Asking for feedback is tough. Asking for feedback AND doing something with it is even tougher. Asking for feedback, doing something with it, and growing from it – that’s how you become the best at what you do.
In my career, I’ve read more bullshit testimonials than I want to count – and I can spot them right away. I’ve even had clients try to send me fake testimonials to add to their websites, which has made me waggle my finger and make them get real ones. Most testimonials are too consistent because they’re written by one person. They’re written in the same voice – the voice of the person who wants people to believe someone said those words about them. Is there a templated database of crappy testimonials somewhere for people who don’t want to ask their clients for real feedback?
While I’ve been building my programs, especially SPEAK With Confidence, I wanted to know what we were doing well and what we needed to do better. Sometimes I got a lot of helpful answers – other times I got back information that would only help that one person. Either way, I’ve learned I can’t take any of it personally – it’s business – and the only way we’re going to get better. It’s also the safest place for me to get real feedback in my business.
In reality, I only want to hear the good or bad constructive feedback that will make the program better. It’s usually worded like this: “More of this because _____. Less of this because ______.” We’ve taken ALL of it into consideration as we’ve built this incredible program – even if we haven’t implemented all of it. It’s the reason I KNOW this retreat is the best of its kind.
The most unhelpful feedback I’ve ever received was from an audience about my speaking. I learned quickly that getting feedback from an audience can be torturous if you take any of it personally – good or bad. They can give you the highest praise and make you feel like a rockstar who never needs to change. And they can judge you and tear you down for even showing up and opening your mouth.
You see, audiences are tough. Some humans sit there thinking: “I could do better” or “How did she get asked to speak about this & I didn’t?” or “He’s dressed like an idiot.” or “This is the biggest waste of my time.” Other humans are enthralled with you. They’re taking notes, nodding, listening intently – excited you showed up to speak directly to them.
The first set makes up about 10% of the audience. These humans will never share their name, but are happy to to tell you exactly how they feel with ZERO constructive feedback. It ends up coming out in generalizations about the entire audience or just that you suck.
The second set makes up about 90% of the audience. They will RAVE about you. They’ll sign up for your newsletter and engage with you on social media. They’ll come up to you afterward and give you a hug. They’ll remind you of why you do what you do.
The problem with being human is that we read the 10% and let it eat us alive. We sit with those remarks as if our own mother said them to our faces. We forget that 90% of people loved us – because the negativity creates a black cloud over the positivity. And guess what? You can’t blame them for being mean – they can’t help it. They weren’t taught how to give constructive feedback AND they aren’t the ones on stage doing what you do. You have to blame yourself for focusing on that shit. For letting it eat you apart.
While I was on my most recent vacation, I sat under a cloud of negative energy for a whole day. It was a cloud I believed someone else put over me. Until I journaled about it and gnawed on it for awhile and came to the realization that I don’t have to care what other people think of me – because I care about people.
So, I wrote a phrase that will stay with me from now on. I’m even going to write it next to my desk so I can’t forget it.
I love humans enough to not care what they think about me.
I care SO much about what I do – and I love people enough to share it with them. I know I’m meant to do this so much that I can’t care what they think of me. I say things people don’t like to hear – and I do it on purpose. Some people in my audiences don’t have the space to listen. Maybe it’s not their time to hear what I have to say. That’s 100% ok. They don’t have to. But I love them enough to not care what they think of me or my message. I love them enough to say what needs to be said.
I care so much about what I do because I KNOW it gives humans the ability to become who they are meant to become. And I have to do it without apology. Thankfully, I have a space that I’ve created for real feedback that I can review any time I want – to remind me of my impact. And the impact of my Crew. All the negativity falls away and I start cry-laughing when I watch their beautiful faces.
While we’re hosting our SPEAK With Confidence retreat, we ask our Rockstars to do on-the-spot Confessionals. Little video clips of them telling us how the retreat process is going. Some start recording them before we even start the retreat and others record them after they’ve gotten home. Some record one every day, others give us just one. What I love about these videos is that I get a glimpse into how someone is feeling throughout the retreat. It gives me real-time feedback that I can review when we’re done. They give us their in-the-moment feelings, thoughts, fears, excitement, and wins.
It’s such a delight that I put them on YouTube in a playlist for you to watch. They’re my favorite form of testimonial – and they’re 100% real.
Sometimes I wish I could get these kinds of testimonials from my audiences while I’m speaking or even from those haters who finally hit the epiphany moment years later. Because I DO get little notes from people 2 to 5 years later saying that one of my talks affected them deeply and that they finally got to a place in their lives to share what happened. THAT is why I have to love people enough not to care what they think. Because I have to keep saying what needs to be said.
Now, it’s your turn to ask. To get REAL testimonials. To get REAL feedback.
ASK YOUR CLIENTS
Send a survey to your clients – anyone who gives you money to do what you do.
What do we do well?
What could we do better?
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer us?
ASK YOUR TEAM
This one is even harder for most companies and personal brands. Send the same survey to your team – anyone who gives you their time (executives, employees, contractors, vendors, interns, and volunteers).
What do we do well?
What could we do better?
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer us?
When you get the feedback from both sets, do the following:
Delete all non-constructive feedback immediately. (Have someone else do this for you before you read it if you don’t think you can handle it.)
Look at what you do well and ask yourself if it’s what you want to be known for doing well. If it’s not what you want to be known for doing well, create a plan to change it. If it is, focus on it and keep doing it well.
Look at what they said you could do better and ask yourself if it would really be good for your company to do it better – or if it’s actually a blessing that you’re not good at it. Then make a plan for only making the things better that MUST be better.
Look at the average number on the scale of 1-10 and figure out what you can do to keep it between a 9-10. If it’s really low, go to the “What could we do better?” answers and start fixing things.
Then post the goodness in THEIR words on your website, your social media, and your proposals. If you want to keep growing as a business or personal brand, you’ll send out this survey every 3-6 months to your clients and your team. Keep asking, keep growing.
CORPORATE TRAINING: If you want a safe place for your team to give each other constructive feedback, bring us in to rock your team with a corporate training.
JOIN THE CLUB: If you want to be really vulnerable, share what you found out about your business or personal brand in the Kickass Humans Club. It’s a safe space for you to share yourself with the world.
I love you enough to not care what you think about me. AND I am so excited to share my world with you. xoxo
“Life is too short to not make an impact in the world.”
– Jon Cook
Jon Cook is so good at connecting people that I found him because every time I asked for people who were connected in Denver, every person sent me to Jon. He is a wonderful human filled with loads of information about effective copy for your business. For this episode, we’re about to enjoy a stay-at-home double-date while sipping rosé at 4pm on a Wednesday talking all things branded copy.
Jon is a content writer extraordinaire who understands brand voice better than most. He builds trust for his clients by learning how to be them. John and his team at Keynote Content work with thought leaders and speakers to create branded copy & content creator that writes copy that passes “The Sniff Test.” (See – NOW you know why I like this guy.)
“the sniff test”: /snif/·/test/noun: An observation we all make when we come across a website, post or content that clearly doesn’t have a brand’s voice.
“If you’re obsessed with being great at your craft, everything else will take care of itself.” – Jon Cook
This episode is filled with nuggets of wisdom for authentic and effective copywriting. If you have to write emails, blogs or social media posts for your business or just looking to get into professional copywriting for other businesses – you definitely won’t want to miss this.
Listen to the podcast here:
For your sharing pleasure:
The October SPEAK With Confidence Accelerator is all wrapped up – but my Crew and I are gearing up to for April’s Accelerator already! Follow me and check out pics from October’s SPEAK With Confidence on my insta page or sign up to secure your spot for April’s Accelerator today.
“You must expect failure as part of your journey of success, failure and success go hand in hand, you cannot have one without the other.” – Richard Parkes Cordock
Failure sucks. Thoroughly, painfully sucks. No one wants to fail – we all want to succeed. And we talk about success all the time – about how it’s not really failure, it’s just a pivot. “I’ve never failed, I’ve just pivoted.” That’s cute – pivoting is actually what we learn to do from failure.
It’s amazing how much we hear about success – but rarely hear about failure. We hear about how people made it but not the parts where they almost didn’t. It’s always so glamorous when someone writes a book about how to do it the right way – and then you wonder how they figured it out – and then wonder what’s wrong with you. It’s disheartening for struggling business owners and CEOs to think they’re the only one failing because “everyone else” is a “huge success.”
According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10.So, let’s hear THOSE stories. Then we won’t feel like we’re failing alone.
I’ve made it WAY past my own definition of failure – QUITTING – mostly because, for me, there is no Plan B. This business doesn’t look anything like it did when I started. I’ve quit parts of it, failed at other parts, and succeeded more than I ever expected. All of that led me to pivot hard and do something much more in line with who I am as a human. (read: Give me 1 hour, I’ll give you 9 years)
When I asked my Crew what they wanted to get out of our first real company retreat, every one of them said “defined vision & defined roles for every person.” Even ME! I want to know where we’re going and what everyone is doing to help us get there. I don’t have an exact plan myself since it’s been evolving so much. I want to make sure I have a Crew that will help me define where WE want to go. They will help me put the pieces together but at the end of the day, I’m still the Boss Lady.
Speaking of Boss Lady, it’s almost been 10 years of being her. Being the boss comes with SO many ups & downs and typically ends up being quite lonely. I’ve failed SO miserably and succeeded in ways I never thought I could. I’ve had lots of cash in the bank, while other times I’ve had to pray for it. I’ve always made payroll but not always for myself. I’ve made bad hiring decisions AND really amazing ones. I thought I knew where we were going and then realized I had no idea. I quit my business twice – and still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.
When you start your business in your 20’s, you look back and wonder how anyone thought you were smart enough to do any of this. I never wanted to be the “boss,” but over time I’ve realized I ACTUALLY never want to be a manager. I fully believe everyone should do their job, make their paycheck, and keep growing. I hustle my face off, so why wouldn’t everyone else? Oh yeah, because if I don’t show them how to, give them the opportunity to do so, and give them an incentive to do it, why would they bother?
We all have to show up for ourselves. Whether we’re the boss, the assistant, the manager, or the helping hand. We’re all human – no one is BETTER than another and no one person is MORE IMPORANT than another. We all have to do our jobs in order for the whole business to work. We all have to put in the time & effort and keep growing. As the boss, we set the example for everyone else. When we set a bad example, it’s up to us to own it and grow from it so our teams can follow along with us.
This week we host our 4th SPEAK With Confidence – an event I never planned on creating, a methodology I never planned to write, and a course I never wanted to create. It was never in my plans, yet it’s been the most rewarding business venture we’ve ever taken on. It fits my skillset and my team does an amazing job of supporting me in it – even those who come in from other businesses to share their own expertise.
Now that I own the fact that we’re doing this, I’m starting to see the holes in my planning. I’m starting to see that as much as the event is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, it drains every bit of my energy and adds way more stress beforehand than anything else. And there’s a reason.
A goal is just a wish without a plan.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When I asked my entrepreneur mom for feedback for our corporate retreat, she said: “At the end of the day, Melanie is the boss. And she needs to be respected as the boss, referred to as the boss & regarded as the boss.” Now I want that on a t-shirt.
The biggest reason I have never been “the boss” is because I made a decision 10 years ago that I never wanted to be a “boss.” I didn’t want to be the quintessential horror reigning over everyone with an iron fist. The best bosses I ever had never acted like the “boss,” but I never knew if they regarded themselves as the boss either. So, I never owned my own boss-ness.
I wanted to build a company and I felt like everyone I hired would just own their shit & do their job. Why would they need a boss?! We did everything we were “supposed to do” like create job descriptions, set up processes & systems, and make sure everyone knew what to do. I made all the big decisions and owned all of the failures while being grateful to my team for all of the successes, but I missed the biggest piece of all. I guess I kept waiting for the real boss to show up and take over.
Which left me sitting here wondering how I’ve had a company this long without being the boss. It was actually really easy – I WORKED MY ASS OFF. Hustled my face off. And learned how to live in a constant state of stress. I built myself a perpetual job instead of building a sustainable company that was focused & set up so that everyone was able to succeed. Including me.
Guess who’s owning their boss-ness now?! *raises both hands** YES! Me!
Maybe it took my mom saying something – or even my team mentioning it (over and over and over) for me to realize they would follow me wherever I went – as long as I finally took the reigns and got us somewhere.
So, what does it mean to own my boss-ness?
Being the boss is however we want to define it. There is no ONE way to be the boss. As long as we own being the boss. It really comes from who you are as a human – and I have a big idea of what I’ve been missing this whole time. So, I’m going to write it down and own it – and you can all hold me accountable to it. (You can write yours down too – I am more than happy to help you own it!)
MELANIE IS THE BOSS LADY
In order for Melanie to be the boss lady, she has to:
1. Slow down.
– Be willing to put herself first.
– Block time on the calendar just for what she wants to do.
– Make time for creativity.
– Learn to be proactive, not reactive.
2. Create real, tangible goals for herself.
– Understand what her perfect life looks like.
– Set deadlines for each goal.
– Set up regular calls with her mentor.
– Create accountability for herself.
3. Create real goals for her company.
– Work with her Crew to create tangible, big plans.
– Set up processes & systems for all aspects of the business with her Crew.
– Write job descriptions for every person on the team (even the future ones.)
– Create accountability structures for everyone, including herself.
4. Keep growing.
– Learn something new.
– Read the books on her bookshelf.
– Write the damn book. (Gisell, look!)
– Take a walk & enjoy time away from the internet.
5. Inspire her Crew.
– Make sure everyone is in the right place.
– Create team goals for growth.
– Set weekly/monthly meetings for check-ins.
– Schedule fun trips throughout the year for brainstorming & relaxing.
Success & failure go hand-in-hand, sure. Yet, when you have the right team and the team is inspired because the boss is inspired, success is inevitable. Which means I have to own up to being the boss & give my Crew the success they deserve.
Hi, I’m Melanie Spring and I’m the Boss Lady.
Now, what are YOU going to do to own your boss-ness?
BE MORE. BE BETTER. BE THE BEST. BE WHAT YOU WERE MADE TO BE.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. FOCUS ON YOU.
DO LESS! DO MORE!
Everyone has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.
They either tell you to work harder or they tell you to take more time for yourself. And everyone has their own formula for doing it – thinking that it will be one-size-fits-all when it’s not and it CAN’T be. We’re all unique snowflakes (I know, I know – but it’s true!). We all need our own balance/integration/way-of-doing-life. As much as personality tests try to stick us in categories to tell us how to do things, we still have to figure it out for ourselves.
I saw a facebook ad that literally said (and I quote): “FACT If you are not madly in love with every area of your life, overflowing in every area of your life which matters to you… (continue reading)” with a physically fit bearded hipster guy sitting on a rock looking out over rocky terrain & a link for his program to upgrade your life.
I couldn’t even “continue reading” because first, it isn’t well-written – and second, I wanted to hit him the face for putting that kind of shit on other people. Those words are out there making people feel like shit because he OBVIOUSLY does this himself. *insert eye roll*
Let me be REALLY clear: NO ONE IS MADLY IN LOVE WITH EVERY AREA OF THEIR LIFE. NO ONE IS OVERFLOWING IN EVERY AREA. NO ONE. ABSOLUTELY BLEEPING NO ONE. The gurus, the monks, the coaches, the trainers, the experts, the spiritual leaders, the ninjas – no one has all of their shit together. WE ARE ALL HUMAN! We’re not meant to have everything together. We’re meant to keep learning & growing. The reason some of us teach others is because we’ve figured out how to authentically be ourselves and our purpose is to help others figure out how to do the same.
So many are REALLY good at hiding their shit – and it ends up eating them alive. If you ever hear a “guru” say that they have all of their shit together & that they’ve found the fountain of _fillintheblank_ and you look at their life, their Instagram feed, and see that they live a spotless life – RUN! Don’t buy that program. Don’t read their blog posts. Don’t listen to their podcasts. Don’t fill your brain with that shit. Don’t feel bad about your life.
Phew – now that THAT is over.
Over the last two years, I’ve been building a program that is SO far outside of my comfort zone. This program allows humans to show up authentically on stages sharing their stories. It didn’t happen over night. And it has NOT be easy. I hosted it three times – training over 30 people – before I even admitted I was doing it. I denied that I was training speakers – when in reality, I’d been doing it for years. I’m a brand strategist so it’s been my job for the last 10 years to help companies tell their stories. I’d even written talks and created slide-decks for people and companies – and stayed fully focused on the fact that I’m “just” a brand strategist.
Every time we hosted an event, I would always say it was the last. Every time we had to get butts in seats, I said I’d never do it again. Every time we finished the event, I’d be SUCH a Proud Mom – telling every one of my speakers’ stories – and how hard they worked to get on that stage. And yet, I WAS NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN.
Then I moved across the country, built the online course, and wrote a 140-page workbook – and, what did I do? I did it again. WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?! I’m NOT a speaker coach. I help people tell their stories, I don’t teach people how to rock stages – AND this is REALLY HARD! Why am I doing this?!
This was until my Helpful Human, Gisell, looked at my ragged, weary, and proud face after our third event as everyone was hugging each other to head back home and said, “If you could hear what everyone says about you and this experience, you’d never doubt that you have to keep doing this.” So, we did it again. We posted a whole new event for October – added more days, made it all-inclusive, got a few signups, worked our tails off – and found that EVERYONE wanted to do the next one.
“I’m totally in for the workshop in April,” said the 53rd person.
Hearing this over and over, I took a weekend to decide if a handful of signups was worth moving forward with or if I should just wait until April. I asked my team to think on it, pray on it, and see what they thought. One of my trainers came back to me after the weekend and said, “I asked God for a word and although I wanted to play it safe and wait until April, He told me that you should listen to what He first told you.” So, we forged ahead with a new fervor.
Until I hit another wall.
I got up on stage in front of 300 women to keynote the Women in Business Network event. I’ve never felt more on fire than that morning in Dayton, Ohio. I shared the shit, I shared the awesome, and I gave them permission to take ONE step. Just one. To show up for themselves so they could show up for others. I told them “You are right where you’re supposed to be.” I made 300 new friends that day.
And the whole time I chatted & inspired, I was doubting my decision to make the October Accelerator happen – again. I was excited to be there and suffering inside trying to piece everything together.
A woman walked up to me & said, “I’m so glad I found you. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but while you were speaking earlier, God told me to tell you ‘There is no Plan B.’”
Talk about all of the air rushing out of my body. KEEP GOING! We jumped on it with even more excitement and decided that the people who were supposed to be there would be there. And guess what? THEY ARE! The Rockstars who have signed up for October are 100% right where they’re supposed to be. (Weird that I talk about this.) And this Accelerator would help me streamline every single one of the future ones – hosting more people and going even bigger. Because I was FINALLY COMMITTED! No more wavering. No more Plan B.
YOUR SUFFERING ISN’T FOR YOU TO KEEP.
Entrepreneur life is NOT glamorous. Anyone who talks about the hustle being sexy is lying.
Running a business is HARD. Building a team, managing your life, and making money is HARD. Especially when you AND your team depend on you for a paycheck. It’s not for the faint of heart. We can surround ourselves with incredible humans and still hit bottom over and over. We can be fully supported with a sound business structure and perfect marketing plan – and still miss the mark.
“It’s lonely at the top” is true AND false. It’s hard – there is NO doubt. And all of us have major decision fatigue on a daily basis. But it’s only lonely if we don’t reach out.
The problem is – when we reach out, people say shit like “everything will be ok” and “it’ll all work out.” We share where we are and it ends up being brushed it off as character-building. Which ends up reminding us to NOT reach out. Which reminds us that we’re lonely.
Encouraging words are all fine & good but most of the time we really need to hear “I’m with you” or “I’ve been there” or “I get it & I’m sorry it sucks.”
If you know me at all, I’m a HUGE encourager. I love helping people through rough times and reminding them to wear their awesome. If you need a hug, I GOT YOU! AND I’m also the first person to say “ugh, I feel that. I’ve been there. And I’m standing with you in it.” Because when shit gets hard, we really don’t want to hear that it’s going to be fine. We want to be validated in our feelings and know we’re not alone.
Sure, when we look back on the hard stuff, we may laugh at how silly it was. We may add it to a talk on a big stage or share it over coffee with a friend. Or we may just be glad we went through it because of all we learned. But when we’re in it, PLEASE knock off the “just smile & everything will be better” shit. It doesn’t help. A hug does. A listening ear does. An understanding note does. A word for the Big Guy upstairs does. Because it feels like no one really hears you when they say that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Screw the tunnel. Screw the light. Screw the great story this will make. Screw the character-building. Screw you for saying I’ll laugh about it. I’m just going to light that bitch on fire and we’ll talk about where the light and the tunnel meet.
Because what other choice is there?! Trudging?! Pretending?! Lying to myself and everyone else? THERE IS NO PLAN B.
I’ve been hustling my face off for 3 straight weeks without downtime, without sleeping well, and without feeling like I have all my marbles. I’m building an INCREDIBLE program that takes up almost all of my waking hours – and I know it’ll be worth it. It always is. And I’m tired.
I just turned off my wifi for two hours in a mountain town, put my noise-canceling headphones on, and pretended my business didn’t exist in order to write this post. I have a to-do list that’s bigger than it’s ever been and I’ve delegated everything I can possibly delegate. I have zero phone calls on my calendar today and have been asked a total of 86 questions today alone. I’ve only responded to one email. And I finally got a note from my bookkeeper that said the sky wasn’t falling anymore. I am blessed – I get it. I REALLY do. And yet…
It’s been almost 10 years since I started my business. It’s been hard – and SO rewarding. I’ve transitioned, I’ve changed everything, I’ve revamped my life, I’ve moved multiple times, I’ve been through almost everything an entrepreneur can possibly go through. And yet, I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m still hustling. I get it. It sucks and it’s so awesome – all at the same time.
If you’re in the shit right now, I feel you. I feel every particle of your being. I DEFINITELY don’t have all my shit together and right now, as much as I love celebrating all of the wins (and boy, there are some INCREDIBLE things happening), I’m also living in the shit. I need sleep. I need to delete my inbox. I want to go play. I sometimes wonder what it would look like to have a 9-to-5. And then I remember the impact of what I’m doing. The impact, the purpose, the stories, and the authenticity. I LOVE being me. I LOVE my life. I LOVE this shit. THERE IS NO PLAN B.
So, all that to say – I see you. My twitchy eye sees yours. My tight shoulders are wrapped around yours. I have a tissue box ready for you any time you need to just let it all out. And I will encourage you to LET IT ALL OUT. No matter who you are or where you’re from or what you’re going through, I’ll stand with you. Because that’s what we humans need – to know we’re not alone.
If you already read my blog post The Value of Your Proposition – then the fact that you need a value proposition is not new news to you. But don’t skip this week’s episode just yet. I have more nuggets of information hidden inside. And if I just lost you by using the words value proposition – then you DEFINITELY won’t want to skip this week’s podcast episode. Your value proposition is how you show your customers and clients why you’re special. And yes, I hate buzzword and overused business jargon. But I make it easy to use these ridiculous terms AND still be human. See? Totally not scary.
Unique Value Proposition = how do you show your value in 5 seconds or less.
Listen to this week’s podcast to learn why I think fairies die every time someone uses the word ‘synergy,’ why shwords matter, and how I’ve come up with MY value proposition for October’s SPEAK With Confidence Accelerator. (you’ll wanna sign up – promise.)
Read The Value of Your Proposition to get examples and an in-depth breakdown of value props and other industry jargon. I’ve even added a step-by-step breakdown on how to not suck at sharing your unique value proposition.
After you find your unique value proposition, let us know what makes you stand out in your industry in the Kickass Humans Club.
It’s a Monday morning. I’ve been up since 4 am feeling stuck. Sitting in one of the scariest emotions ever – FEAR. I’m scared of my own self-induced changes – and there’s been A LOT of them. I’m scared of having them all fail. And if you read my post, I wanna see you be brave, you’ll see I’m also afraid of them succeeding.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about fear. My relationship with it, its purpose in my life, and how to keep going with it instead of letting it hold me back. I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t have any answers about overcoming it – or if we even should. But I do have some ideas about how we can sit in our fear, move forward with it, and allow fear to bring out our most courageous sides.
“All you have to do is have the courage to ask for help. The courage to want more for yourself. The courage to let go of the fact that this fear has control.”
Listen to the podcast to find out more.
Featured in the podcast is Wim Hof – get some of him here.