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

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

Cheapest VS Best – And What About the Middle Ground?

Yesterday I went on a team-building excursion with a client and his employees.

15 Kilometers, walking upstream in a riverbed. Was fun.

But some half an hour in, one of the girls ran into a problem: here shoes started falling apart.

Literally so: while they sported the Nike logo, they clearly were cheap Chinese knock-offs, because the soles started to unglue themselves.

(How on earth someone manufactures shoes with glue that’s not water-resistant is beyond me, but whatever. Cheap is cheap).

Got me thinking about the buying decisions we make.

Often, we go for middle ground pricing&quality.

You know, value-for-money kind of decisions.

But is that smart?

To me, it’s not.

Example: when I’m travelling and I didn’t bring my headphones but I need them for client sessions, my only option is to buy a set.

And given that I have a high-quality set at home, I go for the cheapest option: $1 headphones from those bargain shops. Makes little sense to buy a second expensive set if I have one waiting for me.

At that moment I know the quality I’m buying is ultra-low and so when they break after a few weeks, I don’t mind. I bought disposable.

Not that I like the idea of disposable products, but a $15 or even $35 set won’t last that much longer and will get disposed of soon just the same.

By contrast, consider a pair of shoes I bought 25 years ago.

I wore them daily for 15 years, the last 5 of which while rebuilding the monastery.

Those shoes suffered. Hard.

So you’d think they’d be dead, but nope: All I need to do is send them to the factory, get them resoled and fixed up, and I’ll get them back as good as new. And yes, those shoes did cost $500 back then.

Was it worth it?

I’ll say. Shoes that survive 15 years of hard use, and can be fixed to get a new lease on life? Totally worth it.

But when you go for the middle ground, you don’t get that kind of option.

Medium-range products or services are subject to economy of scale: the provider needs to closely guard his cost&profit numbers, and shave off any bit of cost they can get away with.

Which often means that while you think you’re getting value for your money, you’re actually getting less value than you pay for.

I’m sure it’s happened to you as well: you buy something with an expectation of some degree of quality and durability, only to end up disappointed.

Me, I avoid anything middle ground. I’ll always prefer the best of anything (example: getting my coaching from Peleg Top, and Mark McGuinness, cost me a pretty penny both times, but DAMN it was worth it!), even if that’s costly. It almost always ends up worth it.

This is why I’m not cheap either (sorry, not sorry) – because I want to give my clients the best, deepest, most transformative coaching experience I can.

I’m not claiming to be the best, but I’m damn good and I’m worth it. (this is not arrogance, it’s confidence – subtle difference).

And it ain’t just me saying so:

“I so look forward to these weekly calls, Martin.

They’re so very helpful.

You’re our secret weapon.

~ Richard Hall,”

Anyway, enough shameless self-promotion.

Let me if ‘n when you’re ready for real, lasting change.



Resourcefulness: Ask Yourself “Who”, Instead of “How”

Pick a problem you want to solve, or an issue you want to figure out.

Now, ask yourself how to go about it.

Most likely, you’ll find a limit in your thoughts and ideas. You run through the options, and either you’ve got the solution, or you get stuck somewhere.

If you’re stuck and you keep trying to pry the ideas out of your mind, it’ll end up frustrating.

Mind can do amazing things, and lots can fit into it, but it has limits. And the more you try to crank it into a direction, the sooner you’ll reach those limits.

But what if you ask yourself not the ‘how’ question, and instead:

You ask yourself the ‘who’ question.

“Who do I need to be in order to solve this?”


“Who would have all the answers, who would solve this with creativity and ease?”

“What would that person (the me I have to be, or the other who has no trouble) do?”

If you start thinking that way, you’re likely to get totally different ideas, and far more than if you stay stuck in the how of it all.

Saw this happen in a session the other day, when I was asked: “How should I answer if they ask me XYZ?”

I didn’t answer the question, and instead helped the person step into a different, far more capable view of herself.

In other words, we worked on identity, and highlighted the identity of resourcefulness.

At the end of the session, we came back to the ‘how’ of it all, and she said, with calm understated confidence: “I actually don’t need to figure out how. I already know how to answer”.

Aaaand… boom. Results.

All from not getting lost in the how, but instead of going for who.

So that issue or problem you picked?

Who do you need to be in order to solve it?

With which identity can you identify in order to tap into the resources you have, and get stuff resolved?

If that’s a question you can’t answer, let’s talk.

You might find the same strength and resourcefulness my client found…



The ‘New’ Form of Marketing? Oh, and Tractors

PSA: Yesterday I said that I would ‘send 5 to 7 articles daily’, but that was a typo. I meant ‘weekly’, obviously.

PSA #2:

Saw an article that explained the ‘new’ form of email marketing, recommending we all use it.

They called it NaaS: Newsletter as a Service.

Which is a pretty nifty idea, but of course it’s nothing news.

In fact, value-based marketing has been around for ages.

For example, the John Deere tractor company was in bad weather sometime in the last century. I guess someone had figured out a better way to market horses.

Anyway, they did something clever:

They started a magazine for farmers, with actual, proper content. Articles and tips and instructions, on how to work the land and all the things that go with farming.

Obviously, farmers loved receiving the free magazines.

And obviously, John Deere made sure that any reader would see the advertisements of the tractors they made.

Double win: you create marketing that is actually useful, and people don’t mind that there’s also a product or service offer.

Sound familiar? Of course. It’s exactly what these daily articles are about. Hello.

It’s service first (for me, writing these is a public service in itself) and marketing second.

And since you read this, apparently that’s a method that works and delivers value.

This is nothing new – the only new thing, is that marketing and sales degenerated into pushy, sleazy, and often unethical ‘squeeze ’em for all they got’ practices.

That doesn’t make marketing bad – it just ended up being abused by unscrupulous folk.

Marketing done right has value in and of itself for your reader.

Whatever way you want: inform, entertain, inspire, teach, or mix it up… you can easily take the conversations that you normally have with buyers face-to-face, and create content (articles, audio, video, slideshows, photos) that *gives* people something.

And if you do?

Then people give you permission to also market your work.

That what I do, in these emails?

TOTALLY something you can do for yourself.

And, I’ve never seen a client take on email marketing (and stick with it!) and not have it lead to business growth and sales.

Oh sure, you’ll need to be growing your list.

And yes, it takes time before email marketing reaches the tipping point of probability, but personally, I don’t mind that.

I’d much rather plant and nurture an orchard, rather than go picking apples.

Wouldn’t you?



Grey Matters: Something Toxic in Your Life, and I Recommend You Get Rid of It

And I’m not talking about toxic people, or bad habits.

In fact, the toxic thing is a habit that you very likely don’t have.

Which is normal: almost nobody has this habit.

Ok, so consider the spectrum of thoughts and emotions that you move through.

On one end, you have things like doubt, depression, fear, worry – and whatever other non-positive awareness that you might have.

On the other end, there’s the positive and uplifting: joy, creativity, gratitude, appreciation of beauty, insight, and all the other good stuff.

Right, so what lies between those two extremes?

Hard to put your finger on, isn’t it? There’s all sorts inbetween the two polar opposites, and here’s the problem:

Most of all that thinking there, is totally below the level of conscious awareness.

They are what I call ‘grey matters’. Mostly unseen, but present and extremely influential, for the sheer volume of it.

Your brain happily churns away through endless thoughts and feelings, all day long. And you’re lucky that you’re not aware of most of it, because it would drive you crazy.


Except that when you make an effort – make it a habit – to shine a spotlight on all that slightly sub-conscious movement…

… you’ll start to notice some damn interesting patterns.

For example, you might find that there’s an auto-loop playing, which automatically causes you to procrastinate on something, the moment you think about it. And you don’t even notice you’re doing it – your mind does it on auto-pilot!

Or you might find that you repeatedly re-hash conversations from the past. “I shoulda said this or that”. Familiar?

Or perhaps you discover that you have a subtle but strong judgment of things going on, causing you to persistently re-frame your world in negative terms.

Or maybe you discover a little voice, that gently and repeatedly whispers in your mind’s ear that you’re not worthy, not ready, or not enough.

All kinds of things, different for everyone.

What’s in the grey area isn’t bad, but it can have devastating effects on your well-being and your success.

The remedy? Become aware of what goes on in your mind, just below the surface. Colour the grey matters, see what you discover.

That’s the toxic thing in your life, which I wish for you to remove:

And ongoing, mostly unchecked, very likely damaging in some way, narrative, 24 hours a day.

We notice the peaks and troughs, sure. But it’s inbetween those – in the grey matters – that you find the patterns that determine your view, thoughts, feelings, and actions.

And those, together, make your world, don’t they?

Thinking unawares is often toxic. So, best get yourself utterly familiar with the grey matters, so that you can start to change them into narratives and patterns of thought that actually contribute to your life.

Happy to help you shine a light – that’s what coaching does: bring out the things behind the scenes, that cause the things you want to work on.

Let me know when you’re ready for that, alright?



Just Checking: Do You Suffer From Exertionism?

Perfectionism is the enemy of done… but there might be another problem…

You know the drill: Working on something far beyond the call of duty, far beyond what constitutes ‘good’ or ‘good enough’ or ‘ready’.

Endlessly nitpicking at things, rewriting, editing, going over all the materials again – ooh, another little tweak that is direly needed. And another one! And another!

This way, perfectionism keeps you stuck. Keeps you from launching that thing you’re working on.

But what if your problem is different… what if you suffer from exertionism?

Yes, I made the word up. It means:

An unhealthy, unproductive attachment to the feeling of having worked really really hard.

I saw it yesterday, helping a friend pull together a project for which a powerful proposal had to be created.

“I always take very very long at this kind of thing”, she said.

And yep. Took her hours. Which is good – it’s no use to half-ass something. Quality work requires quality effort, and sometimes at length.

But there’s always a point where it’s ready. Good enough. Time to ship it already.

But some people can’t live with themselves. If they do something really well, and really fast, that… can’t be right.

“But I’ve not slaved away over it yet. Can’t be ready”.

“Unless I stay up till 4AM, I’ve not given it my all”.

“Without the stress, second-guessing and rewriting, it can’t be ready”.

Get the picture?

For this kind of person, nothing will ever be ready unless an inordinate amount of effort and exertion has gone into it. We’ve got to slave away, deplete ourselves – really exert ourselves to the point of deep fatigue.

But all that gets you is lost time, and the (rather insignificant) feeling that you’ve ‘done a good job’. (Insignificant because the feeling is tied to your efforts, not to the results you’re creating. Much better to feel good about the result itself).

But doing a good job shows in the result – not necessarily in the amount of exertion that went into creating that result.

If you’re really good at something and can create stellar results on something important real quick, then your job is done.

The only reason to then keep chipping away at it is for you to feel satisfied in having exerted yourself. And while that does feel good, it feels a LOT better to say ‘done’ and move on to the next project.

Exertion for its own sake is pointless, if you want to build things.

So if you suffer from this phenomenon, I really recommend you look up exertionists anonymous. I’m sure there’s a 12-step group near you somewhere.

Seriously though: Done is done. Perfectionism doesn’t help, nor does exertionism.

This article? It’s done. Time to ship it (hello!)

Does this kind of thinking help, and you want more of that and in higher, tailored-to-your-needs doses?

Maybe I can help.

Let’s talk.



Does your content work as hard as it could? (And folk like Chris Brogan, Jay Baer or Michael Stelzner – do their opinions matter to you?)

How much content do you tend to create? And, how much result does it get you?

I’m asking because it’s staggering to see how under-utilised most of our efforts tend to be.

For example: I have over 1000 articles on my blog, which are all very nice and good – but because of the volume, lots of the older ones don’t get read.

That isn’t a big deal in my business, because I don’t write for the web: instead, I write these articles for you, my subscriber.

Still, all those articles aren’t doing any work for me, but they could…

For instance, I could easily compile the articles by topic, and turn them into ebooks that I could sell or give away. Simple (though laborious, which is why I’ve not done it yet) way to leverage the content I created.

See, doing work for your business, creating content and assets, is one thing.

But most of the time, we stop there. Promote it a little, and then move on to the next creation.

Problem is though, making new stuff all the time does you little good if you don’t also make that stuff work for you.

More making will never solve the problem of insufficient promotion, or under-utilised potential.

And very often, making use of inherent potential can be really easy, once you stop to think about it.

For example, a webinar can be turned into an ebook or PDF – or vice versa.

Or a set of awesome articles can be bundled in a PDF, and offered to your readers as a content upgrade (google it, it’s a pretty good strategy).

Other options?

Plenty of them. You can use one keynote presentation at different venues – nobody would create a new one each time.

Turn your ebook into a course. Or create a workbook to go with it. Or create a summarised version of your course and turn it into an auto-play webinar, to introduce newcomers to your work and invite them to join your list.

Or expand a 5-point checklist into a mini-course, or turn a customer testimonial into a case-study.

All kinds of options, different ways to leverage the content you create for more and better results.

In other words when you repurpose your content, it gives you more return on your investment.

And one of the best systems I’ve found for that, recently?

Content Boomerang.

It’s a course that shows you how to re-purpose your existing content, in order to drive traffic to your site – made by the extremely knowledgeable Ana Hoffman of Traffic Generation Cafe.

I bought it myself a while back when she did a beta-launch, and I can tell you: it’s good. Really extremely good – with checklists, screenshots, thorough explanations…

But it’s not just me saying so: Jay Baer, Michael Stelzner, Chris Brogan: they all give it a thumbs up – and well-deserved too.

Enrollment opened today, and is open only until Wednesday.

So if you want to finally get enduring returns from the content you create, AND you want a carefully planned, step-by-step system to show you how, this link is where you get access:

 https://ContentBoomerang.Training/affiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=104 (Obligatory disclaimer: Yep, affilliate link (in case you missed it :) )

Now, it ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it. Definitely.

But here’s the kicker: even if you don’t buy the course, you can still make use of Ana’s ideas – you’ll just have to do the homework she’s done.

Point is: if you create content once and then create more, you create more work than you need to – UNLESS you also have a simple way to repurpose. And you can do that with or without Ana’s course.

Just start with this question: With the content and material I already have, what is the easiest, simplest way to repurpose it for increased visibility?

With a google search for ‘repurpose content’, what ideas jump out at you?

Yeah. Welcome to the rabbit-hole… (and if it seems like a great idea but it feels like an overhwelming endeavour? Then Ana’s Content Boomerang system takes you through the entire process, step by step).

Either way: don’t let your hard work under-serve it’s purpose – give it a re-purpose.



And Now For Something Completely Uncommon

Note: This is a one-off announcement, not related to coaching. After today, my regular coaching emails will continue as before.

Right. Ever since I started drawing illustrations and cartoony stuff, people have been telling me they quite like them.

And, that I should sell them, for use in things like presentations, websites, webinars, ebooks, catalogues, training manuals etc…

Obviously, as one does, I dilly-dallied for a long time. You know, because of /reasons.

No more.

I decided to partner with my dear friend Emma Plunkett, and in the last month we’ve worked hard to create a business around our illustrations, and her animation.

And so today, with pomp&circumstance (and rather a lot of jitters, I can tell you), I present:

Uncommon Pictures

Irresistible Illustration and Animation

What we do, and who we’re for?

Think of it like this:

Got a point to make, but it’s tricky to tell or hard to take in?

Uncommon Pictures give your message life, light, and if appropriate: levity.

Check it out here:


Question for you: who do you know, who might be interested?

Let me know…



Don’t Play the Butternotes

Once upon a time, Herbie Hancock was on stage, playing with Miles Davis.

And he wasn’t feeling it. Herbie was not a happy bunny. Everything he was playing sounded trite, old, familiar, and uninspired.

He got increasingly frustrated with himself, which Miles picked up on. (Obviously).

Walks over to Herbie, leans in, and rasps in his ear: “Don’t play the butternotes”.

Took a moment, but then Herbie got it: the butternotes, those are the easy, the familiar, the standard and the bits that go down smoothly.

In music, those would be the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of a scale.

Herbie stopped playing those notes, started to play around them, and everything shifted. So much so, in fact, that it changed the course of Herbie’s musical career.

Playing the butternotes… what a brilliant concept!

In business, the parallel to playing butternotes would be things like phoning it in.

Coasting. Pushing the buttons, keeping the show on the road. Business butternotes are the attitudes and activities that are in your comfort zone, that don’t stretch you, that don’t do anything to create growth.

For me, playing butternotes is doing things like staying on top of my inbox. Publishing my daily article. Having chats with entrepreneurs. Good stuff and necessary, but not the kind of thing that drives growth. Which is what I (you too?) ultimately want.

And so, I study lots. I push myself. I get on a stage with barely any experience behind me, to deliver a 3 hour masterclass on marketing.

Sure I play the butternotes, but I do the other stuff as well.

So what about you?

Are you playing butternotes, too much?

And if so, what ‘wildly creative and jazzy solo-notes’ would you like to be playing as well?

When you’re not ‘phoning it in’, what actually is your greatest, most high-leverage activity?

And what if you’d make it a priority in your days or weeks, to work on it?



How to feel like a failure 100% of the time (Hope you’re not doing this…)

The subconscious is a curious thing.

It’s like a simple, autonomous control centre for your life.

It has no intelligence, so it runs on two basic instructions:

“Keep ‘em happy, keep ’em safe”.

In other words: It’s job to move you towards pleasure, and away from pain.

It/’s the boss behind the scene, who causes you to choose and act in ways that increase well-being, and avoid danger or risk.

But to the subconscious, there is no time. Unlike our consciousness, which has memory and can project things into the future.

So to the subconscious, there’s only now.

And that’s where most all of us set ourselves up for trouble.

Each time we decide to do something – for example: fix website – the subconscious thinks that it’s something you need to be doing now. Or all the time. Or at least, get it started. It doesn’t know time remember? So it doesn’t compute that you’ve decided to do the thing tonight, or next month.

It hears that you want to do this thing, it registers that as something that will increase well-being and there isn’t any risk, so it rolls up its sleeves, telling you to get your doing on.

Now, if you then also decide to do another thing – say, wash the car – you’ve just caused your subconsciousness to experience failure.

After all, you can’t update a website and wash a car at the same time.

I tried, and it wasn’t pretty.

This single thing – the inadequate management of tasks – is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination.

Because we plan and decide to do things, all of the time.

In our minds, there’s a huge list of open loops and future plans: tasks to be done, people to call, projects to start or finish… a wash list of duties.

The subconsciousness looks at that pile of mess, and realises that there’s no possible way you could fix your site while filing your taxes, as you learn how to play bassoon whilst and at the same time juggling fish and singing Leaving on a Jet Plane.

It sees clearly why you feel stressed, overwhelmed, confused and frustrated.

And it’s job is to have you not be in such a state, so it solves the problem for you.

It quietly closes the door on your endless list of todos, and tells you that it’s ok to while away the afternoon watching Netflix. Because don’t worry: the tasks and todos won’t disappear, they’ll still be there for you to work on tomorrow. But first, some R&R. Right?

Right. Procrastination.

The solution is simple:

Take notes. Write things down. Commit every idea and task and project and todo to a system of lists. Paper, phone, computer: all good. Just don’t try to use your mind as a storage device, because that’s not what it is. It was made for thinking, not remembering.

Your mind has a capacity limit, and if you fill it with stuff to remember, you won’t have any space left for it to do the important work:

Create, ideate, solve problems, build and invent and design. That’s the sort of stuff your mind is good at.

Let an external system (external brain) collect all the stuff to remember.

This by itself will have a massive impact on your productivity, focus, calm, and well-being.

Not to mention reducing your tendency to procrastinate.

Your brain was made for thinking.

Give it space to do so.



I’m Turning Into My Father, and Why That’s a Good Thing For Both You and Me

You know how people say that inevitably, we all end up turning into our father?

It’s happening to me.

And I don’t mean that I’ve suddenly started making dad jokes – I’ve been doing that for decades. And I’ve had a man-cave for as long as well, so no. I don’t mean in the typical way.

My dad was a system’s analyst, which is basically a top-level version of someone who writes enormously complex software.

My dad would fly into banks and companies like IBM and Xerox, to analyse the software they used in their mainframe computers.

And right now, I’m performing a similar sort of analysis my own ‘computer’, or rather: my mind.

I’m analysing, very carefully, how this machine of mine works, where it has bugs, and which parts of the ‘program’ really work well and can do with upgrades. And, I do the same kind of thing with my coaching clients.

In other words: I’m turning into my own version of a systems analyst.

Except I the ‘software’ that I write isn’t for computers, but for your mind.

And your mind creates the life you live, so in essence we’re talking about the Operating System that runs your life.

Because everything is a system:

Your mind, your relationships, your career, your children, your hobbies and your entire life.

Each of those, a set of elements and dynamics and propensities and reactions and what have you, each creating an outcome.

And a system is perfect, always is. Perfect for the result – the outcome – it gets.

If you want different results or outcomes, you’ll need to make modifications to the system.

And I’m getting to be quite, quite good at it.

I’m learning some really nifty tricks lately. Especially when it comes to getting organised, staying that way, and: getting stuff done.

When I said last week that decisions and choices are key to creating the life you want, I meant that also in relation to how you organise your stuff.

I’m learning David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, and wow: it’s amazing. It forces you to make choices about all the different tasks and projects and materials in your life – and just that, the repeated, deliberate choice of deciding what each thing is and where it should go – that by itself is the start of a system that really works.

A system that makes you, and your business, work – and keeps you executing.

Procrastination hasn’t been around thesse parts, in the last two weeks.

And I can show you how to get this organised and high-performance as well.

Want some?



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