Subscribe for Insider Stuff and discover YOUR Voice Values with our complimentary self-assessment.

So you got hooked on Season 1 of Serial and you want to start listening to more podcasts, but you don’t know where to start?

7 podcasts to try for a more inspired workweek. Recommended by The Voice Bureau at AbbyKerr.comAllow me to introduce you to a few of my faves. I’m a longtime podcast junkie whose iTunes queue is regularly full to bursting with new (and old) shows. And I LOVE to share a good resource with an interested person.

I listen to — how can I put this strongly enough — a LOT of audio. Hours and hours (and hours) a week.

Podcasts, for me, are a mental palate cleanser in between work sessions. They shunt my brain into a more receptive and expansive mode, which is a nice buffer in the midst of a full workweek. I like to listen while I’m driving, making lunch, and brushing my teeth. I have at least one podcast in my iTunes (usually more than one) for just about any mood or mindset I’m in: hungry to learn (audio, along with written, is one of my best modes for learning), wanting to zone out, wanting to be entertained or edutained (that’s a word now, right?),

So if you’re looking for a little more podcast love in your life, here are my current top picks, by category.

LIFE/INTROSPECTION/HUMAN EXPERIENCE

DEATH, SEX & MONEY

Anna Sale’s interesting show covers the big three topics that consume us humans. Her shows are about the idiosyncratic yet totally universal nature of what it means to be a person. “Jane Fonda After Death and Divorce” is a truly excellent episode. For a quite different flavor, check out “Brooklyn Left Me Broke and Tired.”

SLATE’S WORKING

If you love learning about other people’s livelihood and how they bring in the bacon, you’ll love Working. The aspiring ‘nose’ in me totally geeked out on “How Does A Perfumer Work?” which gets up close and personal with small-batch perfumer Anne Serrano-McClain.

LITERATURE/WRITING

A TINY SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT

Hosted by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, two (famous) fiction writers from Washington State who are real-life friends. They talk shop, which means, the writing life, and also chat about current events and the human condition. I feel like these guys are my friends riding in the backseat while I drive us along some country roads. In Episode 1, they each read from their works in progress. Score, literary lovers!

BUSINESS MEETS PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

HOW SHE REALLY DOES IT

Koren Motekaitis is a life coach and swim coach, and over the years has rubbed elbows (podcastically speaking) with every ‘big name’ interviewee one might want in the entrepreneurship, values-based business, and personal development realm. This is the first podcast I ever started listening to, way back in early 2010 when I first started my online-based business. I enjoyed this one with her and Jen Louden, talking about friendships, belonging, and loneliness.

SELF-CARE

PSYCHOLOGY OF EATING

Mark David and Emily Rosen are the co-founder and director, respectively, of The Institute for The Psychology of Eating in Boulder, CO. Since adolescence, I have read books, watched documentaries and TV shows, and listened to audio wisdom on the subject of making peace with food, body image, et al. Yet I’ve never found elsewhere the level of depth and whoa, right to the core insight that host Mark David offers his one-on-one coaching clients in these recorded-for-us sessions. This episode with Debbie, a 45-year diet veteran, is awesome.

KATY SAYS WITH KATY BOWMAN

I’m new to the ‘natural movement’ conversation, and Katy Bowman is not only the industry frontwoman but also a great teacher and guide for newcomers. (‘Newcomers’ is a bit of an oxymoron since this is ancestral movement we’re talking about here.) I especially liked Episode 3 on “Casts”; it’s not what you think.

MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

ONLINE MARKETING MADE EASY

I like Amy Porterfield’s teaching style a LOT. She’s the girl next door of my podcast queue. She’s also the most thorough, generous, and prolific business marketing specialist I know of. She’s single-handedly reviewed my faith in using Facebook for business. Don’t miss her fantastic free downloads that go with each episode.

In the comments, I’d love to know:

What’s in your podcast lineup? Tell me about your favorite show and why it keeps you refreshing for the latest episode.

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First of all, forget what you’re supposed to be writing.

In this moment, you’re NOT writing your About page! You’re just writing some sentences that are clear and true about yourself. Your hopes. Your dreams. Your beliefs. Your experiences. Those big life questions that enthrall you.

Bet you she's NOT writing her About page

Who cares where they’ll end up? You may end up tossing them all.

Flip open a new page in a notebook, or open a new Evernote file, or hie thee [that’s Shakespearean] to a new Google doc. (That’s usually what I do.)

Second, look at your Voice Values.

If you don’t know your top 3-5 Voice Values, go here and take this first

Got ‘em? Good.

Now, find your top mix of Voice Values in the sections below. If you have Voice Values in multiple sections, start in the section you feel most drawn to. There’s no wrong way to do this.

Finish the sentence stems in your Voice Values’ section(s) with what is true for you. Try just one of the sentence stems, try them all, try whatever feels right. Again, start anywhere in any section you’ve got at least one Voice Value.

And hey — no need to stay away from the other sections. If a question or two inspires you there, have at it!

Remember — you are NOT writing your About page right now.

Right now, you’re simply writing down some clear, true stuff about you and your business. Maybe something will end up shimmering, maybe not. It doesn’t matter.

What DOES matter if that you try this.

If Love, Helpfulness, Intimacy, AND/OR Transparency are in your top mix, try these:

  • If my Right People could tell me a secret about ____(themselves or something or someone else)______________, it would be that _______(the secret) _____________________________________________________.
  • If I believed in past lives, I would think I’d once lived in ____(place)_____________ and/or was a ___________(describe the type of person)____________________________________________.
  • I’m probably nothing like you would expect when it comes to ____(something unorthodox, against the grain, or surprising about yourself)_____________________________.
  • A little known fact about me is _________(little known fact)_________________.
  • The truest truth I know is _____________(the truth) ________________________. What this has to do with my business is __________(how it connects) __________________________________________________________.
  • My Right People have never told anyone that they____(goal or aspiration they’ve never confessed to anyone before)__________________________________.

If Enthusiasm, Playfulness, Audacity, AND/OR Community are in your top mix, try these:

  • Yep, I really am as __(adjective/descriptive word or phrase)_____________ as you would expect me to be.
  • In my business, nothing delights me more than ______(what delights you)___________________ and this matters or makes a difference for my Right People because _______(how it makes a difference)__________________________.
  • I would love to personally thank ____(someone famous or someone infamous)______________________ for inspiring me to _________(what you’ve been inspired to do or be)_________________________________________.
  • Someday, I’d love to get all my Right People together at this kind of venue: _______(description of venue)____________________________________.
  • I am a bit of an aficionado when it comes to ____(thing, place, person, or idea you love) ____________________________________________________________.
  • My favorite risk I’ve ever taken was  _______________________(the risk you took)_______________________________________________________.

If Excellence, Power, Legacy, AND/OR Security are in your top mix, try these:

  • I’m the first person to ____(do something)__________in my family/peer group/industry/niche. [Just make sure it’s true!] 
  • I’m the only one in my industry/niche who ______(does something or believes something)__________________. [Again, it’d better be true.]
  • My approach/philosophy breaks with tradition in this way: ____(describe the way)______________________________________________________.
  • My competition would say that I’m ________________(descriptive word or phrase)_______________________________________, and they’re right!
  • My Right People have made a vow/promise/oath that they _______________(will or will never do/be something)__________________________________________.
  • In five years, I believe this business will be known for ___(what your business will be known for)__________________________________________________.

If Accuracy, Clarity, Depth, AND/OR Innovation are in your top mix, try these:

  • I love sharing my process around ____________(process you share in your business) _________________________________________________________.
  • Nothing makes me more curious than _________(topic, thing, idea)___________ ___________________________________________________________.
  • If I were guaranteed a truthful answer, I’d love to ask everyone I meet this question: ______(question you’d ask)________________________________________.
  • What my Right People are often surprised to learn about me is  _______(what they’re surprised to learn)_______________________________________________.
  • The age old question I continually wrestle with is __________(what’s the question?)___________________________________________________.
  • I wish someone would dare me to __________(thing you wish they’d dare you to do)________________________________________________________.

Now what?

Transfer the sentences you’ve written to a clean doc. Are there relationships between any of them, content-wise or theme-wise? Do you feel excited by any of them? Do you feel resistance to any of them?

Have you already inadvertently written a provocative headline that could — if you WERE writing your About page (which you’re not!) — set the tone for your About page and make your Right People want to read more?

Can you get a sense of order, as in, if you were using this material all together, what feels like it should come first, second, next . . .?

Star the sentence you’re MOST delighted by. Why does it delight you?

If you were thinking of writing or rewriting your About page, you could start there. Just saying.

You could also join me and more than 50 other participants (so far!) inside Write Your Authentic About Page, an online course that takes the ouch of the process.

Write Your Authentic About PageWe start this Monday, June 15th and the course runs live for 4 weeks.

What’s inside? Twice-weekly lessons (audio + transcript), easy-to-follow templates that’ll get you started, screencast (video) tours of successful About pages from around the web, screencast critiques of participants’ pages-in-progress, and a smart and sensitive community of business owners who are also writing their About pages alongside you.

And this time around, I’m modeling my own About page-writing process for you in a series of 3 videos. It’ll be like watching over my shoulder as I write and share the strategic and artistic thinking behind my process. There’s also an upgrade available where you can work with me one-on-one at a special rate ONLY available for 6 weeks to participants in this course.

CLICK HERE to learn more and write (or rewrite!) with us this June and July.

All stages and types of businesses are welcome.

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How do YOU know when it’s the right time to take action in your creative business?

Laura-Simms-career-coachFiguring out right timing is a key competency for entrepreneurs. You have to develop a sense of when it’s the right time to plan, to launch, to learn, to build community, to take an hour break and watch an episode of your favorite gloomy detective series on Netflix. (Seriously, now!)

Thing is, there aren’t often clear cut rights-or-wrongs when it comes to when to bust a business move.

It mostly comes down to what feels right or has been proven (through your own observation, tracking, and natural momentum) to work well for you and your Right People. Just because MY Right People like to invest more in learning and training in the Fall than at any other time of year doesn’t mean that YOUR Right People would follow the same rule.

Understanding what’s right for your business — in terms of your prime directive, goal-setting, and daily workflow — is a huge part of what my friend and collaborator Laura Simms (vizier at Create As Folk, where meaningful careers come to life) is teaching in Ready To Arrive. Ready To Arrive is a virtual bootcamp-style experience designed to help business owners refocus and recenter on the work that’s most meaningful to them. She invited me to be a Guest Teacher, contributing work around developing a clear brand message.

Because when the right mission meets the right message at the right time, it’s magic.

Here’s a Q&A with Laura about the original impetus for Ready To Arrive, and what it feels like to get off-focus in your brand.

ABBY: How did you get the spark to create Ready To Arrive? When did it — as an idea — first occur to you?
LAURA: I run a yearlong program for entrepreneurs called Cornerstone that addresses planning, focus, and legacy building. Each month I create new action-oriented planning pack for them that tackles a specific challenge in one of those areas. It usually takes me 2-3 hours to make a pack, so when I hit hour 5 on a particularly in-depth pack, I knew something was up. I decided to sleep on it before sending that pack out because something didn’t feel quite right.
The next day, I knew that it would be a disservice to deliver that material to the Cornerstone crew; it was just too much. I knew it could help some members, but for others it would be like throwing a stick of dynamite in their businesses just as they were starting a hit a groove. (Abby’s Note: Smart. Understanding the right timing and pacing for your Right People is a whole ‘thing’ in and of itself.) The whole thing was both beyond the scope of the goals of that program, and not complete enough to stand alone without further instruction; it would have been irresponsible teaching to present it to that group in that way. I started outlining what a complete version would be like and knew it needed to be its own course.
*
ABBY: So how did you know that THIS program was right thing at the right time for your brand? As opposed to something else? I ask because, you know, creative entrepreneurs and decision fatigue. It’s real.
LAURA: I considered another topic to build a course around based off a half-baked e-book that’s sitting in the graveyard of forgotten projects on my computer. I was trying to decide between it or RTA, and the RTA content just flowed out, whereas with the other topic I felt like I was trying to glue popsicle sticks together — just one idea mashed onto another without real structural integrity. (Abby’s Note: Great sign it’s time to shelve that idea — at least for now — and allow something more ripe and ready to emerge.) So I went with the flow. Also, I’ve been experiencing some great things in my own business as a result of applying the RTA principles and am on-fire excited to share that with the right group of people.

*

ABBY: Why do you think business owners and brand creators struggle so much with understanding “the right thing to do” in their business? Why is it so hard to figure some of this stuff out, when we’ve started this businesses so that we could be more in control of decisions?

LAURA: Simple: lack of clarity of vision. They don’t have a singular mission (one big decision), so they get bogged down with lots of little decisions.
*

ABBY: So, when it comes to Ready To Arrive, why did you want to collaborate with me? What did you see that I could bring to the table?

LAURA: We’ve long thought of our businesses as sister brands (Abby’s Note: It’s so true.), so I’ve been on the lookout for a way to collaborate with you for awhile. I mentioned that I’d love to work with you sometime last year, but I didn’t have a specific project in mind. When I started developing the RTA content, I knew that message was an important component, but to use a term from RTA, that’s outside my Area of Excellence. But it’s right in yours! I knew you could bring depth and clarity to the message conversation that I never could. Also, I just like you and I thought we’d have a good time preparing something together.

*

ABBY: I’m totally flattered and I LOVE what we’ve put together for that weekend in June. Participants are in for a treat.

So, this course is aimed right at entrepreneurs who know they’ve been keeping their businesses small and ‘under the radar,’ even if subconsciously.

RTA - Twitter
They can feel that there’s a bigger purpose or destiny there, but they haven’t really let themselves step into it fully. Chances are, they’ve gotten off-track somewhere from their original intent or dream.
And honestly, haven’t we all been there? I know I have.

For me (Abby), losing focus tends to happen usually after one of three seasons:

  1. An intensely busy and productive season in which I’ve worked myself to the bone and not taken enough time for rest and self-care. What I really need is some R&R, but I make up a story that burnout means I’m off-track, and so I start wandering, and over-analyzing everything, and second guessing my instincts. That’s when I start to get fuzzy on what the heck I’m doing in my business.
  2. I’ve been taking in way too much of other people’s content — i.e. reading their blog posts, downloading their special stuff, listening to their podcast — because I admire them so much and appreciate their take, and I can no longer hear my own voice in my head because all I hear is theirs. This is the downside to being a sponge for voices like I am. I have to stay very centered and grounded in order to hold on to my voice.
  3. I’ve been in comparison mode — watching colleagues too closely. I’m undervaluing my own contribution.
*
So, Laura, my question for you is, how will YOU know if ever your business or brand gets off-track? What’s that historically feel like for you?
LAURA: This has happened and I HATE it, although I think it’s a totally natural part of brand evolution. I can describe it best as behavior: I start looking outside of myself and my work for the answer. I start thinking that a Pinterest board is going to tell me who I am, or try to force myself into language that just doesn’t fit, or let myself become overly influenced by what other people are doing. You wrote something once about not having to let everything that inspires you influence you. When I’m on track, I can see something great that someone else is doing and think (to quote Amy Poehler) “Good for her! Not for me.”
*

ABBY: One last question. What are your Voice Values?

LAURA: They are Intimacy, Depth, Power, and Helpfulness, with a dash of Playfulness.

ABBY: Yes. That Playfulness is such a great accent. Without making space for it, your brand just wouldn’t feel fully Laura.

Curious about what a little (okay, a LOT) more clarity and focus could do for YOU? Join us this June 2015 for Ready To Arrive.

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This weekend, I got real with strangers.

Bunny Standing in the SunI was lucky enough to attend a Brené Brown Daring Way Intensive. There were four of us participants, four women including myself, plus one man. We sat around an oval-shaped wooden table, at one end of which sat our facilitator, a rosy-cheeked therapist with a kind and motherly affect.

If you know anything about Brené Brown’s groundbreaking work around shame, vulnerability, empathy, and authenticity, you already know what I was in for. I was looking for a breakthrough in a specific area of my life. And I got it, or definitely started anew with a fresh perspective on myself.

As I went through the weekend, I found myself so inspired by some of the concepts that I kept scribbling things on blue post-its and sticking them inside my Daring Way binder. One of the ideas I came up with was this: I need to explain to you why Authenticity is NOT a Voice Value.

I’ve got 16 Voice Values but authenticity ain’t one. And here’s why.

Authenticity is assumed. It’s rightful. It’s omnipresent.

You may not always be feeling as authentic as you’d like to feel as you tweet or respond to a client email or write a blog post, but there’s an authentic part of you showing up in every area of your brand, from your web copy to your color palette.

Here’s some inside scoop on how I built my Voice Values methodology: part of the process involved listing out ALL of the qualities of ‘voice’ I could possibly detect, discern, and describe, and then crystallizing several related qualities into ONE emblematic word, like ‘Accuracy,’ or ‘Depth’ or ‘Excellence,’ or ‘Love’ (just 4 of the 16 there).

In my head, it sounded a little bit like this: “Well, there are some brands that lead with passion. They are all lit up-like. They feel spirited and joyful, even if they’re elegant and sophisticated rather than childlike or funny. So how would I describe that quality? Ah, Enthusiasm!”

But when it came to being real, to showing up, to being willing to be seen, I just couldn’t reduce that practice to one word.

Neither could I propose that some brands get to be more authentic than others. Because in my Discover Your Voice Values assessment, you come out with a ‘Top Mix’ of Voice Values — 3 to 5 that you naturally reach for and rely on more than the others. Who was I to suggest that someone’s “low” Authenticity value meant that they weren’t being as authentic as another? Nope. Couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it.

Haven’t taken it yet? 48 questions, about 10 minutes of your time, and you’ll self-score your way to clarity on what’s naturally powerful about the way you tweet, Facebook, write blog posts, and email your list.

You’ll also learn a bit about why certain people are drawn to you and what you should watch out for as you grow your brand.

Enter your best email address below and click Go to get started. You’ll also be subscribed to our weekly Letters From The Interior, but you can unsubscribe anytime.









Every brand has the same opportunity to be authentic. And authenticity looks different on each of us.

Authenticity is a personal art, a practice, a permission slip you give yourself. And we are ALL on that journey.

If you could stand to step into a little more authenticity in your own brand, why not start with one of the most important pages on your site — your About page? The About page (usually the highest trafficked page on any solopreneur’s website) is where an authentic connection between your Right People potential clients and customers is forged, or forfeited. Let’s go for forged, you and me.

Don’t think that I’m teaching this course because I’ve got authenticity in my brand down.

My own authentic expression is a work in progress, too, and my Voice Values are only a part of what’s helping me get there.

Over 4 weeks in June and July, I’ll be modeling and demonstrating my own About page-re-writing process inside Write Your Authentic About Page. If you could use some solid, strategic teaching around the art of the About page, some quality support, and tons of real world examples to inspire you, please check out the course. It all starts Monday, June 15th.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What are you already doing on your About page that feels authentic to you and your brand?

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This is an installment of The Voice Bureau’s blog post series on Writing Your Smart, Empathetic Website. This series is written with active and aspiring brand creators in mind — those of you who know that your website should be your business’s hardest working “salesperson” — and want to make that more of a reality. Click here to visit the intro to this series, and to find links to all the other installments.

I’ve been writing business websites for over 5 years now — not a lifetime, but I’m no newbie, either — & I can tell you without hesitation which site page is the most angst-inducing for clients.

Write Your Authentic About PageIt’s the About page. (In case you’re curious, the second most angst-inducing site page for clients is the sales page. But that’s another blog post.)

As you sit down to start writing (or rewriting) your About page, this all-important letter to potential clients and customers about who you are and why you do what you do, chances are your feelings run the gamut from mildly flummoxed to rather mortified. For most of us, it can be a bit weird to write a page that will be cached on the web forevermore that’s supposed to be totally (but not totally) personal AND expressive of what makes you wildly hireable or buyable.

How do you distill a professional life’s worth of meaning, achievements, and perspectives into roughly 500 words of compelling clarity and connection?

Each copywriter you could hire will bring a different approach. Each business coach you could work with will tell you that different things are important to highlight.

For the DIY’ers, those of us writing our own website copy, we muddle through, filtering best practices through our own lens on what is important. And we hope our Right People site visitors will agree with us about what’s important!

The variety of viewpoints out there on what makes an effective About page are . . . numerous. This is why we see About pages that read like slightly amputated versions of War and Peace, and About pages that top out at 200 words and actually tell the reader nothing about the brand’s story or the creator behind it.

As you go to write your About page, any one or more of these questions may be tumbling through your mind:

  • What’s supposed to go on an About page, anyway?
  • What do my Right People — my target buyers or clients — really want to hear about me?
  • I’m supposed to have a story. WHAT’S MY STORY?!?
  • How long is too long? How short is too short?
  • How do I not sound narcissistic when I’m waxing on about myself?
  • What should get more emphasis — my professional accomplishments or my personal journey? Is there a golden proportion of personal to professional?
  • Do I really need to talk about my hobbies, my kids, my pets? Will my industry not take me seriously if I mention that I take the Polar Bear Plunge every Winter?

The bottom line is this: you, sensitive, thinking business owner, want to write an authentic About page.

You know that depending on who you are and the work you do, this could look and feel quite different from one page to the next. One size does NOT fit all — though there is a flexible structure you can learn, a philosophy you can embody as you write, and a narrative flow you can tap into.

As you may know if you’ve followed me and The Voice Bureau for a while is that we offer copywriting services to solo and small business owners. But paying a premium for a deluxe copywriting experience is not the right choice for all business owners in our readership — yet MOST of our readership needs web copy.

I want to empower you to write your own site copy when that’s what you want to do, specifically the all-important About page.

That’s why I’m bringing back the second live-running round of Write Your Authentic About Page, our do-it-together, 4-week online course for solo and small business owners. You can learn more about it here.

Even if you don’t take the course, which starts in June 2015 and finishes in July, here’s an acronym for you to consider that could blow open your own approach to writing your authentic About page.

ABOUT PAGE PHILOSOPHY, IN A 5-LETTER ACRONYM

A is for ALIGNED

Your About page should be an apt reflection of who you are, how you show up, and why your work is meaningful to you and your Right People. You don’t need to put on airs or strive to be the next version of yourself, but a true reflection of how you deliver today. Note: Your About page is not the place for false modesty, but neither is it the place to paint yourself as the second coming of Beyonce 3.0.

B is for BALANCED

A well-balanced About page focuses on your business’s point of view, your personality as creator or leader, and your Right People’s interests, and finds a healthy ratio between the three. The three stories are very much related, you see, and your job as writer is to find the best entry point to tell that story.

O is for ORGANIZED

Like any well-constructed piece of writing, a good About page has a dynamic sense of narrative flow. First comes this, then comes that. You take readers on a journey that makes intellectual and emotional sense — whether they’re your Right People or not. And the Right people? They’ll opt-in for even more.

U is for UNIVERSAL

Your About page gives you an opportunity to tap into undeniable truths about human nature that your Right People will connect with. Yes, we’re all special snowflakes, but we’re all shockingly alike, too. Your About page should tell the story of how you’re both alike and different from others — so that people can feel the particularity of your universality. (We all love and recognize a good paradox.)

T is for TALK-WORTHY

The best About pages are memorable, engaging the reader’s attention with specific, concrete details that make them marvel at how you see the world a lot like they do, but a way they might never have thought to say it. Simply. True. (See Universal, above.)

I’d like to declare this the Year of the Authentic About Page. If you’d like some support in getting yours started and finished, please check out the course.

In the comments, I’d love to hear:

What makes an About page land with you as authentic, versus not particularly authentic? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

(Image credit.)

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