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How to F*&$ing Communicate. An introduction.

Let’s get you started on the road to Actually Talking To Your Peeps On A Regular Basis Without Shame and Fretfulness.

This is an episode of the That’s What She Said podcast! You can tune in below or keep scrolling to get the gist.

For lots of years, I figured someone else knew best about how I should be talking to my peeps about my business. That sounds silly to admit now, but I trusted ‘experts’ to help me navigate the world of business instead of acknowledging that what I was being told frequently felt ‘off,’ wrong, and generally gross.

Mostly I was told to hustle all the time, but be ‘authentic,’ but not too authentic because you need to be professional, but not too professional because then you don’t stand out from the crowd, and ‘put yourself out there’ but NOT LIKE THAT.

I hated hearing from people and businesses only when they were selling something. At the same time, I was worried about how much noise email and marketing and talking about products generated in general, and I didn’t want to contribute to the noise. Which means NATURALLY I ONLY EMAILED MY PEEPS WHEN I WAS SELLING SOMETHING.

Brilliant.

It took 7+ years to realize:

a.) I don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates
b.) these people WANT to hear from me, and
c.) their responsiveness or lack thereof to any single email in no way indicates how much impact I’m having on their lives.

I’m going to dive deeper into each of these painfully-obvious-but-difficult-to-learn truths in detail, as you enjoy this excerpt from my upcoming class, How to Fucking Communicate.

It’s all about how to actually communicate with the people on your email list instead of failing to create a list, acting as if the list is actually a hive of poisonous and deadly creatures that will kill you upon sending a single email, or truly believing that even though your peeps said they want to hear from you, they don’t actually want to you to email them, because they are lying liars with better ways to spend their time.

It’s a 1-off, live class that goes down on Friday, September 28th, from 4-6:00 p.m. ET.  Read more or pick up your seat now!

Truth #1: You don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates.

There are people out there who have their creative calendars planned for the next twelve months. They are very willing to share their planners with you on Pinterest or as a free download or in a free seminar or all three. For me, the concept of a ‘creative calendar’ that’s solid and unchanging one year out is utter bullshit.

My creative calendar — which dictates my podcasts, blog posts, and emails — is planned for four weeks out, tops. I know what I’ll be marketing for the next six months (see: how to make a marketing calendar), but what I’ll be writing about, talking about, and generally sharing is always based in my life at the moment of writing, which I can’t possibly anticipate a year in advance.

I’ve been podcasting weekly for over three years now, and blogging for more than nine, and not once have I stuck to an ‘editorial calendar’ or otherwise managed to keep to a strict ‘content’ schedule. I’ve made calendars, absolutely, and scribbled gorgeous plans that are absolutely perfect on paper. And then, within four weeks of starting them, I’m BORED OUT OF MY FUCKING MIND BECAUSE I KNOW WHERE IT’S ALL GOING.

Also, can we stop calling it content? It’s art, and poetry, and emails, and podcasts, and images, and witty commentary, and advice, and useful creativity, and all of the above, and calling it ‘content’ makes us sound like really sad robots pushing out blocks of shiny, commodifiable garbage.

So: you don’t have to communicate like everyone else communicates.

The trick to communicating is consistency.

If you say you’re going to communicate with your peeps once a month, make sure you do. If it’s once a week, or twice a week, or every seventh Tuesday, or on the full moon, or only when the sun sets after 8 p.m….do that. The point is whether you do what you say you’re going to do, not the frequency of your communication.

The length, frequency, and template of your communication is entirely yours.

Again, you’ll see people around you saying you must be SEO-friendly or have more than 300 words or write using words at or below a fourth grade reading level or structure your posts to align with social media, which aligns with Mercury in the House of Gemini and…no.

The length, frequency, and template of your communication is entirely yours.

I’m pushing email specifically because we all have an email account and because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t own the algorithms that govern it. Any platform in which you can communicate directly with your peeps — such as email, texting, or snail mail — counts as communicating.

Your personal communication cocktail might be:

A stunning image and an inspirational quote with a link to book your work.
A short poem and a testimonial about your work.
Three links to your latest products and a discount code.
Your latest blog post, written out and sent as a standalone email so peeps remember to visit your website.
19 paragraphs from your upcoming novel delivered every Wednesday for a month.
A single podcast episode.
A series of podcasts.
Recent interviews.
A few quick snippets of your life right now and a call to action.
New products, featured products, or sale products.
New services, a featured service, or an update on the availability of a service.
All of the above.
None of the above.

Your communication might benefit from having a template, but it in no way requires you to lock one in for life.

How often do you prefer to communicate?
Which length of email do you prefer to send — short, medium, or loooong?
What do you really want to sell, move, or promote in the next three months?
What do you want to share with your peeps that isn’t about selling, moving, or promoting a product?

When you lock in a timeframe, a length, and a topic or two, communicating is much, much less scary than it was before we began.

I’ll send ______________ every ___________ days. I can talk about __________ or ____________ or ____________, and I’ll be sure to mention __________________, since that’s what pays the bills.

What you might have just heard was, ‘Aha! Kristen says I can communicate MY way! And that means I send one half-hearted email to my peeps every ten to twelve months, or whenever I panic about money! That IS my way!’

Nah. You don’t get off that easily.

Truth #2: your people want to hear from you.

If you can really, truly believe this, you’re golden. And yup, I know it takes a long time to get here.

If your peeps are suddenly full of hatred for you and resent your very existence, as your asshole brain says, then they’ll unsubscribe. That’s the worst that will happen. They won’t get your emails/texts/mail any longer. Until then, it’s safe to assume that they want to hear what you have to say. Even if all you have to tell is a personal story and the only thing notable you’ve done this week is find the world’s greatest otter GIF. Fine! Share that!

Also: they want to hear from you, even if there are ‘only’ 7 or 19 or 123 of them. Your list size has nothing to do with the fact that your peeps have agreed to your talking with them via email.

Communicating is more about keeping a line open between you and your peeps than it is about making a direct offer every single time you write to them.

When you share the greatest animal GIF in the world, you’re much more likely to get positive responses and build rapport and let people see you, which does wonders for your business in the long run. (Don’t be frustrated by how quickly people respond to GIFs and how slow they are to respond to big-deep-soulful stuff!  We’re human, we all love puppies, and you can combine the two in profoundly interesting ways.)

The less frequently you communicate in your business, the more likely you’ll have to make an offer each time you do so. Sending a single animal GIF email every six months is not communicating, it’s phoning it in. Likewise, sending five offers a week, every week, is overkill. I don’t actually know how often you should talk to your peeps, but I do know that most creative humans err on the side of under-communicating, underselling, and underoffering, which generally leads to financial turmoil and stress.

Further! Communication is not always about being useful. It is not always about ‘being of service’ by sharing 10 tips or 7 tricks or 4 helpful clues. The emails I’ve received the biggest responses to have been those of solidarity: I’m having a hard time/I’ve had a hard time, and I just want to say I’m with you if you’re having a hard time, too. No calculated, Pinteresting plan to paper the internets with life hacks. No overarching plan that leads to a sales funnel and six figures.

Simply: I’m a human, and I bet you’re human, too.

There’s power in simply being a human, consistently.

Truth #3: you can touch people without their having told you so.

In fact, the more profound the shift, the more vulnerable it is to share it.

I know you’re really worried that you don’t have anything to say AND that what you’re saying/making/creating/sharing isn’t finding the right people. But here’s the deal.

I’ve had my life profoundly shifted by lots of authors and never written them a single email. Why? Because I naturally assume they’re busy, they’re tired, and that they aren’t the people checking their own email. (See: Glennon Doyle, Rob Bell, Matt Haig, Brene Brown. That’s just this YEAR.)

I’ve had people casually write to me and share kind words starting with, “Now that I’ve been on your list for seven years…” or “I’ve admired you ever since [event that took place a decade ago]…” My peeps tend to be quiet, to respect boundaries, and to be deathly afraid of not ‘wasting’ anyone’s time. If those are your peeps, too, you might not get the response you’re looking for each time you send a missive.

THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NOT DOING GOOD WORK IN THE WORLD.

Your work, particularly your communication, has a cumulative effect in the world. The overall response to a single letter, image, poem, podcast, painting, song, piece of art, class, or offer isn’t measurable, and you have absolutely no control over how it impacts the lives of those who take it in.

If kind words are your only measure of your worth and your work, you’ll come up short every time. If, however, you accept kind words as a gift and keep on working — regardless of whether the accolades are piling in — you’ll find yourself happier and healthier in your business life.

Your job is to do your work and to keep sharing it whenever possible. Keep giving people reasons to share their kind words seven to ten years from now.

I’m so, so grateful for every kind email I receive. I also plan on receiving precisely zero kind emails per week. Often, my peeps don’t reply to my emails. At all. There are over four thousand people a week who see AND DO NOT RESPOND TO each email. I send them every week, regardless.

Doesn’t mean my message isn’t being heard or my life is a failure — just means they don’t want to ‘bother’ me. (Lest you think this lesson is obvious, this is a recent lesson, and I’ve been doing this work for over nine years. It took an absolutely absurd amount of time for me to believe that I could be both being listened to and not receiving tons of feedback simultaneously.)

To suss this out a bit more, let’s take a look at The ‘Bother’ Factor.

How many kind, loving emails to total strangers have you written in the past year?
How many people have changed your patterns, your way of thinking, your habits, or your behavior without ever knowing that they’ve done so?
How often do you ‘mind’ if people talk to you? (i.e. Is a weekly email okay?)
How often do you talk to other people via your business?

Is there a disparity between what you accept from others and what you do for yourself/your business?

TRICK QUESTION THERE IS OR YOU WOULDN’T BE HERE.

I dare you to write to one of those people whose work you’ve enjoyed right now. Then actually write down your responses to the Communication Cocktail, and you’re on your way to communicating!

From here, it’s time to nab a seat in How to Fucking Communicate, which is a 2-ish hour live class that starts with you being all, OH GOD I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY AND I’M SCARED and ends with you being all, Actually, I can do this!  A tiny breathwork session and Q+A are included.

👉🏻 Go check out the class details.

P.S.  Here’s the link to the How to F**&ing Communicate info one more time — then buy a seat!

Let’s talk money with Hey Berna

The voices of typical financial gurus slide over my brain without taking hold: “Roth IRA blah blah INVESTMENTS blah blah 401(k) blah blah mutual funds blah I’m wearing a suit that cost more than your car blah…blah blah.”  I am an intelligent human, and yet.  THE BOREDOM.  Oh, the boredom!

How can anyone pay attention to financial advice for *any* period of time?

Enter Hey Berna.

I was just rolling along, minding my own business, when all of a sudden she helped me realize I could be earning free flights using airline points, and it’s so simple that I should stop everything and do that right now!  So, I’ll be taking a ton of free flights this year, and I know what my credit score is because I check it weekly, and I now regularly deposit dollars into an investment account.  BECAUSE BERNA.

In this interview, we talk about ALL THE MONEY THINGS, like:

+ Breaking the cycle of mental fuckery that tends to accompany money.  (You know, the one that keeps you from even knowing how bad it is, let alone how you can begin to solve it?  That cycle.)
+ How to get further in your financial choices with the help of a stranger
+ The best way to get your financial tasks handled without drowning your sorrows in 17 cans of beer and a pile of nachos
+ Money as self care and empowerment, not gross life task
+ Our shared disdain for typical financial gurus
+ Budgeting while traveling.  Which, to me, is like mixing nudity and below-zero temperatures, or fruits and meats.  Please, no.  Don’t mix them. But Berna has good thoughts on this!

I can’t wait for you to tune in, then go watch some of Berna’s videos and get all empowered about money, okay?

By day, Berna Anat is an Annoying Millennial and the creator of a financial advice video series for young people called Felicia’s Wallet. By night, she’s… the exact same thing. That’s because she saved up to quit her job in January 2018 and has been traveling the world debt-free ever since. Her portfolio includes work for Instagram, Seventeen, Glamour, Shape and The Huffington Post, which is hilarious considering she still talks herself though the bunny ear method every time she ties her shoes.

P.S. Wanna hear more financial wisdom? You want to tune in to money and happiness with Sarah Von Bargen.

Find Your Rhythm.

This final installment of the Steer Your Ship series starts with a bunch of insightful and genius questions, which you can listen to below, or you can get the abridged version and talk about your calendar.  It’s the key to finding your rhythm.

Let’s create a personal calendar that takes time off for rest, allows steadiness or experimentation to take the stage, and that actively accounts for your energetic ebbing and flowing.

In my case, that means using times of peak energy to plan for the lower months. I call it a depression calendar: reasons to get out of the house when the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. and I’d rather be in bed than anywhere at all.

I’ve covered this in depth in episode 78, Depression: A Working Theory, but here’s the gist from a few years of playing with the methodology.

Finding a rhythm is all about making yourself do what you know you need.

Find reasons to leave the house if you’re naturally a hermit.
Find reasons to get dressed up if you’re always in sweatpants.
Find reasons to stay in if you’re always out and about.

Plan for the time you NEED.

The time you need is *not* the time you necessarily want in moments of exhaustion, which is how you end up wasting six hours every weekend morning scrolling, unable to find anything to do. It’s a recipe for misery and makes you feel all four kinds of tired.

If you’re like, YES BUT WHAT GOES ON THIS CALENDAR KRISTEN, hang with me.

You’re going to scour the internet and local bulletin boards for activities of all kinds.

Free places to look for activity inspiration include:

+ your local library calendar (Mister Rogers’ biographer is coming to Philadelphia!)
+ ongoing classes at the gym or pool that are free with membership
+ book release dates (add a reminder to order from the library when they’re released if you’re a recovering book-buying fiend ::coughBOOKWORMSFOREVER::cough)
+ festival calendars
+ outdoor exploration (which parks are nearby that you haven’t been to? Hiking trails? Lakes, mountains, bridges?)
+ any marches, walks, or protests you might want to attend (i.e. The Women’s March 2019)
+ pop-up art or shopping events in your area i.e. handmade markets for the holidays
+ new bookshops or coffee shops to visit (maybe this is only appealing to me, since I work from a coffee shop and love books so much? Here are my top 8 bookstores on earth.)
+ courses, books, or programs you’ve downloaded but haven’t yet completed
+ this equation.

Any Activity + Snacks = A PARTY!

Viewing party! Reading party! Painting party! Rock climbing party! Manicure party! Knitting party! Clothing exchange party! ALL THE PARTIES! (Also parties can have 2 people. You and a friend make a party.)

Paid activities include:

+ concert calendars
+ movie release dates (isn’t seeing a movie on the big screen just BETTER?)
+ the local university’s Continuing Education classes
+ local ‘learning tree’ or nonprofit classes for enrichment (I’m taking yoga dance on Thursdays!)
+ holiday activities (corn mazes! Trick or treating! Sleigh rides! Pub crawls!)
+ local hotel stays (Tuesday night at a 4-star hotel in winter is 60-70% off the usual rate)
+ theater calendars (our local nonprofit theater plays Home Alone each year on the big screen for $5, free for members)
+ museum calendars (which artists and exhibits are coming to town?)
+ tourist attractions in your area (when’s the last time you showed another human where you live — what would you take them to see or do?)
+ Atlas Obscura landmarks
+ restaurant week calendars
+ cat cafe reservations (caffeine and cats = winning)
+ this equation.

Animal + Any Physical Activity = ADORABLE EXERCISE!

Goat yoga! Horse yoga! Cat yoga! These are real things!

Now, take it one step further.

Schedule any haircare, skincare, acupuncture, chiropractic visits, massages, or other bodily maintenance appointments months in advance. The sooner they’re locked into the calendar, the more likely you are to attend them.  (Yes I know all about how you want to cancel the night before and the day of the appointment, but even if you *do* cancel, your next appointment is already made.)

You can plan to do better. WE can plan to do better.

The last thing my brain wants to do in January is come up with this stuff, since my brain is locked into existential ennui rivaling that of the French philosophers every winter.  From here, though — at peak energy as summer closes — I know I’d freaking LOVE to take that class, see those paintings, hear that author speak, and watch that movie on release day.

Finally, you can make space to enrich yourself.

I’m not talking hashtag self care and scheduling a bath for next October. I’m talking about putting time on the calendar months from now to do the activities you most enjoy but ‘never have time for,’ whether that’s painting, skiing, writing, hiding from your family in a cabin on a lake (highly recommended), or actually reading the books you’ve purchased and formed into a wobbly bedside tower that threatens to kill you in your sleep.

You can give yourself things to look forward to — and those things don’t have to be dictated by your business, your kids, your partner, your pets, or your friends.

But you’ve gotta find a rhythm, then build that rhythm into your calendar from a few weeks or months out. (You can try doing this planning work for tomorrow, but it’s much harder to move events you’ve already committed to than to avoid committing to them in the first place.)

You don’t have to spin your wheels in overwhelm.
You don’t have to describe yourself as ‘busy’ to everyone who asks.
You don’t have to drown in tasks that no longer resonate with your business or your being.
And you certainly don’t have to give yourself over to misery and drudgery in the coming months.

Stop the overwhelm.
Choose the important.
Shape your business life.
Find your rhythm.

Those are the four tenets of the Steer Your Ship curriculum, and registration for the program closes September 24th!

Download the brochure for this six-month coaching program for whole life transformation. Then…

Book a call to talk with me about whether Steer Your Ship is right for you.

P.S.  Give what you needed to get.