How to Market Your Business When You’d Rather Be Listening More Than Talking

Some of us have the gift of gab. Others have an aptitude for acuity.

For those who would rather be listening, taking it all in, and gathering information, marketing can seem especially challenging. The same old tactics that work for those who have no problem talking, broadcasting, and sharing what they do openly, don’t necessarily work for those who actually connect best with others quietly.

While challenging, marketing actually holds a huge opportunity for listeners.

How to market your business when you'd rather be listening more than talking

Marketing is connecting.

Marketing does not equal promotion. Of course, reading most information on marketing today, you’d never know that. Marketing is a nuanced and complex aspect of business—but it boils down with making connections with prospective customers, nurturing those connections into relationships with your brand, and then formalizing that relationship with a sale.

We all have different ways of connecting. Some people do really well on stage or at a networking event. Others do really well telling stories or relating one-to-one. As a listener, you have a unique set of conditions for connection.

Me? I’m an observer. I’d actually prefer to watch and listen, instead of participating. I observe until I have something to say; and, when I finally do have something to say, I prefer to do it with a platform—a stage, an email list, an interview. I pretty much hate not being in charge. #truestory

You might do really well in personal, intimate exchanges. You might take more of a therapist’s role, asking probing questions and formulating your insights over time. Or you might intuitively perceive the situation and be able to respond quickly.

This quality of listening and gathering substance is what Sally Hogshead calls Mystique, one of the 7 triggers of fascination in the Fascination Advantage System.

In the year I’ve been testing my clients using Sally’s system, I’ve noticed that at least 1/3 of the people I work with test high for Mystique. That means that they carefully curate their communication, are highly observant, and tend to work independently. They read between the lines, maintain composure when things get intense, communicate with purpose, and find insight where others don’t.

Sally writes, “Mystique [personalities] might not dominate the conversation, but they can dominate the winner’s circle.”

Does that sound like you? I can assure you you’re in good company.

Marketing is listening, too.

The key to creating compelling marketing as a listener is to actually put all that great listening and perception to good use.

Mirror back your customers’ experiences. Acknowledge their pain or frustration. Reflect back to them their sincere aspirations. And do this anywhere you want to show up: Facebook, your blog or email list, Instagram, your sales pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc….

Demonstrate that you’ve been listening.

In many ways, marketing as a listener is about (creating and) holding space. When you market as a listener, you’re creating a container for others experiences. Your website, your social media, and the experiences you create can each hold space for how your customer is experiencing the world.

Heather Plett (who may or may not appreciate me making this connection) recently wrote about holding space—in a listening-as-marketing blog post that went completely viral:

A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for).

What you do as a marketer should empower the people you’re marketing to. The solutions you create should allow your customers to trust themselves. The sales conversations you enter into—whether leveraged through email marketing or made intimate through one-to-one conversation—should give your customers the power.

When your customers feel their own power—and have the space to exercise it—they will be more focused on what you are offering them.

Who are expert listeners-as-marketers?

Danielle LaPorte has amassed a large community of followers by channeling the white hot truth she perceives beyond the inner thoughts of her audience. If you think of her as a digital priestess, it’s because that kind of leadership comes from perception, not control.

Seth Godin posts on his blog every day. But every day, it’s an insight that resonates deeply with the experience of the people who populate his world. His mantra of product development—“Here, I made this for you.”—is a testament to the opportunity listeners have.

Tina Fey (my spirit animal) is also a listener and perceiver. Watch 5 minutes of 30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and you’ll see just how much she’s been listening. Joke after joke, reference after reference, she packs her comedy full of always smart, sometimes wacky perception.

Finally, StitchFix is a great example of a business that uses listening as its key marketing and value proposition. There was a running joke at CreativeLive that anytime someone would ask where part of my outfit had come from it was StitchFix. StitchFix is a personal styling service that sends you 5 items about once a month personally picked for you. You fill out a style profile, link your stylist to your Pinterest board, and send them notes about what you want or need (my recent box was geared to my trip to Cancun next week for What If Conference).

With each box, you give your stylist more feedback so they get better at selecting your pieces. I’ve been incredibly impressed by what I’ve been sent. I feel understood—and a bit challenged. Which has led to some fun new articles of clothing in my closet!

Listening is an advantage.

In today’s commercial era, those who prefer to listen rather than talk are at a distinct advantage. You might not be able to follow all the same “rules” as the talkers, but combine your unique makeup with creative thinking and you have a recipe for truly successful marketing.

The next time you feel pressured to say something about your business, your launch, or your product take a minute to consider what you’ve perceived all this time you’ve been listening and use it to hook the attention of the people who truly matter.


P.S. If you’d like to learn more about marketing your business on your unique strengths (your Quiet Power), check out my bootcamp–Build a Stand-out Business–on CreativeLive. From March 23-April 24, it’s broadcasting FREE. Tune in now!

Why Selling 2 Books Was One of My Biggest Career Victories

On Saturday night, I sold two copies of my new book, Quiet Power Strategy.

And it was one of the single best experiences of my life.

Before starting my company, I managed a Borders Books & Music store. Though that company is now defunct, at the time, they were the 2nd largest bookstore chain in the United States. I managed a store with a $5 million volume and a team of 30-40 employees.

My role as Sales Manager had me overseeing merchandising, human resources, our coffee shop, and the local books & events category. It was my job to purchase books from local authors and plan book signings. While I was working 50-60 hour weeks for $28,000 per year, I dreamed of the day I could be the author instead of the bookseller.

Filling out purchase orders and accounts payable records, I daydreamed about when it would be my book on invoice instead of my signature on the purchaser line.

Saturday, those day dreams came true.

My friend Lisa Reid, who owns Lucy’s Books here in Astoria, Oregon, asked me if I would be the March Author Spotlight when she heard about the impending release of Quiet Power Strategy. When 4:45pm rolled around on Saturday, I gathered up some books and headed downtown.

After about 6 weeks of warm weather and brilliant sunshine, the Pacific Northwest got some “normal weather” for March. It was about 52 degrees and ranging from drizzle to downpour all day. Even though ArtWalk is generally a well-attended event here, noone was overly optimistic.

I sat down at the author’s table and watched about 5 or 6 people walk through the door in the 3 hours I was there. Lisa apologized. It was wholly unnecessary. My dream had come true. I was an author, at an event, at a bookstore. The two books we sold Saturday night represented one of the greatest victories of my career so far.

Quiet Power Strategy at Lucy's Books

Well over 1300 books are out there in the world since the books was released last month (thank you!). And those 2 sales still represent something new and incredibly fulfilling to me.

As the above photo wracked up more & more likes on Facebook and Instagram, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much clear vision, purposeful action, and focused direction helps a business stand out.

It’s not about how loud you shout or what promotional tactics you master. Your voice will get hoarse. The algorithms will change.

Knowing where you’re headed, what you want to create, and how you want to connect with other people leads you to take action that helps your business stand out.


Perhaps more so, each step you take on the path toward those things earns you and your business more respect, visibility, and attention.

If your business is struggling to earn that respect, visibility, or attention… if you’re feeling pulled in a million directions and far from focused or purposeful with your actions… my next CreativeLive workshop can help.

We’ll spend a whole week identifying your vision, declaring your Chief Initiative, and defining the metrics by which you can track your progress.



Here’s what you’ll learn in 25 FREE lessons over 5 weeks in Build a Standout Business:
  • The 8 questions you need to answers as a foundation for standing out naturally.
  • The 2 languages you use to communicate naturally and how you can use them to create more compelling messages.
  • The specific conditions you need to successfully connect with others and what marketing channels to try based on those conditions.
  • How to create a business bio you can be proud of and use to differentiate what you do from everyone else in the market
  • And much, much more…

Again, this bootcamp is completely FREE to watch live and, when you RSVP, you’ll get access to the exclusive course worksheets as soon as they’re available.

I hope you’ll join me starting March 23!

4 People You Need On Your Team

What seems like flexibility can turn into isolation. What looks like independence can feel more like quarantine. Business just isn’t a solo act.

If you spend all your time thinking you’re alone in this game, you’ll never take full advantage of the sheer breadth of people available to you. Plus, you’re likely to make the same mistakes over and over again, suffer from the same assumptions, and miss out on big opportunities.

Business is a social act. Click to tweet!

4 people you must have on your team

Whether you have a vision for building a robust, in-house team, or whether you’d prefer to be lean and mean, you need to surround yourself with the right people to get the results you want. You can’t just dig in on your own and wrestle success into being.

In the New Economy, “team” is a distributed concept. Your team isn’t just the people that you pay but everyone who contributes value to your business. Your team is your community, your clients, your colleagues, and your friends.

Take a minute and take stock of who’s on your team, how they’re a part of your business, and what value you’ve received from them in the past. Then, consider whether you have these 4 absolutely essential people on your team.

…And where you could find them if you don’t.

Someone to Show You Your Unique Contribution

When you’re in your own head, it’s hard to tell that what’s going on in there is probably different than what others have going on in their heads. Take Natasha Vorompiova, creator of Systematic Success and one of our Quiet Power Strategy™-certified coaches. Last summer she made an off-hand remark about being able to run your whole business (project management, CRM, etc…) in Evernote.

As an Evernote addict myself, I said, “Woah, woah, woah. You can’t stop there. You must explain.”

She started to lay it all out, bit by bit. Allow me to speak for the group listening when I say our minds were blown.

She capped it all off by saying that she’s beginning to realize that most people don’t look at apps and tools and think, “How could I use this to simplify my business?”

No, Natasha, we do not. We think about adding, we think about fitting it in, we think about getting it to do 1 little thing instead of 100 big things.

We all have unique things to contribute. We all have a different way of seeing the world. We all have different strengths and ways that we’re effective. But we take them for granted. Our unique contribution colors everything we see.

You need someone in your corner to regularly point out your unique value to you. Sometimes she’s a boss, a business partner, or a colleague. He could also be an employee, even a contractor. Other times it’s your community.

People all around you are likely pointing out your unique contribution. But you’re not listening. You’re not hearing them when they describe in detail the unexpected way you solved that problem or the surprising way you handled a tough situation. Listen. Own it.

Someone Who is Making It Happen

Do you have business owner friends who are just trying to get ahead? Or do you have business owner friends who are making things happen? Too often, the people I talk to have friends who are all hustling and going nowhere fast.

It’s not that you should only spend time connecting with successful people. It’s that, if you don’t intentionally connect with successful people, there’s a good chance you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Everyone you add to your team who is making it happen has something they can demystify for you. While their answers may not be your answers, their stories can help you connect dots you wouldn’t have connected on your own. You can find your way more easily, even without copying their plan.

Sometimes these people are the contractors we hire. They’re experts in their fields and they can help you learn the ropes. Other times, they’re the coaches we hire. Their experience can provide a foil for your own. Still other times they’re our friends, colleagues, or people in our mastermind groups.

Trying to figure it out with a group of friends or employees can be helpful, but gaining knowledge from the experience of someone who’s been there, succeeded at that, is priceless.

Someone Who Complements You

Look, you’ve got strengths and you’ve got weaknesses. I have strengths and weaknesses. The beautiful thing is that there is someone out there who believes in your vision as much as you do who has the opposite strengths and weaknesses. That person should be on your team.

Recently, I hired my mother to manage projects, monitor communication, and create systems in my business. In the Fascination Advantage system, I am Power + Prestige, she’s Alert + Trust. In Myers-Briggs, I am INTP, she’s ISFJ. In English, that all means that I’m a big picture creator who performs best when I’m on stage and in charge. She’s a detail-oriented caretaker who performs best when she’s making all the puzzle pieces fit together.

She complements me.

Don’t try to be something you’re not. That’s what your team is for. Whether they work for you or create value for your business more casually, find people who complement you.

Someone Whom You Can Trust With Responsibility

You are not your business. Even if you’re operating a one-woman show, you are not your business.

You need to be able to hand off responsibility. It’s not enough to outsource a task or try to fill in the blanks on a big project. You need to let go to succeed.

If the people on your team can’t be trusted with true responsibility (the ability to create value for your business without your constant intervention), you’ll never feel like you’re getting ahead.

If you’re not at the stage of bringing on actual team members, think about what you’d like to let go of—not just because it’s annoying or time-consuming but because it’s not something you need to do. Consider creative ways to trust others (or tools or applications) with that responsibility. And if no creative solutions exist, make a plan and benchmarks for bringing a team member on board.

You can’t get ahead without support. Whether you choose to invest in a program like Quiet Power Strategy™, a contractor or employee, or your community, make team-building a priority for your business this year.

How to Raise the Bar Without Burning Out

“What habits did you pick up from working with Ira [Glass]?” asked Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and host of The Tim Ferriss show.

“There’s a certain level of ‘comfort with crisis’ that wore off on me,” replied Alex Blumberg, former producer for This American Life and co-founder of Gimlet Media.

Blumberg thought this might be a bad habit, this regular bumping into crisis motivated by high standards. I had other thoughts.

As an entrepreneur, crisis is part of my life. Even when things are well-systematized, edited into something beautiful, and leveraged, there are times when you need to push yourself harder, work longer, or expend more energy.

How to raise the bar without burning out

With a brand new book launch, a rebranded business coaching program now open for new clients, 2 keynote addresses, and a 30-day CreativeLive workshop to prepare for in the next 6 weeks, I’m in that mode right now. While there are many months of the year that my business works like a well-oiled machine during which I regularly work 25-30 hours per week, right now I’m at the brink of crisis.

Great opportunities create points of near-crisis.


Raising the bar takes risk.

You’re never completely ready. They never come at exactly the right time. They never exactly fit in that plan you hammered out 3 years ago.

So you push yourself. You make the tough decision and you say “yes” knowing that it’s going to push you to your edge–and a little past.

You do it in the name of service, you do it in the name of excellence, you do it for a challenge. You do it so that you know your ideas are represented in the best way possible. Whatever reason motivates you, you do it. You allow yourself to creep up to the point of crisis and you get more and more comfortable with that point.

I’m not suggesting that you enter true crisis. The brink of crisis–the point with which you get comfortable as an entrepreneur–is a place you can push yourself to in the name of [fill in your personal values here] and float for a few days, a week, maybe a month at most.

As I thought about it more, I came to believe there is a continuum of high-level creative work that leads to comfort with crisis, and ends, potentially in burnout.

The continuum begins with Boredom. We are all people who hate to be bored. The only thing we might hate more than being bored is the kind of busyness that’s more mind-numbing and less purposeful than truly having nothing to do. Then there is Busywork. It’s the stuff that you do just to get done. Hypothetically it serves a purpose, but you’re not exactly sure what that purpose is.

As you move closer to your zone of genius, you get to a stage of Productivity. This is where most of us want to be most of the time. You have a purpose, you’re doing great work, you’re getting things accomplished.

If you push further, if you challenge yourself harder, if you bump up against every edge or deadline you have, you get to the brink of Crisis. The more you get comfortable with this feeling, the more facility you have in pushing yourself there when you want to.


Of course, “when you want to” is key.

In my own experience, it’s when I’ve intentionally pushed myself into a “comfortable” Crisis–one bred from opportunity and high standards–that I am accessing my zone of genius, even entering a state of flow. I solve problems, find creative insights, and get stuff done.

I’m not encouraging you to constantly live in this state, so please don’t email me with your concerns about my dangerous lifestyle. What I’m saying is that we all find ourselves in this state from time to time, and, when we better understand it, we can make it a choice not a necessity.

We can become proactive about crisis instead of reactive.


On Tuesday, I hosted a webinar for over 900 people on how to create focus in their businesses using a technique called the Chief Initiative. One of the benefits of focusing your business on a Chief Initiative is that it creates intense drive toward a thrilling (and ideally lucrative) destination.

Maybe it’s publishing a book, landing a big fish wholesale client, or transforming your speaking career. Those things don’t happen without quite a few stars aligning. But to make your stars align, need to push yourself out of your comfort zone a bit. You need to do things you haven’t done before in the name of achieving something that’s really important to you and the long-term health of your business.

Most likely, that’s going to require getting at least a little comfortable with the brink of crisis. Whether it’s the Terror Lite that comes in the run up to doing something for the very first time, or the crunch of multiple projects being birthed at the same time, it’s going to happen. Growing pains and all that. Will you risk temporary discomfort for impeccable output?

When you stay in Crisis mode for too long or when that Crisis lacks a clear purpose or isn’t motivated by your personal values, you end up in Burnout. That’s the far end of the continuum and that’s a place none of us want to be.

Of course, you can “achieve” Burnout without the benefits of edging up to Crisis. You can skip all of the middle stages and go from Boredom or Busywork right to Burnout. I fear that’s where you might be at.

If you’re working yourself to the bone but without a clear purpose and destination, you don’t know which edges need to be pushed, which bar to raise. You can’t say “yes” to opportunity and you can’t plan for growth. All you can do is try to keep all the balls in the air.

…people fixate on execution (‘doing what’s required’) instead of finishing up strategy (‘choosing the direction’) because it’s easier to see progress during execution than during strategy formation and development.”
— Nilofer Merchant, The New How

This is when you need to rely on Focus more than ever. Your strategy must be to bring attention to one achievement (your Chief Initiative) that would change the game for your business. Then, you reverse engineer—making tough decisions all the way down—the action plan so that you can immediately recognize what’s important and what’s not.

That’s how you raise the bar without burning out. That’s how you align your day-to-day actions with your vision. That’s how you actually achieve the things that move your business forward.

How to Create $10k in Unplanned Revenue: Breanne Dyck Case Study

One of the most fun parts of being an entrepreneur is the ability to generate revenue from nowhere. Of course, it’s not really coming from nowhere. You need to be able to spot an opportunity, create the right conditions for success, and make it all happen.

It’s not that it’s easier said than done but that it takes a type of perception that needs to be worked at. The good news is that anyone can learn this type of perception and learn it quickly. It’s one of the things that I teach our clients in Quiet Power Strategy™.

  1. They learn that opportunities are most often driven by their customers’ evolving needs. In other words, you’ve probably nailed one need at this point so now you need to ask, “What do they need next?”
  2. Then they learn how to create valuable experiences that require very little work to produce. Instead of trying to get everything right, they only prioritize what their ideal customer truly cares about. They also take into account what is going to make them as both a business owner and a value deliverer most effective.
  3. Finally, they create a plan to make it happen. We focus this around their Chief Initiatives so that they have the kind of focus that not only transforms the way they work on a day-to-day basis but transforms the way others perceive their businesses.

Breanne Dyck: learning strategist & coachBreanne Dyck, a brilliant learning strategist who has helped me craft my last two CreativeLive workshops, used this system to generate unplanned revenue and seriously up-level the way her business is perceived in the market. Not only that, but the way she perceives herself and her business has changed. Here’s her story:

“Create a plan to generate $8000 in un-planned for revenue during the course of the program.”


That was the challenge that Tara gave us in September, at the start of Quiet Power Strategy™.


My gut response was, “$8000? Unplanned?! In four months!?!”


It’s not that I didn’t want the revenue; I just didn’t see how it could be possible. My plan for the rest of the year had included no new sales cycles, offers or clients. Just taking the program.


What I didn’t realize at the time was that this “plan” was really just me holding myself back. Over the next few months, the coaches helped me strip away that false complacency and lack of confidence. Nothing was sacred; everything I thought I knew went under the microscope.


I thought I helped online entrepreneurs who wanted to create online courses. Turns out, “my people” are business owners who want to be recognized as best-in-class, every time they show up in the world.


I knew they liked my experience, smarts, and ability to apply theory to the “real world.” But I learned that they love  my drive for excellence, my ability to quickly zero in on opportunities, and my dedication for making them – and their work – stand out.


Quiet Power Strategy™ didn’t create this knowledge. Instead, it helped me to articulate it and bring it together, so I could stand firmly and confidently in the overlap. In doing so, I found a brand new business model, a new way of talking about my work, and a set of all-new offerings.


Looking back now, I can hardly believe that so much could change in such a short period of time. There was a lot of unlearning to do; a lot of stepping outside of my comfort zone; a lot of trusting myself and my instincts. But every step moved me closer and closer to where I want to be.


And that insurmountable-feeling challenge?


I knocked it out of the park, with more than $10,000 in new, unplanned revenue. My January 2015 sales alone exceeded 1/3rd of my total prior-year revenues.


What I’m most excited about, though, is that I know the best is yet to come.

If you’re looking to develop a best-in-class workshop, program, or course, I cannot recommend Breanne more highly. She has helped me infuse incredible value into my teaching and create experiences that are grounded, measurable, and truly beneficial to my students. You can find out more about her Elevate sessions and get access to over 9 coaching videos by clicking here.

And if you’re ready to learn how to start applying these principles to your business, I invite you to check out my free training on creating your Chief Initiative and finding the focus that not only transforms the way you work but the way people perceive your business. Click here to register–FREE.

It’s Amazing What You’ll Do When You Have a Focus

We left the paved path around Mile 4 and stepped onto a leaf-covered trail that led to a wildlife viewing platform. We took about 10 paces forward and veered off onto a “nondescript” path leading into the brush and trees. I counted 18 paces and watched the little blue circle on my phone get closer to the green target.

I stopped and looked around. Sean trudged on a few paces more.

We bent down, poking at the ground, lifting branches, looking for something that seemed just a little off. Nothing. Again.

I declared the mission hopeless.

But just to be sure, I picked up a stick, turned around, and parted the brush in a few other spots. Wait! What was that?! I thought.

There, about a foot off the ground, was a small, brown, hand-carved deer figure. It had a small cap sticking out of its side. The cache!

Sean and I started geocaching last Fall. What amazes me time and time again is just what I’m willing to do in the name of locating my target. Climb over a fence? Sure. Stick my hand into cobwebs? No problem. Inspect every inch of a guardrail at rush hour? Of course.

The craziest thing I’ve done so far is leave a path and venture into a heavily wooded area about 300 feet to find a fire hydrant someone had hauled into the middle of nowhere.

While none of these things may sound too crazy to my heartier readers, I am what you call “a city girl.” I’m a city girl who’s attached to a mountain man trudging through the woods. I don’t do outdoorsy things. Not because I don’t want to or because I don’t like to but just because I generally don’t think about it!

These are my geocaching earrings.In fact, we snapped this picture of us after one find and Sean remarked, “I love how I actually look like I’m out in the woods and you look like you just stepped out of an Uber.” I told him that I would forever refer to these earrings as my “geocaching earrings.”

My point is this: the thrill of the hunt for my chosen target encourages me to step out of my comfort zone, push through my edges (and sometimes through a bush), and get me doing things I otherwise wouldn’t proactively choose to do.

What does this have to do with your business? Easy. You need a target.

You need to know where you’re headed.

When you don’t know where you’re headed—or when you have too many goals—you will struggle with prioritization, motivation, and pushing yourself. Having a target, a focus, not only transforms the way you work but the way others perceive your business.

Many entrepreneurs come to me saying they don’t know what to focus on, they don’t know how to avoid Shiny Object Syndrome, or they struggle with what to prioritize. My theory is that these problems all stem from not knowing what your target is. Your target is the most important thing. If you don’t know your target, you don’t know what’s important.

And if you don’t know what’s most important, it’s only because you haven’t chosen what’s most important. You have to choose because you’re in charge.

When you know your target, you can figure out how you’re going to get there, what you’re going to need to accomplish along the way, and what new things you’ll need to learn or experiment with. Until then, you’re going to keep flailing around.

In Quiet Power Strategy, your target is your “Chief Initiative.” It’s the one and only goal you’re focused on for the next 12 months or so. When I tell clients they can only have one goal, the first reaction is paralyzing fear. What do I pick?! Then, there’s relief.

They decide on something that’s going to keep them motivated, prioritized, and focused and suddenly they relax and start having fun with pushing themselves. Other people perceive their business differently because now it’s focused and on-target.

When you have one goal, you start to see how everything else in your business either supports that goal or is droppable. You can:

  • Understand the conditions of your success and start bringing them into your daily life now.
  • Create sub-goals that act as mile markers on your path.
  • Leverage systems to make the day-to-day journey easier.
  • And rally a team of supporters to keep your motivated, producing, and on track.

If you’d like more guidance on how to use the Chief Initiative idea to find relief from always scrambling to know what to do next to get results, I’d love to invite you to a free training I’m doing this Tuesday.

It’s a lesson straight out of my Quiet Power Strategy program (formerly 10Thousand Feet) and you won’t find me talking about it in this depth anywhere else.

Click here to learn more & register!