“There’s a point, around the age of 20, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
I’ve been working with a small group of super talented high-performers in my new Mastermind program.
They include a PhD, an aerospace engineer currently selling her business for a billion dollars, a martial arts world-champion, a headhunter who walked away from a 7-figure salary, a leader in the non-profit world.
They are all entrepreneurs, leadership consultants and executive coaches.
During our last intensive, the most important distinction of the day was that in a world where almost everyone is talking of the importance of going wide your real competitive edge comes from going deep.
And deep means weird!
It means embracing your quirks because YOUR people have them too.
I’m constantly being told to scale my business.
I’m constantly bombarded with messages and adverts about how to reach ‘a million people’.
“You should make more money…”
“You should grow a bigger email list…”
“You should build a company to sell rather than a business that you love…”
When Steve and I first wrote The Prosperous Coach, lots of consultants, marketers and PR ‘experts’ advised us to broaden our audience to all business owners and not just coaches. (We ignored them!)
You’ve probably heard of Tim Ferriss and Zen Habits. They each have more than a million people on their email lists. And Maria Popova’s BrainPickings gets more than 5 million readers per month.
These numbers are seductive, right?
Who wouldn’t want a million readers?!
We live in a world of big, bigger, biggest.
We live in a world of MORE…
“More” is very tempting.
But it’s not the only way.
And it’s usually not the most fun way.
And seeking more and more and more is actually not necessarily the way that will lead to the most success.
I’m not for everyone, I know that. I’m an acquired taste…
I write long emails. I know that’s not for everyone.
I run 4 day events where I coach rather than teach. I know that’s not for everyone.
Working with us requires a significant investment—of time, money and energy. I know that’s not for everyone.
I seek out high performers and elite coaches. That’s very consciously not for everyone.
I bring more and more of my strange, idiosyncratic, weird self out as time goes on…
On a PERSONAL level—I’m an introvert, who needs to recover his energy after being around lots of people.
I’m a sensitive person who can be overwhelmed by loud concerts, bars or restaurants.
I can get stressed if plans change at short notice. I love quiet and I can immerse myself in books for hours.
In BUSINESS—I’m more interested in building a community of leaders than a community of followers. (I love spending time with peers and I’m usually turned off by people who put me on a ‘pedestal’.)
I enjoy speaking my truth and challenging my clients, rather than ‘pleasing’ them or saying what they want to hear. I love it when a client says, “I hate you, Rich!”
We’ve built a business on the premise “Slow Down to Speed Up”. We don’t care about having fast email response times. We don’t even reply to every email we receive!
But if you ARE one of our people—every one of our team will do our best to go beyond the call of duty for you.
We’ve built a business on the premise that we’re NOT for everyone.
AND SOMETIMES THAT’S HARD.
It’s hard when people don’t like me or my message, my stories, or what I do.
One negative Facebook comment or a critical email can have a massively and disproportionate negative Impact on me.
But I’m human. Sometimes that stuff just hurts.
ZEROS AND TENS
It’s hard at times, when I see others become more successful or well known than me. Being a best-kept secret, passed on mainly by world of mouth can actually be frustrating.
But I know in my heart that what we do isn’t for everyone.
And if we’re not for everyone, then our secret mission has to be to polarize people.
Our mission is to create ZEROS and TENS.
If we’re not a ten out of ten for each other, then we’re a zero. Let’s save time and move on!
And if we are a ten, let’s see how deeply down the rabbit hole we can dive together.
A TINY BUT PASSIONATE COMMUNITY
We’ve built a really successful business with a relatively tiny email list of around 4,000 people.
In the last year this has grown to about 8,000. But even this astonishes my friends who are internet marketers.
You see, in a world of wide, we’ve gone weird!
But pay attention—I said ‘weird’ not ‘weirdos’!!
We have built a business with a tiny but passionate community of extraordinary high performers and those on their way.
People like Jackie Knechtel who was my Apprentice and now travels to our Intensives twice a year from wherever she’s living in the world (she’s a rare but real ‘location independent’ entrepreneur!)
People like Christina Berkley, Destin Gerek and Teo Alfero who have been clients, members of our community and members of 4PC for years.
Christina now coaches leaders in the tech world and is a leader on a global think tank for high net worth philanthropists.
Destin has gone from a few high-performing clients, including millionaires and billionaires to growing an incredible brand.
Teo has built a team around him so that his Wolf Sanctuary can impact more people and care for more animals. In addition to generating millions of dollars a year for his non-profit, he now leads a powerful coaching group and has a few private clients who are often celebrities and well-known entrepreneurs.
People like Mark J. Silverman who has been one of my Apprentices, a member of several of my coaching groups, a member of 4PC and someone I trust so much that he’s on the faculty of 4PC.
People like Helen Appleby who I coached on stage at an intensive and who then almost immediately joined 4PC. She’s a former Vice President of a billion dollar company who went from making $20K a year as a coach to making $500K by the end of her second year in 4PC.
People like Karen Goldfinger Baker who generated half a billion dollars for good causes in her first career as a fundraiser. Karen went from being a completely new coach to billing $300,000 in her first year in 4PC. Her clients are mainly athletes in the NFL!
People like Kendra Cunov and Adam Quiney who I trust so much they run the leadership team at our Intensives. They are becoming known as leaders in the coaching world.
People like some of the most incredible coaches and entrepreneurs I know: Bay LeBlanc Quiney, Jeanine Becker, Nadav Wilf, David Block, Tony Bonnici, Toku McCree, Jenelle Cobb, Richard Morgan, Triambika Ma Vive, Jennie Harland-Khan Jennifer Herrera, Jayne Daly, Laura Greenberg, Louise George, Mandy Lehto, Daniel Thomas Hind, Allison Garner, Flora Douville, Garrison Cohen, Giovanna Capozza, Varian Brandon, Amina Aitsi-Selmi and so many more. …
We’ve built a business mainly on an old fashioned approach called “Word of Mouth”.
My new Mastermind is a $25K program and 90% of the members said they were drawn to what we do because a friend had told them about me.
Even The Prosperous Coach—which has sold close to 50,000 copies and has been in the top 20 books on Coaching on Amazon for almost 5 years is passed on mainly by word of mouth. We do nothing to market it.
BELONGING vs FITTING IN
Our special guest at the Mastermind was Marianne Cantwell (thanks for the intro, Jennifer Gresham!)
Marriane is the author of book Free Range Humans. And her recent TED talk is called “The Hidden Power Of Not (Always) Fitting In”.
She talked to us about the importance of being ok living BETWEEN worlds. Or even creating your own world, rather than trying to ‘fit in’.
We often admire leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators for being rule-breakers, risk takers and mavericks. And we admire change makers for speaking truth to power.
But then we catch ourselves trying to follow the well-trodden path, looking for ways to fit in, not stand out and not rock the boat.
Our real job is to explore the ways we DON’T fit in.
And the funny thing is, the more you embrace not fitting in, the sooner all the others who don’t fit in will find you!
As Brene Brown says,
“Fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.
Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are…”
I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE
One of my favorite story books to read to my boys when they were smaller was called “I loved you, Stinky Face”.
“But Mama,” asks a young child in the book, “would you still love me if I were a super smelly skunk, and… my name was Stinky Face?“
His mom replies that she would bathe him, “And if you still smelled bad, I wouldn’t mind, and I would whisper in your ear, ‘I love you, Stinky Face.”
In a world where everyone thinks they need to go wide, try going weird.
As Ursula Le Guin puts it: “make a virtue of your peculiarities.”
Be a stinky face. Find YOUR stinky face clients. And love the hell out of them!