Brad’s Blog

Best Practices to Inspire Your Writing

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014 in Blog Post | 0 comments

The world of publishing has changed forever. Newspapers are few. Most non-newsstand magazines are either extinct or online. Many books are now digital and available on download demand. While many of us are saddened by the loss of our favorite bookstores; the good news is that the technology transformation in publishing has opened outstanding opportunities for all of us who have ever considered getting published. If you have goals including writing and getting published, there is no better time than now to jumpstart your book.

After 25+ years in the magazine publishing industry, I worked with writers and editors every day, yet I never thought about writing a book. As an entrepreneur over the last ten years, I coached and helped clients create and produce e-books, printed books and launch other creative projects. And all the time I wondered, “Why don’t I write my own book?” Well, my doubter voices loved that question, as they bombarded me with all the reasons why I wasn’t capable, didn’t have time, and just wasn’t good enough. Well enough is enough, I declared one sunny, Southern California day a few years ago.

After spending too many months writing and rewriting my book outline and purpose statement, declaring my intention to my coach and coach friends, and reorganizing my research and data umpteen times, I’ve come to better understand my avoid-tactics. My personal tricks and methods of procrastinating are now fully exposed. I’ve learned what to truly avoid, how to stay inspired, and what works to support myself to actually write and finish my book.

Here are my best practices to stay on track.

Best Practice #1: Stand strong knowing you are a writer.
I haven’t always felt like a writer, and was very critical of anything I wrote. However, as an introvert, I eventually learned that I could use writing to express my feels and thoughts better than I could in conversation. Journaling really helped. Eventually I wrote newsletter and magazine articles; and expressed myself online and in social media. As a result, I became more confident in both my writing and conversations.

You are a writer. If you can have a conversation, talk on the phone, or express your passions and points of view verbally, you can write. If you can write a letter or email, have an opinion about a movie, PBS program or a comedy show, you can write. If you speak, present or provide training, you can write. And most of all, if you have a dream, mission, purpose or passion, then you can absolutely write. If you haven’t started to write yet, just give it a chance.

Best Practice #2: Clarify your purpose and objectives for writing a book.
To help keep me grounded and focused while writing my book, I created my purpose, desired outcomes and a brief plan (very similar to the 3P’s). On this same document, I also maintain a document of my book title ideas, market statement and the core outline. Overall, it’s a “book plan” that leads with my purpose. Below is an excerpt:

My book title is: Make Your Mark: The Power of Being Your Brand. 7 Keys to Authentic Personal Branding for Solo-Entrepreneurs
My book purpose is: To inspire and educate solo-entrepreneurs, so they can make their mark in the world.
My audience is: Coaches, speakers, authors/writers, trainers, facilitators, personal trainers, graphic designers and other professionals working solo.

make-your-mark-coverWriting a book is a commitment, and sometimes you may get uninspired, stuck or stalled. This is the time to pull out your purpose statement and remind yourself why you are writing the book in the first place. Who will you be serving? How will you feel when it is complete? What will you have accomplished for yourself when it is in your hands? Set yourself up to win by being clear on your purpose.

Best Practice #3: Create a working book title and cover design.I am inspired by visuals. Having images or words posted close to me keep me focused and inspired. So I had a designer create initial book covers. I keep them posted in my writing areas, and keep digital versions on my phone and computer. Keep a handy list of your book title ideas, and some sort of cover mock-up. It’s a good visual to keep you inspired.

Best Practice #4: Create a writing structure with accountability.
Create a realistic writing structure. Here are my tricks:

a) Set writing quantity goals: When you have a writing session, know what works best for you: time, word count or page count. I like to set word count goals. That creates the most measurable results for me.
b) Create a writing ritual: My personal writing practice starts early Sunday mornings at a particular Starbucks here in Los Angeles. I set my word count goal and usually plan on staying 3-4 hours, including at least 45 minutes to navigate a table, get my “Venti Skinny Hot Chocolate,” put on my headphones, answer a few emails and piddle around on my computer before I get down to business. Then I begin to write. My goal is to just let my heart and fingers connect, and let the message flow. I avoid overthinking too much. (Go for quantity first. Resist going back to previous sentences to edit first time around. You will have plenty of time to rewrite and edit, after your first draft is done.)
c) Establish outside accountability: Having a writing buddy or writing coach provides great support, as well as feedback. Create goals and accountability with someone that knows your games, excuses and potential. I’ve also set up a remote writing session with friends. We declare our writing goal and schedule a follow-up call three hours later. Then do it again. Another trick I use is to declare my current writing goal to friends and family: “I’m going to write 3,000 words this weekend!”

Best Practice #5: Be kind to yourself.
For me, writing a book is probably the biggest and most challenging dream I have ever had. So it’s easy to judge and doubt myself and be extra critical every time I miss my writing commitment. So be kind to yourself without letting yourself off the hook. Honor yourself for creating this huge goal and for your progress to date. Lastly, know what works for you. I have learned over and over again, that I exhaust my creativity and focus after 2-3 hours. It is just more information to set yourself up for success.

Bonus Best Practices!
Keep it simple. When I’m in the groove, writing flows quickly, and I can easily go down a path that is different than my original goal. My coach encouraged me to save some content for my next book. We don’t have to give away everything we know in one book! So I have learned to capture my new ideas, while sticking to the point of each chapter. Know that you have more in you than you think. Once you write one book, there’s probably another one too!
Be sure to backup your writing! If you don’t have a regular and dependable back-up system, then at a minimum, email your writing documents to yourself. Ideally backup your writing multiple times to multiple places.

So are you ready to write? If not, what are you ready to commit to? Remember: there is no better time than now to write your book. In today’s publishing world, you can set up a blog and be seen worldwide within a couple of hours. Over a weekend, you can write and create a PDF e-book, using software already on your computer. Or you can even begin writing your book. What will you do?

 

If you want to hear about the release of my book, Make Your Mark: The Power in Being Your Brand: 7 Keys to Authentic Personal Branding, visit Mark Your Mark Book.

Discover Your Brand

Posted by on Feb 6, 2010 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Oprah has one, and so can you. Branding is not just for talk show hosts and the Fortune 500 anymore. Coaches, authors, speakers, trainers and other solo-entrepreneurs need a brand. Discovering, creating and leveraging your personal brand is key to the success of your business. When you are grounded in an authentic and consistent brand, the rest of your business-building and marketing activities move from being overwhelming and challenging, to flow and ease.

Begin with Vision
Having and knowing your vision or dream is fundamental work that is necessary for an effective brand. Knowing your vision will not only ground you in your mission, but will ensure you are in alignment with who you are and what you do. It’s a great way of getting to know your heart’s desire.

So if you haven’t done so yet, take the time to write your vision. It can be as simple as a few sentences or even a few pages, but write it down. It is important to write it in the present tense, as if you already have it…as if you’re smack dab in the middle of your dream business. (It’s easy to skip this step since many of us coach around values, mission and vision a lot, but it’s important to do this regularly.)

Authenticity and Consistency Work
Authenticity plays a major role in your brand.  People connect with (and do business with) authentic individuals and honest businesses. The first cousin to authenticity is consistency. If you are consistently authentic across the board from your “beingness” to your branding and marketing, you’ve captured your core essence that will attract your perfect target audience. And the good news here is that coming from this truly authentic place, greatly helps keep your branding and marketing efforts easy. There’s no hype to conjure up and no spin to create. You just get to be you, speaking and marketing from your heart in a very natural way. What could be easier?

The great news about discovering and creating your personal brand is that it’s all about the real you. What really works is you get to be yourself 100% with all your talents and skills, and even your quirks. Once you tap into that very real place of authenticity, and step out as the real you, you’ll find, see and experience your brand.

Know your vision and come from a place of true authenticity on a consistent basis, and you’ve got the core pieces of your very own brand.

Are You Doing What You Love?

Posted by on Mar 30, 2014 in Blog Post | 0 comments

What would it be like to love your work every minute? I mean absolutely thinking of nothing else: getting up each day and having pure excitement over what the day holds for you. Are you doing exactly what you really want to do?

Whether you are a solo-entrepreneur, self-employed in some form, or even working part-time or full-time for someone else, you can be doing what you love. After a very enjoyable career in publishing, and after five years as an entrepreneur, I am finally doing exactly what I have longed to do my whole life. Who knew?

A Common Experience
There is a saying about how we attract people that are looking for similar answers in life. So, of course, many of my clients come to me to get clear on what they want or what their niche or brand should be. With my business coaching hat on, I listen and ask questions, help them dig deep and eventually they find clarity and discover more of what they truly want. Sometimes I’d much rather just wear my consultant hat and say, “Here’s what I see. It’s clear that you’re most passionate about xyz, so that’s what you should do.” It’s so easy to see clarity in others than in ourselves sometimes.

Trying to Do it All
Since I have always stayed within the publishing, printing and (in more recent years) online industries, I am always intrigued and entertained with my work for the most part. But, when I became an entrepreneur, and in an attempt to not miss any income opportunities, I tried to be everything to everyone. I felt I had heard my calling, found my brand and nailed my niche, but looking back, I was all over the place within the publishing, branding and marketing arenas. I often heard myself saying, “Yes, I can help you with that,” or “Sure, we can pull that together for you.” I realized my niche was nada and my brand was a bust. It felt like, “Call Brad, he can do it all.”

Then I decided I only wanted to do what I love. Unfortunately, I love to work, enjoy knowing and being good at many things, and love being the “answer guy.” When I learned a couple years ago (with no great surprise!) that I had adult ADD, it explained why I was distracted with every shiny new piece of software and exciting email marketing secret! However, I still chose to focus: “What is it that I really love? What do I want to spend most of my time doing? What will be most fulfilling and satisfying?”

How I Learned What I Loved
I realized I could continue to try to do it all or simply look at what I am doing now and decide what I enjoy most. I quickly realized I was already doing what I loved. I just needed to cut out what I was not that passionate about, and do more of what I loved most. It wasn’t an overnight discovery, but a process of trial and error, focused and intentional. As I look back at my process now, I can see the path I took and how it helped me get very clear on what I loved and how I wanted to spend my time and run my business. The process I discovered turned out to be five key steps. Here they are:

#1 Look at The Landscape: Consider your current work and your day-to-day activities and overall responsibilities. Which tasks and activities bring you joy, perk-up your passion and make your heart sing? Which ones bring you more income or have potential of growing your income? Which ones are easiest to do? Sort them out into three categories:

  1. Favorite and Most Enjoyable Activities
  2. Easiest to Do
  3. Create Good Income

Notice what is common in the three categories.

#2 Review Your Resume: Now compare these top activities to your career history. Where do they show up in previous jobs or activities? Even consider volunteer work. Did you do similar activities before and were they as fun, easy and enjoyable then too? Go back to you first jobs. What similar activities did you do in your early career years and still show up today as enjoyable? Update your three categories with this new information.

#3 Survey Your Strengths: Consider what you do that really uses your best strengths. This is all about what you are best at. What is easy for you? What really leverages your talents, skills, knowledge, training and education, while still being enjoyable? Compare your strengths against the items in your three categories. Update your list with activities that best use your strengths.

#4 Revisit the Younger You: Reflect back on your childhood activities. What games did you play? What role did you always take? Did you have a play office or lemonade stand back then? A business in the basement? What was fun? What were you doing then, that still shows up today? Add this information to your lists.

#5 Find the Common Threads: Now take a look at your list. Add more notes. Be more reflective. If it feels overwhelming, just close your eyes and measure them against your heartbeat. Which ones really make your heart sing? In a more practical way, narrow them down until you get to the top three. What’s left? How do they feel? Now really look for the common thread of enjoyment and passion through this whole process. What stands out for you? What is there that you haven’t seen before that you know to be absolutely true?

What I Love
By using the process I outlined above, I was able to realize that I have been doing what I love my whole life. Even as a ten-year-old, I edited and published a mimeographed newspaper in my home farm town of 800 people. I helped my mom publish the church bulletin every week and newsletter every month. I had a few basement businesses, where I set-up my own office and went door-to-door selling my wares, earning money to buy a new bicycle, more 45s and my first pair of bellbottoms. I was publishing and marketing, and creating new brands every six months, whenever I had a new idea. Hmmm. Where does that show up today? So looking at what I wanted most to do today, I just decided to focus my work. Sure, I can do a variety of things, but I am most passionate about creating tangible, published products, and branding and marketing new businesses.

I have come full circle and am more grounded than ever, knowing what I love to do. What if you could wake up each and every day knowing you absolutely love what you do?

Are You Embracing Your Message?

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Do you have a clear and heart-based message that you feel you are meant to bring into the world?

Most likely you have spent time considering your niche, market, offerings and more. Those are all vital elements of nailing a clear and consistent brand for you and your business. For many, it takes a lot of personal work, inside and out, to create an effective, authentic personal brand. It is indeed a necessary first step in getting clear on your business and marketing strategies. But what if there was another path to this clarity? What if we began with our key message instead?

Instead of working on your branding statement, elevator speech, media pitch or tagline, consider the “message” that you are called to bring into the world. After all, behind all of our company names, credentials and trainings, are our own personal stories and passions that most likely jumpstarted our entrepreneurial journeys. I’ve been clear on my brand for many years. But only this year, did I begin to consider “my story” and feel called to bring it into the world. As I stepped more and more into the idea of being a “messenger” and leaving a legacy, I realized the importance of knowing my key message.

A New Perspective
For years, I have worked with individuals, helping them to discover and design their authentic personal brand. I am very passionate about people being clear on their brand, so they can more effectively be who we were meant to be in the world. We work through a specific branding process that consistently evokes a clear, authentic brand. That same process has worked for me as I have continued to hone and fine-tune my own brand. However let’s consider a new path that I have discovered in my own journey.

Through speaking and teaching the last few years, I continue to refine the topics that I am passionate about and that resonate with my audiences. As I have fully stepped into my authenticity in my speaking, writing and “life,” I have also discovered the power of my story. I have begun to bring more personal stories, perspectives and boldness to my presentations. And through that process, my purpose and key message have gotten clearer and clearer. Feedback from audiences is also confirming. As I have gotten more in touch with that special message, the idea of impacting the whole world is becoming more real for me. The concept of leaving a legacy is becoming a reality. It is not just about inspiring people to be clear on their authentic personal brand anymore. I have learned it is bigger than that. The key message that I am meant to bring into the world is about stepping into our greatness, fully embracing every aspect of ourselves and courageously showing up. My intention is to create more trust, truth, respect and love, while reducing hate, violence, bullying, cheating and selfishness. Imagine loving every single detail of your DNA from the greatness to the quirkiness. If we all came from a place of self-love first, wouldn’t that ripple confidence and more truth around the world? How powerful is that?

Hear Your Heart
Your heart holds your key message. Oftentimes, we focus on what’s marketable or how we can stand out by having a unique niche, business offering or signature product. What can we do or say that no one else is doing or saying? How can we be unique experts? Again, your heart holds the true key.

As I regularly “preach” in my presentations and consulting, we are all unique individuals just as we are. Not only do we have our own special DNA not shared by anyone else in the world, but we also have our individual gifts and experiences. We have unique strengths, talents and abilities, as well as our personal joys, sadness and stories that make us who we are: unique individuals. Within the span of our lives, there are experiences and events that shape us; that influence who we are. For some, that experience spirals down a difficult path for a long time. For others, via that difficult path, or a different path, it leads to discovering a purpose, calling or mission. It teaches us about passion, and what makes us truly feel alive. Somewhere in all of this is a message…an important message that is to be told.

Take some time to hear your heart. This time let go of nailing your niche, targeting your market or landing your brand. This time, just be still. Reflect on your greatness and hear and feel all of the wonderfulness that is you. Then take a look at what shaped you, besides your DNA. What have you learned in life that transformed you? What was your path in becoming who you are? Where is the nugget of truth that set you free to boldly step out into the world? What is your heart telling you?

A Bigger Vision
As you listen to your heart, while learning about your key message, consider the impact on your vision. What is different or will be different? Who are you with a clear and heart-based message? What message are you called to bring into the world now?

My vision is now bigger than ever. By learning about my key message, I am much clearer on my brand and how I will make this world a better place for my grandchildren and their children. What will be your key message? What will be your legacy? What is your brand now?

The Power of One

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011 in Blog Post | 0 comments

As a creative person, I have ideas all the time. Whether in my day job, working with a client, creating a speech or presentation, writing my book or launching a new offering, I don’t lack in ideas. That creativity serves me well in every part of my life. However, sometimes it feels like a curse too. Managing the “gift of ideas” has been a challenge, but I’ve learned quick ways to record those moments of inspiration. However, the major challenge I have when creating something new is focus. Imagine having too many ideas in the moment when you only need one, and then throwing in some ADHD! You get the picture. It can be pretty overwhelming. That is why I’ve learned to always return to “The Power of One.”

Trying to Include Too Much
Here’s an example. As I was writing the post, I found I was trying to include too much. It is intended to be a short, yet inspiring piece, but I was saying too much. Finally, I had to stop, and say to myself, “Brad, what is the ONE point that you want to get across to your readers? What do you want them to leave with at the end of this post?” (Did you notice what it was?) That alone gets me refocused on my main message. Another example was when I was preparing for my recent half-day presentation at Become an Inspiring Speaker. I wanted a robust presentation, and to cover a lot of material about branding and marketing. As I would get overwhelmed with all the details, I would just sit back and remind myself of the ONE  learning I wanted people to leave with. That kept me centered on my main purpose.

The same goes for our brands. In my work with clients, it is often challenging to get down to ONE main message, niche or tagline. So many of us want to cover all the bases, be everything to everyone, but that  just causes confusion. A brand must be unique, clear and very, very specific.

Seven Ways to Use “The Power of One”
1. When working on your vision or purpose, consider focusing on the ONE way you want to make a difference in the world.
2. Before you write your next speech, decide on the ONE key message you want to get across.
3. When designing your brand, consider the ONE main point you want to communicate to your target market.
4. On your next email, cover ONE topic, making ONE point. Succinctly.
5. As you think about your next article, decide on the ONE lesson you want to teach.
6. When creating your next tangible product, decide on the ONE take-away you want clients to experience.
7. Lastly, when you begin your day, decide on the ONE most important task you will complete.

Okay, so I just created seven ways to make one point, but you get it, right?

The Power of Authenticity

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Do you ever feel you have to be someone else in business compared to your personal life? Do you find yourself being different around certain people or in special situations? What if you could just “be you” all the time?

Being 100% authentic is natural for many people, and for others, it takes a lot of guts, personal practice and persistence. Perhaps authenticity is a key ingredient that separates extroverts and introverts. In my early years, I always felt like an open book and that I had a realistic picture of myself. I felt “real.” However, somewhere along in life after college I closed up. I felt I needed to wear my “professional hat” at work, my “party hat” with friends and my “good boy hat” with my family. It got very confusing, but it made me really look at who I wanted to be both personally and professionally.

After quite a few years of trying to be who I thought I should be, I decided to take a step back and test what it would be like to just be me, including all of my greatness, as well as my quirks. Eventually that test became my way of being. By all means, it was not an overnight decision! It is not as if I just had a task to check-off on my “to do” list. It was a process over the last few years, and probably many more years sub-consciously.

A Deeper Sense
If you are a self-aware person, you are probably in touch with some “truths” about yourself. If you’ve done some personal development work, coach-training, therapy, faith-based education or spiritual training, you probably have a deeper sense of who you are; your purpose, your calling, your mission. In that learning are truths about the real and authentic you, and the power that it can create in your life.

Stepping into entrepreneurship in 2003, I learned ten-fold that being truly authentic is the secret to building a business that works. As I brought authenticity into my speaking and writing, I got more credibility and attention, as it also became easier and more fun for me. I learned that if I dropped my made-up perspective of “professionalism” and formal business behavior and language, and got more real and personal, that my clients and colleagues connected with me more. I am not encouraging the loss of good manners and appropriateness. Instead, find the balance between your authentic self, honoring your true essence, while stepping into and being the businessperson you really want to be.

He Just Wanted to Be Himself
My father passed away in 2009. As I reflected back on his life and our relationship, I realized how I learned the value of authenticity from him. He never held back his thoughts, opinions, criticisms or compliments. He just said it like it was for him. Appropriateness was not always his strength, but you always knew where he stood and what he wanted. It served him well in the fast-moving car business in Chicago for many years. As he aged and mellowed, it also served him well in his personal relationships. He listened well, and then he spoke his truth. He didn’t want to be anyone else but himself. I didn’t appreciate that about him then, but I admire it now.

As we build our brands in business, authenticity is critical to the design. When people get that you are authentic, they instantly connect with you. That’s a guarantee! How many people have you met who felt phony? It’s natural to see and feel the lack of authenticity in some individuals. You’ll probably notice that you don’t connect. You may be intrigued for other reasons, but you probably don’t engage from your heart and may be skeptical about doing business with them. It’s the lack of authenticity.

On the other hand, when you meet someone that is genuine and real, you know it. You feel it! You naturally want to get to know them better, learn more about them; and most likely, you easily trust them. That’s authenticity, which needs to be the major player in your business branding and marketing. People connect with (and do business with) authentic individuals and honest businesses.

No Hype to Conjure Up
If you are consistently authentic across the board from your “beingness” to your branding and marketing, you’ve captured your core essence that will attract your perfect target audience. And the good news here is that coming from this truly authentic place, greatly helps keep your branding and marketing efforts easy. There’s no hype to conjure up and no spin to create. You just get to be you all the time, speaking and marketing from your heart in a very natural way. What could be easier?

How Do I Get a Brand?

Posted by on Aug 19, 2012 in Blog Post | 0 comments

Everywhere we turn and everything we read these days, there’s talk about branding. From branded Twitter pages to Personal Branding Coaches, there seems to be a lot of pressure to “get branded.” I regularly hear from entrepreneurs who ask, “How do I get a brand?” My response is “You already have one!”

You Are Born Branded
Similar to the unique fingerprint and DNA that we all have, an individual brand also exists within each of us. We are born branded. Branding isn’t the only way we stand out in our market, but it’s at the top of the list. Your brand is the presence and package that keeps you and your business grounded, so you can focus on your goals, and attract your preferred customer.

There are many definitions of a brand, and here is my personal version:

Your personal brand is an innate and designed representation of you; born from your DNA and pulled from your passion; that defines your purpose, honors your true essence and delivers your authentic message, which attracts and influences your awaiting audience.

Do you see the recipe of combining your very authentic self with your passion?

Get Grounded in Your True Self
Step into your greatness and welcome your idiosyncrasies. See them, feel them and accept them. Then examine your values, strengths, interests, experiences and skills; your “wants” and your “don’t wants.” Prioritize them according to your true knowing, as well as your passion level. Once you tap into that very real place of authenticity and clarity, and step out as the real you, you’ll find, see and experience your brand. The great news about discovering and designing your personal brand is that it’s all about the real you. What really works is you get to be yourself 100%, with all your talents and skills, and even your quirks.

When you are rock-solid in an authentic and consistent brand, the rest of your business-building and marketing activities move from being overwhelming and challenging, to ease and flow. There’s no hype to conjure up and no spin to create. You just get to be you; marketing, writing and speaking from your heart in a very natural way. What could be easier? It’s almost as if you were born branded!