A non-obvious way to gain more power

My kid loved her 3rd grade teacher so much that she threatened to repeat 3rd grade.

When I informed her that, if she tanked the last bit of the year so she could repeat, there would be no way she would have the same teacher.

“They’ll assume he failed you, sweetie. Just don’t do it.”

Of course, she wasn’t serious…
…but she was completely serious about her love for her teacher.

A non-obvious way to gain more power

At her school, they get “tickets” for certain behavior and achievements. These tickets act like currency for certain prizes (pencil erasers and such) or experiences.
(I have mixed thoughts.)

My kid saved up her whole year’s worth of tickets so she could have a private lunch with the teacher.

I’m not going to lie, I would have done the same thing at her age!

When she cashed in on her lunch, she was allowed to invite two friends to dine with her. She invited one of her little besties and she also invited the newest girl in the class.

I teared up a little when she told me.

It was such a kind thing to do.

She had plenty of other friends she could have invited but she chose a girl she barely knew.

I can imagine that that girl will become one of my daughter’s close friends. She’ll be there for her when things get rough and she’ll cheer her on when she’s working toward a big goal (like becoming a mathematician—her current career aspiration).

This girl will also, no doubt, remember that kindness for a long while, possibly for the rest of her life.

Now, this isn’t a story about kindness on its own. It’s really a story about power.

Power, as Dacher Keltner defines it in his book The Power Paradox, is “our capacity to make a difference in the world.”

Sure, you can make a bad difference…

But I love how this definition of power puts us in the mind of doing good. We can rise to power—as leaders, business owners, change-makers—in order to make a positive in the world and the lives of the people in our networks.

My daughter gained a little power the day she decided to reach out to someone new. And I have a lot of confidence she’ll use that power for good.

Now what does this have to do with running your business?
Quite a bit.

Especially if you want to use your business to further your mission and improve people’s lives (and I know you do).

Every day is a new opportunity to gain power for yourself and your business by reaching out to others, share your experiences through stories, offering some help, or simply collaborating on a project.

But first, I have a new podcast episode that’s a great corollary to this idea. I interviewed Jordan Harbinger, host & co-founder of The Art of Charm, for Profit. Power. Pursuit. this week.

The Art of Charm is one of the top podcasts on all of iTunes.

I’ll admit: I was very, very nervous before this interview.

But Jordan put me at ease right away and assured me that he wanted to give me the best interview he could.

His take on the benefits of reaching out & developing new relationships?
“The only way to maximize your return on your networking is to help everyone you can without actually expecting anything in return.”

So if the idea of reaching out makes you nervous, or you’ve had bad experiences with networking in the past, or you just don’t even know what networking looks like beyond bad cocktail hours, this interview is for you.

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What Kind Of Person Are You?

I’m not the kind of person who wakes up early to exercise.

I’m not the kind of person who is outdoorsy.

I’m not the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

You have a story (probably many) about who you are and what you’re about.

Those 4 were some of mine.

Have a minute? I’d like to share more–but it’s personal.

***

Last January, I hired a personal trainer because I thought I needed someone to hold me accountable for exercising on a regular basis.

I didn’t like the way I felt, the way I looked, or the amount of energy I had. It seemed like a reasonable solution to the problem.

Guess what? I went to the first 2-3 sessions of the package I purchased and didn’t show up for the rest.

This January, I decided I was going to set my alarm for 6am and start the day with a workout.

I’ve massively succeeded. I feel more comfortable in my body, I love the way I look, and I have pretty boundless energy.

The difference? When I hired a trainer, I told myself, “I’m not the kind of person who exercises on her own.”

When I got serious about changing my routine, I told myself, “I am the kind of person who wakes up early to take care of herself.”

And, now I am.

***

I moved to the coast of Oregon 5 years ago.

Every day, I felt like a “city person” in our small fishing town.

I loved spending time outside in the temperate rain forest, at the beach, or in the state parks. But I looked at Sean’s friends–who would hike up a mountain and then ride their bikes 20 miles on the beach in one weekend–with jealousy.

They were “outdoorsy” people.

When I moved back to PA 2 years ago, I grieved the loss of the wild outdoors. I wanted mountains, beaches, and rivers. But I realized that PA Dutch countryside, deciduous forest, and rail trails were cool too.

We bought a Subaru. We got a bike rack. I bought hiking shoes.

And we used them.

One day Sean said, “I think we’re becoming the kind of people who go hiking & biking every weekend.”

I said, “We already are.”

***

When I started my business, I set my earning goal at about $30,000.

That’s how much I had been making in my previous job.

After all, the person I am–the interests I have, the skills I have, the way of thinking I have–isn’t the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Luckily, I met a lot of women (and men) who were exactly the kind of person I knew myself to be (smart, ambitious, values-driven, philosophically-minded…) who were making a lot of money running fabulous businesses.

I changed my mind: I am the kind of person who makes a lot of money.

Not only that, I’m the kind of person who leads a company that makes a lot of money.

And now I do… and now I do.

***

What I’ve discovered is that, quite often, when I say, “I’m not that kind of person…”

What I mean is that “I wish I was that kind of person. Too bad I’m not.”

What’s more, I’ve discovered that I can be any kind of person I really want to be simply by changing my story and taking action to make it real.

Now, left to my own devices I might have been perfect (dis)content to limit myself to my preconceived notions of who I am and what I’m capable of.

But I make a point to surround myself with savvy, fiercely intelligent, healthy, and happy friends. They’re business owners who are constantly improving themselves, their companies, and their craft.

They’re the members of CoCommercial–an online community of small business owners serious about making waves in the New Economy.

Yesterday, during CoCommercial‘s The New Economy & Your Money virtual conference, I asked our members to consider their money stories.

They shared the “kind of person” they believed themselves to be.

And many, many of them realized that the kind of person they believed themselves to be was only a shadow of who they truly wanted to be.

They realized that by shifting their money stories, their entrepreneurial stories, or their personal stories, they could change the action they took and the reality they lived in.

Think about the reality you’re creating with the stories you’re telling yourself about the person you are.

If you don’t like the “kind of person” you believe yourself to be, take action to change it. When you do differently, you become something new.

When you become something new, it might be the person you’ve been all along.

***

Interested in surrounding yourself with the kind of business owners who can help YOU make this kind of leap?

Claim your FREE 30-day all-access pass to CoCommercial today!

Why You Need to Think Bigger About Your Next Business Goal

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When I’m feeling cheeky, I will admit to having retired two husbands with my business.

My first marriage ended (it’s better for everyone involved). And my second, well, okay…

Technically, we’re not married. But we own a house together, pay the bills together, and he survived about 25,000 miles of travel with me in one 12-month period. So, give me a pass on the shorthand.

Now, a few months after I retired my first husband and hit the biggest revenue goal I could imagine at the time, I started looking for a new goal.

I felt rudderless without a challenge to work toward.

I asked everyone: How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

How do you dream bigger when you’ve just achieved more than you’ve ever dreamed of?

Now, I realize that sounds like a really quality problem to have–and it is.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Here’s why:

You can’t create what you can’t see.

When you’re a student or working in a corporate career, your goals are based on what’s in front of you, what you’re exposed to.

You eye the scholarship. You fantasize about the acceptance letter. You want the promotion. You look for a raise.

You can see yourself attaining any of those things because they’re right in front of you. You see people achieving them and know they’re possible. They might be a dream, but they’re dreams you can see yourself living.

With business, it’s often very different.

I didn’t know I could dream of running a million-dollar company. I didn’t know I could dream of hiring a team of fabulous employees. I didn’t know I could dream of speaking on stage in front of hundreds or thousands.

Before I was connected to people who were dreaming those kinds of dreams and–more importantly–working those kinds of plans, I didn’t have a clue about my potential as an entrepreneur.

Every step of growth my business has taken has been a direct result of my connection to someone or something that allowed me to finally visualize a bigger goal or challenge.

When I retired my first husband, I didn’t know how to think beyond, “I want to make $100,000 per year and retire my husband.”

I had no close relationships with people who had achieved that.

When it came to ambitious colleagues and friends who took their businesses as seriously as I did, my well was damp at best.

As a result, my business suffered from my lack of vision and creativity. It kept growing but not at the pace it could have.

I worked harder instead of smarter.

I pushed for incremental successes instead of exponential steps forward and new ways of creating value.

Now, you might be thinking, “Tara, I haven’t hit the goal I’m working on right now. How can you expect me to look beyond that?”

Here’s why I expect you to–and why I believe you must:

The action you take is dictated–consciously or unconsciously–by your vision and goals.

Try this thought experiment.

What would you have to do differently to reach your goal for 2017 in the next 6 weeks, without working more in your business?

Your first reaction might be panic. But your second might be a pretty creative way to reorganize your business and your time to achieve more, at a faster pace, than you originally let yourself plan for.

That’s why you need to be connected to people who push you, challenge you, and take their businesses as seriously as you take yours.

Those connections help you take dramatic steps forward in your business–starting with the way you spend your time and the action you take right now.

They help you get creative about how you’ll achieve your goals and see new possibilities all around you.

The decisions I make and actions I take today are based on the vision that I can now see myself living, and that vision was inspired by the possibility I’ve glimpsed in the lives of people I know.

It’s such a relief to make big decisions with ease and take action that supports those decisions.

And, it’s all thanks to the ambitious and open business owners I’m connected to on a daily basis. They’ve helped me dream bigger dreams and take different action.

On Monday, I’m going to share with you how a completely different kind of connection–with people who have businesses wholly different than my own–helped to dramatically transform my vision for my business.

Plus, you’ll get a sneak peek of what we’ve created for you to solve this problem.

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Don’t Put Off Another Project Because You’re Not In The Right Seat

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Wanna make a bet?

I bet you’ve held off on a project because you didn’t know how to make it happen.

You had a great idea, something that would really make a splash, really get your brand out there.

You could see the finished product (idea, book, offer, etc…) in all its glory.

And then…

You realized you had no idea how to make it happen.

  • How would you shoot the videos?
  • How would you get the new website up?
  • How would you edit the files?
  • How would you market the opportunity?

I’ll admit it: I feel pretty safe making this bet because I’ve been there, done that.

If I look back on the last 8 years, are there probably at least 15 times I could have changed the course of my business if I’d only been willing to step back and let someone else figure out the details.

This week on Profit. Power. Pursuit., I talked to Jenny Dopazo about a project like this, her web series The Fabricant Way.

She actually told me, “The one thing that was certain was that I wasn’t going to put myself in a position where I needed to learn how to do this. Me becoming a film person was not part of the vision.

Learning Is Your Job But It’s Not Your Only Job

As a small business owner, you’re constantly putting yourself in the position of having to learn how to do new things.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing–learning is part of entrepreneurship (and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much!).

But it can become the default setting: new idea equals something new to learn.

And when you’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and overscheduled, it means that the things that could really change the course of your business–like Jenny’s video series–often get left behind.

Jenny said that once she realized that becoming a “film person” wasn’t part of her vision for the project, she was able to get clear on what seat at the table she really wanted to be in.

Then, she could identify all the other “seats” she needed and find the right people to fill those roles.

Now, I understand that that in & of itself might sound intimidating. Maybe you’re not in a position to make that kind of investment or maybe you’re not connected to the right people.

But once you know how you want to position yourself in a project, you can start to get creative about making it happen: maybe you can trade services, maybe you can ask for introductions, maybe you can set up a revenue share, etc…

Don’t table a project just because YOU don’t know how to make it happen.

Get clear on your vision and your role in that vision–and then get creative about the rest.

Listen to this week’s episode & subscribe:

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What You’re Building Is Bigger Than You

A business can be a prototype for the world you want to live in. -- Jennifer Armbrust

“A business can be a prototype of the world you want to live in.”

Jennifer Armbrust

You probably started your business to create the world you wanted to live in.

You thought about the kind of people you wanted to work with, the kind of work you wanted to do, the kind of time off you didn’t want to have to ask permission for, and the kind of flexible schedule that would allow you to accomplish more than work. 

I hope you accomplished a lot of that! 

Maybe some of it is still a work-in-progress…

Yet, as you are very well aware, the world doesn’t stop at your office door or even your front door.

If you want to build a business that prototypes the world you want to live in, you have to consider how your business is impacting your customers and your community. 

  • Does the structure of it embody the values you hold dear?
  • Do the offers you make reinforce your idea of how you want to build relationships with others?
  • Does your team reflect the way you want to see our communities organized?
  • Does your mindset as an entrepreneur and leader represent the mindset you want to see in the leaders of our community at large?

Building a business that is a prototype for the world you want to live in doesn’t just mean you get to live a great life (although that’s incredibly important). 

It also means that the decisions you make for your business reflect your greatest hopes and dreams for our society.

What you’re building has the capacity to be so much bigger than you. 

If you want to live up to that potential, you have to answer those questions. And then keep answering them so that you are always improving on the world you’re creating for yourself and others.

And today–today–I challenge you to rise up to that potential. 

Your potential gives me hope–hope that is growing day by day by day:

Between 1997 and 2014, non-employer firms in the United States grew by 60% (for contrast, traditional payroll jobs grew 12% in that same time).

What’s a non-employer firm, you ask? 

Well, it’s you. Or, if you’re not anymore, you most likely started your business as a non-employer firm.

Non-employer firms are–most often–the scrappy, creative, determined sort of micro businesses that have no employees. They consist solely of an owner creating something from scratch with an idea and loads of ambition.

This is an unprecedented rise in this measure. And that means…

There is an unprecedented number of entrepreneurs taking steps to create the world they want to live in. There is an unprecedented number of business owners building personal wealth and contributing to the common wealth.

There is real change afoot. 

And, it’s not coming from the top down.

It’s coming from the bottom up.

What you’re doing right now—by building your business, circumventing pre-established norms, creating value for others and wealth for yourself—is slowing but surely changing the dynamics of power in your community.

No matter which side of the aisle we sit on, I know that we agree that when creative, thoughtful, purpose-driven people of all different stripes have more influence over the direction of society, we all benefit.
 
So, thank you.
 
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for offering your voice. 
 
Thank you for offering a different solution. Thank you for toughing it out. 
 
It’s working.

The Next Big Thing in Social Media Is Small

The next big thing is social media is small.

The next big thing in social media is small.

As my friend and mastermind buddy Sarah Bray puts it, it’s the difference between big box stores and small shops:

When I was growing up, Wal-Mart was inevitable. It was just this place you had to go to get basic stuff. You needed it, and you didn’t think twice about how horrible it was. It was cheap and it was there.

But now, we have all these other options. We can shop locally. We can shop online. We can shop at Target. We don’t have to go to Wal-Mart anymore.

I hope this is what is happening with the web right now. That more of us are deciding that the Wal-Marts of the Internet aren’t really what we need, and that we can do better.

Wal-Mart, of course, is Facebook. Or maybe it’s Twitter. Really, it’s wherever you don’t want to be but feel like you have to for the sake of “getting the word out” about your business.

Social media–as a behemoth ready to send you tons of free traffic if only you can crack the code–is all but dead. 

And yet…

Long live social media!

Social media is getting smaller, more organized and less algorithmic, more people-focused and less startup-focused.

What this means for you is that you have a lot of control. Now, you no longer only have control over your content, you have control over the platform because the platform is yours.

You create the space, invite the people, and play in it together as you see fit.

You don’t “go on” social, you  are social.

Sarah is doing this with her own community and virtual co-working space, Gathered. I do this with The Lab.

But you don’t have to go rogue to make this new wave of social work for you and your community.

Live video is also working to create these spaces–within big boxes like Facebook or in small, private spaces like on Crowdcast (my new favorite thing).

With live video, each post becomes a gathering spot. 

It’s fleeting, yes. But it’s also incredibly powerful. When you make an eyeball-to-eyeball connection with 5, 100, or 10,000 people for 5 minutes, you’re doing more good for your business in that time than a lifetime on Twitter.

Live video isn’t the next big thing because it’s new technology or a new tactic for connecting with your audience. Live video is big because of how small it makes our world for a few powerful moments. 

I suspect that more technology will come along and mimic this small world environment soon. 

I spoke with one of the pioneers of online business and social media marketing, Joel Comm, for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.

Joel told me that he sees live video as the thing we’ll be talking about with social for quite some time to come.

If you want to hear more about how live video creates small gathering spots for your community–and how Joel approaches new technology, platforms, and trends in social media, check out this week’s episode.

Click here to read the transcript or listen in to our conversation.

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