A Story Takes on the Stigma of Entrepreneurial Failure


When my daughter was in public school, she struggled with tests–which was a constant source of pain for her. I continually pointed out to her that she could not give her power away to a system that made up arbitrary rules about intelligence—and, that had, indeed, little intelligence itself. But this never penetrated. The stigma around failing is so effectively baked into our culture’s nervous system that it has not been rooted out of her.

I venture to say that goes for the rest of us, as well.

Last fall, I read multiple books by Silicon Valley stars. I wanted to see how, as I think of it, the “other continent of entrepreneurs” is raised. (Our continent being the one of internet marketing and coaching/consulting.)

The philosophy prevalent in Silicon Valley affected me. I’m sure you know their motto–which has been criticized, but that nevertheless has inarguable wisdom in it: Fail fast, fail often, fail forward.

They are—if not always succeeding, at the least attempting to create a culture where shame of failure is replaced by pride in failure. It is encouraged! Why? Because their position is that those who fail to do something bold will one day succeed at doing something bold.

At the end of this reading marathon, (The Lean StartUp by Eric Ries; Getting to Plan B by John Mullins and Randy Komisar; Bold by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler; Zero to One by Peter Thiel), I emerged from the waters that tech entrepreneurs swim in every day…healed in some way. They have constructed an alternative universe with new rules work that work for them (as far as I can know, as an outsider)—and that can work for us all.

It is not a Silicon Valley philosophy. It is universal wisdom. They have simply been bold enough to put it into practice.

If they can do it, we, too, can remove ourselves from the childish system in which we’ve been raised, which demonizes mistakes, and reach instead for a reality based on a truer paradigm that has space and enthusiasm for failure.

With those books metabolized within me, many tributaries began to converge. I thought of all of the clients who come to me, tattered and worn because the system told them what to do to succeed, but still, they struggle. And worse than any financial concerns they have, they carry shame over the failures because, according to the system, success is easy. They’re left with no other perception but that something is wrong with them that it has not been.

I was delighted to see Eric Ries put a name to this nefarious system, calling it the “mythmaking industry”—and I was surprised to find that Silicon Valley has it, too. But, oh, how pervasive it is in the coaching/ consulting/internet marketing industry! Every day the vulnerable become prey to their puffed-up claims.

And that’s when an idea for a fable-novella was born whose central theme would be about the stigma of failure and its twin, shame—and whose key solution to business struggle would be its banishment, tapping into some of what Silicon Valley teaches, as well as much that I do.

wolfleavesthepackOver the next six months, the story unfolded of a lone wolf named Wolf, who leaves The Pack and Status Quo County to make a dent in the universe. It is a classic hero’s journey of trials and tests, fear and second-guessing; wisdom and triumph over the enemy—and the final “return,” where transformation is realized and shared with others.

I wrote The Tale of Wolf, His Snake Oil and a Skunk specifically for our “continent of entrepreneurs,” who are prey to our particular mentoring industry and too often do not achieve its promises. Who have a great idea, but discover it doesn’t “just sell itself”; who have more passion than there are stars, but the money does not follow. Who work hard yet still struggle. And worst of all, who never give up. (The story explains why that is the worst myth of them all.)

I also wrote this for my daughter, whose world-view I seek to shatter every time I text her, “How did you fail today?” Then, congratulate her heartily for whatever her response.

And I wrote it for myself because I am much too hard on myself for even the slightest so-called failure. Among having other missions, I want to help create a new world where failure is exalted because it is the sign of daring heart and mind, and where shame is vanquished by a new strength of Self. This is when we will know we live in a society of true strength.

It begins with Wolf, His Snake Oil and a Skunk, which will be available soon—in a very unique form. Stay tuned for more details!


Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?

Sixteen years ago, as legend has it, I read a book in six days and everything in my life changed. Upon finishing it, I knew that I needed to leave my marriage and to change the course of my career–writing novels–which I had adored.  I woke up from that book knowing I needed to do something that was more real and substantial than creating fictional plots and characters had been for me. The words that I said–in the privacy of my own head—were, ” I want to change the world.”

For two years, all dressed up with no where to go, I searched for the venue that would help me to do that and finally came upon coaching. It was not what it is today: no one had heard of it, no one understood it (I think most still don’t) and so it was wide-open terrain. I was passionate about it because I knew its empowering methodology could indeed change the world.

accelerated learning mapFive years later, at a seminar, I was captivated by a method of working with audiences derived from education science called “accelerated learning.” It was another life-changing few days, as I decided to leave coaching and immerse myself in learning everything I could about accelerated learning and brain-based learning. Eighteen months later, passionate and convicted, I launched my second business—Inspired Leaders’ Academy—with a new kind of public speaking training just for entrepreneurs, using these technologies. I knew that when used properly, this “new paradigm of audience leadership” could change the world.

It’s been many years since that launch and many more since my realization that I wanted to change the world, but the drive is as real and fresh in me as it was when I closed the cover of that book.  I still believe coaching can change the world; I know that leading audiences with the technology of brain-based-learning will change the world—and now I work with coaches and other experts to help them change the world with a third element: Thought leadership.

Here’s my conviction: No business will make it now without leaving the pack and standing far apart from everyone else. And the way coaches, consultants and other experts will do that is with a fresh, provocative, even radical, message that shatters the status quo. A thought leader message. It’s essential for survival, and the only option for changing the world.

But a thought leader message isn’t enough. I named my business Inspired Leaders’ Academy years ago because I knew to stand out, and to change the world, you must lead with inspiration.  The fact is, inspiration sells as no data, evidence, or sound intellectual arguments ever will. My father was a minister and I adapted his natural ability to inspire, so when I began leading my public speaking trainings and free events, I saw that truth in action: inspiration is the ultimate call-to-action.ShieldHighResVersion

So, to be successful and change the world, you can’t just have a thought leader message that is intellectually satisfying; you need the fire and passion of inspiration to move an audience to truly “hear” that message and make it their own. On the other hand, you cannot just have an inspirational message—heat and heart—without a solid idea that confounds common understanding, fries brain circuits and destroys conformist thinking. You need them both.

I’ll be leading a virtual event in a couple of weeks: Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?” It’s not an easy road; it requires rigorous thinking and a commitment to excellence beyond anything you’ll see around you–but if you are here to change the world, there will be only one answer for you, as there was for me sixteen years ago: Yes, and it’s ready to come out!

So…Is There an Inspired Thought Leader Inside of You?

Freedom to Lead Series 9: Freedom to Rise

(Sigh. YouTube clearly scans a video and chooses the worst placeholder it possibly can.)

This 10-day video series honors our Independence Day here in the States–July 4; honors the determination our forefathers had to be free by looking at the freedoms entrepreneurial thought leaders must claim in order to be successful in business and in changing the world.

In this next-to-last 9th video, we look at one word that will give you everything you need to rise to the top and far above the crowd.


Freedom to Lead Series 6: Freedom from Failure

This 10-day video series honors our Independence Day here in the States–July 4; honors the determination our forefathers had to be free by looking at the freedoms entrepreneurial thought leaders must claim in order to be successful in business and in changing the world.

In this sixth video, we look at failure and the formula truly successful entrepreneurs use to ward off its crushing defeat. What do you do most often? Crash or correct? 

 [youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrYdIcqNeSw[/youtube]

Freedom to Lead Series 4: Freedom from Identity Confusion

This 10-day video series honors our Independence Day here in the States–July 4; honors the determination our forefathers had to be free by looking at the freedoms entrepreneurial thought leaders must claim in order to be successful in business and in changing the world. 

In this fourth video, we look at the limitation of putting too much out in the marketplace and the freedom of having a *single* business identity!

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9VABB2FJBM&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

10 Years in Business–Tip #35: Set Parameters With Your Clients

In my special report, What I Know For Sure: Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business, I list 75 topic areas that I have bumped into over ten years. And every day in October, I will randomly choose one of the 75 and expound on it. So here’s today’s:

Set limits with your coaching/consulting clients before you even engage them. Put these limits in writing and get their verbal and even written agreement to abide by them. Limits on how often they can postpone before you sever the relationship; on the latest they can send you an assignment; what you will do if they fail to work with you in a timely manner, etc.

Do you have clients routinely appear late at your session appointments? Or let you know rather late that they have to cancel? How about those who have an excuse for not having done the assignment they agreed to do the week before? Or, if, as in my case, their assignment is a written one–they send it to you two hours before your scheduled appointment instead of a full day before? And do you have a tangent-runner? Someone who talks much too long? And even on a topic unrelated to your sessions?

If you haven’t met any such client, you will. I’ve met them all after ten years, and you want to be prepared with each one of these scenarios (and any others) by setting parameters before you begin coaching them. And each one (except the last) must be met with a hard consequence if they do it more than once. Tell them up-front that you allow them to be late only once, and after that,  either 1) you’ll charge them $20 or 2) double the time they were late and subtract that from the call. So, late 5 minutes? You’ll get off 10 minutes early. I don’t recommend that you tell them that the session will end at its regularly scheduled time no matter how late they are because a) you may be the type to go over-time, so that won’t mean anything, and b) it won’t stop the behavior. Make the consequence tough to stop the behavior.

Which leads to the other issues. Make sure you tell them that they are charged if they fail to cancel within 18-24 hours, whatever feels best to you. AND tell them up front that this will be the case even if it’s a heart-rending story! You’ll get pulled into empathy and compassion otherwise and fold like a stack of cards–and miss an opportunity to have scheduled someone else.

What if they don’t do their assignment? Remember: a consequence that will change their behavior. But your reputation is at stake with this one, as well.  The fact is, you’re not going to have success stories if clients don’t do their work. So, your future directly hinges on their following through with their commitments. I’d get really tough here, right at the outset. Tell them that if they come to an appointment without their homework, you will 1) cancel the session and they’ll pay for it, or 2) after 2x, you’ll cancel the relationship, with no refund of any previous payment.

And remember, do this before you start and get their agreement in writing.

How to ward off a tangential talker? Well, hopefully you’ll never know you have one of you tell them up front that you are dedicated to giving your clients the very best of your time and so you have a policy that if anyone goes off-topic, you will steer the ship back on course and to please not take offense if you cut them off. If you say this in the beginning, before you know them at all, they won’t take it personally.

Be sure to get all 75 tips from my 14-page special report here.

And be SURE to grab today’s special offer–The Audience Leadership Assessment–my 108-question assessment that tests your strengths and weaknesses in 7 core competencies of public speaking. This is a GREAT assessment and you can take it for just $20.01 today and tomorrow only! Go to: http://inspiredleadershiptraining.com/speakingassessment/

10 Years in Business–Tip #62: Are You Building Your Business Around Your Favorite Style?

In my special report, What I Know For Sure: Lessons Learned in 10 Years of Business, I list 75 topic areas that I have bumped into over ten years. And every day in October, I will randomly choose one of the 75 and expound on it. So here’s today’s:

TIP #62 It is essential that you build your business model around how you want to spend your days. You’re working for yourself, not for someone else! You don’t have to be miserable. Do your work the way you like to do it. Be in front of the computer, if that’s how you like to spend your days. Be on the phone, coaching. Get out and teach and speak. Write. But spend it the way you want to spend it.

This is another one of those tips that can be glossed over because you think you are spending your day doing what you love. You love your niche and you love your target market. But are you spending the hours in the processes you love the most? Or are you spending them the way you’ve been told you “should”?

At some point, you need to take stock: are you coaching when you should really just be writing because that’s what you love and it’s where you want your future to go? (A past client of mine just had this aha-moment recently). Are you giving seminars to groups when you really just want to do one-on-one consulting or coaching? Are you giving keynotes, when you really want to be creating changes, which means more time with your audiences than keynotes ever provide? Are you coaching when deep-down you know you’re a teacher? Are you poring over the internet to get clients–engaging with social media–when you really need to be in-person with people?

Are you making choices out of a presumption of what you should do, rather than what you love to do?
It is essential that you build your business, (which means your days) around your favorite things to do.

I’m celebrating 10 years in business all through October with these blog posts, a party/call on Monday, October 10th–and special invitations to take my programs and get my products at deep discounts. Today’s offer: work with me privately. This RARELY happens. Go see the 3 business-building options I’m offering here.

Celebrating 10 Years In Business This Month!!

It was October 2001. After nearly nine months of rigorous study and practice, I charged out of the iPEC Coaching school in New Jersey, where I’d just earned my ICF-accredited certification, and was ready to change the world. After all, two years before, I’d left my marriage to do just that (that’s another story) and I figured it was about time I followed through.

Never mind that I had no idea how to run a business. My father had been a minister, my mother a psychotherapist and the very cornerstones of any successful business—selling and marketing—had never been skills they’d needed, and in fact, they had quite openly disparaged them. While it has become a cliché now, I was one of those who truly believed that all it took to be good in business was being good at what I did. And I was great at coaching. So, it wasn’t much of a leap, I figured, to assume I’d be great in business.

Are you laughing? I wish someone had laughed at me and set me straight back then, but I didn’t have any entrepreneurial friends or family members, so they stepped into the poppy field with me and off we marched into my fantasy.

I soon woke up. With a start.

As I’ve said, I had no idea how to sell—but it was all much worse than just that. I didn’t want to sell. Like, fiercely. I honestly would have rather starved—and if it hadn’t been for my ex-husband, I probably would have. Sales people were desperate, sleazy, manipulative. And since I wasn’t any of those, I was not going to risk my reputation and become them. Lesson 1.

I had no target market. If you’ve been a student or client of mine, you’re openly gaping right now—but I assure you, it’s true: I wanted to be a generalist coach. After all, Marianne Williamson and Wayne Dyer didn’t have narrow markets: they spoke to the whole world and so would I. Lesson 2.

Then there was the clarity thing. It was bad enough that the world didn’t really know what a “coach” was outside of sports–and while making the analogy helped, still, furrowed brows dominated the faces of those to whom I tried to describe this new profession. And since I was a generalist, I had very little compelling to say about what I did. Lesson 3.

There’s more to the story–not trying to tease, but too long for a post. Go get the rest PLUS the 75 lessons I learned the hard way: http://inspiredleadershiptraining.com/10Years/report/

8 Sessions with 2 Financial Coaches Who Want Clients

I had an 8-session consultation with two financial coaches
who wanted more clients to walk in the door. There was one
thing they were clear on: once they had clients, these two
coaches would do amazing work with them. The trick was
getting them in the door! Sound familiar?

Over the next 8 days, you’re going to get the chance to
“eavesdrop” in on my sessions with “M&M” and get some
ideas for your own business. This is just a sampling of
the work I do and I decided to make it public—not just
in these blog posts, but in a CD product I’m launching
next week
! You’ll be able to get the actual sessions,
plus 2 great bonuses, starting next Tuesday.

So Session 1 with M&M. Of course, I need to get the lay of
the land: how long have they been coaching, who have
they been coaching, etc. They tell me they were trained
through Dave Ramsey and have been coaching couples
on and off for ten years, mostly giving their coaching
away. Now, they’re ready to make money! I am pleased
to see that they have a somewhat Brain-Sticky differentia-
tion already, promoting themselves as, to paraphrase,
the “seasoned couple working with younger couples.”
This is, of course, very appealing, as what younger couple
wouldn’t want to be guided by an “older and wiser” couple,
who had weathered financial storms in marriage?

I am also pleased to see that they have a target market!
I can’t tell you how many service entrepreneurs don’t.
“Couples” is still too broad, but we can begin to focus this
down by looking at the age of their market’s children. Do
M&M work with very new couples, who have newborns?
Or those who have preschoolers? Or are they in high school,
facing the issue of college? Each “era” has its own difficulties
and it is critical to know which difficulty they want to
address as coaches. They tell me that most of their clients
have children in elementary-school, indicating that (generally),
the parents have been married at least seven years, and up
to 14 years.  These are often pressure-cooker times, when
the honeymoon is over, financial issues are no longer
ignorable and volcanic eruptions occur.

I begin to take M&M through a process I call the “Trigger
The fact is, humans walk around thinking they can
handle most of their issues by themselves, or at least with
the help of friends and family. But something happens, one
day—in fact, one moment—that triggers their dawning reali-
zation that they need help. This is a tough exercise for most
people, and M&M and I move right in like “Google Earth” on
their couples, looking in on a typical scene when such an
awakening might occur. They decide the couple is reviewing
a new credit card statement and we move through the entire
scene: what the conversation is like, what eruption occurs,
and what finally “pops the cork;” has one or both of them
blurting out, “We can’t do this alone!”

Why is this important to know? For starters, it is critical
to understand that you won’t make money if your market
isn’t hungry—and they aren’t always hungry. I always tell
my clients and students that your greatest competition is
not someone else, but rather the idea, “I can do this myself.”
But there will be a tipping point when they are in such pain
or frustration they are finally ready to spend money. And
you want to know what that pain is—on a very specific level
—so you can refer to it in marketing copy, creating intimacy
with your market as they “self-identify,” saying, “That’s me!”
—and so you can potentially influence that trigger event in
those who haven’t had it yet. The trials and tribulations are
there in the background, like a humming furnace, but they
haven’t realized they need help yet. You can help them
realize it, by talking about those moments, only if you know
what they are.

So, what is a moment that would wake up your market
from enduring and tolerating whatever is not working for
them? Would love to hear your ideas below! And be sure
to come back tomorrow, when M&M decide on the strategy
they’re going to use to get more clients!

Are Your Presentations Moving with the Times?

For the next few weeks, I’m focusing my posts on public speaking
because it’s key to changing the world. Today, I want to send you
over to an eye-opening video on YouTube that has, on the surface,
nothing to do with speaking–and yet nothing we do in any part of
our lives is exempt from the message contained in this video. 

The video tell us “We are living in exponential times“–and it
then proceeds to make its point: in 2006, there were 2.7 billion
Google searchs. Two years later, there were 31 billion!! Did you
read that right? In 1984 there were 1,000 internet devices. In
’92, there were 1 million. In ’08–1 trillion. Exponential times.

A company in Japan is testing a fiber optic cable that can send 
14 trillion bits of information per second down a single strand
of fiber…this is equal to 210 millon phone calls per second.

Ever heard for an exabyte? It’s (4 x10 ^19). Equal to 1 billion
It looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. The
video estimated that in ’08, 4 exabytes of unique information
would be generated. More than in the previous 5,000 years.

We are living in exponential times. The world is humming at 
frequencies never known before. Obsolescence is occuring some-
where every second. With this mind-boggling upsurge in speed,
our brains are being rewired; we are thinking differently and 
learning differently. The brain is plastic; it changes and grows
and the way we integrated information twenty years ago in
high school doesn’t apply. And it doesn’t apply for those we’re
teaching and coaching.

Are your current attempts at knowledge-transfer (ie. your pre-
sentations) humming as fast as the rest of the world? Are they
provocative enough to capture the attention of minds fractured
by constant stumuli? Are they as new as the latest App? Are
the ideas you’re presenting “escaping the wannabees” and gener-
ating exponential growth?

Maybe those are high standards for a single presentation. But
I’m not one to wrap myself up in cozy excuses and I bet you
aren’t either.  I believe if we are worth our salt as leaders and as
conveyors of information, we must measure the quality of our
content against the pace of the world–and that of course, begins 
with the big-picture question, Is my business keeping up with
the breath-stealing acceleration of the times we’re in? If not,
what must I do? If so, how do I ensure my presentations do the

I teach a “new paradigm”
of audience leadership–
but this video got me
asking the question,
How can it be even
? How can I speed
up what I’m teaching to
meet the frequency of the
world’s vibration?

I’m giving a free 90-minute teleclass on the “old paradigm” of
public speaking, and its replacement: the new paradigm based on
the latest brain research. I’m sending you away to watch the
YouTube video–but before you go, I invite you to sign up for the
teleclass on April 7th. It’s provocative and will shift how you think
about speaking in public You can read all about it here.

Then go check out the video I’ve talked about today, Did You Know?

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