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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How to make yourself likeable when you write online

child looking at a quote - believe in yourself

AKA advice from my past self to you)Cleaning out my Evernote recently, I found a folder called “BLOG PERSONALITY IDEAS.” It came from, years ago, when I was working with Kendrick Shope and she said [imagine deep Southern accent]:

“Marsha, I don’t know anyone who pours their whole personality into their emails better than you do.”

I was thrilled, and her suggestion eventually turned into me starting the service, Put The You Back In Your Business. But somewhere in between, I decided to test out if this could even be a thing, by getting on a call with a business buddy who wasn’t having any engagement in her emails and blogs.

I honestly don’t remember which chum it was (and if it comes to me, I won’t name him/her, because: discretion). But clearly, I made ten notes, and these were written up on the one file inside that was inside that BLOG PERSONALITY IDEAS folder. I just read through them, realized that Past Marsha made some good points, and thought I’d share them with you! With a little explanation under each one.

1) YOU ARE WARM! So be warm in your emails!
I have seen this issue SO MANY TIMES. I meet someone in person. They are so warm that standing next to them basically feels like being hugged by someone you really like. Then I look at their blogs and emails and they write like they’re politely informing me of my next dental appointment.

If you are a warm person in real life, we warm online and in your emails. If you are not warm, be the way you are. Either way, your people will find you and be grateful for it.

2) You don’t have to tell them anything about your life
OH this one. “I’m a really private person. I don’t want to talk online about my life.”
I get it a LOT. But here’s the wonderful thing…

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how to write a bio that people actually enjoy reading or hearing (3 Steps!)

Marsha at the background and a big overlay saying how to write a bio that people actually enjoy-3 steps

While I love doing things that are public facing — speaking on stage, getting interviewed on podcasts, being part of a panel, writing guest blog posts, running workshops for organization — there’s one part I always used to hate. Being asked that question:

“Could you email over a short bio?”

Because summing up your entire career in one paragraph is harrrrrd.

But also, a bio is one of those things that “you just have to have” — which is entirely the wrong way to think about it. Instead, you should be asking yourself my favourite two questions…

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4 questions to ask yourself before you speak on stage

Marsha on the stage with a big sign of 4 questions to as before write any talk or presentation

(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

a laptop on a black background

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!)

podcast episode cover - on the left storytelling drawing and standup on the right Marsha smiling

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

glowing sign - today was a good day

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, Monday, April 6th 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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When should you tell someone to give up on their dreams? (And more, in the Yes Yes Questions #9 Review!)

Taste sign

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.

Jenny sitting on a couch and smiling

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

colorful confetti

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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