How to get close to a famous person, online dating tips and more — it’s the YYQ 14 Review!

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are: 1. How do I get close to someone who is semi-famous or famous in their field?2. I am single and I don’t want to be anymore and…

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“If I died, no one would notice for 3 days”

Eleven years ago, on a Tuesday night in North-East London, I was running along small path by a big body of water when, in the middle of my torso, I started to feel sinking dread.

What was I thinking??

Even though I was in the city, all I could hear were a few birds and the wind in the reeds. The sun was going down. And I was starting to worry…

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5 Ways I’m coping (and the celebrities that are helping with that)

Every day, something else, isn’t it?* But we soldier on. Here are the five things I’ve been doing to get through:

1) Recognizing my privilege
Let’s start with the most fun one! Jk recognizing your privilege is the worst. I mean, it’s the best in terms of the impact it has, but it usually feels like garbage. It’s really difficult not to feel hard done by in a time like this.

Is this going to affect my business and my income? Of course!
Do I miss my friends and feel stir-crazy in my house! Definitely!
Am I constantly worried about my mum and all the other (many) septuagenarians in my life? Incredibly!

AND, I’m not currently close to anyone who’s dying or has died of this virus, I’m not worried about being put to live out on the street (or already living there!), I’m not part of a demographic that is being hit harder by Covid-19 than my own.

What we’re going through feels AWFUL for almost all of us. And I’m trying my hardest to remember the ways I’m doing really, really well compared to a lot of other people.

2) Feeling my feelings

I’m not the best at this. But I’m trying to remember that I am in low-level grief for my normal life and all the things I thought this Spring would bring. And, you know, the physical freedom I’m used to.

I’m trying to cry. I’m trying to hold both my privilege, and that fact that I feel this REALLY, REALLY SUCKS FOR ME RIGHT NOW. I’m not shouting the latter from the rooftops (because: see (1) above). Privately, I’m trying my hardest (and it is SO HARD!) to let myself feel all the awfulness instead of pretending it’s not there.

3) Resisting the productivity guilt…

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The sentence that is getting me through this

An old, true story that is suddenly relevant Scrolling through Facebook, I saw it. That quote. Under my breath, I muttered, “F—k you, Helen Keller.” I’d first read those words about ten years before. Helen Keller — educator, humanitarian and co-founder of the ACLU — wrote 12 books, but this is her most famous quote:…

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Which stories should you tell on your “About” page?

I don’t love being rude. But when someone asks me, “Marsha, how do I tell MY story on my About page?” — and that happens a lot — I’m always tempted to say,
“Um… what makes you think anyone cares..?”

Ok, so that’s a bit harsh. But generally, when business owners (who want to get clients via their websites) tell me they want to tell their story on their about page, before I give them any advice on how to do this, I lovingly remind them this page’s function:

It’s to tell a new reader whether or not this website (/business/person/service) is meant for them.

So the first part of your About page should be spent on making it clear what it is you do and for whom. Ideally, it should be directed at the reader. Laying out who they are, what’s going wrong for them and what they want that you offer. Here’s an example on the website some random lady you’ve never heard of.

Then, you introduce yourself as the solution. And if you want to do this with stories…

Here are the ONLY three stories you need on your About page:

(1) A Pain Point moment

(2) The Transition moment

(3) A Desire moment

The most important of these is (1), followed by (3), followed by (2).

Let me break these all down for you…

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How to rescue a very public disaster (using my favourite psych fact)

Standing in the booth, looking out at the ten people awkwardly dancing in a space that was built for 400, I felt sick.

I’m about to tell you one of the most important pieces of information I know. Then I’m going to tell you the rest of that story in order to prove it’s true and to help you hold it in your brain (because that’s what storytelling does!).

Here’s the fact:

The most important parts of any talk, blog, presentation or podcast is…

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How to… run great workshops; switch to doing work you love; get testimonials and more — YYQ #13 Review!

Yes Yes Questions is my quarterly live advice column, that anyone can join for free. The questions I answered at the last one (and in this blog/recording), are:

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?
2. Do I have to prepare before I speak on stage?
3. How do I brag about myself online without feeling like I need a shower afterwards?
4. Do you ever feel like you have too many stories to tell, and do you have a formalized process to choose which ones you tell?
5. “Content batching:” do you do it? If so, how?!
6. How do I go from doing work I *don’t* love that brings in money, to doing work I DO love that also brings in money?
7. What’s the best way to get testimonials from happy clients?

The next one is next Monday, April 6th at 2pm EST and you can come along and get free coaching by popping in your details on this page. But in the meantime, listen to the audio of the last one (where I answer all those questions) or read on!

1. When running a workshop, what are the most essential elements to make it brilliant?

Almost all of the time, it depends on…

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If the “END OF THE DECADE LET’S REVIEW AND PLAN!!” messages are bumming you out

this picture PLEASES MY SOUL

This one might not apply to you. Or it might land right where you need it to.

You know everyone online at the moment is all, “OMG END OF A DECADE LET’S REVIEW THE LAST AND MAKE GOALS FOR THE NEXT!!!”?

If you love that stuff — as I have sometimes (and as my pile of completed yearcompasses will prove) — then awesome. Get on with your bad self.

But if, every time you read something like that, it makes your stomach tighten a little…

– maybe because you don’t think you have time to do that
– maybe because you don’t feel you achieved enough or have changed enough in ten years
– maybe because you’re currently in survival mode and have zero capacity for reflection or planning

…then I just want to remind you that…

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When I’m feeling desperate about life, this is where I go

When I feel desperate, there are a few places online where I go looking.

I’m often not quite sure what I’m looking for because I’m often not exactly sure why I feel desperate, just that I’m in an emotional funk and I need someone to throw me a life raft. I feel certain that, if I read the right combination of words, the solution to everything in my life that feels confusing or unsure or uncomfortable will materialize in front of me, like a bonus in an 80s computer game.

Sometimes, I’ll scroll aimlessly through Facebook or Instagram. Sometimes, I’ll find people I know on Twitter. But usually, I end up at Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly.

Ask Polly (which I once wrote a blog about, here) is a long-form advice column. You may know that I have a mild fixation with the genre — it’s why I started running Yes Yes Questions, my own, quarterly live advice column. But Heather Havrilesky’s is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, mostly because in almost every letter she responds to, she does a magic trick on my brain.

Pretty much every week, I read the latest letter and think, Well, that sounds hard for you, Stranger Who Wrote To Heather, but I can’t relate to your problem at all. I will read Heather’s reply because I like her writing so much. But there’s no way her advice will apply to anything I have going on.”

But then — half way through the response, I’m always like,

HEATHER HAVRILESKY ARE YOU IN MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW????

Because how else could she possibly know eXACTly what I’m going through in my life at this exact moment???

The best part is, I know that this is a common experience, but not a universal one. I know it’s common, because HH has been writing Ask Polly for almost eight years, so it must be pretty popular. But I also know it’s not universal, because people are not that much the same. But Heather’s people are. People like me. People who read every single new column that comes out (and several back issues). And that makes me feel both seen and a bit special.

This is the alchemy that happens when you’re…

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How to make yourself my instant best friend

Sitting in the audience, I was having wrestling conflicting feelings.

The woman onstage as belting out a number from the musical “Chicago” — one I haven’t seen, and am not particularly keen to. She was a little off-key. And LOUD. I felt like I should have been cringing, embarrassed for her and hating it… but for some reason, I wasn’t. Why wasn’t I?

It was my third night at Camp GLP, a Summer camp for grown ups. When I saw the sales page, what sold it was the talent show. The camp I went to as a kid had one and it was always the highlight. Skits where we sent up the staff, little jokey routines, maybe someone reading a poem. But this was different.

One after the other, attendees from the camp got up to sing. Some of them were knockout. Some of them really weren’t but, for reasons my brain was struggling to understand, they didn’t look embarrassed about it *at all. Being British, I felt like I should have been convulsing with awkwardness on their behalf.

So when I wasn’t, I looked to my left at my new friend Sam. An Aussie, she and I had been hanging around a bit the last few days. I whispered to her,

“Why don’t I hate this?”

She laughed back and whispered, “It’s because we secretly love Americans. If this had been an Aussie or Brit talent show, it would have been 10 rugby guys in drag looking embarrassed. Instead, all these people onstage are totally committed. They really mean it!”

“So?”

“So I think we secretly admire their self-confidence. Because we could never pull that off.”

And I thought, OMG.

Because, when she said that, two things happened…

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