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

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

Count Yourself

Yeah I know – there’s only one ‘you’ to count, right?

But check the way you write your business communications… emails you send to your list… replies on Messenger and Whatsapp… blog posts, your about page…

In the things that you write, how often does  the word ‘I’ show up?

Ah… suddenly there’s a lot more of ‘you’ to count…

Look, it’s natural to reference self when writing. After all it’s us, ‘I’, in dialogue with someone else, or it’s ‘I’ delivering discourse.

But most business writing is full of self-reference and the word ‘I’ shows up so much, that the reader can’t help but feel that it’s not about them.

And then they’re lost, they stop reading, they unsubscribe, or don’t follow up on your proposal.

So to make your business writing better, remember a few ground rules:

Never start a message with ‘I’. You might be the most loving and compassionate person in the world, but when ‘I’ leads the message, the reader reads ‘self-importance’.

Following on from that: Avoid as much as possible, starting a sentence with ‘I’. Reason: see above, but cumulative.

Ok. So with that, you’ve edited and improved your missive. Well done.

But if you count self, you see there’s still a lot of ‘I’ in there… now what?


Replace each instance of ‘I’ with ‘you’, see how it breaks the sentence, and then: rewrite the sentence so that you keep ‘you’ and it all makes sense again.

Do that with each instance of ‘I’, and you’ll be sending messages that instead of driving people away because it *feels* like it’s all about you, will draw people in to working with you, because the absence of that ‘I’ focus allows them to relate your message to themselves.

Make people feel it’s about them, and they get closer – which is pretty damn required if they’re going to buy from you.

One of the things I love doing for clients, is improve their copy for them.

I’ve done it a lot back when I was a copywriter, so fixing something that’s almost good and make it great is something I can do on the fly –  and for my clients it’s great, because they can focus on doing their work, while they get a pro to create written business communication that causes sales.

It’s not that I sell that as a service, but it’s a nice bonus to give, and super profitable for my clients.

Like that series of emails I wrote a while ago, and which helped my client net almost $10k in five days.

Could be the kind of help you have in your corner.

Should we have a chat about what it would look like to get my help?

Let me know…

In any case, watch out for self-referencing in your writing – make sure that even if you write about yourself, it’s always for the reader.



How to Not Try, and Actually Help People

It’s kinda cruel, how we’re wired.

The more someone else struggles or suffers, the more we feel it and the more we want to help them, make things right.

But more often than not, we get exactly the opposite result… and it’s only down to trying too hard.

For example, you’ll know that I’m very hot on meditation. It’s a wonderful thing, I’ve done it for 25 years, it’s done me tons of good, has scientific backup as to positive effects…

And yet, you’ll never see me make a case for meditation – not until someone asks me.

Because if I were to try and persuade someone to try it, it would mean ‘trying hard’ – and the problem is that today someone might be swayed by my recommendation, and try it, but because the choice was made because of my clever pitch and not because of their own inner pull, they’ll likely find it a disheartening experience and give up. Trust me, I’ve seen this more times than I can remember, since I started meditating 25 years ago.

And then they might consider themselves ‘not fit for meditation’ or vice versa, and never get back to it.

So by trying too hard, I would risk putting comeone off their own course. Much better to help those who want change, or meditation, or growth or whatever, and who want to start it now.

Self-motivated, self-inspired. It’s the best way for anyone to step into change, and the best way to help with that is by helping the other find their own solution, and not imposing our own good ideas on anything or anyone.

Now back to opening lines: the more we care about someone, and the more we hurt seeing their struggle, the more important it is to give the other space for wanting change or help, instead of proffering our help and suggestions before that person is ready.

It goes completely against our mind’s direction, because we know – our minds know – that we can help, that there’s a solution, that if only they’d listen…

But the mind will have to suck it up, because the more we try, the more wrong the mind is in its conviction.

Go ahead and try, helping someone who isn’t ready yet… has it ever worked?

Most likely, you ran into resistance and objections, and the other person’s process didn’t speed up, no matter how hard you tried.

Could even be that things stalled or slowed down, or maybe the conversation got difficult…

Or maybe you’ve been on the other side, where someone just wouldn’t stop trying to fix things for you and didn’t give you space to even think.

All because of ‘trying too hard’.

Their efforts didn’t exactly help you, right?

Pay attention to the gut-wrenching feelings of grief and compassion and pity and helpfulness, at seeing another person’s struggle, and when you notice them: check yourself.

You might just be on the verge of giving the person the very opposite of what you want for them.

Be available, ready, present, but be careful not to hamper the other’s process by inadvertently getting in the way.

If you really want to help, create a space and a conversation that enables the other person to seek and find their own inner pull, and avoid trying too hard to help.

Which, incidentally, applies to all kinds of relationships and conversations: spouses, children, vendors, team members, clients and prospects.

No matter who it is: the harder we try to help, the easier it is to help less. But now you know what to look out for…




P.s. This whole attitude of helping people to want help by not trying to help so forcefully, is the foundation of my LEAP framework for ethical selling, and it’s really effective… and it actually helps. Both you and your buyers. More information here.

The Cure For Impatience (That Nobody Wants – but Maybe You’re Different?)

There’s no easy way to say this, but…

The cure for impatience comes down to the decision to get over oneself.

Or, put more gently: to apply some humility.

Because impatience has at its core a form of self-importance.

Impatience comes from the idea that things ought to be different, and be in accordance with how we say the world should be.

It shows itself in the way we think and talk:

“That person should buy already.”

“The knowledge I gained should give me skills – now please. What is this practice thing you’re talking about?”

“This business has to be bigger, better, more profitable – and what’s taking so long?”

You can influence the world and the minds of your prospects, sure.

You can nudge, and guide, and steer.

But you can’t command things to be this way or that way.

Which everyone will have experienced at some point or other.

A prospect will buy when you’ve given them enough time, in your learning about their frustrations and in addressing their concerns.

A business will grow once you’ve practiced, iterated, and learned what’s required of you to make it grow.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but impatience is a sign that something in you considers you important enough to decide how the world should be.

And as for that cure?

A decision… to practice a healthy degree of humility.

Because after all, we’re not as important as we think we are.

Remember rule #6: Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Bonus: when you make this shift, it’ll do wonders for your sales conversations and the results you get!

And so will this.



Wanting Something From People VS Wanting Something for People

Had a chat with an old friend – one of the guys who used to visit the monastery. He’s in business too these days, so it was fun to chat and compare notes.

And once again, I had someone tell me “I don’t like selling”.

“I don’t like that the moment you have something for sale, it’s a nasty situation, because it means you want something from people”.

Is that true though?

Me I’ve got plenty for sale, but I don’t want anything from anyone.

I want things for other people – not from other people.

I want for readers to enjoy a daily dose of healthy business thinking.

I want for clients to get the very best of me, and for them to transform their life and their business.

And for potential clients, I want for them to make the best possible decision, whether that means working with me, or not. Both outcomes are fine, as long as the outcome is best for the person I’m talkin to.

So my friend suffers from two problems: first is the good-egg problem, where the better kind of person someone is, the more they prevent themselves from getting out there and helping people.
It’s a very common thing.

Th second problem is in his way of thinking, because:

It’s never about getting anything from people. Not for people who operate from the heart.

And, when you also sell from the heart, when you enroll because you’d truly love to work with that person and they themselves buy in voluntarily, you’re not taking anything: you’re giving.

And as long as the sales conversation goes on, you get to give them super powerful and enjoyable conversations, the kind that will help and be remembered.

And if the stars align, the other person will stop you and say ‘How do I get more of this?’ or ‘When do we start?’ or ‘Take my money!’ – all of which are things I’ve been told.

It isn’t ‘I want something from you’, it’s: ‘If you’re this kind of person, I have something for you’.

And when it’s ‘no sale’?

Then it wasn’t for them, at this point. But if you do it right, you’ll have had such a pleasant exchange, that the non-buyer remembers it positively, which means they’ll be happy to hear from you when you follow up.

And you never know when someone will ready themselves to buy. (hint: it’s never when we’re trying to push. that isn’t ‘being ready’, that’s ‘being coerced’).

So remember: selling the way nice people do it, is about having something for someone, wanting something for them.

And I have something for you, if you want it:

A 10-week, personal, 1 on 1 training on ethical selling.

Details here.






Now They See It, Now They Buy

There’s a guy I like to learn from – the late Jim Camp, known as the world’s most feared negotiator.

One of his lessons is that ‘vision drives decision’, and since every sale is effectively a negotiation, it’s really important that you work with your prospect’s vision.

Because unless they see themselves experiencing the benefit of your product or service, your only chance to cause a sale is to force the issue – and we’re nice people, we don’t force people into buying.

Now, most people try to persuade a vision onto someone.

They make compelling arguments, they proffer explanations, they paint the ‘after’, they point out the problems that remain without the purchase…

But it’s much more effective to have a prospect develop their own vision, instead.

That way, they own the vision instead of ‘borrowing’ it from you, which makes it far more likely that they’ll also buy your work.

And the best way for someone to develop their own vision of ‘problem solved because I bought this thing’?


The last thing you want to do when selling, is tell people what to see.

Instead, ask questions that have them gain clarity and insight, and they’ll develop their vision all by themselves.

What kind of question to ask depends on many things – from the product or service you offer, to the personality of the buyer, the price point, your own personality… to name but a few moving parts.

But, as long as your questions come from a place of empathy (i.e. putting yourself into their world), you’ll be fine.

Empathy shows the other that it’s about their results first, their decision second, and your sale last.

And that’s exactly the kind of ethical, integrity-based selling that I teach.

Want to dive deep on what questions to ask your particular buyers, so that they’ll happily build their own vision and desire, and volunteer ‘How does it work?’ or ‘Where do I pay?’

Then the LEAP Framework for Ethical Selling might be just the thing you need…

But, before making any decisions, let’s have a short conversation, and see if that 1 on 1 training truly is what will help you enroll more buyers.

Just pick a time here…






Incompatible Currencies

Whenever you find yourself in a situation where someone isn’t going along with the good ideas you have, you need to ask yourself:

Are the two of you trading in compatible currencies?

Because if you’re not, and you’re not aware of it, you’ll go nowhere real fast with that person.

For example:

A husband comes home to find his wife distressed and upset. Oops… something’s happened.

He sits down, listens to her troubles, and starts thinking of ways to help, to improve the situation, to fix things for her.

Useful, no? Girl’s got a problem, let’s help, let’s see if we can fix it!

Except his wife grows increasingly upset. Frustrated, even.

Until finally the whole conversation disintegrates: he ends up frustrated because she doesn’t seem to want his help, and she’s upset because ‘he just never listens’ to her.

In such a situation, the ‘currency’ she’s hoping for, is someone who listens, who gives her space to vent, so she can clear her head, get some clarity, and not feel alone in her troubles.

At that stage, she’s not looking for a solution, but someone to just be present.

He on the other hand, is trying to ‘pay’ a different kind of currency, in the form of quality problem-solving.

But that’s not what she wants – and so we end up with incompatible currencies.

The problem arises when we interpret the other person’s situation, conclude that we know what they want, and proceed to try and give it to them.

A client might say: “I want a website with custom branding and e-commerce built in”, and on the surface that seems straightforward enough.

But below the surface, they might want different things, like:

‘A site that works, doesn’t break, and that’s easy to manage and update’.

Or: ‘A site that enables me to earn more from the traffic I’m getting’.

Or: ‘An online presence that I’m proud of’.

You can’t know what’s behind the obvious, and even when you ask, you’ll only learn what they tell you, which may or may not be the complete picture.

So if you then go answer – and try to fulfill – the surface-level wishes, you likely speak to something that isn’t the real, true, deeper desire… and you might lose the client.

Whenever you try to help someone, serve someone, or try and do something in order to solve a problem for someone… but they’re not having none of it?

Ask yourself: Are you trying to ‘pay’ in a ‘currency’ they don’t want?



P.s. Before November is out, I’ll be raising the price of my 1 on 1 training for the LEAP Ethical Selling Framework. For now it’s still available at $1500, should you want to upgrade your communication and selling skills. 


What to do When ‘the Face Ain’t Listening’

So you’re talking to someone whom you’d like to buy in to your idea – buyer, spouse, team mate, etc – and you realise:

They’re not buying in. No matter what you tell them, they don’t seem to be enrolling in your idea.

So you try a different approach, different logic, another kind of appeal to their senses…

But nope, no cigar – they still don’t seem to get the sense and usefulness of that thing you’re trying to have them see.

You’re talking to the hand, and the face ain’t listening.

When that happens, you need to realise that you’re trying to reason with the other person’s emotional world, and that’s something that will never work.

Their emotional senses are looking for the stuff that feels good, and you’re here, trying to appeal to their intellect, intelligence and insight.

Obviously, that will go nowhere: the other person’s emotional world doesn’t understand stuff – no matter how compelling, logical, and sensible your argumentation may be. Emotions are not meant to understand. It’s not what emotions are for.

If you’ve ever thought to yourself “But why don’t they see what I’m saying, how come they can’t tell that it makes sense what I’m saying?”, then you’ve been trying to reason with their emotions.

And you can explain until the cows come home, but the rational mind won’t deal with information if the emotional world doesn’t feel it yet.

The other person’s emotional world is large, mostly subconscious, and it’s got power to overrule the mind, because the subconscious is tasked with keeping us safe, watching out for threats. It knows more than the mind does, it intuits – and it’s a paranoid gatekeeper.

Looks, feels, sounds, like a potential threat? Best to err on the safe side, and act as if there is an actual threat.

In terms of evolutionary psychology, that’s how the subconscious helps us live another day.

Now obviously, it’s illogical that they’d feel some sort of unconscious threat: after all, you’re not trying to harm anyone, or force anything on them – but that lack of logic is exactly what the irrational nature of emotions is about.

So. If ever you find yourself reasoning with someone who’s just not getting it, seeing it, buying in to your idea and vision:


Something in their subconscious triggered an emotional defense or disconnect, and hammering your point is only going to strengthen the defense.

Stop, and instead get that person to talk. Ask questions such as “What’s on your mind” or “What does this situation look like to you” or “Are there any concerns you have about any of this” or “If you were master of the universe, how would you solve or arrange this?”

The actual question you ask depends on the situation, but the important thing is that you get the other person to share their view, the vision that they’re working with.

With a bit of luck, you’ll uncover the reason why their emotions block understanding or adoption – which gives that person the validation that their concerns are valid, and that will help them trust you enough to at least try and see – i.e. understand – the sense of what you’re trying to say.

In short: never try to reason with emotion, because it’s a ‘face’ that will never listen to reason.



P.s. And here is where you can enroll in a 10-week personal training, to help you become proficient at ethical, empathy-based selling. 



Permission –> Trust –> Vision –> Decision –> Sale

And, always in that order.

A potential client will only make a decision to buy, when they are good and ready – and that means, they need to *see* themselves enjoying the benefit of having bought your thing.

That’s the vision element of a sales process: getting to the point where they see the vision you have for them.

But before they’ll buy in to that vision, they need to trust you.

Unless there’s trust, they’re not going to have that vision.

And, in order to gain trust, you need to gain permission first.

Permission to explain, permission to ask questions, and, yes: Permission to ultimately ask for the sale.

And so selling in an ethical way, where you have sales conversations that people enjoy, works like this:

First, you gain permission – to explore their situation, to address objections, to discover what they need.

Do that right, and you’ll earn their trust. Trust that you’re looking out for them, that you’re not just in it for the money, and – very importantly – that your product or service is what they need, and that it’ll solve their problem.

That trust causes people to get curious, to ask you questions, and that builds a vision in their minds.

And once that vision is ready, and they’ve sold themselves on wanting your thing – that’s when you get to ask for the sale, and that’s when they make the decision to buy (or not).

And if they don’t, you graciously accept their no, and you continue the conversation (i.e. you follow up in a pleasant way) until such time that they are ready.

There you go: ethical selling in a nutshell.

Hey, and what if the nutshell isn’t enough for you, but you actually want to get your head around ethical selling, and get really good at it?

This 10-week training will do the trick…






Let’s Break Things

Gutenberg said: ‘Copying texts by hand? How tedious, how inefficient. That ain’t right’.

And he went on to invent a printing press, and he broke how things were done.

Steve Jobs said: ‘Computers big and bulky, and only for corporations? That ain’t right’.

He went on to put a personal computer in every household.

Abraham Lincoln saw slavery, and said: ‘No you don’t’ – and became one of the people most associated with abolishing it.

Just a few random, yet impactful, instances of people saying ‘that ain’t right. I’m going to break that’.

History is full of examples like these.

And if you look at the world we live in, I’ll bet there are quite a few things you consider wrong.

Things that should change, be disrupted, be righted, be broken and replaced by something better.

At what point does it become right for a politician to lie?

What makes it right for a corporation to please its shareholders, whilst treating its customers like cash-cattle, and damage the land in the process?

How is it right for a (social) media corporation to foster hatred and divisiveness, with its clever algorithms designed to hook people and keep them addicted to fear and panic?

There are many things in the world that just ain’t right, and as a business owner, you get to choose whether or not you help break them, and build something better instead.

And it’s wonderful to see all the driven and passionate founders and coaches and activists and authors and researchers taking a stand, and saying ‘this ain’t right. I’m going to change this’.

If you’re an entrepreneur who is in business to break thins so that something better can be built, you’re my kinda hero. Keep going.

And if you also want to move faster, break things faster, and build a better new faster, then maybe I can help.

Hit reply and let me know what wrong you’re righting, and let’s have a chat.




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