This week I want to talk about the values, practices, and principles that help us build “escape pods” from whatever is not serving us. And I’d love to hear your take!
I’ve been thinking about the themes or principles that I’ve seen to be most useful for people who are building businesses, including “side hustle” businesses or projects.
I’m really interested to know if these principles resonate with you — so leave a comment and let me know?
In this 20-minute episode I expand on the principles, which are:
- Your DNA wants you to be dignified and free
- Mobilize your assets and constraints
- Don’t multitask; compartmentalize
- Itty bitty habits
- Lego, not IKEA
- Your values are a battery
- Construct your community
Listen to Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer below ...
The Show Notes
- Copyblogger’s giant trove of free business and marketing how-to, MyCopyblogger (instant access with free registration)
- Charlie Gilkey’s podcast, The Creative Giant Show
- Our Authority community of content marketers
- Our courses at the Digital Commerce Academy
- I find that Chris Guillebeau has lots of smart advice about escape pods
- Steve Kamb’s book Level Up Your Life was great as well
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s recent post with advice for first-time entrepreneurs (I see this one a bit differently)
- My post on itty bitty habits
- My podcast with Two EQ Hacks, which talks about the “your values are a battery” idea
- Barbara Sher’s TEDX talk, Isolation is the Dream-Killer, Not Your Attitude
- I always love it when you say hi over on Twitter @soniasimone!
Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.
I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.
Note: Links to extra resources are in the Show Notes!
So I was talking with Charlie Gilkey for his podcast, and I mentioned there that I’ve written about 1/4 of about 4 books, which you’d think would add up to a whole book, but No.
It’s not wasted work because frankly I think I’m going to wind up writing all of them, but for the first one I want to come out with something that really helps people. That moves people.
What keeps happening is that I keep going to how-to, because I’m a pragmatic person and I think next steps are important.
But Charlie suggested, and I think I agree with him, that there’s a manifesto that needs to happen first, a statement of beliefs that comes before the How-To, or is paired with it.
I think I could probably do How-To as a resources page, with links to things like the billion free resources we have on Copyblogger, our Authority community, our Digital Commerce Academy courses, all that good stuff. So a mix of free stuff and the more advanced stuff you can pay for if that’s where you are.
Today I’d like to throw out what I think are 7 principles of the “Sonia way of being a business owner.” The theme that’s really got hold of me is Business Advice for the Rest of Us.
There are wonderful resources from Chris Guillebeau for sure and also Tim Ferriss and I loved Steve Kamb’s book and there are others — there’s no shortage of resources from straight, mostly single white guys. And I love straight white guys, I have lots of them in my life.
But there are also some other people on the planet who don’t fit that definition, and I’d like to make sure they realize that this Business Ownership thing — and digital business in particular — is for them, too.
Here are the 7 Principles I’m thinking about — will you do me a favor and let me know if these resonate for you, if these feel like something you’d like to know more about and would share with friends?
They might not be principles, exactly, so you can let me know your thoughts on that also.
This past year I’ve really realized that my motivation is to help folks build their escape capsules from whatever situation is keeping them stuck in a situation that doesn’t serve them. These are the mindset adoptions that give you the framework to construct that escape capsule.
Any time you have a major economic shift, you have big cracks that people can fall into and get crushed, but you also release all of this new virtual real estate that folks can build on. And of course, we know that we’re now in the “gig economy,” which needs new mindsets, new behaviors, new values, all that good stuff.
Principle 1: Your DNA wants you to be dignified and free
This speaks to my very deep belief that we’re all “genetically encoded” to have dignity, freedom, to determine our own course. Now our circumstances can make that really tricky to pull off, but no one should feel they “aren’t cut out” to call their own shots.
This leads directly to:
Principle 2: Mobilize your assets and constraints
I teach this one a lot, particularly in our private communities when we do mindset and productivity sessions. You need to know what you might be able to mobilize to make your thing happen, what you have that you could use, and you also need to be honest about constraints.
So for example, a young single guy giving you business advice is going to have a hard time really understanding the constraints of being a parent, especially a more “primary caretaker” kind of parent, of little kids. And in fact I’ve seen this very type of guy go after parents of young kids for “making excuses.” That isn’t helpful. So I want to talk about what I’ve found helpful in working with both of these.
Principle 3: Don’t multitask; compartmentalize
Dear Gary Veynerchuk has been telling us recently that you can’t start a business without accepting that it’s going to severely limit your time with your family. That’s not new advice, at all.
I see it somewhat differently. Anyone can start a “side hustle” project with the bits of time that they do have, if they use them wisely. Now you’re not going to launch Google with this. But you can earn a few hundred extra dollars a month, and that is huge for a lot of people. It could be from doing hair or nails for your neighbors, it could be from driving Lyft for a few hours a week, or it could be from a digital business. Those are still businesses, and they have value.
The way to do that, instead of trying to do everything at once and falling apart into mush, is to set aside discrete little compartments of your time. I’ll talk more about that in a future podcast if you’re into it.
Principle #4: Itty bitty habits
This is one I talk about a lot — being a business owner is often about making fundamental behavior changes. Taking initiative, doing things you’ve never done before, getting out of your comfort zone, all that good stuff.
I’ve found that starting with micro habits — obviously this ties very much into that previous point — is the way to go. Don’t try to change everything overnight. Build a reliable little habit, then grow it.
Principle #5: Lego, not IKEA
This one is about the “blueprint” you use to construct your business.
We all have really different assets and constraints. If you try to model my business precisely, you’re going to struggle, because I have assets you don’t, and you also have assets I don’t, and you want to make sure you’re using them.
So instead of trying to put together something that comes pre-made in a flat-pack, take your “Legos” — your own individual set of assets and constraints — and build something with your own creativity. Play with it. Take it apart and put it back together. Get yourself more Legos in the form of education or an expanded network or whatever.
You want to stay loose. It’s just Lego. It’s meant to be rearranged. Business, especially business today, is so much about adapting and growing and evolving. So don’t be afraid to take your Legos apart to make something better.
Principle #6: Your values are a battery
This is about using what matters to you — your family, patriotism, religion, justice, equality, community, whatever it may be — as the energizer. We don’t really have a time management problem as much as an energy management one. Bringing your values to mind will help give you “the strength to do what needs to be done,” as Garrison Keillor said.
Principle #7: Construct your community
This is about finding like-minded people who get what you’re doing, so you can mutually support one another and open up opportunities you didn’t know you had.
Even if you’re a disaster, you can create a community and those folks will help you find the doors. Barbara Sher has some really nifty thoughts on this.
So … what do you think? Let me know which of these might resonate with you — and if one of them makes you go Ugh, feel free to let me know that as well.
At the end of the day, this will very much be about my own beliefs — my values are my battery on this one. But it still definitely interests me to see where folks drop off, as well. Either because I’m not expressing it well or just because I have weird values, who knows.
Thank you so much! Really looking forward to this. I’m also looking for stories for the book, so if you know someone who embodies “Business for the rest of us,” drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter. I totally get that I need to check my privilege on this one, I want to include voices who have faced constraints that I’m not facing, so that I can create something of value for as many folks as I can.
Thank you all!
Jonathan Nation says
The one big gaping hole I see is something you hit on often, but not in this model — what is success?
What is that vision you are striving for?
It’s sorta implied, yet for long term, it is needed, even if at first success is just trying something or earning an extra $400 per month.
Sonia Simone says
Excellent addition, thank you Jonathan!
I also think there’s value in a “success is the journey” approach — getting to the goal is fun, but once we get there, we’re itchy to get somewhere new. Which is totally ok. The good part comes from piloting your escape pod around the universe to find new things.
Kind of like a TARDIS. 🙂
Cheryl Sterling says
Sonia, you have a way of clarifying and answering the questions we don’t know we have. As a writer, I struggle to do it all–writing, marketing, social media. Your “don’t multi-task; compartmentalize” switched on a light bulb in my head. Thank you for giving us this roadmap to build our escape pods.
Sonia Simone says
Oh good! I decided to unpack that “don’t multitask, compartmentalize” idea for next week’s show — it was the thing that really saved me when I had a toddler, a mortgage, a day job, and a side hustle.
Tune in on Monday to hear that one. 🙂
Hashim Warren says
I’m very interested in Principle #6: Your values are a battery. I have deeply held values, but I’ve never thought about using them to energize my business work.
Sonia Simone says
I suspect they may already be energizing you — I found an interesting study that showed that just having our values called to our attention is energizing, even if we don’t formally “connect them” to the change we’re working to make.
When you know what you value at your core, you have more clarity and energy to bring to whatever you’re doing. Which is maybe why you’ve always shown such energy and purpose in the things you’ve done. 🙂
Limor Shiponi says
These principles resonate with me, they have a humane quality and I think they will resonate with many. Since you are asking also about different cultures and constraints (maybe liberties?):
Adding to Jonathan’s comment about what is success – how much is success?
There is something in these principles that presupposes people are free – to think, to act, to practice, to own, to connect. That isn’t always the case. Still, even when they are not, people can find a way to proceed – if they have hope. Principles 1, 6 and 7 – what would their hopeful versions be, if the societal DNA is to take away your dignity and freedom, teach you values that enslave you, and make sure you cannot get help from your community if you “break the rules”?
Something about digital, not about the principles – there are many business owners who can use some digital tools, but have no reason to buy into “if you don’t have a website you don’t exist.” I’m not suggesting you’ve said that, just that it is a widely spread slogan many bought into, and can see now they didn’t really need to. It can be helpful for them to know what they can use that will help their business.
Sonia Simone says
There’s definitely a gap between the DNA of freedom (who you are fundamentally) and the cultural matrix you find yourself in which may not be very free at all.
Because the digital tools and context evolve so much, I’m thinking I’ll create a resources page that can be updated — since I’m thinking of this as a physical book, I’d like it to stay relevant for as long as possible!
When you started ragging on single white dudes spouting hustle advice who blow off people who don’t fit their context, I busted out laughing at the gym.
While I’m a white dude, I’m married with four kids. Yes, on purpose. 🙂
Each of us have a unique circumstance with it’s own challenges and opportunities. The trick is to find our sweet spot and do something about what we have control over.
Keep up the good work. 🙂
Sonia Simone says
Glad it made you laugh! I like white dudes just fine, I’m married to one, gave birth to one, and have four of them as business partners. 🙂
But as you say, we each have our own challenges and opportunities. Being able to see our own advantages can be tricky …
Four kids is a lot of … excitement. 🙂
Hi Sonia – First, let me start how you ended … “Thank you!!” – I can’t tell you how much I love listening to this podcast – there really aren’t words to express how much I love it … Big Giant Massive Gratitude for this generous gift you are giving every week!! I have told several people about it and you always make me look so so smart for making that recommend to them 🙂
I actually listened to this one twice – and the 2nd time I took notes (which I have NEVER done for a podcast) – it has that much value to me. PLEASE write the book !!!
You asked for some feedback, things that landed square… things that might have missed (at least for me) –
In the LOVE pile:
1) “Business for the rest of us” – YES YES YES – please!!
2) Yes, the gig economy needs “new mindsets, skills, behaviors, values” – and there are ALOT of people (the rest of us) who aren’t spending our lives keeping up on SnapChat… so what does the gig economy mean to us? How do we do it in a way that fits for us (which of course is connected to your #1 DNA to be free and #6 values are a battery)
3) Lego, not Ikea… specifically – “Playing with it” – take it apart, put it back together — YES!! – so many times we think we have to get it right ‘the first time’ – that idea, that we have to build the empire at the word Go has to be one of the biggest stoppers we all have. [Note: the idea of “business as lego” is SUPER compelling to me and I think a totally awesome and very useful metaphor. You could spend the rest of your life collecting “little blocks” (aka all of the information on the internet) but if you don’t start building you will never make something!!!]
4) In the “don’t multitask, compartmentalize” – this question of “what is a business?” – I want a new word, something that doesn’t connote, exactly like you say, that we are trying to build the next google. So when you set aside “small compartments of time/energy” what are you building? A side hustle? a freelance biz? being as “solopreneur” – for me I wish there was a different word – one that spoke more to this idea of giving value back but also living according to (again, to use your words) “your own rules”. This to me is the essential – what do we call that??? I can go on and on here… but I hope you get the idea. What do we call the “reliable little biz” ??
5) YES! We have a “priority management problem” – always, yes!!!
6) And yes, if we fall into the cracks we can get crushed… and I think we know that, and we get scared…
Ok – so clearly this is getting long, I hope you are still reading…
The only thing that didn’t land square was the “escape pods” idea – I think I get it, but to me all of this feels more like life preserver or rescue kit. I don’t know … to me these ideas can all be like little ways to find a bit more wind to keep our sails puffed up and still moving. They do feel like principles that allow us to come back to ourselves – so if they are escapes pods that travel directly back to our heart… these are like beacons, touchstones, lighthouses … anyways – I will stop now 🙂
But for whatever reason they feel like safe harbor to me – a way to come back to our own reasons for doing what we are doing, in our own way, and they give us a little bit more energy to keep going.
Honest story, I woke up this morning thinking “oh boy, Monday… climbing back on the horse” – and your principles, listening to them again, they made things easier. They gave me just what you say in your intro – they gave me the “permission” to keep going my own way…
Thank you Sonia. And, I’m sorry this got so long :-/
Sonia Simone says
So helpful, thanks for letting me know the pluses (and minuses) for you, Kim! 🙂
One other thing Sonia – You asked for recommends on successful folks who embody the idea of “business for the rest of us” – I want to recommend you talk to Jamie Ridler at http://www.jamieridlerstudios.ca/
I told Jamie she had to listen to this episode – her comments back to me… “The concepts really stuck with me. In fact, the “Don’t be afraid to take apart your Lego and create something awesome.” has stuck with me all week!!”
If you are looking for some other voices for your book I really think you should talk to Jamie …and – I hope that doesn’t sound bossy :-0.
She has been online for a long time and has done things “her own way” – and she has built something very real and very valuable.
I hope the two of you can connect. I am now removing my bossy Kim hat 🙂