Lessons I Learned While Working & Playing

What’s the Single Biggest Commodity in Your Business Today?

I’ve been dark these past few weeks after finishing my first major launch. I wanted to have some time to both recover and think through what I could share that would have the most value to you.

MML Squeeze Page

Of course, what immediately comes to mind are all the distinctions about how to maximize squeeze pages, split test your offer, use webcasts to increase sales, manage affiliates, and so on.

But as I was thinking about this, I realized that there’s something deeper I want to share – something that I believe is the single most important thing in your business today.

The launch was one of the most intense projects of my business career – and that is saying a lot after 20 years with Anthony Robbins :) – and I came out of it a changed – and hopefully evolved – person.

I’ll be honest, the process wasn’t always pretty behind the scenes. As I’m sure you’ve done on big projects, my husband and I both sacrificed sleep, food, time with our kids, time with each other, exercise and gave pretty much all our waking time to this launch. The tougher part, however, was trying to process the vulnerability, fear, frustration, disappointment, loss of certainty, and still figure out how to show up at a peak performance level.

And then came the feedback, mostly from well-intentioned people, but it came from every direction and at all levels of intensity.

In the words of the late Coach John Wooden, “It’s what you learn after you ‘know everything’ that really counts.” Truer words were never spoken.

So here are five lessons that I hope help you think BIG as you build your business – and stay sane. (And, in my next blog, I’ll be sure to tackle some of the marketing and sales lessons that can increase your bottom line.)

1. Put yourself in situations that will stretch you, not only from a business perspective, but on an emotional level as well.

This is one of those “easier said than done” elements. It all sounds good until you have tears streaming down your face, need to be on camera in 6 minutes, and you have one person screaming at you to be more vulnerable on air and another telling you not to feel anything. (True story.)

Pam at Digital Cafe

But, when you do something requires more of you than you’re used to giving or that necessitates you executing at another level, a whole new world of things that used to seem impossible suddenly becomes possible – or even easy.

On a spiritual level, I believe the universe responds when you take that leap of faith to get to the next level. Of course, you’re going to experience road blocks on that path. The secret is to see those road blocks as the real value in the journey, not the ultimate destination.

2. Know your strengths and build on them.

I’m not fond of admitting my weaker areas. More to the point, I hate having my weaknesses thrown in my face. One of the biggest challenges with the way we set up the launch is that it put me in a position of doing things that weren’t consistent with my strengths.

Now, I’m not just talking about skill sets. I’m all for learning new skill sets, as long as I’m not going to blow things up. I’m talking about roles that challenged my emotions and need structure because I needed to “be” or “feel” a certain way to pull off what we were trying to do.

Part of knowing your strengths is understanding who you are and what you need emotionally to feel strong, centered and happy. You cannot try to push down parts of yourself or change how you’re wired emotionally based on the context.

What you can do is make sure that you put yourself in situations where your true nature is reinforced
. Then it’s easy to be who you really are.

In the future, I’ll continue stretch myself, but I’ll make sure that the environment around me 1) reinforces my true nature and 2) consists of positive people who understand my psychology and can help bring out my best.

3. Build a support network.

If you’ve ever been through a tough time – whether it be the loss of a loved one, lost your job or ended a relationship – you know the power of a support network to help pull you through.

Yet we don’t tend to think about setting up our business community so we have the support we need as we grow. The biggest gift you can give yourself is to make sure you’re not going the path alone.

My customer support system

First, identify your support system, which may include (1) your family and close friends, (2) your business associates, (3) people within your business community, including your customers. (The only caution here is that you don’t want to be bearing your soul to your customers – but it is valuable to know who you can count on to help spread the word, and go to bat for you online.)

Second, reach out. When times get tough, bring more people to the table who can help you break through.

People want to help. They love to feel needed. They appreciate being stretched by helping solve new problems that can move them forward as well.

You cannot build your product creation business in a vacuum. You have to do it from within a support system that will help you maximize your potential and help you conquer the inevitable challenges along the way.

4. Declare your boundaries.

I met a new coaching client last week, one who came to me as a result of our launch. I like him a lot and he has a great business model. I agreed to accelerate his progress by letting him pay for three hours of my time in one chunk.

He sent me a 42-page questionnaire, a 200 page manual, and six audios that I was asked to review prior to our session, which took 90 minutes of my time. I ask for 5-7 pages max, and no audio or video, only text or web links.

Because this person flew into town to meet with me, we agreed to go to an early dinner afterwards.

Of course, our meeting went over by 30 minutes. After a late start to dinner, I declared that I had to leave dinner by 7:45pm to be home in time to put my kids to bed.

Over dinner, I continued to be pounded with questions. At 7:35 I gently reminded him that I had to leave in 10 minutes. At 7:44, I was asked a really difficult, long question, onethat was a repeat of a lot of what we did during the session. I left at 8:05.

Now whose fault was this? Entirely mine.

I made the requests that would support my time, but I didn’t take the next step and set clear boundaries for what I was willing to accept.

I should have returned this person’s materials and let them know that he needed to resubmit them in the format I requested. I should have gently reminded him that dinner was not meant to be a continuation of the coaching. When I was asked the first question, I should have stuck to my guns. I should have stood up at 7:45 pm and left, on time, which is what really supported me and my family.

When I let him over-step my boundaries, it didn’t just affect me. It affected my family and my other clients, both of whom I now had less time with.

You must participate in your own rescue.

I can tell you this: my future clients will continue to get a ton of value from me, but when it steps over my boundaries, I’m going to speak up for myself, my family and my other clients.

5. Fight for what you really want.

I love to work. But I love to play even more than I love to work (although the play feels better after you’ve earned it).

The lifestyle

It’s been a journey to figure out the role that work really plays in my life and how to balance it with my husband and two elementary-school-age boys, not to mention my friends, my health and the things I want to experience, share, enjoy and give.

But what this launch did is it forced my hand. I had to give up the last things I was holding onto out of fear – the areas where I was trading time for money, playing small and holding back.

The greatest irony is that I have never felt more uncertain and vulnerable in my business career, but now that it’s over, I have a new level of faith, certainty and personal power. I’ve also got incredible clarity moving forward.

It’s so easy to get caught up in valuing so what we believe to be the most important commodities in our business: our products and services, our cash reserve, our email list, our website, etc.

But the real commodity in your business? You.

You can’t be replaced.
You are what your kids want when they wake up from a bad dream or when they get hurt. You are who your spouse wants to connect with at the end of the day. You are the one who can help solve problems for your clients. You are the ideas, creativity and caring in your business – and in the other parts of your life.

You are the entity that everything else needs to be set up around to support. Otherwise, you won’t be able to maximize what you’re here to share, be, do, have and give.

So my real question is, have you set yourself up so that your most important commodity is taken care of at the highest level? Have you put the stake in the ground for what you want? For what you enjoy? For how you want to spend your time adding value to others?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them with me in the comments below.

20 Responses to “What’s the Single Biggest Commodity in Your Business Today?”

  1. Ila says:

    I just read this post. Feel like it was written to me. I have always had a time finding a balance. Thank you Pam.

  2. Super-powerful and insightful post, Pam! I love it!

    I found you through DSGs Rise To The Top, and I’m glad I did.

    More human beings valuing themselves is a fantastic message, and I’m glad you’re spreading it.

    I find that setting boundaries goes hand-in-hand with really understanding how to give and receive.

    P.S. I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan, and your experiences with him are definitely interesting.

  3. Jay Lee says:

    Thank you for your openness Pam. It takes a lot of courage to be so honest and vulnerable. We really appreciate the way you’re leading by example. – Jay

  4. Gary Takacs says:

    Pam:

    Wonderful blog post! Thanks so much for sharing the lessons you learned as they are so ‘fresh’. I use that Coach Wooden quote on the cover of my workbooks when I am presenting a course, it is SO appropriate! I also have a favorite quote from Stephen Covey, “What if doing the hokey pokey IS what it’s all about?”

    I admire the courage it took for you to leave the corporate world and set out on your own and I know you will be very successful because you are always learning. Incidentally, I was the guy who sent you and Chris an email since I happened to be visiting the Carlsbad area last week. It didn’t work for us to get together, but I’d love to chat with you or Chris sometime soon about your coaching services. In the meantime, thanks for sharing and for being so genuine!

    Best regards,

    Gary Takacs

    • pam says:

      Thanks Gary! Of course, I remember you were coming to Carlsbad! Schedules are tight of late and we appreciate you trying, so let us know when you want to try to connect again. Things will settle down (ha!) for us in a couple of weeks here. Yes, John Wooden is one of my heroes – a master at empowering others. Thanks for your comment – appreciated.

  5. Joey Coleman says:

    Great insights – as always Pam. I love the concept of stretch but also enforce boundaries. Great juxtapositioning… My best to you and Chris! Joey (Washington, DC)

  6. Dan Milks says:

    Hi Pam

    This is a great piece. And very timely for me and my wife as well; as we are now right in middle of the hardest part of getting our start-up business to perform. We’ve set up a new retail store in a smallish mall in a fairly rural area of Switzerland. It is to Zurich as … say Fallbrook or Valley Center is to San Diego ;-)

    Point is… our initial results are unfortunately pretty crummy and well under our estimates and not close to BkEven with liquidity vanishing daily… For many reasons, however, (positive customer acquisition trends & feedback etc) there are plenty of reasons to continue… But the emotional whipsaw is brutal… it’s really very hard to keep your head on straight and perform. I think this is an area talked about far too little … especially given it’s impact. Please keep going!

    From an readers perspective, I think that what your saying in #2:

    “What you can do is make sure that you put yourself in situations where your true nature is reinforced. Then it’s easy to be who you really are.

    In the future, I’ll continue stretch myself, but I’ll make sure that the environment around me 1) reinforces my true nature and 2) consists of positive people who understand my psychology and can help bring out my best.”

    ..should perhaps offer an example or two of yours… to illustrate how…. How does one make sure one’s environment reinforces one’s true nature … for example.

    If I could choose to always play on my home court .. I suppose I would. But often enough, circumstances pull me into situations where I have to do work that I don’t master or even enjoy … Perhaps I’ve missed something here but this points dangles a bit for me…. and could even be seen as being in conflict with the point you’re making in #1.

    Please give my regards to Chris… I hope you guys are well!
    Best regards from Dan Milks in Graubünden Switzerland

    • pam says:

      Hey Dan, great comment. Yes, it’s not always possible to play on the home court, or even avoid doing things you don’t like at times (welcome to owning your own business). What I meant by this is that it isn’t always possible to put yourself in ideal situations, and I wouldn’t have changed that with the launch, but what I would have done is protect my feelings and vulnerability a bit more in the process. So it’s not so much about avoiding situations that aren’t consistent with how I want to do things, but it’s about making sure (1) I’m ultimately moving toward an environment that really supports me and my family and (2) when I am in a tough environment, being more clear with myself about what I need and what voices I will listen to. It’s not about avoiding situations as there is no growth in that; it’s about learning from the ones you’re in so you can execute more elegantly, more efficiently and in a way that supports you better in the future. An example is that we did the traditional two week launch format and the way we did it was very stressful and we had a very small implementation team. I like the adapting on the fly part (this is the nature of marketing) but I’m a person who needs prep and planning time so I’ll likely test different launch formats that still use the same principles of what we did, but that allow for more prep and, I’ll add at least one person on the team who is great at the things I stink at. I think we can produce at least as good of a result (maybe even better) and enjoy the process more. I hope this rambling makes sense to you – hang in there with your business. Everything is tougher emotionally when it’s your business…so keep reaching out to the community for support! Warmly, Pam

  7. Mimi Lupin says:

    Pam,

    This piece, I am sure, is so needed by each of us. Thanks for being so honest as most of us can project ourselves into very similar situations and this is a lesson for us all to hear it from you. This past ten days I also had an eye opening experience when I finally set boundaries with a friend. How good that felt after months of being in denial about my anger and annoyance of her neglecting my requests about when she called and how often. I felt a load off my back when I was able to politely once again, insist on my boundaries and realized the great value of pleasing ourselves, listening to our inner voice and taking back our power. Thanks for sharing your experience. You have articulated it so well that we can all relate and understand what is important. Yes, we do feel better when we look out for our own and our families needs first and then others secondly.

    • pam says:

      Certainly, we have more to give this way and most important, we can come from a genuine desire to help vs the resentment (at least in my case) that comes up when I fail to take responsibility for meeting my own needs in the process. Oh the life lessons ahead of all of us! :)

  8. Joe Bulger says:

    Great post. Admittedly, the word ‘commodity’ threw me for a loop. For me it represents a word for something of low value. Here you’re talking about the highest value.

    I especially like your point about fighting for what you want. Sometimes I’m so caught up in a serving role, I forget to focus on my life.

    Thanks Pam!

    • pam says:

      Yes, the term “commodity” was used in this context by a friend of mine. Caused me to look it up – technical definition from “Merriam-Webster” is “Something useful or valued.” I used it because I hoped to jar people into thinking of themselves as their most important asset. But there is a difference between something being commoditized in economic terms vs what I’m talking about here. Anyway, I hope my point came across! Thanks for commenting! :)

  9. Jim Miotke says:

    So true, Pam.

    I have a note here on my desk that simply reads “Daddy playtime”. It’s there to remind me of what’s most important. One time, I asked my now ten-year old son once what he wanted most in life, expecting to hear “Xbox” or “a boy’s bicycle” (and not the purple one that he often says is a girl’s bike). But he just said “Daddy playtime”. For me, that is one of the tops things that takes care of me – being present with my family.

    Your blogs are always so rich, insightful, and generous, Pam. Thank you so much for sharing your top distinctions. Bless you and Chris and your family!

    • pam says:

      Thanks Jim -nice to hear from you. The true inspiration for this post was one night very soon after the launch, when my little one was literally up all night coughing and sick…all he wanted was me. Didn’t matter what else I could possibly give him, or how much money was in the bank, or how many products I created, in that moment, the only thing of value to him was me personally. Was a GREAT wake-up call. Glad you’re appreciating your ‘daddy playtime’ too. Guarantee this is what will be the most meaningful to you in the long run. (BTW – my oldest son’s favorite color IS purple! :). Stay in touch! :)

  10. Heather Mitchell says:

    What an exceptional post! I’m honored that I have the privilege to know you and grateful for all that you share that is so close to your heart. Thank you for your light and leadership! Love, Heather

    • pam says:

      Thanks Heather, like you, I tend to share my emotions behind things pretty freely…in this case, in the hopes it can help anyone else going through the same thing. Talk to you soon! xo

  11. Alan says:

    Thanks Pam, this is an amazing post and a great reminder for me. Our dog passed away yesterday and it really put what’s most important to the top of the list.

    In appreciation

    Alan

    • pam says:

      Oh I’m sorry about your dog – that is such a tough thing! I would imagine that he (she?) had a pretty great life with you. I’ll keep you in my thoughts tonight!

  12. Margaret says:

    Thank you Pam for a very thought provoking blog posting. I loved what you shared. Margaret

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