What Happens When You Burn Your Business Bra, Throw Blueprints Out The Window And Finally Learn to Trust Yourself (Part 1)
Downtown Minneapolis, 1994:
It’s just getting dark as I’m leaving work. As I approach my car, I notice a group of girls across the street from me. Immediately, my spidey sense prickles — danger.
Oh come on, I think. I can literally see my car across the intersection. And what could go wrong with a group of girls? They’re carrying Filene’s bags. *I* have a Filene’s bag too! Sisters!
So I crossed the street…
… and got fucking mugged.
I knew something was wrong. But instead of listening to my instinct, I talked myself right out of it by trying to relate to those girls. Trying to recognize some piece of myself in them.
We’ve ALL done this before. Maybe you’ve never had the pleasure of getting mugged in Minneapolis. But you’ve absolutely ignored your spidey sense, and lived to regret it.
Those hot-as-hell shoes that pinched your feet as soon as you tried them on, but you bought them anyway. Your feet hurt so bad by the end of the night you had to take them off and walk barefoot on the street. (Gross!)
That obviously wrong-for-you guy who you knew would be a total d-bag in person… but he was so hot you went out with him anyway, and ended up ordering an Uber from the bathroom.
Those marketing tactics that make you go:[Image courtesy of Giphy]
...but you grit your teeth and endure / ignore the bro-i-ness. Hoping the silver bullet you paid for will be worth it. And it never, ever is.
Why do we (women) consistently do this — override what we KNOW is right and best for us, in favor of someone else’s rules?
It’s the (XY) Economy™, darling!
Remember, the XY Economy™…
★ Tells you what to think
★ Cultivates self-doubt and shame
★ Requires you to surrender your own judgment to that of others (bing, bing, bing)
★ Positions itself as the only way to do things (no room for questioning)
★ Has a limited definition of what success looks like
★ Presumes that you must seek wisdom from external sources (outside>in paradigm)
★ Operates from masculine motivations (ambition, conquering force)
The whole machine is designed to eradicate your trust in your own inner knowing...
...and then there’s the small matter of our internalized socialization.
To be polite. To apologize for taking up space or having an opinion. To manage the mental and emotional load of others.
We don’t want to offend; or we’re trying not to escalate a situation that already has our spidey-sense at code red. (<<< that’s one big reason we tend to override our “fuck off!” instinct when a man gets inappropriate.)
We can have a women’s empowerment circle later. Right now, I want you to really think about how this ignoring-your-instincts thing has affected your business.
I’ll go first.
Full disclosure: I used Bro Marketing™ for years — opt-ins and emails and lengthy launch cycles, and something called the “refundable deposit” trick, where you charge a ticket price for an event, then refund it at the door. These tactics (and others) worked pretty well… but I always secretly resented them — more than a little bit.
Mainly, it felt wrong to make giving conditional. In Bro Marketing™, it’s quid pro quo — You can have my ebook absolutely FREE! (But give me your email address. And now you’re in my “sales machine.”) Ick.
This ‘ick’ was all building inside me for years, but I ignored my discomfort. Mainly because I didn’t understand where it was really coming from.
*Sidebar: None of this “ick” is about the sale itself. We have to make offers to people in order to have a viable business (obvi). My unease was about the marketing tactics dictated by XY Economy™ that led people to that sale.
When my launches tanked in the months following the election, and so many women began to reject the masculine narrative — that’s when it finally clicked:
My unsuccessful marketing tactics were ALL tangled up in the XY machine!
Whenever I ditched the “proven formulas” and leaned into my natural confidence, generosity and (let’s just say it) comedic genius, everything felt so much easier! (Plus, it worked like gangbusters.)
But leaving the well-worn path can be pretty scary, too.
Let’s say you already know, deep in your bones, that no matter how many marketing gurus are “crushing it” with, say, Facebook Ads — you are 150% positive that you are never, ever, going to play nice with Zuck.
You’re all about exploring a new paradigm that feels more balanced and genuine and less Zucked up (ha). Great! But where are the resources?
As you bravely step away from the XY Economy™, you quickly realize it’s kind of a black hole out there. There’s no guidance! No templates! No blueprints! No cocksure bros with a step-by-step profit plan!
Whooooooooo will tell me what to do?!
You, my dear, are in uncharted waters. And that’s kind of the point.
If the XY Economy™ is an outside>in model, where all knowledge comes from external sources, then the XO Economy™ is its exact opposite.
In XO, knowledge comes from within. XO businesses are built from the inside>out. That means you have to take a leap of faith and trust yourself, boo. Because in the XO Economy™, there aren’t any wise old men, smarmy young bros — or gorgeous, dressed-to-the-nines sisters — to tell you what to do.
Building your business this way is like Big-Banging a little universe around your point of view — and the values, goals, and personality traits that make you uniquely YOU. At the heart of this universe is the value you bring to your customers.
Once you understand and own that value — in ultra-HD clarity — you intentionally craft each aspect of your business around it.
What you see swirling around your heart up there is called The 5 Pillars of A Sustainable Business. (They’re not a blueprint, btw. They’re the reference points for building a sustainable business that honors your value, and fulfills your visions and goals.)
In this inside>out model, your business is firing on all cylinders — and you don’t have to sacrifice who you are or what you care about in exchange for some pre-packaged XY “success” model.
✓ You enjoy the clients you’re working with (and the work itself)
✓ You let go of all those Bro Marketing™ tactics that aren’t working for you, and make grounded decisions about the strategy and tactics that are right for YOU.
✓ The sale feels easy and natural because you’re acting from a place of power, not forcing it out of fear or insecurity.
✓ Whenever things go wrong (and they totally will), instead of looking for answers from everyone except yourself, you revisit your strategy and act from your inner wisdom and confidence.
Before we look at each pillar individually, check out this fun drawing I made on the back of the proverbial cocktail napkin over drinks with a fellow business owner 6 years ago. (Minus the Scotch stains.)
This is what I call the Entrepreneur’s Evolution™, a four-phase cycle that illustrates the entrepreneurial journey, and where people get stuck.
In Growth Phase 1, morale is high, investment is high, and momentum is… meh. It’s exciting when you start out, but the money’s not coming in as fast as you’d like.
In Growth Phase 2, you panic. Morale starts to take a nosedive as your reality starts to diverge from your expectations. This usually involves investing a metric fuckton of effort and money into your biz to “fix” the problem* and involves a lot of tactical decisions.
Growth Phase 3 is what Seth Godin calls this The Dip, and it’s your Moment of Truth. You stop investing because you’re hella discouraged (and also, you know, out of money). Morale does a face plant, and you start eating buckets of ice cream on the reg.
***Remember, the problem you’re trying to solve in this phase isn’t the REAL problem. Most of the solutions you’re pouring money into are “outside>in” band-aids that distract you from the foundational pieces you need to focus on.
(It’s like… diets. The reason diets don’t work is NOT because 45 million dieters are “doing it wrong.” It’s that they never took the time to figure out their unique physiology, and what it needs to thrive. They skipped right to the “solution” (weight loss) without addressing the root of the problem.)
All business owners go through these phases, but the ones who operate from an outside>in mentality become even more susceptible to XY fuckery in Growth Phase 2.
Let’s look at an example of an entrepreneur in this situation. We’ll call her XY Diana. (XY Di for short, cause it rhymes.)
Di believes the path to success is found outside herself. She buys into the big promise, silver bullet-y marketing programs. (She’s getting bro’d, so hard.)
Di is unconsciously sabotaging herself because she…
Di is acting from a place of force. Sure, she looks calm on the outside, but she’s freakin’ out, man, and she’s buying into all the forceful tactics of the XY Economy™ because of it.
She's already losing trust in herself. And left unchecked, she'll careen into The Dip and be forced to make a "commit or concede" decision.
It’s a vicious machine. And it's lonely. Oh, so lonely.
By contrast, her buddy, XO Flo, has a clear grasp on how all the moving parts of her business work together to form a cohesive strategy. Instead of being bro’d by big-money promises and fear-based marketing, she shows up in her business from a place of power. Flo trusts herself, thinks for herself, and looks to herself for answers before bringing in outside help. And she has the steady, sustainable income to show for it.
XY Di is facing a crucial juncture in her Entrepreneur’s Evolution™. THE crucial juncture. She’s staring down into the abyss of sunk costs (money, time, work, stress-eating), thinking things like:
Is this even worth it?
Maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something.
Should I go back to my corporate job?
Listen. Sometimes walking away IS the right answer, and if that’s what Di needs to do, then let’s shower her with hearts and glitter, and wish her well.
But. If Di wants to build a sustainable business from the inside>out — and she totally can — she’s going to have to break the cycle of fear and force (and bros) that’s torpedoing her business into The Dip.
All she needs is 20 seconds of courage to commit to the XO paradigm.
*Which is where those steady, sustainable profits like to hang out.
1) The XY Economy™ requires you to surrender your own judgment to that of others. It’s designed to eradicate your self-trust which overrides your instincts even when things feel icky.
2) All business owners move through a cycle of four growth phases called the Entrepreneur’s Evolution™, reaching a pivotal moment at Phase 3: The Dip. This is the Moment of Truth when you must decide whether to commit or concede.
3) There is a way to untangle yourself from the XY Economy™, and rebuild your business from the inside>out.
4) In the XO Economy™, The 5 Pillars of A Sustainable Business are built around the value you bring to your customers.