Making a mess of asking

“You might as well just ask” / “Just go for it?” / “What’s the worst they could say? ‘No’? That’s not so bad!”

Worm's personal purposeI have read and given this advice a hundred times. It’s good advice. Mostly.

We don’t even think to ask for what we want, because a lot of times, we feel like if we ask, we’ll get turned down. There’s something else we need to do first: There’s some credential we need to get; we need to shoot some photos first; we have to put together the pitch or the catalog first.

There’s a window of opportunity and we aren’t prepared to go through it just yet.

So the advice is to just go through it anyways — barge in there with who you are, let them tell you “no,” and maybe let them tell you “yes.”

Is this advice any good? Should you prepare? Or should you just wing it?

When we first started the business, I would reach out to press and retail shops hoping to get coverage or make sales. I look back on these awkward messages now and I cringe: Did I really send those crappy photos? Did I really spend so much time talking about the our business, and so little time talking about the products? Couldn’t I have spent a little more time crafting our offering so we didn’t seem like such amateurs?

These bridges are probably behind me. I can’t reach out to them again even though our pitch is much more refined and optimal.

I went for it anyways, and because of that, I have a whole bunch of cringe-worthy pitches to companies who were, frankly, out of our league at that time in our business.

Having done that – the thing most of us are not willing to do – I lived, and I’m here to share the results with you.

90% of those pitches went unanswered.
Of the 10% who got back to us, probably 8% said something nice like “No, thanks. We’re focusing on [xyz other thing] right now.”
Of the 2% who didn’t politely decline, we’ve had mixed results:

  1. One was our first wholesale account, Marion & Rose’s Workshop, in Oakland, California
  2. One was Cowboys & Indians Magazine, who featured us and opened a whole new channel for us (the cowboy crowd)
  3. One was UNFI, the largest natural food distributor in the US, who started carrying us

Not one said “Get your fucking act together, you amateurs!”

That’s our worst fear, right? Well, that or the silent dismissal of people who think we aren’t even worth responding to… which arguably, that 90% could be interpreted as (it sure feels that way) — though it’s important to remember that it actually isn’t that way, we just imagine it is.

And of those 90% of people who didn’t respond, we are free to follow up again once we’ve got ourselves differently positioned. In fact, that different positioning gives us a great excuse to follow up: “Howdy! I thought I’d reach out since we have this new product line / set of photos / because I saw you recently posted about [subject that is related] and found your post very insightful.” Be nice, but be persistent.

I can tell you from experience, it is non-fatal to act before you’re ready, and you might even get some great contacts and results out of it!

The Goals Workshop: We’re in this together

I’ve been hearing from people about how much they’re loving the 2017 Goal Workshop. Have you taken a look at it yet? What do you think?

I also heard that a couple people didn’t get the announcement email that the course was even open, so in case you missed it: 2017 Goals Workshop

I’m so excited to hear how the course is working for people! It’s wonderful to see people getting started with some bold choices in their lives. My friend Cindy wrote this in our Facebook group (which you should totally join):

“I’m watching some of the classes and Danielle says this thing – that if you can think of a goal – you can achieve that goal – no matter how out of reach it seems. and my whole self rebels – thinks, ‘No way man, I have all of these goals, and I don’t know they’re so crazy, how could that even be?’ – and so on. Here it is 30 minutes later and I’m still chewing on it. And then – in a moment of serendipity – on my Pandora station comes a [singer name removed] song. Back in 2007, I bought this album from Amoeba. I fell in love with [her] voice, bought all of her records, got my bandmate also obsessed with her music, and basically spent a few years with her being my favorite musician. My dream goal was to play with her just once someday. Well – one night at band practice we’d been drinking – and I decided to send her a myspace message about playing a show in the Bay Area next time she’s on tour down here. Long story short – she’s now one of my best friends, we’ve gone on tour together whoa maybe almost 10 times?, I stay at her house, she stays at mine, and that goal that seemed bonkers insane is now just the commonplace news of the day around here. So I guess it all is possible. Even if the steps / road isn’t clear yet – maybe it really is possible.” (edited lightly, emphasis mine)

And if you’ve watched the first video, you know that I also have a really huge goal of how many people I impact positively in 2017: 152,000 people! So if you feel compelled to share the course with friends, I’d really appreciate it.

Why is my goal to positively impact 152,000 people in 2017? Because times are complicated. It’s a rough time for optimists these days. It’s easy to be optimistic when things are going well, but 2016 has been a pretty rough year for a lot of people. It seems like every day, we hear something new and awful – whether it’s a tweet from the president-elect, or the death of an inspirational icon, it has been a very rough year.

It feels like people are more discouraged than ever about the future of our country and our culture.

And how many of your friends are discouraged, struggling, frustrated, and maybe even hopeless?

But I don’t think it has to be that way. I think we can collect ourselves and be mighty. I think if we become our best possible versions of ourselves, we can make a real difference.

I feel like it’s our responsibility and our duty to stand up and be our best selves right now.

Because the world needs us to be as mighty as we can be.

So that’s why I want you to share the goals workshop. It’s important. It’s helpful. It’s a way you can make a difference in someone’s life.

And I’m always open to hearing suggestions about how to improve and increase my impact, since 152k is a heck of a goal (right?). If you have any ideas on how to spread the message further and create measurable positive impact, please do share them with me. We’re all in this together.

How to survive panic attacks

Fear is a ridiculously insidious thing.

“But it’s all in your head,” as the saying goes … well, that may be true, but inside our heads is the absolute worst place for it, because we can’t escape!

It’s like that moment in the movie when you realize the killer is inside the house.

Grant Cardone (and maybe others, but he’s the one who I first heard it from) says FEAR stands for False Events Appearing Real. Basically, your mind creates scenarios that feel like you’re about to be eaten by a tiger, but in actuality, there’s only the slimmest of possibilities that you’ll really be eaten by a tiger (or face any other mortal danger).

This time of year – and I’m not exaggerating here – I feel like I am constantly having a heart attack. Like, a real, honest-to-God heart attack.

The first few times it happened, I wasn’t sure what was going on, and I was pretty sure I was actually dying. I wrote a couple of my entrepreneur friends on the third day asking, “Um, is this normal? because… it can’t be normal.” But now I know it’s just end-of-November,-beginning-of-December panic attacks.

And despite feeling like I’m going to die, I have somehow failed to die for the past four years.

Panic attacks are not fatal.

It’s OK to be uncomfortable. It’s OK to have panic attacks. It’s OK to be scared.

It’s OK to feel paralyzed…

… as long as you remember that you are not literally paralyzed. You can still move. You can still walk. You can still write. You can still make calls.

“But I’ll be so much better at it when I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

Yes, that’s probably true. You may absolutely suck at it because you’re freaking the fuck out. But the only way that you’ll get better at it while you feel like you’re dying is by actually doing the thing while you feel like you’re dying.

But you’re not dying. You’re living.

Because life is sometimes scary. And to people like me (us?), our body sometimes has inappropriate physiological responses to fear… specifically, panic attacks.

But we have to remember that this truly is just an inappropriate physiological response. It’s not real. The only thing that’s real is the effect of not doing the thing (which is likely something like not getting the sale, not making the product, not writing the blog post, or whatever).

And that’s something to be afraid of.

I’m not telling you that panic attacks or depression or anxiety doesn’t exist — I’m absolutely never going to tell you that, since I know how real they are — but I am telling you that sometimes you have to force yourself anyways, because retreating from that scary thing has more real-world bad effects than the False Events Appearing Real.

Have you successfully overcome FEAR? Share how you did it, so that we can all get better at it!

Lots of people supported me and said they loved my product, but where’s the $$?

“I don’t get it! All my friends said they thought my idea was great, but I launched and I’ve had basically no sales. WTF?” – Countless discouraged entrepreneurs

Any new venture is terrifying, and those of us who have the blessings of supportive friends and family often make the mistake of believing friends and family will become paying customers.

Sometimes friends and family do become customers, and that’s great (because birds of a feather flock together, and people want to be supportive, God bless ’em), but it puts incredible strain on friendships if you expect (and maybe even kind of demand) that your friends support your venture.

I have seen it, and it isn’t pretty.

That’s why things like marketing, press, and search engine optimization are so critically important to start right away

If you hope to have a business, you absolutely can’t lean on your friends and family to be your customers. You can make it available to them, but availability and pressure are very different energy.

The key is to cultivate a relationship with customers

If you’ve done your market research and you know the customers are out there, you have to set your business up in a way that will reach your (future) customers. You have to find people who love your product not just because they love you, but because they truly just love your product.

In fact, Facebook even penalizes businesses whose posts don’t get a lot of click-throughs and comments, so if you just beg your friends for a ton of page “likes” without any strategy, that can actually hinder your marketing efforts.

The world is mindblowingly vast, and millions upon millions of people are searching for products, services, and experiences that resonate with them. Is yours one of them? You have to get in front of those people so they can find you!

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” – Chinese Proverb

All these things take time, money, or both. But you have to start somewhere, and sometime.

If you’re a new business just getting started, you may not have yet traversed the muddy bog of getting strangers to buy your products. It isn’t as difficult as you might think. Stay tuned for my small business marketing tips.

The Logical and Practical Reason to Write Down Your Goals

I wrote about the Woo Woo Spiritual Reason to Write Down Your Goals a couple days ago. But if you’re not into the woo-woo spirituality thing, you may want to know the Spock-like logical reason to write down your goals.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Writing down your goals helps you take a serious look at who you have to become and what connections you must make in order to achieve them. When we write down goals, we start to create a mental list of the skills we need and the attitudes we have to adopt.

For example, one of my chief aims is to get Outlaw Soaps to $1.6M in annual revenue by 2021. When I wrote down that goal, and worked back what I had to do in order to get there, I realized I needed a good advisor or mentor, and maybe an investor… but before I could get an advisor or an investor, I needed a better idea of our current financial situation. So I reached out to an accountant I met at the Quickbooks Connect conference last week.

Why was I at the Quickbooks Connect conference? Because earlier this year, I decided that in order to move our business to the next level, I needed to make some new connections. Shortly after I made that decision, a discount code for the conference showed up in my inbox.

Blah blah blah the Universe blah blah woo woo spiritual stuff aside, it’s likely that dozens of promotional messages for conferences (and probably even for that particular conference) had landed in my inbox before that message, but I hadn’t paid any attention to them because they weren’t relevant to me. But as soon as I realized I needed to make different connections — BAM — here was the Quickbooks Connect conference (with a discount code!).

In addition to meeting a great accountant (happily coincidentally in my local area), I also met one of the authors I most admire, and picked up a lot of knowledge about selling on Amazon. I made some great advances in my quest to be the type of person who is a CEO of a $1.6M company, that’s for sure!

Written goals, revisited regularly, keep you focused on what you want in your life and give you a much better chance of getting them

Hey, nothing is certain, but wouldn’t you rather have the absolute best chance of getting what you want, rather than living your life as a cork on the water?

If you want some videos and worksheets on goal setting, sign up for my goal workshop.