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

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

Design the Undesigned

It’s easy to spot good design – whether we’re talking about a car, a kitchen knife or a website.

Good design is a joy to use, literally so.

That’s what good design does: it affects your state.

Bad design also affects your state. Sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes subtly – but even then, it adds up.

Trouser pockets in just the wrong place, a steering wheel that blocks your view on your speed, an off switch in a hard-to-reach location… an annoying aggravation each time you interact with it.

Good design makes life easier, lighter, more efficient.

But there’s a design element that nearly all of us ignore.

And yet, it’s one of the most powerful, influential determinants of your wellbeing, productivity and results.

I’m talking about your mental and emotional state – something that’s fully in your control to design, if you pay a little attention.

How you feel, your grit and fortitude, your creative problem-solving abilities, your level of execution and persistance:

The higher your state, the better you’ll do and feel.

And that state is something you can design, with the lowest-hanging fruit being your environment, consisting of everything from people, to objects, to your planning, your physical surroundings, the music you listen to, the media you consume…

An entire system that envelopes you all day long… and I’ll bet there’s a bunch of things in your environment that do nothing to lift your state. And other things that clearly bring your state down. (News, anyone?).

This system has designed itself around you, and it does so all on its own. Life configures our environment for us.

Smart people work with their environment deliberately.

They tweak, and modify and configure and experiment, until they’ve designed their own optimal environment for living in, and staying in, the highest possible state.

When you do that, when you support your state intentionally, it has repercussions on all levels.

Taskload is easier to bear. Screaming kids don’t get to you quite as badly. Problems get easier to solve. Setbacks and disappointments are much easier to bounce back from. Aggravated relationships get easier to improve. Conversations flow with more ease. You get the uncanny feeling that hey, you got this. You’re in control.

And best of all? A high state is the best protection against damage to your state.

If your environment is the natural hodge-podge that life threw together for you, you’ll find enormous benefit in getting intentional about it.

Bring some design into your environment.

Design the undesigned, and you’ll do wonders for your state.

You’ll see what I mean.



The ‘Secret’ of the Happiness Outcome

I turn into my street, and there’s a guy with a map under the streetlight.

Nice chap, mid 50s. I stop to give him directions, and we end up chatting.

Turns out, he’s a scientist who was on the team for one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the last 5 years. (this is a true story, but discretion prevents me from saying which breakthrough in particular. Anonymity etc).

And he’s not happy with the achievement. Far from it.

Instead, he’s confounded and rather lost.

He spent decades doing research, finally made the big discovery, and now… what?

What next?

What’s there in life now that he’s completed his life’s work?

This void-after-achievement is far more common than you think, and it’s easily avoided.

We think that the outcomes we work for are the things that will make us happy.

But the gold-medal athlete has no higher to go, while the bronze medalist made the grade, AND he gets to aim for higher. Yay!

Getting a promotion or a big client or getting married or becoming a parent: it’s all very wonderful, but it all brings another set of problems or consequences or obligations.

And we find time and time again that getting the wonderful outcomes somehow, oddly, doesn’t make us happy.

Improves things, sure – but weren’t they meant to make us happy?

Well no. Of course not.

YOU are meant to make yourself happy. There’s a lot of choice in there.

And when you are happy, or at least you’re in a good place mentally and emotionally, your efforts towards creating your desired outcomes become more fun, faster, and more effortless.

And it starts with you and your decisions.

Specifically, decisions around what objectives you give priority.

In making those decisions, it’s good to have an outcome in mind – in business, usually related to some number in terms of sales or revenue – but in order to create that outcome, your objective should be based on behaviour.

Because it’s your behaviour – how you show up to the task at hand – that determines the material outcome you get.

Don’t make ‘attainment’ your objective, but performance.

Not only will it prevent you from falling into a void, you’ll also find that the constant feedback of ‘I’m at it, keeping at it, checking off the tasks’ is a tremendous motivator. It makes you happy.

Because that’s the secret of the happiness outcome:

Happiness isn’t an outcome to aim for in the first place. Instead, it’s a tool to help you get an outcome.

Each time I see a client make that mental shift, magic starts to happen: business becomes more fun, more effortless, and yes: more profitable as well.

And I’ve got a whole bunch of simple&effective shifts like these up my sleeve.

Come and get some…



Force vs Power

You’ve got dozens, maybe hundreds of different strengths and traits you can lean into in order to create results.

Resilience, resourcefulness, creativity, exploration and execution – too many to list.

In many cases though, our default is force.

Push harder. Explain again, but better, and louder. Beat yourself into action. Persist no matter the clear ineffectiveness.

Sounds tiring, if you ask me.

I prefer operating from an attitude of power, rather than force.

Using force means you have to exert yourself; it comes with a high cost.

But power?

That feeds you. It’s a practically unlimited source of strength inside.

All you need to do is stop forcing things, center yourself on where your strengths lie, and allow yourself to be pulled forward by your internal, psychological power.

It’s a lot more effortless, and don’t we all want things to be easier, lighter, and not so damn hard all the time?


Here’s how to know when you’re forcing it instead of relying on your power:


When someone resists you, or when the task seems to push back against you, or when something just keeps breaking no matter how hard you try to make it work, you’re very likely trying to force something.

When you notice resistance (including resistance in yourself), ask yourself what it is you’re trying to force.

Next, identify which of your innate, natural abilities can be leveraged in order to create the result you’ve been trying to force, and use that instead.

With a bit of practice, you’ll make power the default, and you’ll meet a lot less resistance and frustration in your projects and relationships.

A simple shift in orientation, with a dramatic effect on your mastery in business and life.

Give it a try, let me know what changes you discover.



Busyness Does Not Equal Business – Put a Rock in the River

Ever notice how your day fills up with a multitude of tiny tasks and chores, and you just never get around to the big ones – the tasks that actually make a difference in your business?

After all, updating a social media profile or website, filing invoices, emptying your inbox or organizing your pencils does little to drive growth.

What happens when we experience busyness but don’t manage to take care of business, is like filling a bottle with pebbles and sand, leaving no space to put in any nice fat rocks.

I see this with many of my friends abroad: they’ve been saying for years that they want to come visit, but never manage. Because life, job, kids, business – stuff gets in the way!

Other friends though, they pick a date in the calendar some months ahead, and as the day of departure gets closer, life arranges itself around that date. Presto, a friend shows up.

If you want to travel, or if you want to drive growth in your business, you need to place a rock in the river.

Do that, and the water will flow around it.

Or in the metaphor of the bottle: put in rocks first, and then top up with pebbles and sand.

Or, back to cold hard business facts:

Prioritise and plan the tasks that make a difference and that move the needle on your revenue, and let busyness fit in around it.

Not the other way around, because if you let the small and the menial fill your day, you’ll never travel and you’ll never end up growing that business of yours.

One of the things I enjoy most about coaching entrepreneurs, is helping you figure out exactly which activities and projects will have the biggest impact on your bottom line.

If you want to talk and get some help with that, let me know.

Good chance we can find some fun low-hanging fruit that will be fun for you to work on and net you more business fast.



Keep it Wieldy

All you need to play the blues is three chords.

BB King used to play spectacular solos with just a few notes.

Butter, garlic and an egg, and you have a delicious breakfast.

Charcoal and paper, and you can draw anything your mind can conceive.

Yes, I’m a stickler for simplicity.

And sure, there’s a place for complexity as well – without it, we wouldn’t have Bach or Indian curries or cars.

But in many cases, we make things far more complex than they need to be.

And complexity is costly in various ways: time, money, effort, or simply the space something complex takes up in your mind.

Complexity makes things unwieldy and bothersome.

And when it comes to business, that’s especially true.

Point is, there’s only a few ingredients required to run a healthy business:

– A product or service people want.

– A list of subscribers, i.e. people who have given you permission to communicate.

– A consistent habit of sending valuable content.

– A reliable, repeatable way of adding people to your list.

And that’s it, really. Even a website isn’t strictly necessary (though without one, building your list will be pretty difficult, so I wouldn’t recommend doing without one).

So if ever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, ask yourself if things haven’t gotten too complex, because just like attics fill to capacity, most things in life get overly complicated over time.

Next step: eliminate.

Simplicity for its own sake is good, but simplicity for the sake of making things more wieldy is a super effective way to, well, become more effective.

Keep it wieldy.



Sunbathing in December

9AM on a windy, but sunny morning in December. Location: South coast of Spain.

As my coffee arrives I get out my notebooks for my daily intentionality reflection.

Nice day out, but windy and chilly.

In the distance a summer-sight approaches:

A beach-goer in flip flops, shorts and t-shirt. Foldable chair in one hand, linen bag with parasol over his shoulder…

This guy is ready for some heavy-duty time on the beach, battle dress and all.

Except I – and the other locals, wrapped in shawls and warm coats – know that the guy won’t last 30 minutes. Unless he’s tough, and will last long enough to catch a pneumonia.

A sensible person would know that even on the Costa Tropical, December is not the month for sunbathing.

Not with the way the wind blows here (it used to be called ‘The Windy Coast’, before tourism landed and a rebrand into ‘Costa Tropical’ was launched) and the Sierra Nevada mountains with their icy peaks less than 60 KMS away.

But this guy, he’s on a mission and it’s called holidays – and he shall have his sunbathing, dammit. There’s sun out, right? Well then.

Everyone with more than two fingers of forehead will say it’s unwise, and that we’d never do such a thing.

Except we do – we all make silly decisions for no better reason than being attached to an idea. We just do it at subtler levels than Mr Sunbathe, that’s all.

Examples: Sticking with a strategy despite the numbers showing you it needs adjusting.

Staying in a relationship even though our heart screams at us, telling us it’s change or die (“Shut up and sit down, heart. I know what’s best” never worked out well for anyone).

Insisting on a point we’re trying to make, even whilst seeing that the other person is in a completely unreceptive place, and you’re painfully aware that every effort you make just aggravates the situation, and silence+a hug would do a lot better.

And you know it but you forge on regardless.

Saying yes to a request even though we know with certainty we won’t be able to make the time (be it for genuine limitations, or because we know we’ll procrastinate too much on other things).

A million ways to ignore the correct path that we’re seeing in full detail, just because we have this or that idea in our heads and we refuse to let go and/or see it for its flawedness.

There’s signs and signals all around, every day: your intuition, your gut-feeling, the things people tell you and the things life shows you… the path is really pretty easy to see.

But only if you refuse to clutch to the ideas in your mind.

I work with people who are willing – even better: eager – to let go of ideas, and I help them discover different, more effective and fun ideas.

And thus, life and business get better.

Want some of that?

Come and get it…



Of Curve-Balls and Quick-Change Artists

You spend December planning your work so as to have an awesome year, and come January something happens and jumbles all your plans.

You block out a day for serious deep work, and at 11am you get called away for something urgent and important that takes up your whole day.

You budget money for a large investment, and suddenly the taxman hits you hard, and you have to postpone your investment.

You can fret about things like that, but one of life’s jobs is to throw us curveballs, and it’s really good at doing that.

It’s our job to get good at dealing with those curveballs.

The easiest way I know, is to change suits.

You know how I like to talk about the different suits we wear – the archetypes we lean into, the psychological orientations we adapt in order to show up adequately to whatever life is having us deal with?

Sometimes you’re a mother, sometimes a mature business owner – you can be a playful creative, a listening friend, a seller, a buyer, a shoe-chooser, a negotiator, a peacemaker, a leader or victim or
fixer, a meditator or coder or poet – millions of different kinds of identity for you to lean into as per your choosing.

The more agile and quick you become at ‘changing your suit’, the easier it is to deal with life’s curveballs.

Because the biggest cause of stress in the face of changes, is leaving the wrong version of “I” to deal with it.

Your inner strategist lays out the plan, and your inner worker is tasked to execute. If the worker suddenly sees the planning messed up, he has no choice but to freak out. It’s not his job to amend or fix a broken planning – that’s the strategist’s job.

So your job when something like that happens, is to change suits, quick fast, and put on your strategist hat. You fix the planning, and then you move back into your worker identity.

Each of us, we have a walk-in closet full of identity-suits, and we’re always wearing something.

To bring your best self to whatever game or battle or challenge, it’s good to be aware of which suit we are wearing, and which one we’d better be wearing, depending on the situation you’re in.

Being adaptable to change means becoming a quick-change artist.

Because I promise: there’s no situation or challenge in life, that you don’t already have the suit for.

It’s just a matter of wearing it, and that’s always a choice.

Choose to be a quick-change artist.



Stop Fighting Windmills: How to Talk Some Sense Into Our Inner Don Quixote

The windmills that Don Quixote attacked were not the giants he thought: they were windmills, plain and simple.

The man was clearly deluded, but no amount of reasoning could convince him of his error.

The only thing that he was actually fighting, was an invention of his own mind. A notion, a misconception.

It’s easy to think that we’re different, but in reality, we’re pretty much the same.

When you argue with someone else, you’re not fighting that person – you’re fighting against the way you perceive what that person does or says. It’s your perception, and that’s always an interpretation.

You might think that you’re an impartial observer, but that’s simply impossible. You always filter the world through you-coloured glasses.

A person or a planet or a house exists outside of you – it doesn’t fit inside your head. Only your thoughts exist there.

So whatever person or situation or problem you’re confronted with, remember Don Quixote.

Be aware that what you think of it is your own construction, and not the thing itself.

Why does this matter?

After all, that problem or person is there, regardless of how you see it.

It matters because when you take ownership of *how* you perceive, you get to change how you perceive.

You get to choose what ‘objectively real thing X’ represents in your mind, and if you do that you can apply different methods, tactics, or strategies, in how to deal with that thing.

If you turn ‘that jerk on the subway’ into ‘someone who might possibly be suffering or struggling’, you get to leverage compassion.

If ‘my failing business venture’ becomes ‘a severely challenging problem I just might be able to solve’, you call on your resourcefulness and grit, and indeed, you just might make it.

If you turn ‘my naysaying spouse’ into ‘my spouse with whom I’ll no longer have specific kinds of conversations’ you’ll remove a negative and hindering influence from your life (and you’ll very likely improve your relationship while you’re at it).

You make your perception, every moment of the day.

Own it, and you get to choose the best kinds of windmills to fight.



Greed vs Generosity

A while ago I ran into a local acquaintance, who hosts retreats and events.

“Hey Martin, do you still coach people?”

Told them that yes, I sure do.

“Well, if ever you want to work together, our premises are available”.

Ooh nice, I thought: collaboration!

“As in, organising a retreat together, you mean?”

And then they hit me with probably the biggest turnoff ever:

“No, as in: you bring us the people, and we host a retreat for them”.

My jaw dropped at the staggering and blatant greedy selfishness of it.

They expect me to do their marketing for them, because what – I’m such a nice guy?

To make this even more painful, this person is rather well-connected to an up-market audience, has a huge following, and is actually world-famous in a niche that isn’t very small.

In other words: they have everything in place to draw in a crowd.

And yet, they have this idea that other people should do the heavy lifting for them.

I’m still baffled by how clueless it all was.

In the past, I used to like this person, and have often considered programmes we could run together.

After this though? I no longer consider them. No longer part of my world. Bye.

Not that I expect them to care – after all, I’m just a dude who does a thing, and there’s 100s of dudes and lasses like me, here on the coast.

But in terms of marketing, what they did was display greed – the greatest sin you can imagine in business, sales, and marketing.

When you want to enroll people (whether in an idea, a collaboration, or indeed into paying you money for something), give first.

When you do that, you make it about them, which is a powerful way to enable people to trust you.

And without trust, people don’t buy.

Instead of being greedy and selfish, be generous.

Serve people with your marketing.

Just like I do with these dailies: a way to show up, to give something, a public service, to remind you that I’m here, and available if I’m the right coach for you.

And though I no longer teach email marketing, I can still coach you on how to generously write daily emails that people love, share, and buy from.

Holler when you’re ready.




How’s you year shaping up so far?

Most of us, we launch into a new year with zest, vigour and gusto, and probably with another couple of poetic words.

But every day life happens, and we all get to adapt our plans to the changes that start happening when the clock strikes midnight.

It’s easy to then get stressed, disheartened, or worse: to beat yourself up for yet again making resolutions that barely last until the first weekend of the year.

Before you know it your plans are out the window, it’s back to the grind, and the year is shaping up to look pretty much like last year.

If that’s you: stop and deliciate.

~ To delight oneself; to indulge in feasting or revels.

Kindness wins, every single time.

And being kind to the self is where it all starts (quickly followed by kindness to others, of course).

It might not apply to you, but almost everyone can do with some more self-love.

So if your year hasn’t taken off yet and you’re already worried or stressed or frustrated, this one simple judo-move just might give you a healthy, useful, fruitful reboot.

A walk, a bath, a movie or new shoes – whatever thing you know will delight you.

Put the tools down, close your laptop, close the door to the studio, mute your phone, block out a few hours, and go deliciate.

And if you want to put a smile on my face, send me an email and tell me in what way you’re going to do that.



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