Like most entrepreneurs, my path has not been a straight line in terms of getting where I am now. I think I always struggled, without knowing it, with trusting myself as a writer. For a long time I danced around it and, for me, that took the shape of being a bartender, a yoga teacher, an art teacher, a fundraiser, and going to graduate school – everything that had a little bit of writing in it, but never quite trusting myself to BE a writer.
My destiny had always been to be a writer. As a kid I wrote stories and poems and joined poetry clubs and so on, but as I grew older I lost that trust in myself as a writer. But, the thread through it all, not matter what I was doing, I was writing – when I was teaching yoga I was giving people stories to read; when I was bar-tending I would scribble on napkins – it was the thread that ran through everything and I just started to listen to it a bit more.
But it took being laid off from a job – I was a magazine editor, which was pretty close to being a writer, to really think “okay, could I run my own business and if I did what could I do? Well it has to be writing” – so that was my entry point into that. And then it was working with a coach that got me to see my skill in seeing people’s whole story – not to create boilerplate copy for them, but to really see what makes them unique, what their own story is, and then weave that into their marketing.
Back when I started out, in the late 80s, it was all about trying to appear like something you weren’t – even your shoulders were fake with the shoulder pads! Now its all about vulnerability, and the connection is important, and working with people we “know, like and trust” trumps everything. Its all about who you are, and what was your transformation and what you can help people see – so the story has almost become what drives what we offer in our businesses – it has become THAT important.
If you look at the people in the forefront of the coaching world, they are telling their story all the time and you know a lot about them. If you follow Ally Brown or David Nagel, for example, you know that Ally Brown used to have her cat on her mailing list because her list was so small, and David Nagel had the boating accident that was very transformative for him – we know so much about them and its very cool. Its a very cool time that we live in that we get to be ourselves. Its not necessarily easy to be ourselves – it can be scary – but it is exciting.
When I work with clients I call the process “Finding Your Golden Thread.” We have a long conversation, especially about what they liked when they were little because a lot of what makes us tick when we are little that really is part of what makes us into what we are going to be when we are older. Often the theme of what their story will be will come from that.
I worked with a woman who had always been very visible in her work but who hiding her true self, so that kind of became the theme and now it forms part of her signature speech – her keynote speech is about how we hide in plain sight.
Sometimes the process will even change what people are offering. I worked with one woman whose business was about providing luxury experiences, but it wasn’t going very well. When I asked her about how she judged who was going to be a good client she said “Oh, I just look at their purses – I can tell everything I need to know about them by the type of purse they are carrying.” So low and behold, now her business is called “The Purse Process”, and she finds out where a person’s business strengths and weaknesses are based on their purse – and she’s on TV, she’s on the radio. So sometimes it becomes clearer what you offer when you know who you really are.
Favorite Book: Working With The Law by Raymond Holliwell
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Favorite Resource: Alenandra Franze’s Blog – alexandrafranzen.com
Guest: Madeleine Eno – In the Write Place
Madeleine Eno, MA, is a writer, editor, teacher & coach who works with conscious entrepreneurs to deliver their most clear and compelling messages to their ideal clients. A former award-winning magazine editor in Boston, she’s had stints as an art instructor, yoga teacher, bartender, fundraiser and salesperson. She helps fellow business-owners find the soul of their own story–their “Golden Thread”—and powerfully and profitably weave it into their sales pages, signature speeches and websites.
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