Why Our Shortcomings are Invisible to Us, but Glaring to Others

As I go about coaching entrepreneurs to look and sound on video and live presentations like the go-to experts in their niches, I constantly get the same reaction when pointing out their shortcomings:

“I can’t believe I didn’t see that!”

That’s because we’re creatures of habit, and not of self-analysis.

It’s all about years of living out our comfortable patterns, based on our long-held assumptions and daily reinforcement of our habits of thinking and behaving.

In fact, we are where we are today in life and business because of the accumulated assumptions we’ve accepted about ourselves…and the behavior habits we’ve adopted to cope with challenges to those assumptions.

We’re too close to those comfy patterns to see how odd they seem to others.

BEING CLUELESS

Short example here…over the years in directing audio talent for professional productions, I’ve learned that some people are clueless about how they sound to others.

A life insurance company hired me to produce a video series for their employees on changing relationships with customers from “Adult-Child” to two adults communicating.

The actor hired to deliver the key lines, however, kept saying “adolt” (like a dummy) and could not in any way hear that his pronunciation was wrong…no matter how much I coached him to alter the sound.

The same kind of blinders appears with people who want to influence others, but sound dull and lifeless in their vocalizations.

They read a script aloud, or share their elevator pitch for a podcast, feeling the enthusiasm and energy – unaware that most of that intention stays in their heads and never makes it to their vocal chords and body language muscles.

When the recording is played back, they’re amazed at how dull and lifeless it sounds, as though the recording equipment somehow leaked out all the captured enthusiasm!

“But I felt so much energy and emphasized all the important stuff! Where did it all go?”

It’s a form of psychological disconnect that tends to make many folks blind to how they look and sound to others.

I help them fix the problem by ramping up their energy beyond what they’re normally comfortable with, so they start to calibrate to a feeling of a certain amount of “exaggeration” that produces the compelling result they want to deliver.

BLIND TO THEIR OWN DISTRACTIONS

Another form of this disconnect: most online entrepreneurs I talk with are amazed to discover their videos and live presentations are infected with as many as two dozen or more off-putting distractions from their important marketing message.

No wonder they’re getting such frustrating lack of sales and clients!

Not until I point out each distraction, and why it chases away their ideal clients, do they awaken to the reality of their uneducated mistakes.

For example, they discover that when they don’t start presentations on time, waiting on stragglers and late-comers, the on-time participants take that as disrespect for their busy schedules. Nobody likes to be dissed.

They learn that when their low camera position is shooting up their noses and showing a lot of ceiling, viewers are uncomfortable and find the experience unpleasant…not the life-changing coach they were looking for!

They also learn that the cluttered background of their home offices (with all of their favorite memorabilia and posters from life) is distracting enough to make viewers lose the thread of the speaker’s message and drop out (disconnect) before the speaker could share a solution to their problems.

They’ve been blindly performing in ways that distract and disconnect, chasing away who knows how many potentially ideal clients, simply because they couldn’t see themselves through the eyes of others.

As Albert Einstein would say (paraphrased a tad), “We can’t get to a higher level of performance with the thinking and behavior that got us where we are now.”

SELF-SABOTAGE

What has to change to allow such a mindset and performance leap is one or more of our long-held, comfortable assumptions.

But the human psyche tenaciously holds onto those assumptions in its effort to protect us from trauma, to keep us thinking and feeling we’re in our safe zone.

So our subconscious literally fights any change, any challenge to old ways, any discomfort at all.

That human commonality is exactly why, for the vast majority of people, “self-improvement” is an oxymoron. We can’t get there with the thinking and habits that got us here.

So we really can’t make the mindset leap alone, because we don’t have the tools of that higher mindset to make sense out of letting go of our precious assumptions and coping behaviors.

It’s still less painful to fall back into the comfort zone than to risk failing at something that scares us.

We don’t, in fact, have in our experience a clear awareness of different and better ways to think and behave. No matter how much information we gather, the decision-making process is still emotional, not logical, and our assumptions anchor our emotions.

Until the pain of continuing old ways is noticeably less than the pain of trying new and scary things, the human subconscious will continue to pull us back to its safe haven.

Until the embarrassment of our limiting assumptions is greater than our fears of looking foolish and stupid, we’re trapped in the easier route of protecting the old ways.

Until we begin to see our limiting behaviors through the eyes of those who have moved on up before us, we don’t have the awareness of tools and options to free ourselves from the grip of our own self-fulfilling prophecies of failure.

KEY TO OPEN THE PRISON DOOR

The key to unlock the pathways of change – to convince us to allow ourselves to try something new — is firmly in the hands of those individuals who understand the transformative coaching and mentoring process needed to help people expand their comfort zones and self-confidence.

I’m not talking about the pretend coaches who drop 1:1 mentoring quickly for the 1:many money-making systems, who share information and rah-rah motivational experiences but don’t know a thing about changing assumptions.

No, I’m talking about passionate individuals who are committed to the real mentoring process over time that guides us step by step through a greater awareness of choices, like Socrates did.

The coach who knows that building self-confidence is far more important that the constant blah-blah-blah of a talking face with the curse of knowledge on a subject.

The patient guide – facilitator of the change experience – who knows that with each win comes a boost in our expectation for good, and one more limitation set aside in our progress toward the freedom to be who we really are.

Find yourself such a mentor, and such a path, so you can become fully aware of what amazing potential you have within you, just waiting to be set free.

Wanting Everyone to Like and Admire You

Older readers remember Aesop’s Fable about the man and his son going to market with their donkey.

A neighbor saw them walking beside the donkey and berated them: “You fools, what is a donkey for but to ride upon?” So the man put the boy on the donkey.

Each time they passed someone, they were shamed and told to do something different…let the old father ride…both should ride…and finally, carry the donkey between them tied to a pole.

Finally, as they crossed a bridge over a stream, the donkey kicked lose, fell into the water, and drowned.

Aesop’s moral to the story: Try to please everyone, and you will please no one.

Now, almost 2,600 years later, we’re still drowning our donkeys.

I’m talking about thinking our entrepreneurial service or product is a perfect solution for everyone, resulting in our broad, generic messaging that appeals to almost no one.

I know a bright person who has amassed a huge following in social media with interesting articles on a wide variety of topics. Yet she can’t get people to buy her programs.

She’s become everything for everyone…but not the only thing for anyone.

With so much competition online today – and with the old methods not working like they did before – the big online gurus are now talking about niching WAY down, down, down…

…and when you think you’re there, then keep going down some more…

…to a specific category of pain and need that is the super-sensitive pain point in the center of your ideal customer’s emotional core.

Apparently, laser-niching is the way to make yourself truly the only solution in town…and thus you become the clear go-to expert in your niche.

“WHAT?” you say, “My audience for such a tiny niche will be miniscule!”

Not so fast.

There are 5 billion people using the Internet…growing 200 million a year. You don’t need them all. One millionth is still 5,000 people, and that’s more than enough to fund your business over time.

OVERCOMING YOUR FEAR

Public speaking is usually listed as the number one fear of people, edging out even death.

We grow up afraid that people will laugh at us and think we’re stupid, useless, if we’re not the perfect silver-tongued speaker on stage.

Fear of failure leads to procrastination and non-action. Trying to please everyone leads to that very failure we fear…and we lose our donkeys.

Here’s the true solution to that fear: Realize you don’t need everyone who’s hearing your message to respond…only your ideal customer.

If you can niche now to the right person in need, with the right emotional trigger, those who resonate with the need will come to you.

We don’t care about the others who aren’t motivated. They aren’t your prospects anyway, and even if they bought, you’d lose them as unmotivated dropouts along the way.

The goal is to draw ONLY your ideal customer to you, so you can enjoy an extremely high transformation rate with a tribe of folks for whom you are truly the ideal and only answer.

NICHING TO ELIMINATE

Think of niching down to your ideal laser spot as weeding out everyone who isn’t going to be a great user of your product or service.

Like chiseling away all the block of stone that isn’t your statue, every step down in your definition of ideal customer eliminates another layer of people not right for you.

Now think about speaking live to a big group of entrepreneurs – all of whom you formerly assumed were ideal prospects.

Only now you see that the vast majority of them really are of no interest to your business. When they don’t run up to the stage or back of the room with credit cards in hand, that’s not a problem, that’s part of your plan.

NICHING TO SEGMENT

Say you start with “helping people sleep better.” Right off the bat, you lose the portion of folks who are sleeping well or well enough.

Niche down…”helping over-worked people sleep better”…now you lose another batch.

“Helping mothers of young children get enough sleep”…there goes another bunch…and so on.

If you surveyed the first broad group about their sleep-related needs, you’d see patterns forming into what’s called “segments” or “buckets.”

It’s in these more focused needs that you begin to niche down.

The first set of specific sleeping buckets might include having difficulty going to sleep…waking up several times at night…being groggy in the morning and finding it hard to wake up…and lacking energy all day.

You have four specific areas of need to choose from for further niching.

Now find buckets for “waking up several times at night”…could be prostate issues for men…maybe can’t turn of the mind from the mental activity of the evening…perhaps the bed and/or pillow are not working for you…and maybe you’re worried about your morning appointment or big presentation.

You see the process of niching down. There is a needy group of people urgently seeking a solution to their pain in each of the second level of buckets.

This process is similar to what’s called Root Cause Analysis, the process of sorting through all the symptoms of a problem by continually asking “Why?” until you get down to the actual root cause of the pain and frustration.

As a coach, you don’t fix the symptoms…you find the root cause and fix the source.

Niching down, therefore, is diving deeper and deeper through the general symptoms until you find the one specific issue at the very heart of the problem.

Hello…guess what? The niche has landed. You have cleared away the hillside and found your vein of pure gold.

Now you know where to aim all of your marketing and communications, and you can be confident in knowing you’ll get your fair share of ideal customers drawn to the only real solution to their unique need.

ASK ONLY YOUR LASER-TARGETED PROSPECTS

The surest way to get bad advice and aim in the wrong direction is to ask the wrong people.

Your friends and relatives don’t understand niching down. Their criticism of your best ideas has killed many a program.

Surveying your close peers online usually turns into a guessing game of clever titles that appeal to them, maybe…but they’re usually not your ideal clients.

Direct your specific questions ONLY to those in your narrowed-down bucket who actually have the pain and the fear to be handled.

Gather your ideal customers’ words to build a golden core library of content to repurpose.

Use that ideal body of their own language to talk back to them in all your communications – email, social media posts, podcast talks, you name it.

If that’s what draws the right peeps to you, why would you ever use any other language?

Now every message you put out there is exactly what the ideal, specific group of people are looking for.

Hopefully, now you can give yourself permission to let go of the vast majority of audience out there, and instead niche down and down until you’ve found the perfect, highly responsive group to build your loyal tribe.

When Being Too Casual Can Hurt Your Brand

It’s amazing how a mindset can spread across the country, even around the world.

Viral shutdowns changed how we all live and work our businesses. We all swapped in-person meetings, workshops, conventions, and get-togethers for online video. From eating out to dining in…from going to a movie theater to watching at home…and on.

What a change in our culture in such a short time!

In the process, we also shifted to a super casual mindset in online videos…from completely unstructured selfies to live coaching videos with little concern for being businesslike.

Now we see even experienced coaches and other gurus show up in t-shirts with silly slogans on them… sloppy backgrounds in messy offices or even bedrooms…

Speaking of bedrooms, I even saw a night-time bedroom Zoom session where the spouse walked through the background au naturel and climbed into bed.

The selfie craziness is a result of everyone having access to a powerful video device, but without any particular training on how to use it. Thus all the distractions – wiggly scenes, lots of headroom showing ceilings or clouds, and many others.

The super-casual mindset and behavior in business videos and live events…well, that’s a trend that isn’t working well for most entrepreneurs.

Entertaining to some, perhaps, but not how a coach builds authority, credibility, and trust.

As a self-named Video Maestro (4 decades of producing videos should count for something), I coined the name “Video Voodoos” to describe things people do on their videos that distract from their brand, their message, and their sales results.

Most entrepreneurs’ videos and live presentations have 10 or more voodoos cursing their conversions and haunting their brands.

A lot of the distractions are from a casual mindset, not committed to businesslike results.

You see, when we look for a coach to help solve a major problem (like our online businesses are not bringing in the bucks), we need someone who is clearly an expert and thriving at the level we want to reach.

That’s not the guy next door, or the guy in the silly t-shirt and sloppy office.

It’s not the coach who’s fumbling to get the live show going, wasting time talking about himself or herself, or having us type “Amazing!” in the chat room every 5 minutes to show we’re awake.

We want the pro, the been-there-done-that expert, who understands our specific pains and needs and has helped many others escape and thrive.

So how can you tell whether someone is the real deal, or just following a formula and a casual mindset about your needed transformation?

First, look for the distracting “Voodoo” behavior – anything that comes across as salesy, wastes time, fluffy with no real value, or otherwise turns you off.

Reality Check: These distractions, like scary symptoms of illness in your body, are serious red flags that should warn you that this person’s model and methods are focused on taking your money, not mentoring you over time to a higher mindset and results.

Super casual is a strong red flag.

Second, look for accessibility – can you actually get a response if you email the coach? Will you get any 1:1 instruction and look at your specific work? Or is this just “faux” coaching that overloads you with lots of information but no real coaching?

When coaches choose to abandon 1:1 (too much work, irritation, and time they say) in favor of the 1:many online info model, they’ve abandoned transformations. Including yours. Ever.

We all need a coach we can look up to, admire, want to emulate, and trust to seriously help us personally. Not someone on long, talking-face videos of overload that then send us home to try to learn things self-study on our own (doesn’t work).

A third way to tell if a coach is a real deal is to ask for his/her transformation rate.

I’ve wasted so much money and time on big gurus’ highly acclaimed programs, only to find months (even years) later that they never gave me real, personal coaching overtime to get me to that higher, more productive mindset.

My files are full of their information still.

SAD FACT: The big gurus are mostly sitting on a 3% transformation rate.

I’m not kidding.

The top coach of one incredibly rich and successful guru told me that 97% of the people spending thousands on the guru’s programs never even finish the overwhelming course materials… never get the personal coaching to swap their old limiting assumptions for better thinking and behavior…and thus neither mindset leap nor thriving occurs.

So the vast majority of online “coaching” and “learning” programs are really just expensive info core dumps and rah-rah stuff.

You need a game-changer, a real coach committed to helping you.

A real coach will give you a number, or rough percentage, of transformations because a life-changing coach knows every client personally and is committed to mentoring each one all the way to the promised thrive level.

I’ve personally found only a handful of real game-changer coaches in 4 years of looking.

So…when you recognize the casual mindset…when you see all the resulting distracting voodoos…when it’s the same-old sales message…when there’s no clear commitment to personal 1:1 transformation…run for your life!

Get my free “5 Top Video Voodoos” here.

Take care of yourself and your business – get a real coach, committed to your success!

5 Essential Elements of a Powerful Brand

Millions of entrepreneurs are competing online for attention and money.

Is it possible then for you to actually stand out from the crowd and get your share of customers and ongoing income?

Think about your brand – your unique public identity that represents your value to people who are urgently looking for your solutions.

Is your brand working for you?

  • Are you drawing the right people and enough of them to sustain your business over time financially?
  • Are you generally known to your contacts as the go-to expert in your field?

Clearly it takes a lot of work and time to establish a brand.

Let me share with you what I consider to be the 5 essential elements of an attractive and sustainable brand for your business success.

BRAND ESSENTIAL 1:

You must be doing what you love to do, are good at, and should be doing as leader of your business.

BRAND ESSENTIAL 2:

You must have clarity about, and commitment to, your chosen ideal prospects.

BRAND ESSENTIAL 3:

You must use your ideal customers’ own words in all your communications with them.

BRAND ESSENTIAL 4:

You must run a coordinated, carefully orchestrated marketing campaign that repurposes and repeats your core concepts.

BRAND ESSENTIAL 5:

You must learn to embrace the winning mindset of those thriving at the level you hope to achieve.

Now let’s dive into the details of each of the essential parts above: 

1) You must be doing what you love to do, are good at, and should be doing as leader of your business.

You’re swimming against a rip tide if you choose a business that you don’t truly love to do, and especially if you’re not an expert at it.

Successful businesses are based on long-term, daily persistence.  When your heart isn’t in it, you won’t be able to stick to that discipline and hard work over time.

When you’re doing what you truly love and are good at:

  • You’re going with the flow. Fulfilling your dream.  Having fun and not feeling like it’s all work.
  • You’ll bounce out of bed every morning because you can’t wait to get back into it all.
  • Work won’t be work anymore – it will be living and loving your dream life.

Yet there’s another step that’s critical to make your love fest work – and that’s to embrace and focus on ONLY the roles needed to be a leader of the business, and delegate the rest.

I used to call it “wearing 9 hats” – a good way to ensure 80-hour weeks and become the master of none.

For example, I knew a smart, educated business owner who was determined to control  every single thing that went on in his business.

He loved doing it all – especially IT tech stuff – and had trouble managing employees because he decided nobody could do things exactly the way he wanted. 

That right there is the quintessential fear of delegating.

His micro-management of everybody’s tasks resulted in bad morale, low productivity, loss of creative solutions of his staff, and completely missing numerous opportunities to build strong relationships with his customers.

It was truly a leaderless business…the top hat was missing.

Soon the business folded, and he was at a loss for why.  So I told him he got lost in what he loved to do and forgot to be a leader.

Only when he realized what he had done (his “AHA!” moment) was he able to get help and start a new business the right way.

I use a detailed analysis form with my coaching customers that helps them discover the handful of skills and roles they love to do and should be doing as leaders of their businesses.

  • The challenge is to focus their time and attention on those few choices, while delegating all the others.
  • Delegating means giving up control in trade for having others do 90% of the work – freeing you to be an effective business leader. You still have control of the final outcomes.

Divide all the non-leadership tasks and roles into two groups:

1 – Highly skilled tasks, done by trained staff, hired coaches, and professional resources.  Leaders set aside time to monitor these regularly.

2 – All the rest of the tasks you delegate others to manage, checking only for any problems that need your decisions.

The trick is to give up “control” and embrace the role of delegating. Hire and train the right people, and your team will step up to the plate and hit home runs for you.

The major choice of loving what you do and are good at will work only if you bite the bullet and delegate everything except your key leadership roles.

2) You must have clarity about, and commitment to, your chosen ideal prospects.

So many entrepreneurs don’t have clarity about who they want to serve, nor what their real pains, fears, needs and wants may be.

Some make the mistake of assuming they know already, since they went through a similar problem-solving process.  You’re likely, however, to NOT be your ideal customer.

Others just logically list what seems important to them and assume for their prospects.

Such assumptions lead to low response to your marketing.

It takes research and survey time to get a handle on a group of people.

  • Get key words from “hyper-responsive”….
  • Find the high-search words…(QUICK TECHNIQUES)
  • Know your ideal customer like you know your close friends – real people who desperately need your solution to stop the pain and/or meet their needs.

3) You must use your ideal customers’ own words in all your communications with them.

Always remember WIIFM – your potential customers surf the Net with the abiding question, “What’s in it for me?”

They’re looking for their major pain, fear, need, or want.  Nothing else grabs their attention and makes them stop to check for a solution.

They will resonate like a tuning fork if you talk their challenges in their words.

So create a CORE data base of the words you gathered in your research.  CORE words become the titles, headers, program names etc. for everything you offer them.

  • These ideal customers’ words are your bright and shiny stars of attraction for all your communications.
  • You fish using bait attractive to the fish you’re seeking, not something tasty to you.
  • Too many people use their own favorite words or check with their fellow coaches for what they think.
  • Big mistake. Asking the wrong people.  You already have all the right answers at your disposal.

Your business name?  Use the words they use to describe the solution they need.

Same goes for title of your major programs…titles and headers in ads…even names of events and services.  Use their words!

Part of a clear “expert” identity is a compelling elevator pitch of 25 words or so…a great customer-oriented name for your business…and your signature formula, roadmap, etc. (using their words, remember) to guide them along to thriving.

And finally, VIDEO is a major tool in resonating with your peeps – because it’s the powerful combination of emotional words with compelling visuals that enhance the emotional reaction.

  • Research shows that spoken words and matching visuals are 22 times more powerful than words alone.
  • Avoid the talking face videos (they were never effective) and use most of your video time showing exactly what you’re talking about in the script.
  • Constantly ask: “What will my ideal customer want to see when I’m saying this?”

80% of ads now involve video, so get your powerful message out there!

4) You must run a coordinated, carefully orchestrated marketing campaign that repurposes and repeats your core concepts.

It takes as many as 8 exposures of your message to prospect before you get your full potential of buyers.

  • That’s why you want a variety of ads, videos, etc. out there working together to give people enough contacts to be comfortable to buy from you.
  • That’s also why you need a robust email follow-up and relationship-building system to automatically reach people where they are in that process and nudge them onward.
  • A major tool in your campaign is video, since as I mentioned, 80% of today’s ads online involve video.

Think of every time you appear on the Internet (on camera or just audio) as a “live” contact that can resonate powerfully with your ideal customers.

Your biggest challenge is to answer this question:

  • How am I going to create video that stands out from millions of long talking-face videos and rah-rah bells and whistles?

 How will I create video that makes me look and sound like the go-to expert to solve my ideal customers’ problems?

 The answer is to use the same consistent, customer-word-based messages in your videos as you do in your live presentations.

KEEP IN MIND:  Long-winded, talking-face videos are part of info core dump and don’t change people.  Your messages need to be succinct, focused on one main problem,  and presented using the power of both spoken words and related visuals that show what the words mean.

If your message is concise, compelling, and consistent every time they come in contact with you, that’s building a brand.

5) You must learn to embrace the winning mindset of those thriving at the level you hope to achieve.

You can’t get way up there with the thinking and habits that got you where you are now (thanks for that thought, Albert Einstein).

I’ve had students of my learning programs resist my approaches and word choices, etc.  They are focusing on what they are familiar with in the past…not remembering that such thoughts have not gotten them where they want to be.

Functioning at a higher level means two things:

  1. Commit to letting go of your old, unproductive assumptions and be willing to openly embrace the thinking of those at the level you want to achieve. It’s ego and programmed bias, my friend, that would try to convince you to stick with what’s familiar.  We all have to let that go to change.
  2. Drop the old coping habits that protected your limited assumptions (such as procrastination). Be ready to try new habits that got others where you want to be.

Here’s where a coach is essential to helping your peel back the layers of your onion self (yes, limited thinking stinks) and build your self-confidence so you can and will embrace new ways.

You can’t get that winning mindset on your own.  It’s not in your vocabulary or experience yet.  Get help and trust the one who’s been there, done that, and is thriving as a result.

So those are the 5 essential steps to your powerful, sustainable, magnetic, and financially emancipating brand for the business you love to pieces.

Imagine what life would be like if you mastered these 5 steps!

  • Only your ideal customers convert and become raving, loyal fans
  • Lots of people know who you are and what problems you solve.
  • You get to mix and JV with major influencers (the big gurus get 80% of their millions that way).
  • Your name and face appear daily in live broadcasts, podcasts, summits, etc.
  • Sustainable financial independence is no longer an issue.

 Give these steps the time and attention they need, so you can reap the life-changing benefits of being recognized widely as the go-to expert in your field.