Today marks the first day of spring, and I’ll admit it – the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning? Spring Cleaning!
Which is strange, because I did a pretty big Fall Cleaning last year. For me, normally, there is something about fall that makes me want to clean. Wrapping up the summer? Getting ready for the winter? Winding down? I don’t know what it is.
Today though, I was inspired to spring clean!
Not my house, but my business!
I talk so much about things that you can add to your business to make it better. There is a really important opposite side to this — what do you need to TAKE AWAY from your business to make it better?
It is Time to KonMari Your Business
There is much more to the KonMari method than this (the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing book surprised me by how much it changed my life and how I view the things that I choose to keep in it), but at the core of it you are asked to pick something up, ask yourself if it brings you joy, and if it doesn’t?
Thank it for serving you and let it go.
It was that concept of thanking the object that helped me clean out my closets last year. It finally flipped the switch for me of not feeling guilty about keeping things forever. It has done what it was supposed to do in my life, and now? I can release it.
Once you get started, it is hard to stop. You start to evaluate everything in your life under this lens.
Does it bring me joy? No. Thank you for serving me. I now let you go.
What if you did this to your business?
Is there a product that you offer your clients that you don’t like? Maybe one that you started offering years ago because it was the latest cool thing, but you’ve never loved it?
Take it off of your pricelist. Thank it for serving you – even if you never sold a single one, it taught you that it wasn’t the right product for you. Let it go.
Is there a service you offer your clients that makes you miserable every time someone buys it? It is not bringing you joy.
You have permission to stop selling it. Thank it for serving you – and let it go.
Is there a habit that you have that you don’t like? A life change that you want to make? Think about how the current reality isn’t serving you.
Thank it for serving you, let it go, and then decide what you want the new reality to look like.
What Are You Holding On To That Isn’t Serving You?
I heard Bob Goff speak a few years ago, and he talked about how he quits something every Thursday. He picks something in his life, and he quits it. Big, small. Always quitting. Always trimming things out.
It made me realize that like that pair of jeans in the back of your closet that you’re holding on to because they fit you in high school and might fit again, someday, 10 years later, we all hold on to things in our business.
They don’t fit, they aren’t working, and they are just taking up space. We just can’t let them go for some reason.
Here is your permission. Now you can. If it is not bringing you joy? Thank it, and let it go.
You created your business to make you happy and profitable. You get to define your own success. You are the architect of your dream. There is no room here for things that do not bring you joy.
Well, maybe bookkeeping. That doesn’t bring me joy, but it is essential to your business. Fortunately, that is what outsourcing is for. I let that stuff go too.
What can you quit today? How will it make your business better in the long run?
You didn’t start your business to be miserable. There is absolutely no reason to keep doing anything in it that makes you feel that way.
Today is a bit different than my normal blog post. As an entrepreneur, it is essential to listen to your body and take care of yourself. This is my journey through 2015, and saving my heart. It is my biggest wish that it helps you learn to listen to yourself. I am dedicating today’s post to the Rewired Life Blog Tour, where we are all exploring and digging deeper in the concepts of Loving yourself, Healing your body and mind, and Celebrating life. To participate and check out the other bloggers, visit Rewired Life Blog Tour.
Outside of my bedroom window, there is a side yard for our house. I don’t pay it much attention. I never go out there; I do nothing to tend to the azaleas and other flowers that grow out there.
They simply exist. Without me. In spite of me.
The man that mows our lawn trims them for us once or twice a year. That pruning the only attention that they receive.
It has been awhile since he has trimmed them. I need to remember to call him and ask him to come by to look at them.
Is This How I Show Myself Love?
As I looked out my window this morning, I started to think about those flowers. Blooming out there, in the sunshine. Just doing their thing. Surviving. Living.
I realized that I treat my body most days the same way I treat that patch of land.
Like it doesn’t matter. Like it can survive and bloom without me. In spite of me.
There is one problem with this plan — I need my body. Even if I feel like no one will notice if I neglect it, that is not the case.
Just like the plants outside, if I neglect it? I will hurt it. It needs to be nurtured. Loved. Tended to, and taken care of.
I Need to Take the Time to Love Myself.
2015 was a hard year, and I have not talked about it much here. It is time though – over and over again, I am realizing that I need to share my story. The story of neglecting the garden of myself.
It all started on my birthday in 2014, actually. I was walking at a conference with my husband, walking quickly down the hall, and I made him stop suddenly. I felt as though I could not breathe, like my breath was only filling the very top of my lungs. I had to stop and catch it. I was winded, and struggling to walk.
I blamed it on asthma, which I was just diagnosed with a few years ago, and once I recovered, we continued on.
I traveled from Texas to Maine a week later. Visiting Acadia National Park, climbing up the hills made me winded again. Houston is flat though, I’m not used to having to climb.
Justifications. Every time, justifications.
I started 2015 off with pneumonia. My blood pressure was elevated, but the doctors were not too concerned. After all, when you can’t breathe and you’re running a fever of 103, some other symptoms are to be expected. Antibiotics, lots of rest, and I recovered. I was tired, but again – easy to justify. Pneumonia.
In February, my friend Audrey Michel visited Houston. She invited me to do a Soul Awakening session with her. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience to listen to my body, guided by her. I did another session with her a few weeks later.
We kept coming back to my heart. Talking about the issues weighing heavily on my heart. My heart was where we kept returning.
In hindsight? My heart was crying out for me to pay attention.
The Heart Journey
In March, I called my cardiologist to make an appointment. My blood pressure was still high. The earliest they could get me in was the end of July. So I waited.
In July, I finally saw her. Tests were ordered. Take it easy. Slow. We will figure this out. Scans, X-Rays, checking my lungs, blood work. I was told to return in November.
It was the equivalent of looking out the window today at the yard. I saw it, but was I actually taking care of it? No, not really.
I didn’t travel as much in 2015, and there were no long road trips. In September, I took off for Canada, and over the next 6 weeks I attended 4 different conferences. I flew from Houston to Calgary, from Edmonton to Kelowna, back to Calgary, to San Francisco, to Houston, to Toronto, and home again. Seven flights in six weeks.
The impact on my body was most evident whenever there was any type of incline. Stairs were out. It did not need to be a steep incline though – just walking off of the plane, the ramp up to the gate, pulling my carry-on suitcase on the carpet was impossible. I decided to stop being a martyr and I requested wheelchair assistance at the airports.
It was the only way I could make it through the airports, yet I felt so much dread each time. I felt shame. Here I was, looking perfectly normal and healthy, being pushed through the airport. Often by an attendee who did not look as young and healthy as me.
I felt lazy. I felt guilty. The lady at the gate in Kelowna thought I was asking for a wheelchair because my bag was too heavy. I was embarrassed.
The Heart is the Center of Love
This is what heart disease looks like for women. A journey of guilt, and of shame. One that we try to hide. We don’t want to be seen as weak, or as whining.
I believe this is even worse among people that are running their own business. If we take time off, who will get things done? What will happen to our clients?!? (This is the wrong way to think, by the way.)
I returned to my cardiologist after my trip. My blood work was good, my lungs seemed to be ok. In the banter back and forth with her, I mentioned that I had decided not to be a martyr and ask for the wheelchairs.
It stopped her in her tracks. She made me explain to her why I needed the wheelchairs.
That Tuesday afternoon, she told me that she wanted me in the heart cath lab by Friday. That same week. Her associate rearranged his schedule to get me in that Friday.
We expected that I would be in there for 45 minutes, tops. He was going to check both the left & right ventricle of my heart, since I had had shortness of breath issues. The right ventricle supplies the blood to your lungs.
I was in there for two & a half hours. I had a complete 100% blockage of one artery. An 80% blockage of a second artery. On the right side, I still have a 55-60% blockage of a third artery.
They placed multiple stents in my heart to save my life.
This is what heart disease looks like for women. It isn’t the way that Hollywood portrays it. It shows up in completely different ways – back pain. Shortness of breath. Pain in the jaw or neck. What you think is heartburn. Elevated blood pressure. Swelling in your feet & ankles.
This is what heart disease looks like for women. We dismiss it. We ignore it. We don’t think it can happen to us. Not at age 45. We don’t have time to stop. To be inconvenienced. No time to be sick, or to complain. We have too much to do.
This is what heart disease looks like for women. Shame. Guilt. Pain. Silence.
This is what I want heart disease to look like for women: LOVE. Self-Care. Listening to our bodies. Treatment, both traditional medicine and holistic practices. Life-saving.
Listening to my Heart and my Body
Eventually, your heart can’t just live in spite of you. It isn’t like the azaleas.
I listen to my heart all the time now. I check on it almost daily with blood pressure readings, but I also listen to how my body feels. What it is trying to tell me.
Lessons that I’ve learned over the past year from Audrey have helped more than she knows. I am able to tune in to myself with ease now.
While my journey has been so different than hers, reading her book – which I’ve had the honor of knowing about since she first started to write it – moved me beyond words. You can rewire your life. You can listen to your body. You can do what you need to do to save yourself.
She has helped me to heal a part of me – the part of my spirit – that was shattered during the medical ordeal that I went through in November. Her book has helped me to come to peace in a way with the fact that I have a chronic illness that will always be a part of me – yet it does not have to define me.
If you have had to deal with an illness, or if you know someone who has – you must read this book. It will change you. I can not recommend it enough, and it is such an honor to be a part of the Rewired Life Book Tour.
Love yourself. You know what you need more than anyone else. Honor what your body is telling you.
I will not only survive this medical drama, I have been thriving. I feel so much better now. Even days after my procedure, I could walk at a normal speed.
Last week, I took my first flight to Washington, D.C. I was scared – how would I deal with the airports? I felt that dread return, but it was unfounded. I was perfectly ok, and had no issues at all. No more wheelchairs.
I will always have to watch my heart. There will be stress tests and other tests in my future to keep an eye on it. I have come to terms with that.
I can’t neglect my heart and my body any more.
Maybe it is time I pay more attention to those flowers too. Each time I look out the window, I think about that. I want them to represent how I feel going forward, with my Rewired Life.
Do you have Heart Disease too? Let’s talk. This is a conversation we NEED to be having as women.
Facts on Women and Heart Disease
If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you breast cancer or another cancer was the #1 killer of women. It isn’t. It is heart disease. Matter of fact, heart disease kills more women annually than all the cancers combined. Here are just some of the facts from the CDC on women & heart disease.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 292,188 women in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 female deaths.
- Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.
- About 5.8% of all white women, 7.6% of black women, and 5.6% of Mexican American women have coronary heart disease.
- Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
Learn the symptoms. Stop the shame. Take care of yourself.
To read the previous post from the Rewired Life Book Tour, visit Jenna Hillier to read about Body Love Habits to Start Today. The next post in the book tour is Amy Zellmer’s Faces of TBI on Healing after Trauma. Want to download a sample of Rewired Life? Visit Audrey Michel’s website here.
People buy from people that they like.
More importantly, people buy from people that they CONNECT with.
That connection occurs when you are vulnerable and share your personal experiences with your clients.
Are you giving me something to connect with you over? Are you sharing personal posts on your blog? A view of your day-to-day life? Something that tells me why you should be my BAE?
(Psst… BAE: Before Anyone Else. That is what you want to be for your potential clients, isn’t it?)
When all you post on your blog is the latest client session that you photographed, it tells me nothing about you. I don’t care about those people. I mean, I love seeing your amazing photographs, but I don’t care about the people in them. Especially if all your blog post is is telling me how this is your favorite session ever, and that they are your favorite clients, and then there are 40 photos for me to scroll past.
That client of yours LOVES that post because they are their photos. The rest of us? We want to know the story, to see the highlights, and to get on to your next post.
When all you post about are client sessions, your blog is one of many in a crowded sea of photographers, and they all start to blend together for me. Post after post about favorite sessions. Nothing that stands out.
What I am seeking is something for me to connect with you over. I’m longing for vulnerable connections through stories.
The Power of Storytelling for Your Clients
When you tell me a story about that session? About YOUR experience? I connect with you. Stories are everything for the brain; it is what they are always craving.
Think about it – if you only know part of the story? Your brain automatically starts to fill in the gaps. It is how we are wired. Scientific fact, legit, humans LOVE stories.
We love to connect with other people. Give me a chance to get to know you. Let me fall in love with you.
“But Christine! I post all that stuff on my Instagram* account!” (* Or whatever account you prefer to use.)
That’s cool. When I hit the social media account of someone I’m interested in, I stay there for 3-5 minutes scrolling around.
When I hit a blog post about someone that I find interesting? I can spend an hour there going from post to post. I devour as much as I can.
It isn’t a quick instant gratification hit. It is far deeper than that. I want to know more, and I have the chance to with a blog. I can dig back in the archives, I can see more than a snapshot glimpse — if you give me the opportunity to do that.
Post your client’s sessions – absolutely! I want to see them. I want to see so much MORE though. I want to get to know YOU.
I want you to be the one – the one to solve my problems, to provide the solution I need, to be the perfect photographer for me. The one I can trust to capture me as I am.
The one I can be vulnerable with.
Thing is, you have to be vulnerable with me first. Give me a reason to trust you.
Trust is the power of personal storytelling in your marketing for your business
When I trust you, you are irresistible. It makes it almost impossible for me to even consider working with anyone else.
What can you share in a blog post today to make that vulnerable connection with me? What stories do I need to know?
In May of 2015, we had a flood in Houston. Sudden rains, a massive downpour that lasted for hours, and it took me almost 4 hours to get home from a parking lot only 2 miles away.
Fortunately, my beloved Mini Cooper (her name is Clara) was spared.
Unfortunately, my son’s car was not. Knee deep water in our street meant that his car was a total loss by the time the insurance was done. Off we went to shop for a new car, along with thousands of other people in Houston.
The Process of Buying a Car in the Internet Age
We made a list of every car we liked. I told my son to come back to reality and take the Lamborghini off the list, and then we took the next step.
We went online and started researching cars.
What colors could we choose from? What features could we have? WHAT WAS THE PRICE?
We revised our list. We dug deeper and decided if we liked how they looked, if they had good reviews, and most importantly – if the price would work with our budget.
We spent a day or two car shopping, without ever leaving the house. We went to social media and asked our friends about what cars they loved, and if they had dealerships & sales people they recommended. Tell us all about it.
Our experience was pretty typical. Americans are rethinking how they buy cars. “Car buyers are doing more of their own leg work online and spending less time at dealerships.”
One blistering Saturday in June, along with all of the other people dealing with cars that were totaled out by the flood, we headed to the dealerships. It was finally time for the test drive. Even then? With all the research we had done, the very first thing that we did when we walked up to each one of those cars in the lot was look at the price sticker in the window.
I don’t know what half the things they list on those window stickers are – I could care less about the engine specs. I nodded my head, and looked at the price.What photographers can learn about selling online from the car industry. #businessbrilliantly Click To Tweet
Your Brain, In Price Analysis Mode
There is a reason people look at a pricetag so quickly when they shop. Dialogue starts to happen – rapid fire. What is the price? Can I afford that? Is it worth that? Do I value it? Do I like it? What are the payments going to be? Well, if I move money from here to there, I can make it work. I think I can make it work. What about if I change what we budget for certain things? If I curb my coffee habit? No more movies out? I really want the car – crunch numbers – I think I can make it happen.
You’re trying to make a judgement call. You’re trying to sort out the money, figure out where you have it, if you have it, if you can make it work.
In the end, one wins out. The price matches the value, you can justify moving the money around, it fits in your budget and you’re happy to pay for it. (The one that won out for us? Was the one I had picked out online. The color, the features, all of it. We only went to the other dealerships just to make sure.)
Imagine if My Car Shopping Experience Had Been Completely Different
Imagine this alternate scenario:
I want to buy a car, so I go online and I look at lots of photographs. I can read about the car details, but they don’t really mean much to me. Fuel injection what? Horsepower? What does it all mean? Must be important, all the car dealers talk about it.
I can’t look at prices though. Instead, I have to fill out a contact form, including information about where I plan to drive the car and how many passengers will be inside of it.
Once I hit send, I wait. Eventually, they write me back and give me three times I can come to the dealership. (I still have no idea what the cars cost.) I pick one of those times, and add it to my calendar.
When I arrive at the dealership, they let me look at lots of other cars – none of which have pricetags. No window decals on these cars, I just walk around them, sit in them, maybe even get to go for a drive.
Only then am I allowed to see a price sheet. At some dealerships, it is just the price for the base model, and then there is another 3-4 pages of things I can add on.
Do I want to buy the car right now? After all, there is a very limited supply. Maybe even only one, depending on when I want it. What options do I want to add? Am I ready to sign the contract today?
Your Photography Business & Pricing
Gone are the days were car dealerships could expect you to walk in the door with no information, browse around, and they would SELL you a car. We are living in the future! We are armed with all sorts of information.
Your photography clients? They want the same thing.
They don’t want to call you, set up a time, meet with you, and only then see the pricelist. That is the equivalent of shopping for a car in 1987. Those days? They are OVER.
People are doing research. They are looking at prices. If you’re not giving them to them? They are moving on. Instant Gratification is where it is at these days.Your photography clients want instant gratification when it comes to finding out your prices! Click To Tweet
The world is at your clients fingertips, all the information they could ever need is on the phone in their pocket. Are you giving them what they want?
It is Confusing, and it Makes Me Want to Buy Nothing
Arm your clients with the details. A hard pressure sell often leads to regret. Have at least your most popular collections or offering on your website. Talk about the benefits and the features of working with you. Tell them about it, just like you would if they met you in person.
At the minimum, tell them a starting price or what most of your clients spend on average.
Stop making it so hard on your potential clients. They WANT you to be the one. They WANT to hire you. They want to be done with the tedious task of researching & analyzing who they should book.Potential clients want you to be the ONE. Stop making it so hard for them to find prices. Click To Tweet
If you’re making them jump through hoops to find your price? They are most likely just going to click on to the next site.