The big vision, a glimpse into future you

It feels good and it’s important to have a big vision for your business, career and work. When you have a big vision, working is more fun because you have more clarity, faith and confidence. You create products that have this vision weaved in. You speak to customers and to the media in a way that’s aligned with your vision. This big vision is like the gentle hand of a wise fairy, holding your back and whispering to you softly, go this way, turn this way, sit still.

In many parts of the world, the leaves are now turning color and the air is getting crisper. This is a great time to come back to yourself and revisit your vision, or create one from scratch. I’ve always felt that if we listen, nature gives us clues to adjust our rhythm of life. When the air gets cold, you go back inside. You don’t go to sleep for 6 months like the bear, but you change the place from which you look at the world. You change your view, because you’re now looking from further away, from inside. In a similar way, coming back to your vision means that you step away from the rapid pace of your work and that, from a place of distance, you revisit what you want. 

The word vision means that you imagine the future. You see the future as you want it to be. A vision often starts with a quiet feeling. Maybe you don’t imagine the exact place, colors or smells of the future, but you get glimpses into how you’d like to feel. From there, you start filling in the blanks until one day you know exactly what you want to achieve in your work.

A vision isn’t about how you’ll achieve what you want to achieve. In fact, the question how? is to a vision what a needle is to a balloon. No way, not near my balloon! Every time I think about my vision and I feel the question how? creeping in, I take a breath and tell myself, “It is not my job to figure out the details right now. Right now, in this moment, my only job is to think about what I want, not how I’ll get it.” 

The more and the faster your business or career grows, the more you might feel inclined to skip thinking of your vision. You will get busier and busier and you will encounter new experiences that might temporarily take you out of your comfort zone. You will most likely be more alert and more present with your business. However, I highly recommend that you spend quality time revisiting your vision at least four times a year, every three months, with the change of every season. 

Quality time means that you show up fully present, that you think big, that you leave any worries aside and that you allow your imagination to go to far away places when it creates the future you. 

This is a dreaming exercise. It’s best if you do it in stillness. Think of your imagination like a TV screen that has a great “future you” best motion picture to show you. For that, you need to turn the TV on, you need to look and you need to pay attention. If you get a glimpse into yourself as the successful CEO of a thriving company of 1000 employees and you immediately think, hell no, I could never, I would never, I recommend you reset your vision TV back on. All you have to do is look, not to provide commentary. While that might feel like an impossible goal or an unwanted goal from where you are right now, years from now you might feel different. So, sit back and softly daydream about your business. 

Here’s what I think is important to include in your vision. Start with phase 1 and when you feel ready, start dreaming your answers to the questions in phase 2. 


Phase 1:

Future you - aerial view:

WHO YOU ARE

Examples:

I am a successful entrepreneur

I am an outstanding coach

I am a blossoming CEO

I am a thriving healer

I am a prosperous author

I am an acclaimed speaker

WHAT YOU ARE DOING

Examples:

I’m building a profitable business

I buy and sell businesses

I buy and sell real estate

I write 

I teach

I speak to audiences

I lead teams

THE CHANGE YOU’RE MAKING IN THE WORLD

Examples:

I help people feel loving

I help people feel loved

I help people feel beautiful

I help people live their best lives

I help people use their money intelligently

I help people get in touch with Earth and nature

I help people make more profit

WHO YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY

Examples:

Loving, profitable and loyal customers

Skilled and motivated employees and consultants

Supporting peers

Supporting family members

Fun loving, light hearted, productive people

People who stimulate my intelligence and curiosity

Nobody, I want to be alone for a while (hey, that’s ok too!)

Phase 2

Future you - nuances:

What are you selling?

How many customers do you have?

How much sales and how much profit do you make every year?

How does your brand make people feel? 

In what countries do you operate?

How can people buy your products?

What is the media saying about you?

Where are you working from?

How are you spending your day?

What does your company’s organization structure look like? How many different teams or employees do you have?

With so much love,

Mihaela

Mihaela Akers
I’m exhausted and I don’t have time! Two hidden reasons why you don’t want to work on that project.

People are busy. They often tell me they don’t have time to work on a project they love, like a side business, a second business, painting, writing, or starting their taxes early. Just kidding about the last one. Let’s call this project Freedom, whatever it might be.

But, there’s no time for Freedom, you say. You have crazy, packed schedules, with little room to breathe. You’re exhausted. And then, if you have kids, forget it. It is practically impossible. These little humans surely won’t bathe themselves, drive themselves to soccer practice or eat a sandwich that has crust left on one side.

I know it’s hard. I know you feel exhausted and you sometimes feel like throwing up from how busy you are and how alone you feel through it all. 

I would like to tell you something that will help you with your time, if you keep your heart open to hearing it. Understanding this has helped me tremendously in raising my energy levels and working on my Freedoms. 

The reason why many people don’t start Freedom is not because they don’t have time, but because they feel emotional resistance when they think about it.

Here’s an analogy I love. Imagine, if you will, that there’s a rope tied to your body and to a tree behind you. It’s a long rope, so you can move around freely, but every time you try to go further than the rope’s length, you can’t. You feel pulled back and you don’t know why because you don’t look back. You get mad and you push harder and harder, because you really want to go far into the beautiful horizon. Eventually, because you have strong willpower and a powerful body, the tree breaks. Now you can walk into the horizon, except you still have this big tree log you’re dragging after you no matter where you go. It could all be so much easier if you looked back and cut the rope. 

Photo credit: Aaron Burden

Photo credit: Aaron Burden

The tree is a metaphor for the resistance people often feel about Freedom. They don’t know that there’s something pulling them back because they don’t question the weight or the exhaustion they feel when they think about working on Freedom.

When you cut the rope after you’ve been pulling hard for a while, you’ll instantly feel propelled forward, literally, because that huge weight has been released. It is physics, I promise. 

So, what is this resistance about? Everybody has their own tree and all trees are different. Nonetheless, from what I’ve seen, this resistance often falls into 2 big categories:

#1. We’re afraid of what others will think if Freedom is not a roaring success. 

Everybody’s seen your success in your career so far. What if you start something new and it fails? Even worse, what if you make a fool out of yourself? You might even think to yourself, then they’ll think I’m a fraud. I’ll feel like a fraud. I don’t want to be a fraud. 

A project’s success doesn’t define a person’s success. Rather, it’s the courage to do what you love that makes you become successful. 

There is so much freedom in letting go of what other people think. Most of us have been taught to pay attention to what others think of us. Therefore, not caring about what others think starts with simply deciding to not care anymore. 

Apart from the fact that it feels like hell to worry about what others think, you’d never be able to impress every single person out there, even if you tried. They all have their own perspectives on life and their own unique life experiences. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense mathematically to waste precious energy trying to earn others’ opinions of you. The more authentic and the more interesting your project is, the more likely that it won’t resonate with every single person who’s watching.

What will make you feel the happiest at the end of your life? Pleasing others? Or, satisfying your true desires, following your bliss and taking charge of your career?

Photo credit: Max Hofstetter

Photo credit: Max Hofstetter

#2. We’re afraid of contradicting the image we’ve painted about ourselves in our minds.

For example, maybe working on Freedom will make you feel like a parent who’s less present with her or his kids, or a business owner who’s not dedicated to the growth of her or his business. Or, maybe you’ve thought of yourself as a super professional, elegant VIP. If pursuing Freedom makes you feel unprofessional, then you’ll feel the weight pulling you back. 

The images we hold about ourselves in our mind are subtle. I think it’s hard to understand we even have an image until we’re faced with a situation that makes us question this image. This self image is like a beautiful painting. Throughout our lives, we’ve added a little color here and there, until it became a complete painting, ready for the world’s most refined collectors. For example, when you were a child you may have looked up to somebody who held a certain profession. Unknowingly, you added that idea to your painting. 

This painting doesn’t serve us when it’s very specific and when it doesn’t allow flexibility. For example, a flexible painting would be that of a person who chooses joy, fun or abundance, no matter what. That is a self image that serves you well because these three ideas can morph into and come from various activities. On the other hand, a specific painting would be that of a person who is a highly ranked executive in a big company. That is a self image that doesn’t serve you well because if you’ll feel called to start something that you believe doesn’t fit that criteria, you’ll feel at odds and you won’t know why.

I think it is always best to be flexible with the image you construct about yourself in your mind. The projects we pursue in life do not define us. They are simply rocks we stand on as we cross the river of life. They give us stability, a chance to take a closer look at ourselves and room to experience life more deeply. You can start a new painting any time. 

With so much love for you and for your Freedom project (as long as it’s not doing your taxes),

Mihaela


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Mihaela Akers
How to choose

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re always choosing. When we’re not choosing, we’re choosing not to choose. 

We choose how we live, who we live with and how we raise our kids. We choose our work and we choose how we work. We choose how to sell. We choose the customers we do business with. We choose how we show up, sell and think. We choose how we talk to others. We choose what we expect from others. 

We make choices every minute. When it rains, we choose whether we see a collection of shimmering drops fallen from heaven’s oceans or just another annoying rain. We choose to look for the hug or for the grin. There is always a choice we’re making.

Do you feel free, vibrant and alive? It’s because you chose to be that way. Do you feel successful? It’s because you chose to wear success every morning when you wake up. Do you feel loving? It’s because you chose to be love, give love and express love.

The choices we make are important. But, I think that how we live with our choices is even more important than the choices we make. 

In my opinion, the most important choice you can make is choosing to bring yourself in alignment with your choices.

I heard an analogy once that I loved and I want to share it with you. Imagine, if you will, that you’re standing at the shore of a river and you’re deciding between jumping in a boat or standing by. Either choice can offer its own rewards. What’s not rewarding is choosing to jump in the boat, removing its anchor, but then holding on tight with all your strength to the dock as the waters of the river want to carry your boat away. Or, what’s not rewarding is choosing to stand on the shore, but then cursing the empty boat. 

In our society, we tend to look up to people who seem at ease with making decisions and flowing with these decisions. It is not the fact that they make decisions that we admire, but the ease with which they make these choices. It is the ease that we want, and that ease is something all of us can feel. 

Photo credit: Ezra Comeau

Photo credit: Ezra Comeau

What if the most important choice you’re making is not choosing between A or B, but choosing to bring yourself in alignment with whichever choice, A, or B, you make? Owning it, flowing with it and believing in yourself? Not looking at the empty boat and not holding on tight to the bank. Just flowing softly yet aimfully, with whatever you’ve decided, just like the river’s water flows towards the ocean. What if, no matter which choice you make, you can thrive equally in your life, as long as you’re fully aligned with the choice you made?

Not being able to make choices makes people feel suffocated.

When you feel torn between two choices and can’t make a decision, you feel the same way as you do when you hold your breath for too long. You don’t feel good. You feel powerless, unstable and unable. You feel frozen, because you have essentially robbed yourself of the flow of life that choosing to choose provides you with. I know this very well because I felt this way many times. Think of the word choice in this way, Cho-Ice, choose or turn into ice. Brrrr.

When you can’t make a choice, you feel negative emotion because you can’t move forward. Your natural state of being is one of moving forward, building up, not one of creating buildup.

But, why do we find it hard to choose sometimes?

Photo credit: Samantha Hartley

Photo credit: Samantha Hartley

One big reason why people can’t make choices is because they feel unsafe making a new choice.

To make a choice means that you select an option from two or more options. It means that you express a preference for an option. When you choose, you prefer one thing over another thing.

To prefer something means that you turn your back to something else. Therefore, you have to be comfortable with giving up options or possibilities. You have to feel safe with the choices you’re making. 

When people feel unsafe with the prospect of a new choice, they feel unloved and unprotected heading towards something different, vague, unrealized yet and mostly unknown. They feel unsafe giving away the safety of what they would leave behind. So, they stay put and they don’t exert their power to choose. 

On the other hand, people for whom safety is a non-issue, people who decided that they are always protected, loved and accepted, will make more choices in life, business and work. They expand their careers constantly and consciously, not because of the recognition they might get as a result, but because of the sheer excitement they feel when they consciously create self-growth. 

“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” Albert Einstein

Our choices are fluid and ever changing. Re-state what you’re choosing. 

Your blood flows every second. Your cells pulsate every second. You’re always moving, thinking, eating, drinking, touching, being touched. Therefore, just like a river that is constantly flowing, are you ever the same today as you were yesterday? Or even this minute, as you were a minute ago?  

You are always changing. You are fluid. Nobody and nothing can contain you because you are always flowing. As a result, you’ll want to revisit and re-make the choices that are beneficial to you. Remind yourself of what you’re choosing to invite into your life.

Our choices build. 

Our lives, our present moment, our future moments, our work, our business are all built by the choices we’ve made, consciously or not. Think of each choice we make as a brick that builds the neverending and always changing house that represents our life. If you don’t like a brick, you can push it out gently and replace it skillfully with a new one. If you like a brick, you can add others just like it. 

With every thought, every emotion, every choice, every hug and every cringe we are building a house, a legacy or a memory. Everything starts with one choice. 

Here are 9 ideas to help you make your choices.

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

Photo credit: Cristina Gottardi

#1. Understand that you are different from others. 

You are a unique human being because every human being is unique. You are unlike any other human being on Earth. It is true. This does not make you more significant than anybody else, but it does make you different. 

You have your own path, your own learning to achieve, and your own experience to live in your life. The choices you make have to enhance your unique experience, not someone else’s. Somebody with a different life experience will make different choices. Don’t make your choices depending on what you see him or her do. You are different and therefore, only you know what the best choice for you is. 

I can tell you with confidence that there isn’t such a thing as one size fits all in business and in career. Therefore, in order to be successful, you have to be comfortable making your own choices, even when nobody before you has chosen what you’re choosing or even when your choices seem bizarre to others. Choose for you and you alone, the you that only you know best.

#2. Which choice will make it easier for you to feel aligned with?

This is why I wanted to share with you the importance of bringing yourself in alignment with the choice you make. No matter what choice you make, it’s important that you feel at ease with what you’ve chosen. Owning what you choose is in my opinion even more important than the choice you make. Otherwise, you will end up feeling fragmented and split, and you’ll be back to square one in an endless loop that wastes your precious energy.

So, think of how you would feel after making any of the choices you could make. Which choice feels lighter to you? After which choice are you most likely to feel at ease, in alignment, free and fast moving? 

I know a woman who took a step back in her career once. She did this consciously because she felt it was the right choice for her. She told me, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to make a leap forward. This woman owned her choice, even when others around her didn’t understand why she chose to take a step back. Two years went by and she was happier, more successful and more fulfilled than I’d ever seen her. But she couldn’t have made her leap forward if she wasn’t completely aligned with her choice to take a step back. 

#3. Consider your long term strategy.

Where do you want to be 10 and 50 years from now? Does choosing this bring you closer to your long term goal? Does it fit in your overall strategy? Do you want to be the president of a company? Do you want to run your own successful company? Do you want be an author, a chef, a creator? Do you want to be the most sought after speaker in the world? Choose what brings you closer to your long term goal. 

#4. Remember the butterfly effect. 

According to the butterfly effect, a small change can produce great results. The term is closely associated with Edward Lorenz’ work, who discovered in his analysis of weather conditions that a small change in initial conditions can produce a significantly different outcome. Even a tornado can be influenced by the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly weeks earlier. 

In your work and business as well, every little choice you make can lead to big results. Don’t underestimate the importance of a phone call, an email or a thought you keep repeating to yourself. 

#5. Make money profit and make emotional profit. 

I think we make two types of coin, the money coin and the emotional coin. The money coin is the real profit you make in your business. It’s very important to consider your profit and understand the balance between the money you spend and the money you make. 

The emotional coin is the emotion we feel as a result of the work we’re doing. It’s important to consider this coin as well when making choices. Will we feel more joyous, more productive, more fulfilled through this choice? I think most of us strive towards a balance between these two types of coins. 

#6. If you were the most successful you could possibly be in this world, what would you choose?

Think about this with little choices and with big choices as well. I strongly encourage you to make all your choices as if you’ve already achieved all the success you want to achieve and all the success you don’t know yet you want to achieve but that will please you to achieve it. What would a successful person choose? How would that person feel after they make their choice? Step into the choices that person would make.

#7. Will you regret not choosing this when you’re on your deathbed?

This question is at the forefront of my thinking every time I have to make big choices. I asked myself this question before deciding whether I should write the book I’m currently writing. I even asked myself this question before deciding if we should have a second baby. Was I scared I wouldn’t be able to handle it? You bet I was. But I knew I would regret it if I don’t take the leap. Now, I know I made the right choice. 

Somebody said to me once, you can’t fly if you don’t jump. I think that is true. 

#8. Rule out any choices that are detrimental. 

It sounds obvious, yet many choices we make are in fact detrimental, not helpful. I’m not talking about having a glass of wine on a Monday night. I’m referring to choosing to stay in a relationship with an abusing business partner. Choosing to continue to spend time with people who complain all the time or who don’t value others. Choosing to overlook gossip at work. Choosing to not remove ourselves from depleting situations until we regain our balance. Choosing to not remove the weeds in your garden because it’s more convenient to not put on your gardening boots. 

#9. Lastly, please consider this, where is your choice coming from? For small or big choices, bring yourself to a state of joy, then choose.

Imagine, if you will, that you live in a house with two rooms, one with grey walls and one with golden walls. When you’re in the grey room, you feel negative emotion. When you’re in the golden room, you feel positive emotion. 

Our days are much like that. We oscillate between feeling good and feeling bad. When we feel bad, we make different choices than when we feel good. You know it’s true.

Before you make decisions, make sure you’re in the room with golden walls. Pick yourself up from the grey room and walk next door to the golden one. It’s a choice to want to feel good.   

Ask yourself, where is this choice coming from? Was I in the golden room or in the grey room? If you were in the grey room, just wait until you find yourself happy again. Then, make that choice that undoubtedly resonates with you. 

With so much love,

Mihaela

Mihaela Akers
The El Bulli experience

Today I’d like to tell you about El Bulli. I learned about this restaurant in a marketing class a long time ago. I’ve never been there in person but I’ve been fascinated by what I read about the place.

The restaurant was a white, small, unpretentious building by the sea, a two hour drive from Barcelona. You’d have to take a curvy, mysterious and romantic mountain road to get to El Bulli. Many guests mentioned they got lost on the way.

El Bulli was a restaurant that broke many standards. It revolutionized, elevated and made an adventure out of the art and science of dining.

It was open for only 6 months of the year and served only 50 customers per evening. It was estimated that over 1 million people tried to get a reservation each year, which means the chance of getting a reservation at El Bulli was much lower than the chance of getting into...well, almost anything else, I suppose. In spite of the high demand, Ferran Adria, the restaurant’s founder, refused to increase the price to dine at El Bulli (250 euros per evening).

After they arrived, customers were guided through a series of carefully thought out experiences, each one like a step on a ladder that leads to culinary ecstasy. Nothing was left to chance. 

First, they were greeted and taken on a tour of the kitchen where they saw the immaculate equipment and innovative techniques used by the cooks. It wasn’t your typical kitchen. One of the guests described this kitchen as a “lab-like room full of stainless steel, immaculate” and he described Chef Adria as “willy wonka”.

After the kitchen, guests were taken to the terrace, which overlooked the beach. They were served welcome cocktails and a selection of appetizers. The sun was setting. You could hear the peaceful sea waves in the distance. 

Finally, the guests were guided into the main dining room, where they would spend the next 6 hours living the El Bulli dining experience and tasting 35 dishes that were served in a fixed sequence.

“We conceive of the sequence of dishes to be like a movie. Montage is sometimes hard to explain. The rules are relative and I focus on breaking them.” (Chef Adria)

Spherical melon caviar

Spherical melon caviar

Most of the dishes were not what they seemed. They looked different than what they were made out of. You never knew what flavor to expect. They came as an avalanche of sensory experiences, not just about taste, but also about touch, smell, sound and looks. Every detail contributed together to make the whole greater than its parts. 

Here’s what a guest said about a “simple” dish from the 2008 menu, spherical olives: “it looks like a kalamata olive, but put it in your mouth and as soon as you press it, it explodes with an intensity of flavor that’s 10 times that of a regular kalamata. Baby, you don’t have to chew anything, it hits you like a ton of bricks.”

The El Bulli experience wasn’t just about tasting the innovative dishes, it was about feeling the food, becoming one with it and learning about it by experiencing it in all of its newly discovered splendor. It was an adventure.

Caramelized quail egg

Caramelized quail egg

El Bulli was selected as the top restaurant in the world for a record 5 times. It’s now transformed into a culinary research institution.

Something about the mysterious road, the kitchen with its willy wonka equipment and the terrace by the sea made me remember the story about this business to this day. I don’t know much about fancy foods, but I do fancy a good customer experience. 

I love how Chef Adria thought of every detail in his guests’ experience. I love how passionate he was about his craft, how he obsessed over the creativity and quality of his products and how he incorporated his passion into the experience he created for his customers. Experiences are beautiful because they make your customers feel differently and remember you forever. 

I’d like to share with you today 3 of the lessons that I garnered from the El Bulli experience. 

#1. Focus most of your energy on your craft.

Your craft is usually what you love doing the most in your work or business. It is often what others or you view as your core strength. 

In El Bulli’s case, it was the creativity of the dishes that earned the restaurant its reputation, that made it unique and that brought guests from far away. It wasn’t the terrace, the sea or the layout of the restaurant, even though these details certainly did enhance the experience. Therefore, it was the dishes and the uniqueness in which they were presented that received the most attention to detail and the most investment of time, resources and energy. During the 6 months when the restaurant was closed, the team experimented through trial and error to create new, innovative dishes that would always uniquely and unexpectedly surprise guests who expected the unexpected.

Chef Adria didn’t spend his energy thinking about the best pricing strategies. He focused on what he loved doing the most. His creativity earned him a reputation, which earned him revenue from the books he published and from similar activities with wide distribution.

#2 You can make an honest experience out of your customers’ anticipation.

In El Bulli’s case, the anticipation of the product was an important part of the experience. The location of the restaurant at the end of the curvy mountain road, the tour of the kitchen, the terrace, the moment of wondrous expectation when seeing a dish for the first time, not knowing what will happen once the dish touches the mouth - these were details that made an experience out of the anticipation process itself. It is all like the first date leading to the first kiss leading to marriage leading to whatever comes next. The different steps make the journey more enjoyable. 

#3. The quality of the product comes first.

Or, in chef Adria’s words, “creativity comes first, then comes the customer.”  Without a great product, there’d be no experience to follow. No matter how amazing the customer experience, it can’t retain a customer if the product is not made out of passion and with attention to detail. 

To make a great product, you have to start with trusting your craft abilities, giving yourself permission to spend more of your energy on what you love and feeling at peace with breaking so called business norms.  

Sometimes you have to break standards, like Adria did. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut and create something that’s completely different from what anyone else in your industry advises.

This article's details about El Bulli come from "El Bulli: the taste of innovation", a case published by Harvard Business School.

Images credit: El Bulli

Mihaela Akers
3 secrets to turn your customers into lifelong advocates

When you plant a rose seed, you put it in the earth. Then you water it, again and again. When the time comes, the plant rises slowly above the earth. You still water it. Later, it blossoms into a beautiful rose. You still water it. Then, more rosebuds appear from the same plant. You still water it.

Imagine, if you will, that your relationships with your customers are like rose plants. To get long lasting, fulfilling and profitable relationships, you have to “water” them from the moment you plant the seeds, not just later, when they start to blossom.

The art of customers.

I’d like to tell you about something which I call the art of customers. For that, I’d like you to meet Pete (not his real name).

Pete works in a store in my neighborhood. When you walk in, Pete sees you because you walk by his desk. On his desk lies a megaphone. When a returning customer walks in the store, Pete picks up the megaphone and says “Hi (first name), welcome back!” If he doesn’t remember your name, he’ll simply ask you. People laugh. Kids get a real kick. With every megaphone “announcement”, the collective mood in the store elevates. Even those who weren’t greeted seem like they’re having a better time!

I don’t know much about Pete. I don’t know if he understands mathematically that customer retention is the life and blood of any business. What I do know is that he genuinely feels the desire to welcome his customers. People like him remind me of the art of customers.

The art of customers isn’t about screaming out loud that we have the best prices, the best products or that we’re the best place to buy them from.

The art of customers is about making the people who already bought from you feel respected, appreciated and acknowledged.

Whether you do it with a megaphone, with automated journey emails or in any other way, customer retention and loyalty starts with treating those who already bought from you with respect and appreciation.

Unfortunately, many businesses do the opposite, inadvertently. They work really hard to make the people who didn’t buy yet feel respected, seen, heard and acknowledged. Then, as soon as these people buy, they’re given less attention and care than they were given prior to buying. Strangers get treated better than insiders.

One reason for this is that we, humans, have a tendency to focus more on what we don’t have instead of building momentum with what we do already have. Whether it’s due to fear of missing out or due to fear of looking in, we chase the next new customer instead of building a fulfilling relationship with the customers who already bought from us.  

I say to you, focus on the customers you already have, and you’ll gain even more customers. Use your water for the garden you already have and your seeds will multiply, instead of saving your water for the garden you didn’t even plant yet.

Now, I’d like to share with you the 3 secrets I promised to keep your customers and turn them into lifelong advocates. I call them “secrets” simply because from what I’ve seen, they’re not widely acknowledged yet, but you decide if they work for you or not.

Secret #1:  The moment when customers decide if they’ll buy again is right after their first purchase.  

According to the peak end psychological theory, the end of the buying experience is a moment of high emotional intensity for your customers. They’ve given you their business, their time and their money and they look to you to acknowledge them right now. This is the moment when customers decide - subconsciously or consciously - if they will buy again from you. By the time you show them another offer, their minds have already been made up.

In my opinion and based on my marketing experience, the way you treat people right after they've just made a purchase from you is your sales pitch for their next purchase or their referral, even if you're not technically asking them to buy or give you anything yet.

Just like you sit down to create a plan to get new customers, I encourage you to sit down and create a plan for an amazing post purchase experience, step by step, email by email and message by message. I promise you, what you say or do right now does matter to your customers.

Secret # 2: Thank your VIP customers in meaningful ways, and they’ll become your lifelong partners.

As a rule of thumb, according to economist Pareto, 20% of customers give you 80% of sales. The 20/80 percentages vary somewhat from business to businesses, but without a doubt, there's always a small group of people who generate a large chunk of sales. I've seen this in both small businesses and in multi billion dollar businesses.

What I find even more fascinating is that when you take a closer look at your data, you'll notice that within your top 20% customers there's a tiny group of people who give you a big chunk of your total sales and profit and who bring you lots of referrals.

Most businesses are surprised to see how much sales and referrals they get from just 1% of customers, but it really is true that you have a group of highly valuable customers in there!

Imagine, if you will, how these VIP customers think and feel.

After they buy more and more, they'll develop feelings of trust, loyalty, and a deeper connection to your business. Naturally, they want to be acknowledged and thanked in meaningful ways. If their loyalty is not returned by your business, they may eventually feel disconnected and unappreciated, because from their point of view, they have given to your business more than your business has given to them.

In my opinion, showing your respect personally to these people is the right thing to do, regardless of whether they’ll reciprocate or not.

However, from what I’ve seen, if you thank them in meaningful ways, if you go above and beyond for them, they too will go above and beyond for you, remain your loyal customers and become lifelong partners for your business.

I encourage you to create a well planned out VIP customer appreciation program.

That being said, I encourage you to do this privately. Yes, you want to offer your best customers extra perks and attention, but you can do so without making your other customers feel like they’re getting less from you.

Just like you don’t give your expensive birthday gift to your partner in front of the friend who doesn’t get a birthday gift from you, you don’t need to personalize your attention to your VIPs in front of the customers who don’t get the same perks. Don’t flaunt your candy unless you can offer a piece to everyone, right?

Secret #3: Loyalty is an emotion.

I admit, I may have been the last person on earth to learn this. When I started my career in direct marketing I thought loyalty comes from rewards points or membership programs, but the truth is that loyalty is something your customers feel. Therefore, if you want loyal customers, you have to connect with them on an emotional level.

There’s a difference between showing emotion and connecting emotionally with people. Showing emotion stops people in their tracks but doesn’t necessarily connect long term.  Instead, you’ll want to build a long lasting emotional connection.

And I’ll tell you the first time when I truly internalized the importance of connecting emotionally with customers.

One evening, back in the day, while I was working for a company that sold luxury products, I was invited to a dinner with several high profile clients. It just so happened that one client and I were the first ones to arrive, so we had some time to chat. This one client, a remarkable woman, was a loyal customer to our company. During our conversation she told me something that I clearly remember to this day. She said:

“It’s unbelievable how much work and preparation goes into each of your products. To me, each product is a unique work of art.”

It was this last part, “a unique work of art” that stuck with me to this day.

It was true that a lot of preparation went into making each of our products, but the reality was that our products were produced in as large numbers as those made by any other company in that industry. So, they certainly weren’t unique works of art.

But my client’s perception was different. She looked at the product she bought not as something you use or consume - even though she certainly used a lot what she bought - but as something you hold and cherish, something unique, that gives you as much fulfillment as a work of art would.

I realized in that moment that what she was buying was not a product, not a logo, and not a status either.

Instead, she was buying a feeling that deeply resonated with her, a feeling that added more meaning to her life.

She was buying the fulfillment that comes from owning a product that she perceived as a work of art. Because of this fulfillment she felt, she was strongly connected to our products and our brand, and she was willing to pay a premium price and refer other clients to us.

I remember that moment so clearly because I realized then that we always have a choice in business:

...to create a transaction or to create an emotional connection.

Creating an emotional connection will make it easier for you to get customers, to keep them, to earn their loyalty and to charge the prices that you want to charge and that have enough margins in them to allow you to grow.

On the other hand, creating transactions without creating an emotional connection erodes your profits quickly and makes it harder for you to sustain your business over the long run.

Of course, just because loyalty is an emotion, it doesn’t mean an emotional connection is all it takes to sustain customer loyalty and retention.

Martin Luther King said we need to have a tender heart and a tough mind and I believe that’s true in business as well.

You also need to use your business resources intelligently, put extra care and attention in the moments that your customers do notice (not haphazardly, in every customer interaction), set yourself up for scaling your relationships through direct marketing best practices and use your customer data intelligently.

Did you enjoy this article? If you did, grab my free e-book and sign up with your best email address:

With lots of love,

Mihaela.

Mihaela Akers
Follow your bliss, one small desire at a time

In 1988 year, in his PBS interview with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell said:

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

When you follow your bliss, your life will become an endless stream of success. You’ll create, share, uplift, invent and produce more than ever before. You’ll feel joy, abundance and you’ll shine so brightly that others will feel your presence even when their eyes are closed.

Many people feel lost and confused nowadays. They feel unsatisfied with their careers or businesses. They know in their hearts they have more to offer than what is being asked of them on a daily basis. They feel called to do something more fulfilling. But, they often silence their inner voice because they believe they need to take a dramatic leap in order to arrive at their bliss.

In this article I’ll show you a simple way to follow your bliss without making any big changes in your life.

Have you ever seen somebody in a long jump race? They start with one small step. Then, they run faster and faster and faster, until the long jump becomes just another long step, the only, the most natural and most effortless step left to take to get their feet safely and softly on the warm, welcoming sand.

In a similar way, following your bliss starts with following your small, day to day, desires. These desires are clues left for you, so that going in the direction of your bliss feels effortless and joyous, not effortful and scary.

The fastest way to your bliss

Your day to day desires trace the fastest line from where you are to where you want to be. Think about any point A and point B. The fastest way from A to B is a straight line. The slowest way from A to B is zig zagging aimlessly left and right. Most of us are zig zagging this way instead of simply following the fastest route.

 
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We often take the slowest route because we suppress our small desires. A small desire feels natural and effortless. For example, wanting to take a photography class, teaching a class over the weekend, or organizing a dining event feel like small, natural steps for some people. A small desire doesn’t feel like an effortful leap from where you are today. You don’t need to do anything that feels heavy to you. This path is supposed to feel joyous. Small steps are all that it takes to find your bliss.

These small desires are like light bulbs that light up one at a time on the path from A to B. You follow one, then the next one lights up, and so forth, until you’ve arrived. It’s hard to know our final destination, but it’s easy to see one little light bulb at a time. Unfortunately, we often throw a blanket over these little light bulbs and wonder left and right in the darkness.

Our desires are the greatest gift we possess.

Our greatest gift is our ability to desire, to have a natural yearning for and towards something.

When you were little, you were probably gifted in one or more areas, maybe painting, writing, sewing etc. You were good at those things with minimal effort. If you think about something you excelled at when you were a child, you’ll notice it simply came to you naturally. You felt a natural yearning towards it. You didn’t have to read 100 books about how to do something before you were able to do it well. You simply did it well because you were drawn to it. As a child, you trusted your own desires and followed your heart without a shadow of a doubt.

When adults feel lost and want to find their purpose, they often ask themselves “what are my gifts?” They search and search within themselves, holding on tight to the belief that their gifts are there somewhere, buried deep. They then feel even more confused. That’s because our greatest gifts are not skills we possess inside, but desires we feel towards a particular area.

If you don’t know what your greatest skills are, I hope you’ll feel relief knowing that you don’t need to search deep inside to find what you’re the best at to create meaningful work. All you need to do is to simply follow your desires, one at a time.

But, we neglect our desires as if they’re meaningless.

Have you noticed how it seems easier for people to follow their desires in any other area of their life but work? People who want a committed relationship are most likely dating or looking for dates. But people who want a more satisfying work life? It’s common that they’re not doing anything about it until they get a tragic “wake up” call.

Following a career that doesn’t bring joy but that is known to generate a certain paycheck or stability, wanting to be a “boss” even though you don’t enjoy leading people, working from a crowded office space even though you’re the most productive when you’re alone in your home - are examples of how we don’t trust our desires enough to speak up and move along the lighted path.

Unfortunately, our society trains people to not trust their desires.

Most people were taught to think more of what they could lose than of what they could gain. They were also taught to associate suffering with their work life, so any change that calls for increased satisfaction will be ruthlessly scrutinized by our brains. It’s not anybody’s fault that we think this way. We were all born in environments that had their own core beliefs and we simply picked up on some of these surrounding thoughts.

But, our work lives are meant to feel joyous. You are meant to feel energized by your work, inspired, stimulated, alive, creative, smart and free. At the end of each day, you’re meant to feel like you’ve expanded because of the work you’ve done that day. At the end of each day, you’re meant to feel fulfilled, satisfied and peaceful.

“The influence of a vital person vitalizes (...) People have the notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules, and who’s on top, and so forth. No, no! (...) The thing to do is to bring life to it, and the only way to do that is to find in your own case where the life is and become alive yourself.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth”)

Briana’s story.

Here’s an example. Briana has been a lawyer for 10 years. Lately she recognizes the simple desire within her to spend more time outdoors. The more she thinks about it, the more constricted she feels spending the majority of her day in her office. Now, she has two choices.

Choice one. If she does follow her desire, perhaps she’ll look for ways to work from home occasionally, go for walks more often and go camping on weekends. These are simple acts, but through this activity, she soon recognizes another desire within her. Spending more time outdoors makes her feel freedom and independence, which makes her realize that what she craves at that moment within her work is more freedom. She now looks for ways to introduce more freedom in her current work projects.

Choice two. If she doesn’t follow her initial desire of spending more time outdoors, she will continue her work the same way as before. Perhaps she’ll work even harder in her current environment, determined to prove to herself that it’s hard work that brings the most joy and that her desire to be outdoors is childish. However, because it’s impossible to negate a desire once it’s born, Briana will now have two opposing forces pulling her, the first one pulling her away from feeling independence and the second one pulling her towards feeling independence. And this is just the beginning of a fragmentation that, if continued, will make her feel uneasy, unhappy and eventually, fatigued and unproductive.

Four Girls Studying a Drawing, 1876, Theodule Ribot

Four Girls Studying a Drawing, 1876, Theodule Ribot

Recognize and trust your desires as soon as you you feel them.

The feeling of wanting something means you’re on the right path. Wanting is living. It’s as natural as breathing air. I encourage you to practice recognizing desires when you feel them. Simply celebrate yourself for feeling any particular want. Identify in your own words whatever it is that you want. Getting into the habit of simply noticing your desires will help you become more aligned with them.

Oftentimes, you may not realize you want something. For instance, let’s say you hear somebody talk about their child’s paints. As you listen to their words, the thought of colorful paints and a blank piece of paper makes you feel excitement and creativity. That’s an indication that you have a desire to explore some form of art that makes you feel creative. Instead of brushing this desire under the rug like most people would, acknowledge it to yourself.  

Or, let’s say you feel distress when you listen to the same person’s words about their child’s paints. Perhaps you cringe at the thought of messiness. That’s also an indication of desire. This time though, you most likely desire the opposite of what you thought of when you cringed. Maybe you desire to feel more peace in your physical space, maybe a cleaner home or a more organized office.

Many of us don’t realize it, but we kill desires inadvertently, either by not acknowledging them or by not trusting the fact that our desires are there to serve our best interests. Why else would they show up anyway, if not to serve our highest purpose? Follow your desires and you’ll serve yourself in ways you didn’t even know existed.  

“We are having experiences all the time which may on occasion render some sense of (..) a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what it is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth”)

Desires, not reactions.

As Socrates said in Apology, “an unexamined life is not worth living.” There’s nobody else in the world who can know you better than you. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to examine your own thoughts and to get to know yourself more and more each day.

The reason why knowing yourself matters so much within this context is because when you know yourself, you’ll know to distinguish a true desire from a reaction. For example, wanting to abandon a big project (like a job or a business) might be a true desire, but it might also be a knee jerk reaction to an angry boss, an angry customer or a stressful situation. In this instance, you might be looking for relief, not for fulfillment, and it’s important to not confuse the two.

The more you get acquainted with how your mind reacts in various situations and with how new, successful ideas were born within your mind in the past, the easier you’ll be able to distinguish a true desire from a reaction.

“The way to find out about your happiness is to keep your mind on those moments when you feel most happy - not excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. This requires a little bit of self-analysis. What is it that makes you happy? Stay with it, no matter what people tell you. This is what I call following your bliss.” (Joseph Campbell, “The Power of Myth”)

Following your bliss is like walking in the same direction as the wind. You’ll feel helped and guided as you discover the invisible web that bounces you softly from here to there, to everywhere.

Mihaela Akers
The three costs your customers pay

My son was walking fast through the toy store with a serious look on his face. His hand was tight over his zipped up pocket, in an effort to protect the $50 bill inside, a Christmas present from his grandfather. He points suddenly with his whole hand, finger and body “This! This is the toy I want!”. I look up to see the biggest box in the whole store. The toy inside could have easily been placed in a box a third that size. Oh, and batteries not included.

There was a time back in the day when us, adults, also cared more about the biggest and the longest. When I was a child, the bigger the box, the more justified the high price.

These days though...do you ever find yourself thinking that less is more and faster is better? If you do, you’re not alone. Your customers are thinking the same.

We tend to think that customers only pay us with their money, but our products also cost them their time and their space. Think about it...

Most people feel like they don’t have an unlimited amount of time, money or space at their disposal. Most people want to use their time, money and space wisely. They won’t throw them around aimlessly. Even those who feel an unlimited abundance of time, money and space won’t offer their resources unintelligently, to anyone.

Customers pay with three costs: time, money and space.

 
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One way to increase your price - the money cost - is to reduce the other two costs - time and space. Then, the sum of the costs people pay you with stays the same, but you get more money, because people pay you a higher price. Stay with me, I’ll explain in a minute. Let’s take a quick look at each of the 3 costs.

Time

Do people have to give you a chunk of their time in order to use your product?

For example, when people buy a book, they don’t just spend $20, they also “spend” with a chunk of their time, because they have to spend time reading the book afterwards. It’s not just the $20 that matters to people, but it’s also the time they have to spend reading the book that matters to them. In fact, for many people, when it comes to books, time matters much more than money. Have you ever heard people say I don’t have time to read books? I heard that much more often than I heard I don’t have money to read books.

Or, think about services like Stitch Fix (a monthly custom selection of clothes) or True & Co’s bra quiz (a quiz that helps you find the best bra for your body type). These companies reduce your time cost, because you have to spend less time finding the right products for you, and more time doing what you love.

Or, think about a photographer who sells photo sessions. Customers don’t pay just the dollar value to get the photos. They pay with the time they have to spend clearing their calendar for that day, showing up and then being photographed for hours.

Or, think about group coaching programs. They’re great, but there are people who would pay much more to be in a 1:1 coaching program. Because they value their time, they’re willing to pay a high price to be laser focused on their own life, not on everyone else’s life in the group.

You can’t get back the time you spent in the past. You can only live the present and the future. But, the length (and quality) of the future is unknown. So, the time we live right now is indeed precious. The time cost can be worth a lot of dollars.

The less time people have to spend buying, expecting or using your product in order to get its full benefit, the happier they’ll feel, and the higher the chances they’ll buy again.

You can reduce the time cost even in the most unexpected industries. My friend Sara, a dentist for kids, started a business where she only offers home visits. Instead of having to drag your child to a dental office, you can have your child take her/his dental visit from the comfort of your home. She reduced her customers’ time cost. She also eliminated the emotional pain often associated with dental visits. She came up with this idea because she cares about kids and wanted to make them feel comfortable.

Money

The money cost is obvious. It’s the price you pay for the product or the service. For example, in the book’s case, it’s the $20 you pay to actually own the book.

Space  

The space cost is the least obvious. It’s the space your product will occupy in your prospect’s home, on their computer, on their phone, in their car, in their garden, or anywhere where there is a limited physical space. I expect this cost to be worth more and more for people since there are 7.7 billion people on Earth today (2019).

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

For example, when you buy a chair or a painting, you’re giving away space in your house, not just money. You may also be giving away the freedom you may have felt in connection with that space, because that space can no longer be occupied with something else.

You’re also giving away space when you buy seemingly small items like clothes. There comes a time in every woman’s life when a closet looks better with fewer items, not more.

Space also applies to how physical things can be carried or stored. Foldable wins over non-foldable.

Time, money and space are the three costs people pay us with. Therefore, it follows logically that if we want the Money piece of the equation to be higher (aka, the dollar value you get from customers), we have to decrease the other two costs, time and space. That way, your sales will go up because your price will be higher. You might even get more customers because time and space are becoming more and more precious and people are drawn to products that cost the least time and space.

 
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How to reduce time and space, and charge more money for the same product.

Let’s take a look inside your business and find all the little areas where you can reduce the time and space your customers give you, which will make it easy for you to charge customers more money for the same product.

Can you make it easier and faster for people to buy from you? Can you create cheat sheets, transcripts and audio files in addition to your video tutorials, making it easier and faster for people to consume your content? Can you include a smart sized bag so that your product can be stored away easily? Can you allow people to try out a piece of furniture or a painting before they commit to buying it? There are various ways in which people give their time and their space.

Take a piece of paper or open a Google doc and write “Time” at the top of the page. Then, divide the page into two columns. Label one column “Time costs people pay me with currently”, and label the other column “Potential ways to reduce time costs”.

For example, here are two time costs that customers pay a photographer with. First, there’s the time you spend at the photoshoot. Second, there’s the time it takes to choose the photos you want to keep afterwards.

Here’s how you can reduce each of these time costs. You can tell your customers you’ve been doing this art for a long time. You know what you’re doing. You don’t waste a second. Your photo shoots are always a success. Everybody loves the photos they get. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your customers with confidence. You can share ahead of time your tips for how to get your customers in the right mindset for the photoshoot, so that they show up fully present and ready for the camera. You can make the photo shoots fun for your customers. You can bring a speaker and invite them to listen to the music, podcasts or audiobooks they love while they’re posing for you, so that they’re making the most of their time. After the shoot, you can suggest to them a pre-selection from the big selection, just in case they love what you love.

Next, do the same with space. You might find that time applies to you more than space and vice-versa and that’s ok.

For example, the customers of a furniture company pay with the space cost of their house. It’s hard to return furniture...so you’d better be sure you want it when you buy it. The piece looks good in the store, but customers will ask themselves...what if it doesn’t look in my house?

One way you can reduce this space cost is by making it easy for customers to return their furniture if they change their mind once they see it in their house. Your delivery driver could wait around while the customer looks at it in her house for a minute. If the customer changes her mind, you could take the furniture piece back in the truck. And yes, you can charge more for your furniture because you offer this extra service. Another way to reduce this space cost is to allow customers to “see” digitally the furniture in their house (they upload a picture of their room, you let them drag and drop the furniture piece). Some furniture companies are already doing this.

One last note

When you put yourself in your customers’ shoes frequently and when you think frequently about what they feel, you can naturally reduce any costs they might pay you with and make it effortless for them to buy from you.

Curious about how to create marketing that makes your customers buy again and again? Join me inside Lifelong Customers, where I’ll show you my framework to make customer loyalty the norm, not the exception. 

Mihaela Akers
How to make a difference in your customers’, clients’ and readers’ lives

When I was a child I would sit in our courtyard with my two neighbors, a little boy and his sister.  I’d tell them stories that I’d make up about princes and princesses and swords. Most likely because they were too exhausted to move after an afternoon of playing, they would listen to the whole story, which almost always had a plot and an ending that didn’t leave you wishing for a sequel. But they listened and that made me feel like I was making a difference.

I don’t know why making a difference feels good. But what I do know is that we’re all intrinsically uplifters, service givers and difference makers. We’ve all been born with a powerful desire to be of service and to make a difference in others’ lives. Sometimes this desire lies dormant for a long time, until we awaken to it through life experience, circumstances or self realization. Either way, making a difference makes us feel satisfied, fulfilled and connected to one another.

This connectedness we feel, strive for and have to one another is at the basis of business. Think about it, if nobody else existed on our planet today, would you still work in the business you’re in today? You’d have no potential for customers, which means your business would most likely not exist. You’d have no potential to benefit others. Isn’t business about creating customers, connecting with them, keeping the connection with them alive, and making a difference in their lives?

The difference you make is a reflection of what’s on the inside.

A young boy was standing on the street on that beautiful Sunday morning. His mom was in the back, on a picnic chair, reading a magazine. The young boy looked proud and tall next to a blanket on which he laid some old toys and kids’ books, all up for sale. While I could tell his products had been used plenty, they were in great shape. I picked up a book and then, the young boy started explaining why he loved that book and why he bought the whole collection and why he’s had these books since he was three, which was five years ago when his little sister was born, but he kept the books away from her so she couldn’t rip the pages. He stopped to take a breath. How much for the whole collection, I asked. I can have it all for just $5, he said. I left with as many books as I could physically carry, feeling happier than I was before I made my purchase, not just because I’d offer my kids a present that day, but also because the little boy’s enthusiasm naturally made me enthusiastic in return.

You don’t need to be a superhero to make a difference in your customers’ lives. You can do it in the simplest of ways. That young boy didn’t make a difference in my life because he helped me cover a need in my life. I assure you I didn’t need any more kids’ books or toys (even though, of course, my kids would beg to disagree).

That young boy made a difference in my life because, through his personal example of having the courage to sell and talk about his products openly, lovingly, with hope and with grace, he reminded me of sincerity, appreciation and enthusiasm.

 
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Your first and most important customer is You.

From miles away, customers smell the lack of emotional connection business owners have towards their products and business. Nobody wants to buy anything from a person who didn’t buy it herself or himself emotionally first.

It is you who, first and foremost, has to be pleased by your product, your service, your experience and your words. It is you who has to feel proud of what you’ve created. You are your most important customer. It is you who has to love what you’re bringing forth in the world. Create to please yourself, not to please your customers.

Yes, I talk a lot about the art of customers, about customer retention and about customer loyalty. But when it comes to that delicate sparkly space in which you create and make your important business decisions, it is you and you alone who has to feel happy and proud of what you’re birthing. When people work hard to please their customers, they start forgetting who they are and they start losing the unique essence of their business, which is the precise reason why their customers came to them in the first place. Customers will come, no, they will stampede to buy from you, but only if you, yourself, see the great beauty in what you’re selling before you invite them in.

The only people with money who walked by the young boy I mentioned above, were adults, not kids. He could have sold his mom’s belongings instead, to please adults, but then, he wouldn’t have been able to talk with so much joy about his offering, which would have caused him to make less of a difference and sell less as well.

See the perfection in them.

Your customers are perfect beings who have it all, who are abundant in desires, in hope and in everything else that’s good feeling. When you look at them this way, they too will remember to feel that way about themselves. What a great way to make a difference!

Many business owners think their customers would suffer if they didn’t own their product. They think their customers have a big lack in their lives, a lack which must be filled. But, nobody buys anything because they need it. They buy it because they want it. And, nobody buys a second time if the memory of the first purchase brings up the feeling of lackfullness in their hearts. Of course your product, service or ideas will inevitably make their lives better! But, don’t approach them from a place of lack. They don’t want to be helped, they want to be loved.

Stay true to who you are.

A wise tree doesn’t lower its branches when people discover its beauty and repeatedly set up picnic blankets with delicious fruit, champagne and Sunday sandwiches underneath it. Instead, the tree grows its branches even taller and in the process, brings even more satisfying shade to its customers. If the tree lowered its branches, picnickers would get too many leaves in their food and they’d eventually leave.

No matter how many customers love you and adore you and buy from you for life, to continue to make a difference in their lives you have to stand true to who you really are in business. Their comments, their feedback, their words might make you feel persuaded to stand for something else, but do your best to keep on the path that you’ve chosen for your business. You’re on a rocket ship, and those who want to join you will do so, knowing that there’s only one direction you can go, up.

You’ll make a meaningful difference in your customers’ lives when you have the strength and courage to stand upright. You’ll be an example for them to live their own lives with strength and courage. You’ll remind them that they, too, stand for something and that it feels good to remember what they stand for.

 
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Stay true to who they are.

My husband lovingly told me recently that he understands me much better now than when we first met. He and I just celebrated eight happy years since we secretly got married in the NYC courthouse. But I think what he wanted to say instead was that my emotions, which have become familiar to him over time, don’t make me look like a red alien anymore.

Your customers are people too. They have their own emotions. Staying true to who they are means that you honor their emotions, which makes a big difference in their lives, not just because of the feeling of connectedness they’ll instantly feel, but also because they’re not used to having their emotions acknowledged. Unfortunately (and this is something that is changing in the world) they’re used to feeling manipulated into a transaction, which doesn’t make them feel heard and seen.

Create an experience.

A little book in my bookshelf has been calling me. Finally, I picked it up. It was so good and so juicy that I couldn’t stop reading it. But it was printed in small font and had many words on little, thin pages. At times I wondered if I needed glasses because of how hard it was to follow the plot in this book. It was a reading experience I could have lived without, but it wasn’t a book I could have lived without. It’s true that it was the content of the book that made the biggest difference in my life, but a friendlier reading experience wouldn’t have hurt either. In fact, it probably would have helped me devour the book with even more eagerness and more joy.

The experience you create for your customers will help them enjoy your product, your service and your ideas even more. The experience will make them feel an emotional connection towards your business. Sometimes people remember the experience and forget the product. Experiences do make a difference.

Meaningful moments.

But, it would be overwhelming both for you as well as for your customers if you bend over heels to create an outstanding emotional experience for them in every single moment in which they interact with your business.

There are moments that are meaningful, and moments that aren’t meaningful. It’s the meaningful moments that make the biggest difference in your customers’ lives. What should you do during the remaining moments? Be fair, have common sense, have respect and provide a great service. But don’t spend all your energy devising outstanding experiences, which you could reserve for the moments when these experiences do indeed make a difference.

This is the 80/20 of the customer experience. Spend 80% of your energy on the 20% of customer experience moments that generate 80% of your customers satisfaction. I’ll tell you one of these meaningful moments in a minute, but first, it’s important to...

See your customers as your new partners.

After people buy (anything), they’re more than customers, they become partners.

There are people who stay outside the window, who look in a little bit but who then walk away. They’re prospects. And then, there are the people who are standing next to you, who just made a purchase and who are now looking at you with hope, enthusiasm and an open heart. They’re your customers. They’ve now become your partners.

To make a meaningful difference in their lives, you’ll want to show them you see them as partners. Acknowledge them, because they’ve given you their business. They’re supporting you and routing for you.

 
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The meaningful moment at the end.

What happens all too often is that, instead of looking the person standing in front of us straight in the eye, we look at the prospect who has their face squished against the window from the outside. We may shake hands with the person in front of us, but with the corner of our eye we follow the person who’s on the outside. Why are they not walking in? Why are they not seeing the beauty, the abundance, the glory that my products and services could fill their lives with? And just like that, we miss the meaningful moment at the end, and we lose customers in the process.

You see, one of the most important moments in a customer’s experience with your business is the moment right after people buy, a moment most often forgotten, for understandable reasons, but a moment so important that it directly influences if people will buy again or refer others. It’s a moment of emotional intensity, when you’ll want to look your customer straight in the eye, smile at them, cherish them and show them you see them, hear them and understand them. They want to feel welcomed in that moment, and they’ll remember you if you make them feel that way.

Don’t get customers only to forget them as soon as they buy. Get customers so that you can respect them as soon as they buy. The more respect you show to the customers you already have, the more prospects will walk in the door.

Know your numbers.

It doesn’t sound like it at first, but looking at your customer data, understanding it and being thoughtful about it does help you make a difference in your customers’ lives. Many businesses are accustomed to thinking that their customers are speaking to them through the comments they leave in blogs, through surveys, informal conversations or even expensive customer research projects. That may be true, but the percentage of people who actually speak in this way and share genuine feedback is low. However, 100% of your customers are speaking to you through your customer data. Look at your numbers, learn them, calculate the right metrics and you’ll see right away how you can make even more of a difference in your customers’ lives. Your numbers are the language in which your customers are speaking to you.

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I could write forever about this topic. There are many ways in which you can make a difference. But, I’ll stop here and leave you with a quote I love from Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” You’ll make a big difference when you make our customers feel differently - uplifted, respected, connected, acknowledged, welcomed, energized, or better in any other way.

PS: I’m writing a book about customers. If you have a customer related story you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear it! Send me an email at hello@builduplab.com I might write about your story in the book if it fits in with my topics (I can disguise your identity of course if you wish so). Thanks so much!

PPS: My training program Lifelong Customers, all about customer retention & loyalty, is now open for enrollment for a limited time. Join me inside!

PPPS: Don’t forget to sign up for my email list!

Big hug and lots of love. Whoever you are, reading this, thanks so much for being here with me today.

Mihaela Akers
Nine marketing lessons learned

People will always say “no” if they don’t have enough information to make a decision.

If you ask somebody “Would you like to buy a makeup set for $30?”, they will say “no”. But if you ask them “Would you like to buy a makeup set that will make you look naturally beautiful, that’s made out of organic and earth-friendly ingredients, that’s been created because so many women’s faces suffer the effects of synthetic makeup ingredients and that comes in every shade, for every skin?” - they’re more likely to say “yes.” Not just because they now understand some benefits, but also because they feel more respected to have been given more information. A sales proposition without enough information is just an interruption. A sales proposition with information is an invitation.

Give people what they want, not what they need.

Apart from commodities that don’t stand for anything, people don’t buy anything because they need it. They buy it because they want it. They buy it because of how they’ll think they’ll feel after having it.

People don’t always know what they want, but they recognize it when they see it.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a restaurant space offered through Spacious. The restaurant is used as a co-working space during the day until 5pm, which is when it officially opens. I tried other typical co-working buildings before. I tried a private office and I tried working out of open floor co-working areas. But, I would have never thought I would be so much happier working out of a restaurant space. Here, the ambiance feels quiet, relaxed, hospitable and airy. This ambiance makes work feel like vacation (to me). I didn’t know what I wanted, until I found it. Your customers are not founders. They don’t fully understand your industry, your opportunities and your creative legroom. They don’t know what they want.

Every business is in the business of retaining customers.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a customer than it costs to retain one. At one point, every business that’s been in business for longer than a year and that looks at its numbers realizes that in order to stay and thrive in business, it needs to retain its customers. Retention is a whole different story than acquisition, and it doesn’t happen by accident. If you’d like to learn more about customer retention and loyalty, please join me inside my training program Lifelong Customers.

Direct mail still works (and will always work if you’d ask me).

Some years ago I had a conversation with the founder of a tech startup. He wanted to know more about customer retention. I told him how in the company I was working with at the time we used direct mail pieces (little trifolds and postcards) to drive our existing customers back to our website. He gave me a perplexed look as if I thought we were living in 1990 but that in fact, we were in the second decade of 2000. “Yes, direct mail works and I know it because we always hold a control group of customers who don’t receive any direct mail, which is a testing best practice in direct marketing”, I said to him. He became more curious, but I wondered how many companies started in our techy times are missing out on the profit and increase in retention they could get out of direct mail. (By the way, are you curious to learn more about direct mail? It’s a delicate subject, and I’m thinking of creating a class just about direct mail. If you’d be interested to learn direct mail best practices, send me a quick email at mihaela@builduplab.com).  

It’s ok to break-even on a customer’s first sale.

On the second sale you’ll make much more profit, since you won’t have an acquisition cost. So, it’s worth it to bring prospects in at a break-even cost.

Try to not speak to your customers the same way you speak to your prospects.

Your prospects need to know you better, while your customers need to feel acknowledged. There will soon come a time when customers will leave if they’re not acknowledged as customers. They’ve already given something to your business by buying from you. The least you can do is to periodically create two different versions of your marketing message, one for prospects and one, with extra special language, for your customers.

Test meaningful and scalable ideas.

Sometimes people want to test colors, formats or other little things that don’t make any difference. I highly recommend testing new ideas, but make sure that what you test is meaningful, scalable and implemented correctly.

The service, not the price.

Talking about the price too much will invite transaction buyers. Talking about the service - the business, the product, the process, the team, the customers - will create relationship buyers, people who are interested in you much more than in your price, who are more likely to remain loyal and more likely to get the most benefit out of what they buy.

Mihaela Akers
Fulfillment: how you deliver your product or service

I’m in love with the word “fulfillment”. It makes me feel full and filled and yet, thankfully, at the same time, this little big word makes me feel like I’m forever filling my never ending and constantly expanding bucket.

But today I want to talk to you about a different kind of fulfillment, the one where you get to deliver your product to your customer. Fulfillment in marketing means, simply put, the delivery of your product.

Does the sale begin when the customer says “yes”? If you want loyal customers, it sure does. I’ve shared a lot about this idea before. When you join me inside Lifelong Customers, you’ll hear me mention that what you say or do right after people buy for the first time is, in fact, your sales pitch for your customer’s next purchase from you. It sounds counterintuitive at a very first glance. Right after people buy is the time when most of us - we’re humans - want to rest our laurels. We want to breathe a little, because we’ve worked hard to get that sale.

But I’d suggest we find some time to breathe before the sale, because this short period of time right after people buy is the moment when you need to press the gas pedal. Press it courageously, strategically and wholeheartedly and you’ll do your business, yourself (and your customers) a great favor.

Enter fulfillment: how you deliver your product.

There’s always a delivery of the product, no matter what you sell. That digital product that people would have to download themselves after they buy? That product gets delivered too. Anything that people pay money for is delivered one way or another.

Fulfillment means much more than packaging and placing your product in your customers’ hands, inbox or other space. Fulfillment comprises everything you do or say from the moment your customer paid money, to the moment she/he fully experiences your product. Fulfillment comprises saying welcome and thank you and helping people feel fully satisfied and aligned with their purchase decision. Fulfillment is about making people feel happy and about helping them decide (albeit mostly subconsciously at this point) if they’ll want to buy again and refer others to your business.

Fulfillment is not about filling a hole in your customers’ lives. It’s about creating a bucket full of customer satisfaction, the promise of another purchase and about putting a smile on your customers’ day’s map.

If you’d like to learn how to deliver your product in an outstanding way, join me inside Lifelong Customers.

Mihaela Akers
Your first & most important customer is YOU

I could almost feel the love, respect and positive energy that was emanating from their words when they wrote to me about why they loved working there. Yes, I knew they were happy. After all, they’d been working there for decades. But I never realized how much respect they felt for the product they were selling.

These women worked in our call center. But when they picked up the phone, they weren’t just selling a product. They were selling a better way of living. They knew that the product they offered undoubtedly changed their customers’ lives.

I didn’t always understand that this knowing, this internal feeling of respect and love for your own products and for your own work makes people buy and remain loyal to you.

In fact, I’ve come to learn that people don’t even buy your products per se. They buy how you feel.

That’s why, to get loyal customers, there’s one customer you have to satisfy first and foremost: you.

Your first & most important customer is YOU.

When your first and most important customer is you, you first look to make yourself feel proud, in love, passionate, enthusiastic, at peace and fully satisfied with what you’ve created. You don’t first look to get your customers’ approval. You first look within yourself.

Kurt Vonnegut said something once that’s been vastly misunderstood: “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

This quote has been misinterpreted to mean that you should create with one ideal reader/customer in mind. In the business world, every marketer, everywhere, will teach you to create an ideal customer persona and then, to create your products and marketing to please that one person.

But, what I’ve learned is that...

The only customer you ever have to please is YOU.

Can you even imagine Kurt Vonnegut sitting there trying to come up with words that would please some reader, somewhere? Can you even imagine other great people sitting there thinking of creating something to please some other person? The Leonardo da Vincis, the Beethovens, the writers you admire, the leaders and the business people you admire just as much, the people who are changing our world? I don’t know about you, but I for one, can’t even fathom the thought that these people create products and ideas to please an ideal customer.

Instead, these people heard a calling from within and then they did everything in their power to let that calling take the shape and form of something they could share with others. Instead, they created something that makes them (not others) feel proud.

The companies that I’ve seen that had customers stampede to buy their products had one thing in common….they were run by employees who had love and passion for their own products pulsating through them. They were obsessed with their products. You could feel it. Their passion was so real that I could almost touch it and taste it. I’m not just referring to the founder or CEO, I’m referring to all employees, from executives to interns (rest assured that in these companies, the people without passion for the product eventually leave, by their own choice).

Your customers are not just buying your product, they’re buying your love for your product. They’re buying your passion and they’re buying the process through which you create what you love.

Make yourself your best customer. Feel your way into becoming your best customer. Feel your way into your product, work and business. Feel your own passion.

Why doesn’t everyone feel this way?

I’m glad you asked. I want everyone to feel this way. Don’t you? Think how joyful it is to buy a product made with love versus a product made with lovelessness. Think of how much fuller and bigger and more abundant our world would be if every single idea, product and service out there was created from sincere love.

The reason why not everyone feels this way is because we’ve never been taught that this is an important component to business and to meaningful work. Instead, we’re taught to create charts and market analysis, to identify gaps and then to rationally try to fill them.

But business starts with love.

We’ve been taught to satisfy the masses, when in fact the masses are satisfied when we create work that satisfies ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that you need to apply intelligence, analysis and the right methodologies to grow your business. But I don’t believe that’s where you should start.

I believe you should start with how you feel about your product and work. Start with feeling proud by your own work, and only then apply the right marketing strategies. Start with feeling respect and dedication for your own work - no matter what you do or sell.

Then, just watch how others will stampede to buy your products. I’ll be over there, in the crowd, begging you to take my money.

Mihaela Akers
500+ beautiful and emotion imbued words you can use in your marketing copy

A bottomless supply

A bouquet of love

A goldmine of

A joy

A new you

A wealth of

Abounds with

Absolutely

Abundant

Accessible

Acclaimed

Accolade

Accomplished

Admired

Adorable

Adored

Advantage

Adventure

Affection

Airy

Aligned

Alive

Allure

Alluring

Always

Amazing

Ample

Amusing

An emblem of

An endless source of

Animated

Appealing

Appreciation

Assertive

Assured

Astonishing

Astounded

Astute

At ease

At the heart of

Attractive

Authentic

Automatic

Aware

Awe

Awe-inspiring

Baby-soft

Balanced

Beaming

Beautified

Beautiful

Beauty

Beloved

Blessed

Bliss

Blissful

Bold

Booming

Boost

Bottomless

Boundless

Bountiful

Brave

Breath of

Breathless

Breathtaking

Breezy

Bright

Broaden

Build up

Built to last

Calm

Candid

Capable

Captivating

Carefree

Casual

Celebrated

Celebration

Certain

Certainly

Champagne

Changed

Charming

Cheerful

Cheery

Cherish

Child-like

Clarifying

Clarity

Clean

Clear

Clear minded

Clever

Colorful

Comfortable

Companion

Compelling

Confession

Confidence

Confident

Constructive

Content

Contribution

Convenient

Cooperative

Courageous

Cozy

Creative

Creativity

Crisp

Cuddly

Cutting-edge

Dainty

Daring

Dazzling

Decisive

Definitely

Definitive

Delicacy

Delicious

Delight

Delighted

Delightful

Distinctive

Dreams

Dreamy

Dynamic

Eager

Earnest

Earthshaking

Earthy

Ease

Easy

Echoing

Ecstatic

Effective

Efficient

Effortless

Elated

Elegant

Elevate

Elite

Eminent

Empowered

Enchanting

Enchantment

Encouraged

Endorsed

Energetic

Engaging

Enriched

Enthusiasm

Enthusiastic

Enticing

Escapade

Esteemed

Ethereal

Ethical

Euphoric

Evocative

Exalted

Excellence

Excellent

Exhilarated

Exhilarating

Expand

Expansion

Expertise

Exquisite

Faith

Faithful

Fall in love with

Fantastic

Fascinating

Festive

Filled

Fine

Finesse

Firm

First-class

Flattering

Flexibility

Flowing

Fluid

Fly high

Focused

Fondness

Forgiving

Forthright

Fortifying

Fortune

Free

Freedom

Fresh

Friend

Friendly

From the earth

Fueled

Fulfilled

Fulfilling

Fun

Fun-loving

Funny

Gala

Gemlike

Genuine

Giddy

Gift-worthy

Gifted

Glamorous

Glee

Gleeful

Glittering

Glorious

Glowing

Goddess

Gorgeous

Grace

Graceful

Grateful

Great

Groundbreaking

Grounded

Grow

Handsome

Happiness

Happy

Harmony

Head over heels

Head-turning

Healer

Healing

Health-giving

Healthful

Heartfelt

Hearty

Heaven

Hefty

Helpful

High-energy

Hilarious

Honest

Honored

Hope

Hopeful

Huggable

Iconic

Ideal

Illuminating

Illustrious

Imagination

Impervious

Important

In the flow

Incredible

Indulge

Influential

Ingenious

Inner peace

Inner strength

Innovative

Insider

Inspired

Inspiring

Integrity

Intelligent

Interest

Intuitive

Invaluable

Invention

Invigorating

Inviting

Irresistible

Jaw-dropping

Jolly

Jovial

Joy

Joyous

Joyride

Jubilant

Juicy

Knockout

Knowledge

Landmark

Laugh

Laughter

Legendary

Let go

Liberated

Light

Light filled

Lighthearted

Like minded

Limitless

Lively

Long-lasting

Lovable

Love

Lovely

Luminous

Luscious

Magic

Magical

Magnificent

Majestic

Marvel

Marvelous

Masterpiece

Meditative

Memorable

Merry

Mesmerizing

Mighty

Miracle

Miraculous

Mojo

Monumental

Motivated

Mountains of

Musical

Natural

Neighborly

Never to be forgotten

Next level

Noteworthy

Nutritious

Open-minded

Optimistic

Opulent

Organic

Outstanding

Overjoyed

Panoramic

Paradise

Passionate

Peace

Peaceful

Perfect

Perky

Personality

Picture-perfect

Pinnacle

Pioneer

Playful

Pleasant

Pleased

Pleasing

Pleasure

Plentiful

Plethora of

Plush

Potent

Praised

Precious

Premier

Prestigious

Productive

Prominent

Propelled

Quiet

Radiant

Radiant

Ravishing

Raw power

Ray of light

Recognized

Reflective

Refreshing

Regal

Reinvented

Rejuvenating

Relaxed

Remarkable

Renewed

Renowned

Reputable

Resourceful

Respect

Respected

Resplendent

Responsible

Responsive

Rested

Restful

Restored

Revel in

Revelry

Revered

Revived

Revolutionary

Revolutionized

Rich

Richly colorful

Riveting

Robust

Romantic

Roomy

Safe

Sanctuary

Satisfaction

Satisfied

Satisfying

Savvy

Secure

Self-confidence

Self-esteem

Self-expression

Self-sufficient

Sensational

Serene

Sexy

Share

Sharp

Shimmering

Significant

Simple

Simplifying

Simply the best

Sincere

Skyrocket

Smart

Smashing

Smiling

Soft

Solid

Song

Soothing

Soulful

Spacious

Sparkling

Special

Spectacular

Spirited

Splendid

Spontaneous

Spunky

Stable

State-of-the-art

Steady

Steamy

Stillness

Story

Stunning

Sublime

Success

Successful

Succulent

Sunlight

Sunny

Superb

Supported

Supportive

Sure

Surprised

Sweeping

Talent

Talented

Tasty

Tenacious

Terrific

Thankful

Thankfulness

The best in the world

Thoughtful

Thrilled

Thrilling

Thriving

Tickled

To die for

To your heart’s content

Together

Top-ranked

Tranquil

Transformed

Transparency

Treasure

Tremendous

Tribute

Triumphant

Truly

Trusting

Trustworthy

Truthful

Unbelievable

Unbreakable

Unburdened

Unforgettable

Unique

Unmistakable

Unparalleled

Unsurpassed

Uplifted

Uplifting

Valuable

Vibrant

Vigor

Vigorous

Vision

Vitality

Vivid

Wealth

Wealthy

Whimsical

Wholesome

Winning

Wisdom

With confidence

Witty

Wonderful

Wonderment

World-class

Worthwhile

Zesty

Mihaela Akers
First love your work, then love your customers

I don’t know why, but I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of customers. I love sifting through a business’ customer base, creating customer segments and then creating marketing that makes each customer in each segment feel unique, beautiful and deeply appreciated.

I love this idea so much that one day, years ago, while working full time, I started an online store (selling organic baby clothing), simply because I wanted to have my own customers. I wanted to show them how much I care about them. The thought of treating my customers with an insane amount of care and attention made my heart fill up and almost burst out with joy.

Oh, how foolish I was! I learned quickly through this one experience that no matter how much you love your customers, you have to first and foremost love your work in order to make your customers feel loved.

In this case, I didn’t love my work. I didn’t love managing product, inventory, operations and all the day to day activities. And most of all, I didn’t feel a deep connection towards the product I was selling. Baby clothes are deliciously cute, but selling them didn’t help me personally feel fulfillment.

 
 

You see, when you love your work, your customers smell your passion from miles away. They feel attracted to you, they want to join in on your high vibe of love and appreciation - even if they don’t care that much about what you’re selling.

Years ago, I worked with a company that had highly loyal customers, even though this company didn’t stand out when it comes to treating its customers with extra care and attention. But there was one thing this company had, that most other companies I’d personally seen didn’t - its employees were genuinely living and breathing the product. They felt proud, transformed, beautiful, confident and unique when they touched, owned or talked about this product.

Customers sense the connection you have towards your own product. And when you proudly display it, they’ll stampede to buy your product.

That’s because they’re not just buying your product. To them, your product will represent much more than what’s in the box. It will represent pride, joy, passion, self-appreciation, self-confidence, self-love. That’s what they’re really buying from you. And that’s what you’re offering them when you truly love your work and when you talk to them about how much you love your work.

It sounds counterintuitive at first, and perhaps it sounds even surprising to hear the woman who created a customer retention & loyalty program say this. But friends, love your work first, then love your customers.

Mihaela Akers
A change in mindset that can help you sell more of anything

In my past corporate life I used to get a lot of calls and emails from people who wanted us to buy or try their service. The services were fantastic. The people who sold them were wonderful. But I didn’t have the time. I was always in a hurry, trying to get to the next meeting or to finish the next project.

Nowadays, I’m the one doing the selling. I’m the one creating and then selling. So, I rolled up my sleeves and I learned about sales. I learned different techniques and different strategies. But none of them got me anywhere until I learned that I needed to change the way I think about the process of selling. Specifically, there was one change I needed to make, and I think you’re going to love this.

I needed to change the way I feel when others sell anything to me. I learned that until I fully appreciate when and what others sell to me, I won’t be able to easily or successfully sell my own products and my services.  

Let me explain.

When you repeatedly hold a certain attitude about something, you train your brain to subconsciously and automatically choose that attitude any time when a similar situation comes up in the future.

When sales professionals called me and emailed me while I was pressed for time, I felt interrupted. It wasn’t anybody else’s fault but mine that I felt that way. I could have unplugged my phone. I could have closed my email. I could have set myself up for more efficiency. But I didn’t. Because I felt interrupted, my brain started to associate the feeling of “interruption” with the process of selling.

That meant that when it was my turn to sell something of my own, I subconsciously felt like I’m interrupting the person at the other end.

These are subtle associations in our brain, but they’re important to understand.

This may also be the reason why as a society, we feel that selling is icky and uncomfortable. It’s not because of the sales person who called us during dinner or knocked on our door right when our kids needed us the most. It’s because of the thoughts we thought when that sales person called us.

If you ever felt like somebody’s being pushy, if you felt interrupted or if you simply felt discomfort when others sold their things to you, pay attention to not subconsciously withdraw and feel fear that others will feel the same way you did when they see your email, your call, your sales page or your social media ad.

Pay attention to your attitude about selling. If you feel there are some kinks that need to be worked there, I have a quick and joyful exercise for you: take a five minute break every day this week and simply appreciate everything that others are selling to you within these five minutes. You can take a walk or browse the internet for five minutes. Thank you for that simple pen. Thank you for that colorful ad. Thank you for that pink food processor. Thank you for that useful app. Thank you for that e-book. Thank you for everything everyone made, sold and then continued to sell. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

During these five minutes, understand the work that went into the making of every single product, store, ad, web page, training. Somebody, somewhere, had a passion that couldn’t be quenched. Then, they created something from that passion. Isn’t everything we use in our lives the result of some people, somewhere working hard and wishing well?

Five minutes every day and you’ll start feeling pride, ease, success, contribution and well-being when you’re selling your products. A joyful and effortless way to elevate your attitude about selling, and to know, with every cell of your being, that just like you did, somebody, somewhere, silently says “thank you” to you.

And let me know how your five minutes go for you! Email me at hello@builduplab.com.

With love,

Mihaela

Mihaela Akers
Business is about sharing value

If there were no other people left on Earth but you, would you still do what you’re doing today for work?

Would you still create your products, your services or your ideas?

Think about it.

There would be nobody left to buy your products, to read your books, to listen to your presentations, to need your services. So, your business - the way it exists today - wouldn’t exist anymore if it weren’t for others.

If your business and your work wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for others, it makes logical sense that the purpose of all business is to benefit others and to improve their lives.

To create and share value with others.

We start alone, with our own desire to create something meaningful and to savour that journey of creating. But we continue on the path together with our customers and our audience.

I want to remind you of this simple and beautiful truth because, as you grow your business and expand your work, I invite you to always ask yourself "does this step I'm about to take create value for others?"

I also want to remind you of this idea because there are many who think that business is about sleazy selling or that selling is about taking money from customers. And as a result, they're apprehensive to sell their products.

But that’s not what [good] business is really about.

My son rode his scooter to school this morning because somebody created that product and then thankfully asked me to buy it. I attended a paid seminar this weekend because somebody thankfully decided to share their knowledge with others. Last night I found an easier way to meditate because somebody created an app with white noise sounds and then thankfully advertised it on the internet. There are examples like these all around us.

Our lives are better today than they’ve ever been because somebody, some time, understood that business is about benefiting others. And then, they created something that they can joyfully sell to others.

Mihaela Akers