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A “farewell for the foreseeable future!” message

A “farewell for the foreseeable future!” message

Farewell message for AIM

All good things must come to an end

I realised something while I was listening to a business audio the other day. It’s time for me to let go of this blog (and my introvert newsletter). So this post is my “farewell for the foreseeable” message to y’all, and a deep message of heartfelt gratitude for everyone who’s read, commented, and made the blog more awesome.

To be honest, the decision feels like a natural extension of the coming changes I talked about back in June. It’s simply another step towards tightening my focus on the copywriting part of my business, and letting go of everything else business-related. That then clears space for more of the balancing, replenishing, not-business-things I crave in my life too.

(It also, apparently, frees up space for more money and more awesome copywriting / book editing clients to come in. Because since I made the decision to change my focus? My total nett profit in the 3 months from June until now is higher than it was for the entire SEVENTEEN MONTHS from January 2014 to May of this year. Thank you, Universe: more please!)

 

Apparently, letting go doesn’t happen all at once for me

Remember back in April, when I discussed how I don’t get that “hell, yes” feeling that so many heart-based folk talk about using for decision-making?

I mentioned that my own inner knowing, when it speaks, tends to be quieter – and it rarely arrives fully formed as a cosmic download. Often, it needs time – weeks or even months – to incubate before I realise one day… hey, the moment’s right: I need to do X now. And I realise at the same time that I’ve known whatever-it-was for a while… it was just sitting there, waiting for me to acknowledge it.

I think letting go needs the same kind of incubation period for me. And just as I tend to take baby steps to build things (and cross chasms in multiple short steps), I apparently let go in stages as well.

 

NOTE: the blog, website and Facebook group will stay live

So. The next step of letting go for me means actively choosing to stop writing this blog and newsletter. Because I let go in stages, both the blog and website as a whole, will stay live (hey, there’s some damn good information in here). I just won’t be publishing new content.

PLUS: I’ll still be maintaining my free Conscious Introvert Awesomeness Facebook group. I post about introvert-y topics there multiple times a week, so if you’d like to stay in touch with me, that’s an ideal way to do it.

Otherwise, if you want non-Facebook introvert websites and blogs, why not head over to my Introvert Resources page.

 

Thank you so much for being an Awesome Introvert Musings reader

I’ve really loved writing these posts for you; and I hope they’ve brought some genuine value to your life. I have no idea whether this is the end of the letting go; or whether, at some point, I’ll end up shutting down the site too. Who knows – maybe I’ll even circle back to it with new passion and focus in the same way I’ve found myself circling back to copywriting recently?

Either way, I’m immensely grateful that you’ve been part of the journey with me. Thank you, from the depths of my soul.

Blessings and best wishes

 

 

TANJA

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3 Ways to make money conversations far more comfortable for introverts

3 Ways to make money conversations far more comfortable for introverts

It’s not just us introverts who find money conversations difficult

I think it’s fairly standard throughout the heart-based business world for talking about money with clients to feel uncomfortable. Certainly it’s normal when you’re first starting out – and for some folks, the awkwardness and general sense of “ick” never really goes away.

So I don’t want to cast this as a purely introverted problem. At the same time, however, there are certain traits we introverts often share that can make conversations about cash more difficult.

Foremost amongst these is our tendency towards conflict aversion (yes, I know… not all introverts, but apparently, it’s not just me either!) Plus, because we’re so inwardly-focussed, it can often be hard to really *get* the value that our stuff might have to other people.

 

There are, however, a few traits that work in our favour too

Remember that post I wrote last year about the introvert-typical traits that aren’t related to energy? Well, when you need to talk dollars-and-cents – regardless of who with – there are also a few traits that can work for you, instead of against you. They include:

  • Preparedness: as a general rule, we introverts are awesome planners and thinkers. We don’t tend to step into conversations without knowing what we want to say beforehand, and that can really help when it comes to money conversations.
  • Ability to listen: sometimes, the art of being good at discussing money is painted as being purely about “standing in your value” – deciding what your offering is worth and refusing to budge from there. But there’s another side to compassionate money communication too, which is the ability to listen to what someone needs, and figure out whether there’s a different way to help them.
  • Inner awareness: yes, of course there are self-aware extroverts, but in general, being in touch with what’s going on within you is an introverted trait. And while it’s possible to let fear or nerves paralyse you, if you can acknowledge your feelings and move ahead regardless, you’re in a far more powerful place, conversation-wise.
  • A talent for communicating in writing: perhaps because it gives us more of a chance to prepare, we tend to shine at communicating via the written word. Writing, rather than speaking, lets us figure out exactly what we want to say long before we actually have to say it.

 

So how can you use those traits to get more comfortable with money conversations?

It’s great to know that that – in theory – you have traits that can make discussing pricing or payment less awkward. But how do you go from there to actually making those conversations happen? Here are three practical tips that should help.

 

#1. Decide in advance what you want, what alternatives you can offer, and what your dealbreakers are

This is where you get to use your “preparedness” trait to feel more comfortable going into a conversation. Start off by knowing what value you’re happy to exchange your offering for, and any terms you want to set around payment. (And if that’s harder than it sounds, here are three different takes on pricing from three heart-based mentors I respect immensely: Mark Silver, Leonie Dawson and Denise Duffield Thomas)

Once you’re clear on the price/s you’re comfortable with, decide in advance how much – if any – room to move you’re OK with. For example my website copywriting package prices are set, and I’m not interested in haggling around them (in fact, that’s a dealbreaker for me).

BUT – if someone tells me they’d love to work with me, but they only have a budget of $xxxx, I’ll sometimes offer them a “pared down” package as a compromise. Generally, that package will requires less time and effort investment from me, so I feel comfortable offering it at a lower price.

If you’ve thought about all this in advance, it’s much easier to talk it through with a potential – or actual – client.

 

#2. If possible, have the conversation (and your prices) in writing

This is where you get to bring the “talent for written communication” trait in. The internet is a godsend for us introverted entrepreneurs. It allows us those of us who far prefer to talk via email or private message to do the majority of our client communication in the way we’re most comfortable.

I actually have a “new project scope” email template I use for potential clients that has a “Price” section set up for me (along with “General scope” and “Timelines” sections). So to get the pricing conversation started, I just need to drop the appropriate figure into that template and hit “send”. I also have my payment terms and conditions set out in black and white in my T&C document.

On top of that, all of my prices are clearly visible on my website. That way, if people ask me about them in the course of a spoken conversation, I can point them straight to the page.

(NOTE: this was the #1 recommendation from the introverts I spoke to about this post: special thanks Anna and Shannon – who were happy to be credited for their input here!)

 

#3. Don’t be afraid to admit you feel awkward

Finally, remember that – especially if you’re working in the heart-based business space – your clients are human beings who understand that money conversations can feel weird. This is where being in touch with what’s going on for you – without making yourself or the other person wrong for it – can be super-helpful.

Rather than force yourself to brazen through and fake a confidence you just don’t feel, it can feel more authentic to acknowledge the awkwardness. You might think this would just make you feel even more nervous – but the reality is that it often does the opposite. Many folks actually find they relax once they’ve honestly recognised and named what they’re feeling out loud.

Incidentally, this was a technique I used more back when I was starting out. Now, though, I find I don’t need it any more, because Tips #1 and #2 mean I actually grown pretty comfortable initiating – and continuing – money conversations.

(NOTE: this was the second most common tip I heard back from the introverts I asked about the topic – thanks Roni for being the first to mention it. So it sounds like I wasn’t the only one to use the technique!)

 

Your turn: what tips do you have to share on making money conversations more comfortable?

I know there are all kinds of approaches to make talking about money with clients feel less fraught, and I’m always open to learning more. So if you have a favourite tip or technique, I’d love for you to share it with the rest of the Conscious Introvert tribe…

Let us know in the comments below!

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Are introverts more intuitive? 5 Simple tips to help introverts listen to their intuition

Are introverts more intuitive?  5 Simple tips to help introverts listen to their intuition

Vision of Transformation

Anna and I are members of a few different communities together, and her recent post about the scientific basis behind intuition really caught my eye. Because I’ve been focussed on introversion as a hotline to your inner knowing myself this year, I got in touch to ask if she’d be willing to write something about introverts and intuition.

She very kindly agreed, and this post was the result. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!



What IS intuition?

We’re all familiar with intuition as being that gut feeling we have about things. But where does this gut feeling come from? And as introverts, how can we better tap into our intuition, or gut feelings?

Defining intuition is actually very simple. It’s our instinctual feelings about situations. Describing how we get these instinctual feelings is surprisingly logical in the brain.

At all times, our brain is assessing our safety. Every second of the day our brain is asking itself Am I safe? And every second of the day, our 5 senses are noticing if things are normal or not. When something is amiss in our environment, the amygdala in our brain sets off the alarm bells. Our amygdala sets our hedonic tone, or mood, and it may even work with our opiate receptors to cause a little pain to help us take notice.

For example, say you are taking a walk in a park on a warm sunny day. You hear the footsteps of someone behind you. Your amygdala might set off a little warning, causing you to look back. It’s a man dressed in dark clothing and a beanie.

You are consciously aware of this now and perhaps you pick up your pace. Your heart rate may have increased more than expected, and your breathing a little shallow, as you listen carefully for what is going on behind you. You have tension in your tummy – a gut feeling that something isn’t quite right here.

This is your intuition at work, and your instinctual responses to the situation.

 

Are introverts more intuitive?

Studies have been conducted on people who identify as introverts and people who identify as extroverts, and it seems that introverts have a smaller and more reactive amygdala. This makes sense, being the social mammals we are, as the amygdala reacts strongly to our social environments.

It has also been noted that introverts have thicker grey matter in their pre frontal cortex, which is the main thinking part of the brain.

Knowing this, does it mean that us introverts are better at tuning in to our intuition? It’s possible.

 

5 Simple tips to listen to your intuition

  1. Notice your breathing: Is it regular and deep, or irregular and shallow? Irregular shallow breathing is a physical sign of us not feeling quite right.
  2. Notice your heart rate: If it is little faster than usual, that could be a sign of from your intuition.
  3. What is your first instinctual impression of the situation or people? This instinctual response is your hippocampus and amygdala at work – parts of your brain housing the connections between memories and emotions.
  4. What is your hedonic tone? Many introverts take on the mood of other people or their general environment – this is another instinctual response, which is another part of our intuition at work.
  5. Do you feel any physical pain? Emotional pain often equates to physical pain. This could be a pain in the gut, nausea, or it could manifest anywhere else.

These physical signs of intuition are super simple for us to notice. If you practise paying attention to these signs of intuition, you will notice that listening to your intuition is quite easy and natural.

 

Bio:

HeadshotAnna Shelley is a coach who helps people define who they are at their core, so they can create an amazing life in true alignment with their Self.

She mostly does this from a brain science perspective, and because she’s a little wacky, may also connect with your spirit guides for advice.

Check out her website at annashelley.com.

photo by:
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The times, they are a-changing: the (short-term) future of Conscious Introvert Success

The times, they are a-changing: the (short-term) future of Conscious Introvert Success

CIS Changes 2015

My holiday in the UK has been a full – and an eye-opening – one

Back at the end of April, when I was about to head off on my 6-ish-week UK trip, I had three key intentions for the holiday.

  1. I wanted to catch up with friends and family in London
  2. I wanted to relax and take a break from my work
  3. I wanted some time to reflect, think and figure out what I was going to do about the fact that my business, quite simply, wasn’t working for me.

Now, while I wasn’t always so great with #2 over the course of the holiday, I’m happy to say I did pretty damn well with both #1 and #3.

I’m happy to talk about the specifics of #1 and #2 if you’re curious. But because #3 is the one that will affect you most as a Conscious Introvert reader, that’s what I want to focus on in this post.

 

Here’s what I mean by “my business wasn’t working for me”

I’ve been pretty open since the beginning of this year that my business as a whole just hasn’t been working the way I’ve wanted it to. I’ve had several experts offer thoughts, ideas and advice on what I needed to do to change things up. I’ve tried out recommendations around my marketing, mindset, service offerings, product offerings, launch processes, client outreach… the works.

And the net result has been that while I’ve had a couple of good months financially each year, I haven’t earned enough for my business to do anything more than pay for itself. I’ve been living off my savings – watching them slowly depleting. And during the months I have actually made a profit, I’ve drained my energy reserves dry trying to deliver on what I’d promised.

I knew something had to change, but I had no idea exactly what. That’s what I was hoping to figure out while I was here in the UK.

 

As so often happens, the answer was something I already knew

In my last post, I talked about what the Glastonbury Sacred Introvert tour taught me about energy management. Later in the tour, we did a trip to Bath, where there were a whole host of possible attractions to check out.

Rather than filling my plate from the possible smorgasbord of options though, I just chose one thing (the Roman baths and museum). Once I’d finished there, I spent the rest of the afternoon sipping tea, reading, and just letting myself process what I’d seen.

It was the best decision I could have made: it meant I really got to enjoy my visit in a way I couldn’t enjoy the earlier Stonehenge/Salisbury/Avebury excursion. And as I tried to identify what exactly my inner knowing was nudging me towards with respect to my business, I realised that really? The answer was in the lesson I’d learned earlier in my trip: focus on one thing at a time.

 

When in doubt, look for what to let go of

Here’s the gods-honest truth about the “state of the nation” in the Tanja business-verse. I love learning about introversion and being an introverted business owner. I love writing about introversion and business ownership. I love talking to people – one-to-one or on webinars – about introversion and entrepreneurship.

But right now, I do NOT love the constant uphill struggle of trying to make a primary income-earning business out of introversion and entrepreneurship. And I’ve realised that I don’t actually have to. Because I am – without wanting to toot my own horn too hard – a damn good copywriter. I have a copywriting business that’s brought in over 90% of my income over the past year with very little in the way of focus or marketing.

Imagine what it might do if I actually focused 100% of my business attention on it.

 

So for the next while, I’m going to try a downgrade

I’ve decided that – at least for the immediate future – I’m going to stop trying to make Conscious Introvert Success work as my main business. Instead, I’m going to downgrade it to something that’s simply a passion and a hobby. Something I do for the love of it, instead of to try to make a living.

That means I’ll still keep my running my free Conscious Introvert Awesomeness community pretty much as I’m doing right now. I’ll also keep sending out some kind of regular newsletter and writing semi-regular blog posts – although they might go out monthly, rather than fortnightly as I’m trying to do them right now.

And hey, I’ll still be happy to provide coaching services if people ask me for it. But what I won’t be doing is constantly looking for ways to market those services. Or trying to come up with new introversion-related freebies or ecourses or webinar. Or trying to put together launches to support those freebies or ecourses or webinars.

Instead, I’ll be redirecting some of the time and energy I was putting into all those things into my copywriting business. And the rest? The rest I’ll be directing into the non-business things in my life that I’ve been woefully neglecting.

 

Chances are very high that that this isn’t a permanent decision

I should probably add that I’ve been using terms like “immediate” and “short-term” throughout this post for a reason. This decision – like everything else in my business – is an experiment. It’s a direction for me to try heading in, rather than a final destination I’ve decided I want to get to at all costs.

But if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, that shouldn’t surprise you. “No one right way” applies just as much over time as it does between individuals, after all :-).

 

Questions? Concerns? Thoughts?

I started this post saying that #3 in my list of intentions was the one that would affect you most as an Awesome Introvert Musings reader. As I’ve gone through the process of writing it, however, I’ve realised that the only practical effect this should have for you is that the posts may come out a little less frequently.

Still: I thought you might be interested in the background and thought processes behind the decision. Plus, maybe if I’m open about the history that’s led me to this choice, it’ll help some of y’all who are going through something similar in your own business.

So if you have any thoughts, comments, concerns or questions…

Let me know in the comments below!

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Energy Management Essentials – what the Sacred Introvert Retreat tour has taught me so far

Energy Management Essentials – what the Sacred Introvert Retreat tour has taught me so far

Energy-essentials

This post is coming to you from the wilds of Glastonbury

Folks who are signed up to my newsletter or part of my free Conscious Introvert Awesomeness community will be well aware that I’m on holiday right now.

For the rest of y’all reading here, let me quickly fill you in. I’m in the middle of a six-week trip to the UK. And I’m spending the first 10-ish days of it doing Lisa Avebury’s Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour – which I’m now nearly halfway through.

(You can see just some of the places we’ve visited already in the graphic above)

The tour is definitely reminding me of a few things I already knew… but am benefiting from being gently tapped on the shoulder about. The most important of those, I suspect, is just how freaking important it is to take responsibility for figuring out your own energy management requirements.

 

To be absolutely clear, this is a tour specifically designed for introverts

Here’s the thing about the tour. It’s set up to be introvert-friendly. We each have our own rooms, with no singles supplement. We have plenty of free time – and indeed, free days – built into the schedule. Many of the places we’re visiting are “off the beaten path”, and we can take them at our own pace, spending as much or as little time as we want absorbing them.

Introvert heaven, right?

And yet… there’s still no one right way for anything.

Which is probably why I got to the end of yesterday, during which we’d covered an early morning visit to Stonehenge, Salisbury cathedral, back to the Stonehenge exhibition, Silbury Hill, West Kennett long barrow and then Avebury feeling… well, exhausted.

In fact, the moment I got back to my room, I crashed. I’d intended to shut my eyes for 10 minutes, and ended up waking up 5 hours later.

 

Even in an introvert-focussed space, you still need to be aware of your own individual energy requirements

As I was processing it all this morning, I realised that even though I knew I was absolutely allowed to opt out of anything, I still felt the need to take part. At least, I did unless I had a “valid” reason not to, anyway. Actually taking the step and actively opting out really felt anti-social… especially given that this was a schedule that had been specifically set up for me as an introvert.

As I thought about that, I realised that I’d turned the tour programme into some kind of an “expert arbiter” who got to tell me what I should and shouldn’t be up to managing. After all, it was designed for introverts, right? So I *should* (there’s that word!) be fine to do pretty much anything and everything on it.

In other words, I lost sight of the first principle of my own manifesto: that there’s no one right way, and that I’m the world’s foremost expert in being me. So instead of checking in with my inner knowing to see whether I wanted to keep going, I just kind of bimbled along and followed everyone else.

 

It really comes down to taking responsibility for managing my energy

Don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly enjoyed myself yesterday. And I know that sometimes it’s fine to choose to spend a major chunk of energy on doing something you want to do, then just accept that it’s going to exhaust you.

In fact, that’s exactly what I did. I knew the night before that it was going to be a long day, so I’d tried to get to bed early in preparation. Then I deliberately chose to take things very easy today to give myself time to bounce back from everything yesterday.

And those are both good measures to take. But if I had yesterday again to do over, I think I might well also…

  • … find a quiet spot in each place as soon as I got there. Then I’d plan to go off, see what there was to see, and retreat to my spot again once I’d seen the bits I most wanted to see, so my brain could have time to process on-the-go.
  • … accept that I didn’t have go right through every museum/exhibition display at each place – I could always Google or wiki the information afterwards. Plus, it’s not like my life would be irredeemably poorer if I happened to miss a particular snippet of information completely.
  • … find a quiet table where I could pull out my book and have a cuppa as I read, rather than chatting to people afterwards about what I’d seen. After all, if ANYONE was going to understand my need for alone-time and interaction-free periods, I could expect it to be the folks I’m here with!

In other words, I’d proactively take responsibility for managing my energy levels during the day, not just reactively do so afterwards.

It’s a concept I’ve talked about in the context of my business before – but not so much in the rest of my life.

 

What do you think? How do you manage your energy levels when you’re on holiday?

Because my blog is so focused on doing business as an introvert, I don’t often feel called to write about energy management in non-business life. But of course, it’s every bit as important. After all, if you’re not managing your energy well in your personal life, you probably won’t have much of it available in your business life either.

Which makes me curious. How do you manage your energy in your non-business life? Do you try to actively schedule things to give yourself the recharging downtime you need when you’re on holiday?

Let me know in the comments below!

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What are the rules again? A quick overview of the Conscious Introvert Awesomeness guidelines

What are the rules again?  A quick overview of the Conscious Introvert Awesomeness guidelines

CIA guidelines

I’ve talked about my free community for introverted business owners before…

I first wrote about Conscious Introvert Awesomeness – or the CIA as I like to call it – just after I launched it back in June last year.  Then I wrote about it again last November when I was waxing lyrical about why I love having “competitors” in my community.

I also mentioned in that last post that I expected “competitors” to stick to the same guidelines as everyone else.  But I realised that I haven’t talked about what, exactly, those guidelines are. And I’m not sure you can see them until you become a member of the community.  (Even if you can, let’s acknowledge that squishing everything into the narrow right-hand panel of the Facebook page in unformattable text doesn’t exactly make it easy to read!)

So that’s what this post is designed to do.  If you’ve been wondering about joining up yourself, reading the guidelines will hopefully give you a good sense of whether the group’s a fit for you or not.  And even if you haven’t, if you’ve thought about launching your own Facebook group, you might find it useful to check out my guidelines.

 

Why write up your guidelines?

Facebook communities are very much like offline groups – the culture and unspoken expectations in every single one are different. What’s totally fine in one group is the height of bad etiquette in another.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing (no one right way, remember?) But people aren’t mind-readers. That means that if you’re not clear upfront about what is and isn’t OK in YOUR group, people have no idea what you expect from them.

It’s particularly important to let members know:

  • What topics they should post about (and what they shouldn’t)
  • Whether and how they’re allowed to link to their own stuff (particularly important in groups with business owners)
  • How you expect them to treat each other.

And having everything clearly written down also makes it easier to “lay down the law” fairly when someone’s clearly being spammy or causing other problems.

 

General Posting Guidelines

These cover what people should and shouldn’t post about, how they should interact with each other, and what happens if they don’t.  The specific guidelines here are:

  • You’re welcome to ask questions or post about, or share resources that directly relate to introversion and introverted business ownership at any time.
  • Feel free to disagree with someone, but please do it respectfully (when in doubt, follow Wheaton’s Law)
  • That said, this is a swearing-friendly zone. Four-letter words are welcome, as long as they’re not aimed AT anyone!
  • I have a 3-strikes rule. The first time one of your posts breaches these guidelines, I’ll assume it was unintentional, tell you, and then delete your post. The second time, I’ll simply delete.  The third time, I’ll assume you’re doing it deliberately, and ban you from the group.

 

Promotional Guidelines

Because I’ve seen more than a few groups come undone by being unclear about what’s allowed, and what is or isn’t “promotion”, I wanted to be super-clear on this.  I want to help group members grow their business by spreading the word about what they do, but I really don’t want it to turn into a spamfest.  So my guidelines here are:

  • You’re welcome to ask for help with something in your business at any time by – for example – asking for feedback on your sales page or website or even just an idea you’ve had.
  • If someone in the group asks a question that you can answer by linking to something on your site, please feel free to do so.
  • Additionally, once a week (see below), you can also ask the group for help with promoting something you offer. In return, if another group member asks for help promoting something that might be a good fit for your tribe, please tweet or a post something on Facebook about it.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: You don’t need to promote every offering from every group member, but please share at least 3 other people’s offerings for every one you post yourself.

 

Weekly Structure

To encourage engagement and help provide accountability and support, I wanted to have a weekly structure with regular business-related threads for different days.  I didn’t want the threads to be daily – that’s too much commitment for my workload (and would probably overwhelm most group members).  Three days a week sounded just right, so here’s how I explain the weekly thread topics to members:

  • [Intention Monday] – what are your intentions for the coming week? How will you balance your needs as an introvert with what you want to get done?
  • [Mutual Support Wednesday] – what do you most need support with this week? This is the one thread each week where you’re allowed to promote what you offer, and ask for help getting the word out about it. You can also ask for non-promotional help if that’s what you need.
  • [Celebration Friday] – what did you get done this week? What cool things happened?  What can you give thanks for, or feel proud of?
  • Please comment underneath the thread I start to keep the replies for a given topic all together (i.e. don’t start your own thread for these topics :-) )

 

What if members want to introduce their friends to the group?

We’ve all felt it: that irritation (or in some cases, sheer stabbity rage!) that floods us when someone adds us to a group we have NO desire to be part of.  Especially for introverts, it can feel uncomfortable, intrusive, and generally like we’ve been spammed.

Unfortunately, Facebook makes this way too easy; and the only way to avoid it to ensure you tick the setting that says “Admin must approve new members”. But that still means you need to follow up every person who’s been added yourself to check that they really want to be member.

I do still want people to be able to recommend the group to their friends, though. So to save myself extra work (and ensure people don’t wonder why friends they’ve added haven’t been accepted), I’ve included the following section.

Know someone who’d love this group?

By all means, please give them the link and invite them to join up.

However, please DON’T add anyone to the group without asking them first. People who are involuntarily added to a group often get upset about receiving unwanted messages from the group. They may report the group for spamming them; or complain about the group admin in other communities.

I’d hate that to happen here, so please just pass on the link :-)

 

What do you think?  Is there anything I’ve missed out from the guidelines that you’d want to know?

I’m always curious about other people’s thoughts on what I do (although, yes, I’m still navigating that balance between following feedback and inner knowing)

So if you’re happy to share, I’d love your thoughts.  How do these guidelines strike you?  Is there anywhere they feel too vague or subjective to be useful? Or maybe the opposite – anywhere they’re so rigid that they put you off joining?  And is there anything you’d expect to see in a set of guidelines that I’ve left unaddressed?

Let me know in the comments below!

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How relevant is the “It’s either ‘Hell, YES!’ or ‘No!” test for introverts?

How relevant is the “It’s either ‘Hell, YES!’ or ‘No!” test for introverts?

Hell Yes test

Ever heard of the “It’s either ‘Hell, YES!’ or ‘No!’” test?

I think it was the awesome Danielle LaPorte who first taught me the “It’s either ‘Hell, YES!’ or ‘No!’” test. If you haven’t heard of this wee decision-making tool, it’s a quick, one-question process to follow whenever you’re not sure of what to do. And really, it pretty much does what it says on the label.

Basically, if you’re faced with a decision about whether to do some new thing, you check in with yourself about the level of excitement you feel. If you don’t feel an immediate, full-body “Hell, YES!” reaction, then – whatever it is – you don’t do it. It really is that simple… which is part of why it appeals to me so much.

 

I’ve always loved the idea of the test… but I’ve never been able to use it

Can I make a confession? I’ve always longed to be the kind of person who can make a decision this way. The kind of person who – firstly – is so in tune with themselves that they immediately know whether something is a “Hell, YES!” or not. And secondly, the kind of person who feels confident trusting that anything that feels like a “Hell, YES!” today is still going to feel the same way tomorrow.

But, see… I’ve never been someone with either of those characteristics. I generally have to let myself sit with a decision for a while – maybe journal, meditate, or talk to someone I trust about it – before I really know how I feel about it. And repeated experience has taught me that my feelings about any given thing change with the weather (and my blood sugar levels, and how well I’ve slept, and… and… and…)

Which means that even if I DO very occasionally experience that full-body “Hell, YES!” that Ms LaPorte talks about, I can’t trust that it’ll still be there next time I check in.

 

My natural inclination has always been to ask the opposite question

When I look back on the decisions I’ve made easily, I realise I’ve asked the exact inverse of this question. Instead of checking whether something’s a “Hell, YES!”, I’ve checked to see if it’s a “Hell, NO!”

In effect, I’ve looked for alarm bells, warning signs, a sinking in my gut, or anything else that tells me clearly, “Nuh uh: this ain’t the path for you!” If I’ve found them, I’ve tried to listen to them (and the times I haven’t, I’ve invariably regretted it)

If I haven’t got that message, though? I’ve taken it as a “Yeah, what the hell, why not try it?” I’ve been open to the possibility that it might lead somewhere awesome. And I’ve had what I guess you’d call ‘mixed results’ from the process. Occasionally, awesome things have happened. Sometimes really, really not. Most often, though, very little has happened at all.

 

Earlier this year, I wondered if I should be waiting for more “Hell, YES!”s

Remember that February “hotline” epiphany I had? Well, one of the realisations that came with it was that I hadn’t felt a clear “Hell, YES!” around anything in my business in a LONG time. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I did… but it might be back as far early 2013, when I decided to release “The Introvert’s Guide to Promoting Yourself Online”.

Which is, let’s face it, a freaking long time ago.

So I figured I’d take some time, get still, and see what my intuition had to tell me; assuming that if I did, I’d get a full-body “YES!” about something.

And y’know, so far, the response has been… crickets. Nada.

Which makes me wonder…

 

What if I’m just not wired for that kind of response?

Earlier this week, I came face-to-face with an uncomfortable question: what if my wiring just isn’t set for full-body “YES!”s?   At least around business, anyway – fandom, apparently, is a totally different matter!

What if I just keep thinking up possible directions my business could take, getting something other than a “Hell, NO!” response, and ignoring it because it’s not the big, dramatic “Hell, YES!” I’m telling myself I should be getting. (Alert! Alert! There’s that “should” word!)

What if I effectively sit around waiting for a “Hell, YES!” reaction that’s just never going to come?

 

And now I’m curious: could it be related to introversion?

Let’s face it – we introverts tend to be more considered in our responses to pretty much everything. It’s not that we don’t get passionate – of course we do. But we tend to go “narrow and deep”: so we don’t get passionate about lot of things. And what’s a “Hell, YES!” response if it’s not an expression of passion?

And what if even our most passionate “Hell, YES!”s are – comparatively speaking – a little more laid-back and quieter than our extroverted friends.  It has to at least be possible, doesn’t it?

 

Which is why I’d love to hear your thoughts

I feel like I’m on seriously shaky ground here, so I find myself wanting to ask about other introverts’ experiences. Firstly, do you use the “Either ‘Hell, YES!’ or ‘No!’” test in your business? If not, does it make sense to you as a practical decision-making tool?

And, if you’re being brutally honest with yourself, does everything you’re doing in your business now give you a “Hell, YES!”?

Is the question of “Hell, YES!” or “No!” itself an essential one for you… or a totally unrealistic one?

Please let me know in the comments below!

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Creating the Conscious Introvert Success manifesto: #2 – How it all fits together

Creating the Conscious Introvert Success manifesto: #2 – How it all fits together

Manifesto -2

 

Want to know more about the what led to each core manifesto principle, and how they all fit together?

Earlier in the week, I talked about the four core principles that I’d hoped, ideally, would grow up to become a fully fledged manifesto for my business.  In this post, I wanted to spend some time going through each principle and exploring why it’s relevant, and how it relates to all the others.

What I didn’t realise is that all that exploration would lead me right back to where I started I’m trying not to see that as a bad thing, by the way – and I have a sense that sharing the process I took to get there might be valuable.

Here’s what I mean for each principle.

 

1. There’s no one right way for ANYTHING, and no-one knows what’s right for you better than you do

This was the realisation that started everything off a couple of weeks back. It’s not new, but its place at front and centre of my entire understanding of why I’m in this business is. EVERYTHING in the other three principles rests on this “no one-right-way” foundation.

It incorporates my convictions that:

  • Not only is “the extrovert ideal” not right for most introverts, but there’s no one right “introvert ideal” that replaces it either.
  • That’s because introversion is NOT the be-all-and-end-all of our personalities. It’s one thread in a wildly complex tapestry – which means that, in practice, every introvert is unique.
  • The corollary to this is that being introverted is not an absolute, one-or-zero characteristic. It’s not about what you can and can’t do, or what situations you’ll inevitably like or hate. Instead, it’s about tendencies, likelihoods and preferences.
  • You’re the world’s foremost expert in being you. Other people can show you options you might not have known about before. But only you can know whether  they’re right for you to try out – and then, once you’ve tried them, whether they’re right for you to keep.
  • The best way to figure out whether something is right for you is to run it by the part of you I call your “inner knowing”. Other people might call this your intuition, your higher self, or your inner wisdom. It doesn’t matter what you call it – it only matters that you connect with it. It’s not going to lead you wrong.

 

2. Introversion (as I use the term) is about energy and natural focus

Let’s start exploring this principle by acknowledging that science still doesn’t really know what this “energy stuff” we talk about as introverts is. Yes, sure, we all know what it’s like to end up running on empty, depleted by too much interaction… but research hasn’t identified what exactly it is that’s being depleted.

We know that there are biochemical and neurological differences between the brains of introverts and extroverts.  But we have no idea how those differences relate to our experiences of getting “peopled out” after too much interaction. That uncertainty means there are a lot of models and definitions of what introversion is out there.

This definition is just the one I’ve settled on, based on what I’ve read by other introverts, plus my own lived experience. It includes the concepts that:

  • Introversion is predominantly about how your energy levels usually respond to interacting with other people. If you tend to find interactions tiring, then recharge when you’re alone, I’d class you as “introverted”.
  • However, introverts often share non-energy characteristics too. A key one is that introverts tend to prefer an inward, narrow-and-deep focus, while extroverts tend to prefer an outward, shallow-and-wide one.
  • Oh, and that natural inward focus we often have? That means we introverts tend to have an advantage when it comes to connecting with the inner wisdom I mentioned in #1
  • Also, introverts tend to prefer a slower pace for most things, with clean breaks acting as a buffer between appointments / tasks / incoming information, etc. We don’t tend to do so well going straight from one thing to another to another… and multi-tasking is very rarely our forte!
  • Introversion is NOT the same thing as shyness or being highly sensitive. Either or both characteristics can occur in introverts, but there are plenty of loud and/or confident introverts.  Both characteristics can also occur in extroverts, incidentally.

 

3. Energy is a resource that can be managed like any other

Despite not knowing exactly what exactly it is, this energy stuff still seems to be manageable just like any other resource (e.g. time or money).  It’s also a resource that you need to stay healthy and sane – just like water, food, air or sleep. This principle incorporates ideas like:

  • Energy flow isn’t just one way for introverts – energy can be spent, saved, budgeted, and replenished. Think of it as renewable (unlike time: once it’s used, it’s not gone forever).
  • As with any other resource, the aim is not to avoid ever spending or using your energy, but to make sure you spend it on the things that matter most to you. (NB: YOU get to decide what those things are).
  • There will always be multiple ways to achieve any goal: some will probably require less energy than others. However, sometimes even the least energy-intensive method will still not be worth the energy cost to you (NB: again, YOU decide what’s worth it and what isn’t – nobody else gets to make that call).
  • Managing your energy is pretty much the key to making the things you care about happen without wrecking yourself.

 

4. I help introverted entrepreneurs to find their own ways to make their priorities happen without exhausting themselves to do so

This is where the three previous principles all come together to form the whole reason I started Conscious Introvert in the first place.  This principle incorporates the idea that there’s no one right way (and that you know what’s best for you better than anyone else). It also incorporates the idea that energy response is a key part of introversion, and that energy can be actively managed.

And then all of that comes together into a way of working that states:

  • What I do, at its core, is to help introverts figure out what’s most important to them, and then make it happen. All without wrecking themselves to get there.
  • I can’t tell anyone else what is (or should be) most important to them, nor can I tell them the “right” way to get it once they know what they want.
  • I can, however, help them figure out what they want and how to get it by introducing them to options they haven’t considered before.
  • I can also help them connect with their own inner knowing to identify which of those options are worth trying out, and which are just wrong for them.

 

And y’know, that kind of brings me full circle

I’m hoping that having all the background I’ve written in this post is useful: all the information on what’s behind each principle, and how they all fit together.

But really, the core of the manifesto?  It’s just those four principles I came up with right back at the beginning of the process.  Maybe there’s more to develop on it still, but – for now at least – I’m happy to leave it there… with the jigsaw puzzle from the top graphic.

Manifesto graphic

What do you think: useful, or not?  Let me know in the comments!

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Creating the Conscious Introvert Success manifesto: #1 – Core principles

Creating the Conscious Introvert Success manifesto: #1 – Core principles

Manifesto -1

It’s been a while now since my “inner wisdom” epiphany

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about the “introversion as a hotline to your inner wisdom” epiphany I’d had. And a few folks said they’d be interested to watch and see what came out of it.

So far, in true introvert style, a lot of what’s happened has been internal processing. Stuff happening below the surface. If I’ve discovered nothing else about myself, I’ve come to realise that things don’t tend to happen quickly for me. (Of course, when they finally do happen, I end up having overnight successes that were two years in the making!)

I’ve been trying to work regular 5-minute breathing breaks into my work where I do NOTHING but breathe. It’s like mindfulness meditation, but not as structured. And slowly, I feel as though I’m giving myself space for my own thoughts to emerge.

 

I decided my first step was to start figuring out my manifesto

Today, I decided it was time to go back to basics, and connect with my inner wisdom about what, exactly, I wanted Conscious Introvert Success to be about. What were my core principles, right down at their roots? What, as coach Anastasia Netri asked me, is “The Gospel According to Tanja?”

In other words, what’s my manifesto for this work I’m doing?

It seemed an important thing to figure out. After all: in theory, I need to build everything that I do from here on top of that foundation. All of my marketing materials, my interview topics, my webinars and even my full-length courses (once I – y’know – start creating and/or updating them again)

So it’s probably an important thing to start with.

 

Here’s how I went about the first steps to creating mine

After some mindful breathing, I settled down late last week to do some pen-and-paper journaling. The pen and paper probably aren’t essential: different processes work for different people. I just know that personally, I can go far deeper into personal waters when I’m writing longhand.  And if I’m going to connect with my inner knowing, I need to go deep.

I tried to cast my mind back over all the things I’ve learned – about introversion, about business, and about myself – since I started Conscious Introvert Success. And then I tried to figure out what tied it all together. What underlay it all. And most of all, I tried to allow myself the space to let whatever wanted to come up come up.

The result was – not a full manifesto yet – but a set of four key principles. Possibly, once they grow up, they might become a manifesto. For the moment though, they’re really not that different to the individual puzzle pieces here and there that I was working with before my epiphany. But bringing them together in one place? That feels new.

Here are the four key concepts I came up with:

Manifesto principles

 

Those principles aren’t finished (and neither is this post!)

One of my core beliefs is that nothing’s ever final. That’s actually pretty freeing: I don’t need to wait until something’s perfect to start talking about it. After all, it’s just a work in progress, right? If nothing else, it’ll change and evolve as I do.

So I’m expecting what I’ve written above to change a fair bit over the coming years – possibly even the coming months (weeks?)

And meanwhile, I know I have more to write on this post. I want to explain the thinking behind each of the manifesto principles – what each on includes and how it links in with the others. In fact, I started writing that all up in this post… and then realised I was getting close to 1,300 words, and that maybe it’d be better to split it out into two posts.

(ETA: by the time I’d finished both posts, I was closer to 2,000 words. The splitting was apparently a good idea!)

 

For now, I’m curious about other people’s approaches to the concept of a manifesto

I’ll share the second half of this post on the blog this weekend. In the meantime, though, I’m curious. Have you ever created a manifesto for your business? Or thought about what might go into one if you did?

If so, why not share a link to it (or just a few notes) in the comment field. If not, is it something that might be useful for you? Even if you don’t go the whole hog and write a full manifesto, might identifying your core principles the way I have here be useful? Why or why not.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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The 3 Ps of Perfect Branding: How to Build a Memorable Brand Without Being Loud or Obnoxious

The 3 Ps of Perfect Branding: How to Build a Memorable Brand Without Being Loud or Obnoxious

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I first met Julia Melymbrose from Chocolate and Caviar when we each contributed a training video to the Introvert Marketing Masterclass earlier this year.  Since we’re both introverts and both have a copywriting background, we figured we might have a few things to talk about, and decided to connect.

I really liked her practical, introvert-friendly approach to branding, so I’m delighted she agreed to write a post here for y’all. Hope you find it as useful as I did!

 

You don’t have to be loud to be memorable

We all know loud, obnoxious people. The ones that hawk all the attention at parties and social gatherings. The ones who shout at the top of their lungs, just to be heard. And the ones who’ll do any silly thing to get people talking about them, even if just for five minutes.

But is that really the right way to make an impression? Are those the people we remember as the problem-solvers, or the trustworthy sources, or even the fun-easy-going types that we’d like to turn to for a heart-to-heart? Hardly!

There’s a huge difference between needing attention from everybody and getting the right kind of attention from the right kind of people with whom you can become friends. And the same goes for your business. Your business doesn’t need the attention of everybody in order to succeed, but it does need the attention of the right customers that will become your loyal fans.

And to attract those right customers you need to take care of your branding. Because your brand is the heart and personality of your business.

There are 3 main principles to creating the perfect brand. And the trick to getting your brand right is approaching these principles not from your own perspective as a business owner, but from the perspective of your customer.

 

1. Proposition:  “What do I get if I come to you?”

This is your customers’ first question. And it may run deeper than you think, because this questions doesn’t ask “what do you do?” but rather “what do you offer?” Huge difference.

Let’s look at a couple of famous brand examples to illustrate the point. When people buy from Apple, they don’t simply get “computers,” but rather the “means to change the world.” And when people buy from Ikea, they don’t get “furniture that need assembly,” but “accessibility to high design” and a “confirmation of their sense of style.”

How you frame the proposition of what you offer determines the kind of clients you get. And branding is all about finding your unique angle in the market.

If you’re a business coach, for example, what you’re offering is not merely “business advice.” That’s not a proposition, but just the “what.”

  • Maybe what you’re offering is peace of mind to stressed-out entrepreneurial moms.
  • Maybe you’re offering new business owners unfailing motivation that gets them to dare big and reach the next level.
  • Maybe you’re offering precise systems for setting up and running a business.

All of those are different angles. But not “business advice.”

Get into your customers’ shoes and answer the question: “What do I get if I come to you?” Understand what your customers really get from you and write down your unique proposition. What separates you from the competition?

 

2. Personality: “What does it feel like to work with or buy from your brand?”

This may sound like a less practical question, but it’s just as crucial as your proposition. Emotion plays a much bigger role to our decision-making process than logic often does. And how you make your customers feel is über-important for attracting the right people to your brand.

Apple, for example, has a rebellious personality that refuses to conform, and calls upon the artistically inclined as its ideal audience. A brand like Microsoft, by contrast, has a more serious personality, with an emphasis on utility, rather than creativity, that speaks to the more traditional businessperson.

Five-star hotels have personalities that ooze with luxuriousness, exclusivity, and benefits. AirBnB, however, sits at the other end of the vacation-rental spectrum, boasting a personality that’s driven by the spirit of exploration and adventure.

The personality of your business doesn’t have to be loud, or irreverent to get attention. It has to be truthful and consistent. Think about brands that you like, and about the personality they project, and jot down the characteristics you would like to build into your own brand.

Remember that the personality of your brand is not defined by your industry, so don’t look to your colleagues to see what they’re doing. The personality of your brand defines your place within your industry. What does it feel like to work with you?

 

3. Purpose: “Why do you exist?”

Once your potential customer gets interested in what you offer, and likes how you make her feel, she’ll want to know your reasons for doing what you do. People connect with brands (and with other people) based on beliefs, not interests.

There should be a deeper reason why you’re in business than simply making money. A reason that makes the heart of business beat every day.

Richard Branson, for example, built Virgin to turn business into a force for good, rather than just for profit. Pencils of Promise has been hugely successful, because the charity has always operated on a very specific purpose that people can really relate to (beyond the general “collecting money for those in need” of all charities): helping children in underdeveloped countries get access to education.

The purpose of your business may be (and should be!) to make money. But the purpose of your brand needs to go far deeper than that in order to be successful. A good brand exists for a specific purpose that allows its ideal clients can identify with it on a deeper level.

What would you answer if your ideal clients asked you “Why do you exist?” Why are you in business, anyway?

 

Wrapping It Up

Creating a strong brand is crucial for businesses of all sizes. The three elements of Proposition, Personality, and Purpose make up the inner force of your business, the brand, that drives its outer course. When you clarify these three principles early on, you’re sure to build a winning brand.

 

Your Turn Now!

What is the perfect brand for your business? Answer the three questions from the perspective of your ideal client in the comments below, and tell us about the driving power of your brand.

  1. What do I get if I come to you?
  2. How will it make me feel?
  3. Why do you exist?

 

Bio:

Julia MelymbroseJulia Melymbrose is the co-founder and copywriter of the branding and website boutique Chocolate and Caviar that specializes in creative, one-of-a-kind websites for online entrepreneurs.

If you want to translate the perfect branding of your business into a successful website, and go from initial concept to irresistible “buy” button, you can download Julia’s free guide to learn the 7 Steps to Website Heaven today.

 

 

 

 

Photo by: Sarah

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