Want to Succeed? Focus.


Be careful about giving advice. It can come back to haunt you.

My almost 4-year-old burned me pretty badly the other day.

The modern world does not do us any favors when it comes to presence and focus. I work very intentionally with my son to help him avoid overwhelm and concentrate on one task at a time. When he starts flipping through another book while I’m reading one to him, I gently take it from his hands. When he jumps from one game to another, I stop him and we make a game out of putting the first one away. When I’m speaking to him, I encourage him to look me in the eye and put down whatever he’s working on to ensure he’s listening.

“We have to focus on one thing at a time,” is my mantra for him.

The other day, we missed the freeway exit for his swim class. When he asked why we were going on little detour, I said, “Mommy missed our exit, honey. I wasn’t focusing, was I?” He nodded.

A few days later, I was driving him to preschool,  my mind abuzz with the day’s to-do list. Sure enough, we drove straight through the light instead of turning right and had to double-back.

“Why are we turning around?” he asked.

“Because I got distracted and didn’t turn when I was supposed to.”

He gave me a stern look, “You weren’t focusing, Mommy.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

Multitasking is a myth. Science proves that we don’t really do tasks simultaneously: We’re just switching focus.  And it takes longer to complete tasks that way because of stopping and starting. Efficiency goes out the window.

And yet, God love us, we still try.

When it comes to promoting your work, you may be tempted to try a million different tactics to see what sticks. After all, there’s a lot out there, right? We live in an age of marketing overwhelm.

You’re right to test and tweak. But not all at the same time! The truth is that you’ll just do a lot of things really badly – and not see results.

Quality over quantity wins. Every. Single. Time.

It’s better to focus on doing a few things really well, mastering them, if you want to see results for your revenue, visibility and impact. 

Focus on mastering a FEW things really well, not trying to do it all, if you want revenue, clients + visibility! Share on X

To help you tackle your focus challenges and breathe easier while getting more results, please download a FREE taste from my upcoming MOMENTUM Pro self-study program by clicking the button below. This Playbook is titled Simplify Your Marketing Plan and it’s all about how to streamline and focus for results. I promise: You don’t have to do it all!

Get your Playbook Now

If you like this playbook and want a more streamlined, non-overwhelming, completely do-able way to master your marketing, check out MOMENTUM Pro! It’s all about focus, providing a step-by-step system to take one action at a time and gain clients, visibility and revenue.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Why You’re Looking at “Time” the Wrong Way

8.23.16 Saving Time (Blog)

We have a funny relationship with time.

When we don’t have enough, we desperately wish we could find more.

When we have too much, we get impatient.

But ask someone “What is your time worth?” and you’ll get conflicting answers.

Entrepreneurs are willing to spend hours on social media, giving away their work for free or banging their heads against the wall launching marketing campaigns that result in zero new sales.

But ask them to spend the time required to make those activities count? Um, sorry. Too busy. Kids. Clients. Launches. Busy work. Errands.

And I’m looking in the mirror here, friend. I do it, too.

Your time is valuable. And that means that sometimes you have to invest it wisely.

Here’s the thing:

If you take a step back and spend the time putting together your brand strategy, getting super clear on your audience and message, developing valuable content, engaging your tribe before selling to them and building a strong foundation, guess what can happen?

You will do less marketing and achieve better results
You will be more consistent and memorable to your audience
You can get better results from fewer marketing tactics
You will stop getting overwhelmed by thousands of decisions
You will stand out from the competition
Your Facebook ads will convert better
Your events will sell out
Your client docket will fill up
Your products will sell
Your message will be heard
You will engage a raving fan base who will hang on your every word
You will win an Oscar! (OK, maybe that’s just in my own fantasy)

Assuming you deliver a quality product or service that people need, of course.

TOUGH LOVE TIME: Please stop wasting your valuable time. Right now. This minute. (TWEET THIS!)

You may think 12 months is too long to master your brand and marketing and slay your overwhelm in my MOMENTUM program.

“Ugh, really? That’s such a long time. I’ve got things to do! Do I have to?”

No, you don’t. You are free to keep spending your valuable time engaging in “random acts of marketing” that don’t work or result in sales.

Or you can spend 12 months with me to build a strong brand strategy and marketing foundation, brick by brick, step by step – all while still taking action each week – so that your precious time (and money) GETS RESULTS.

I’m in a one-year course with this format right now and I LOVE IT. When I’m busy, I just skip the week’s assignment and file it for another time. You can do the same with MOMENTUM. But always, the focus and support keep me moving forward.

You know. It helps me keep MOMENTUM!

We all need to get things done.  But if you want those efforts to be more effective, if you want to engage your audience, end your overwhelm and do more with less, please don’t skip this crucial step.

Make the time, even if it’s not with me.

But, c’mon how much fun will this be?! I invite you to join us in MOMENTUM for a year and see what happens.

I dare you!


Image Credit via Flickr

How Do You Learn Best? (Free Sample!)

How do you learn best?

Do any of these situations sound familiar?

You bought a digital course for $79. Once you downloaded the files, you never looked at them again.

You went through a week-long, self-guided course and devoted yourself to completing the lessons. And you never did anything with the advice.

You signed up for a four-week workshop and attended every class religiously. You still have your intended actions lying in a notebook somewhere. Actions that you never took.

Yep. All happened to me.

Look, we’re all busy. And I’ve been seduced by the quick-fix promises just like everyone else.

But let’s be real: How many times have your learnings and good intentions simply ended up in a file on your laptop, never to be referenced again?

Finding the right training format to master your marketing and build your business just depends on what you’re trying to learn and which needs you’re trying to meet.

How to set up your Facebook brand page? Maybe a video tutorial is fine.

How to consistently prioritize and build your self-confidence? Maybe you need months of live coaching sessions before you can get there and make real, lasting change.

Before you invest, ask yourself: What is it that I really need in order to achieve my goals, to have an impact? And what format would work best?

Do you need a quick answer, for someone to share all the information with you at once so you can run with it by yourself? Good for you, DIY-er.

Or do you need ongoing accountability and motivation? If you’re busy or easily distracted, do you need to focus your actions so you won’t lose steam?

When I designed my year-long MOMENTUM coaching program, it was to avoid the “quick-hit” syndrome. Right now, I’m in a program with this same format and LOVE IT. Some weeks, the assignments are exactly what I need to move forward and – bam – they get done. Plus I get feedback. If I’m too busy, I keep the lesson for later. Always, the work is at the forefront of my mind so it gets DONE. Oh, and did I mention it’s fun?!

Guidance. Focus. Motivation. Consistent Action.. Ahhhhhhhh!

But….if you’re still on the fence about MOMENTUM, here’s a tempting little gift:

Enjoy a FREE sample of one of the MOMENTUM lessons: It’s a taste of what you can expect each week. But in the real course, each lesson comes served with your own private Facebook group, constructive feedback, Connection Calls, goodies, incentives…and more.

Oooohhh, it’s gonna be good!

Figure out how you learn best, and what you really need–practically and psychologically–to achieve your goals. Maybe the quick-hits that haven’t been working mean you need to shake things up?

Like this? There’s more where that came from! Check out MOMENTUM right here.

Image Credit via Flickr

How to Attract Quality Clients and Customers

08.09.16 Attract Quality (Blog)

How much time do you waste fielding inquiries from, preparing long proposals for, or haggling endlessly with people who will never buy from you? Or worse, people with whom it’s, quite frankly, a nightmare to work?

While you can create your ideal client personas and build your brand with intention, there is one extra step you can take to attract the right people into your orbit.

Define, articulate and share your unique philosophy.

What differentiates you is not just what you do, but how you do it. I wrote about this last week.

But, remember, while you get to choose your ideal customers and clients… your ideal fans also get to choose YOU. (Tweet This!)

So make it super easy for them to self-select and say, “Yes! I want to join your party!”

Publish your philosophy right on your website. Post it to a page, such as:

Need some examples and inspiration?

Here’s one we crafted with my amazing client, Renee Metty of With PAUSE.

Here’s another from a client, Karen Ross and her fabulous coaching firm Start With You

And an awe-inspiring one for my client, Souldust.

When you take a stand and say, “This is how I roll!” you invite people in to either join your tribe or say, “Meh, this is just not for me. Thanks.”

And that’s okay. Because you will never create a strong, connective and beloved brand if you try to please everyone.  The best, most successful brands such as Apple, Starbucks and Virgin don’t claim to be right for everyone, so why do you think that would work for you?

Take a stand. Be bold. Share your philosophy and approach.  It may not be right for some people, but wouldn’t you rather spend your precious time and energy engaging with more of the right people, more often? It’s not just an easier sales process, it’s just more fun!

Photo Credit via Flickr

Fix It!

06.07.16FixIt (Blog)

“Fix it, Mommy!”

My two-year-old repeats this refrain at least twenty times a day. It could be about his toys, or his socks falling down, or some milk he spilled.

“Fix it” doesn’t always mean that something is broken. What he actually desires is for something to work the way it’s supposed to, or be within reach or simply look tidier.

Many times, entrepreneurs or freelancers think their business is “broken.” No one knows who they are. They can’t stand out. They are not attracting the right clients, resulting in nightmare projects or people who haggle on price. Or they are not attracting ANY clients. They can’t get email signups, their sales inquiries are few and far between  – even though there is a lot of goodwill for what they do and they have built a solid reputation.

I never promise to “fix” anyone’s business. No one can do that for you because that’s a big, complex question. If you want to pay $20,000 to some guru who promises that they can, well, proceed with caution.


Because it’s not about “fixing.” Most of the time, I find that clients are offering real value, bold creativity and fabulous wisdom. Nothing is inherently broken.  They’ve got amazing talents, content or wisdom to share with the world.

What they actually need is clarity, because their message or offering is so confusing, the beauty of it gets lost in a less-than-stellar elevator pitch or overwhelming home page copy.

What they actually need is focus, because they are chasing every new shiny promotional object, praying something will work. And most of the time, they are chasing the wrong things that will never work. Once you focus on your ideal customers, where they are, and what they need and focus on doing a few activities really well, you will see great results.

What they actually need is creativity, because they are so busy grasping at everything that the creative well has run dry. The passion is gone.  I’ve so been there, believe me! They are cranking out soulless guides or bland social media posts or boring blogs (if they even have energy left to do these things) that lack the unique and strong voice I can instantly hear when they tell me why they do what they do.  All this busy-ness results in burn-out, not new customers. With my guidance, they reignite their spark to discover that the experiences, stories and passions that they are discounting are actually their greatest brand strengths.

You don’t always need “fixing.” What you may need is an infusion of clarity, focus and creativity. (Tweet this!)

If your business is not where you’d like it to be right now, I’d urge you to stop for a moment. Take stock. Perhaps, like my son, you simply want your business to work the way it’s supposed to, or for your goals to be within reach or that your efforts are more streamlined and tidy!

See if any of these three culprits is actually to blame before you try another tool or switch directions yet again.

Image credit via Flickr

6 Simple Marketing Time-Savers

5.31.16WaystoReduceMarketingTime (blog)

How can I get all of this done?!” is one of the most popular brand and marketing laments I hear from small business owners and solopreneurs.

We all know that marketing and promoting our business can take a lot of time. Time we just don’t seem to have if we want to also have a life.

First and foremost, crafting a strong, clear brand strategy before you start punching through your marketing to-do list can save you BOATLOADS of upfront time…not to mention money, headache, mistakes and dead-ends. You essentially draw the map before you embark on the journey so you know you’re heading in the right direction.

But even then, just writing a blog post or creating a newsletter or preparing a slide deck…..from idea generation to content development to the technical nuts and bolts, it all takes so much time!

Marketing can be exhausting and a total time-suck. This is coming from….a marketer. (Tweet this!)

Maybe we would all have more fun with marketing if each task didn’t take so damn long!

Here are 6 simple but effective marketing time-savers:

  • Create in batches: I schedule “content creation” times on my weekly calendar to work on blog posts, new course materials, or even a new guide. If I don’t do this, I’m distracted throughout my entire week as ideas hit me, or as I use it as an excuse to escape other tasks I should be doing! These times are sacred and I treat them like a client meeting You can focus on cranking out more than one thing at a time and get ahead of your calendar. If you blog weekly, set aside one day every 3 months to create your blog posts all in one sitting. And when those ideas hit you in the shower or while you’re trying to do something else? Simply jot them down in your phone and tackle them when your designated creation time comes.
  • Schedule in advance: My go-to tools are BufferApp to pre-schedule social media posts, WordPress to pre-schedule my blog posts – plus Facebook’s native scheduler within my brand page, as Facebook HATES when you use 3rd party scheduling apps and reduces your post relevance in their algorithm, meaning less people see it in their feeds. Scheduling in advance frees up your time and mental energy. You cross something off your to-do list once every so often and then you’re done.

Related to this, schedule ANY task you need to do on your calendar. I live by this. When it’s on my calendar, I know I have set aside time to do it – and I don’t worry about it at all until that time comes!

  • Create a text-only email newsletter: Being a brand queen, I adore fancy, beautiful email templates. And it makes sense to use visuals if you show products or need to evoke a mood. But, for me, a) it takes more time to create, find images or deal with crazy formatting and b) my audience often reads my emails on their mobile device, which means text is best for reading on the go. My emails still look nice and neat with formatted text, but there are no fancy headers or imagery. When I switched to text-only emails several years ago, I not only saved a ton of time, but my emails became more like intimate letters to friends (like, you know, ACTUALLY sending an email to a friend!) and audience engagement went up. Just sayin.
  • Set a timer for social media: The ultimate time-suck. Even if you follow #2, you still need to get in and interact with your audience on social media – It’s social after all – which possibly means falling down the rabbit hole and linking all over the place for hours on end. Simply set a timer and pop in for 15 minutes every other day or some other interval that works for you. Put this time on your calendar like a meeting if you need to. And make sure you don’t go over your 15-minute mark!
  • Use an online scheduler: If I could get back all the time ever spent trying to schedule a meeting with someone over email, I’d probably add three years to my life. No joke. When you work for yourself, this can easily take 20 emails and 2 hours of your day. Some folks pay assistants for this but you can do it yourself. Investing in Calendly was a game-changer for me. TimeTrade and Doodle are other ones (Doodle is great if you have multiple people you’re wrangling into a meeting).   While not a “marketing tool” per se, can I just tell you how much more time I have for marketing now that I use this?!
  • Outsource: I know this one can get tricky if you are on a budget, but hear me out: If you bill your time out for $100 an hour, isn’t it worth spending that hour on a paying client rather than on updating your website, setting up your email newsletter, writing copy or finding and resizing social media images? What small tasks add up to a big headache for you? What tasks only need your final blessing, not your involvement, to be successful? I posted some outsourcing resources for you in this blog post.

Crave more time-saving tips, sanity savers and realistic goal-setting approaches to avoid getting crushed? Check out: The Juicy Guide to Goal Setting and Time Management: Advice on How to Wrangle Your Calendar and Slay Overwhelm, available right here!

Image Credit via Flickr

5 Ways to Make Marketing More Enjoyable

5.24.165ways to Make Marketing Fun (Blog)

I adore business owners that say they hate promotion. It’s super cute.

This comes in other forms as well: I hate sales, I hate networking, I hate marketing.  hate writing.

Why so much hate?

If this is you, let me comfort you a little bit. It’s not that you “hate” any of those things. Truly. Please save hate for things like reconciling your books or filling out government forms.

I believe that what you actually hate is the way you think it has to be done. Somewhere along the way, you associated cheesy spokespeople, ego-centric self promoters and jargon-filled web copy as “marketing.”

If you are trying to send any sort of message to the world, be it attracting customers or promoting a book or asking for donations, then you are a marketer.

You should be the most excited person in the world to share your story and your value. If not you, then who?

If talking about and promoting your work doesn’t light you up, then why should your audience care? (TWEET THIS!)

So let’s banish all of your old notions about what promotion “should” be, shall we? Here are 5 spicy ways to make marketing more fun:

  1. Make friends, don’t “network”: If you go a BBQ and you don’t know anyone, isn’t it fun to stumble upon an interesting person or someone you want to get to know better over coffee? You’re meeting them casually, letting mutual interests guide the conversation, and you can see if you click….or not. The truth is that we do business with people we like. Not everyone is going to appreciate that snarky sense of humor but then c’mon over to my house, because I’ll love you! If you want people to know about your business, you have to…you know, be around people! Offline AND online. Instead of tensing yourself up into a stress ball the next time you have to” attend a networking event, think of it like a block party. Who do you like talking to? Who is interesting? Who did you exchange knowing grins with when you made that sarcastic crack about the boring speaker? Give yourself the challenge of meeting one (just ONE!) interesting or cool person at your next function or in your LinkedIn group or wherever and see where it takes you.

Read: The 11 Laws of Likability by Michelle Lederman and I’m at a Networking Event—Now What??? By Sandy Jones-Kaminski

  1. Write Love Letters, Not Sales Pages: Maybe you’d rather dance on hot coals than write….anything. Or perhaps you’re a little less extreme and would just rather not write “sales copy.” Again, you may hate this because you’re conditioned to think it has to sound like a cheesy infomercial or that you simply must have tons of BUY NOW!!! arrows all over a 9-mile long page. Not true. The best sales pages are those that speak to the benefits the potential buyer gets, of course, but they are also personal and approachable. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants to be wooed! Approach your next sales page like a love letter: I know you crave x, y, and z, Maria, and this is why you’ll love what I made for you!” Think about how you convince your friends to read a new book or try a new restaurant that you love. You’re excited, not robotic. You talk about all the reasons they would like it. You immediately text them the link so they don’t even have to make an effort. Treat your sales copy like your next juicy recommendation to a friend and see how much more you enjoy writing it!

Do: Need more inspiration to get your writing juices flowing? Try this creative tip from Melissa Cassera. And here’s a fabulous template from Alexandra Franzen if you need one. Oh, and total thanks to verbalizing this concept goes to my friends and collaborators Alex and Melissa (I never titled it anything as eloquent!)

  1. Automate Where You Can: Rather than dying a slow death every day, batch and automate as much as you can for the week (or month, if you can be that on top of things.). If you can set it and forget it, it’s a lot less painful. I know a few successful solopreneurs that batch all their blog posts by locking themselves in a hotel for a weekend and cranking out content for the next six months. Then they just schedule the blog posts, all the associated social media posts to drive traffic and BAM, simply check in on comments when it goes live. If they even use Comments. Some folks choose not to do this.

Try: BufferApp, Hootsuite, Missing Lettr.

  1. Take an Improv Class or Join Toastmasters: If you have something to share with the world, you have to be able to tell them about it. No getting around it. If public speaking–whether giving a simple elevator pitch, running a small workshop or presenting a keynote to thousands­–horrifies you as much as the thought of a world without wine (GASP!), face your fear. Part of your anxiety comes from lack of practice or fear of the unexpected. Like anything else, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. Sharpen your skills and make a game out of it! Take a local improv class to get comfortable with thinking on the fly (and to get comfortable in your own body, which could be something adding to your angst.) And have fun doing it! I, personally, adore public speaking because there is no greater honor quite like enlightening and inspiring a person right in front of you and to see their eyes light up! When you attack your fear head-on, you will not only defeat the bully, you may find this is a wonderful and fulfilling way to spread your message.

Do: Type “Find an improv class” into Google. Join a local Toastmasters chapter.

Read: The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow. And these 10 tips to improve your public speaking skills.

  1. When all else fails, outsource: OK, so there might be some ongoing marketing tasks that you really do loathe. That’s fine. You can always outsource tasks that bring you no joy or on which your time would be better spent elsewhere. Look to a virtual assistant (VA), intern, agency, consultant or perhaps even a new hire. You can find great inexpensive resources on sites such as Upwork, Fiverr and 99Designs­ but you need to be very selective and clear on what you want in these places, as they attract all levels of talent. Some specific folks I turn to are Worldwide101 for my VA, Virtually Savvy for social media management, Hey Eleanor for copywriting, and Tiny Blue Orange for website management. For interns, contact your local college or university to find business, marketing or communications students who are looking for internship opportunities.

Image Credit via Flickr

Are YOU Your Ideal Customer?

ideal-customerLast week, I had the thrill of speaking on the world-record-breaking Authority Super Summit. It was 100+ speakers providing content-rich strategies for how to build an authority brand. People I adore such as Dorie Clark, Michelle Lederman and more were all a part of it.

One of the questions I got in my session was, “When creating our ideal client profiles, is it okay if one of them is based on me?” My short answer was yes, this usually happens with solopreneur businesses, as one often starts a business because of a need he or she may personally have.

But let me expand on this, now that we have time.

Yes, in creating your two to three ideal customer or client profiles, someone just like you could possibly be one of your segments. But be careful how you approach this.

If you sell something that is not necessarily something you yourself would use, then no, you would not be one of your segments. For example, let’s say you are a psychologist who specializes in domestic violence survivors. You yourself may not have experienced this and therefore, it would be dangerous to assume you know their wants and needs firsthand. Or let’s say you sell skateboarding gear to teens but you are in your 50’s. Not to say you couldn’t do this, of course, but I wouldn’t assume that your target audience’s needs, wants, pain points–and even sense of humor–would be identical to yours. Lastly, let’s say you are a female leadership coach and you specialize in helping alpha male C-level executives increase their emotional intelligence. Again, you can see why basing one of the segments completely on you would be a mistake.

With my own business, I target solopreneurs who crave more knowledge and confidence in their brand and marketing efforts. They may not be sure where to start or what to do next. But I do, which is why they come to me! From this standpoint, I can’t make assumptions that they know the same things I know. I have to take a step back and explain fundamentals and terminology.


Behaviorally, my ideal solopreneur client is indeed like me in many ways. We have the same ambitions, need to create impact, and drive to do something good in the world. We both balance work with making time for the joys in life. We might both like drinking red wine or watching Game of Thrones or even appreciate the same sense of humor. In those areas, I can base some of the profile on myself. And same holds true for my corporate segment ideal client, progressive marketing leaders in small to midsized growth companies who embrace what brand can do for their marketing effectiveness.

So my ideal clients are like me in some ways, but not in others. If they were too much like me in terms of their needs around my area of expertise, they potentially would not ever need my services.

It’s all about the blend. (TWEET THIS!)

I invite you to look at both where your ideal customers are different from you (where you can add the most value to them) and where they are the same (where you can create a brand voice and vibe to which they can relate). This blend of both is the sweet spot for attracting and delighting the right people, but more importantly, converting them to buyers and loyal fans.

Want to work with me on your ideal customer segments and exactly who you should be targeting? Let’s spend 90 minutes together in a Brand Booster Session to hash it out!

4 Ways to Shift Your Brain & Get Fresh New Ideas

7.21.15 Fresh New Ideas (Blog)

Apple challenged us many years ago to “Think Different.” But are you stuck in a mindset rut? Sometimes this can happen when we focus solely on our role, business or even industry.

You’re networking with people who do what you do. You go to the same places. You read the same books. You’re looking at what everyone else in your industry is doing – and it all looks the same. It’s no surprise that when you surround yourself with sameness, you’ll naturally fall into a creative void.

But there’s a way to shake things up.

Change your habits, experience new things & watch the ideas flow. (Tweet this!)

For many years, I was a management consultant, working with Fortune 500 companies. Then I worked as a consumer-focused Marketing Manager for Discovery Networks. Then I became an Account Manager for an ad agency, and finally did an 8-year tour of duty in the dot.com and Silicon Valley tech scene before launching my business.

Bouncing from process design to event planning, from B2C to B2B, from communication planning to PR, from agency to client …these experiences ended up creating my biggest secret weapons. I see the whole picture. I connect dots and articulate themes that others can’t see. I can now take the best of what I’ve seen in one industry or business model and apply it to another to turn things upside down. The humor and fun I learned while marketing consumer networks like Animal Planet and The Discovery Channel? I applied that kind of human voice and vibe to B2B tech marketing to great success. The sales process and lead generation best practices I honed as a technology Marketing Director? My smallest entrepreneurial clients love that insight to not only build their brand, but to structure their pipeline and business development.

Even being an actress has added dimension to my current work. I’m able to tell stories, evoke emotion and create drama for my clients’ brand strategies and messaging. And of course, that skill enables me to light up a conference stage and delight an audience.

If you’re bored with your approach, tired of how “we’ve always done things around here” and new ideas just aren’t coming to you, sounds like you need to shake things up. Here are 4 ways you can shift your thinking and generate creative business ideas – not to mention contribute to your mental well-being:

Ditch the bedside business books: When my nightstand is piled high with business or management books, I find I’m less creative and imaginative. Not that they don’t have their place for learning important strategies (ahem…I know of a really good one on how to build your brand.), but try something completely different. Light up sleepy parts of your brain, perhaps with a memoir, historical non-fiction, dramatic fiction, moody detective novels…hell, even a juicy romance novel.* Point is, you’ve got to exercise all parts of your brain and imagination in order to come up with fresh ideas. And movies count, too: You may just find your next brilliant business tip or sexy new marketing promotion from a spy thriller.

Immerse yourself in the arts: In 2013, I took a 5 week sabbatical to attend an exclusive acting intensive through San Francisco’s famed America Conservatory Theater. From 9 am to 6 pm – and even later at times – I sat on the floor and took notes from acting masters (on real paper!). Created art with my body during movement classes. Tapped into the raw, true voice that emanates from my gut, not my head. Let go of self-consciousness during improv. Tested my strength and agility in combat fighting. When I returned to work, I was exhilarated and approached my clients’ work with fresh eyes. Creativity poured out of me and I never felt more alive. Being in plays or doing short films has the same effect for me: I am surrounded by people who think, act and express in ways that folks in my “regular” works never would and it energizes me. Instead of going to your next networking event, go see a play with a friend. Make a date to wander around your local art gallery on a Sunday afternoon. Take an improv class. Sign up for a pottery workshop. Flex your artsy muscle and expose yourself to a radically different world outside of your “business box.”

For the love of Pete…UNPLUG!: Guilty. I admit it. I’m never without my phone within 1 foot of my body and panic if I can’t find it. My husband says my tombstone epitaph should be, “Where’s my phone?” because I ask it about 100 times a day. But seriously, guys. It’s time for a Digital Detox. Let’s stop crossing the street glued to our phones. Let’s step away from the laptop for a day (a week, a month…) Look up. Open your eyes. Connect to others around you at the coffee shop or grocery store. When was the last time you people-watched at the airport and invented fun back-stories for the strangers who pass by? Do you want to get new ideas? Then you have to experience life, connection and reality. Start with one afternoon you designate as “tech-free” and see where it takes you.

Move your body: My good friend, Melody Biringer, Founder and CEO of CRAVE and a serial entrepreneur, swears by “business meeting walks.” This was one of my favorite ways to connect with her. Walking miles, we’d work out business challenges and come up with brilliant new ideas. I always had a fresh perspective on my work after our walks together. Go for a hike. Take your dog for a walk. Swim, Bike. Dance. Do yoga. When you move your body, you give you mind the break it needs to generate new ideas later. I make time every week to go to Crossfit and spend mental energy focused on my strength and agility. Start with a 15-minute mid-morning walk every day, regardless of where you work (I’m sure you can walk the halls or around the parking lot if it’s not the nicest setting). Shut the door on the boring conference room and take your next one-on-one meeting on the road as a stroll in the park or downtown.

What about you? What shakes up your thinking and enables you to come up with fresh new ideas for your business? Please share in the Comments. Or let us know which one of these tips you’re going to follow ASAP!

*In full disclosure, some links may be Amazon affiliate links where commissions are paid. But that’s a win-win if you decide to check out these great reads!
Image Credit: Wilerson S Andrade via Flickr

3 Crafty + Creative Ways to Set Goals

02.24.15 setting goals (blog)

Are you tired of goal setting? Confession time: I’m kind of over it.

This, from the woman who used to lay out her new year’s goals in nice neat bullets, organized by category: Fitness, Career Travel…I even had a category for Fun. The woman who makes lists and loves to be measured, assessed, graded. “You’ve never met a test you didn’t like,” says my husband.

Yes, I’m a recovering goal setter.

A few years back, after my major health crisis, I became gun-shy about goal-setting. I tried setting goals the old way but holding myself so accountable to a laundry list of big dreams overwhelmed me. During my fragile recovery, I tried to manage stress by removing as much friction from my life as possible – and that included all pressure to perform.

So what did this Type-A, former Honors student do to stay ambitious, motivated and organized? I started playing with new ways to set goals. And it has not only made me happier, it makes my life less stressful, more fun – and I actually achieve more while still keeping myself open to new opportunities.

If your goals are crushing you, it’s time to rethink how you set them (Tweet this!)

Here are 3 crafty and creative ways to help you enjoy setting goals in business and in life:

Pick a theme or two:

A few years ago, I decided to set New Year’s themes instead of New Year’s resolutions. In 2013, I chose Creativity and Abundance – and I achieved a lifelong dream of being accepted into an elite summer theatre program, plus I got pregnant. Creative and abundant indeed. This year, those themes are Enrichment and Savor. By enrichment, I hope to nurture great stuff that I already have rather than spending so much time inventing new things. And by savor, I mean presence, mindfulness and slowing down enough to appreciating the fleeting moments of my son’s babyhood and my current life, just as it is. Picking themes not only attracts the feelings you want into your life, it creates open space to discover that many different roads can lead to what you really want internally and externally, rather than merely following a checklist of things to do.

Experiment with choosing two themes that cover both the types of things you’d like to experience in your work or life, as well as the emotions and mindset that go with them.

Determine the feelings behind your goals:

This idea is courtesy of my friend Danielle LaPorte. She talks about goal setting not from the perspective of WHAT you want to do but HOW you want to feel. Danielle created the Desire Map program and teaches that, most of the time, you are not chasing a goal, but you are actually craving a feeling. So what if you flipped your intentions around and started with the how you want to feel and then map out what needs to be done to get you there? It’s an intriguing concept – and somewhat related to my point above about themes for the year.

Experiment with determining how you’d like to feel next quarter in your business or in the next six months of your life. Elated? Accomplished? Recognized? Naughty? Financially secure? Wise? Then you can map the activities that lead to achieving that emotion.

Outline broad-brush achievements:

This is a method I’m playing with this year (in addition to my Themes). Now brace yourself: this one goes against everything that this measurement-oriented woman and marketer has always believed. This year, I’m simply laying out large achievements, with no numbers or metrics attached to them. That’s right. I have no revenue projections or book sales goals. No website visit metrics. No target number of speaking engagements. Instead, my goals are broad brush starting from where I am now: Build up my platform and fan base, sell more books, focus on larger projects and less of them and make space to create my next book in 2016. This method is not for the faint of heart, but I have to tell you: I haven’t been this energized by goals in a long time. I’ll let you know at the end of the year how this worked out!

Experiment with letting go and determining some broad-brush achievements that will light your year on fire. You’ll be surprised how when you remove the pressure of numbers, you start to creatively brainstorm ways to make your goal a reality.

What do you think? Do any of these goal setting approaches resonate with you? Please DM me on Instagram – and let me know if you’ve got a unique spin of your own to share.

Image credit: Benno Hansen via Flickr