The end of 30 blogs in 30 days

To fully immerse myself in the new world/work that is, since mid-July 2018 I’ve been writing 30 blog posts in 30 days. (You can read the whole sequence at

The 30-in-30 is one of the most useful exercises I can suggest for someone starting a new business, changing up their existing business, or just needing refocusing. It’s also a powerful way to fire up any new offering or habit you want to truly internalize.

There are several reasons why it works. Switching our brains into regular content-creation mode—and having the commitment and responsibility to regularly share your thoughts with the people in your community—these have almost magical powers.

We are reminded, most basically, that we are capable of developing new habits or returning to old ones; we haven’t forgotten how.

We know that tomorrow morning (or evening, or whatever daypart) we have to have something to write about, so our minds can be taught to switch over to a much more observant mode.

We notice more of the details of life that may be in some way relevant to our work.

We hear things that resonate with the topic area we’re writing about, and they stick. At least 5 times a day, I’m reaching for a scratch pad and pencil, or for Evernote, to capture something I’ve heard that might turn into good fodder for the next writes.

Since every day we’re touching in with our core values and core topics, we more easily stay in tune with the heartbeat of what we do and why we do it, and less likely to be led into mindless minutia.

And at the end, it creates a body of work we can invite people to come into and to share.

I’ve enjoyed doing this, and if I weren’t going on a voyage that’ll take me out of wireless range, I would probably keep going.

Interested in doing your own 30/30? Drop me a line. I’ll share how I do it and will happily volunteer to be one of your accountability buddies and your cheerleaders.

And if you worry you’ll run out of ideas, I’d love to share my idea-generation tactics with you, so you’ll literally never run out of things to write about. I offer a zippy little coaching hour just for that:

Six clues that help keep me super-energized even “at my age”

Self-employed people often have a favorite book or books they keep on their nightstand. Usually, it seems like it’s a business book, something teaching core wisdom. Or it’s an inspirational tome by Michael Gerber, Tim Ferriss, or Seth Godin, or a dog-eared copy of Think and Grow Rich or The War of Art.

Anyone sneaking a look at my book stack these days would be disappointed to see that, of all the books that have come and gone, the only one that stays next to my bed constantly these days is How to Be Well by the functional medicine doctor Frank Lipman. Yep. A book not about keeping my business healthy, but keeping my whole life healthy.

I had been running my business in spite of how my body was doing, thinking it was just my age that was slowing me down. After all, I ate well, exercised, all that magazine-cover stuff. Must be something out of my control, right?

As I crept into my fifth and sixth decades on the planet, I started to see the small physical breakdowns common for people in my age bracket. Knees and shoulders started to hurt. I caught viruses more easily. I didn’t sleep as well, and little ailments and glitches would interfere with my ability to think well, work hard, and operate creatively on certain days. The machine of my body—which drives how well and easily I can do my work—was slipping into disrepair, and I was letting it, by pleading powerlessness.

Sometimes it takes a special resource to get through my preconceived notions, and this one did. It’s as though I’ve gotten a fresh, clean slate to work with. I’ve sunk deeper into my own core, past the layer of “how to run a business” and on to an even deeper spot, “how to run myself, so I have the power to do anything I’m called to do.”

Cool, huh?

What I love about How to Be Well is the way it’s organized. He outlines six pillars of keeping our bodies and minds well and capable, roughly divided into Eat, Sleep, Move, Protect, Unwind, and Connect. Each section has several 1-2 page subsections of easy-reading, actionable suggestions without any of the dense science found in similar books. It’s playful rather than dogmatic, with the topics in each area accompanied by fun, colorful artwork.

These are just a few of the habits (or habit-enforcers) I’ve already extracted from the book that have become priceless in supporting my life as a self-employed person:


Mastering the Nourishing Smoothie: I can whirl up a meal-in-a-blender packed to the seams with vital nutrients and never depend on manufactured snacks or plastic-wrapped foods (with all of their debilitating sodium, sweetener, and chemicals)

Eat Dinner Earlier and Breakfast Later: Giving my body a longer window to rest between “eating events” has easily doubled my energy, effortlessly dropped excess weight, and eliminated a lot of the mind fog of the typical American eating pattern of constant meals and snacks (and the insulin spikes that come with them).


Restore Your Ancestral Connection to Dark: I find myself out in the darkness more now, and it helps me to get more and better sleep. I hadn’t realized how things like LED bulbs were completely messing with my sleep patterns. (Great for saving money, lousy for reading before bed.)


Just Move (As Much as You Can): Grabbing any opportunity to keep your body in motion, even if it’s just getting up and walking around between tasks for a minute.

Play Like a Child: I hadn’t realized how I had so thoroughly brainwashed myself into thinking that movement/exercise had to be going to the gym, running on a treadmill, or powerwalking in order for it to “count.” My eyes now look for opportunities to be a kid again, climbing on rocks, walking the balance-beam of a landscape timber, or just digging in the dirt.


The Burden of Toxins: A Doctor’s Manifesto: Becoming cognizant of all the chemicals (many not adequately tested) I ingest and inhale and smear on my skin was massively eye-opening.

Give Your Mitochondria What They Need: Wildly helpful, and singularly responsible for the fact that I can work the hours I do in a way that’s healthy and joyful, not a Bataan death march of endless work. I heart my mitochondria now.


Smile. Laugh. Repeat. I hadn’t been doing ANYWHERE near enough of this (which triggered a cascade of funny reading, watching, and play).

Give Yourself a Massage: Who knew you could do this?  I do now.


Gather. Eat. Commune.  I’ve rediscovered the joys of gathering together with other people—enjoying good food, different energy, creativity-stimulating conversations. It’s not hard (even for this introvert) and it’s shifted everything.

Pursue Purpose, But Don’t Chase Bliss: I’ve discovered that the pursuit of “bliss” is not rewarding for me, but staying tightly connected to my various purposes in life—through a variety of activities and reminders and tactics—has elevated me in a way that five decades of previous life didn’t. Wildly wonderful.

I initially took the book out of the library, but now I own my own hardback copy, and it’s never going into the thrift store pile. Check it out at

Do you have an unorthodox book that’s been an unexpected spark for your work? Something off the beaten track that’s really lifted you up?

I’d love to hear about it.

Just speak to me as a friend

“Forget about the microphone. Just speak to me. As a friend.”
—Lionel Logue to King George VI, The King’s Speech

I have any number of strange mathematical fantasies waltzing through my head at any given time.

Here’s just one of them:

I would like to have a special bank into which I could somehow locate, harvest, and deposit all the wasted time in the world. (I know. But it doesn’t have to make sense.)

For example, I think about the volumes of time we spend, as people working for ourselves, trying on different voices and approaches and pitches and complex strategies in the attempt to attract new clients. I’ve literally watched some of my people spend half of their working hours wringing their hands over “how can I say this in a way that gets attention?” or “will this impress a potential client?”

The overall question seems to be, “Which Me is the most likely to gain their confidence and get them to purchase what I’m offering?”

I’ve been there too. Oh heck yes. In bumpy times I find myself slipping into it again, and have to get quiet inside and re-gather all that makes me Me.

I can’t speak for everyone, but the Me that has helped me attract the very best people for my work has been the Me that sees them all as friends.

They’re friends who are confused or discouraged. Friends who are trying to figure something out. Friends who see learning a new skill as the key to more time/income/confidence. Friends who are feeling isolated, disconnected and a little lost in this increasingly tangled and confusing world. Friends who just want a little more peace, or a little more beauty in their lives.

When I speak to people (in person, on the phone, in writing) as friends, with an open mind, open heart, and genuine care for their well-being, all kinds of good things happen in my business.

So back to that time bank. Imagine if we could gather all that time we spend trying to be someone else. That time spent trying to be the Selves that “achieve” rather than the genuine Selves that we are at heart.

Oh, the things we could do with it.

How about summer camp for grownup entrepreneurs? That extra day in the week we’re always feeling we’d like to have to get things done? Time for some spectacular no-holds-barred self-care?

Or maybe just…time to joyfully, thoughtfully seek out more of the people we want most to attract to our work.


The unexpected, the unplanned

“Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.”
—Carl Sandburg

Make sure you set aside a little time and space in your calendar today . . . for no reason in particular.

Inspiration and magical coincidences can’t thrive in the three-minute spaces you allow between obligations on your almighty Calendar. 

A friendly reminder to start with your Why, not your What

We all know about the importance of starting with our “Why,” right? I’ve been talking with local businesses lately, and it’s reminded me how prevalent it still is, as we promote our work, to start with “What,” move to “How,” and buried somewhere there may be a “Why.” Here’s an unfortunate example of that: What: X has a restaurant where she serves top-quality farm-to-table food. How: She sources all of her ingredients locally and organically wherever possible, and prepares them all from scratch in an elegant setting. Why: (and this is a direct quote from her) “Because that niche is really profitable right now.” Even though she – naturally – never published that anywhere, virtually everyone who patronized that business could feel that ‘Why’ intuitively, without ever having been told in writing. The restaurant had a polished style, sky-high prices far above the responsibly-sourced standard, select table visits from the owner (depending on your status in the community), and it churned out lots of waste unnecessarily. Service was formal and stiff, portions were tiny and artfully arranged. The food was quite wonderful. Note the use of the past tense ‘was’. A real shame. A more compelling “Why”—more than just “because I can make a lot of money on it” might have built lots of grassroots support in my community, which is a thoughtful one. For you, this morning, two versions of Simon Sinek’s groundbreaking TED talk “Start with Why.” There’s a full 18-minute version, followed below by an edited version (just 5 minutes) if you’re in a hurry. Suggestion? Go ahead and turn on the longer version and let it play in the background as you go about your tasks. It’s a message that can percolate in even if not watching the video.




Things can get a lot more complicated (Part 2)

(standing on my head and looking at Part 1)

Another view, from the brilliant Seth Godin:

“Sometimes, we’re so eager to have an opinion that we skip the step of working to understand. Why is it the way it is? Why do they believe what they believe?

We skip reading the whole thing, because it’s easier to jump to what we assume the writer meant.

We skip engaging with customers . . . because it’s quicker to assert we know what they want.

We skip doing the math, examining the footnotes, recreating the experiment, because it might not turn out the way we need it to . . .”

—Seth Godin, The Hard Work of Understanding

In our work, I think working to BE SURE we understand Our People is the single most important activity we can make time for.

We all try to figure out why a product/service isn’t selling, why we can’t seem to reach the right people at the right time through marketing, why someone didn’t react positively to our carefully-shaped workshop or coaching. If we’re smart, we go to other people outside our well-worn sphere of influence and ask them for a second opinion. If we’re REALLY smart, we step into the fire and ask our ideal people themselves, even if it’s uncomfortable to do so.

In work, it’s a careful artform to ask people, “What were you thinking/feeling when you decided (not to sign up for this)?”  Or “What would’ve made that a better/more useful experience for you?”  Or exploring what they really want right now, running the risk that what they really want isn’t what you want to offer.

And in the rest of life, taking the time to be sure we understand—even if we don’t agree, or don’t respect what someone’s saying—is possibly one of the most useful skills to cultivate.

Seeking to understand isn’t tit-for-tat.
We can do it even if it seems no one around us is bothering.

Things can get a lot more complicated (Part 1)

My friend Dick used to have this as his email signoff:

“Things can become complicated when you actually try to understand them.”

I’ve always loved that because it’s so uncomfortably true, and because it’s true across the full spectrum of our life and work. It’s ESPECIALLY true for those of us who are on the path of working for ourselves, doing our heart’s work.

And nowadays, with so many people rushing to air their snap judgments on social media—judgments often based on biases, half-truths and hearsay—it gets more and more dismaying every day. Or it can.

There will be people who do not understand what you do, and may even belittle it.

There will be people who do not see the benefit or the worth of what you offer.

There will be people who don’t want to listen or to follow your guidance because they don’t see why it all has to be so hard.

There will be people who don’t understand why you can’t just change your way of working to fit their way of working.

There will be people who do not understand or respect your values, your lifestyle choices, or your priorities.

And there may even be people who speak ill of you in public spaces (think reviews, Yelp, Twitter) because they won’t or can’t take the time to understand.

We all have the occasional day where, in our mind’s eye, we seem surrounded by all these faces frowning at us in puzzlement.

But amid all of those faces (and hopefully outnumbering those faces) there will be the faces of people who get you.

Who are listening and nodding as they read what you write.
Whose curiosity is being spiked by something you said.
Who tell their friends about you.
Who will pay for what you offer because they believe in you.
Who will help you do what you do better.

They’ve taken the time to understand. And now that they understand, they’re on your side.

Look for them. Care for them. Take time to understand them.

They’re the ones you want with you on this crazy journey through life.

(Wouldn’t you know, I just couldn’t stop talking about this. Read Part 2 here >>)

Don’t make your people start at the mountaintop: Diverse offerings as an act of compassion

I know many, many solo businesspeople who start out with only one product (or possibly two). It’s a workshop for $500, or consulting packages for $2000, or a multi-month coaching program for $5000, or a massive piece of art that’s even more.

It pains me sometimes to watch them waiting for people to show up to work with them. It hurts to hear about cashflow problems and hear them speculate whether they are going to have to go back and “work for the Man” again.

Yes, they may be worth every penny, and probably are. No, you should not under-charge for your offerings. But there’s another way.

You want people to meet you, learn about you, trust you, right?

If you’re on the mountaintop, people have to convince themselves to make that climb all the way up, just to find out whether they even “click” with you and the way you work.

What if you first met them down in the river valley where they live, and you had a picnic together to have a basic conversation, learn about each other?

What if your next encounter was a little higher, on a hilltop where you could look out and point out the possibilities all around, and they could see more of your strengths and vision up there, see how much you can carry with grace.

And what if you THEN offered the opportunity to go all the way to the top…now that they know and trust and admire you? After having the opportunity to get to know you, isn’t it much more likely they’ll willingly make the climb to meet you there?

That metaphor is what’s playing in my mind when I advise people to have several levels of offerings:

A free offering, such as a brief get-to-know-you session, to chat a bit and see if you have common ground, if you’re right for each other

A lower-cost product, service, or resource, like an ebook, real book or a session or webinar for under $50, which allows people a low-risk way to observe how you do things and what you know

A mid-priced offering that both requires AND instills more trust, where they can really see how amazing you are at what you do, and how life-changing working with you could be

AND a deep-dive, fully-featured full-priced offering (the beautiful mountaintop) which will more readily be purchased by these folks who’ve developed trust and respect for you

This is a compassionate, respectful way of structuring what you offer so that more people can follow a natural path to you that doesn’t feel risky.

Not only is this good for them, it’s good for you too.

You’ll have a chance to observe whether they’re the client best suited for the work you love doing. Are they open to your message? Do they respect your way of working? Are they willing to do their end of the work?

Consider it?


If you’d like to talk this through, get a whole bunch of new ideas, and get some solid guidance on where to start, get in touch with me and let’s chat. For example, I have a fun one-time WTHAID (what the hell am I doing?) session you’ll love, and it will likely pay for itself many times over.

Say no to something today

Derek Sivers woke us up nearly a decade ago with the revelation that decision-making can be a binary process:

“Use this rule if you’re often over-committed or too scattered.
If you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, say ‘no’.”

The concept here? It’s this: When you start saying “no” more, it frees time for those things that come along which make your spirit and your heart snap to attention and say, “hell yes.” (Think opportunities, clients, partnerships, ideas.)

Want to practice that with me today? C’mon. It’ll be fun.

Say no to something that’s less than “hell yes” today. (You can be SUPER nice about it.)

Something you might have automatically said “yes” to before today.

Just say no.

Trust that the space you’ve protected will be soon filled with a delicious “yes.”

In fact, I can suggest some small-bites actions you can use to fill that “no thanks” space:

  • Two minutes:  Contact a past client this morning, one that you really enjoyed working with. Ask how they’re doing. Don’t sell anything. Just be interested and caring and genuine. Send your positivity out there into the world, and release it without strings attached.
  • Five minutes:  Write down three things you’re grateful for today, and describe them (it makes them come to life in your brain). If you’re grateful for a new client you just got, describe what they do, the moment you first heard about them, how you felt, etc. Think of this as a beacon you’re sending out to the world: Thank you. I’m paying attention. More, please.
  • Thirty minutes:  Sift through things you’ve written or published recently (past year). Find something you feel really gave value to the people you most want to serve in this life. Wherever you published it, find a second place to publish it. If it’s a blog post, publish it to Facebook or Instagram. If it’s an article you wrote, take a piece of it and make an actionable blog post. If it’s a series of emails/posts/etc., ponder making it into an eBook or an online course. You don’t have to figure it all out…just think about it and plant the seed.
  • One hour: Block out an hour on your calendar just for some joyful planning and daydreaming about your business. Brew your favorite beverage, find some music you love (without words), sit in your most comfortable spot. Make it a party just for you and your future.
  • Your choice: Spend some time decluttering your email inbox. Wait — listen for a second. Maybe getting to zero inbox isn’t possible for you right now, but those emails that have been sitting in your inbox forever gathering dust? They are, in their tiny nagging way, pulling energy from you that you NEED for other, more useful tasks. If you can get rid of 50% of backlogged email, you will be amazed at how much lighter you feel. George Kao has a great article on how to approach this with joy:
  • Nothing at all:  There’s no need to fill the space. (Just be clear, be compassionate, communicate, and trust.) But when was the last time you just did nothing?  Quieting your mind, looking at a beautiful image or piece of art, walking slowly around the block and letting your mind stray wherever it wanted, unleashed? A favorite book for me to give me ideas is How to Be an Explorer of the World (or any book by Keri Smith…lovely stuff)

Life is too short to waste our time on things that don’t light us up.


Ten questions for businesses that matter (or businesses that want to)

I ask myself these questions all the time. In fact, I once made a desktop screensaver for my laptop, so I’d be guaranteed to see them at least 50 times each day…how’s that for crazy? I just wanted to be sure I internalized them thoroughly, and that they’re not lost in the crush of day-to-day obligations.

Why did you choose the area of work you currently do, rather than something else?

What are you finding is the hardest thing about doing it?

What’s the one thing you’re good at that few people truly ARE good at?

What’s in short supply in our human lives, and you’d like to see more of it?

What do we have too much of all around us, and you’d like to see less of it?

Who are the human beacons you pay attention to, and who are the human beacons you want to help create?

What do you fear the most, in terms of working for yourself?

What thing do you wish you had more of?

What do you want people to say when they talk about you to their best friend or coolest colleague?

How do you answer this question? The work I do is creating (will create) more _________ in the world.

There are no rights or wrongs here. But there are sneaky clues. If you find a question hard to answer, try freewriting about it. If there’s one that makes you feel the tug of resistance inside, think about why. If there’s one you can’t answer in 1-2 sentences, there may be an opportunity there to tighten up your mission or your messaging.

In a business that matters, your “why” is just as important as your “how much.”

Feel free to take any of these and riff on it in a blog post of your own. You might be surprised where it takes you.

Happy day to all.