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

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

How to Deal With Rejection and Pushback

When you get pushback from people, they’re usually not at fault.

Even someone who is known to be difficult is likely to buy into your plan, your mission or your request – provided you actually reach them.

Because in nearly all cases, pushback is a signal that you didn’t reach the other person.

Didn’t connect with them, or didn’t get to show them the full picture, or maybe some part of them feels that there’s some sort of threat waiting for them.

And it’s not their job to give in to your idea.

Instead, it’s your job to figure out what’s happening with them, and why they push back.

When you try to do that, two things will happen:

First, they’ll lower their defenses because suddenly the situation isn’t about you and your idea any more, but about them and their objections. Win #1

Secondly, you’ll enable them to express their concerns, to which you can respond, which will enable them to sell themselves on buying into your idea.

You can take pushback as a rejection, or you can see it as a signal that you need to tune in to the other more, and open up a different kind of conversation. Choice is yours…



I See You

It’s one of the most effective, most powerful things you can do:

To stop and properly pay attention to another person, in a way they can’t avoid noticing.

Whether you say it or  simply show it: to actually *see* someone.

Because we all need to be seen. Being invisible or going unnoticed is painful.

And sure, we see people. I doubt you’re blind to others.

But what about the inner elements of the other person?

Their needs, their wants, their fears and frustrations and desires and all the unexpressed but very real concerns they have…

Are you aware?

The simple truth is: you don’t need to be aware of it all. You couldn’t be.

But you can take a moment to take someone in, to listen, intuit, observe.

Create space for the other to be themselves – enable them to share and show what they so desperately need you to know.

Because we’re all so busy with our own lives, we often completely miss what the actions or inactions of the other is trying to tell us.

So in any situation where you want to change the dynamics, improve the relationship or  cause a breakthrough, there’s a simple formula with often dramatic effects:

Step 1: slow down, and don’t take yourself so seriously. This one is about the other, not you.

Step 2: Listen. Ask. Observe. Don’t give advice, don’t try to fix.

Step 3: And once you get the picture, tell them:

I see you (though often, by that point, you’ll no longer need to say it).



I Believe in Your Fortitude, but Science Says No

Ok, science doesn’t actually talk, but there’s real proof that no matter how resilient you are, certain harmful influences affect you badly, whether you want to or not.

The other day I was on a skype call with a friend who owns a SaaS company.

Software as a Service – where clients subscribe for a monthly fee. You know, like Mailchimp, Buffer, that kind of company.

And as with every SaaS, customers come and go. Some stay for years, others for months, but there’s always a degree of churn. Part of the deal.

He mentioned that he gets an automatic notification each time someone signs up or cancels, so I suggested he disable the notifications for when people leave.

And then he made a mistake that nearly all of us make, unawares:

“I don’t have to, Martin. It’s part of how things work, and it doesn’t affect me when a few people leave each day”.

This is, factually, incorrect.

He might be able to rationalise what’s happening, but that doesn’t stop his subconscious from registering a threat, and it doesn’t stop his endocrine system from releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.

And no, seeing a few clients cancel their $20 subscription doesn’t reduce him to an incapable, stress-riddled wreck.

But, it’s one little stress-factor in a day, one of many different ones each day.

A dangerous traffic situation, your kids coming home with bad grades, your spouse picking a fight, and let’s not forget the avalanche of bad news so many people are addicted to:

All these instances and many many more, induce stress, which shows up on a physical, hormonal level in all of us.

And you better believe that this affects your ability to think, decide, operate, and perform.

Under stress we don’t do well, unless we’re running from a saber-toothed tiger.

Which is why I recommend all clients that they assess how many stressors are present in their lives, and eliminate as many as they can. And I recommend you do the same.

Because the way you handle yourself – specifically, your cognitive and emotional states – determines how you perform, which determines your business results.

So drop the news, you won’t miss anything.

Stop complaining, because telling yourself how crappy things are also sends a stress signal to the brain.

Forget about Facebook, where everyone wants to tell you how bad this thing or that thing is.

Replace the loud aggressive ringtones on your phone with gentler ones, so that you don’t get the cortisol spike each time someone rings you.

In the end, we’re subjected to a barrage of stressors each day, and you’d do well removing all of the ones in your control.

Because while your mind might be able to put perspective on things, your neurochemistry doesn’t, and that’s a fact.

Manage your states, because they’re too influential and precious to just let the world drag them down.

The result?

Calm seas, smooth sailing.

Oh, and better creative work, better decisions, more productivity – which ultimately contribute to a bigger business and more money in the bank.

And I think we all want that, right?



When You Know You Want it but You Just Keep Stopping Yourself

Yes, of course you want the thriving business. The beautiful relationship, the $10K clients, the 3-month holiday every year, or whatever dream you hold dear.

And yet, for some reason you just keep stopping yourself from making it happen.

The mountain top just doesn’t seem to get any closer.

There’s progress for sure, but at this rate you’ll never have the Ferrari/yacht/mansion.

But you want those things – so what’s going on?

Very likely, it’s your subconscious trying to protect you.

Because getting the dreamed outcome looks nice emotionally, but for your subconscious it looks like a big pile of unknowns, and each of them could turn into a problem.

Are you able to serve million-dollar clients?

Where will you park the Ferrari?

What will your family say when you take off three months each year?

If you make a ton of money, how are you going to handle all the people who ask for a handout?

If you get the wonderful stable relationship, will you still be able to go out drinking with your friends?

That thriving business, what if it breaks, if a competitor shows up and ‘eats your tortilla’ as they say in Spain?

Your subconscious sees your desire, sees that it’s possible, and then sees all the potential problems.

And it’s a faithful servant, with two directives: move you towards pleasure, and keep you away from suffering.

And all those unknowns, they can cause all kinds of suffering.

So your subconscious does what it needs to: keep you safe. Make sure you don’t get that massive outcome, and thereby avoid the problems.

Whew, close call.

Except here you are, with that dream and no actual progress towards it.

Catch 22?

Not really. Not if you close the gap.

See, there’s a big divide between the ‘here&now’ and the big satisfying outcome you want.

That divide is the unknown you’re being protected from, and the trick is to remove the ‘threat’.

You know, as in: don’t scare the natives.

If you want a 3-month holiday each year, start with a 1-week holiday every second month.

If you want a $10K client, start looking for a 1K client first.

It’s good to have a big goal to aim for, but you want to set it and forget it, so that you can then focus on the attainable, shorter term, non-threatening milestone goals.

They don’t look as scary to the subconscious, and as you pass each milestone, it will grow to trust that you’ve got this, and that the unknowns don’t pose a risk.

Plus, it’s fun to have attainable goals and keep reaching them.



Every Decision and the Cost That it Brings

That course on how to use Instagram for your business might seem like a good deal:

Low price, easy modules, made by someone you trust.

But beyond the dollar amount, what’s the real cost?

You’ll have to reserve time for learning, and then for implementing. That’s expense #1.

Then there’s the amount of time you won’t be spending on other business matters.

Obviously, adding one thing into your business mix means you’re robbing time from something else, so here we have another cost.

Next, there’s the cost to your self-esteem, if this turns out to be yet another purchase that ends up in the backwaters of your download folder, never to be used.

Finally, there’s the cost of ‘getting really good at it’.

A training is only as useful as your level of mastery, and it’s only with diligent practice and improvement that you start to see real payoff, only once you become masterfully good at it.

So that $39 training suddenly doesn’t look so cheap, does it?

With everything in life, there’s a potential benefit from making a decision, and there’s a guaranteed cost.

Problem is, we tend to only focus on the (not at all guaranteed) benefits, and conveniently ignore the cost, which is often staggeringly high.

Or, as the behavioural economist Dan Ariely would have it: we’re predictably irrational.

This problem of hidden costs (or: opportunity cost) is only phase one.

Phase two is: chasing sunk costs.

Because today we make a decision that seems reasonable and well thought out, when we find that it wasn’t the perfect choice, we often justify that old decision by tossing more effort into trying to make it work after all.

So when you’re faced with a decision that stands to have a big impact, think about hidden costs before jumping in.

Next, ask yourself how you’ll prevent yourself from chasing sunk costs. Most of the time, a firm decision on ‘results by date x’ (and please: be reasonable here with your expectations. Start with ‘proof of concept’ and work up from there) should be enough to have you abandon the experiment and chalk it up to experience.

When you do your due diligence, you’ll often find that the hidden cost alone is so high, the experiment isn’t even worth it.

Which is excellent, because it prevents you from giving it time, which you can then shovel into: doing more of what works.

Most big decisions (especially those sold with hype by marketers) are only a way to procrastinate anyway.

You know what works in your business.

Go do more of it. Really.




There’s some pretty inspiring people I come across in my work.

For example:

An architect and urbanist, on a mission to create more liveable cities.

A songwriter who writes hitsongs for people like Celine Dion and Jennifer Lopez.

An artist who uses her art as a way to wake people up to the fragility of our eco-system.

A composer whose goal is to bring music therapy for dementia and alzheimer’s into mainstream healthcare.

The ghostwriter for some of the biggest names in internet business.

But no matter how inspiring you are, or how much good you could do, there’s two sharply separated attitudes.

You get to choose which one you want, and the choice will determine whether you’ll make it or not.

A binary choice:

Do you seek permission – or are you the authority who gives permission?

When I see an artist trying to get into a gallery, they’re trying to gain permission, and it’ll be a long and hard road.

When an author pitches publishers to try and get a book deal, they seek permission and they’re in competition with a whole bunch more authors.

When a consultant cold calls and pitches companies, she’s fighting an uphill battle, trying to get others to notice her.

If a designer hunts for gigs on online job boards, he’s looking to trade time for money, in direct competition with all the other applicants.

It’s not that any of that is wrong, but for someone who truly excels at their work, it just ain’t right.

They are all ways to remain a purveyor, instead of allowing yourself to become an authority that other people seek out.

And once you make that mental switch, magic happens.

You get to be perceived as an authority, as ‘best in the world’ (that doesn’t mean globally, but best in the little world called ‘your niche’).

And suddenly, you become the one who gives permission.

For a gallery to pick up your work, for a client to hire you…

You become the one who gives permission.

And to get to that position?

One step: to give *yourself* permission to become that authority.

If you’re made for awesome or great things, you can’t get there so long as you seek permission from others.

You’ll need to pick your side.

So here, here’s your permission slip.

Sign it?



The Case for Designing Ergology

When you walk into my house, you notice something. Almost everybody does.

And it’s not the spacious layout or the views of the mountain and the sea (though they’re hard to miss).

It’s because I’m a total sucker for design. But not just the way a tool or phone or computer is designed.

I’m talking about a wholistic, global concept of design.

Because in the end, everything is the result of some kind of design – from governments, to cities, to societies, to the sofa you sit on and the Parker Jotter pen that’s gone unchanged for decades.

It’s a common notion that ‘everything is marketing and marketing is everything’, but we often overlook that everything is design, and design is everything.

And that’s what you notice in my home: everything here is designed to be just so.

I’ve turned this house into a perfectly tuned context for calm, well-being, connecting with people, and for working in the most focused way I have in me.

And you can’t avoid noticing that there’s ‘something’ here.

Obvious, because I’ve spent years perfecting the design of the perfect optimal environment for Martin’s life&work.

I’m telling you because the context and ecology of your spaces has an enormous influence on how you feel, perform, operate, and relate to people.

But very often we only pay attention to the obvious – the height of your desk, the folder structure on your computer, neatly stacked t-shirts – but omit to design the bigger, overall context.

I call it ergology (ecology and ergonomy) and it’s a separate project in my todo app.

I’m always tweaking things, optimising, designing.

And the result goes way beyond ‘a place for everything and everything in it’s place’ – instead, I get an ecological context where, the moment I walk into my home or my office…

… my *mind* is in the right place, be that for a client session, creative work, or spending time with friends.

So if you often struggle getting focussed, or you frequently feel overwhelmed, maybe ask yourself:

Are you paying enough attention to the design of your space, your work, your tasks and projects and plans – and most importantly: your mind?

Because the design of everything pertaining to how you live, work, think, and move through the world has far too big a bearing on your well-being and your results, to just leave to chance and ‘wherever you last dropped your keys’.

Design your life. It’ll do you good.




A few weeks ago, someone interested in working with me was on the fence about making the decision.

He saw the value and knew I’m not the rah-rah kind of ‘you can do it!’ coach, and yet… he had trouble making up his mind.

We talked, and then he told me one of the big conundrums he was facing:

Would Martin be yet another cookie-cutter, follow-the-programme coaches?

Someone who takes you through a curriculum, and tells you what to do?

I smiled, because that’s the perfect attitude – not just when working with a coach, but also in life.

Sure you’ve got all the answers in you, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that you’re able to find those answers for yourself.

To inquire of your subconscious what needs to happen, what you need to become aware of, and what it is that you need to decide.

It’s easy and oh-so comforting, to have someone spoonfeed you the answers and the steps.

But that’s called education, and not coaching. Nothing wrong with it, but different.

And it illustrates the value of a real coach, meaning: someone who enables you to take ownership of your process, growth, and development.

And that ownership thing, that’s in short supply these days, especially with all the hyped-up marketing tactics we’re being shown every time we go online.

Seems like everyone is trying to sell us a 1-2-3 ‘buy this and magic will happen, all by itself’ infoproduct, training, or course.

But there ain’t no magic.

There’s only clear thinking, sensible deciding, and elbow grease.

And the more you own your own involvement and actions, the easier things are and the more resourceful you become.

Good friends and real coaches don’t feed you the answers.

They listen and ask the questions that make you find your own answers.

Which brings me to an interesting point: very often I see coaches claiming that they have the answer to the question ‘can you help me with XYZ?’, and brand themselves as the dude or gal who yes, totally, can do.

I say be skeptical when you see that kind of claim.

There’s a lot that goes into the mix, in order for a coach to really help a client – starting with alignment, or attunement, on a personal level.

And until you meet and speak, there’s no way to know. So how can someone pre-empt the question, and say yes…?

It’s impossible.

Me I have no idea if I can help you.

But we can talk, and we can find out.

Want to?



Create a Rule-Book for Focus, Productivity and Well-Being

I walk into the hall and smile: it’s just as I expected.

Beautiful art on the walls. Lots of visitors, Spanish as well as foreigners.

Drinks, tapas, and a bunch of my artist friends, looking their finest and happily chatting with each other or the visitors.

I meander for a while, chat with a few people, see the art.

And then, just as I expected, I find myself on my own, with everybody else being busy serving drinks or getting called away or saying hi to newcomers.

I meander some more, have a few more conversations cut short, and about 20 minutes after arriving, I leave.

On the way home I reflect: it’s like this every single time. I just don’t like the kind of event, where no conversation lasts more than 3,5 minutes.

I like supporting my friends, but show openings, and network events and that kind of thing – if there’s no chance to actually connect with people I don’t like it and I always leave early.

So I decide: no more social events like that – unless I go there with a friend to chaperone me.

Just no. No more.

Felt good, too. Made me call a friend a few weeks later who went with me to another event and we had a great time.

And I decided (because hey, everything comes down to decisions, right?) to create a ‘No-List’.

Things I’ve said no to.

On it are such diverse things as:

– Takers. People who take but never give back or pay forward. You know what they look like: a black hole with legs under ‘em.

– People who eat my mind. That you keep pondering about because of something unfinished, some sort of open loop and your mind keeps churning on it.

– “Fixing the printer” – i.e. small jobs that I’m not good at, are not in my ‘zone of genius’ (google it) and that I can get done for a couple of bucks.

– Projects that are unrelated to my core business activity (obviously: coaching, and currently: launching my Calibrate Reality course).

And a bunch more, which are too personal to share here.

It’s nice to have a list like that, and damn useful too.

A mini rule-book for keeping Martin happy, focused, and productive.

Big contribution to my recent productivity, I can tell you that.

So maybe create your own no-list?

It’s bound to keep the crud out of your life and make you focus on what truly matters, in terms of people, your state, and your business growth.



The Problem With Good Drivers

Whenever someone tells me they’re a good driver, I double-check my seat belt, just to make sure I’m strapped in properly.

Because the only good driver is a defensive driver, and believing you’re a good driver is dangerous.

Traffic is an enormously complex set of dynamics and interactions, and no matter how well you drive, you can not possibly account for all the things that happen behind you or around the corner.

And the attitude of ‘I’m a good driver’ plays a trick on your mind, telling you that as long as you are in full conscious control of your vehicle and aware of your field of vision, you’ll be safe.

Until a tree falls over or somebody else’s brakes fail at a crossing. Oops.

The same mechanisms apply to business.

When you think you’ve got it all figured out, it’s all running smoothly, that’s when you’re most at risk.

A competitor might suddenly break through and, as they say in Spain: ‘eat your tortilla’. Oops.

Or Facebook might change their algorithm and from one day to the next you’re all but invisible to your audience. There goes your revenue off the cliff.

Just like in traffic, there’s a million moving parts, all kinds of things that can go wrong, or break, or disappear.

Your best bet for continued growth and success, is to be the defensive driver in your business.

Being on the lookout for threats that can damage what you’ve built.

That way, your subconscious will be on the alert, spotting trends or events before your everyday conscious mind becomes aware of them.

Just like a defensive driver in traffic is safer, a defensive business-driver will make it through the changes and challenges better.

Being confident about your own skills and acuity is good, but never underestimate the influence of that what’s outside your field of vision.



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