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The Paradox of Focus

This summer was bliss-y. My husband was home and we pulled our daughter from daycare, so between BBQs, cottage time and chasing the ice cream truck around the ‘hood, it was juuuust about right. And long enough. So I’m thrilled that fall is here. It’s my favourite season. Apples + cheddar. Warm days + cool nights. Everything feels brighter, and crisper. Clearer. On top of that, my husband’s in a fabulous new job (yay him) and daughter is settling in to grade 1 (yay her), so I am pretty excited to devote my attention, fully and completely, to my business (yay me). {Disclaimer – I continued to love and coach my clients throughout the hazy lazy days…I just wasn’t working on anything new}. So as I am getting refocused on my business, revving up my engine, it’s not surprising that my entrepreneur clients are wanting the same. And when I ask what they want coaching on in this session, invariable they say: I want to focus on focus. YA BABY! Let’s get started! Let’s get specific! Let’s clamp down! But wait. The paradox of focus, is that to be focused, we need step way, WAYYYYY back and a meta-view of who we are and where we are going. Who are you? Who are you in this world? Your values will tell you. They’re the things that make you fundamentally who you are at your core. They are the bricks in the glorious and utterly unique house of you. Knowing what your values are will help you to make soulful decisions for your business. {And soulful decisions, by the way, generally translate to cash.} I’ve written before about some values clarification tools that will help. (I like to help…it’s a core value of mine). Also notice who you admire and why. What do they stand for? Likely rooted in there are some of your values. Once you’ve gained on your values, start to notice what might be missing for you right now. For instance: my plans for the next two months involve a lot of writing and one-on-one coaching. Which fully honours my values of connection and creativity. Awesome. But performance and leadership is missing. So, it’s time to start booking some speaking gigs. Check! Lean into the values that aren’t being honoured in your business. Notice how exciting that feels. Pretty hard to not focus on something that feels...

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Crush on your business and your customers (not your competition)

In life and in business, we can spend an awful lot of time worrying about the competition. What they’re doing. Not doing. What they’re doing better than us. Smarter. Flashier. Faster. And it all adds up to feeling like you don’t add up. And while you know it to be an exercise akin to sniffing spoiled milk (you know it will smell awful and likely make you sick to your stomach) you spend far too much time stalking researching your competition on Twitter. Here’s the tonic (gin optional). Your competition doesn’t care about you. Period. You are crushing on that cutie who doesn’t even know you exist. They’re in love with someone else: your customer. Crush on your business instead. Love your business into its greatness. Spending your days defining your unique offering? I guarantee you’ll not find the answers in your competitors’ sales pages. Here’s a more soulful way: ask a friend to interview you. Video tape it and notice the energy hits and dips. What are you offering that makes you very useful? Why were you put on this earth to start this business? What is so easy for you that you barely realize it’s your gift? When do you feel strongest? What are you proudest of in your business? What’s the biggest version of what you’re creating? What are your peers saying about you at an awards ceremony five years from now? Pretty quickly, you’ll get to the heart of your brilliance. Settle into your throne and bask in it. Then do the work you love to do. Keep your compass trained on where you want to go. Surround yourself with accountability support to keep you in action and away from the teat of spoiled milk. Crush on your customers. Love THEM into their greatness. What problems do you help them solve? How can you deliver your very best to them? What do your existing clients thank you for (and how can you give them more of that)? What else can you be giving them? Thank them. A lot. About that competition Yes, it’s possible that your competition will beat you from time to time. You may lose that client, gig, or deal to someone else. Or to the market, the weather and a nasty bout of the flu.  Worrying about any of that won’t do a single thing to stop it. The real enemy here...

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Tea with my Future Self

How woo-woo is the title of this post is? I mean, really. Tea? With my “Future Self”? Yet, there it is. Because I’m sharing this part of me in service of you. Here’s why. I love reading people’s letters to their 20-year old selves. If they knew then what they know now…that sort of thing.  And as much as I feel like I could tell 20 year-old Tanya (“enjoy shooters now because you’ll find them repulsive soon”), I’m more interested in what 20-years-from-now Tanya has to say about things. She’s one smart cookie, that Tanya. I know this because I’ve “met” her. Over a year ago in coach training with CTI…we did a Future Self visualization that blew me away. I saw, quite clearly, the woman I will be in 20 years. She is the sum of who I’m becoming. The z in the formula x + y= z. And she’s got it going ON. When faced with a tough choice, I’ll check in with my Future Self and just know what she’d do. Course corrected, wrong righted, inspiration reignited. Given my propensity to interview inspiring people (Ray, Danielle, Krystyn, Dyana,  and Emma, to name a few), I thought I’d do the same here with my Mother-of-All-Inspiration, my Future Self. Here we go…cue the dream sequence music and wavy picture. ****************************************** I walk up the front walk way of a stunning home. Gardenias in full bloom…peppery floral scent sweetens the air. The door opens before I can knock it. 57 year-old Future Self Tanya knew I was coming. There she is: Empress-like in her posture, a wicked gleam of fun in her eyes and warmth in her smile. We hug (heart to heart…the only way a hug counts). I notice she still wears our necklace. In the living room, I settle in to a comfy armchair and take in the space. It’s Dwell meets French country. Reclaimed plank floors are scattered with Persian rugs. Pictures on the impressive mantle tell of a life of family, fun and travel. Colourful abstract art adorns every white wall. She pours me a cup of tea (Mariage Frères, natch). A little milk and a little sugar. She takes hers black (I wonder when that happened). (2010 me) – So, you look pretty happy here in 2030. How did we get here? (Future Self) – You can call it following your heart, your north...

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Gettin’ yer voice on with Emma Alvarez Gibson

I have this fundamental belief that successful businesses launch from passion. Am in good company here as we live in a glorious time where most coaches, consultants, fire starters and business mavens advocate the same. Passion can’t be taught, nor bought (though one of the aforementioned professionals can help you tease it out) and the root of the passion is always TRUTH. Now truth and passion may sometimes dance a sloppy two-step, but when they do sync up, you’ve got yourself some hip-shaking grease lightening. What’s ALSO glorious about this time is that many people start their businesses with a blog. Maybe they start the blog first before they start the business, or maybe the business comes first and then the blog comes along as a marketing tool. Maybe it’s a “should” or an “oughtta” (I hope not…shoulds and oughttas = don’t bother). I am getting somewhere…promise. This whole blog thing can be a huge stopper for some people. From some of my clients, I hear: What do I possibly have to say {lots} Who could possibly want to hear it? {your people} Where do I even start? {from here} What’s my voice supposed to be? {ahhhhhhhhhh…yes} So, when Facebook and Twitter friend Emma Alvarez Gibson posted a status update about her Brand Alchemy Sessions that address this very issue of finding one’s voice, I was curious. So I messaged her about it and she responded with: “Please, ask away! I really think I can help…this is one of the things I was born to do. Xoxo” *Serious swoon* When people identify that they know what they were born to do, as in Life Purpose kind of stuff, I get goose bump-y and tingly with a desire to know more. So, she graciously complied. Generous and lovely… a winning combo. ****************************************** Tell me more about how you were born to help in this way…I have my popcorn and am ready to hear it all. How did you discover this was your gift (and personal brand of genius)? Are there more?   I’m someone who’s always lived sort of between worlds. Ethnically, culturally, socioeconomically. Even in terms of interests, I’m all over the place. I’m fascinated by almost everything, and that includes people. It all, on some level, makes sense to me.  Also, I’m—ahem!—highly sensitive. To…everything. Sounds, textures, colors, scents. People breathing at me wrong. (Just kidding! Ha, ha!) (Okay,...

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Laughing my way to a Brain-cation

(If you’re viewing this in an email, please click here to see all links. XO) In my coaching session today (yes, of course coaches have coaches…we need our own stuff out of the way so we can keep our focus on our glorious clients), my coach and I were discussing all of the projects that I had on the go (or on the brain) and the panic that I was feeling to GET. IT. ALL. DONE. AND. THEN. SOME. I was going around and around and around and then…she told me to turn my brain off. Not for the session. Not for the day. But for a couple of days. Letting go of the thinking, thinking , thinking will make space for the new, she posited. And that it was critical to my business strategy. That got my attention. I literally stopped walking in circles and sank into my armchair and sat with this thought. Then I got really quiet. It was in this stillness that I realized just how cooked I’d been feeling.  Not like burnt toast mind you, more like an egg fried on hot pavement. Splattered, tough and gritty and not at all tasty. I needed a brain-cation. So I agreed to turn my brain off of the projects and products that keep my eyes fluttering and to give in to the slower pace in summer. Simple as that, right? Not so much. Turning the brain off, turns out, is not as easy as turning off a light switch or unclenching your butt cheeks. (Who knew?) It wants a signal. Some sort of release that kick-starts another way of being. So given that my natural way of being IS thinking, I thought and thought and thought and thought about how I could stop thinking. (This reminds me of the phenomenon of frantically racing across town to get to a yoga practice to get your zen on.) And the absurdity of all this thinking about not thinking made me laugh at myself. Lo and behold, I started to feel lighter. Released endorphins will do that for ya. So I’m thinking a really good, authentic, ab-scorching belly laugh with snorts should do the trick. Maybe you could use the same. In case you need some laughter-inspiration, here are some things that always make me laugh: The word “fart”. And whoopee cushions (my nephews think I’m the best). Pretty...

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Ramona Quimby, Loaded Suitcases and the Fear of Success

My sweet sister gave my daughter and I a book the other day. One that I read with my own mother 30 years ago: Ramona and Her Mother. Warm and wonderful memories flooded back as I snuggled my girl into my lap as we read about the dated trials and tribulations of precocious and tenacious 7 ½ year old Ramona Quimby. I confess that I read on after my girl fell asleep last night…so tempting was it to relive that closeness I remembered with my own Mama. Plot summary: Ramona wants desperately to be “her mother’s girl”. She feels misunderstood, awkward (she’s neither a cute toddler, nor a responsible adolescent) and threatens to run away. Her agreeable mother helps her pack her suitcase. She jams in Ramona’s stuffies, books, box of baby teeth, roller skates, and a myriad of other unnecessary things. When Ramona tries to lift the suitcase, it won’t budge. “You tricked me!” cries Ramona. “You made the suitcase too heavy on purpose. You don’t want me to run away!” Of course not, says her mother: “I couldn’t get along without my Ramona.” Tears. **************************************** Heavy suitcases that stop you from setting out on your journey. Huh. Let’s play with this metaphor, shall we? I’m going to go ahead and assume that the destination of the journey is success. Just ‘cause. Kind of exhilarating when you decide to set out down the road to success right? Exhilarating AND frightening. But more exhilarating than frightening, so you pack your suitcase and map the journey in your head. Ready, set and go…you grab the suitcase. It won’t budge. And let’s face it….you’re kind of relieved. You were sort of afraid to go down that road too. Who made the suitcase so damned heavy? My best guess is those saboteurs/gremlins/trolls who want us to stay put. Exactly where we are. Nice and safe, cozy at home and watching So You Think You Can Dance and eating 7-layer dip. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. What did they jam in the suitcase to make it so heavy? My best guess here is fear, but wasn’t sure so I checked with the fine folks in my twittoverse. I tweeted this question: Why do you think people are afraid of success? (“success” being subjective – in business, a project, a product etc)? Resoundingly, they thought that fear of success was in cahoots...

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