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April 12, 2020

Days. Weeks. Months. Who Knows?

Days. Weeks. Months. Who knows? Eeyore

Lately, I’m as high as Carlos Castaneda on Peyote and think, “You have everything needed for the extravagant journey that is your life.” Other days I’m more Eeyore, “Days. Weeks. Months. Who knows?”

All I know is that I’m going to go all John Wick on the ass of the next person who says that this is an opportunity for reflection and connection. Isn’t the silence wonderful? Write your book (even I said that in my last email Do not go gentle into the night good night … . Make your bed first thing because if it is a shit day, you at least come back to a made bed. (Actually, no matter how many times I hear it, I still enjoy the Admiral McRaven address (16 mins). There’s a new one (4mins) made for lockdown which is rather charming too). It’s time for us introverts. The planet is healing …” Whatever. And, if I hear “in these unprecedented times …” one more time, I’m convinced I’ll get a thrombosis.

Admiral McRaven

I’ve been reflecting whether my voice would be useful to you or will it just be another screech in this cacophony of noise that has drilled into our ears and shrilled down our spines over the last couple of weeks? My neocortex has exploded with all the data it has been uploading over the last week or so, what about yours?

If my voice is a screech and a scratch in this endless babble you’re facing, at the bottom of this text, somewhere is an unsubscribe button. If enough of you unsubscribe (by the way, I’ve combined my speaker friends, my PechaKucha delegates and my client databases for this piece of text), I’ll just go back to Netflix and Ted Talks and go mal. But that might not be too bad according to one of my favourite depraved authors, Charles Bukowski“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live.”

Charles Bukowski

I’m between the horns of a dilemma. In this time do I serve or do I sell? And, I do need to sell … my business (like many of us) has been wiped out. Right now, who wants to hire someone who can type some pithy phrases and can string a few sentences together from a stage? There’s no stages to stand on and you don’t want to see how I balls up online.

I don’t want to sell my services. It feels kinda opportunistic to me. It’s like those supermarkets profiteering out of our suffering – wasn’t a 2-litre milk R22 the other day and a week later, it’s over R30? WTF? I’m really hopeful that things will turn around in my industry at least. As I said in my last piece of text to my speaker friends, our clients are making enquiries to book speakers for their conferences after July. I’m convinced that people are going to be so gatvol of online webinars that they’ll want to have real, live, raw motherf … conferences where they can connect. Professional speakers, I have no doubt that you will be run off your feet in the second half of the year.

I’m going to serve and that is really to big a word for what I’m going to do here. It’s so insignificant that I’m almost embarrassed. Those of you that know me, know that I’m curious about this mystery called life. So, I’m always scratching around in some esoteric text, finding myself in some or other spiritual retreat or squatting on an eccentric website. I find other people and their achievements infinitely more interesting than me. Thus, I’m going to share some of the quirky, eccentric and interesting things and people I’ve curated over the years with you over the next couple of “Days. Weeks. Months. Who knows?” (as Eeyore would say).

For the writers …

When I write I’m alway reminded of Truman Capote’s flip dismissal of Jack Kerouac’s work, “That’s not writing, that’s typing.” I don’t know about you, but my first draft is shit, my second draft is shit, my third draft is just passable and then I want to throw the whole thing into the dustbin. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and seven million words … what a masochist! Why don’t I just go to my local BDSM club now and get a spanking?

One of my favourite marketers, Margot Aaron created a map of the writing process which so speaks to me.

image

If it wasn’t for people like enchanting writing coach, Sarah Bullen, the countless Indie authors I know who bleed on their pages every day and my dear friends who buy my books so that I can put petrol in my car, I would have given up long ago. I talk shit, I wouldn’t … I love writing too much and even if I never sold another word, I’d still be at it. Sarah sent me an email the other day and gave this advice

  • Readers love novels that entertain and thrill them.
  • The longer a book is on the shelf the more it can sell. Check out the US top sellers for the last decade and the 20 top selling books of all time. Mommy porn queen, E.L. James claims the top 3 spots on the list. Unbelievable. If you’ve never seen me read an excerpt from E.L. James’s The Mister, check it out, it’s quite a treat. Weirdly, of all the videos I’ve put on You Tube, it’s my most watch one at 544 views.
  • Non fiction will overtake novels in sales this decade (yay for professional speakers who are still thinking about writing their books … glue your bum to the chair now).

For the leaders …

Clearly, the elephant in the room is Covid-19. How many leader know how to lead in these unprecedented kak times? Masters of their craft, Graeme Codrington (futurist) and Stef du Plessis (workplace culture expert) ran a great webinar which puts this whole thing into perspective. Spoiler alert … we may not be getting out on April 16 (but better to be prepared for that). Both speakers are a voice of reason in the noise out there and leave you feeling a little more hopeful than you might be feeling now. There will be more webinars in this vein over the next couple of weeks. Go here to be kept in the loop.

For sales professionals and professional speakers …

I’m becoming quite a fan of Rich Mulholland’s online work. He does it well and he’s smart and articulate to boot. His next online event (Be a better story seller – your customer’s story has just changed, have you changed yours?) is on Wednesday, 8 April at 17h00. I’m going to be there.

If you want to put humour in your next speech …

I’m the lovechild of Darth Vader and Mr Spock (figure out the mechanics) so humour doesn’t come easy to me. When I think I’m funny, I’m not. When I’m serious I’m funny. It’s a bugger up. I’m doing some work with my favourite comedian, Barry Hilton, to remedy that so that my humour can be intentional and not fall flat. He can write some pithy and funny one-liners for you too so that it will give your speech that something extra.

For those of us who are f%c%ed …

You probably know that when we get out of these unprecedented crazy times, there is going to be a new normal. Nothing will be the same. Everything will have changed. How we work. How we deal with one another (hopefully with more kindness and courtesy). How we show off our privilege (I’m not going there). The reality is that some of us are going to be without work and things are going to be tough, terrifying and troublesome.

We’re going to have to reinvent and rebrand ourselves if we want to survive and thrive in the new reality. I think that the folks who are in the branding and marketing business will be getting a lot more phone calls. If you don’t know who Dawn Klatzko is, it’s probably time you met her. In my opinion she’s one of the best personal branding experts I know. Have a chat with her so that you can proactively start repositioning yourself both as an employee and solopreneur.

For me us going mal in lockdown …

Sign up to Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic. Sign up to Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic. Sign up to Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic. Did I already say “sign up” enough.

For those of you who want to look at beautiful stuff …

I as visiting my daughter, Rebecca in Mossel Bay the other day just before lockdown. I had dinner with local artist Yvette Hess and her family there. She has an amazing life story which she’s turned into art.

I’ve also been following the work of Nina Jacobson. A bit darker (appeals to a melancholic and acerbic personality like mine).

I’ve always supported PowWow Teepees. Although they are for children, these teepees are real works of art.

Find your message …

How to turn website visitors into prospects, prospects into customers and customers into super-fans is always top of my mind. I’m always looking for great ideas for my clients to achieve this goal. Being in the professional speaking business I have pretty much looked at most speaker and trainer websites in this country. Most of them are awful (mine included, it’s a f… mess).

First, most of them look like a standard WordPress site (because they are).

Second, they’re very ‘look at me’ focused in a misguided attempt to impress the prospect. You know the deal. Photo of the speaker, qualifications, how many countries they’ve travelled to (not such fun now is it?), how many gigs they’ve done, etc. F…all about the needs of the client. Most of these websites look like a Tinder hookup – Peacocking so that they can get sex on the first date and not trying to build a relationship.

Third, the messaging is not clear and isn’t aimed at attracting the right kind of clients (those that appreciate your work and are prepared to pay for it) and discouraging those that are not a right fit for your services (the We don’t work with arseholes rule). Have a look at John Rayner’s website. It is very clear who his target audience and niche market is. Look at it and see how you can apply it to your own messaging. I picked up on Keryn House’s LinkedIn profile. The same thing. Specific and no mistaking the target audience.

image

I love the quirky way that Abigail K has set up her meet the team photos. You can see the whole range here. When you’re on the page, notice how real, eccentric, quirky and authentic she is. This type of writing connects with the client for sure. Come on, how could you not take a second look at someone who says, “I’m easily distrac … oh look – clouds!”

In the same vein, have a look at graphic designer, Jo’s website. It’s quirky, sensitive, eccentric, vulnerable and authentic. How can you not love it?

Phew, if you got this far, respect. I hope this piece of text has been helpful, entertaining and interesting.

PS: Forgive the bout of Tourettes (but I think that’s how I speak anyway – maybe I do have Tourettes?).

PPS: None of the people I have recommended have financially compensated me for mentioning them. Mmmm, I think I’m going to invoice them … Seriously, if anyone of them resonate with your situation, use them and pay them fairly. Big hugs, me

PPPS: I’ve only heard about Tinder hookups from a friend 😉

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