Ditch the Elevator Pitch

Ditch the Elevator PitchI was at an event not too long ago, talking to a woman and asked her what she did. She laid her elevator pitch on me. I pressed her further on what it meant.

“So exactly what is a ….?” To which she repeated her elevator pitch to me.

“Yes, but what does that entail?” Again, she gave me a reiteration of her elevator pitch. It was obvious my questioning, which was really just curiosity, was making her uncomfortable. She wasn’t able to articulate her services beyond her elevator pitch. She was beginning to sound like a parrot and if I was a potential client, she wasn’t instilling a lot of trust in me. She couldn’t even explain to me what her title meant. I was distracted by another person joining our circle and she took that opportunity to get as far away from me as possible.

Everyone tells you to have an elevator pitch but if you really want to have a meaningful conversation, arouse curiosity and interest and not sound like a desperate used car salesperson, you need to quit telling people what you do and show them. Engage them.

Here’s an example of a conversation I had at a recent event:

Fellow attendee (FA): “So what do you do?”

Me (M):”I’m the Entrepreneur’s Midwife.”

Brief pause here. I’ve called myself a career coach, business coach, entrepreneur coach, etc. I can see their eyes glaze over and the conversation stops COLD. Not what you want. I came up with the Entrepreneur’s Midwife because midwife is a good analogy for what I do – help bring your vision to life – and it also arouses curiosity, enough to keep the conversation going.

FA:”I used a midwife for my second child. Do you know so-and-so?”

M: “I’m not that kind of midwife. I’m an Entrepreneur’s midwife.”

FA: “What’s that?”

M: “Let me ask you a question – Do you love your job?”

FA: “Yeah, I like my job.”

M: “So if you won the lottery you’d continue doing what you’re doing?”

FA: “Oh Hell no!” (Laughs)

M: “What would you do then?”

FA:”I’d pay off my bills, get a swimming pool and buy a Porsche.”

M: “Those are things you’d have. What would you do?”

FA: “I’d take a vacation.”

M:” Let’s fast forward a bit. You’ve won the lottery and you’ve taken some time off to decompress, pay off your bills and buy some toys. What would you do with all this free time now that you didn’t have to worry about a paycheck? What are you passionate about?”

FA: (thinks for a bit) “I love dogs. I would start a no-kill shelter, buy a couple of acres they could run around on. There would be an on-site vet. OH! Maybe I’d set up a visiting dog program for nursing homes or children’s hospitals.” (She’s really getting into it, as she starts talking faster, letting the ideas fly).

M: “Now you got the idea!”

FA: “Of course I would take cats too! And maybe retired circus animals? Give them the chance to spend the rest of their days roaming free instead of penned up and performing.”

M:”Why aren’t you doing this now?”

FA: “Because I haven’t won the lottery!”

M: “Well, as an Entrepreneur’s midwife, I help you expose and remove your ingrained and subconscious self-limiting beliefs, thoughts and habits, such as you need to win the lottery, and adopt a mindset that frees you to pursue your no-kill animal shelter.

One of the top five regrets of the dying is they wish they had to courage to live a life true to themselves, not what others wanted. We are all here to expand and grow into our purpose, whatever we decide that is, but most people shrink, settle for less and stagnate.

Do you feel like you’re growing or do you feel stagnate?”

FA: “The only thing that’s been growing on me is my waistline…”

M: “Les Brown said the richest place on earth was the cemetery because it’s full of unfulfilled dreams – books that were never written, songs that were never sung, business ideas that were never realized. I don’t buy into the ‘life’s a bitch and then you die’ philosophy. We are creators and our biggest creation is our life, that’s why I specifically work with women who want to start a business. Entrepreneurship is more than just building a business, it’s about who we become in the process. At its heart, it’s about creating your life on your terms.

Once you accept and truly believe that what you want is valid and doable by clearing out false beliefs, I have a system that takes you through all the steps to make your dream a viable business.”

After she asked me what an Entrepreneur’s Midwife was, I could have simply said “I help female entrepreneurs bring their vision to life and life to their business.”  The conversation would probably have ended there. She could have thought “that’s great, but what does it have to do with me?”

I made it about her, not about me. I asked her to tap into her imagination, connect with and get excited about her dreams. When she came up with her excuse (“I haven’t won the lottery”), I pointed out an alternate reality – her dream was not only possible, but with my system, probable, not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

I didn’t belittle her dream, I encouraged it! As Carrie Green says in her book She Means Business

“…there was a light that had been switched on, the knowing had entered their lives…”

Once you know, you can never un-know. I had sparked her desire. Whether she would pursue it or not was up to her.

That’s the power of showing over telling!

After the event she came up to me and asked for a business card.

 

 

 

 

 

What the heck is Psycho-Cybernetics?

What the heck is psycho-cybernetics?

I happened to pick up the book Psycho-Cybernetics 2000 by Maxwell Maltz Foundation and Bobbe Sommer a couple of months ago. It says on the cover that it has helped millions find greater self-esteem and fulfillment and the premise of the book is “by expanding your self-image you expand the limits of your talents and capabilities.” Bottom line is when you develop positive inner goals you will be able to create positive outer goals. It asserts you’ll never change your behavior until you change your self-image.

You may wonder why I read these books if my focus is on helping entrepreneurs. Shouldn’t I be more concerned about marketing, business plans, financials, etc? While those are all important to a business,what I’ve discovered is none of that matters if you can’t get past your own fears and self-limiting beliefs. That is why I spend so much time learning about how we think and exploring our mindset. The first step to creating a successful business is believing you can.

Much of what the book said resonated with me. As a coach, I think the most valuable part of my training was becoming aware of and questioning the validity of my own thoughts and beliefs. We tend to live with them as if they are unchangeable truths, when in fact, we can choose to change them at any time. But the problem is most of us are unaware of what we think and believe because they’ve become so ingrained and habitual. So we react instead of respond and get tripped up by our own negative thinking or as psycho-cybernetics would explain it, a poor self-image.

What does psycho-cybernetics mean anyway? Maltz believed the mind/body connection regulates our self-concept or image. Cybernetics, according to Wikipedia, is “an approach for exploring regulatory systems, their structures, constraints and possibilities … Cybernetics is used when a system displays a closed signaling loop – a ‘circular causal’ relationship. The action in the system creates a change in the environment and that change is reflected in the system and triggers a system change.”

In English, cybernetics refers to an automatic guidance system. Maltz believed that our brain and nervous system function as a “servomechanism” or goal seeking device. According to Maltz, it is our self-image that determines whether we are successful or not. And what determines our self-image? Our thoughts and beliefs. We always act in a way that is consistent with our self-image.

Like computers (but so much more complex), our brains follow whatever directions we give it. We have a conscious and subconscious mind. Our conscious mind looks at its options and chooses the one it sees best. When it makes its choice, all other options are eliminated at that moment.

The subconscious mind will move in the direction and do whatever the conscious mind tells it.

Our experiences, upbringing, religion, socializing, schooling, etc have all played a huge part in creating our thoughts and beliefs. Through repetition, those thoughts and beliefs have become ingrained and habitualized in our subconscious. Problems in our self-image occur when we internalize negative thoughts and beliefs and we are unable to move beyond them. We think we are bad at math, hence any other options cease to exist so our subconscious mind follows orders – bad at math. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at this point.

Psycho-Cybernetics is about becoming aware of these habitual patterns of thought and self-limiting beliefs and reprogramming your brain for success.

Psycho-Cybernetics consists of six steps:

  1. Program yourself for success.
  2. Imagine your way to success
  3. Relax
  4. Set goals
  5. Use negative feedback for course correction
  6. Disinhibit your personality

Step one is about being aware of our thoughts. Are they serving or hindering us? Does the belief that you are bad at math serve you when you are trying to look at the financials of your business or do they hinder you, resulting in overspending, low margins, etc. Negative thoughts and beliefs equal negative outcomes.

Our thoughts and beliefs aren’t unchangeable truths. You have a choice. Your subconscious mind will follow whatever you choose, good or bad.

What do you do about those negative thoughts? Maltz offers CRAFT – you become aware and challenge the negative thoughts/ beliefs and replace them with positive ones –

  • Cancel the negative data (actually say “cancel” out loud),
  • Replace it with a positive thought,
  • Affirm your new image to yourself,
  • Focus on the image of a successful you and
  • Train yourself for lasting change (acting as if).

Visualization is also a powerful tool used in psycho-cybernetics. Our brain can’t distinguish between a real or imagined event. By visualizing a successful outcome, you are, in essence, training your brain. Athletes do it all the time with mental rehearsal. It’s the ol’ “fake-it-till-you-make-it” concept.

Programming yourself and imagining success is essentially bringing your thoughts and beliefs into your awareness and challenging those that aren’t serving you and creating a new vision of how you want to be, rewriting a new script, telling a different story, through visualization.

The next step is to learn to relax.The whole point of these books is to take control of your life and create it on your terms. Unfortunately, it can be hard to think clearly or creatively when we are stressed. We actually have three brains. One is our primitive brain – it operates strictly on instinct, one is for emotions and the neo-cortex is what gives us our distinct advantage over other primates. It’s all about higher reasoning and critical thinking. However, when we are stressed, our primitive brain takes over. We are in survival mode. We react, we’re operating on instinct. It overrides all critical thinking. There’s no time for that – we’re in danger.

Managing stress is imperative to being able to achieve our goals.

The key to a lot of modern day stress is to understand most situations are neutral. It is our response to it that creates stress. We also tend to take ownership of problems that aren’t ours. 

Can you depersonalize the situation? Mistakes or problems do not define you. Do not identify with your disappointments. There is a big difference between “I made a mistake” and “I am a failure”. Making a mistake doesn’t make you a failure.

What’s a guiding system without a target, right? Goals give us direction, otherwise we’ll just be drifting along like flotsam in a river, at the mercy of the current. It’s important to choose goals that are yours – not what your parents want, your spouse, your best friend, etc. (I specifically address the goal setting process in my book Stop Dreaming About Your Life and Start Living It). Goals force you to stretch outside of your comfort zone so take small steps. Give yourself time to grow into your goals. And while you should have a plan, remain flexible and take consistent action. If something doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t get caught in the trap of “trying harder”. You didn’t make a mistake, it’s not you. Consider it feedback and do something different. Keep moving forward.

My take on psycho-cybernetics is when we quit buying into our negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs and replace them with positive, productive ones, we are on the path to achieving our goals.

 

 

 

 

Quit Depending on Willpower

Willpower is ineffective in achieving goalsThe American Psychological Association does an annual survey called Stress in America. The most cited reason for not being able to follow through on changes (such as losing weight) is willpower.

What is Willpower?

Willpower is self-control. The ability to delay gratification, a strong determination, or restraint. Willpower is a tool our conscious mind uses to help us control our lives. It carries a negative connotation – deprivation. It is an ineffective way to achieve goals.

Why Willpower is Ineffective

To illustrate why, I’ll share with you what I learned in my neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) training.

Willpower is an ineffective tool to changeThink of your mind as an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg, the part that is above water, represents your conscious awareness. In addition to willpower, we also use rational and analytical thinking as a way to control ourselves. Unfortunately, only about ten percent of what we do, we do consciously.

Below the water line lies the rest of the iceberg, our subconscious mind. This accounts for 90% of our behavior. Herein lies our habits, physiological systems (ie. breathing), impulses and emotions and our strategies for dealing with our world.

When we employ willpower to make changes in our lives, such as weight loss, we are only using ten percent of our mind. However, the other 90% is running the show. You are pitting logic (conscious mind) against emotions and deeply ingrained habits and strategies. As a result, willpower is always going to be a struggle.

If you want to elicit real, permanent change, you have to get your subconscious on board and leverage its power.

Imagination is More Effective than Willpower

There is a reason why diets fail and you have trouble breaking bad habits (habits of thought included).With willpower, you are in a constant battle with your subconscious mind. The odds are against you and your subconscious mind is going to sabotage your efforts.

Instead of having your subconscious fight you, (willpower creates stress by exerting force) you want to win it over so it will work for you. How do you do that?

Luckily, we have the perfect tool – imagination. Imagination is positive and affirming. Using our imagination diminishes stress and opens up our creative channels instead of strong-arming us into submission, like willpower.

Change in itself is often stressful. The key is to find the path of least resistance, make it as easy and fun as possible. Imagination and visualization helps us do that. There are a couple of guidelines to make this work:

  1. Know your “why” – what is motivating you to make this change?  What result or outcome do you want? Just because your spouse, boss, parent, etc said you should do it is not enough motivation and chances are you won’t succeed. Make it personal and meaningful to you.
  2. Make it positive – When you have your why, the reason you want to make this change in your life or why you want to achieve a goal, make sure it’s positive. When times get tough (and there will be some rough patches), your “why” is going to be your life preserver. It’s going to remind you of the big payoff of all this hard work. You’re going to be giving it a lot of focus, so make it positive. If you’re goal is to lose weight because you are tired of being called a fat slob, then all that’s going to do is dredge up bad feelings. And if you’re an emotional eater, next thing you know you’re shoving down donuts as a means to comfort yourself. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of losing weight – having more energy to play with your kids, feeling better, etc.

Once you determine your reasons for making a change/achieving a goal are truly yours and you are motivated to do it, you can enlist the power of your imagination and use visualization instead of willpower.

Note: Imagination/visualization are tools to keep you motivated and should be used in conjunction with action, not instead of. Without action, you aren’t going to achieve anything.

How do you use imagination to help create positive, permanent change? Find a (preferably) quiet place. Giving yourself time right after you wake up or right before you go to bed is ideal but you can do it anywhere – while on the train/bus to work, waiting in line, drinking your morning coffee, taking a shower, etc. Then use your imagination to visualize any of the following scenarios. Make it as real as possible, include sounds, smells, sensations, etc. Evoke as many positive emotions and feelings as you can.

  1. Visualize your life after you’ve accomplished your goal. If it’s weight loss, imagine how you will look in your new clothes and how confident you feel. Picture your new found energy, imagine just how much better you feel when you can climb up stairs or playing with your (grand) children without getting winded. Focusing on the end result will help keep you motivated.
  2. Mentally rehearse. Our brains don’t distinguish between real and imaginary events (which is why our bodies react to imaginary fears as if they were really happening). Athletes employ this technique all the time but it can be used for any situation. You can rehearse a speech, visualizing yourself in front of the crowd, appearing confident, enjoying yourself.
  3. Vent your emotions.Change is hard and one of the things that trips us up is our impulses and emotions. And since what we resist, persists, give them a voice and acknowledge them instead of burying them. If you don’t, eventually they’ll rear their ugly little heads and the littlest thing will push you over the edge. Instead, invite all those emotions in – fear, jealousy, doubt. You can give them names and personalities. Let them have their say and vent. You can do this in your head or you can write it out in a journal, which is my favorite method. The point is, acknowledging them diffuses their power.

When you use these tools, you’ll achieve your goals with less stress because you’re leveraging your subconscious mind with the power of your imagination instead of trying to force yourself through willpower. In other words, which would you prefer, a boss who is a drill sergeant or someone who acts more like a mentor?