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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

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?

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.

“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

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

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 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)

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

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”

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?

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

“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

“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

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)

(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)

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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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You can wait for a sign until it falls on you

The title of this post comes from a catchy chapter heading from a book I read more than a decade ago. It was one of those "how to attract abundance" books that intrigued me back then, as I explored my relationship with money. Confession? I didn't make all the way through the book. I'm not cut out for those chatty books written by entrepreneurs who fall into the category I think of as "extraverts-with-a-capital-E who ...
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Those first small business steps–they’re not carved in stone

Oh, I know, there's supposed to be a rigid formula you follow when you start any sort of business:
  • A concept, tested by research and proven viable
  • A set of offerings - product, services, knowledge, etc.
  • Knowing your ideal client - the person your offerings are best suited for
  • Setting up your business "stuff" and hanging out your shingle
  • Doing marketing according to all the formulas available online
  • Networking like a maniac, even if ...
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Zing! Becoming truer and truer versions of ourselves

The problem with reading good books is that there's never just ONE great, soul-opening quote, there are always several. I can't get this one out of my head either, from the introduction to this book: "...I hope the story of our company can serve as a little light that will shine into people's hearts...so that many more of us will actively transform the world, day by day, with meaningful work that allows us all to ...
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The notion of our work being a two-part harmony

Sometimes my mantra for the day comes to me early. Sometimes later. Sometimes right before bed. Today, I was fortunate to find this thought upon which to meditate almost immediately after opening my eyes in the morning. "All business vocations should strive for greatness (excellence/quality) and goodness (heart). All business vocations should have a harmony between profit and the desire to do good work for the world. How do you do this? By pursuing both ...
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Your destination will be all around you

I've never been very interested in relying on a GPS device in my car to get where I'm going. I'm one of those crazies who loves maps, and I want to know where I'm going by seeing it on a map. I like knowing what's on the way, just off the route. I like knowing whether I'm going east or west, and what landmarks exist that can help me to orient myself. I like to see ...
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The unexpected joys of insomnia

I don't get enough sleep. I know that. There are several reasons for that, none of them easily remedied, but there is one fringe benefit to it: I'm learning a lot. Around 3:00am, my body decides it would prefer to get up, move around, drink water, and stare out at the Moon (and lately, Mars). When I can coax it into laying back down, I try to keep it entertained by listening to podcasts. Generally, the podcasts ...
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My actions are the ground on which I stand

My actions are the ground on which I stand. —Thich Nhat Hanh I've been living in the world of words lately. As I try to grow this budding new "business" of mine (though that doesn't seem a good description of it) I spend hours and hours writing, researching, listening to words of wisdom, and exploring. I was talking with a client the other day who has been working on trying to build his business for ...
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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?