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Thought Leadership Marketing

What To Do When People Criticize You in Person or on the Internet

Last week I spoke at East Bay Women’s Network to a group of wonderful women attended who were curious about how to promote their businesses and themselves. It had been a long time since I’d given a “speech” as I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from speaking engagements or other public events.

My stomach was roiling that morning as I drove the hour to Alameda and before that I’d had weeks of worry, nightmares, and plenty of time to fret about the actual talk.

Afterward many women came up to thank me and tell me what they loved about my talk.

There was one man in the room. But he had no interest in complimenting me.

He wanted to criticize me so bad he could hardly wait his turn.

“I don’t know if you saw me sleeping in the back,” he started out.

“Nope. Didn’t notice,” I said, wondering why someone would bring that to my attention.

He then battered me with questions leading up to his punch line which was designed to tear me down, so he could tell me everything I’d done wrong. My stomach sank and my face fell. My first thoughts: I’m such a failure. I’m a stinky speaker. Why did I accept this gig? What was I thinking?

Then I breathed, relaxed my tummy, let it go and stayed open.

Eventually, he got to his point which was that I didn’t tell a signature story to let the group know who I was. “Oh gosh, I’ve got about 5 signature stories that I’ve told so many times I’m tired of them. I wanted to try something new.”

“Sure,” he said. “But WE haven’t heard any of them.”

He was right. I teach telling your signature story in every media appearance and when appropriate, your speaking engagements. The “why you do what you do” story.

I was out of practice. I had forgotten.

I thanked him and packed up my things. Point taken.

What to do you do when you receive uninvited criticism in person or on the Internet? 

I recommend asking yourself these 3 questions (and then doing this last thing – which is the hardest).

1. Consider the source.

Is this person a nutball? If so, dismiss their rant without another thought. Don’t let it sink into your skin for a second.

When a friend had a very revealing piece published in the New York Times the editor warned her to expect a backlash from Internet trolls. She and I discussed not even reading the hurtful replies so she could revel in the glory of achieving her dream. We batted around the idea that later when she had some distance and perspective, she might scan them for ideas to write another article based on the responses she elicited, thus using them for the positive. Distance creates perspective and allows you to see things more “objectively,” and less personally.

2. Is there something I can learn here?

Is there a kernel of truth in anything this person says? Is what they say worth examining so I can improve myself, my course, my talk etc.? If so, great. If not, move on.

3. Did what they said/wrote trigger an unresolved wound?

If you find yourself becoming hurt, angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or experiencing a strong feeling arising, take a few breaths to steady yourself and come back to center in the moment. Later, examine what touched the nerve. The event can show you where there is still work to be done to let go of past patterns that we all have or harbor. Consider tapping to resolve challenging issues.

The hardest part? Staying open. To hear the truth, or someone’s version of it, and not react. Or, if you react, don’t judge your response just let it go so you can listen and assess the situation.

The second hardest part is to ignore the hurtful words and not let them lodge in our hearts and close us down.

There is a time and place to just ignore the offending party. Not give them or their words any energy at all. If you’re up for an “advanced” practice, send them a blazing bolt of love from your heart to theirs. Shoot it straight in. We are all hurt somewhere and if you can soften even a little consider that an accomplishment.

BONUS: Use hurtful words to open an interesting discussion. I witnessed an Instagram influencer do this when she raised over 50k to help a single mom of two in her congregation get a car, apartment and get started on a new life in an unfamiliar city.

It was quite amazing to see all the support her IG community gave and to watch the pot of gold grow. Then came the naysayers who accused her of doing it for the money. None of which she kept, by the way. So she shared the hurt and gave her followers the opportunity to discuss the negative comment and to give her even more support for her good deed, which they did.

Some people make it their mission to make you feel small. Ignore them. Others are devoted to finding infinite ways share in order to inspire you to feel good. Embrace them.

To make a practice of celebrating others and bringing joy I recommend Sherry Richert Belul’s new book, Say It Now: 33 Ways to Say I LOVE YOU To the Most Important People in Your Life

If you’re in the Bay Area I invite you to join us for an in-person workshop with Sherry where she’ll lead us through how to make a Love List on May 11 in Alameda. I’d love to meet you!


Failure, Faith and Perseverance

I’m in a tizzy right now. I have an unknown, itchy red rash under my arm. My stomach is upset and bloated. And my office has a giant pile of clothes on a chair I’ve been meaning to take to the consignment store, but haven’t. When I want to shift something, I clean out. But sometimes, the shift doesn’t come soon enough. And stuff piles up.

While I continue to consult with some amazing and talented clients, at the same time I’m also moving into a new direction with my True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls. So I have a foot in both worlds — which can sometimes be crazy making. Like worried nights pacing and writing at 3:00 am, searching for that roll of sweet tarts I have in the laundry room cupboard for such emergencies.

For one thing, I didn’t really realize that I was a start-up. But that’s what I am. I have a business with no track record for a new idea.

Verbal self-defense for girls

I have all the measurements in place, but have yet to have anyone complete the program. Everyone in the schools and organizations who have purchased it is starting in August or September and while it will take me just 3 months or so to get initial statistics and evidence-based results it will take me about 9 months to get a full picture of all the survey results.

That’s almost a year! Panic. Seems like forever and a day.

Starting something new can be a maddening and discouraging process. I want to chat a bit about the three things about the process, which is often hard to love. Failure, faith, and perseverance. We are often told to embrace the journey. While that is a noble thought, the muck during the journey can weigh you down something fierce.

I just heard an interview with Jessi Klein on Terry Gross’ show Fresh Air talking about getting an Emmy while having a three month-old baby and having to pump breast milk during the ceremony which nicely sums up why embracing the journey is necessary to happiness. “…Having a baby is really hard on a marriage. So things with my husband were just – I’ll just say they were very hard ’cause we were just so tired, and it’s so crazy. And I just suddenly felt very much like, oh, I won this Emmy, and tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and I’m going right back into my own little struggles.

And nothing is really different. Like, this was great but now it is over. And I just have to be back in my sort of currently overweight, milk-laden body and waking up at 2 in the morning and 4 in the morning. And it’s hard. And the Emmy is amazing, but all of this will continue. I think it just brought into very stark relief in the moment what would have been the truth no matter what I was doing. But it was very immediate, which is that this doesn’t really mean anything for your actual happiness or your life.”

the journey is the reward even if it doesn’t feel like it

We think when we get to the big award, reward, end game, whether it’s finishing a book, landing a big deal, selling a bunch of stuff, finding love, that suddenly the world will become rosier and all that ails us will fall away. Yet, happiness often comes on the heels of failure — though rarely soon enough, it seems.

Failure.

You’ve heard the expression “Fail fast.” It’s about trying a bunch of new things and letting go of the ones that don’t work. So first I had to find people to call schools and organizations. I used Upwork and went through about four people before I found the two that consistently got results- i.e. they called the decision makers to set five-minute appointments for me to discuss the program. I failed fast with the callers by starting them all at once on different excel spread sheets for my target markets.

Failure number two. Schools are a hard sell. Most principals, counselors or PE teachers loved the program. Then it had to go to committee. Then through the budgeting process. Guess what? 99% of the schools couldn’t afford my program due to budget cuts or lack of funding. Many said that would have to get independent funding in order to implement the program. So, we moved on to organizations. Organizations totally got the concept and wanted the program. Problem? Funding. They were used to getting most of their programs free as they were mostly funded by other organizations or grants.

Faith.

So, I started researching how to get grants. Getting a grant is a laborious, time-consuming and confusing process. In short you have to make sure your mission is in absolute synch with the grantor, then you typically have to earmark those who will get the funding. Which meant that I had to start getting commitments in writing about which organizations were really keen on using my program so I could list them in the grant.

Another problem with getting grants to fund the people who wanted the program is there are no guarantees that I’ll even get the grant!

So all that work could be for nothing.

I hired an expert for that to make sure that I was on the right track. But, after talking to many of the grantors, they told me that had hesitations about giving money to an unproven program — even though they loved the idea and said would go to bat for me.

Start-up woes

My faith began to flag. Am I really going in the right direction? How many obstacles do I need to go through before I give up? So I turned to my friends. They told me to keep going. They said it was a much needed idea. They said to find a way in. They said hold fast. Today, a man in charge of programing for the Boys & Girls Clubs said he had faith in me and my program and that all girls need it. “Stay in touch. This is a great program.”

Perseverance.

One of the things that I recommend to my clients and course participants when they aren’t getting any traction with the media is to tweak. If you send in a pitch or press release and no one is biting, try a twist. Approach your topic from another angle. Switch up the perspective. Go in the back door— a non-obvious angle that isn’t a direct pitch for your business, book, product, service or cause. Think small and get specific.

What seemed to spark real interest in the contacts I was speaking with is this idea of teens and college girls teaching each other. This is my big dream for my program to become self-sustaining in this way. So my business mentor said, “Let’s approach your course from this angle.” So I did.

I got immediate interest from a Boys & Girls Club that serves an at-risk community and already has volunteers that are groomed in community service through their Keystone program. Perfect.

The head of programming for a department of education said that she thinks she could wrangle 20 girls to train that could then be dispatched back to their schools. Fantastic.

Today, I talked to a man who works in five schools where Opioid addiction is rampant. When I told him about my vision he said, “I can’t believe you just said that. We have those girls at the ready and we’ve been wanting to do something like this the up their self-esteem.” Yes.

Keep your focus on the vision.

By focusing on my original vision, the big dream and bigger mission and slightly shifting the approach, I’m now getting a more enthusiastic response — because it directly taps into the organization’s bigger mission as well.

Am I still discouraged, downtrodden, despairing and weepy? Yes. I cried my eyes out last week, and sobbed on my sweetie’s shoulder, and starting thinking about tossing in the towel. Seriously. On other days, after making calls for hours and not reaching anyone who can make a decision or having people tell me that they get a similar program for free, I feel exhausted and hopeless and have the urge to gorge on cookies.

Then I think about all the time, energy, money and inspiration I put into this. And keep going.

I talked to Susan Kennedy yesterday (SARK) about my plight as she’s an expert in keeping a person’s creative spirits high. The advice she gave me was, “When I’m tempted to deflate in this absence, instead I’m going to fill myself with presence. I’m going to remind myself of my vision and certainty.”

Which all requires discipline and managing what I tell myself. After I bemoaned my plight I told Susan that I did believe that I could already feel that my program was instituted far and wide, helping girls all over the world — and that it had already happened and that I just needed to catch up with it. We talked about the fact that we have no idea how this program has touched people and where it will reach — now and in the future.

Does this mean I won’t have days when I feel it’s all hopeless. No. Like Jessi Klein I’ll still be mired in my own daily struggles, but thank God I don’t have to pump breast milk. When I imagine her life I think I may have gotten off easy. Though it doesn’t feel that way. I just have to get through this next patch, I tell myself. I will remember the discipline of keeping to my vision and certainty. And I invoke the question I’ve told you to ask yourself: “What is my next step?” That is my question. I keep following the answers, wherever they lead.


I Was Hit in Aikido—and it was an honor

I was hit repeatedly at an Aikido training over the weekend. And it was an honor.

I was at a seminar from a Japanese Sensei who doesn’t come here often. It was considered a special occasion and rare opportunity for training. Some Japanese Senseis have harsher teaching methods than we are used to here. That is an understatement.

My teacher, Hans Goto Sensei, is gentle, but firm. He doesn’t single you out if you’re doing something incorrectly. Rather, when he sees that some of us are having trouble during a class, he stops, asks for a volunteer (typically, a high-ranking black belt or senior student) and takes apart the technique step-by-step so we can do it more easily.

In Japan, the sensei will yell “Dame!” which loosely translated means a combination of, “bad, dumb, wrong.” Or “no good; not serving its purpose; useless; broken.” Many times during training at Bay Marin Aikido, Hans Goto Sensei would say that if a teacher in Japan doesn’t “Dame” or correct you, they don’t care about you. So it’s good to get attention from them — even if it’s in the form of a “Dame.”

My “Dame” came during jo (staff) practice where the Japanese Sensei wanted me to use my body more and to extend the thrust. He came over to me and started yelling in Japanese, demonstrating how I was doing it wrongly and showing me the correct technique. All before the translator came over, who asked that everyone stop training to watch the “lesson.” There were 100 eyes on me as the Sensei was hitting me above my elbow each time he made point. Hitting me hard. I’m not sure he used the word “wimpy” to describe my form, but it was something close to that.

Aikido training technique

Aikido training

I kept attempting to make the corrections he “suggested” without success so he kept hitting and yelling. I kept my focus on improving instead of thinking of anything else. I had seen the other black belts he’d “Damed” turn bright red and start to tremble. I was determined not to do that, but to maintain my equanimity and dignity. Some people in my dojo had already told me how he’d made one person cry when they visited his dojo in Japan. Unless my arm or leg was snapped in two, this wasn’t going to be me.

When I told a friend about this she said, “At the first hit, I’d be out of there. Off to get a latte and shopping for shoes.” Of course a part of me wanted out of there. The other part welcomed the opportunity to polish my spirit. As Rumi says, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” My work will be done when nothing can scare, annoy, irritate, anger, or ruffle me. That is a long way off.

This is the same kind of training you’ll need for media interviews so you can stay “on message.” When a host or other guests “Dames” you you’ll be able to keep your equanimity and say what you came to say to your audience with ease and grace. It’s what I share in my sound bite course minus the hitting and yelling. Which you can get for the next 7 days for 50% off by using coupon code: BITE.

RESOURCES

I’ve just finished creating a live course on verbal self-defense for girls. It is available to license. If this is something that your school, organization, or club is interested in please jet me an email. If you want to make sure that your daughter avoids the Trump Pu—sy grab, this would be the training for her.


Bravery in Small Bits

I’m not a very brave person.

I remember when my friend Diana and I were on the island of Molokai, the former leper colony, and we were hiking in a deep ravine. We came to a place where we couldn’t go any further without leaping over a vast expanse with rushing water beneath. I was terrified.

Diana, a former ballerina, is fearless. She leapt like a proverbial gazelle over the gulf and there I was shaking and sweating on the other side. “Come on!” she called impatiently.

But all I could think about is what would happen if I didn’t make it in the one big leap. Lacerated calves. Crushed ribs. A shattered skull.

I couldn’t quite get my head around the IDEA of getting to the other side. I had to shake off my old notions of can’t, impossible, no. And put on the cape of possibility.

Then I leapt.

In that moment I had a whole new notion of myself.

Brave leap

Leap into the unknown

Bravery comes in many forms. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love just publicly announced her romantic love with her best friend.

Yes, sexuality is fluid and wild and unpredictable. She fell in love with a man. She fell in love with a woman. She leapt into love both times, full heartedly. I admire her commitment to creativity, curiosity, and love in whatever shape it comes in, no matter how unexpected.

There are all kinds of bravery.

My friend Andrea Scher marks her brave acts in her blog. And she’s giving a course in how you, too can be brave in blogging about your declarations, your descriptions, your destiny.

There’s also bravery in allowing ourselves to earn what we’re worth. My friend Tommi Wolfe (with her lilting South African accent) has some advice about that.

Then there’s bravery in how we think, what we say and what we do.

What if you can do one brave act a day, no matter how small to build your bravery?

I may not do it every day, but I’m looking for ways that I can inch my way toward a braver life. I was invited to submit a proposal for the Aiki Extension conference, about Aikido in action in our everyday lives off the mat — and then was paralyzed when they accepted it. The other presenters are third, fourth, fifth, sixth dans (degree of black belt) and I’m the only one who is just a first degree black belt (Shodan). 

Aikido Japanese Martial Arts

Aikido high fall

My topic: How to use verbal Aikido in business and media interviews. I’ve never created such a workshop before and since I’m terrified I’m over preparing. Which is how I cope. I challenge myself to think of everything that can go wrong and then I map out what I would do in such a circumstance. 

Does this bolster my bravery? No. But the actual doing of it it will. It’s only the doing of it, the getting it into your bones that inches you toward a braver life. 

So I’ll continue in my little inchworm ways in challenging myself to do brave things so eventually I’ll become a more courageous person.

Want to snoop on me? [Read or listen]

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Want more intimate conversations with fascinating folk? Here you go.


The “Right” Way to Steal Other People’s Brilliant Business Ideas

Is it ever OK to “steal” someone else’s ideas – in business? Surprisingly: Yes. 

Not long ago, a friend of mine found herself in the kind of situation that would make anyone’s stomach twist into knots.

My friend (an entrepreneur with a modestly popular website and blog) discovered that a woman in another country had stolen an e-course that she had created. Not just the title, or the general concept, or a few sentences here and there. The entire thing. Every lesson. Every piece. Word for word. The thief was passing the course off as her own, accepting payments for enrollment, and was claiming that all of the money was going to “charity.”

My friend was horrified. Eventually, she was able to shut down this shady operation, but it was a stressful and time-consuming process. Ultimately, she had to go directly to the customer service department of the e-commerce website that the thief was using and implore them to suspend the thief’s account, because she wasn’t responding to any of my friend’s emails.

hands tattoos skull rings

How to steal ideas the right way

This may seem like a “shocking” or “unusual” situation, but I’m sorry to say: it’s not.

Theft is rampant in the business world — especially in these techie times, where lifting someone else’s work (and passing it off as your own) can be as simple as clicking “copy” and “paste.”

This is the part of the blog post where you might expect me to stomp my foot down and say “Stealing is always wrong! Don’t do it, people!”

It might surprise you to know that…

I don’t necessarily believe that stealing is always “wrong.”

In fact — whether you’re studying photography, practicing Aikido at a dojo, or growing your business — “stealing” people’s ideas and “copying” other people’s masterful work is actually one of the best ways to learn, refine your skills, and ultimately, develop your own unique style.

Point being: there are many different types of “stealing.” Some types of stealing are illegal and immoral. Some are perfectly appropriate.

There is a big difference between “plagiarism” and “artful imitation,” but many business owners struggle to tell the difference.

Allow me to de-mystify things with a few Do’s and Don’ts.

When it comes to “stealing” and your business…here’s how to steal ideas the right way

1. DO steal ideas from other industries — not just your own.

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you know that most jets are dull, cramped, beige and gray clunkers. Not much “style” or attention to “ambience,” unless you’re fortunate enough to be flying First Class.

But the minds behind Virgin Airlines decided to break away from industry conventions. Inspired by chic hotels and groovy nightclubs, they decided to add soft pink “mood lighting” and mellow electronic music to their planes. When you board a Virgin jet, it feels like stepping into a sultry, celebrity-studded nightclub!

hotel modern room

Virgin Airlines marketing tips

Even the Virgin website feels like a “departure” (pardon the pun!) from ordinary airline booking sites. As Luanne Calvert, Virgin’s head of Marketing, explains in this piece: “When creating the new site, we wanted to break out of the mold of typical airline booking sites, so we looked to popular e-commerce sites like Apple.com or Amazon.com, not other airline sites, for inspiration.”

Both of these Virgin anecdotes are perfect examples of how you can “steal” an idea from a business that’s outside of your industry and then “weave” that idea into your own branding, product development, or daily operations. This type of stealing is totally fine. It’s not “theft.” It’s re-mixing!

You try it: What’s something that inspires and excites you, outside of your industry? Do you love rock concerts? Spa trips? Ogling beautiful product packaging at your local boutique? How could you take an element of something you love and then “blend” it into your own business?

2. DO steal ideas from your mentors and teachers — and credit them as the source.

In the yoga world, it’s common to name and honor your teachers: explaining the “lineage” of your training, where you studied, who you studied under, who their teachers were, and so on.

Musicians, too, will often name their role models and publicly thank them in interviews, in CD liner notes, even onstage while delivering an acceptance speech for a glitzy award.

But in the business world, for whatever reason, people often seem hesitant to name their teachers and influencers outright, or explain where their ideas came from. That’s something we ought to change — and it’s quite simple to do.

If you’re writing a blog post that was directly inspired by someone you know, say so. (“This piece was inspired by a conversation with my mentor, so-and-so.” Then link to their website.)

If you’re creating a program that includes concepts, materials, even worksheets that you’ve sourced from other teachers, get permission first, then cite the source. (“This worksheet was adapted from a worksheet that was originally created by so-and-so, who graciously gave me permission to use some of her concepts here.”)

Another great move: build a “gratitude” page somewhere on your website (like this one) where you publicly acknowledge some of the teachers, mentors, coaches, and influencers who have shaped your approach to doing business.

Securing permission to use someone else’s material — and then crediting them — is always a smart move. It’s one that ensures you’ll never look like a lazy “thief” —but rather, a thoughtful student and a total class act!

You try it: Who are some of your top influencers and teachers? Do you thank them in writing, acknowledge them on your website, mention them during interviews, or otherwise make their presence (in your life) known? If not, how could you start doing that?

3. DO steal ideas from multiple sources — not just one.

The American playwright and entrepreneur Wilson Mizner once wrote, “If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many, it’s research.” 

Let’s say, for the sake of example, that you are closely focused on one specific business owner — say, an elite life coach who’s doing phenomenal work, making tons of money, helping thousands of customers. You follow everything she does. You enroll in all her programs. She puts out a new product and you quickly follow suit, creating something similar. You imitate her business model, her voice, tone, style, everything she does. You just LOVE her!

don't hero steal

steal ideas ethically

Your intentions may be pure, but sooner or later, this kind of “hero-stealing” is going to get you into trouble. Why? Because you’re stealing from just one source.

Rather than developing your own unique business style, you’re copycatting just one person who seems to be doing it “right.” It’s time to broaden your field of inspiration!

You try it: Start filling your inspiration-tank from lots of diverse sources, not just one!

Go to an art gallery. Watch a silly movie. Listen to music that you don’t normally listen to. Read glossy magazines. Take a vacation. Have conversations with strangers. Read blogs and books written by people who work inside your industry, if you wish, but read LOTS of them — written by lots of different people, not just one author.

As you develop your own products, services, and online content, think: mixed-media collage, not Xerox photocopy.

And now, a few Don’ts.

These are pretty straightforward and will be obvious to most people, yet they’re worth repeating!

4. DON’T steal exact wording. 

Grabbing someone else’s brilliantly written product description, blog post, e-course materials, and so on, and pretending that you’re the wordsmith who wrote it? NOT cool.

5. DON’T steal visuals that you find online (including “stock photos”) without permission.

Nope, crediting the artist with a link back to their website is not “enough.”

Seek permission to use images, illustrations, infographics and photos on your website, blog, and in your marketing materials. A quick email to the artist usually does the trick.

One exception: if the artist has explicitly stated that the image is “OK to use” — through a Creative Commons attribution license, for example, or by posting a note on their website that says “go for it!” — then feel free to use the image.

But if there’s no expressed permission, it’s not a wise move. (Getty Images has been cracking down lately, tracking bloggers and business owners who have used photos without permission and dinging them with hefty fines! It pays to be cautious.)

6. DON’T steal if your gut says, “This just doesn’t feel right.”

If you’re feeling hesitant or uncertain about whether something you intend to do is “OK” or not, listen to that gut instinct. Then take action to prevent heartache (or a lawsuit) later down the line.

Do your due diligence. Check the US trademark website to make sure that a business or product name you want to use isn’t already in use by a similar service provider. Reach out to your mentors and ask for their blessing to re-print their work or re-purpose their concepts and formulas. If you hire a graphic designer and you feel “funny” about a particular logo or infographic that they deliver to you (“Hmm… haven’t I seen this somewhere before?”) do some investigating. Remember: if the people you hire choose to steal inappropriately, it reflects poorly on your brand, too!

Last but not least:

When you’re creating content (of any kind) for your business…

7. DON’T forget to include true stories from your own life.

Nobody in the entire world has the exact same life experiences that YOU have.

Nobody in the entire world can tell the story about that one time you chatted with an elderly Vietnam vet while waiting in line at the DMV and learned a valuable lesson about grit and determination. (For example).

If you weave a “true story” into your next blog post, newsletter, webinar, a talk that you deliver onstage, e-course materials, and so on, then your materials will INSTANTLY become more “unique” and “identifiable” as belonging to YOU. (Remember how I started off this blog post with a true story from my own life about someone I know? Yup. Just like that.)

Even if you go on to discuss a “universal truth” or a “timeless reminder” or “no-brainer tips” that thousands of people have talked about before, adding a true story will elevate your material from “stale and forgettable” to “intimate and original.”

storytelling for business

business storytelling

To sum it up:

Stealing isn’t always “wrong.”

It’s a matter of how you do it, why you do it, and how you credit (or don’t credit) your sources and influencers.

The “right” way to steal other people’s brilliant business ideas

There’s “plagiarism” (ripping off one person, or one source, verbatim, word for word)… and then there’s “artful imitation” (getting inspired by multiple sources and then copying and re-mixing diverse ideas together… combined with true stories from your own life!).

Hopefully, now, you’re seeing and feeling the difference.

Your ideas may spring from other people’s teachings, and your insights might be “timeless” and “classic” rather than “revolutionary,” but as long as you’re stealing the “right” way, re-mixing rather than Xeroxing…

You’ll always be one-of-a-kind.

NOTE: This piece was inspired by a number of people and sources, including Austin Kleon (his book Steal Like An Artist is an excellent read for all business owners), the work of Julie Cottineau, former VP of Brand at Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and CEO of BrandTwist, and dozens of friends and clients (including several folks enrolled in my monthly publicity and business training club) who have reached out to me with plagiarism “horror stories” over the years. Thank you: everyone!


The Email Pitch Letter That Got Me Publicity – That You Can Copy

This is the email that got me featured in a local paper called The Marin Independent Journal (Marin IJ). The journalist, PJ had written about our garden (Which has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens) before from a different angle—saving the disappearing bees.

You can copy it in a snap.

So you can get free publicity too – either local publicity or national publicity. This email is universal.

Harrow Garden view

Business Coaching Photo credit: Will Csaklos

EMAIL #1 ME TO PJ:

Subject line: Group coaching salons in the garden

Hi PJ!

Loved your piece on going directly to jail to get garden bargains. We’ve been considering getting an owl box so this is great to know!

While we do have native plants and make sure the birdbaths are full for all the birds, bees and insects, we’re also using the garden for something new so other people can enjoy it’s beauty:

Coaching Salons.

Think party, literary salon and laser coaching all wrapped up in an enlivening day.

Kind of like blooming your business.

It’s a new alternative to meeting in stuffy hotel rooms and following a stiff agenda. Instead you…

Come with your business longings, dilemmas, and stuck points.

Leave with a clear mind, a full heart — and a plan.

And though I love virtual trainings (and run a few) people are craving more intimate experiences.

http://prsecrets.com/consult/coaching-salons/

Love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

Susan

Here is how our correspondence continued.

EMAIL #2 PJ RESPONSE

Love it!  When does it start?

ME: It’s 1 day on Saturday Sept 19 from 1-5.

Email #3 PJ RESPONSE

Got it.  Does it have a strong garden connection other than just being in a garden. Events need to have a strong connection to the garden : )>

ME: Well, everyone says that this feels like a sanctuary and when they see the trellis they say it’s the perfect place to get married so I see the garden as a way to better connect with yourself and what you want vs. sitting in front of a computer.

We are not just going to sit at the table, but were going to walk and talk down the pathways and use movement and the flowers as a way to loosen our thought process and brainstorm.

We will also deadhead – prune away what no longer serves us, by pruning our roses, echinaceas, or boxwoods.

Everyone will also plant a seed in a tiny pot of dirt as a metaphor to grow their business. (Gloves optional!) When I planted tiny maples that had self-seeded from our giant Japanese Maple, hands deep in dirt with my next door neighbor’s kids, they said, “I wish we could do this more often!”

Everyone will leave with a bundle of beautiful lavender to smell to remind them of the day to stay inspired and to take action on what they say they want.

Is that enough?

How does that sound?

Inspiring Creativity! Entrepreneurs grow their business with business coaching in the garden Photo Credit: Will Csaklos

Inspiring Creativity! Entrepreneurs grow their business with business coaching in the garden Photo Credit: Will Csaklos

RESULT: We set up a time to talk two days later. She interviewed me and the article posted. This short format works for either local or national publicity. It’s short, to the point and doesn’t give away all the nitty gritty details until the reporter / producer is interested and asks.

As soon as the piece posted people called or just purchased their place online the same day the article came out.

There are just 2 spots left. Want to come? (San Francisco Bay Area).

I rarely do in-person events and this is the only one I’ll be doing this year. I’d love to meet you and work with you in person!  I hope one will be for you. ?

Here is PJ’s piece about the garden coaching salon.

For the FREE 100 Word Email That Can Get Media To Call You special report, template + examples that goes into more detail and the psychology behind this strategy go here. You can copy it exactly to pitch YOUR local and national media contacts so you can get publicity. (It’s free!)

design

Follow us on Instagram here for more PR tips, insights, gorgeous images, beauty and fun (See me do a knife takeaway for my Aikido test – but don’t expect to be impressed…).


7 Harmful Attitudes That Are Blocking You From Getting Featured in the Media

Not getting featured in the media?

Feeling tons of “resistance” whenever you sit down to work on your press kit, pitch or press release?

Can’t seem to “crack the code” on how to get top bloggers, journalists, editors and producers to pay attention to your work?

Frustrated that your replies to HARO, PRLeads and other PR services and don’t get any response?

Feel like, deep down, you “know” what you ought to be doing to take your visibility to the next level… except for some reason, you’re not doing it?

Over the past 25 years of my career, I’ve spent over 130,000 hours (that’s a very conservative estimate) training authors, speakers, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs to help them get booked in the media and then use that exposure to double or triple their income.

Initially, when I ask, “Why are you having trouble getting press for your business?” One client said she had done literally hundreds of radio shows with little result, but had no idea what she was doing wrong. Many other clients have similar stories. Those are the ones that say that, “publicity doesn’t work.”

Just as typically my clients tend to point towards something “external” (like: “My press release really represent what we do” or: “My website looks dated.”)

Fair enough. I agree: having all of your materials looking sharp is very important. Your presence and what you say when you’re in the spotlight is too.

Presence is equally important as your message Photo Credit: Tim Caynes

Presence is equally important as your message Photo Credit: Tim Caynes

But in my experience? If you’re consistently struggling to get your business, book, product, service, cause or mission in the media, or your appearances just don’t have much of an effect, the source of your “blockage” usually boils down to one thing:

Your attitude.

In other words: What you BELIEVE about yourself and your ability to serve.

This may sound harsh, but it’s actually a very empowering thing to realize. Because once you’ve identified the harmful attitude that is holding you back, you can take steps to resolve it. Hopefully: once and for all.

Think your attitude is just fine, thank you very much? That may be true.

But it never hurts to do a little self-exploration.

Read on and see if any of the following 7 attitudes sound a bit like… you.

Harmful attitude #1:

Im too fat to be on TV. Maybe if I lose 20 pounds first…”

Why you need to change your tude:

It’s been reported that 97% of women have at least one I hate my body moment, per day.

Imagine if every woman who thought to herself, Ugh, I dont like how I look allowed those thoughts to STOP her from seeking media opportunities. We would literally have almost ZERO women appearing in the media. What a dismal world that would be!

Harmful weight-related attitudes aren’t just for women, of course. Men can — and do — think these kinds of thoughts, too, but generally, they don’t let that hold them back.

If you feel that you need to drop some weight, for your overall health, go for it. But in the meantime, don’t let “size shame” halt your progress. Not everyone who appears in the media needs to be a rail-thin supermodel. There’s room for all kinds of ideas, personalities and sizes.

Your media role model:

Oprah, of course.

She has publicly battled with her weight for decades. Even at her absolute lowest weight, she wore a size 10! Yet she’s perfectly comfortable talking about health, happiness, wellbeing, and “living your best life” — in front of international audiences. People respect her opinions, completely. If she can do it, why not you?

Harmful attitude #2:

“I’m so boring! My life has been relatively comfortable and easy. I havent overcome an extreme adversity, dont have a rags to riches story, or anything gritty to share.”

Why you need to change your tude:

Not everything in the media needs to be “gritty,” “caustic,” “violent” or “dramatic.” And we’ve certainly had our fill of rags to riches stories, haven’t we? You don’t need to have become homeless and lived under a bridge, eaten from garbage cans or swindled out of a fortune by your business partner to get media coverage.

In fact, I would argue that today’s audiences are so bombarded with “drama” that they are delighted for an escape from the madness. (There’s a reason why websites like TheDailyPuppy.com are so popular.)

You don’t need to be rude, crude or rough around the edges in order to get booked in the media. You just need to be yourself.

If the “real you” is a positive person who was blessed with wonderful parents and a joyful childhood, so be it. You still have ideas, tips, strategies and stories to share. You can still be entertaining. You can still be insightful. You can still help people to lead better lives. Suffering is not a pre-requisite for service.

As my friend Alex puts it, you don’t necessarily have to “overcome adversity in order to know stuff.”

Your media role model:

Ellen DeGeneres.

Ellen has built a huge media platform anchored on “traditional values” like kindness and compassion. She consciously steers away from gritty or violent topics.

She’s known for delivering audiences a daily dose of positivity — complete with goofy dancing. That’s who she is and what she does best.

If you are the “Ellen” of your industry, embrace it! Don’t try to change yourself for the spotlight. You will feel awkward, uncomfortable, and struggle to successfully make the “point” that you’re there to make — and audiences will be feeling uncomfortable, right along with you.

Just be you. “You” is what works.

Harmful attitude #3:

“All of this media preparation stuff like setting up my website is too hard! I’m terrible with technology.”

Why you need to change your tude:

To quote the folks at this design firm: If Google cant find it, it doesnt exist.

That’s the reality of our world today.

If you are unwilling to set up a website, participate in social media, and create materials that are quickly searchable (and findable) online — like a backlog of recent press releases stored on your site — you are going to have a tough time getting the kind of media coverage you want.

Your media role model:

Betty White.

At age 93, this actress, activist and product spokeswoman has a vibrant Twitter presence and shows no signs of slowing down with her career, despite her age.

Her manager jokes, “Betty and I have an understanding. I have told her that I have already booked her when she turns 100 and there is no out clause. Betty never backs out of a date.”

Another role model for you:

Theresa Reed.

As a professional Tarot card reader who has been reading cards — full time — for over 25 years, Theresa has a steady stream of “regulars” and could certainly opt to “rest on her laurels.” But that’s not her style.

She is constantly learning new tools, upgrading her website, and experimenting with new ways to connect with audiences around the world (including starting her own podcast). She firmly believes that all business owners need to be tech-savvy, and she even mentors “tech-phobic” entrepreneurs to help them grasp the basics.

Theresa is regularly a go-to expert on Tarot, astrology and spirituality blogs, podcasts and magazines. The secret to her success? Well, as she put it — while talking to a friend of mine — “I ain’t no stale hippie.”

Harmful attitude #4:

Im not the worlds most credible expert on this topic. Other people are much more experienced and authoritative than me.

Why you need to change your tude:

There will always be people who are more highly credentialed than you are. That’s a fact.

“Comparing and despairing” when you size yourself up to your competitors is very counter-productive.

Yes, of course, there are people who might have more degrees, certifications or years of experience than you. But that doesn’t detract from your ability to serve your audience in your way, right now.

The real question is this: Do you have something to share right now, today that could help a fellow human solve a problem, get inspired, or lead a better life?

If so, then you’ve got the most important “credential” of all: something of VALUE to share.

Your media role model:

Gabby Bernstein.

Gabby is one of the world’s most sought-after media commentators in the realm of personal growth and spirituality.

Does she have a PhD in psychology? Nope. (She actually studied “theater” at college). Is she a Nobel Peace Prize winner like The Dalai Lama? Nope. Has she published formal, academic research papers? Nope. Has any of that ever stopped her from pursuing opportunities to write, appear, and get interviewed in the media? NOPE.

She has personal stories to share and insights that she knows will help people.

And share she does. With videos, audios, Ted talks, lectures, meditations, courses, books, products, a spirit junkie app, and stuff she loves. And if that’s not enough you can enroll in the “Get More Gabby” subscription service. Phew!

Harmful attitude #5:

I just dont have time for all this stuff! Between running my business, taking care of my clients, and dealing with my family I dont have a minute to write press releases, build relationships with journalists, maintain my website, and ugh!

Why you need to change your tude:

Life is unquestionably busy. As a business owner, there will always be “something” pulling at your attention.

But if you want to grow to the next level, serve wider audiences, and sell more of your books, products, courses and services (without spending money on advertising), then getting featured in the media needs to be part of your plan.

As Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestselling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

If getting media coverage is a priority for you (and it should be!) then it must be treated as just that: a priority.

This may mean shutting down lower-priority projects for the time being or learning how to delegate more effectively. (If you’re struggling to stay focused on the action steps that really count, this training program can help you stay on track.)

Your media role model:

President Obama.

He is arguably THE busiest man on planet earth — with an unthinkable level of stress resting upon his shoulders.

Yet he still creates the time to write guest articles for The Huffington Post, contribute exclusive interviews to People magazine, occasionally, even tweet personal notes to his followers, and appear on TV talk shows to discuss his latest thoughts on basketball or a new bill in Congress.

Does he have a team supporting him? Of course. The point, here, is that Obama recognizes the importance of making media coverage a top priority. It’s not something to ignore or neglect. It’s vital to his success as a thought leader.

Harmful attitude #6:

Ive never been good at public speaking. Its just not my thing. Im going to freeze, blush, giggle, burp, sweat, snort, forget my lines and mess this up somehow. I just know it.

Why you need to change your tude:

No one wants to watch a “perfect robot” on the air or listen to a “slick and polished” presentation. If you go “off script” during a media appearance, it can often work in your favor. Little flubs can be endearing and humanizing.

This is something I talk about a lot in one of my media training programs, Your Signature Sound Bites. If you’ve got your sound bites down pat — meaning: you’ve chosen a couple of key messages that you really, really want your media audience to remember and “take home” — then it’s pretty tough to mess anything up. Just stick to your sound bites and allow yourself to relax. If you’re too slick? We want to topple you off that perfect pedestal. Be yourself. Quirks, nerves, sweats, burbs and all.

Your media role model:

Anne Hathaway.

While appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote her latest film — which she produced and starred in — Anne lost her composure and began laughing hysterically. Why? Because the plot of the movie (which deals with a coma victim) is so dreadfully, horrendously sad, it was actually… kind of funny.

Rather than sitting back in horror, fans LOVED it. Multiple media platforms (Vanity Fair, E! Online, US Magazine) shared the now-legendary giggle-clip, using words like “charming” and “adorable” and “utterly endearing” to describe it!

As one journalist put it: “This feels real candid. I don’t know if Anne Hathaway has ever been so likable. This is how you sell a movie, even when it’s a coma movie.”

Harmful attitude #7:

I dont deserve to be featured in the media. Im ordinary. Im not special.

Why you need to change your tude:

Let me ask you this:

Has an “ordinary” person ever given you a piece of advice that made your entire week better?

Has an “ordinary” person ever shared a resource with you that saved you tons of time or brought you hours of delight?

Has an “ordinary” friend, colleague or family member ever said something that motivated you to change an unhealthy habit and improve your life?

“Ordinary” people have the power to serve, educate, inform and inspire, just as much as rich, famous “celebrities” or “authorities” do.

If you have something of value to share — whether it’s a product, service, book, mission, cause, or day-changing tip, tool or idea — then you deserve to be in the media.

The brilliant Marianne Williamson had it right when said, We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

Your media role model:

This “ordinary” mom from Sumter, South Carolina.

She recorded a video of herself singing her baby to sleep and spontaneously posted it online. When she woke up the next morning, her video had gone viral. After a radio station shared it on Facebook, it got 4 million views. TV stations started calling. She was featured on Good Morning America and the host said that this could be the big break she’s been waiting for to become a singer. This mom became — literally! — an overnight sensation.

Her voice is very pretty, yes, but the real reason that her video touched the hearts of millions of people is that… she is ordinary and heartfelt. There was no artifice in her singing. Just a mom, home, in a dimly lit room, rocking her baby to sleep, singing as if no one was watching.

Moral of the story?

Your “ordinary-ness” can be THE quality that makes you appealing to the media and to audiences, worldwide.

“Ordinary” is not the same as “boring.” You can be totally un-flashy and still wow audiences with your ideas, stories and talents.

Musician Sam Smith who won four Grammy awards last night, said, “I just want to say that before I made this record I was doing everything to try to get my music heard. I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and the people started to listen.”

Allow yourself to be exactly who you are. We want to see your blemished self. Not a prettified version of someone you think you should be.

How do I get on TV Photo Credit: goMainstream

How do I get on TV Photo Credit: goMainstream

That’s the approach that will resonate most strongly with audiences — and get the media calling you back.

Final words:

Getting booked in the media is one thing.

Translating media attention into sales is another.

Simply getting “interviewed,” “featured,” “quoted” or “mentioned” in the media does NOT guarantee that people are going to actually buy your program, products and services or hire you for speeches or consulting.

To accomplish that, you’ve got to have specific systems and processes in place that turn curious callers or new website visitors into paying customers.

Those systems and processes are exactly what I teach inside my $25 / month training program: The Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul Membership Club.

If you want to learn how to get booked in the media and use publicity to double or triple your income ― while keeping your integrity intact ― this monthly membership club was created for you.

The program is ongoing and you can begin your training any month, any time, and get access to all the goodies immediately. Join us here.


3 Gifts Hidden Inside Every Pang of Jealousy

Sunita (name changed) walked into the dojo, confident, regal and self-possessed to begin practicing Aikido.

For some people — including me — studying Aikido (The Japanese Martial Art, called The Way of Harmony that works as a way to polish the spirit, to turn lead into gold) is a slow, awkward, and arduous process. It can take years — decades, even — to master the intricate movements and achieve a level of skill and grace that would be considered “masterful.”

I’ve been practicing this martial art for almost six years. Even though I’ll be taking my black belt test in a few weeks, much of the time I still feel like a hulking Clydesdale, tromping around inelegantly.

Which is why I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy (OK, more than just a “twinge”) watching Sunita, the “new girl” at the dojo, pick up all of the basic moves so quickly — and effortlessly.

As a former gymnast, Sunita already has a great deal of physical intelligence, balance, coordination, and the ability to memorize patterns and dance-like movements quickly. Oh, and did I mention that she’s also drop-dead gorgeous and mesmerizing to watch?

Yeah.

It was hard not to feel jealous.

Girl dancing dark autumn_Lies Thru a Lens

Self-Esteem for women Photo Credit: Lies Thru a Lens

Jealousy is a funny emotion. I’ve found that — no matter how “evolved” you think you are, and no matter how fiercely you try to deny that it’s happening (“Nope! I’m not jealous, no, not at all…”) it has a way of creeping back into your body and taking over — if you allow it.

I see this happen with my clients all the time, and unfortunately, it can be detrimental to their success.

Just a few weeks back, a woman in my monthly training program confessed that she’s been hesitating on moving forward with a crucial piece of her publicity plan because she feels like one of her “business heroes” is “so much better” than her, so much “farther along” with her business, with a more attractive website and legions of online fans, and polished programs — so what’s the point of even trying? She feels like, “Why even bother? I ought to just give up now, because I’ll never be able to measure up!”

I probably don’t have to spell out why that kind of thinking is so harmful.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had said to herself, “Oh, plenty of other people have written stories about wizards. J.R.R. Tolkien already wrote a whole bunch of wizard-y books, years ago, and he’s a much better writer than me. He already has tons of adoring fans. I have none. Plus, 12 publishers have rejected my manuscript for Harry Potter. I’ll just quit now.”

When jealousy turns into creative-paralysis — freezing you in place, holding you back from doing the work you feel called to do — nobody benefits. The world is left bereft, with a “gap” where your finest contribution ought to go.

On some level, I’m guessing you already know this. You get that jealousy can be a harmful emotion if it’s left untamed and undirected. The question on your mind might be, “So, if I’m feeling jealous of someone — say, a business competitor, peer, athlete, or even a good friend — what can I do about that?”

Here are three acts of “emotional alchemy” (that is, transforming one emotional state into another) that I recommend trying. Or, to word it differently, three “gifts” or “opportunities” that are hidden inside of every twinge of jealousy…

1. Turn jealousy into an opportunity to “steal the technique.”

Watching Sunita’s graceful movements, I found myself thinking, “I want my body to move like that. I want my mind to be more still.”

When there’s something I want, I’ve trained myself to shift out of “jealous lurker mode” and into “student mode.” I began to study her more closely, picking up cues, copying her subtle movements, learning through imitation, asking that I can absorb her qualities and make them mine.

Aikido braid B&W_Øystein Alsaker

Aikido Martial Arts Training Photo Credit: Øystein Alsaker

Later, even though I was advising her, since I’m her “sempei” or senior (though based on years and experience that doesn’t necessarily mean superior in skill), I could feel her technique and that, in itself taught me. I noticed myself improving. Just by being near her I felt myself becoming more calm.

In Aikido we call this “stealing the technique.” Actually, I’m not just jealous of Sunita. I’m jealous of everyone in the dojo. Every single person who trains at Bay Marin Aikido has a quality or movement I envy.

In fact, I’ve written down those qualities and techniques and consciously practice them on the mat. I have a list that I review before going to training and take one per night to focus on. This is a variation on what Saito Sensei, who trained directly with O’Sensei advised.

My sensei (teacher) Hans Goto Sensei explained it this way: “Work on one thing and then you’ll get it. That’s yours. And then you can work on another one thing. That’s what Saito Sensei said. He said, ‘You can try and work on too many things each class you’ll get zero. 30 days of zero still equal zero. But if you only try to get one thing out of each class after 30 days you have 30 things.’ This is huge.”

Jealousy doesn’t have to “freeze” you. It can be turned into motivational fuel, inspiring you to study and train more precisely, more intensely. Or perhaps, simply try something new to achieve the result that you want. It can be an opportunity to “steal the technique” and learn from the best.

2. Turn jealousy into an opportunity to return to the present and rejoice in the success of others.

When I feel my mind spinning into intense jealousy, it’s usually a signal that I have “left” the present moment. Instead of focusing on the Aikido technique that I’m trying to master, or the blog post I’m trying to write, or the webinar that I’m trying to deliver, or the client I am trying to coach, my mind has gone somewhere else.

My mind is caught up in what other people are doing and how they are doing it better. That kind of mental departure leads to distracted, fragmented work. It’s hard to do your best work when you’re not fully engaged in the present moment and it just doesn’t feel good either.

When I sense that happening, I take a few deep breaths to center myself back in my body, back in the present moment. Sometimes I say silently, “OK, I’m back here now.” Everything feels better once I’m “back,” and in that more centered place, I let go of the envious feelings and focus on what I’m working on in the moment.

Ginny Breeland Sensei says, “The Breath provides a bridge to subtle energies that can nourish. It is the connection for the Mind to the Body and the Here to the Now. On the mat it allows us to go from tension to relaxation, from confusion to a clarity, from irregular motion to coordinated ease.

In life it can quell a sense of separation and allow us to find that comforting sense of interconnection. It can take us beyond ourselves.

Let attention allow us see ourselves with a new reverence.

Study the Breath. The most profound things lie close at hand.”

So the breath can connect us to the very person we envy thus dissolving the separation between us. It brings us closer to what we want and who we want to be and gives us the chance to “see ourselves with new reverence.”

Aikido B&W girl throw_Øystein Alsaker

How to turn jealousy into an asset Photo Credit: Øystein Alsaker

Another way to look at this is that whenever jealous feelings arise for me I’m being pulled off center. One of the key principles of Aikido is to keep your center and take your attacker’s center, to get them off balance so they are light and easy to throw. It’s often said that someone asked O’Sensei, the founder of Aikido, “How is it you never get pulled off center?” And he replied that, just like everyone else, he does get pulled off center but he has trained himself to get back to center so quickly you can’t see it. So the more you practice pulling yourself back to center the faster you’ll be able to do it. And soon, like O’Sensei, your process will be “invisible” and incorporated into how you handle jealousy, and ultimately, self-acceptance.

3. Turn jealousy into an opportunity to reflect on your own strengths, skills, desirable assets, and “swallow the world in one gulp.”

Curly haired women long for smooth locks. Straight-haired women spend hours trying to add curls and waves.

Skinny women yearn for Marilyn Monroe-esque curves. Curvy girls wish they could slim down and look like a runway model.

A struggling yoga studio owner might long for more money, more influence, or a big team to manage. A successful CEO might wistfully yearn for quiet days filled with minimal responsibilities, no meetings, and plenty of time to practice yoga.

So many of us crave the opposite of what we have! It’s almost comedic.

I admire Sunita’s instant, effortless grace on the Aikido mat. One day, in the dressing room, she mentioned that she found me a patient teacher who didn’t condescend. Who knew? Another woman in the dojo startled me by saying she was studying my conversational skills. I know I’m much more fluent verbally than physically, but had no idea that someone would study what comes naturally to me.

We all have skills and strengths that other people find enviable. Sometimes, though, caught up in a whirlwind of jealousy, we can’t see our own gloriousness.

Samurai Sword_Alex Masters

The Neuroscience of happiness Photo Credit: Alex Masters

Not surprisingly, self-acceptance is a key happiness factor.

Christopher Bergland, a world-class endurance athlete, coach, author, and political activist noted, “A 2014 survey by psychologists who study happiness identified ‘ten keys to happier living’ including daily habits that make people genuinely happy. In an unexpected finding, the psychologists at the University of Hertfordshire who performed the survey found that the habit which corresponded most closely with being happy — and satisfied with overall life — is self-acceptance.”

Unfortunately, self-acceptance was also the “happiness habit” that participants in the survey practiced the least. The new study is titled “Self-Acceptance Could Be the Key to a Happier Life, Yet It’s the Happy Habit Many People Practice the Least.””

Dr. Mark Williamson, Director of Action for Happiness, said: “Our society puts huge pressure on us to be successful and to constantly compare ourselves with others. This causes a great deal of unhappiness and anxiety.”

An antidote to comparing ourselves to others is a Buddhist practice that asks, “Can you be happy for their (the person you are jealous of) success?” You notice your jealous feelings. Stop. Take a breath and simply ask this question. You can do this anywhere, anytime. Can you be happy for this person’s success? Even rejoice in it? At the heart of this practice is the realization that it’s actually changing you. It’s not just for Karma points. You are getting something from engaging in the very act of transforming your feelings from envy into good will toward another person.

Reverse the negative thought by giving a blessing

Reverse the negative thought by giving a blessing

We may even be able to extend this same practice to ourselves in a direct way by doing what Dr. Mark Williamson recommends, “Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what your strengths are or what they value about you.”

But don’t stop there, because as psychologist Rick Hanson, author of the best-selling Buddha’s Brain says, “The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences, and Teflon for positive ones.”

He references John Gottman’s study that found in important relationships “a negative interaction in an important relationship is five times more powerful than a positive interaction.”

To counteract this “negativity bias” effect, Hanson recommends that we really savor a person’s positive words. “The way to remember something is to make it intense, felt in the body, and lasting. That’s how we give those neurons lots and lots of time to fire together so they start wiring together. So rather than noticing it and feeling good for a couple of seconds, stay with it. Relish it, enjoy it, for 10, 20, or 30 seconds, so it really starts developing neural structure.”

And lastly, “Sense and intend that this positive experience is sinking into you and becoming a part of you. In other words, it’s becoming woven into the fabric of your brain and yourself.”

When our body and mind are so full of our own happiness it leaves less room for jealousy and makes it easier to be happier for others.

Another way to counteract jealousy is to consider that that moment of “outward longing” might be your cue to pause and turn your gaze inward. Ask yourself, “What are some of the qualities that I possess that others might find desirable, enviable, or beautiful?”

Maybe you have tremendous poise, perseverance, a sense of balance, a wry sense of humor, mental grit, physical endurance, playfulness, seriousness, graciousness, an uncanny ability to say just the right thing at just the right time, or the ability to know when to listen and say nothing at all.

Return to the qualities that make you… you. Make a mental list or write them down.

Refer back to your list when feelings of jealousy are starting to feel overwhelming.

Remember who you are, beneath the noise. Remember what you add to the world.

Aikdo Sword Kyoto_Alex Masters

Neuroscience how to train your brain Photo Credit: Alex Masters

The stark reality is that there will always be people who are more seasoned, more experienced, and more popular than you. 

You might feel like you will “never catch up” with them, and you are quite right.

You will never “catch up” with people that you admire deeply, because you are not them. You are you.

You have your own stories to tell, books to write, products to launch, projects to bring forth into the world. In the end, who knows? You might become bewilderingly successful — in the conventional, making-millions-of-dollars sense of the term — beyond your wildest dreams, surpassing all of your personal heroes as you skyrocket ever-upwards.

Or, instead of making millions you might move millions with your words, your deeds, your presence.

Or you might achieve success on a far humbler, though no less meaningful, scale. Who knows?

One thing is certain:

True success is not about being “as good” or “better” than somebody else.

It’s about using all that you have been given to the fullest and maxing out your potential. 

That’s the person that your clients, your customers, your fellow martial arts students, and media audiences all want to meet.

As O’Sensei says, “Never become stagnant. Train your body, forge your spirit, and swallow the world in one gulp! Stand boldly, with confidence, wherever you find yourself. Make use of all your innate power and you can accomplish anything.”

On that note, it’s time for me to finish this up, head to the dojo and swallow the world in one gulp.

Dear Jealousy:

Domo arigato gozaimashita.

(Thank you very much for what you have taught me.)


Too introverted to Appear on TV? Why the Media Craves People Like YOU

If you’re in America, all you have to do is turn-on the TV or turn-up the radio to discover that loud and extroverted personalities usually take the cake—stars like the women of Real Housewives, the brazen comedians on Fashion Police and even CNN talk show host, Piers Morgan are personalities writ large—no matter what kind of audience they may be targeting.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts Photo Credit: zilverbat

Quiet: The Power of Introverts Photo Credit: zilverbat

In a world where outgoing and outlandish often seems to win people over, it’s important for the more serious and contemplative crowd to understand that they are needed, they are wanted, I’ll even go as far as to say they’re yearned for by the media.

So please, my introverted media darlings, take heart and don’t give a second-thought to changing who you are—the right interviewers and news opportunities are out there and aching for the likes of you.

Have an inkling of doubt?

The following 5 people are examples of how the soft, shy, gentle and reserved have found just as bright a spotlight in their field—and in the media:

JK Rowling. She’s a self-proclaimed introvert and one of the most beloved authors to date as writer of the addictive Harry Potter novels. But the media wasn’t always kind to Rowling. In the beginning of her fame The Telegraph reports that Rowling deliberately ‘tidied herself up a bit’ as a result of the insults [from the media]. She was accused of being “unkempt.”

Introverts and extroverts alike are subject to the sometimes cruel and critical eye of the media who holds them to celebrity standards of glamour.

Introverts who share their feelings of fear often endear us. Rowling began her Harvard commencement address titled, ‘The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination’ with “The first thing I would like to say is ‘thank you.’ Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honour, but the weeks of fear and nausea I have endured at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion.”

We don’t think bestselling authors are fearful or get sick at the thought of public speaking. Nonetheless Rowling is listed as a speaker with Celebrity Speaker’s Bureau, and continues to makes media appearances and go on book tours, even though she might prefer to cozy up in a café and scribble another bestseller.

How You Can Appear on TV Photo Credit: DG Jones

How You Can Appear on TV Photo Credit: DG Jones

Emma Watson. To stay on this book theme for a moment, the adored Harry Potter alum tries to stay out of the media spotlight but only succeeds in the public wanting to know more about the secluded insider. She chose getting her degree at Brown instead of an over-booked media appearance schedule. Watson frequently notes how she prefers quiet nights at home over red carpet events and was also named the highest grossing paid actress of the decade at just 19. From the looks of it, staying true to herself paid off (literally).

Guy Kawasaki. The “Godfather of Silicon Valley” and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Guy Kawasaki is an excellent example of a mellow-minded business man who frequents the media spotlight despite his more reclusive nature. I once chatted with him in a bookstore aisle where he was snuggled in a chair happily reading. He was charming, easy-going and didn’t have a braggy bone in him. With 1.45 million Twitter followers and counting, he’s anything but a nobody—the media and people across the world, love him.

Steve Martin. One of America’s most cherished comedians and movie stars to date admits to introversion with absolutely no qualms. And why should he have any? With an abundant tour schedule, embracing Twitter and the regular interaction with his 43.6 thousand Twitter followers, his new music stylings and several of the world’s most esteemed awards under his belt, he’s a man with more media credits than most of us could ever dream of.

Lady Gaga. Yes, one of the world’s most fascinating and bold musicians is indeed a quiet-minded soul who prefers to keep her private life out of the media glare. That doesn’t change the fact that she has taken home five Grammy’s, makes regular talk show appearances and was hailed in Time as the second most influential person of the decade, ranking above President Barack Obama.

Still not certain that the media wants the reserved?

The truth is, you may not be until you get booked yourself. Make your own proof.

Introverts unite! Join me and learn how to get the media’s attention and tap into your ideal audience with my new Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul™ Membership Club. Take a peek here and pull up a chair in our inner circle.

Publicity for Introverts Photo Credit: Brett Jordan

Publicity for Introverts Photo Credit: Brett Jordan

Extroverted, introverted, modest or assertive…

There’s a need for you—your audience and the media is out there, searching for you—but you have to take the first-step and put yourself out there.

Go out into the world as you are, unadorned, letting the truth of you be what it is—and people will love you for it.

You’re invited you to take the FREE training (with some terrific tips for introverts): 5 Ways to Double Your Business With Media Appearances in 90 Days.

 


9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader — and Become a Media Darling

By Susan Harrow, media coach

So many people call themselves thought leaders now – but they aren’t. To be a thought leader takes some doing. It’s not so much about being original as it is about putting things together in an original way. Thought leadership marketing comes down to packaging your knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and yes, your thoughts in a way that makes you media worthy and worth listening to by your audience — a huge audience.

Follow these nine steps to get going on the path to be respected, heard and reverberated out into the world to become the very definition of thought leadership.

1. Cultivate an opinion.

Thought leaders have opinions. They shape a story. They position facts in a context. They make statistics come alive by interpreting them. We value people who give us perspective on things that matter most in our culture today.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and their first woman to sit on their board, said of the differences about how men and women respond to taking credit for their success, “If you ask men why they did a good job, they’ll say, ‘I’m awesome. Obviously. Why are you even asking?’ If you ask women why they did a good job, what they’ll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, they worked really hard.”

To follow her lead take a look at your field or industry and find something that irks or inspires you and start to formulate some opinions about it. Folk singer Joan Baez said, “I’ve never had a humble opinion. If you’ve got an opinion, why be humble about it?” Thought leaders aren’t afraid to voice a strong opinion. The media seek guests who have opinions that help us ponder what’s important.

2. Make a prediction.

Can you see the future? Look into your private crystal ball and share it in a press release. Over twenty years ago I told my literary agent that getting on TV and grasping at fame was going to become a national obsession. I wrote up a book proposal about how to get on TV, supplied anecdotes from my own experience as a publicist and media coach, and gathered statistics to show that this was going to be a hot new trend. He pitched my idea to all the top New York publishing houses.

KentYoungstrom thought leader training

9 was you can be a thought leader

Alas, the traditional book industry didn’t buy it. It was too far ahead of its time. But guess what? Didn’t that prediction come true? Practically everyone is now scrabbling for his 15 seconds of fame. New reality TV shows are popping up every year. The Fishbowl Effect has become our current reality where your iPhone video can make national news.

Know that when you make a prediction you’re intrinsically ahead of your time – and most likely will get disapproval and pushback. No worries. Time will bear you out. The important thing is to stand by your word, continue to accumulate evidence and keep touting your prediction during your media appearances. Thought leadership marketing is a process, not a one time event.

3. Shape thinking.

Keep up on current events. Thought leaders can comment on national radio and TV and in print on events as they happen. They are the first people the media call to put a story in perspective, to help shape thinking. They are often the people who pose the questions to ponder. They don’t necessarily have all the answers.

What they have is a point of view that helps others to consider consequences, options, and directions to difficult or perplexing problems. This type of thought leadership definition is organic and evolves naturally as the thought leader continues to hone his thoughts and message.

Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, often comments on political and social problems such as how public higher education is being starved which will result in a shrinking middle class. His clearly expressed and statistically well-supported opinions are regularly heard on MSNBC and NPR. He’s a great example of someone who is personal, energetic, and captivating. I’m particularly endeared by how he bounces up when he can’t contain his energy as he delivers his message.

Your delivery and demeanor is every bit as important as the words you speak and can influence people subconsciously. Thought leaders are aware of how they are being perceived and work on refining their inner consciousness and outer appearance.

How can you start to shape a conversation that’s at the heart of your business or industry and at the same time reflect who you are and what you think?

4. Have a philosophy.

Have you noticed how many people have written a manifesto? It’s kind of becoming de rigueur. But many aren’t worth reading. They are trite or light. Your audience wants to know not only what you believe, but what you believe in. They want a philosophy that dives into their deepest longings — things that they feel that haven’t been expressed directly in a way that they can understand.

Manifestos are a sort of formalized philosophy. Wikipedia defines philosophy as “In more casual speech, by extension, ‘philosophy’ can refer to “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group”.

I love TED favorite Brene Brown’s The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, her leadership manifesto and my friend, photographer/writer Andrea Scher’s Superhero Manifesto. They are heartfelt, revere beauty and are holy without pretention.

Brene Brown thought leader

Brene Brown thought leader in thoughts, words, action

During every media appearance you want to make sure that your philosophy comes through loud and clear in a story, vignette or example so your audience has a sense of who you are.

One of my favorite sayings is by Gandhi, “My life is my message.” And another one close to my heart: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

When everything you do, say, are and think from your words to your website is in alignment™ then you’re completely congruent and your life becomes your message. This is what I have my clients and sound bite course participants put into practice before ever sending a press release out to the media. Often publicity hopefuls want to rush their offer to the media before all the pieces are in place. And that’s a big mistake. A reputation is easy to ruin and hard to regain.

In her media appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Brene Brown told a story about her daughter, Ellen. To my best recollection she said that Ellen’s teacher called her up to tell her she could tell whose daughter Ellen was by how she handled an incident in art class. As I remember it the teacher said, “You’re messy.” Ellen sat up straight and said, “No, I’m not messy. I’ve just made a mess.”

Brown told this story to illustrate a point about self-talk and not calling ourselves names or saying derogatory things about the core of us, but to focus on behavior instead of being. It shows you that Brown is walking her talk by transmitting her values and behaviors to her daughter and it gives you a sense of who she is. Your philosophy should shine through your stories in a natural way in every media appearance.

5. Spearhead a movement.

My client, journalist and author David Sheff who wrote the #1 New York Times best-selling book Beautiful Boy, (which later was turned into a movie) and wrote his second book called Clean, Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy. The title itself is an opinion. Sheff thinks that addiction is the worst problem in the U.S. today. You can tell immediately that he’s serious about this topic and wants to make an impact on this epidemic.

On his website he has a link to sign a petition to send to President Obama to end the war on drugs and declare war on addiction. Right next to that he has a link to an organization called Brian’s Wish to pull people together into a national movement to end addiction.

David Sheff thought leader, movement maker

Thought leaders start movements

Sheff believes that we’re fighting the wrong war and he is making his opinion known – backed with five years of research and facts. This is thought leader marketing at its best.

When I first wrote this piece he had just started his book tour and has already been on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, NPR’s Fresh Air and Weekend Edition to discuss his views and to shift American opinion with the facts, stories and statistics in his book, speeches, and media appearances.

I media trained him to insure that he incorporated his most important points into every interview since he especially wanted to talk about this new movement.

We also wanted to make sure he could stand firm on his controversial beliefs when challenged. We practiced worst-case scenario questions and surprise ones too so he could maintain his equanimity and stay on point during each media appearance.

The media is interested in people who have inspired a movement. It shows that the topic has enduring value and interest if a substantial number of people have joined it. Spearheading a movement is so much more interesting than just claiming you have a big following. A movement shifts thought into action to create real and lasting change.

6. Be controversial.

Another client of mine, Dr. Sara Gottfried, a Harvard trained integrative physician, science nerd, yogini and author of the New York Times best-sellers The Hormone CureThe Hormone Rest Diet, Younger and Brain Body Diet, peaks out on the overuse of pharmaceuticals for peri-menopausal and menopausal women. She says of women dealing with hormonal issues such as depression, lack of sleep, weight gain, mind fog, low sex drive, “You won’t find the answer in the bottom of a pill bottle.”

Gottfried takes a stand against the practice many physicians have to medicate their patients to appease the problem without seeking the core issue or root cause that’s the source of the complaint. Instead she advocates lifestyle shifts: “How to think, eat, move and supplement.”

Dr. Sara Gottfried thought leader

Thought leaders invite controversy

Once you take a strong stance you can expect to be pitted against someone with the opposite view during your radio or TV interviews – because friction makes for good TV. Audiences love to see people who have opposing views that might even provoke a tiff, because sparks fly and unexpected things happen — which equal good ratings.

If you want to be controversial you also need to be prepared to be challenged and able to stay on message with equanimity and grace no matter how forceful or hostile the host or other guests become.

7. Play both sides.

While you can choose to be controversial, you can also choose to appoint yourself the voice of reason and examine both sides of an issue. Susan Freinkel, a journalist who wrote the book, Plastic: a Toxic Love Story, began an experiment that turned into an investigation of how plastic affects our behavior, our environment and our lives. The premise: To go one day without touching anything plastic. What she discovered? It was impossible — starting with her toothbrush and toilet.

Instead of taking one side to the story – plastic is evil. She explored how plastic is both a boon and a bane to the way we live in a New York Times Op Ed piece. In one sentence she played both sides of the topic: “In other words, plastics aren’t necessarily bad for the environment; it’s the way we tend to make and use them that’s the problem.”

Op Ed pages thrive on people who take a strong stand on one side of an issue as well as those who can shed light on both sides in an intelligent, thoughtful or provocative way.

In our media coaching sessions together Freinkel and I focused on stories about how certain plastics are negatively effecting our health, children, land and seas, and also which plastics are safe and useful and help save lives.

thought leadership training

Great thought leaders can mediate both sides of an issue

On Fresh Air, she discussed both sides of this fiery debate with a level head. In other media appearances she backed up her findings with solid statistics and also by moving fascinating facts into the conversation like: “The average person is never more than three feet from something made of plastic.” And, “In 1960, the average American consumed 30 pounds of plastics a year. Today, just 50 years later, Americans consume on average 300 pounds a year.” Here is something a bit startling: “Just because a plastic is made of plants doesn’t make it ‘green.’”

By moderating the positives and negatives, by sharing information not widely known and educating us, and by using stories and statistics, you can become a trusted neutral source for change.

8. Coin a term.

During her appearance on The Ricki Lake show Dr. Sara Gottfried reached into her prop basket and pulled out a gleaming diamond Tiara, put it on her head and offered it to Lake, who said she didn’t want to take it off. Gottfried called taking uninterrupted time for yourself, Tiara Time.™ It’s catchy and easy to remember. Can’t you just imagine saying to your BFF, “I need some Tiara Time™ right NOW.”

9. Declare your vision.

Your vision is how you see the world in the future. It’s what you’re aspiring to in the big picture. It incorporates how you are going to serve. For example, I’d like to see Aikido, a type of Japanese Martial Arts, which I’ve been training in for eight years, incorporated into every school in the world.

Aikido_LI

9 steps to become a thought leader is about self-mastery

The principles of Aikido, The Way of Harmony, work as a way to polish the spirit, to turn lead into gold. The founder, Morihei Ueshiba says, “True victory is self-victory; let that day arrive quickly!”

I believe that, through this practice we can eradicate bullying and practice respect, compassion, and self-mastery on a daily basis in our hearts, homes, schools, and communities.

My dream is to combine physical self mastery with verbal and emotional mastery so every child in the world can: Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song™.

Declaring your vision during a media interview moves it out in a big way into the public eye. Not only have you taken a stand but you give thousands or millions of people a chance to take a stand with you. That in itself creates powerful change.

The point of being a thought leader isn’t just to get more media appearances, more sales, more followers, or more money. It’s an opportunity to make great shifts inside yourself and out in the world.

So if you aspire to taking yourself and your business forward in small or big ways, then focus on these nine things. And even if it isn’t in your nature to be on national TV or to gain an international platform, just pondering these points will give you clarity for your business as you grow and change.