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Your ideal week: What does it look like?

Your ideal week: What does it look like?

What does your ideal week look like?  What are its elements, and how much of each? It seems like a pie-in-the-sky thing, I know. But I began taking it seriously a few years ago when I found myself getting to the end of every week feeling vaguely disappointed with myself and what I'd been able to accomplish with my waking minutes. The lookback at the end of the week was pretty dismal. I might have ...
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To gain traction with your business, develop a listening rhythm

To gain traction with your business, develop a listening rhythm

I’m often contacted by lovely people who are worried. Their small business isn’t taking off the way they’d hoped. They’ve listened to all the business gurus’ podcasts, they’ve “followed their bliss” in creating their business, they’ve taken all the right 30 day challenges and ‘free’ webinars, and still, they can’t seem to get enough clients. (Or, sometimes, any.) My very first client came to me as a bit of good luck: She knew of me ...
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Image courtesy of congerdesign via Pixabay

The life-changing magic of working for ourselves

Most of us self-employed types are on a continuous learning path, gathering knowledge and skills and using them to create a better business. It's a great way to live, but lately, I've been seeing that the path isn't a line, but a loop: My business doesn't just earn income and/or help people: It helps me to do a better job of living in this strange world. There's a great bit of Buddhist advice I see ...
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The myth of competition: What's your "Only"?

The myth of competition: What’s your “Only”?

Do we, as super-small businesses, actually have “competitors”? Debate still simmers over this in some circles. Let's chat. Traditional business-guru advice warned us for decades that we needed to strive for a clear advantage over our competitors. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, they warned (and where EVER did that expression come from btw???) and we needed to invest a lot of time, energy and brainpower into ‘beating out the competition.’ Things have changed, and ...
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Who gets to decide what your ‘potential’ is?

Who gets to decide what your ‘potential’ is?

The word "potential" keeps finding its way into my email inbox and social media feeds these days. For me, it generally shows up in the sales pitches from thought leaders and mentors and counselors of various kinds. You'll often see some variant of this: "If you're not fully living up to your potential in your (business, work, life, knitting, etc.) I can get you there." It's benevolent shorthand for any of the following:
It's just March...is your mental clutter already building?

It’s just March…is your mental clutter already building?

Image courtesy of OpenRoadPR via Pixabay Going into Spring from a weary mental space isn’t my idea of a good time. I want to be excited by that first warm breeze of the year, that first time I notice that there’s light coming through the windows when I wake in the morning. But because of, well, Life, I find I've been guilty lately of something I also notice in my coaching clients: A crush of ...
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On being a 'mission with a company'

On being a ‘mission with a company’

"Be a mission with a company, not a company with a mission." Early this year, I stumbled over this quote and it gave me pause. As in, a loooong pause, not just a blink's worth. What exactly did this mean? First, it's easy to see how, for some, the word "mission" can be touchy. I rarely use the word "mission," as it can sometimes seem like something lofty and out of reach. I prefer the ...
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The gift of envy for the self-employed (and everyone else)

The gift of envy for the self-employed (and everyone else)

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not achieve peace. —Buddha* It's not every day I find myself in disagreement with the Buddha. Today's one of those days. I'm okay with it. We've all felt those twinges of envy at one time or another, right? ...Envy of those who are doing better financially than we are with their businesses, despite how hard we're working. ...Envy of those ...
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The under-appreciated ritual of avoiding improvement

The under-appreciated ritual of avoiding improvement

This post is especially for those who are always trying to improve their business: Improve sales, improve productivity/processes, or just improve the energy you have to do it. You know the advice, right?  "Work ON your business, not IN your business." Always have an eye on building & adjusting & improving whenever possible and as much as possible. I absolutely do agree that's a great plan— Until it isn't. I think it was the morning ...
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Do our clients care about us too?

Do our clients care about us too?

How much do you genuinely care about your audience members as real, live, flesh-and-blood people? How much do they care about you? Recently, in her delicious Friday newsletter, coach/author/friend Judith Morgan put her finger squarely on something I consider a key aspect of truly healthy, nutritious relationships with clients and customers: I care about my clients' dreams but here's the important bit, they care about mine too. They care about me. It is reciprocal. ...
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My 'Word of the Year' for 2019? You’re not gonna like it.

My ‘Word of the Year’ for 2019? You’re not gonna like it.

“The tiny cost of failure is dwarfed by the huge cost of not trying.” Seth Godin, www.seths.blog, The Tiny Cost of Failure I admit that I haven’t jumped into the “Word of the Year” movement for a couple of years now, but this year I am. You know about that thing, right? Where we’re advised by the self-help gurus to choose a special word each year to be our mantra or rallying cry or guiding principle ...
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The annual planning retreat deconstructed: Beautiful, painful, and absolutely necessary

The annual planning retreat deconstructed: Beautiful, painful, and absolutely necessary

By the time you read this, I will be back online, in the so-called "normal" world. This was written from a quieter space, one that I hope you'll consider gifting yourself in the coming year in some way: All solo small businesses and practices can benefit from taking a little time each year—measured in days, not hours—to quiet down, disconnect, and get clear.  For a big chunk of December and January of every year, if ...
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More of and Less of: The strange magic in knowing exactly why you do what you do

More of and Less of: The strange magic in knowing exactly why you do what you do

Life tosses us around sometimes, doesn't it? Take time, for example. Sometimes we seem to have more than enough to "get it all done" and sometimes we're struggling for 5 minutes to get our shoes on and get out the door. News, politics, and current events stress us. Family members need our help when we can't even find the energy to help ourselves. It's a universal truth in self-employment: Some days, weeks, months, it's hard ...
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Show me your process, not just your perfection

Show me your process, not just your perfection

“Show us your process, not just your perfection." —CJ Casciotta This mandate hitting my ears was just one of dozens of eyes-wide moments at last week’s STORY 2018 conference in Nashville—an annual conference that’s been called “TED for Creatives.” It will take me a while to type up the pages and pages of notes I brought home from this immersive, two-day gathering for artists, creators, and storytellers. I brought colored pencils and markers with me ...
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The valuable time of maturity (in life and work)

The valuable time of maturity (in life and work)

I normally would go to great lengths to connect a piece of prose or poetry to some pithy business concept before publishing it on this blog, so as to not go all la-la on you. But sometimes it doesn't seem necessary. So here you go, and I'll leave it to you to connect it to work/business if and how you wish. Note: This is one of several translations of the piece "The Valuable Time of ...
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The end of 30 blogs in 30 days

The end of 30 blogs in 30 days

To fully immerse myself in the new world/work that is MargaretRode.com, since mid-July 2018 I've been writing 30 blog posts in 30 days. (You can read the whole sequence at https://margaretrode.com/blog.) 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 ...
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Six clues that help keep me super-energized even "at my age"

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 ...
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An INFP entrepreneur? How on earth would THAT work?

An INFP entrepreneur? How on earth would THAT work?

I’ve long been fascinated by the personality typing, especially the Myers-Briggs® personality types. The first time I was introduced to that system of grouping and naming our individual preferences was a massive breakthrough for me. Most people wander the world forever thinking that humanity is divided into dyads like “nice guys or jerks” or “free spirits or anal retentives” or "artists or accountants." But Myers-Briggs groupings finally untangled one big mystery for me: Why didn't I ever ...
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Just speak to me as a friend

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 ...
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The unexpected, the unplanned

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

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 ...
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Things can get a lot more complicated (Part 2)

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 ...
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Things can get a lot more complicated (Part 1)

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

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 ...
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Say no to something today

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

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 ...
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Of work and gardens: How to survive and thrive in any weather

Of work and gardens: How to survive and thrive in any weather

Many may not know that when I'm not at a keyboard I’m outside growing a mountain of organic food every year. When I’m not helping people with their online marketing stuff, for a big part of the year I can be found in my 30′ x 40′ patch out back, monkeying with the tomatoes and garlic and kale and pumpkins. We have a very short growing season here at 7300 feet elevation — about 3 ...
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Building a small business that matters: 3 ways to be a force for good AND be profitable

Building a small business that matters: 3 ways to be a force for good AND be profitable

Last year I wrote a book called Storytelling for Small Business: Creating and Growing an Authentic Business Through the Power of Story. (It's a cool little bite-sized book, or so they tell me. Check it out if you're interested in that topic.) What most folks who've read it don't know is that the subtitle of the book was originally slated to be Building a Business That Matters Through the Power of Story. But someone in my ...
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Doing small things with great love

Doing small things with great love

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. Mother Teresa (paraphrased by many) When we work for ourselves, we can be doing big things or small things. Big things might include creating an offering that reaches and enhances the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. Starting a foundation. Quitting your job and devoting your life to building schools in Africa. Beautiful stuff. And then there ...
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Two quotes, both wise, source not important

Two quotes, both wise, source not important

Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
—A quote often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
—An actual quote by Theodore Roosevelt I was in a "pithy sayings" mood today, and bumped into both of these, all memed up and posted all over the internet. They are both wise, but Mr. Roosevelt only said one of them.  That part doesn't really matter ...
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Shall we talk?

I offer a friendly, free 30-minute consultation by phone, Skype or Zoom to learn more about one another and to see how I might help. No pressure, no clever sales pitch, just a half-hour spent with a kindred spirit. Sound good?