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I meet a lot of new clients with this dilemma: which comes first, the design of my new website, new copy for my site, or “branding” (whatever that is).

Design_Copywriting_BrandingIt’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg debate: which comes first? What’s the best strategic place to start? And if you start with the “wrong” element first, will it mess up everything else?

I love it when people ask these questions with an open mind. Because, truly, there is a best place to start.

Assuming you’re working with experienced creative professionals who understand content strategy, truly want your project to succeed, and don’t have too much ego on the line (because your creative project is not a p*ssing match to see which creative has the best idea), there is a best flow for bringing a business brand online.

First, understand the business you’re in (or want to be in).

Who are your customers/clients, what value are you offering to them, and how do you deliver that value? Get clear on your Brand Proposition (also called a Value Proposition) and your Unique Selling Position (USP). And yes — no matter what you do and who you are, you do have competitors (other alternatives in the market your customers could choose instead of you). Have a premise of what makes you different from your competitors.

Contrary to what commonly happens when solopreneurs and microbusinesses approach creative service professionals, it’s NOT the job of your copywriter, your web designer, or even your branding specialist to help you figure out what your business is really about. It’s your job, as the business owner, to be clear about your business before you approach. As creatives, we take our clues from you, the client. If you give us insufficient or off the mark input, what we create for you won’t serve your goals (or help you make money) six months or a year from now, and then you’ll want to (and need to) reinvest in “branding” all over again, from scratch.

Second, have an idea of what your Right Person — your Most Likely to Buy client — would respond to in a brand.

Your brand is not all about you — even if you’re a “personality brand.” Your visual brand identity, and the way you message your brand conversation, has to appeal to your Ideal Client.

I’ll use an extreme example to illustrate this.

Say you’re a well-to-do 47 year-old man living in Bali who prefers minimalist design, likes to garden, and is particularly partial to the colors walnut and green. You self-identify as a Thinker. Your Top 3-5 Voice Values are Depth, Intimacy, and Accuracy. But you’re in the organic, sustainable baby clothing business and your Ideal Client is a young American mom with limited disposable income who self-identifies as a Healer. So who do you design the brand for? Yourself, or your very-different-from-you Ideal Client? (Note: the answer is NOT always to change your business so you’re serving people just like yourself, as discussed toward the end of and in the comments on this post.)

Third, put your branding insights down on paper. And/or hire a branding specialist.

You don’t have to be “right” about your first instincts about your brand. You do have to have some ideas, and get them out of your head and into some sort of order before you approach a creative professional. Then be prepared to have them re-explored, finessed, and re-worked in service of your business goals and brand objectives.

Put your Brand Proposition, your USP, what you know about your Right Person, and your hunches as to color palette and other design ideas into an outline or a summary you can give to a copywriter for guidance and inspiration, or use your outline or summary to complete the intake questionnaire your copywriter gives you.

If you’re really stuck on this part, this is the time to work with a branding specialist. (In case you’re curious about The Voice Bureau, this is the type of person we work with best.)

Make sure you vet your specialist. What credentials or (more importantly) experience does this person have that earns him that title? What other projects has he worked on? Do you like the looks of the sites she’s worked on?

A branding specialist will help you get clear on what your brand is about, who it’s for, and why it will be meaningful to them. Most likely, you’ll walk away from your work with a branding specialist with some kind of Creative Brief, PDF, or other written document that can guide your decision-making about copy and visual brand identity.

Fourth, find and hire the right copywriter.

Don’t just hire the first copywriter you follow on Twitter. Take your time to get some referrals from people you know (whose judgment you trust), to follow up with clients featured on the copywriters’ praise page, to read those copywriters’ sales pages and get a feel for their process and rates (if published), and to check out their portfolios or samples. It may sound obvious, but if you don’t like the writer’s writing style on their own blog, sales page, or in their samples, chances are you won’t like what they write for you. Yes, a good copywriter will write your content in a way that will appeal to your audience, not necessarily hers, but if you doubt the talent or the chops of the writer at first blush, that’s a red flag.

Many microbusiness owners choose to write their own copy. That’s a great choice for some people. Others will choose to work with a copywriter to make the process feel surer, smoother, and easier — and of course, so they can take advantage of the copywriters’ experience with helping many other business owners launch their brand online.

Here’s how to know if you’re ready to hire a copywriter to write your website or other marketing collateral:

  • the thought of writing your own web copy makes you gag, cry, or fall asleep;
  • you really struggle with putting your thoughts into words on the page;
  • you have lots of ideas but struggle with organizing them;
  • you’re willing to invest time, energy, and thought into the intake and revision process, but are willing to take your hands off the actual writing and let the copywriter do her thing;
  • you have the money to hire one (figure that experienced professional copywriters charge at least $250 for a single page of copy, and up to $1000 or more for specialty pages such as sales pages).

As stated before, the copywriter’s job is to organize, structure, and express the ideas your website needs to convey. His job is not to help you figure out what your business really does or who you really serve. The copywriter can only work with the clarity you give her. If you don’t have clarity, neither will she. Copy written without adequate clarity results in low conversion (i.e. people won’t buy what you’re selling, no matter how great the sales page ‘sounds’).

The copywriter will do her own intake based on her internal process. Usually this will take the form of a questionnaire or an interview. It’s helpful to give her the Creative Brief or outline of branding points you already have, but be prepared for her to ask you a few questions you may not have thought of already.

Now, you’ve heard the saying form follows function? This is entirely true with a business website. The web designer generally follows the lead of the branding specialist and/or the copywriter in creating a visual design that will support what the content needs to do to help your offers convert.

Most Voice Bureau clients are in the process of bringing a new brand online, or reiterating an existing brand. We suggest that once the copywriting project is underway, the client then begins to approach web designers, or lets us matchmake her with one we know, like, and trust.

Fifth, find and hire the right web designer.

In this day and age, there’s no need to go to a web designer and a web developer separately. Web designers should also develop (i.e. build and code) your site, or should seamlessly outsource the development so that you’re none the wiser.

As with vetting copywriters (see above), vet your web designer. When you contact her, tell her you’ve already worked with a branding specialist or are currently working with a copywriter and you do have a content plan for the site to share. (Content plan = what pages make up the site, which pages appear in the main navigation menu as opposed to being linked to from other pages, and what’s the most important thing for the site visitor to do on each page.)

The web designer’s job is to create a visually pleasing, user-friendly virtual home for your content to live. She has the ability to see what layout(s) would best support your content and your buyer’s journey through your site. She’s essentially a problem-solver. If you hire a great web designer, you can trust her to see things you can’t see about the way your site needs to look and function.

Her equally important job is to make your brand memorable through telling your brand story visually.

So the best process flow for bringing a business brand online is: 1st —  branding, 2nd — copywriting, and 3rd — web design.

If you put design before branding and copywriting, you run the risk of building a visual design that doesn’t support your business goals and brand objectives, doesn’t appeal to your Right Person, and isn’t the right ‘house’ to support the goals of your content.

If you put copywriting before branding and design, you leave the most important elements of your business in the hands of a copywriter, who may or may not have the business development skill set to support you in designing a brand conversation that works.

If you put ‘branding’ last, you run the risk of building your entire business on an unstable foundation — one that’ll cost a pretty penny to redo a year down the road after your first ‘brand’ isn’t connecting or converting. (I put ‘brand/ing’ in quotes here, because every time I’m approached by a prospect needing help with ‘branding’ immediately following the launch of a new website, I know that somewhere along the line there’s been a profound misunderstanding of what branding is and where it comes into the picture.)

At The Voice Bureau, we offer all three services under one astute roof — so you can relax and let the process unfold all around you.

No need for a siloed approach, where you as the client have to toggle between different creative pros, making sure all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed. That’s our job.

Need help with a project of your own? Learn more about how we work.

In the comments, would you share with us:

Your experiences with the chicken-or-the-egg debate when it comes to branding, copywriting, and web design. Did you start with the wrong piece and end up with a jumbled mess? (Trust me: most of us have been there!) How did you find your way back to brand clarity?

(Image credit.)

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I gasped when I saw the title of a certain blog post flit through my Tweetstream that morning.

“Bag your boundaries,” says the super successful business owner.

WHY? was my first thought. Designing and keeping clear boundaries is one of the things that’s helped and is helping me grow, professionally and personally.

A photo of a busy city street at sunrise, full of traffic, with the words "Do you actually need boundaries in your creative business?"

Boundaries in creative business: what are they good for?

Boundaries help me sleep better at night (no reading email in bed, no responding to important client emails from my iPhone, no work on the weekends unless it’s my idea). They make client relationships run more smoothly. They enable good projects to get done more efficiently. And I’ve noticed that when my peers, colleagues, and clients step up to enforce their own thoughtful boundaries — business gets better, blood pressure goes down, and those Wrong-Fitting clients show themselves the door.

You can read the super successful business owner’s take on boundaries here.

Here’s my thoughtful alternate take on why boundaries are so important for values-based microbusiness owners:

She writes:

“You know what’s a major turn on for potential clients and collaborators? This: ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to makes this awesome.’ Hellohhh, beautiful.”

Well, now.

As someone who works every day on creative projects with small business owners, both 1:1 and as the leader of a team, I appreciate the spirit behind this perspective. It’s gorgeously open, enthusiastic, and in the big picture, it seems ‘right.’ However, I think it’s irresponsible advice, especially in light of an audience comprised of many newly minted coaches, creatives, and solo business owners. Let me tell you why.

I completely agree that as service providers, it’s necessary to do our best work.

We owe our openness to the creative process to our clients. Even if, occasionally, that somehow takes us past the promised number of revisions, or if we go 15 minutes over the hour on an intake call. I would rather deliver my best work and feel inspired doing so than stick to my contract to the letter but deliver work that I don’t believe is my best effort, and that I doubt has an optimal likelihood of satisfying the client’s business goals and brand objectives.

But, I think newbie practitioners and those who have a hard time with boundaries anyway will take this business owner’s post as a license to consistently overdeliver (to the detriment of their business and their craft) and a credo to bend over backwards, because “DLP says it’s good business.”

As creatives, most of us have had clients who would have gladly run us ragged requesting endless re-works and revisions if we’d let them. Not because the work we deliver isn’t good or great, but because the clients are not actually ready for the process we deliver. Thus, they feel perpetually dissatisfied, confused, and unclear as to what they want.

As Creative Director of a boutique copywriting, branding, and marketing agency, it’s important to me as I build out systems and processes for The Voice Bureau that we don’t sacrifice the human touch in favor of a more scalable and sustainable business. There’s a balance between boundaries that work to support client relationships, and boundaries that simply keep everyone from feeling seen, heard, and satisfied.

In the comments, I really want to know:

What are your thoughts and experiences around boundaries in your creative business life? Good? Bad? Do yours need tightening up or loosening up?

***Please know — I do NOT see this conversation as about the writer of the original blog post, so please keep that in mind as you craft your response. This is about a topic that is VERY important to business owners and I welcome all points of view.

(Photo credit.)

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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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