Lisa Robbin Young

[Creative Freedom S5E2]

Think you're ready to hire a business coach? Jessica did! She asked what kinds of questions she should ask during a hiring interview.

Not so fast!

Before you plunk down your hard-earned cash, make sure you know what you're getting - and that you're ready to make the investment.

Too many creative entrepreneurs get burned by hiring the wrong person at the wrong time. This episode gives you specifics about the different kinds of business support that exist - including coaching - to help you determine what will serve you best at your current stage of business growth.

Listen to the Podcast

Download Season 5 Episode 2 | iTunes | Stitcher | Spotify 


Podcast Show Notes

  • 02:46 – The differences between coach, teacher, consultant, and mentor
  • 05:55 – How masterminds and accountability partners can be similar (and different from) coaching
  • 8:09 – Other types of business support (VA, OBM, and Incubators)
  • 21:23 – How one coach trained his clients to expect miracles, and ruined his coaching practice
  • 25:42 – Questions and suggestions for your business coach pre-hire interview

Mentioned in this episode:


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Music: "Welcome to the Show" by Kevin MacLeod. Music and sound effects licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Once upon a time, I ran ten miles and no one was chasing me.

It was a bucket list thing, to run the Bobby Crim 10-mile road race in my hometown. So I suited up and, in a matter of just over 2.5 hours, managed to lose about 4 pounds. Ha.

I also learned a lot about how to manage yourself as you combat overwhelm. Because, believe me, I wanted to quit MANY times. I have never been a professional runner. I barely trained for that race. But I finished. And the lessons I learned running that race can help YOU defeat overwhelm and keep momentum going when things get hard.

This is the second episode in a Summer-long series about dealing with aspects of Underearning. Want more help? Overcoming Underearning for Creative Entrepreneurs starts this week!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments. Be part of our Rising Tide! Your insights may spark a conversation that helps someone else!

Mentioned in this episode:

Rising Tide Members

If you haven't already downloaded this week's bonus content, you'll want to do that here. Not a member yet? It's free! When you register for email updates, you also get access to episode transcripts, worksheets, and other downloadables!

Credits and Sponsors

Race photos: DetroitRunner.com, Hovershots APV

Music: "Welcome to the Show" by Kevin MacLeod
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

If you're like most creative entrepreneurs, you started your career wearing all the hats. Along with that came a sense of responsibility for all the parts and pieces of your growing enterprise. That's logical. After all, if the business isn't making money, you're not making money, and that's a problem!

But a bigger problem I've found in my years of working with creatives across the spectrum, is that as the business grows, you're still trying to do too much. You're trying to hold yourself accountable to things that are just too hard to handle on your own.

There's a time and a place for self-accountability. There's also a time to know when to let go and get help. (Tweet this)

Creatives want to be independent. Chaotics see themselves as free-thinkers and free spirits. Fusions almost always have a better way to do something, and Linears don't want to be hampered by too many cooks in the kitchen. Holding yourself accountable is efficient and effective.

Until it's not.

Simply put, you can't manage it all, and you shouldn't try to do it for long. Humans just aren't wired that way. Okay, maybe SOME humans are, but they are the exception, not the rule, and even they need help from someone else at some point.

So why do we hold out so long when it comes to self-accountability?

Fear. 

According to Mark Samuel & Sophie Chiche, authors of the book "The Power of Personal Accountability", there are three fears that come into play when you try to hold yourself accountable for everything.

1. Fear of Blame

When I was a kid, it was my job to dust the living room. I hated dusting. We had a coffee table that frequently had rings because people wouldn't use a coaster. It was tough to keep clean. There were several instances where I got in trouble because someone else came along and left a ring after I had cleaned, but before Mom had inspected. No matter how spotless the rest of the room was, she would often point out how I "missed a spot" on the coffee table.

One time I got so mad I yelled at my Mom. "Don't blame me. I did my job!"

According to Mark & Sophie, "We associate accountability with blame. We fear that if we're accountable for something, we'll be the one to get blamed if it goes wrong."

Sometimes, we do get blamed - like with that infernal coffee table. But more times than not, we don't. And, as I learned with the coffee table, sometimes there are smarter ways to do things. One of my siblings finally suggested I do the coffee table last - just before Mom got home. That way, she'd see me working on it, and nobody would have time to put anything on it before she inspected.

It was a simple solution that I couldn't see for myself. I just wanted to be DONE with it, so I could check it off the list. I was afraid that I wouldn't get it done if I waited, and I let fear drive the bus.  I've talked before about unconscious self-sabotage, driven by fear. We get triggered by feelings of inadequacy and decide to do nothing instead. It takes that outside eye to help us see things differently.

2. Fear of Failure

I have a friend who really struggles with this one. Simple requests get rejected, for fear of letting someone down. I remember asking him if he would remind me to do something later in the day - something we both needed complete. He said "I'll try to remember". He never texted, and the thing didn't get done. When I asked why he didn't text me, he said "I never promised I would."

This was a recurring theme in our friendship. When I finally confronted him about it, he confessed that he didn't want to make a promise he wasn't absolutely sure he could keep, because he'd feel like a failure if he let me down and didn't follow through.

I told him, "It's a text message, not a kidney transplant!"

This fear of failure stems from not wanting to feel incompetent or look bad in the eyes of others. "To avoid feeling that way," the authors state, "we play it small. We stay in what is familiar. We don't challenge ourselves with bigger choices, so we don't have to ever feel inadequate."

We worked together to "game the system" in his brain. We looked for what Teresa Ambile calls a "small win", and re-trained his brain to focus there. I reminded him that "trying to remember" was also a commitment. That he couldn't just blow it off without even trying to remember to text me... that he would be lying to me. Integrity is a HUGE deal to him, and he recognized how he's be letting us both down (double trouble!). It was a small change in his thinking, but it opened his eyes to a new way of honoring the commitments he was making and gave him a chance to build his confidence with small wins first.

Taking risks can lead to mistakes, or even (GASP!) failure in the short term. But is also leads to learning. Learning means we might not get it right the first time. But knowing you've got a safe space to take those risks takes the edge off a bit. It's hard to create that safe space by yourself. Instead, you stay stuck in the echo chamber in your mind.

3. Fear of Success

It's time for me to resurrect that Marianne Williamson quote. You know the one. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. "

To some, this may sound like a cop out. I know it did for me the first time I said it. All kinds of worthiness issues cropped up that kept me from moving forward on things I knew were important to me. I had to ask for help... sometimes from people I barely knew! That's hard, but certainly not any harder than staying stuck. Our authors give us more insights:

"If we increase accountability, we will accomplish more, and we know it. We will gain more responsibility. We will be expected to achieve at a higher level of performance. We will have to maintain excellence. We will have to deal with people's jealousy and our own guilty feelings for outperforming others. That is a lot of pressure. It is strangely easier to dream of success than to actually achieve it."

So yeah, I can see how that might feel like a cop out to some people (myself included). The reality, though, is that if you're feeling pressure, the last thing you want to do is create more pressure for yourself. You'll do anything to take the pressure off, if you can, which means doing less, or doing nothing, so that you're not feeling that pressure anymore. And there you are, right back at ground zero on those things you said were important to you.

So when holding yourself accountable fails, what can you do?

Get others to help hold you accountable. If you're a technophile, maybe you'll use an app like MyFitnessPal. I struggle with apps because they require me to be attached to my device in order to stay consistent. That's not me. If it's not you either, you might try a more personal approach.

I've had an accountability partner for years now. Winnie has seen me through more ups and downs than all the roller coasters at Cedar Point. We meet once a week and debrief what happened since our last meeting, what we're working on, and where we're needing help. If you don't know who you could turn to, consider a group accountability program, where you've got the "hive mind" and power of the group behind you to celebrate your wins and help you navigate the rough spots.

Fear's not going away any time soon, so anyone who promises to eliminate fear should set off all kinds of red flags. You may not be able to eliminate it, but you can mitigate it. Here are a few ways that external accountability can help.

Eliminate blame - you'll have a safe space to practice. Members of Accountability Club (A-Club) will often ask how to handle a tricky situation before they try to handle it publicly. And if they do have a "facepalm moment" they know they're not alone, and can come to the group to talk it through, be encouraged, and regroup. It's a judgement free zone that safe for everyone to practice.

Focus on progress, not perfection - This takes the sting out of so-called "failure". By dropping the judgement and celebrating what DID get accomplished or what you learned, you've got a chance to make every opportunity into a teachable moment. Are you further along than you were before? That's progress. Celebrate it! By looking for and celebrating the small wins, you're re-programming your brain to train it for success.

Take the pressure off - Take your focus off just the "strike zone" and celebrate the tiny steps along the way. Focus more on the actions you can take and less on what other people might think. Put your attention firmly on the actionable steps on your to-do list that lead to your goal. That way, others lose their power over you. Guilt drops away because you can point to exactly what you did (and how they could do the same thing to get comparable results).

It isn't about you being "magical" or feeling guilty about your hard-won progress. You did the work, dangit! This also keeps you clear on what's really possible for you. If your plate is full of action steps, you simply CAN'T take on more. There's no room! You can start learning new skills - like delegation, and team building.

Can you do these things for yourself? Sure. And sometimes you have to. I've been there. But even as a self-starter that loneliness and isolation can be tough. Not to mention the echo chamber of thoughts that start rattling in your head. That's when trying to hold yourself accountable can start holding you back. You simply can't manage it all by yourself all the time. It's just too hard.

If you're ready to take the pressure off and get the support and accountability you need to move forward, the doors are open to Accountability Club. Enrollment is only open a few times a year, so now's the time to get on board! Not sure if you're ready? Join us for our free monthly training call this weekend. We're talking with Becky Mollenkamp about how to use LinkedIn to grow your audience of Raving Fans. You can listen live at no cost, but the recording is only available to members of A-Club. As long as you're on my mailing list, you'll get an email with all the details.

Is Content REALLY King?

Back in 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay for Microsoft insiders stating that Content was King – meaning that as the internet advances, it will be imperative to deliver timely, useful content in whatever form the platform demands. It was a statement so general that it easily became a meme for CEO's across the globe, and still lingers to this day as a key reminder that what you have to share better matter to the people consuming it.

If content is King, context is God. - Gary Vaynerchuk

Fast forward 30 years, and Gary Vaynerchuk offers this addendum: "Content is king, but context is God." He invites his audience to consider the medium and the platform as much as the content itself. Make sure that what you're saying and sharing makes sense in the context of how the audience is showing up. Don't start singing “Figaro” at the top of your lungs during a dramatic reading of Hamlet, for example.  Don't sell tickets to your event at someone else's grand opening.

And yet, that's exactly what so many marketing messages do today. They interrupt us. They try to “grab” our attention. There's nothing subtle about them – which makes us feel slimy, smarmy, and out of integrity if we feel like that's the only way people will buy from us.

"Hey! Buy  my stuff! It's on sale for hella cheap!"

"You'd be crazy not to buy this RIGHT NOW!"

"We interrupt your Facebook feed to bring you this useless advertisement..."

But there's a better way. One that keeps us in integrity with our values and still invites our audience to invest with us. One that still puts money in our pockets, pays our bills, and let's us be a force for good in the world. You can use  it on any social media platform, in your email, and any other place where you might find yourself using marketing messaging on a regular basis (during the merch pitch at your concert, perhaps?)

By paying attention to the context of your audience – and providing content that meets them where they are at – you can draw them in – lead them through an experience that makes them eager to say yes to your offers without feeling like they've been marketed to.

Your content calendar

There's a difference between an editorial/content calendar and a marketing calendar. Editorial calendars support your marketing efforts. So once you know what you're promoting at different times of the year (your marketing calendar), you can set themes and develop content that supports your promotional efforts. If you're not developing content, you probably don't need an editorial calendar.

That said, most of my readers ARE creating content – shows, videos, blog posts, sales presentations, classes, etc. And you're not just creating content for the sake of producing more stuff. I believe that you're hoping that content will ultimately lead to more sales of your stuff.

Not every piece of content needs to be for marketing purposes.

I recognize that there are times when content creation isn't about a set agenda – we post pictures on instagram about our recent trip because we're excited to share our adventure, not necessarily to sell our latest offering.  But when you are creating content for marketing purposes, it's important to remember the journey your customer takes in order to decide to buy from you.

How buyers decide to buy

Most collegiate business textbooks outline the stages of the consumer buying process. It looks something like this:

  • Needs reocgnition
  • Search for information
  • Evaluate solutions
  • Choosing and purchasing

This means that, you can use this process to generate your content.

For example, if you sell coaching, chances are good potential clients might not know they even need coaching. So trying to offer a coaching service to the uninitiated might not land well. You may have created an amazing offering, but if your audience doesn't recognize they have a need for coaching, they simply won't buy.

How to use content to attract buyers to your creative business

Educating the buyer around the problem has to come first. This is email-level and blog post-type content. This is awareness-building content. It's early stage content for your launch sequence. People have to know they need what you offer before they're going to buy, and your emails, newsletters, and social media posts can go a long way toward building awareness for your solution.

But you can't stop there.

Because even after they recognize they need coaching, why should they choose you? After all, there are plenty of options out there, right? So now, they're going to start investigating options – unless you've already laid the ground work for them that YOU are the only game in town. Quality content helps position you above other options.

Positioning yourself as the go-to choice is the early to mid-stage launch content, your opt-in content, and the opening of your sales and marketing materials. This is where you get to remind people that "yes, there may be lots of options out there, but this content I'm sharing with you now illustrates why I'm the best choice." And if they're still not convinced? That's where you take things deeper.

The more you personalize the content, the more they feel like you get them. Webinars, live streams, teleclasses or one-on-one sessions - any ways you can interact directly with your potential buyers are going to not only position you as the go-to person, it's going to elevate your stature with your client. They've invested time with you, so there's a greater likelihood that they'll choose you when it comes time to buy. There are no guarantees, however.

Because once they've narrowed their choices, they've got to be ready and able to buy. My husband has known for years that he wants a Cooper Mini, but he's not in a position to buy. He's done the research, he's evaluated his options, he's even made a choice, but he's not buying. He's not ready. He's not financially able or willing to make the commitment to buy yet.

You are NOT creating content for that guy. Sure, you want to make a compelling case for buying with you, but your content at this stage should assume the sale. Assume your clients want to buy from you. At this stage, you're mostly re-assuring them that buying with you is a great value. This is sales-page level content, or evaluative consultations, where you make the recommendation at the end of the consult to buy from you. This is your call-to-action content.

However, all call-to-action content is not created equally, and customers today are more knowledgeable than before. As a result, the typical call-to-action triggers fail to achieve the intended results. It's a narrow line between creating a sense of urgency and being aggressive. Fortunately, a few SEO marketing agencies can help you create the right content to get that guy's attention and make the sale.

That's four distinct tiers of content and if you're launching 3 or 4 offers in a given year, that's 12-16 pieces of quality content that you can craft that directly tie back to your offers, leaving plenty of room in your editorial calendar for lots of other content that isn't marketing a specific offer.

And what if you don't "solve a problem"?

Every "problem" has a core solution of making someone's situation even better. So if you're a musician or a painter, it's the same story. How does your work make their life even better? Why do they need what you're creating? Why should they consider your offer over the offers of other artists or musicians? Macklemore still hosts an annual appreciation pizza party for his fans. What are you doing to create a community around you and your Great Work? Your content calendar can help with that.

Go back to the 4-step framework:

  1. Establish the need - use your content to show them how what you're doing has helped or inspired your other fans. Show and tell them how their lives could be even better when they buy your painting (or download your song). You could do this with a short fan video or an instagram photo of a piece of art you're shipping off to a client.
  2. Show them options - let them know that you're aware they have choices  (maybe even share a few with them), and begin to explain how what you do is unlike anything else out there. They're going to do some of this on their own, but if you help, you become like Santa in Miracle on 34th Street, who helps people find what they need (even if they can't get it from his department store). A simple way to show options is to share what you're listening to on Spotify, or links to other artists you admire (and tell people why you like it!)
  3. Reaffirm your difference - keep showing your awesomeness and illustrating why your offer is still the best choice. This is you, sharing content from your shows, your portfolio, or your studio, and letting people see how you make magic happen. Do a livestream and connect individually with your fans. Give them a chance to connect more deeply with you.
  4. Ask them to buy - this is the place where most creatives fall short, failing to ask and just assuming people will choose them. Assuming people want to buy from you is one thing, but it's meaningless if you don't offer the call to action to buy from you. It's not just saying "HEY! Buy my stuff because it's awesome!" It's reminding your fans that tickets go on sale next week, in three days, tomorrow, TODAY! - and sharing your enthusiasm about what it means for them (as much as what it means for you). It's inviting them to tell their friends, or bring a friend, or make new friends! Remind them why they want to be part of your community and invite them to invest in you.

There's nothing slimy or icky about reaching out with an average of 1-2 marketing messages per month, especially when they don't feel like marketing messages! And while you may condense your timeline to 1-2 messages per week during a marketing launch, you're still not making your audience feel icky because the content you're creating is actually helping them make progress toward their goal.

Want to know more?

I'm leading a call for my Accountability Club members and current subscribers at 1pm Eastern tomorrow. I'll share specific examples of content for marketing, and there's a Q&A session at the end. If you're already on my list, look for an email with details. The call is free to listen live, but only A-club members get access to the recordings. Learn more about Accountability Club and get access to all of last year's training too.

After a LONG hiatus (longer than I wanted, truth be told, but whatever.), Creative Freedom is BACK!

Sound the trumpets, yo. This is a BIG deal for me.

As you'll see in today's episode, we've made some changes. Why? Because I have been changing. My life looks radically different than it did a couple of years ago, when Creative Freedom was only a glimmer in my eye.

I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew it would take time to make it happen. The only thing I wasn't sure of is whether or not I could actually pull it off... and if I did pull it off, I didn't know if I wanted to keep doing it.

Then, in the middle of all my planning and creating - to misquote John Lennon - life happened.

There's more to life and work than "the hustle." (Tweet This)

It took most of the last 12 months just to re-group and care for what was going on around me. And when I was ready to come out of my cocoon, it became more apparent than ever that Creative Freedom is not just a fun title for the show, it's the life I want to champion for other creative entrepreneurs.

How did I get there? Today's episode will give you some clarity around the three things I had to do in order to pull myself together and get my Noble Empire back on track.

Additional Resources and Support

I reached out to the members of my Accountability Club to share their genius on this topic as well:

Share Your Ideas

How are you honoring the cycles of your creative life and Great Work? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments and be part of our Rising Tide.