believing things that aren’t true, especially when those beliefs are based on assumptions.

A glib, cop-out act of saying ‘This phenomenon here probably means XYZ, so I’ll run with that and act accordingly’.

It’s like taking a map you drew yourself, and walking into the wilderness with it. Not a good idea.

Instead, test your beliefs. Because you made them yourself, and you just might have made an error somewhere.

Always ask yourself ‘Is this really true?’.

If your automatic reaction is ‘well yes of course!’ you just might be mistaken. And you can find out if you are or not.

Some of my favourite beliefs to challenge, with clients?

“I can’t raise my prices! This is all the market will pay”.

I’ve consistently seen that belief proven wrong, which I assure you is a ton of fun, for my clients as well as me.

Another one I love shooting down?

“If I raise my prices, my revenue will go down!”

An understandable fear, but in all cases where one of my clients raised their rates, I’ve seen revenue stay the same, or even go up.

Imagine how it feels when you see *that* belief fall to bits:

You never thought you could, but you doubled your rates. You saw half your customers walk away, and ended up earning the same, for less work done, from the customers who stayed… How cool is that?

Just one of the many ways in which working with a coach can be a ton of fun.

So let me know when you’re ready to get yourself some of that…



The Insidiously Destructive Power of Blame

Ever blamed someone or something outside you for how things turned out for you?

Tell me: how did that go?

Blame is a terrible thing, and not only because it casts guilt onto someone who is likely innocent.

No, the real problem with blame is that it disempowers you.

The moment you blame someone else for something, you’ve given up part of your autonomy. You effectively remove power from yourself, and place it elsewhere, and I think you’ll agree that this does you no good.

But blame gets even worse: when you blame yourself.

Because you’re accusing your past self of doing something that, for that past self and at that particular moment, was the best thing to do. No matter how erroneous, that you back then either saw no other choice, or had no other option, or simply acted on a misinterpretation of facts.

In other words: back when you made that mistake or error, you did the best you could. Even if it was going against your own better judgment or your values: at that moment, it was all you could do.

In other words: your former self wasn’t wrong, but your current self is making them wrong. Bad self! Boo!

Clearly, this doesn’t help at all.

But wait: if blaming others isn’t useful, isn’t blaming the self the only option left?

Well, maybe your former self used to think that way, but your present self is reading this, learning that it’s not the only option, so that your future self will never have to pass blame (on self or others) again.

Not blaming others doesn’t mean you get to blame yourself. Not blaming others means that you get to take responsibility.

Responsibility to say ‘what did I learn from that?’ or ‘Why did that other person act that way, and what can I do to elicit a different reaction?’ or ‘Action X got me results I don’t like. Let’s resolve to not do Action X any more’.

When you blame nobody, not even yourself, you are suddenly free to deeply learn from your experiences, and to take full ownership of what you’ll do next.

Which I’m sure you know has nothing to do with what happened before. The stuff you’d blame for, that’s in the past. It’s behaviour you don’t need.

Much better to take responsibility of what will happen next.



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