Do-It-Myself

November 17, 2011

I’ve noticed a theme in the self-employment blogosphere and ezineosphere lately.

Is ezineosphere even a word? It is now!

The common message from several business consultants, marketing experts, and coaches is…

Don’t do it yourself!

I’ve read a lot of posts and articles lately on the importance of getting help with some tasks so you’re free to shine you’re beautifully shiny shine in other tasks.

Makes sense. Except when it doesn’t.

I just spent a frustrating few hours – maybe three or four cumulative over the past twenty-four – wrangling with my autoresponder to send out my latest newsletter. It may be that there were updates to the system that I have to get used to. It may be that I haven’t sent out a newsletter since we were in the long hot siege of endless days over 100 degrees. But it was pretty d@*&!# hard to get everything right this time.

The last hurdle, or hassle, I had to overcome had me stumped so I had to call customer support. The guy reminded me I didn’t pay for a support package, but he helped me anyway (thanks, dude), because my problem was:

“I can’t send my newsletter!”

Turns out there’s something glitchy in the way the editor panel deals with HTML code when you paste it in. The hard line breaks disappear, and then the system warns you that your HTML lines are too long. It takes your breaks and then says YOU screwed up!

Did you just get confused by that last paragraph? Then I’m doing well making my point. You see, after these hassles, one suggestion would be for me to hire someone to take my words and format my e-mail and send it out. But if I did that, I wouldn’t understand why there was a problem or know how to prevent it in the future.

Other than my insatiable curiosity wondering how things work, I could probably be fine outsourcing my newsletter publication. Okay, probably not fine, but I think I could handle it. The thing is, I work with a lot of solo entrepreneurs and I have lots of colleagues who are solo entrepreneurs. I help people learn how to do basic marketing things so they can use the confidence that comes from new skills to stand up to their fear and uncertainty.

I coach and train around the theme of Trailblazing, for goodness sake! That’s about being adaptable and flexible, ready to take on new challenges so you can take charge in your own life. While it’s possible for people to get help (or hire it) for all the areas of their projects and businesses they don’t know how to do, it’s more empowering to learn some new things along the way.

So I like being in charge of formatting and publishing my newsletter. That means when I’m talking to someone who wants to start a newsletter, I can talk about what I do. It’s not that advanced and it doesn’t involving hiring someone, which most people at the start-up phase aren’t ready to do.

And if I keep things simple enough that I can manage them, then I’ll be teaching self-employed people skills that are simple enough that they can manage them, too.

I do wonder if it’s a justification. Am I being too controlling, or maybe too cheap?

Could be! But mainly I want to be able to tell someone, “I know you can do this. Let me show you how.”

What do you think about hiring help versus doing things yourself? Join the conversation by leaving your comments.

Trailblazing Media June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011

The Traveler isn’t published this week so I’m posting my Trailblazing Media updates here.

The latest episode of Trailblazing TV is available. It’s called “Experience is Earned.” Here’s the introduction:

“We don’t do something flawlessly from the beginning, again and again, and call that experience. Experience means facing challenges and tough times. It means struggling and experimenting and overcoming. When we do that things get messy. Crap piles up. So what should we do with all of it?”

I discovered after I recorded that I accidentally turned on HD recording in widescreen format. That means this episode has a 16:9 ratio and is a little less clear. I had to shrink the HD video to keep it within the size limits, but then Vimeo expanded it to fill the screen so the resolution isn’t as good as I would like. But that means – while recording a tip about the messiness of gaining experience, I was mucking along gaining experience – – accidentally!

To see the episode click here.

The latest episode of Trailblazing Radio takes a controversial stand on the Law of Attraction and what it seems to be missing – especially according to strong research on what it takes for people to accomplish their goals and get what they want.

Episodes of Trailblazing Radio are around 10 minutes long so you can listen easily on your computer or download a show to your iPod or other MP3 player and listen on your way somewhere. Leave a comment with your thoughts on the Law of Intention compared to the Law of Attraction.

Listen to this week’s episode by clicking here.

If you didn’t get a chance to hear each weekly episode of Tapa Palapa as it was produced the summer is a great time to catch up. Tapa Palapa is a little more light-hearted than Trailblazing Radio because of my effervescent co-host Francie Cooper. You’ll laugh as you listen and come away with some really useful ideas. Check out our monthly theme on the greater good, called “Life is Bigger Than You.”

Click here for all the episodes on this topic.

I appreciate your comments. They let me know when my ideas are helpful and give me direction on ways to serve you better.

My you know the joy of sharing your strengths,

Steve Coxsey
The Trailblazing Coach (TM)

There Is A Season

June 2, 2011

Perhaps I’m unoriginal. Perhaps I’m obsessing and can’t let go of this thought. Perhaps I’m just perseverating (look that one up!). But the topic of flexibility has grabbed hold of my mind and demands to be heard.

For last week’s episode of Trailblazing TV I chose the topic “Practice Flexibility.” The tip is about ways to keep trying new approaches so you can stay adaptable.

A few days later I was talking with Francie Cooper, Life Coach, my friend and co-host of the Tapa Palapa internet radio show. We realized we were both thinking a lot about flexibility and adaptability. It was the theme showing up for our clients and it was the theme banging on the doors of our own lives. We decided to name our season finale show “Go Gumby!” and talk about ways to stay limber to prepare for changes, both expected and unexpected .

For this week’s episode of Trailblazing TV I had the topic chosen days in advance. It’s been a time of change in my world. A lot of people around me are going through significant transitions, some heading up and some heading down in their work lives or in their relationships. On top of that, my son graduated from his Montessori school, so he heads off to middle school in the fall. Sadly, it was the last year the school will operate because of changes in the community and a city street project that is going to take a big piece of the property.

These events leave me a little melancholy. To everything there is a season. But the positive side of that is the possibility for improvement and renewal that change brings. That’s why I called this week’s episode of Trialblazing TV “Everything’s A Play Project.” I realized as I was editing and formatting it that it’s a message about being flexible and adaptable, too.

With Tapa Palapa going on hiatus for the summer while Francie is busy with other projects, I started looking at ideas for recording a podcast of my own. I “dug through” my computer files and found the recording I made in November as a sort of pilot episode for a podcast. It was shortly after Francie and I had planned our first month of themed shows. I had suggested improvisation as a theme in our discussion. We decided to go with a different theme so I wanted to capture my thoughts on the value of improvisation. Improvisation, of course, is about flexibility and adaptability.

For me that’s full circle. As Francie and I were starting our first season of Tapa Palapa, I had improvisation on my mind. As we finished up, we both had flexibility and adaptability on our minds. We ended where we began. Since things have beginnings and endings, we all need to be ready for change.

You can listen to my “Twisting Road Travelcast” by clicking the triangle below, or chose to play it in a separate window or download it to your computer. If you use an iPod or other MP3 player, that’s the way to get the file so you can transfer it to your device.
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In the show I talked about a video interview by John Williams, author of Screw Work, Let’s Play!. If you click here to go to the original post of the podcast you can see that video.

I also mentioned an e-book I was formatting. It contains ten of the most surprisingly good (surprising to me!) articles I wrote for people new to marketing. They reduce the concepts into everyday language that marketing newbies can understand. I finished it shortly after recording the podcast and put everything in place so I could start giving it to anyone who signed up for my newsletter. That’s the standard thing to do – give away something to entice people to give you their e-mail addresses.

But to everything there is a season. I’m not doing the standard thing any more. I decided to do the Trailblazing thing. I’m giving it away with no strings. You don’t have to sign up for anything. Just go to AnythingButMarketing.com and you can download it there. If you decide to sign up for my newsletter while you’re there I certainly won’t mind!

Big Play Lab Day

April 13, 2011

I want to send a great big shout out to the Resource Group for MentorCoach students. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be posting this today.

Gayle Scroggs is co-facilitator of the Resource Group and runs a coaches’ MasterMind group I’ve attended for a couple of years now. She invited me to talk to the Resource Group about additional profit centers for coaches, ways to provide products and services beyond individual coaching. I was honored that she asked me, and eager to share what I know.

It seemed like serendipitous timing because I’ve recently settled on a theme for my coaching niche and suddenly I’ve been contacted ‘out of the blue’ to help people based on that theme. And I haven’t even made it public! It’s like a nod from the universe that I’m on the right track. Maybe even a divine thumbs up.

But right after getting puffed up from feeling flattered, I realized… I’d been ‘thinking’ about redoing my home page for quite a while, but I hadn’t done it! I’d been relying on all the old, worn-out excuses. I don’t have a professional photograph. I’m not sure if I should change the template. The new theme means I need to tweak my marketing message. Believe me, when it comes to excuses, I live in abundance.

To be credible telling a group of people to stop worrying about perfection and ‘just do it,’ I needed to get it done. Three hours before I was due to be on the call, I set aside my planned work and started focusing on my home page.

What would I write? Did I have a photo that was good enough for now, or would I rely on text? Would I plan a long introduction of my services or just a brief overview suggesting different pages to visitors based on their needs?

It seemed like a lot to decide in three hours, much less to write, edit, format, and upload! What a challenge it would be. What a fun adventure, or what a face plant. Either way, it would be a tale of the entrepreneurial life.

Then I remembered that the entrepreneurial life is about creative problem-solving, and experimenting, and play – the kind of play that’s about learning by trying new things in a low-risk way. It was time to take this challenge to my Play Lab. Not enough time to write and edit and format? Choose a different approach, one that’s more complicated and might take more time!

I’ve been wanting to record a video introduction for weeks now, so I said, What the heck! I grabbed the video recorder and tripod and headed to the wooded area along the edge of our property. I thought of the wording I would use to do a quick greeting and overview. I set up the tripod and did a couple of trial runs to get the distance and the composition right. Then I started recording. I fumbled on the first couple of runs, but I get to blame the jet flying right overhead for that second one. But then I found my groove and got through the intro seamlessly…

And I froze. I had welcomed people and called out to my tribe, telling them briefly how I can help them. But what then? Yes, the guy who regularly teaches that each marketing activity must have a specific purpose that leads people to take the next step was stuck. What was it I was going to ask people to do again? And the clock was ticking. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I sorted out my blueprint and recorded again. The words were good, but there were no smiles. Even a total amateur like me knows it’s better when people smile in videos! So I recorded again, feeling like I was smiling. When I reviewed it there were some smiles, but not as many as I was aiming for.

But perfect wasn’t my goal. My goal was to get it done before the call. I took my equipment in, uploaded the video to my computer, edited it on the front and back, and formatted it for the internet. Then I uploaded it to YouTube because that was the way I knew to embed it in my web site. I’ll figure out better ways to do it in the future in my HTML sandbox. But for now it’s good enough.

The video finished uploading to YouTube as I left to pick up my son from school. At his tae kwon do lesson I spent my time composing the new home page with the video and the sign-up form. It’s a very simple squeeze page, except it breaks an important squeeze page rule. There are tabs on it that give you choices besides filling in the sign-up form.

But you know what? I got it done. And I was happy to let the Resource Group know it was done.

I’m also happy to tell the world now. My new business theme? I’m The Trailblazing Coach ™. Trailblazing is the creative problem-solving, entrepreneurial way of life. Check out my new home page to see how it all turned out.

I was pretty happy that I got it done in time, and happy that people visiting my web site would see an updated home page. Then I thought, What if they visit my blog? I haven’t updated it since before the Super Moon, since before the seasons changed!

Thank you, Resource Group!

Phantom Obstacles

February 18, 2011

My coaching colleague Francie Cooper and I decided last October to create a weekly podcast together. Neither of us had ever produced a weekly podcast so we had a lot to figure out, but we said “yes” anyway. We had both produced weekly newsletters and regular blog posts so we knew we would be able to prepare content. We were mainly in the dark about the technology – recording, formatting, uploading, and publicizing – but we said “yes” anyway.

We thoughtfully planned lots of time for each of the steps of planning and learning different components and said, back in early October, that we would have our first podcast ready to distribute the first week in January. By the second half of October we had chosen the name Tapa Palapa and learned enough about the technology to record a “test” show. We decided to go ahead and post it as our first podcast. Obstacles were collapsing like paper dominoes.

By November we had developed a monthly theme and a series of related shows for the month, well ahead of schedule. Smooth sailing, simply because we decided to move forward, learn things, and try them out. We didn’t need nearly as much time as we had given ourselves… mostly because we decided not to worry about getting things just right and instead aimed for good enough.

As we got up to speed and started producing shows we talked about the fact we would improve things as we gained experience, would tweak the format as we figured out what worked, and would make ours a more “professional” product as we learned what that required. In the description of a more “professional” product we included publishing Tapa Palapa on iTunes. For some reason, probably just ignorance, we thought that would be complicated and involved.

Last week during an advanced coaching class I’m taking through MentorCoach we did an exercise to imagine our businesses five years from now. I realized I would like to see the audience for Tapa Palapa continue to grow so both Francie and I can serve more people. It was time to move Tapa Palapa to the next level, and as Francie and I talked we knew iTunes would be an important next level – some day.

My expectations about the challenge of getting on iTunes were pretty distorted, as most things created in fantasy without a reality check tend to be. So I figured I would run into lots of detailed things to learn and steps to accomplish. But I decided to start looking into it anyway. It turned out the plug-in I use to publish the podcasts through WordPress is set up to format a lot of what iTunes requires from a feed. Our Feedburner account let me do the rest. In only one evening I had everything in place to start the submission process. That kind of took my breath away. So I breathed and move on.

Submitting the podcast went quickly, too. I went to iTunes, clicked “Submit a Podcast,” and filled in the information. The feed was verified and I got a confirmation e-mail our show was being reviewed. I thought that might take a few days, but the next day it was approved. The day after that it could be found through the iTunes Store search feature. We’re on iTunes, just like that! The feed has some glitches, but I’ll get those worked out.

This was an important lesson for me. We identified real obstacles to designing, creating, and publishing a podcast, and we worked our way through them without any resistance. We identified phantom obstacles we guessed would exist about including our podcast on iTunes and avoided them as a challenge for a later day. When that later day came, the phantom obstacles faded quickly as I did the research and got real information that replaced our ghostly speculation.

Don’t get me wrong. I have not overcome this problem once and for all. I’m just hoping that the next time I get daunted by imaginary obstacles I’ll be quicker to stare the phantom down and find what real challenges remain after he fades.

My Kind of Revolution

August 22, 2010

It’s a quiet movement, but it’s gaining momentum. It stays mainly under the radar, but every so often people not in the movement catch a glimpse and remark on it as a fad or trend. But it is no fad. It is no trend. It is a revolution, a revolution in how we see work and its place in our lives.

It is a revolution in our definition of “business.” No longer will everyone nod in acquiescence when someone says the only purpose of a business is to make money. To the revolutionaries, whose number is growing, the purpose of a business is to be a vehicle for them to share their gifts and talents with the world. It is their opportunity to display their personalities and express their values. It is their way to be socially responsible members of society. For some of us, running a small business is a rigorous program for self-development and even spiritual growth.

We are having a party, a happy and possibly noisy festival to celebrate the empowerment and the freedom that come from self-employment. We are going to share our victories and our strategies for surmounting obstacles. We are going to ramp up the creativity and challenge each other to set bigger goals and make bigger plans. We are going to help each other rediscover the purpose of work as dedicating ourselves to doing what we are gifted at, what we love, what we were born to do.

This is my kind of revolution.

Will You Be a Champion for a Child?

April 2, 2010

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It’s the time of year we’re asked to think about the work that some people do all year, helping families at risk of abuse and neglect and helping children heal from the trauma of abuse. That means it’s the time of year for me to talk about The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Child abuse prevention isn’t very glamorous. Working with children who are victims of abuse is tough, demanding, draining work. People don’t want to think about that. This makes it really challenging to come up with a way to ask for donations. But I still want to ask you – will you be a champion for a child?
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Jobless Guy Shows Up During Career Week

March 11, 2010

This week is career week for my son’s elementary class at his Montessori school. Several visitors have been to the class so far talking about their jobs. Ugh. “Job” is a word that can feel small and heavy at the same time.

When the teachers asked me to sign up to present, I decided I would do more than talk about being a consultant and coach. I decided to talk about how I help people find ways to work at what they love and make a living without a job. Guess how that went!
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Open a Window!

February 26, 2010

I have been posting comments to a few blogs in the last few days as I catch up on the backlog of blogs (backblog?) I missed from mid-December through mid-January or later. I read the latest and the oldest on my list each time I read and slowly I’m getting back to only having a few old posts left.

That’s mainly because I’m completely skipping the missed posts on a lot of blogs in my subscription list. I’m only diligently reading every single post on three of them and scanning a few others.

Which gets to the purpose of this post. It’s pretty much just a placeholder because when I comment on a blog it shows my last blog post.

That old post is more stale than the flour tortillas we threw out last week. It’s more stale than the half loaf of Italian bread I threw out the week before. It had mold on it.

I think that old post has a little mold on it, too.

More posts are coming, but not ready yet. I’d rather have people see this easily forgettable but recent post than the old stale moldy thing.

Did anyone see the “Kids in the Hall” episode decades ago with the phrase in my title? It’s a twisted skit with a bizarre place in my personal archives.

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