Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

It’s Not The End Of The World, Only a Delayed Launch Date

Today we are taking a break from Busting Your Corporate Idol for this announcement about the end of the world, or lack thereof.

If you are reading this, the world has not ended.   I feel bad for the Mayans  all anyone seems to know about them is that they blew it when it came to predicting the end of the world.  A sad irony really, because  they never in fact did predict the end of the world.  Mayan expert David Green explained on NPR that

The Maya never, ever, said anything about the world ending at any time — much less this year.

12/21/12.   I admit it, it’s a cool looking date, but it is totally arbitrary.

How many of you have been involved with a product launch date picked out of the air?  And yes, sometime in Q2 does count as arbitrary.    The best story I ever heard was from “Pat,” who ended up in the hospital once because he was working too much.  (Told in this post.) I’m happy to say Pat learned his lesson.  When he was a senior director at his previous company, the VP and head of product development decided that they were going to achieve something amazing – a breakthrough product in six months.  “He called everyone in in on Saturday,” and told the entire department to drop what they were doing to work on the project called “Lightsail.”  Pat did not disrupt his life to try to make it happen, and he told me with an exasperated grin “Guess what, he was off by 18 months.”   Throwing an entire department of a few dozen people at a project won’t make it happen.

Sometimes it just takes time to get things done.  It is important to work for  executives who will make allowances for reality. More people don’t necessarily help.

Which brings me to the December deadline for my book.  When I started blogging Busting Your Corporate Idol on June 11, 2012 I announced that I would complete the book by my birthday December 29th, my birthday.  Ten chapters in six months?  I had a good outline, and two chapters already written.  I knew that I have pushed myself very hard in the past, and have accomplished some amazing things.  I could do it now too. There was one thing I forgot: I was writing about people-first values. I still had responsibilities as the stay at home parent, and it seemed kind of silly to quit my job to bring better balance to my life in order to neglect my family and health to meet an arbitrary deadline for the book I am writing for free on my blog.

I have been going at a steady pace of a chapter every three weeks.  And if I project ahead, that means that I will finish the book sometime in February.

Thank you all for following along as the book has come to life.  I feel truly privileged to be able to live my dream, and am blown away that over 12,000 of you have visited the blog.

I hope you enjoy the last two chapters as much as you’ve enjoyed the first eight.

Wear Two Hats as a Writer and Be Happy

Untitled by Demi-Brooke Photography via Flickr CC

A guest post by Teresa LeYung-Ryan.

I met Coach Teresa at the San Francisco Writers Conference in the session “Writing a Tagline That Will Sell You and Your Book that she co-taught with Elisa Sasa Southard.  After talking with Coach T, I have come to believe that everyone should have a personal tag line, but more importantly, everyone should know and appreciate who they are.  As part of her guest post, Coach T will share some of her tools to help you sort that out.

Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan here.  Who do I coach?  Writers.  I help clients polish their manuscripts and map out their publishing journeys.

Teaching at San Francisco Writers Conference every year gives me the joy of seeing colleagues and meeting other fascinating writers, one of whom being Greg Marcus.  He hooked my attention with his mission statement: “I am a modern-day Abraham who smashes corporate idols and help the chronically overworked find a more fulfilling life.”

I checked out Greg’s  and his May 25, 2012 post Why Work More Than 50 Hours Per week? got me thinking about when I worked in a corporate setting 8:30am to 5:00pm.  Most days, by the time I “found” time to walk to the café for lunch it was already 3:00pm.  I reasoned with myself that by not taking a normal lunch break I didn’t have to wait in a long line to order my food.  Trouble was . . . the “daily special” was always sold out by the time I got there.  And, there was no one to talk to.  I was cheating myself.

Back at the office, I heard my coworkers say: “I didn’t even have time for lunch” or “I didn’t have time to use the toilet.”

That last statement really shocked me.

Depriving ourselves to that extent?  If we can’t take care of our basic needs, then how are we going to take care of our heart’s desires?

Fast forward . . .

“What is your heart’s desire?” is one of the initial questions I ask a new client.

Here’s a response I hear often. “I want to write a book,” says my client, “Trouble is finding the time to write. And the other obstacle . . . I hear that agents and publishers prefer to publish celebrities and best-selling authors, not unknowns.  Maybe I’ll self-publish, but, I’m so confused.”

This is what I say:  “I love helping writers reach out, not stress out.  Remember, in any story, the protagonist (main character) wants something, and the protagonist takes action to go after what he/she wants. You are the protagonist of your life.  If you want to be a happily published writer, you’re going to be wearing 2 hats  – one to work on the craft of writing, and the other to build your writer’s platform.  Polishing your craft gives you a quality product to sell. Identifying your platform gives you a chance to compete with more established authors and super famous people.  Be the protagonist.”

Unraveling the Mystery Of Platform

What is a platform?

Platform = “Making your name stand for something to attract targeted consumers who are likely to buy what you have to sell.”

What are you selling?  Your literary products.

Who are the “targeted” consumers?  People who buy literary products showcasing subjects they care about.

Making your name stand for something = making your name synonymous with the subject matters you write about (whether you’re writing fiction, narrative nonfiction or prescriptive nonfiction aka “how to” publications).

In other words, your platform is the equalizer that will let you overcome “rejections” from agents, publishers or the competition among authors.

First Step – Understand Your Values and Who You Are

3 Steps to Identifying Your Key Customer. Advice for Writers, Entrepreneurs, or Everyone?

Creative Independence by Nattu via Flickr

Who is your target customer?  Its a question I hear as a new writer, and one I often asked in business settings.   It’s a fundamental question about people, that touches and issues of focus, values, and priorities.  I asked marketing guru Dan Janal to write a guest post on the subject.  

When I coach my clients, and I ask them who their key customer is.  They usually say, “Everyone.”

That’s because they honestly believe that their message can help everyone.  And it probably can.

The trouble is, the market doesn’t like solutions that appeal to the masses. Today, people want their own customized solution, or at least someone who is an expert in their industry.  The key to winning that business is to focus on the prospects who are your best fit.

Here are three questions I ask my coaching clients to explore so they can find their best prospects and their idea customer.

Question 1. Who do you like to work with?

Yes, it is all about you. Why shouldn’t you work with people you want to work with?  Why not find people who get you and understand you, people you like and understand?  What could be worse than dealing with a person who is the epitome of everything you hate? If you are going to work independently, you find someone you like to work with.  If not, you might as well get a job.

Question 2. Who are the people who like to work with you?

Let’s face it. We’re not a perfect fit for everyone. Some people don’t like the fact you won’t work past 6 p.m. at night, won’t take business calls on weekends and won’t cut your rates to rock bottom just because they asked. Who needs them? I’m sure you can find lots of other attributes you hate in clients (i.e. Type A personalities, people who can’t make decisions, people who don’t pay their bills on time, people who see the negative in everything, people who don’t praise your work. You get the idea.) Who needs them? Life is too short to work with jerks.

Question 3. Can they afford to pay you?

Just because you can help everyone in the world doesn’t mean you have to help everyone in the world. Some people will not want to pay your full fee or can’t afford to hire you. Your skill set might help the people just out of college just as well as it helps the vice president who wants to move into the president’s office. Who has more money to pay you? Unless your passion is to help people just out of college, go for the gold.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help the college student if that’s where your heart is. In fact, if you follow your heart, you’ll feel fulfilled, which might be better than money.

Helping people who want you to help them and get paid a fair wage  – Isn’t that what running your business is all about?

Dan Janal coaches authors, speakers, consultants and small businesses who want to become thought leaders and the obvious choice.  For info on his service, go to