Kristen Kalp - Page 2 of 86 - Writer, poet, business coach.

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‘Don’t store a mouse in your mouth’ and other vital rules.


You might imagine that a Special Education facility for socio-emotionally disturbed students in Philadelphia would have lots of rules. You would be correct. The first thing you learn at new teacher orientation is how to successfully restrain a student without causing any harm to the child. (It’s a grip don’t twist scenario, in case you’re curious.)

Each classroom has a teacher and a full-time aide. Each classroom has no more than 10 students for the safety of all involved. Students regularly lash out, flipping desks or tossing books or throwing punches — at other teenagers, at therapists, at supervisors, at me — and all the rules keep the chaos to a minimum.

There are protocols for everything. Protocols for when a student brings a razor blade to class and protocols for when someone has a meltdown during lunch and protocols for verbal lashing out. Every staff member knows the general outline for rules: violence is bad, get it under control, and then issue a consequence. These rules are absolutely vital for the safety of everyone on the campus.

And then there are the other rules.

The classroom adjoining mine has a pet mouse. I don’t know who approved the use of a live animal as a reward system for a group of often-violent teens, but it’s happened. The kids love the mouse. He’s given potato chips and french fries saved from lunch and is often the recipient of copious amounts of love because humans have hurt these children deeply, but mice have not.

One kid — I’ll call him John — is a squeezer. Meaning he can’t be trusted to simply hold the mouse or enjoy the mouse, he expresses his love by squeezing the mouse. He’s soon banned from mouse-al contact.

He does not enjoy this turn of events and goes on a stealth mission to hold the mouse. He’s foiled at every turn: there’s always someone (or two someones, or three!) in the classroom.

And then.

One morning, he does it. He’s got the mouse, he’s giving it all his squeezing love, he’s in mouse-holding heaven! John’s teacher walks in. Oh…oh god. He’s caught.

He shoves the mouse in his mouth in an attempt to hide it.

He shoves. The mouse. In his mouth. To hide it.

This does not go well. The classroom next door erupts into screaming, chaotic laughter and the breathless teacher steps out for a moment to get her shit together. She cannot, under any circumstances, laugh at the mouse in the mouth situation. (But of COURSE she wants to laugh at the mouse in the mouth situation.)

I’m still not sure how the mouse gets out of the mouth: was it choked up or voluntarily surrendered? Did the mouse flee of its own accord and make a victory lap around the classroom, or was it simply spit into the open hands of the classroom aide who returned from the restroom in the nick of time? WE’LL NEVER KNOW.

Eventually, the mouse is returned to his cage, and a new rule is penciled onto the classroom rule board: don’t store a mouse in your mouth.

Life at the school moves on, and no other student finds out what the consequences are for mouse-in-mouth storage. Thank God.

I was telling this story over the weekend and it got me thinking about other rules: the necessary kind, the unnecessary kind, and how we often mistake the two.

No knives on your person in school: great rule. Don’t store a mouse in your mouth: true, but hardly useful. Mostly made up. Unlikely to be needed again.

We, as humans, as makers, as business owners, as evolving creatures, operate under an enormous set of rules. Laws, of course, but also rules of our own making.

Let’s take a minute to sift through the rules consciously, because I’ll bet there are some mouse-in-mouth rules that could use dumping.

This episode of That’s What She Said sorts through the murky, grey area between our current rules, our subconscious ones, and the rules that need dumping.

P.S. The trouble with mentors and the problem with bullet points.

Stay on it. (That’s what she said.)

stay on it sales graphic

Today can we talk about why I hate selling stuff, even though part of my job is teaching people to sell stuff? I hate selling because you have to stay on it.

You have to keep selling and marketing far beyond the point where you feel any reasonable person would have purchased, bought, added to cart, or checked out.

When I like stuff, I buy it. Period. On sale, not on sale, 3 left, 37 left, don’t care.

The vast majority of people hem and haw and put off decision-making and “think about it” and ponder it and ask questions and talk to their friends about what they should buy and then, eventually, buy the thing at the last possible second or when the ‘deal’ runs out.

I’m still learning this after 8 years, and it’s still frustrating as hell, but I want to reiterate: most people hate making decisions and avoid them at all costs.  I truly think I’m broken in this department, since I’m mostly like, YUP NOPE no nuh-uh no way YEEESSSSS no no no no no no no no no no fuck yah.

This is what I’ve learned about this staying on it by carefully watching my own impatient tendencies and my peeps’ procrastinate-or-bust behaviors for years and years.

Stay on it rule #1: at LEAST 50% of sales come in at the last possible minute.

When I launched my Sales Without Shame program a few years ago, over 50% of the introductory sales came in during the final 48 hours of the offer. This time around, that procrastinators’ percentage for the Brave workshop Early Bird pricing ending was actually 83%. Had I not sent a series of ‘This is your last chance’ e-mails about Brave, I’d have missed out on 83% of sales.

In case your eyes are glazing over that number: EIGHTY. THREE. PERCENT. Of sales.

That means that if you want to move $1000 worth of product, failing to let your peeps know about a deadline means you’ll walk away with only $170. (That’s an exceptionally procrastination high percentage, but it points to a bigger issue.)

Continuing to push sales at the last minute is the hardest part of marketing by a long shot.

By the time your promotion or your next product/thingie/service/class is even announced, let alone coming to a close, you’re sick of talking about it. You’ve had to come up with seemingly endless ways to discuss your own best features and benefits, and you’re all out of buy-it-now-juice to sprinkle on your potential customers. I know.

But if the doors close at 2:00 p.m., plan on a deluge of action from 1:30 to 1:59 p.m.. Don’t give up and say your efforts aren’t working during the hours beforehand, like your asshole brain will tell you in order to keep you from sending that last e-mail or making that last post. Don’t let your peeps coast through the deadline without mentioning it many, many times.

Humans need deadlines and will naturally put off decision-making until they are forced to make a choice. Your repeated messages as the deadline approaches will naturally cause decision-making, and therefore sales.

If your doors never close — if you’re always perceived as available and capable of taking clients — potential clients don’t have this sense of urgency. They don’t have to hop on board or get in line because you haven’t given them any reason to do so.

Deadlines for promotions naturally regulate the flow of income to your business.

No promos? No deadlines? No one is beating down your 1:59 p.m. doors, since absolutely nothing happens at 2 p.m.. That probably means lower income for your business.

Stay on it rule #2: you can always try again.

Since I launched the Brave workshop at a time when actual, literal tenets of fascism were being introduced in my country — SURPRISE THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN IN OFFICE FOR 48 HOURS IT’S ALREADY A SHIT SHOW — I got considerably less attention than I had planned with each marketing message I sent.

I could either a.) blame myself for being unable to rise above the collective dread, fear, and outrage sweeping through the nation, or b.) extend the timing of my offer and keep letting peeps know about what I had made and why it mattered.

Sometimes, events entirely outside of your control mean your promotion completely fails or you get precisely no attention when you had planned on hitting it out of the park. That doesn’t mean you give up and start over. That means you get creative. You can extend the offer, find a new way to talk about it, or start sending personal e-mails asking for help with promoting to your friends, one-by-one, who tell their friends, and you get your sales the painfully old-fashioned but incredibly effective way: by word of mouth.

For stay-on-it rules 3, 4, and 5, give the latest episode of That’s What She Said a listen.

Listen in, pick and choose episodes from the entire podcast right here, or subscribe in iTunes right here.

P.S.  You’re right, marketing sucks.  Make it better.


The Order of the Phoenix isn’t just fiction.

order of the phoenix bio photo

Owning your own business while the rest of the world goes off to a 9 to 5 is lonely. It’s even lonelier when your brain tells you no one wants what you have to offer but you wake up and do your work anyway. It’s lonely to live without a dynamic group of interesting maker-people in your neck of the woods, even if you’re an introvert or a hermit (or both).

Dispelling the inherent loneliness of bringing your best work into the world is one of the most vital steps we can take toward wholeness right now.  Because whatever comes next, personally or politically, not one of us can solve it, fix it, or change it alone.  (DAMMIT I’VE TRIED AND IT APPEARS THAT WE NEED EACH OTHER.)

The resistance takes all of us, and community is the start.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a giant group of artistic and entrepreneurial friends who live within a few miles of you, but I’m not so lucky.

I want to enter into community with you. Living, vital, raucous, sometimes-pain-in-the-ass-because-we-disagree community. Talks on the phone (reluctantly) and lives into the questions and weeps at tragedies and takes action together community. Feels all the feels and is just fine with that community. Learning together community. Sharing resources and ideas community. Actual gives a shit about one another even though it’s vulnerable community.

The Order of the Phoenix starts now.

As a member, you’ll get an extra That’s What She Said podcast episode each month, plus a live Order of the Phoenix call to resist the forces of gross, ick, and apathy that are attacking each of us on a daily basis.  No matter where you live, you’re facing unparalleled battles for your time, attention, and energy, and these live monthly calls are the perfect reason to bring your attention back to your priorities.  They’re also a fantastic opportunity to ask me anything related to life or business — you can submit questions in advance! — and are recorded for those who can’t make it.  Finally, you’ll have access to a handful of my freshest poems each month, long before they make their way to the interwebs or into a new book.

You get podcasts, poems, and fresh perspective for 8 bucks a month.

Patreon bonus podcasts
For signing up before April 5th, you’ll also have two only-available-for-the-first-30-days bonus podcasts waiting for you! Joy is an Act of Resistance and How to Hermit Without Breaking Your Life are waiting when you hop on board.

Why this, and why now? Making true, beloved community is faaaaaar riskier than making laser-focused one-problem-solving programs, which are easier to market and much more likely to lead to 5 and 6-figure launches. I’ve done that already, but at this point I don’t want to sell a bundle of information that allows for holing up with a screen and going it alone.

I’m so, so tired of going it alone.  I want to find reasons to hold potlucks with you and talk to you and laugh with you and help you and simply be with you, wherever you are. (Not metaphorical potlucks. Actual potlucks with actual casserole dishes in actual homes and hillsides and meeting spaces around the globe.)

Let’s make a joyful resistance that focuses on taking damn good care of ourselves, our talents, and our fellow humans.

Let’s refuse to listen to the voices that say we can’t, or to our own asshole brains that say we’re too lazy/stupid/fat/useless/[insert insult here] to achieve much of anything.

Let’s make something new together: a true community of artists and makers, thinkers and doers, sensitive peeps and empaths who are in it for the long haul.

Let’s bring the Order of the Phoenix from the pages of fiction into real life.

Join the Order of the Phoenix for $8 a month.

Become a Patron!

Want a free workshop, program, or both? Here’s how the group goals work!

When we reach $500 a month, you get two extended podcasts each month instead of just one!

When we reach $2000 a month, everybody gets free access to M-School, my magic school for entrepreneurs. It’s valued at $199 and is massively beneficial for your business whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not. 😉

When we reach $4000 a month, everybody gets an invite to a free in-person half-day workshop. I’ll record it for everyone who can’t make it in person, too!

At $6,300 a month, everybody gets an invite to a free in-person full-day workshop. Again, for $0.00. Just because you’re playing along, and with recordings for all!

At $8,300 a month, I’ll create a full-on program of YOUR choosing. I’ll solicit ideas and build out a multi-week, full-throttle, should-be-thousands-of-dollars-class based on what you (and the others!) want most. Then give it to all current members.

The higher we go in the fee structure, the more completely dedicated I can be to this community, and the more each member gets in return. Membership fees will pay my salary, my business expenses, and for my days off so that I can refill and be an actual human in the offline world. Eventually, your fees will pay for travel so that I can meet you, as well as workshop rentals and hosting and programming and swag bags and snail mail and my accountant, Karl, and his crew of people who are good with numbers and make me sign official documents in a timely fashion. Most importantly, the fees will pay for me to make glorious things while focused on just one group of people — you and your fellow members of OoP — without being distracted by having to hustle some other creation(s) in order to pay the bills.

Join the Order of the Phoenix for $8 a month.

Become a Patron!


P.S. While I was writing this, a small child wandered over to my cafe table and waved his straw/wand at me. We have the blessing of the wizards, people.

P.P.S. Nab 1 of the 10 $88 spots if you’d like access to my rotating program archive (valued at thousands, woot!) and a 15-minute 1-on-1 coaching call each month. YUP that’s a steal and YUP those spots will go fast and YUP I assure you that 15 minutes is long enough to let in a miracle. 😉

Become a Patron!