Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

October 6, 2011

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

In other words… Live like you mean it.

Auntie Smackdown

March 3, 2011

Focused attention is a gift.

I have been recording and publishing a podcast with fellow coach Francie Cooper since the end of October. We have put out weekly shows with a monthly theme since November. Some people listen but it’s not a very big number, and the number doesn’t seem to be growing recently.

Francie and I tell people personally and also use social media plus our e-mail lists to get the word out about each show. But we get little response when we mention the podcast, especially on social media. I decided to find out why.

I asked people on Facebook what they think when I post about the podcast. I got two responses right away. One friend said she uses Facebook settings so posts with links get blocked. Aha! The other said, “What’s a podcast and what’s that ‘coaching’ stuff you talk about?” Aha, and aha!

Yes, my dear Watson, we started piecing together the puzzle. Then a good friend sent me what is metaphorically a snapshot of the whole puzzle put together. She took the time to compose a detailed e-mail about what she thinks and what she wonders when I post about the podcast. Her detailed explanation served as a much-needed smackdown to my whiny attitude of Why isn’t anyone responding to our podcast?

In fact, I’m going to call her Aunt Smackdown because she gave me the kick in the butt I needed. She’s around my mother’s age, a writer and a poet I met through a writers’ workshop over fifteen years ago. Even though she’s a marketing novice, she totally schooled me on basic marketing skills. What she sent is as valuable as a thorough marketing survey, so it was a powerful gift. Thanks, Aunt Smackdown!

The best marketing advice comes from your audience. Here’s what she told me:

I know you and what you do, but I still haven’t any idea what you are talking about in those squibs (short written pieces -Ed.) on Facebook. That Palapa – or whatever – haven’t a clue what it is. I get the impression it is a group of you who go somewhere and have a meeting. Maybe a group of psychologists? (She knows I was previously a therapist -Ed.)

In your squibs, I don’t know who you are – what you do. Is it conferences for people who want help? But then what? Are you a lecturer? Salesman? Group leader?

Do you go away to some hotel on the weekend? Get together and listen to a speaker?

For an unknowing reader, you are starting in the middle of things I think.

Who are you? Are there more than one of you? A group? A couple of people in practice together?

Who are you talking to most of the time? Each other?

This is what I think you need to say:

Are you stressed with your job? Are you looking for a new beginning? It is difficult these days to know where to turn… etc.

Start at the beginning – “I am Steve Coxsey,” then give your title or your profession. I am part of a group who work together, or I work alone.

I work with people who want a new beginning in their business, or a new direction for their business, or their spiritual life, or daily life, or whatever it is.

I offer group sessions, or individual sessions only, or telephone workshops.

Tell what this Palapa thing is in plain English: a retreat, or a podcast. Where is it? When? How often? What do you do at this particular event? Listen to a talk? Participate in a support group? Attend a conference?

I have been sort of trying to follow you, but I don’t know the answers to any of these things. Perhaps this is why you get no response. You mention people’s names. Who are they? What are they to you? Co-workers, lecturers that you attend, a sponsor? What do you do together?

I admit I don’t read everything carefully – but then I wouldn’t know what you were talking about if I did – even though I know what you do. Someone who doesn’t know you will be hopelessly lost. (emphasis added)

You need to keep repeating the intro about yourself periodically as you will not always have the same crowd. You need to say:

1. Hey! It’s you I want to help
2. I am qualified
3. Here’s how I can help
4. Here are some of my tools – palapa podcasts, etc.
5. Feel free to ask how I can help you.

I hope this is some help.

You are probably ready to shoot either me or yourself, but it is my reaction only to what I have seen.

Well, I certainly wasn’t ready to shoot her, or even myself. The next time I see her I owe her a big hug and a kiss.

She laid out basic marketing 101:
1) Call to your market by describing them and the problem or challenge they are facing
2) Establish credibility
3) Show the benefit of what you do
4) Explain the features of what you do, which means how you provide the benefit
5) Call them to a simple action step

I think Aunt Smackdown has a formula she can use to fill marketing guru workshops! I’m definitely going to put her recommendations to work and improve the way I talk about the podcast on social media.

What about you? Is it clear what you do when you talk about your business? Is it clear to people what you are asking them to do when you publicize your product or service?

Do they know who you help? Can they tell if it’s for them?

Do they know what you are offering to them? Do they know how and where to get it? Do they know what it costs in money, time, and commitment?

I wrote about clarity for self-employed people describing what they do back in November. I regularly see lots of people struggling with this and I thought it was sad that they couldn’t see it and didn’t know what the problem was. Now I’m extending a little more compassion… to all of us!

Often the answers can be clear and straightforward, but recognizing the problem is not.

Oh, yeah. About the podcast thing. I’ll be rewording the way I present it. Any suggestions?

Sharing Gratitude Through Social Media

February 16, 2011

Last week I was on a trip with my twelve-year-old son to Orlando. We planned a road trip to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park. We drove because we didn’t want to be “naked scanned” or groped in the airports, but mainly so we could make a couple of stops. On the way out we stopped to tour the USS Alabama battleship plus the planes, tanks, and submarine on display at the site. On the way back we took time to drive through the Civil War memorial at the Vicksburg battlefield.

It’s probably easy to tell my son is a Harry Potter fan and a fan of military history and weaponry. Okay, I’m also a Harry Potter fan, but I’m not crazy about military equipment and weapons the way my son is. He knew which tank was which. He was guessing about the details of the big guns on the battleship as we approached, and most of his guesses were right. He knew details of the cannons and rifled guns we saw on the Vicksburg battlefield. Obviously he had a great trip start to finish.

Along the way I took pictures of places we stopped and found it pretty easy to share them on Facebook. I created a photo file for our military tours that I named “BOOM BOOM Pow!” I created a file for our Universal experiences called “Perry Potter,” because when my son was very young and first heard of Harry Potter that’s what he called him. I also created a file called “Hakuna Matata” for our day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We had seen a documentary about how they planned, designed, and created the park so we were eager to take the safari ride, see the recreated African village, find the tigers in the Asian temple ruins, and experience the roller coaster on Everest.

I used Facebook because it was the easiest way to update extended family as we went. It turned out that some of my Facebook friends commented on the photos, asked questions, and had a chance to share the trip vicariously. Before long I was looking forward to posting photos updating everyone on what we were seeing and experiencing. I even took a photograph of butter beer in Hogsmeade village!

Sharing the photos and sharing our experiences became a way of recognizing and sharing my gratitude for the fun we were having, the new sites we were seeing, the fact we were able to take time off and enjoy a fun trip, and having the opportunity to see things we had been looking forward to seeing for a long time. Those photo albums became an impromptu gratitude journal.

Since writing in a gratitude journal daily – or posting to this blog on gratitude occasionally – aren’t things I do well, I like finding alternatives that I can do well. Capturing the moment in a photo to share on Facebook became a great way for me to savor those experiences.

I have tried to add the photo files to my Facebook business page but it’s not working out. They have recently added a feature where you can use a business page very much the way you use a personal page, but whenever I sign in to do that I can’t get the links to work.

If you’re a Facebook friend look for the photo albums. If not, go ahead and “like” my business page and you’ll be able to see the photos as soon as I’m able to post them. I sure hope they get that fixed soon. I’ll be really grateful when they do!

Prayers Of Thanks

January 28, 2011

My stepfather had surgery a week ago Tuesday so last week my son was praying for his grandfather’s safety and then for his speedy recovery. We stop and pray together every morning, at least on weekdays, before heading out the door. I’ve been encouraging him to think of what he wants to include in prayer and to say it out loud to help him learn he doesn’t need me voicing his prayers. I hope this becomes a lifelong pattern of him praying on his own and with other people.

His prayers are usually petitions, asking for things. They might include simple things like peace and cooperation in his classroom when the kids return from a break, or more selfless notions like comfort for people in times of disaster or aid to those who are suffering. But usually he’s asking for something, even if it’s “Please keep my grandpa safe and help him heal quickly.” But I noticed a shift at the end of last week.

His grandpa came through surgery very well and was ahead of schedule on his progress. My son was very relieved and he added thankfulness to his prayers. We were thankful for the skill of the surgical staff, thankful for the technology that allowed them to do their work, thankful for the hospital taking good care of him, and thankful that surgery to repair his condition had been discovered.

In addition to being deeply pleased my son was remembering to include thankfulness in his prayers, I realized part of my own practice of gratitude shows up in prayer. That’s not to say I’m good, or even consistent, at prayers of thanks. I’m a lot more consistent at those Psalms kinds of prayers: Why are you letting this happen? and When will you smite my enemies?

But I do include occasional thanks in my prayers. Sometimes I include them in time I plan for praying – which isn’t really very often – but usually they show up in a few reflective moments when I notice something good happening, look up and smile, and then close my eyes and say “Thank you.”

This is definitely something worth cultivating, so I intend to look for more opportunities to do it.

Gratitude 2010 1221

December 21, 2010

Well that didn’t last!

I talked with my coaching group earlier this month about how the gratitude journal idea just doesn’t work for me. I would remember to record things only every other day – at best! I would sit at the end of the day and stare into space, and then notice the windows needed to be cleaned, or wonder if the tops of the ceiling fan blades were really dusty. It wasn’t working for me. Even when I remembered things it was just a task on my list to write them down. I didn’t notice a real benefit.

Fellow group member Judy Krings gave me a piece of wisdom that contained a nice blessing, too. She said there are different ways of appreciating things and standing in gratitude, and that because I notice things and savor them in the moment the journal practice might not have much meaning for me.

So I changed my approach. I even updated my “Gratitude Journal” category to “Gratitude Practice” and changed the category slug to simply “gratitude.” My evolving way of practicing gratitude is now focused on increasing my intention to take time to stop and appreciate things in the moment. I want to acknowledge them in my soul and marinate in the gratitude.

That’s what it was like for me yesterday afternoon recording my Tapa Palapa podcast with Francie at the park. The weather was great so we could be outside, which we always relish when we’re recording. And we laughed repeatedly about the chainsaws buzzing in the background, the kids dragging a small dead tree to the picnic table next to us, and the car alarm going off in the parking lot 50 feet away.

Then last night I saw the beginning of the eclipse and reflected on the beauty and the reminder of the last time – years ago, I don’t remember when – I saw a full lunar eclipse. I had planned to go to bed and just see pictures, but after seeing the early stages I stayed up and kept checking on the progression every few minutes. This picture from the web shows a close-up of the eclipse. It doesn’t capture the canvas I saw standing out in my yard, with the stars looking brighter than ever and the moon cloaked in red.

Somehow writing it in a journal wouldn’t add a thing to it.

How do you practice gratitude? Leave a comment so we can learn from you.

Gratitude Journal Nov. 8-17, 2010

November 18, 2010

How’s the practice of gratitude going? I’m still fumbling along as a newbie. But I’m doing it.

If you haven’t tried practicing gratitude, give it a go and let me know how it works for you. If you are trying it, leave a comment below and let me know if it’s changing your mood or your outlook.

Here’s a sample. I’m grateful for…
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Gratitude Journal Nov. 1-7, 2010

November 8, 2010

Twice a month I attend a call as a member of a coaching group made up of people establishing and growing businesses as coaches. The other members are very good at bringing in discussions of Positive Psychology and personal strengths.

That means that pretty often they talk about ways they record their gratitude, because research has shown that the active practice of recording specific reasons you felt grateful during the day increases your happiness. It leads to improved mood and a brighter outlook. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
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