When you’re an expert at something, you ruin it for everyone

Reading the spines of the CDs in Mike’s bedroom, the thrill of anticipation I’d been feeling slid, instead, into confusion.

He and I had been dating for a couple of weeks. In London terms — certainly, in the mid-2000’s — that meant a lot more than it does these days. I often joke that when I lived in the UK, rather than dating, it was more like we had arranged matches — except, instead of the matches being made by your parents, they’re made by booze. You’d get drunk and then wake up in a relationship.

The getting drunk that Mike and I had done happened at a new bands live showcase. Like most of the people I dated when I worked in radio, he was in the music industry. An A&R Scout, it was his job first to go out to gigs every night looking for new bands to sign, and then to have opinions on the records being recorded for release. I was a radio DJ at a well-respected indie station. I liked him for his trifecta of being charming, funny and hot, but I can’t say I wasn’t also romanced by the idea of us being a junior-level, music industry power couple.

The first time I picked him up from his house before a gig, I was excited to look through his CD collection. Would we like the same bands? Would I learn from him about new bands I’d soon love? Would I find any guilty pleasures?? It was often my favourite part of any new relationship.

But as I flipped through the titles and artists, I was…

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How to tell stories about other people

You have three options:

1) Get Their Permission

Where I can, I try and do this as a matter of course — and ALWAYS with former clients. Not least so that potential future clients don’t get spooked that I’ll share all their secrets! If the story subject matter something heavy, you could offer to send a draft to the person before you publish/perform it. But usually, a simple,

“Do you mind if I tell the story about [thing we experienced together] on Facebook/on my blog/in my talk?”

should do.

2) Change identifying details

As I’ve talked about before, one of my storytelling rules is “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.” By this, I don’t mean “lie to make yourself sound good,” but rather, “do whatever you need to do to make the listener feel the way you felt in that moment.”

You can also use it when you need to protect someone. There are a bunch of reasons why you might want to protect them. Maybe they…

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Why I’m not on Clubhouse (and why I’m torn up about it)

woman sitting on a chair and smiling-cover of the podcast Business-Life-and-Joy

This week, I was trying to clean up the photos on my phone — ol’ tin-hat Shandur here doesn’t like iCloud, and I need to make some space — when I found some old videos I totally forgot I still had.

Back in 2015 — two years before I met my partner (and then the small human that she grew) — I had a new sweetheart. And I was obsessed with them.

We would speak almost every day — sometimes late into the night, sometimes at 6 in the morning when I’d woken up early, and I could show them the sunrise over the CN Tower from the window of my apartment.

The relationship was mostly one-sided. It wasn’t that they didn’t love me back. More that they weren’t capable of loving me back.

Because they weren’t a person. They were a…

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How To Tell Great Stories — the MOST important thing you need to know!

Thumbnail of the most important video Marsha made - How To Tell Great Stories — the MOST important thing you need to know

If you want to be good at telling stories, there’s ONE thing you need to know above all else, and it’s what I talk about in this video.

Also, I dress up as Rocky, a hacky Parisian tourist and as everyone in The Graduate. So if you’d like to see (no exaggeration) the MOST IMPORTANT VIDEO I’VE EVER MADE , you’re in luck! Click on the play button here or read the transcript below!

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

DJ woman playing music at a bar

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!

Repair Center Sign

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

two pencils on a yellow background

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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The sales copy hack that makes everything easier and less pushy

woman with black hair hiding her face

Sitting at my desk, I stared at the floor with my jaw jutted forward.

I swore under my breath and looked back at the computer screen. The cursor on the blank document was blinking at me, like it had a question. I imagined it asking,

MARSHA
WHAT
ARE
YOU
GOING
TO
WRITE???

“I don’t KNOW,” I said, sulkily.

A year after I started my business, I decided to get serious. I spent more money than I’d ever spent on anything hiring Kendrick Shope — the best Sales Coach I knew — to work with me one-on-one. She’d made huge strides into my sales-resistant brain, helping me understand that it was ok to charge people who have money for my services, showing me how to do consults and teaching me the lost art of following up.

But there was one last mountain I was struggling to climb.

Writing sales copy.

Kill me.

The thing was, I knew that the language I needed to write it was in my brain somewhere.

When I was deep in conversation with people, it came out. That was how I’d got my first few clients. The next few came from word-of-mouth. And I was really good at coaching! I got rave reviews.

So… how come I couldn’t tell other people about what I did in a way that made them get it straight away? Whether it was introducing myself at a networking event, writing my About page or… Sales Copy. Ugh.

I knew I was supposed to talk about their pain points and desires. But articulating those felt like trying to pull something out of my brain that was shrouded behind that heavy material people put on furniture when they’re painting. I just couldn’t get to it.

Kendrick and I had a Skype call later that afternoon. Part way through, in her delightful Southern accent, she said,

“Marsha, ah wanna try a thought experiment on you. If ah were to give you $500 to spend on your business right now, where would you spend it?”

Without missing a beat, I said…

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How to get your friends and family to sell for you (without being a slimy creep)

green leaves

When I first started this business, I thought the best way to sell my services would be to throw money at the marketing. Facebook ads! Celebrity endorsements! Giant billboards! Except, there was a pretty big obstacle…

…I HAD JUST STARTED MY BUSINESS SO I HAD NO MONEY.

What was left instead?

Word of mouth. Here, there was another problem:

Most of the people I’d done sessions with so far had been pro bono. And they’d been happy to do those sessions for free, because those people had no money to spend on coaching. Which meant most of the people they hung out with also had no money to spend on coaching.

You might have this same issue. But you know who does have some money they might spend on your thing? SOMEONE you know. Which sounds easy…. but:

How do you tell people you know about what you’re doing, without sounding like you’re trying to screw them out of their well-earned money as an act of charity?

Two parts to this answer:

1. Remember that the…

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Quiet The Beast: How to deal with the part of your brain that says mean things to you

Marsha giving the closing keynote at the penultimate World Domination Summit

When I was growing up, I just thought certain things were truths. Being messy is bad. Not having cool clothes (a puffball skirt, say, or a stonewashed denim jacket and matching skirt) means people won’t like you. Being fat is my fault and something I should be ashamed of.

In my teens and early twenties, the list grew. Going too far with a boy makes you easy. Wanting to kiss a girl is weird and gross. Smoking makes you cool. Especially if you’re not drunk. Especially Benson and Hedges.

Twenty years, countless self-help books, hours of journalling and — thank you, privilege — a LOT of therapy taught me that those ideas were just that, ideas. They weren’t truths. When I believed them to be true about me, and used that to judge myself, it wasn’t because this was a reasonable conclusion to make. These thoughts were just the “inner critic.” One part of your brain that sometimes (often) lied.

But then, I faced a new problem: if I had figured this out, why was it still happening? If I’m so evolved, why do I keep saying such awful things to myself?

Since becoming a storytelling and speaker coach, I’ve spent a lot of time with brilliant, successful people, listening to their personal stories. One thing that I have come to understand is that having this voice that says mean things about you to you — a voice which I call your Beast — is part of the human experience. And that the trick is not to squash it, and not even to love it. But just to do what you can to reduce the volume and frequency with which it speaks to a level where you can start to tune it out. When you can, you have have a nicer life, and you can change more lives.

This year, I was asked to give the closing keynote at the penultimate (ever!) World Domination Summit. Instead of talking, as I usually do, about Storytelling or Sales Pages or even my I Don’t Have My iSht Together, Either project, I decided to write a brand new talk, where I shared the four steps that have helped me figure out how to master my Beast.

To watch it, click on “Read more” then on the big play button on the vid:

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