How (and Why) to Brag Online Without Sounding Like a Jerk — 6 Ideas

I got famous among this group of friends pretty early on. I hadn’t even really done anything.

Back in 2013 when I started my business — and by “started my business,” I mean “decided that maybe I could possibly start a business where I was coaching, and so threw up a very basic website and started calling myself a coach” — I made a new group of friends. All of us had done B School, Marie Forleo’s (brilliant! life-changing!) online business and marketing course, and we decided to meet once a week for coffee. Being an entrepreneur was a brand new experience for me, and I loved hanging out with other people who got it.

A few weeks in, it began. I would arrive and, inevitably, someone would say…

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4 questions to ask yourself before you speak on stage

(AKA a resource I send to clients and potential clients that I never thought I’d share publicly but here we are :))

Glaring at her face on the video call, I stuck my bottom lip out.

“I don’t know,” I mumbled petulantly. “Do I even have to think about that?”

Michelle smiled warmly back at me. “You know you do,” she said. And she was right. I groaned.

When I found out that a long-time daydream of doing the closing keynote at Portland’s World Domination Summit was coming true, I knew I needed help. I coach speakers all the time, but writing my own talk felt like trying to cut my own hair without a mirror. I needed help. And I knew Michelle Barry Franco was the person to help me. What I didn’t know was…

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16 Hacks to Stop Wasting Time on the Internet

this was the eeriest one I could find

When I was 16, I had some important exam coursework disqualified by my teachers due to plagiarism.

“But I didn’t copy it!” I told them. What I chose not to mention is that I also hadn’t written the essay myself…

Sick of me having left everything until the last minute again, on the night before the coursework was due, my mum picked up my Religious Studies textbook and just started dictating. That was why the essay was, in my teacher’s words, “A-level standard.” Because somebody who’d already done their A levels (the exams we’d take at 18) AND a Cambridge University degree AND had twenty-odd years of life experience had written it.

Long before the internet was a thing, I would do anything I could to avoid doing my homework. Access to it became easy and frequent later, when I was in the workforce as a freelancer and now an entrepreneur. Both are jobs where there’s no boss standing over you, and I embraced all the opportunities to dick around online and not get work done until the last possible minute.

Recently, I’ve started to try and combat this tendency.

Here are the apps, behavior shifts and phone hacks that I use to keep myself off the internet as much as possible:

PART ONE: APPS

(1) SelfControl App for desktop (free!) — selfcontrolapp.com

Of the variety of apps that exist, this is the one that I found first, is super-simple and that works really well. You download it to your computer, add “blacklisted” websites (mine are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BBC news, CBC news, The Guardian), then set how long you want to be locked out for (any amount of time up to 24 hours).

Once you hit “start,” all those sites behave as if they’re down. Even if you take the app off your computer, you’ll still stay locked out until the time is up.

It’s most effective when I remember to start it the night before a morning where I’m going to work, to keep me locked out for at LEAST the first two hours.

(2) Kiwi for gmail (free or $9.99) — www.kiwiforgmail.com

This is an app for your desktop, that allows you to use gmail, google calendar and google docs, all without opening a browser. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

It behaves exactly like gmail and most apps that you use for gmail work with it. You can have multiple gmail addresses on the same app. It’s simple, clear and delightful. And it means you can get on your email without the temptation to hit “new tab” and check social media.

(3) Inbox Pause (free!) — www.inboxpause.com

This is an app by Boomerang which stops new emails coming into your inbox. If, like me, you use email for work a lot, it means you can go into your inbox to search for things/email people/reply to stuff without your brain getting the “OOH NEW EMAIL WHO’S IT FROM????” moment that makes you want to check.

New messages still arrive — but to see them, you need to search for the special “inbox pause” folder, which is just annoying enough that you don’t do it automatically.

I have had my inbox paused since June 2015.

(4) Chrome apps for Facebook and Youtube

I use Google Chrome because I like the apps. These two help me not get lost when I pop onto Facebook or watch something on youtube, by disabling the Facebook news feed — “News Feed Eradicator for Facebook” , and the Youtube “suggested videos” — “Remove Recommendations Youtube VK Facebook”. They have saved me HOURS.

PART TWO: BEHAVIORS

(5) No technology in the…

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Stop putting this in your stories. Just stop. ( + YYQ11 review!)

Two things! The first is what I’m going on about in the subject line. I went on my friend Matthew Kimberley’s podcast (after guests he’s had like John Lee Dumas, Amy Landino, Laura Belgray and Todd Herman) to talk about storytelling — but we ended up covering something I never have before:

What you should NEVER have in your stories. And, it turns out, I…

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I drew myself every day for a year. Here’s what I learned.

This took way longer than it should have, because I should learn to farm out such jobs to people who are more skilled than me.

Sitting in the cafe, I’d been staring at the guy for a solid five minutes when he looked up and caught my eye. I panicked and looked down at the table. Grabbing the newspaper in front of me, I covered up my piece of paper, hoping desperately that he wouldn’t see it..

As a kid I loved drawing. And as a teenager, art class was one of my favourites. But when I came to the age where we got to pick our subjects, I realized something: I did not have natural artistic talent. And I assumed this meant art wasn’t for me, so I stopped.

But then, a few years ago, doodling in a notebook, I suddenly thought,

Hang on — I love drawing!

And I realized: just because I’m not good, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. And that maybe I could just draw, and then never show anyone!

Pretty soon, I understood that I like drawing faces more than anything else. Given that I spend a lot of time working (and taking breaks from working) in coffee shops, this would give me ample numbers of faces to draw! Except… for the embarrassment factor.

I mean, staring at someone just is embarrassing. But skilled artists can (sometimes) get away with it, because they could perhaps say,

“Oh, I was just drawing you!”

And then the staree could say, “Well, can I see?”

And the talented pencilsmith would show them the drawing, and that person would say,

“My gods! You’re BRILLIANT! It looks just like me! Let me pay you for it, fifty shillings!”

The only problems with this fantasy for me are 1) we don’t use shillings anymore and 2) in my version of this scenario, the person would more likely say,

“My gods! Why is my eye next to my mouth? Is that a SQUIRREL on my head? What is WRONG with you?”

Around that time, I saw Lisa Congdon speak and she said two things that altered the course of my year. She’s someone who came to art late in life and now makes a living from it. And while she does have heaps of natural talent, the first thing she said was very, very helpful:

“You have to come to peace with the fact that the drawing in your head, and the drawing that comes out of your pen, are not going to be the same thing.”

INTERESTING, I thought.

Then she told us about a project she did for her audience, where she committed to drawing a different self-portrait every week for ten weeks. For the first few, she was trying to make them realistic. But one week, she was in a really bad mood, so she just drew that. And people loved it.

INTERESTING, I thought.

Around that time, I’d been loving the little day-to-day cartoons my friend Natalie Czerwinski draws. I’d even once told her I wished I could commission her to follow me around and just draw scenes from my life. The final piece was remembering something I’d heard Asha Dornfest say in a talk:

“Self confidence grows when you keep a promise to yourself. You prove to yourself that you are trustworthy.”

On August 30th, 2016, I made a promise to myself:

I was going to draw a self-portrait every day for a year.

I made myself some rules:

1. If I was…

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How to: juggle work/home life; get readers to comment; decide if you should start a podcast – YYQ 10 Review

Written below is a ton of free advice in my latest blog — but in case you don’t have any of those particular questions yourself, Weds March 27th you can ask me YOUR VERY OWN question! At 2pm ET. It’s Yes Yes Questions, my free, no-strings Live Advice Column.

you can read a review of the last one or listen to it below. The questions asked in that episode:

1. How do I juggle my work/home life, while being someone who works from home?
2. How do I pitch the media to find people who can actually afford my prices?
3. How do I get through all the material of online courses without losing my mind?
4. How do I cope when my clients stop working with me, but I know I could help them if they continued?
5. How do I get comfortable on video?
6. How do I get people to sign up for my list after I do a Facebook Live?
7. How do I get people to engage with my blogs and videos at all?
8. How do I scale as a service-based business if I have to be there to do the work?
9. Should I start a podcast?
10. That’s it. I just hate an un-even numbered list.

Questions 1. How do I juggle my work/ home life, while being someone who works from home?

I work from home and find it incredibly difficult to draw a line in my day and allow myself to enjoy my evenings and live in the moment. I am also working at nurturing a romantic relationship and maintaining friendships and family bonds and it is a lot to juggle. Any advice on this topic would be very much appreciated!

(i) Have set working times. In advance, tell yourself what time you are going to start work every day, what time you’ll end work and when you’ll have lunch.

(ii) Listen to

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I quote this sentence to people at LEAST once a day (as first said by the brilliant Liz Scully)

I’m about to share with you my favourite thing Liz Scully ever said to me.

Context: do you ever get that thing where you’re REALLY good at teaching people how to do something — but you’re horrible at doing it yourself?

If you’ve been reading these emails recently, you’ll know I’m a bit obsessed with making sure people who have a business or a blog or an ANYTHING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO ENGAGE WITH know the answer to this question:

What is the problem that you solve for your customers?

And I was talking about it with my friend Liz Scully from Rethink Central. If you’re not already familiar with her, she is one of the smartest and funniest people I know and — as you’ll hear in a minute — one of the most articulate.

She and I were on a call recently talking about my obsession with how not enough people think about the answer to that above question, when I suddenly asked, “But Liz… what’s MY answer to it??”

She said, “You help people who don’t know how to make their clients feel seen. You show them how to tell stories and write sales pages that make their clients go, ‘Oh, you SEE me! You understand me!’.

But in that moment, I suddenly wasn’t sure why that mattered. And so I asked her. And her answer is one of my favourite things I’ve ever heard. I’ve probably quoted her 20 times since. Because Liz is very gracious — and because, by total coincidence, we happened to be recording the call (to capture an earlier brainstorm) — she has said it’s ok for me to share the video from that exact conversation.

As you’ll see (from my terrible posture), neither of us were anticipating this being made public. But I really, really wanted to share with you the exact way she first said what she said. Here (2 mins long):

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When should you tell someone to give up on their dreams? (And more, in the Yes Yes Questions #9 Review!)

You know how they say There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch? The thing is, “they” also say Do What You Love And The Money Will Come, and so far, no one has offered to pay me a DIME for binge-watching This Is Us. So let’s start ignoring Them, and here’s your free lunch:

Once a month (or so), I invite you to join me (for free) to spend an hour asking me ANYTHING you want to ask. Advice about business, family, storytelling, romance, handling disappointment, networking, doing what you love and the money either coming or not coming. It’s all fair game.

And in the meantime, you can read a review of the last one or listen to it below. The questions asked in that episode:

1. How do I make my writing better when I’m stuck?
2. How do you sell sciencey people on stories? And what should you teach them?
3. Should you ever tell people that they should just give up on their dreams?
4. How do I get clients for my in-person business in a new city?
5. How do you tell sensitive stories that might turn people off?
6. How did you start and build your business and what would you advice would you suggest for someone starting a new venture?

1. How do I make my writing better when I’m stuck?

I write fiction, which is not something I’m comfortable with. I can stare at it forever, but I can’t tell how to make it better. So what do I do with it now?

(i) Listen to this two minutes of…

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Almost certainly the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever shared online.

The first time I met Jenny Shih, I was really disappointed.

Not in her. In myself.

A few months beforehand, I’d decided to start my own coaching business. I’d never really heard of coaching before, but as soon as I did I thought, This sounds like what I’ve been doing for free my whole life. I could get PAID for this?

Thinking about what I’d helped people with before, I picked the niche of teaching networking. In my past life, that was what I’d teach 21 year olds who wanted to get into radio, and people had started suggesting to me that other people (who had more money than 21 year olds wanting to get into radio)(which is to say, ANY MONEY) would pay for this service.

I’d been writing a blog for a few months (you can still see most of it by clicking here and people had been saying nice things about it. But I still hadn’t made a cent from the business and had no idea what I was doing.

So when Jenny Shih — who’s free content about how to build your online business I’d been DEVOURING — said she was opening up a few one-off coaching spots, I knew I needed her help. I was excited and terrified.

I was pretty certain that I was going to get on that call, and that Jenny would say something like,

“You know, Marsha, I don’t really have a lot more to add. You’re amazing. I’ve worked with a lot of people who are new to this, but you’re the best I’ve ever seen — you’re a natural! Let me send you over some clients who’ll pay you vast amounts of money for your wisdom.”

I’m not even totally kidding.

So, we get to the call. And here’s what Jenny says,

“No one is going to spend you money, unless…

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Sometimes I shoot myself in the foot because it’s the right thing to do: A Tragedy by YYM

Standing in the wings, I looked out at the crowd and felt a rush going from my size 2, Mary Jane shoes, all the way up to the pony tail my mum had done for me that morning.

I was eight years old, and about to have my moment.

It was my brownie group’s Christmas show. I was part of an ensemble piece — but knew everyone would be looking mostly at me. We were going to sing a song called Tails.

Tails Tails Tails, you can swing them high and low! You can wrap them ’round your middle, you can trail them in the snow!

It’s testament to…

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