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Archive for September, 2009

Finding Your Voice

September 30th, 2009

I believe we were all put here with a unique mission in life. We have a message to share that no one else on the planet can share. We each have a voice like no other.

Photo by felly1000

Photo by felly1000

And in a world that is dominated by “more of the same”, it is all the more critical that we each find this voice, this
message, this mission and share it. So today, I’m going to give you a few ideas for finding YOURS!

Start by asking yourself this question:

‘What has happened in my life, good or bad, that a) I feel compelled to share and b) would be the MOST useful to others?’

Make sure you write down knee-jerk response(s). Whatever comes up for you in response that question is part of your unique message and offering whatever it is that comes up for you in that answer is one of the easiest roads to creating a mission for yourself and a voice others will want to hear.

Once you have your compelling answer to this question (it doesn’t have to be right or perfect) we are going to start weaving it into a story, or a Parable, that you can share with others as you talk about what you do. Your parable will create a connection with your tribe that has a depth and a richness that will be riveting.

See, there was a path that led you to want to do what you do – and people are interested in that. Telling people your story – how you got to where you are and why you are doing what you do – makes them feel connected to you. It helps them get to know you, learn to like you, and trust that you are who you say you are. (And you know that most people only engage with people they know, like and trust, right?)

To give you an idea of what I mean, I will share my parable with you. Because my calling, my mission, my voice is in a completely new place, it’s a work in progress – here’s the current draft:

My name is Sarah Robinson and perhaps the best way for me to explain what I do is to share a defining moment in my life.

About eight years ago, I quit my job-twice. What is significant about the fact that I quit is that it was supposed to be my dream job-the pinnacle of my professional life. I was hired to turn an organization around-and I did it. I increased revenues 250% and created a luminous community reputation out of one that was riddled with negativity. We became one of the top organizations people chose to support. And I did it all in less than two years. I was so proud. BUT, I had a boss I simply could not please. No matter what success I brought to the table, she told me about what I wasn’t doing. No support, no recognition-just negativity. I became over-whelmed and exhausted.

Oh-and my personal life began to suffer as well. No one wanted to around me and honestly I had nothing positive to offer. Finally I decided that the heart and energy I was pouring into my “dream job” wasn’t worth the price I was paying. So, I quit. Then I was promised that it would be different-I would get what I needed. Well that lasted about 2 days, so I quit again, this time for good.

I was heart-broken. Everything I had dreamed of and worked for was an empty disappointment. If my dream job wasn’t it, what WAS it? Even though I had no job lined up, no real idea of what I was going to do-I just knew that there had to be a better way to work and to really live and I went looking for it.

That is the moment that led me here today. I set about learning and studying how to create a way of working and living that allows me to be exactly who I am and gives me deep sense of satisfaction and success in all areas of my life.

As a result of these experiences, I decided that I would dedicate the rest of my professional life to helping others escape the mediocrity of doing what we are “supposed” to do by sharing all that I’ve learned.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas and inspiration for uncovering your mission and message and putting together your parable.

So give it a try! Don’t over think this – just write from your heart.

My Mother the English Teacher always says “The secret to good writing is re-writing.”

And if you feel so inclined, I would love for you to share any part of your answer or parable here – because I KNOW you are all up to amazing thing!

100% Money-Back Guaranteed to Help You Escape Mediocrity

September 28th, 2009

One of the most common questions I get via DM or email goes something like this: “How can I escape mediocrity when I feel so stuck, so confused, so depressed, so overwhelmed, so [fill in a similar adjective]?

First let me say that anyone who puts themselves out there- even those who appear to be INCREDIBLY successful – knows what this feels like. So if you find yourself in this space, cut yourself some slack and know that others have come before you and gotten through it.

How to get through it can take many forms and people far greater than I have written entire books on this very subject. But today I am going to propose a different kind of “cure” if you will. One that does not involve a lot of internal work or even external work – on yourself anyway.

And this cure is GUARANTEED to shift your outlook and your thinking, that I can promise you.  And it is one of the most powerful tools in my personal arsenal for escaping mediocrity.

What is this powerful, 100% money back guaranteed cure?

Find someone who is in worse shape than you are and go help them.

Radical isn’t it?!

And believe me, I’ve heard every excuse in the book for not trying this cure.

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t have the energy.”

“I need to stay focused on my own business.”

Etc., etc.

To which I respond, “Well, then you must be content with the way you are feeling. Good luck to you.”

Why do I believe so strongly in helping others? Because over and over again I see these kinds of results in my own business/life – and the businesses/lives of those who embrace the strategy:

1) When I help someone who is in worse shape than I am, I immediately have a shift in perspective on the ACTUAL size of my problems.

2) When I stop staring at my own belly-button for five minutes, all kinds of solutions start presenting themselves.

3) I am a big believer in the karmic boomerang. I’ve never EVER seen it miss.

Need ideas for a place to start helping? I’m so glad because I have a GREAT suggestion!

Starting at midnight PST tonight, September 28, an organization near and dear to my heart, 12 for 12k, is pulling off a 24 hour tweet-a-thon for the non-profit Doctors Without Borders.

From their website: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971.

Today, MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters.  MSF provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need.

For ways you can help Doctors Without Borders through this tweetathon, check out this page.

Even if this event/non-profit isn’t for you or if you read this post after the event is over, I hope you will choose someone, somewhere, to reach out to and offer your help.

It’s a complete game-changer. I promise. :-)

You Complete Me

September 23rd, 2009

I got halfway through writing a blog post about yet *another* over-the-top example of bad behavior that happened last night. I was going to link to a hideous blog post and even to a screen capture of it for you in case the blogger decided to take it down.

I just deleted it.

Why? Because a handful of the core members of my very wise tribe did something AMAZING (as you always do). You reminded me that the world is filled with beautiful, generous, sparkling people who go over the top in getting it right – or at least trying to get it right – every single day.

Which group would I rather give my focus, my time, my energy and my talent to today?

The answer was easy and automatic. YOU. :-)

See – you are the ones who restore my faith that it’s all going to be okay and that there really are people who valueholdinghands conducting themselves and treating others with kindness and respect – no matter what the situation.

Just as a small example – in the comments of Monday’s post a polite debate happened with two people who had very different opinions and viewpoints. Each expressed themselves clearly and firmly but never once resorted to low blows or making the other person feel “less than”.  A beautiful demonstration of strength and civility.

I want to give my best to THAT – not the mean, rude, crude, ill-mannered people.

So, here is the lesson for me today: there is a difference between saying something I HAVE to say and something I WANT to say.  I don’t have to say everything I want to say. In fact, it is probably best if I don’t.

You complete me and I am so much better for it. :-)

It's a Mad World

September 21st, 2009

If you need a soundtrack for this post, here it is from Tears For Fears.

I think the world is going mad. And I really REALLY hope I’m wrong about it.  The evidence I’ve accumulated over the past two weeks, however, points to an alarming trend.

First, I read Jonathan Fields post called PR Gone Bad: How to Anger Bloggers and Hose Your Client. In it, he relates an email conversation he had with a book publicist pitching a book he wanted Jonathan to review on his blog.  The initial pitch was handled badly and when Jonathan responded with a polite but firm “take me off your list”, the publicist’s behavior digressed from sophomoric to ill-mannered and astonishingly unprofessional (as well as disconnected and old-school.)  No need for me to go into the gory details because you read those yourself.

Next came astonishing rudeness in one of the last bastions of propriety – the United States House of Representative during a Presidential address. Regardless of political inclinations, I expect my elected officials to conduct themselves with dignity, respect and nice manners. Yelling out ANYTHING – much less an accusation – in the middle of a presidential speech is, as My Mother the English Teacher would say “Rude, crude and boorish.”

Then we had the now famous “Ima let you finish” interruption at the MTV video awards.  Since when has behaving like a bully and a brat on national television gone with Rock Star status? I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to feed that video any more energy than it has already sucked out of the world.

And we aren’t done.

My friend Nick Benas posted one of the most arrogant voicemail messages I have ever heard. A VERY famous player in the licensing world left it for him when he refused to play the way this person wanted him to. You can listen to it here . This is the way we now conduct ourselves in business? By talking to people like this?

And then, over the weekend, I watched someone on Twitter whom I respect a great deal get publicly lambasted and physically threatened by a so-called guru and author because he had the nerve to call “bull-shit” on something this famous person published on his blog. I was stunned as I watched it play out real-time.  The most redeeming part of the conversation was watching my colleague conduct himself like a gentleman in the face of it all.

And yet, I am still left wondering – is this what we’ve devolved to?  What has happened to maintaining dignity and choosing to behave with manners and self-respect? When did we start allowing self-serving bad attitudes to have a place at the table in business – or in life for that matter?  Why are there people running companies who think making others feel small is a success strategy? And do the perpetrators actually think they will go unexposed?

I have more questions today than answers. And I am hoping that our conversation here will help me make sense of it all.

Now It's Your Turn…

September 16th, 2009

I spend a lot of time thinking about you. Seriously. I re-read the smart, funny, brilliant and vulnerable comments you’ve written in response to my posts and am simply blown away by how willing you are to share so much of yourself here. Truly amazing.

Today, my part of the post is going to be very short. The real meat will be in your responses (well, that is where the real meat ALWAYS is, isn’t it?!).give

You are invited to share a link to your very favorite Escaping Mediocrity resource. This could be a blog post you’ve written, or a vlog post you’ve made, or it may be a link to something someone else has put together that truly inspires you on your journey of a lifetime. It can be about business, life or anything else.

To make it meaningful and helpful to everyone, there are just one simple boundary that I’d like to ask you to observe:

No overt selling or blatant self-promotion. I’m going to check every link that is posted and I will waste no time in hitting the delete button. :-)

That’s it!

As always, I can’t wait to learn from you. :-)

The Care & Feeding of a Tribe

September 14th, 2009

(Sometimes, I start writing a blog post thinking it is going in one direction, and then it hijacks my idea and goes somewhere else entirely. This post is a perfect example of what I mean.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about my tribe lately. Mainly because I’ve realized that I simply could not do what I do everyday without them. Oh – I suppose I could for a little while, but my tribe makes it so much more fun, so much more worthwhile and so much LESS scary.

Seth Godin, in his book Tribes, defines a tribe this way:lit drum

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For million of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate. . . Tribes need leadership. Sometimes one person leads, sometimes more. People want connection and growth and something new. They want change.” (Pages 1-2)

When I first shifted the focus of this blog to “escaping mediocrity on adventure at a time”, I knew that this undertaking was WAY bigger than anything I could do alone. And I knew I needed a tribe around me if I was going to be able to sustain the vision.  What I didn’t know, was exactly how to get one. And truth be told, I still don’t.

As I’ve said many times here – and on Twitter – I am very very blessed to have somehow connected with other like-minded people who are as tired of the status quo as I am. And I’ve actually had people ask me what “formula” I used to build such an amazing group.

Formula? Really?

Can you put “publicly saying things that scare you out of your wits and hoping someone else understands” into a formula? Or “creating meaningful conversation with and between others” ? Or “telling others they made you laugh so hard Coke came out your nose” ?

If you can, you are much better mathematician than I am. Cuz I simply don’t know how to plug that into an A + B=C kind of equation. And even if there were such an equation, I wouldn’t want it.

Why?

Because this tribe is made up of real, live human beings who are dazzlingly individual and intricate. Why on earth would I want to trivialize you by trying to wrap you up into some neat kind of package?

And anyway, if I tried to describe to someone else how the tribe here is developing, it would sound something like this:

Well, first, you put up a blog thinking you know what you are going to talk about. Then about six months into it, you realize that that isn’t what you are going to talk about – you’re going to talk about this other thing. And no – you can’t get any market research ahead of time on the audience or the demand because there isn’t any. So then you start writing blog posts that scare the sh*t out of you. And you tell a few of the friends you’ve made on Twitter about them, hoping that they will feel enough pity that they will show up and at least READ what you wrote. And when they do read and take the time to comment, you replybecause their comments are so much MORE intelligent and witty than what you wrote in the first place.  Oh – and in between writing these posts and hoping someone will read them and replying to the comments they leave, you get on Twitter and laugh a lot and introduce people to each other and try to help where you can.

So for those of you wondering about my magic formula – there it is. Good luck trying to duplicate it. Even I can’t duplicate it (if you DO figure it out and make some money on it – send me a percentage, ok?).

Now – because I ALWAYS want this blog to be useful and, as I’ve said, you are all WAY smarter, savvier, and funnier than I am – I want to ask  you a question. If you were trying to tell someone how to build and maintain a tribe that you wanted to be a part of, what is the #1 thing you would share with them?

As always, I can’t wait to read your comments!!

A Completely Commercial Post For the Young Turk

September 9th, 2009

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that the online nickname I use for my son is The Young Turk. He is a total up and coming entrepreneur (you can read about his company and his mission statement here). So when his Cub Scout Troop announced The Popcorn Sale, he wasted no time in telling the Popcorn Kernel that he was going to be the #1 salesman this year.

Now, I am a firm believer in having the child do all the work involved in selling stuff. And he knows he is in charge of all the live in person selling (though I DO go with him).

The online world is a little trickier – and quite frankly a little scarier – for him to navigate on his own. He is only seven.  So Mom’s helping out with this part just a bit.

Below is a message he recorded for this page. I didn’t help him write it and this is the first take.

If you want to order, the link and IMPORTANT instructions are also below. Oh, and everyone who does order will get a PERSONAL thank you phone call from The Young Turk. Because that is also a part he can do.

Message From The Young Turk


Click here to check out the popcorn: http://www.trails-end.com
IMPORTANT – For him to get credit, you MUST follow these instructions:
1. In the top right corner of the site there is a green box that says “You are supporting no one. Change.”
2. Click “Change”
3. In the white box that says “Enter Scout ID, enter his Scout Id number which is 2538165

And thank you for indulging me in this completely commercial post. :-)

Getting Hung Up

September 7th, 2009

So here’s the thing. I get hung up sometimes on my Escaping Mediocrity Adventures. Sometimes it’s because I’m in too big a hurry to get to my destination and actually NEED to slow down and enjoy the scenery along the way.

Other times, though, the stumbling blocks and challenges feel VERY real and can cause me to start circling in some kind of odd holding pattern instead of moving forward fearlessly.

Here are my top 3:

1) I somehow think big money is required for a “proper” adventure. Money for my business, money for travel – consideringwhatever. What I know to be true, though, is that I can escape mediocrity without spending one penny. A kiss for someone I love costs me nothing. Neither does furthering a professional relationship with a note to share a kind thought.

2) I get confused about what steps to take and in what direction. Usually this is because I’m too caught up having things be predictable. I don’t want to take a step unless I know for sure that is THE step I should take. Wrong attitude. Any step is the right step and as long as I just keep doing “the next right thing”, I’ll be ok. Besides, making mistakes, like taking a wrong turn, can reveal something beautiful I would have otherwise missed.

3) I’m not a big fan of free-falling into an adventure without being absolutely certain how it’s going to end. Yes, I already know that that’s not possible and that it will keep me at a standstill of inactivity. Which is why I force myself to show up here and take steps out of mediocrity when I have NO IDEA how it is all going to turn out!

Now, because I’ve fallen in love with everyone who reads this blog and leaves such brilliant comments, I’ve become intensely curious about you and want to know more about YOU and your adventures.

To that end, I’m hoping you’ll be willing to share what hangs you up on your journey to escape mediocrity. I’ll help if I can. Plus, really smart people hang out here and can probably offer even more assistance and support than you can imagine!

I can’t wait. :-)

Why I Think Trust Agents is The BOMB!

September 2nd, 2009

I’ve decided to bite the bullet and add more video to my blog!

In today’s video, I talk about my new favorite book, Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. Yes, it is as good as you keep hearing it is (that is, IF you haven’t read it. If you have read it, you already know that.)

It’s my most recent pick for the Escaping Mediocrity Bookshelf. Watch my video below to find out why. :-)