I’ve always run my business from my diary. If a meeting or call with a prospect goes into my diary, it happens. Simple.
It’s the same with my important ‘get done’ tasks. If they go into the diary, I treat them as I would a meeting or call with a prospect. I show up and they get done.
And it’s why whenever I plan out a marketing campaign, either for myself or one of my clients, I look for the opportunity of where the live events are. Not stuff like ‘launch date’ or ‘decide on the price’. I mean a live event where you have to show up in person.
For many marketing campaigns, there’s often an event; a workshop, masterclass, webinar or Facebook Live. You can discuss the pros and cons of running these events at different times and days of the week. But until the date is fixed, it difficult to get any real implementation energy behind the campaign.
The real traction starts from the moment when you get a date in your diary … and then start telling people.
Even if your next new product is an online one and you are not intending to be there ‘in person’ with your customers, always create the opportunity to run one, either in the building awareness stage of your marketing or in the selling and conversion part.
Yes, there are plenty of good marketing reasons to do this, including creating higher levels of engagements, but the truth is until a date for a live event where you have to show up is put in your diary, it’s really easy for a project like this to stay in the ‘I’d love to do’ stage.
Let me give you an example.
Yesterday I ran the first round of Pod calls for our new 90 Day Planning Cycle in Momentum. Two of the members were both in the same situation of discussing a new product they are launching in the next 90 Days.
One was a 12 week mastermind programme. The other was opening up a new membership community. There were a lot of details still to be worked out; the product names, onboarding logistics, price, payment plans, etc, etc. Both of them could spend the next 4 weeks working through all this … but we all knew that stuff was going to get in the way if there wasn’t a real ‘I’m showing up’ date in the diary to work towards.
Both of them had young children at home. Yup, not only are they both running a busy business but also home schooling two children each. The reality was that there was always going to be more pressing things that could potentially distract them, making it easy for them both to push milestones back.
Start from where you are and don’t try to work out all the details BEFORE you begin taking real action.
And, in both of these cases, the ignition needed to kick start both these projects was getting dates in the diary of when to run the live support sessions. Not think about doing a survey and asking their list when would be a good time to. But making a decision for what’s right for them, based on their current commitments.
If you are short on time, there are always things to distract you that feel far more urgent and important at the time than your new marketing campaign for your new programme, membership community or product.
If there’s no commitment from anyone else to show up on that day, then there’s a very good chance you’ll let yourself off the hook. And this is one of the BIG reasons why so many new product projects just don’t happen in so many businesses.
They stay in the ‘I’d love to do’ stage.
Once the dates are in the diary, making decisions about product names, pricing, processes … well, they are going to happen. The energy will HAVE to flow towards this project of yours. You’ll have to no choice but to be committed to the dates you’ve put in your diary to show at an event.
So I’d love to know what date you are going to put in your diary.
If you’ve got a marketing campaign or new product idea that’s been stalling over the past weeks, what event can you decide to run to ignite you into action?
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
Last year I decided to align my business so it can become a real force for good and, in particular, in how I can contribute towards the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
(You can read about these SDGs here if you want to know more https://www.globalgoals.org/)
One way I have decided to do this is to use the Accountability Reports that each of our Momentum members posts each week to donate to specific causes I want to support. I use an organisation called www.B1G1.com which allows me to give to charities easily through a process of “whenever we do this, we make something great happen in our world'”.
As of next week, I have decided to up the value of each accountability report from $1 to $2, which means for every Accountability Report they post over the next 90 days, they have the potential of helping me donate $408 by the end of August.
There’s nothing like using an additional emotional reason to help keep our members motivated to post weekly Accountability Reports. Plus it helps keep me committed to my giving goals throughout the year!
I have just decided on three projects that I would like to support and I’ve just asked my Momentum members to vote on the one we will be supporting for this next 90-day cycle.
And, I’ll admit … it was bloody hard to pinpoint three projects that I wanted to support this time around.
With so much attention going on raising funds for our NHS right now, I got confused about where I should be focusing my impact right now. With so many charities needing our support at this current time, how do any of us decide who we support?!?
Should I be moving away from my SDG goals and B1G1 commitment, and switch?
We can’t support every charity. As much as we all like to give when we can, we just don’t have the funds to give to everyone, do we?
And yet if we stay undecided, we end up supporting no one.
Wrestling with this dilemma this morning has made me realise why it’s important for us all to spend time to keep connected with the vision we have for the future. Our vision is our guiding light; our North Star if you like.
And this morning I reminded myself of my vision.
“Imagine a world where our global political and economic drivers are deeply connected to our spirituality and humanity; a world where money, creativity and impact are aligned to give us a planet where every person, animal and ecosystem thrives.”
Reading this again helped me see why I needed to continue to support the two SDGs that I believe will support my vision for the future:
Gender Equality – the empowerment of women around the world to not only be safe but to have choices in how they live, work, contribute and lead.
Responsible Consumption and Production – supporting businesses that choose to do good, be good and treat our planet with the respect that it deserves.
Once I reconnected with my vision again, the choice of what projects to present became easy. I was able to select based on my top-down criteria.
These are the three projects I presented to my members today. Although your vote can’t be counted (Momentum members only, I’m afraid!), I’d love to know which project you’d vote for if you had to.
And if you find the choice hard, I get it. Choosing who we support can be tough and I hope by sharing this story with you today it helps you make your decisions on who to give to and how to do it.
The important thing I believe is that we DO make a decision.
Because, if we stay undecided, we end up supporting no one.
Project 1: Train a Farmer in Sustainable Farming
Logging the rainforest is a dangerous job that takes you away from your family and compromises the water you depend on for life. Loggers in Indonesia know this but have no alternative livelihood. By teaching farmers sustainable farming techniques like crop rotation, using organic fertilizers and pesticides, these farmers no longer have to practice slash and burn agriculture, but can farm the same land year after year. Train one farmer in sustainable farming techniques and you will protect the rainforest and improve community well-being.
Project 2: Fund a Social Entrepreneur
Fund a social entrepreneur and help to make a change through financial support, which is inclusive of the start-up costs needed to set up a pilot initiative or business. Seed funding, especially the costs of setting up a pilot are critical in the early days of a start-up social entrepreneur. These entrepreneurs are primarily solving social problems around livelihood, education, health & wellbeing, environment, agriculture and waste management, leading to long-term solutions for problems occurring daily in India.
Project 3: Empower Women with Literacy and Business Skill
Five Talents is a microfinance organization that uplifts the world’s poorest families. Your support helps women build their own businesses through education, business training and access to financial services, which supports their families and entire communities – paving the way for a sustainable future. Poverty levels in Uganda are high, access to electricity and education are limited and the country relies heavily on agriculture. This project works with the community to address their specific needs and find ways to diversify their incomes.
Until next time,
How do you feel about planning for the future right now?
As we work our way through this period of ‘you can go to work if you can go to work, but if you can’t then don’t’, it may feel it’s nigh impossible to plan for the future.
There are so many what-ifs, it can be hard to think about what decisions to make.
What if the schools go back in June? What if they don’t open until September?
What if we can’t run any in-person events until 2021? What if it turns out that we can run one earlier?
What if I can’t get a haircut until July? What if I pretend my webcam is broken until then?
The truth is that, when it comes to business planning, there is very little in our control, even in times before lockdown. We’ve been forced to withdraw to our homes and change the way we live and work. And now we are slowly working out how we emerge from this.
We may not know exactly how life and business are going to operate going forward, but did we really have that much control over what happened before all this happened?
There’s a great quote from Eisenhower that I use in my training sessions.
“I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be indispensable.”
Because you have so little control over what really goes on inside and outside of your business, the plan you create has to evolve as you implement. And sometimes has to change completely to take into account of external factors such as bad health, a piece of tech that breaks or losing a key member of your team, through to the extremes of pandemics and forced lockdowns. All of which happens out of our control.
We may think we are in control.
But we aren’t really.
Life fluidly moves in and around us, sometimes slow, sometimes fast. It’s rare that anything stays the same for any length of time.
So does this mean we simply leave our business to chance and never plan?
I don’t agree with Eisenhower that plans are useless, but I do agree that it is the planning that is indispensable because it forces you to do the thinking needed to grow your business.
Planning forces you to make decisions.
Just think how much mental energy you use when you are feeling indecisive, even about little things such as what to wear and what to have for lunch each day. It can be exhausting!
Planning forces you to be considered; to step up and dig deep into what you stand for and what it is you truly want to accomplish.
Planning forces you to be connected with your current customers, your marketplace and your numbers, which in turn keeps your emotions grounded, particularly in times of uncertainty.
So although many of you may love to create, to be open to opportunities and don’t like being hemmed into targets or strict project management deadlines, don’t let the current uncertainty of our rules and boundaries for how we ‘go back to work’ let you drift from month to month.
Planning can happen, and needs to happen, no matter how much uncertainty we have in our lives.
And I share this with you today because it’s the day our Momentum members will be showing up and doing their 90 Day Plans.
I’m connecting into the energy that I want to deliver for our morning session that will have them coming away with clarity on how to deliver their sales targets and how exactly they are going to implement the projects that will ensure their long term growth.
That’s what I’m feeling into as I prepare for today’s session and it’s what I believe is important for all of us as we emerge from lockdown together with a plan for a future.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
As I write this, it’s the end of the fourth week of lockdown here in the UK. And the question over whether the bird song is louder than previous years is one that I’ve been pondering on for the past few days.
I took a break from my hour exercise today and sat on the grass in a little valley, nestled in the Devil’s Punchbowl. I feel incredibly fortunate to be living just five minutes walk from acres of National Trust land, here on the Surrey/Hampshire borders.
As I closed my eyes, the birds around me were singing.
Are they louder than previous Springtimes?
There’s no doubt that for those of you who live in the cities, that the birds sound louder than ever before. But for me, sitting on that grass, I rarely hear traffic, even on the busiest of days.
I refrain from googling this question now I am back home because my educated guess is that, no, the birds aren’t singing any louder than before. Yes, we have seen some dramatic changes to pollution levels across the globe; from Venice to the banks of the River Ganges. But I doubt that our birds are pumping up the volume because we are all in lockdown.
The reason is more likely to be because I am quieter than usual.
Without the hustle and bustle of trips up to London for meetings, the regular family taxi pick-up from the train station and meet-ups with friends, I find myself, along with the whole nation, with absolutely nowhere to go, except my daily exercise hour and essential grocery shopping.
I find I have the time to sit on my bench in my front driveway to have my morning coffee. I have the time to take my hour exercise every day, walking across acres of heathland and woodland. I find I have more time to spend with myself, despite the fact that there are four other adults in the house with me.
My awareness of outside noise such as the Springtime bird song is simply turned up because I have been more still in one place than for a long time.
Now, what has this to do with business?
Plenty, I promise you.
Because it’s this stillness that allows you to experience your own business. When the emails are closed down, you stop scrolling your newsfeeds and the Zoom calls are finished, this is your opportunity to sit in the stillness.
I get it.
Stillness can feel incredibly difficult for a lot of people; especially for those Dominant Do-ers among us. It wasn’t something that came to me easily, either. As a self-confessed strong, independent woman who has spent the first 40-odd years of life being a person who strives in getting stuff done, I have had to learn how to be still.
I have taken courses, hired coaches and invested a lot of money in helping me settle so I can hear the stillness. Some may say it has been the menopausal awakening that many women experience during the start of their fifth decade. Others may call it a mid-life crisis!
But stillness has become the place I come back to any time I need to make a decision.
Stillness has become the grounding I need before switching tasks or taking on a new project.
Stillness allows me to connect with my True Profit Compass; my version of how I want the energies of money, creativity and impact to show up in my business.
And stillness now is allowing me to hear the bird song.
I’d love to know what you are noticing now you have nowhere to go. What has been amplified around you now you have nowhere to go?
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
I’ve been running events, in-person and virtual, for sixteen years; ever since I first started up my coaching and training business. My first workshop was in a room above a local hair salon, usually used for training nail technicians.
Back in October 2004, they swept aside the bottles of nail varnish so I could run a very intimate life coaching workshop; one person who’d bought a £25 ticket from a poster I had up in the local village hall, my next-door neighbour and a friend who I pleaded ‘to make up the numbers’.
From there, I got braver and started running half-day marketing workshops, every half term at my local YMCA in Guildford. I ran those for about two years, getting fifteen people in the room who wanted to learn about email marketing, blogging and writing marketing copy. Teleseminars came on to the scene at about the same time, which gave me my first experience of running virtual training. Since then I’m not sure I can count the total number of webinars and virtual training sessions I’ve run over the years; the total probably runs up into the thousands!
But when it came to live streaming my training day, Play Your Bigger Game, I’d always had an excuse to NOT do it.
Play Your Bigger Game became a signature workshop that I’ve run for the past three years to teach small business owners the principles of True Profit Business; how to step up and grow, without burning out in the process. We also run these days to invite those interested in ongoing mentoring and accountability in their business growth journey to join our Momentum programme. With the support of my team, Melina Abbott, Senior Coach, and Alexia Padgham, Customer Support Manager, we have created a slick and efficient process to allow us to run these events effortlessly. I seriously have so much fun running these days and absolutely love the community of high energy people we attract and engage with during the day.
Why would I want to change what works?
Well, that’s exactly what we need to do sometimes to discover how far we can stretch to our fullest potential.
And if there is one huge benefit to our current crisis, it is that we are all being challenged to stretch and adapt to a new way of running our businesses.
As we approached our next Play Your Bigger Event during the threat of lockdown back in March, there was absolutely no way I was going to cancel. There’s a rule I’ve always lived by ever since that first workshop in a nail technician room; never cancel an event, no matter how few tickets you sell.
And ‘not cancelling’ didn’t mean that my event was going to be turned into ‘just another webinar’.
Yes, the content I was delivering could very easily be converted to slides and webinar presentation style. But we knew that it wasn’t just the content that people came for; they came for the engagement, energy and community.
They came to be inspired and to give themselves the space they needed to think bigger.
Once I had decided that we were going to put our full energy into making sure our virtual delivery still had the high energy and impact that many of our clients now expect of us, the challenge was on. I wanted to create my own TV studio at home and set up three different rooms for people to experience; a training room, the main room for group discussion and breakout rooms for smaller group networking and interaction. My photo below will show you the tangle of wires and camera set up that I used to create this on the day.
And what I wanted to share with you here today was some of the key lessons I have learnt from the experience to help you stretch your thinking about running live events, too.
1) Be inspired by what’s (im)possible
Call it divine timing, but a few weeks before my own event, One of Many, a women’s leadership training company, had to make the tough decision to move their own annual conference to a virtual experience. With more than 500 tickets sold, myself included, they shifted the whole two-day event online in just 36 hours. This happened a week before lockdown, so many had already travelled to London, some having flown in from different continents.
The One of Many team stepped up beyond belief and delivered an incredible two-day virtual experience. Inspired by what they were able to do on such short notice and such an enormous scale, I realised the potential of live streaming my own event.
2) Plan … but keep agile
The week before we knew we were going into lockdown, I booked a videographer and his team to come to the day. The intention was that we would still be in the room but open up the event to a live stream for anyone not able to travel or need to self-isolate.
A few days later, more and more events were being cancelled. The venue was still happy for us to be there, but because many people were now self-isolating, it looked like it could only be me, my team and the two video guys in the room.
A couple of days later, I made the call to do the event from home. Even though everyone on the team, and many of my ticket holders, was still prepared to travel at this stage, I didn’t want to take any risks.
A couple of days later still, we were in lockdown. The videographers were cancelled, and my team were still happy to run the day but from our home offices in Surrey, Shropshire and Kent. I got onto Amazon and started to order the tech needed to do this myself. One TV stand and photography stand and curtain later, I had got together my spare tripods, webcams and studio lighting; I had created my own TV studio at home.
Could I have planned it out like this? No. Every day our world was changing and new rules were being set. I held on to my vision of what I wanted to create but stayed agile to re-think all our possibilities with each turn of events.
3) Prepare to the nth degree
I knew many people who’d bought tickets to our originally advertised live event would be wondering how an all-day virtual training session will work, especially as many would be having a few more (big and small) people in the house with them on the day.
All-day virtual events aren’t new but I was guessing that for most people who were joining us, this was maybe their first time. It was certainly the first time for us to be delivering one!
So we got busy the week before, working through all the logistics to ensure everyone was prepared for this new and exciting way of learning and engaging. We covered the timings and agenda for the day, including opening up the Zoom room half an hour before we were due to get started to welcome people in, just as Alexia would have done at our usual registration desk at the venue.
We got comfort breaks scheduled so that everyone could move, stretch and refresh their drinks. And we ran a lunchtime networking to give everyone the choice to switch completely off or join a Breakout Session and have a virtual lunch with us.
In our delegate packs, we gave them full instructions on how to use zoom, including how the Breakout rooms were doing to work, and helped everyone communicate with their family members, suggesting they give them the timings of when you are coming out for breaks and explain to them the importance of giving you this space to engage fully. We even gave them a Do Not Disturb – I’m Playing My Bigger Game’ poster to put on their door.
4) Dress for success
We wanted everyone to be comfortable but to think about how they wanted to show up. This wasn’t a vanity exercise. Everyone may have started to enjoy wearing all-day-PJs but our day together was a day to stretch everyone’s business thinking and turn up for the day as the CEO of their business.
What you wear, including how you style your hair and make up your face, will mentally prepare you to play your bigger game. Not only did this make a huge difference to the energy of the day, everyone loved the opportunity to dress up when they hadn’t left the house for more than a food shop or their daily exercise.
5) Have the right team to support you
Technically I could have done this event by myself, but the reality was to ensure the high expectations that I had set, I needed my full team to support me.
Alexia’s eye for detail for pre and post event planning was integral to the success of the day and she amazed me how she quickly adapted our event ‘ops manual’ to cover everything needed to run this on Zoom. During the day, she managed the attendance, helped out with any technical queries and shared the relevant PDFs and links at the right times.
Melina stepped up and ran both the chat and the breakout sessions, which meant I could focus on the content and being the trainer for the day. Making the decision to put her in the driving seat of the Zoom session and making me co-host was definitely the right thing to do.
We had WhatsApp running so we could communicate outside of the Zoom room, as well as planned for emergencies such as power outages or Zoom booting any of us out.
It was only about half-way through the day that I really appreciated the fact that this virtual day was also being managed virtually, by three people across three corners of the UK. The team doesn’t have to be in the same room as you!
6) Go beyond your thinking, and hold that vision
‘An engaging and energy fueled day’ was my vision and I stuck to it. I didn’t want this event to be run as a typical webinar, where you simply watch the slides and send messages in the chatbox. This day started at 9am and ran through to 5pm so even though we were unable to bring everyone together in the same physical space that we normally do at our Play Your Bigger Game events, we put our full energy into making sure our virtual delivery still has the high energy and impact that many of our clients now expect of us.
During the day we invited everyone to join different breakout rooms and work with smaller groups on the various exercises we had planned. Plus we factored in quiet thinking time, as well as open Q&A sessions, to help mix up the day.
How did our event turn out?
To be honest, beyond my wildest expectations. We not only had everyone who bought a physical ticket – bar one – be able to attend the day, we also sold a further four tickets for the virtual event at the full £125+VAT price.
When everyone around me during our last week of promotion was offering free webinars and giving away content, I really did wonder whether it was the right thing to do. But I stuck to my belief that our event was worth it; it was the content and container that created the value, not the food and refreshments that the venue would have provided.
We’ve learnt a lot about how to make more time for our Breakout sessions and how to manage the chat better, but here are just some of the comments we got back from those attended:
“Really good. I think the use of the two ‘locations’ worked brilliantly. Of course, there is a lot to be said for meeting people in person but I think you did brilliantly. I started using online meeting technology in 2000 and I’ve rarely experienced a better session. Well done.”
“Surprisingly good, no post-lunch slump. I found my focus didn’t drop during the event and I probably talked to more people than perhaps I would have at a live event, not sure, I’ll have to attend a live event and then feedback on that!”
“I loved it. It meant I could take part without the worry and expense of travelling to the event. I get put off from attending events because of the logistics around my lifestyle, but this was a great way of doing it. Plus, no travelling for hours to get home afterwards either. Or getting up early to get to the venue on time.”
And we made sales.
I was nervous about this part of the day, for sure. Without being in the room with people, there is no opportunity to speak at length during the coffee break or in the bar afterwards. But this didn’t seem to make a difference.
It helps, for sure, having a programme that serves the right level of support that’s needed right now. Momentum is about supporting business owners to play the long game, to plan for the future and put in the systems, processes and team in place to help them grow. However, what we deliver isn’t a low cost membership so even with the four figure price tag, I was delighted that our event worked both as a training day, and a sales day.
We loved this format so much that I am planning another live stream event shortly (details coming out very soon) and it’s certainly made me rethink my event strategy going forward. Although there is no doubt that we will go back to meeting in person at some point, there is absolutely the risk that we will see a ripple effect of shorter lockdowns in the Autumn and next year.
Those businesses who have not cancelled their training events during this period, but postponed them to later this year, may find that if they don’t adapt to a new way of delivery, that they will have to cancel if we go into another lockdown again. And if they are unable to refund tickets because they’ve spent the ticket sales already, it’s going to cost them.
If you run live events and workshops, I’d love to know what you are planning to do. How are you adapting this new world of virtual delivery? And what have you been inspired to change and try out?
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.