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

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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how to write a bio that people actually enjoy reading or hearing (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

(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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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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