One-story thinking (& makeovers)

Ever fall into that trap of one-story thinking?

(if so, keep reading.  there's a fix in here.)

I have.  My own experience – when I launched my biz – was this “ I’m a CPA, so I need to talk, act, and offer services like a CPA.” 

Never mind that I’d built and staffed departments (in tax), used my accounting career to scratch my travel itch for 10 years (in tax and audit), and installed my own kitchen sink during a remodel (among many other DIY projects).  And nevermind that I didn't even like doing normal CPA stuff.

I was stuck in my one story.

And all the coaches and marketing experts and sales consultants that I’d hired (and there were many)...

They didn’t get it. They didn’t get me.  They didn’t get that I wanted to be more.

Yes, they agreed I was stuck in “I’m just a CPA, I need to act like it”

But they couldn't help me replace it with something meaningful, that I could connect to.

They couldn’t help me get to “If you’re more than a CPA, than what are you?  Who are you?  Why are you so good at being Wendy?  Because quite honestly, Wendy’s accomplished some pretty frickin’ amazing things for a shy girl from rural Wisconsin.  I think Wendy's amazing and can't wait to know more about her.”  

(Honestly, I don’t know who could have helped me uncover all that.  Is that a life coach question?  A career coach type of question?  A branding expert question?  Or just a question that a more experienced coach would ask?  Let me know if you have the answer) 

I might be inventing a new industry right here…

OK, back to the task at hand.

I had pigeon-holed myself.  And nobody could help me break out.  It was all up to me.

Good thing I like assessments and deep thinking, or I wouldn’t be able to share this exercise with you.

I had to figure out ME all by myself.

It took me a while to figure these out.  I had to reverse-engineer a bunch stuff in order to figure out that THESE questions were most important for me to get results in my business.

These questions piggy-back off of your positive experiences.  You’ve been successful before, so I know you’ve got the right mindset to be successful again. You’ve also got the tools (though you’ll use them differently as you redefine what success means to you).

I also talk about success a lot (the word count on “success” here is insane).  Define it as you wish.  Don’t resonate with “successful” as I’m using it here?  Try “fulfilled” or “satisfied” with your work, your career, or your life instead.

  1. When have you felt successful in the past?  Think of career moves.  It’s OK if your definition of success has changed over time, and prior successes required you to sacrifice free time.  Don’t ignore the sacrifice, but look for clues as to how you operate when you’re successful.
  2. What conditions were present?  Think of the people who helped you (or who you helped), the energy level, the physical space, the budget. 
  3. What about successes OUTSIDE of your career?  Weddings, home-renovations, volunteering, hobbies.  These unpaid successes provide clues to what motivates you to action.
  4. What kind of accountability helped you get things done?  Deadlines?  Weekly or daily checkins with your boss/friend/accountability partner?  
  5. What motivated you to be successful?  Praise?  Pay?  Personal satisfaction?  A sense of accomplishment?

Spend some time with these.  If you’re a deep thinker (like me) then you’ll want some time for these answers to roll around in your brain before solidifying like a July 4th Jello & whipped cream dessert.

So…. Now what. 

So, they say that success leaves clues.  So, what clues do you see?

To provoke your brainwaves, one of my own examples:

My husband and I bought a home in Maine.  It was a life-long dream of mine to have a second home.  Market forces collided and we got a great deal on a fixer upper.  With some (a lot of) tweaking, we converted it to a 6-bed, 2 bath vacation rental home.  To afford it, we had to furnish and rent it out within a few months.  Which meant lots of paint, contractors, shopping, and driving over 4 hours each way.  We were both working full time in demanding professional careers.

This was a labor of love for me.  I love home reno, cottage style, and Maine too.  Decorating was fun, as was building the dining room table and built in banquet (yes, I did that!).  The windows are huge, so even though we worked 16 hour days to get the home ready, it felt like I was in the woods.  It was peaceful (even over the table saw noise).  The before & after was striking.  I was really proud of everything we had accomplished.  (While I did this with my husband, make no mistake, I was the project manager in almost every aspect of this transformation).

We hired contractors to help us finish.  There was no other way.  We had to delegate.  We also started running out of time.  Some of the “make it pretty” projects turned into “make it decent” or “make it not-so-gross” or even “next year.”  As a result, the budget ran away a little bit (ok, a LOT).  But we were able to rent it out right away.  And cover operating costs.

Moreover, the introverted CPA (moi) also booked loads of potential renters, created a website, and setup systems for checkin/checkout.  All firsts, and I was really proud of my creations. And how I could ask for $2500/week from strangers!

We did this all in 4 long weekends onsite.  And I happened to be pregnant too.   Seriously, this was one of the most fun times of my life.

So, what does this reveal about what makes me tick, about how I arrive at success?

  • Being creative with decorating and making my home beautiful, especially with the limited budget (I got really creative!), was very energizing and exciting.
  • The woods energize me, constantly.
  • With the right goal – and doing what energizes me – I am unstoppable
  • I thrive under a timeline (and I don’t mind working more if I’m really engaged or connected to the goal).  Without a fixed deadline, my mojo withers.
  • It wouldn’t have been possible without our team of contractors, and deep pockets afforded by two professional salaries.
  • I love the intensity of a short term project.
  • I love a lot of work.
  • I love a challenge, a big one.
  • Seeing the makeover gives me a thrill and motivates me too.

Did I realize all this as it was happening?  No, I couldn't see past my happiness at decorating.

Did I see myself or my accomplishments as remarkable?  No, I thought I was just a (relatively crazy) home-improvement addict who happened to be a CPA.

Only with hindsight do I see the clues, my strengths, my values, my motivations.  They show up in other areas of my life, constantly.  They’re part of my nature.  They’re part of what makes me, me.

And you’ve got strengths, values and motivations that shape who you are. 

You just have to start looking for them.

Actually, can you please start looking for them?

And using your strengths, your values, and your motivations to your advantage?

Because when you act like you – not somebody else – all the things you want flow toward you as if by magic. 

When you put a lid on you, that’s when unfulfilled, dissatisfied, grumpy and depressed show up.  Among other things, not being yourself isn’t very client attracting…

Because under the right conditions, you thrive.  Your business thrives.  Your personal life thrives.

Under the wrong conditions, you wither.  And that’s no fun for you or the people around you.

Are you ready to drop the story that you're just a _____ and start working with everything that makes you tick?

There is so much more to you than you think.  You offer so much more than you think to the world, your family, your clients.

Do yourself a favor..  Take the long weekend.  Answer these questions while you’re at the beach, on a walk or bike ride, or waiting for the fireworks. Journal, talk, think.  

Tell me how you have succeeded, thrived, at various points in your life.  Tell me what you've learned about yourself.  

Over the next few posts, we'll build on it.  Turning insight into aligned action.  Turning aligned action into happy money.

In the meantime, I can't wait to hear from you.

Quick Experiment (Full Body Yes)

Spring cleaning is in full swing at my home (and office).  Seeing less crap is revealing some ugly truths.  Truths like really hating the color of my hallway.  

I liked it for about a year.  

I've hated it for the next seven years.  

(Yikes!  What a toleration!  I had control, but did NOTHING about it.)

Normally I attack offending colors with a paint roller and be done with it.  

What held me back this time?  This hallway has a stairwell.  It’s complicated and possibly involves risk of injury or death (though hopefully not).

A quick google search showed how to not kill myself during this project. 

The project is a go.  Choose color from my fandeck (yeah, I have one).  Forgive self for tolerating it for so long.  Started edging (my favorite part!).

This weekend, nasty 1990s yellow was unceremoniously laid to rest under a soothing tone of jute.  (Benjamin Moore AF-80, if you simply must know.) 

Enter lightness, angelic choirs, and a visual treat of spaciousness and calm.

All that on my way to get coffee in the morning.  The day can’t help but start well.

Every time I walk by, I get all tingly.  “This beautiful hallway is really mine?  Pinch me!”

Making this change in my life is a FULL BODY YES.  (I know it's just a hallway, but hear me out.)

My home – where I choose to live and love with my family – finally reflects a little more of ME.

It’s more aligned with me and my vision for my home.

And it feels damn good.

Of course, there's a business lesson here...

Your homework, should you choose to accept it:

How can you bring more of YOU to your business (in under an hour)? 

It doesn’t have to be as drastic as new photos or website.  It could be a different writing style.  A new marketing approach that fits your natural strengths (I’m big on that).  A post/email/video that is edgier than normal. 

Don’t overthink this.

Pick something you can do in short order.  Treat it as an experiment.  A test.

Don’t think about why you shouldn’t do this (don’t wait 7 years to paint your hallway!).

Just create it.  Press publish.

If it’s something that ruffles feathers – and you can’t handle it – just delete the post.  (You’re in control, right?)

If it ruffles feathers – and it feels good – then keep doing it. 

Let me know what you tried and how it felt.

Doesn’t it feel amazing that the world didn’t end when you brought more of YOU into your business?

It’s all about aligning your actions with what you stand for… :)

All the best,

Wendy

PS – Confused by this post?  “But Wendy, you’re a CPA, I come to you for money stuff.  This sounds like coaching.  What gives?  Who ARE you, anyway?”  Well, I’m bringing more of me to my business as well.  Yes, I know money.  But I also know how to peel back to the real issue why you’re not making the money you expected (Many entrepreneurs Kolbe Quick Starts.  I’m a Fact-Finder.  I’m like a dog digging up the yard to find the bone buried three years ago.  There’s no stopping me until I have all the answers to help you create the happy-money-making, aligned-business-building strategy of your dreams).  

PPS – wondering how I can help you build the business that’s a tingly, full body yes?  (We’re all about happy money over here.)  Just email wendy at wendysabin dot com to let me know what you’d like to change.  Then we can schedule a call.  And now I’m off to admire my hallway one more time… :)

Musings on Megadeath and Maui

Much sunscreen was applied in the consuming of 2 weeks in Maui.  Totally worth it with these views.

Much sunscreen was applied in the consuming of 2 weeks in Maui.  Totally worth it with these views.

A few weeks ago, my family went to Maui for 2 weeks of fun in the sun. 

To say it was a breath of fresh air is a massive understatement.  It took a few days to mentally unwind from the work.  (And it took a week to mentally get back into it!)

I was fairly unplugged (smartphone only, no laptop).  Hardly wrote or read at all.  Couldn't even type when I got back (seriously, it was gibberish for the first day).  Here's a taste of my biggest ahas from two weeks in paradise. 

1.  Be flexible about getting what you really want

We were originally supposed to leave on a Tuesday (so my husband could attend a Megadeath concert, that’s right, a Megadeath concert).  It made sense in December when we booked everything.  In March, it made NO sense whatsoever (a U2 concert would be a different story).  At the last minute, we moved our departure date from Tuesday to Sunday.  Best. Idea. Ever.  Now we had almost 2 full weeks in Maui. 

The takeaway:  Your time is limited.  What needs a “NO” so that you can say “YES” to something even better?

2.  Is the pain worth the gain? 

YES!  Getting to Maui from Boston is not for the faint of heart, or those short on time.  We cashed in miles for free tickets.  And free means you get what you get (and you don’t get upset, as they say in preschool).  That meant 3 flights, 13 hours of airtime in the back of the plane.  (Thank you to our sponsors, Biscoff cookies and My Little Pony on-board videos, for keeping the 5 year old content enough.)  

If it came down to it, I’d travel in the cargo hold to get 2 weeks’ vacation in Hawaii.  The payoff far outweighs the inconvenience of traveling.  When it comes to cost, I’d rather have a crappier travel day with 2 weeks in Maui, rather than a first class travel day with only 1 week in Maui.

The takeaway:  Is the thing you think you want worth the ups & downs of making it happen?  

If not, something is out of whack.  Either you’re not sold on your intended result OR you’re not sold on how you’re going it about it. (More on this topic soon...)

3.  Small & elegant is the way to go

We stayed in a condo that was only 550 square feet plus a large ocean-view lanai.  The kitchen was literally the size of a large coffee table.  It was so efficient, I could cook in half the time because I was standing in place.   That meant more time to soak in all the beauty around me - magnificent sunrises, black sand beaches, and family time.  Bigger isn't always better.  Smaller isn't always a sacrifice.  Determine what's most important to you, and design the solution from there.

The takeaway:  Is your ______ (fill in the blank – kitchen, business, customer experience) designed to make your life easier and more beautiful?  

4.  Unplug to identify your essentials

Unplugging from tech, combined with a stunning ocean view, gave me the space to figure out what’s important to ME.  The barrage of marketing we are exposed to – paid or organic – is simply astounding.  Until they were absent for almost two weeks, I didn’t realize how often I saw messages that I wasn’t a success (by somebody else’s standard).  Each day I felt more free to explore what I wanted, rather than unknowingly let the internet crowdsource my idea of what's essential to me.   I'm back in the driver's seat now.  And it feels really good.

The takeaway:  When it comes to deciding what you want, whose voice is loudest?  Is it yours?

Mahalo for reading,

Wendy

The best biz book I ever read (or the weakest link)

One of the most memorable books I read was a “business novella.” (am I the only one surprised at that genre?)

It’s the journey a plant manager takes to turnaround his failing plant (and his marriage) or risk losing both.

(side bar – if you like a glimpse of 80s style attitudes toward smoking at work, women secretaries, and using pay phones to check in, you will love this step back in time).

I read it freshman year at college, and got the nudge to read it again last year. 

And it’s refined my work (and boosted client results) ever since.

The Book:  The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

There are only 2 key takeaways:

1 – The goal of the business is to make money.  NOTHING ELSE.

2 – A business can only make money as fast as its weakest link.

Why is this book the best?  It helps you figure out - and fix - the weakest link.

While the book is set in a widget-making factory, the concepts apply to coaching and consulting businesses. 

Here’s my take:

Each activity or step (to making money and building your business) is a link in the chain.  More importantly, each activity or step builds on the strength of the link before it.

The first link must be rock-solid before the second link will be effective (even if the second link – on its own – appears to be solid).

That’s why – despite your best efforts – some business-building strategies just can’t work for you.

Sometimes the weak link is mindset, sometimes it’s the offer.  Other times your marketing or sales need tweaking (or overhauling).  And the bigger the team, the more links you have.

Fix the weakest link, profits begin to increase (the faster the fix, the faster they increase). 

Be careful though…  Fixing the wrong link can be an expensive distraction.

The easiest way to sell more this month

The easiest way to sell more this month?

Do these in order, and watch your sales soar.

STEP 1 – Get clear on your Unstoppable Offer that’s aligned with you – your vision, strengths, and values

  • Your offers must light you up – you love the work and you can be yourself (you’re not doing work you hate). You’re passionate and authentic, and that magnetizes buyers to say YES.
  • Your work must get results for clients – when they do the work, they’ll get results (you’re helping them get results, not just after a quick sale). It increases your confidence in your work and your close rate. (It’s hard to feel “salesy” when you know your work gets results for the right type of clients.)
  • The offer must be clearly structured at a price you can say TODAY – Buyers feel your confidence when you’re clear during the “what’s in the box” and “how much” part of the conversation.
  • Have an upsell or downsell to your core offer. Options let clients choose A or B, rather than choose Yes or No.

(Want the to see how this minor shift can take you to $10k (or more!) months?  Grab the $10k profit playbook.)

CLICK HERE:  

 

STEP 2 – Get clear on who’s a buyer

Your ideal client must fit the offer. They go hand in hand. Where are they on their transformational journey? What makes them ready to create change NOW? What do they need from you in order to get the change? Last year's ideal client isn't always a match for this year's Unstoppable offer. Make sure your ideal client catches up to you and your offers.

STEP 3 – Focus exclusively on finding leads for your Unstoppable Offer

STEP 4 – Did I say focus?

I mean FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS. Put on blinders to everything else except marketing to and finding leads for that specific offer. Every conversation. Every post. Every comment. Will be directed at finding people who are a good fit for your core offer.

Want the profit playbook that will take this further (and show you how to get to $10k (or more) months?  


Do you expect more?

Do you expect more?

Heard this week from clients:

Wendy, you’re an angel (to help her figure out why there’s an $83,000 discrepancy in her books.)

Wendy, because of you, I have more money, I get more out of my relationship with my kids.  I get more out of my relationship with my husband.  I get more for my clients.  (when I asked her if she thought I was a coach or a consultant).

Wendy, you’ve encouraged me today.  And you connected me to why and how I could build a $1M business.  And it’s totally doable! (from a corporate exec managing a budget just shy of $1B)

While flattered (ok, I’m beyond flattered), my dilemma continues.

Am I a coach?  A consultant?  A CPA?

And the truth is, I’m all of those.

I've evolved.  And I expect more from myself.

And I’m owning it. (phew, that feels great!)

I provide profit-savvy coaching and strategy.

For coaches who expect more.

More profit.

More ease.

More time.

No 6- or 7-figure hype.

No flash.

And for god’s sake no cookie cutter marketing programs that don’t honor where you are in your journey.

Just good-ol' straight-forward strategy that gets meaningful results.

(more money, more time, the two biggies)

We do it in a way that WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.  

Your goals.

Your strengths.

Your custom strategy.

Because I know this about you.

You’re smart and you tasted success more than once.  You’ve already reach heights you never thought you’d experience.  In chapters you’d label career, family, life, travel.

And you're ready for more.

Read More

3 Steps To Stop Over-Investing

Has your spouse ever freaked out about how much money you make (or don't make), how you're not saving enough for retirement, or how you'd pay for a $50k tax surprise (this happens more than you think!)?

I thought so.  (It's happened to me too!)

Odds are, it's because you over-invest in your business.  You spend money (and often time) on things that won't move the needle on your short term or long term goals.  

Over-investing kills profits and cash flow, keeps you from paying yourself, and honestly wastes your time and money!  (When I worked at GE, we made sure any business investments were sound before cutting the check).

How does this happen?  The coaching and personal development industry promote that success and wealth can be yours when you invest in yourself.  

But I think they happen faster when you invest strategically.  

Most entrepreneurs miss the boat.  They over-invest rather than strategically invest.  

Over-investing shows up as:

Read More

Which freedom do you choose?

Which freedom do you choose?

Last weekend we took the ferry to Boston.  During our impromptu visit to Faneuil Hall, of course my thoughts turn to freedom.  Stage for presidents, founding fathers, contemporary and revolutionary change agents, citizenship ceremonies, Faneuil Hall is where movers and shakers take a stand for what they believe in.  

These are people who make things happen, in a BIG way.

As entrepreneurs, we have tremendous freedom.  Freedom to chart our own course. Freedom to take time off when we want to.  Freedom to charge whatever we want for the work we put into the world.  Freedom to choose our clients and how we can help them.  Freedom to dream big, and take action to make it happen.

Read More