|“Man [or woman] is what he [or she] believes.”|
Are you a believer? We all believe in something bigger than ourselves, like religion, a certain world view, or even our own capabilities and limitations.
But research shows that the power and commitment of our beliefs is probably the single most important factor in the quality of our lives, above even external circumstances.
Basically, if we can change our mindset and our beliefs, we can rewrite the story of our own lives any way we wish!
Upon reflection, I came up with these five new beliefs to adopt that will do just that.
1. Focus on a growth mindset
We all face setbacks, obstacles, and even tragedies in life. While we can’t usually control what happens to us, we can choose to reframe how we perceive those events, turning the tide in our favor. To do that, start seeing every problem or challenge as an opportunity to grow.
They say that “You either win or you learn,” and that can be applied to just about any circumstance or event in your life. But by transitioning to a growth mindset, you’ll still process these challenges, but instead of trying to think about them less and move on, you’ll invest more time in yourself and think of how you can grow from the experience, inevitably increasing your level of joy and success.
2. Become goal-oriented
Don’t think of your day just in terms of tasks, workload, or your never-ending To Do list, but broken down into goals. No matter how small or seemingly mundane, when you switch your mindset to focus on goals, you’ll notice a pretty significant shift.
Just by checking off these daily or weekly goals and taking action to reach them (whether you achieve them or not), you’ll encourage your brain to release powerful feel-good hormones. You’ll also feel far less unfocused, as everything from going to the gym to working for your next promotion to paying off debt will have clear stepping-stones and established plateaus of success along the journey.
It will become routine to review where you are, where you want to go, and what you can do to make progress every single day. Goal setting will increase your feelings of success, achievement, and happiness!
3. Control your thoughts = control your life
According to medieval English poet John Milton, “The mind is a universe and can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
That’s even more true today, as the modern person is more stressed, anxious, and depressed than ever before in history. But if you can learn to manage your thoughts and emotions, you’ll make amazing strides to shaping your own reality.
It takes practice and focus at first, but once you are adept and identifying and quieting negative, harmful, and unwanted thoughts (which we all have), the universe within your ears will no longer steal your joy or threaten your inner peace.
Remember that your authentic self doesn’t produce thoughts of guilt, shame, blame or fear, and or any disempowering thoughts that do not serve you – so get rid of them!
4. Give yourself permission to think/feel in joy
When a reporter once asked the Dali Lama what the meaning of life was, he gave a surprising answer: joy. Joy is so important in our lives, he reasoned, because when we feel happiness and love we both emit those same emotions into the world, and openly accept them. We do no harm and tend to operate at our highest and best potential as human beings when we operate from a place of joy, not fear, loss, or scarcity.
Yet too often, we don’t give ourselves permission to feel joy, thinking that if we’re not serious, struggling, or feeling stressed, we’re not doing enough or somehow being selfish. Quite the opposite is true!
Of course, we have to accept that we cannot please everyone and that no one is free from suffering. But by switching to a mindset of joy, we’ll cultivate the resilience, trust, and faith to get us through even the darkest of days.
5. Take full responsibility for your own life
Repeat after me, “I am completely responsible for how I experience life.”
Just by uttering those words and internalizing their meaning, we empower ourselves to take control of our lives completely. Only we are responsible for our outcomes, our happiness, and writing our own story.
To take full responsibility doesn’t mean we blame ourselves for everything, but acknowledge our power. We realize that we can generate the energy and discipline needed to stay on the path to emotional and physical well-being. We won’t just rely on motivation or need external inspiration, but will simply choose the right habits, regardless of how we feel.
We also don’t give others permission to steal our joy or derail us from what we want. Of course, we understand that everyone is just doing the best they can, but the manifestation of our lives isn’t up to them, but us.
With responsibility comes freedom, and that all starts with belief!
Scientists used to think that our brains were hard-wired, born and developed with a physical structure that could never be altered. In decades past, patients with brain damage or traumatic injuries seldom showed improvement, and there was certainly no way to observe the brain’s activity or inner workings.
But dramatic advances in science, healthcare, and research, really just in the last decade, have propelled us to a new understanding of the human mind. We understand more of how it functions, and also what we can do to directly influence its processes.
Far from being hard-wired, your brain is actually malleable, able to change and adapt. This “neuroplasticity” (“neuro” = brain and “plasticity” = changeable) is the key that allows us to literally rewire our brains. Basically, the brain is like a muscle which can be trained and strengthened like any other.
But why would we even want to rewire our brains?
Rewiring your brain helps you:
- Learn a new language
- Change careers or start in a new industry
- Develop new skills
- Adapt to new environment and deal with change
- Form a new mindset
- Break bad habits
- Lose weight
- Get in shape
- Make money
- Feel happier
- Gain confidence
Even more important, rewiring our brains allows us a method to treat addiction, depression, mental illness, and traumatic brain injuries. That field has evolved exponentially in just the last few years, bearing great results for doctors, neuroscientists, psychologists, counselors, and their patients.
But today, we’re talking about re-training your brain for practical uses in your life, like setting goals and getting “unstuck” from negative ruts.
What does “rewiring your brain” mean?
The term “rewire” just means to encourage and promote neuroplasticity (not that you have to open up the hood and get in there with a screwdriver or anything!).
The miraculous aspect of this is the choices we make, activities we pursue, and even our mindset have a significant impact on our neuroplasticity, helping our brains create and strengthen new neuropathways.
We can do that by setting new goals or engaging in healthy habits. Those establish and promote those new pathways, which soon become entrenched as those positive behaviors become habits.
As your brain’s neurons continue to fire in unison with a new habit, experience, or some form of learning, they’ll eventually form a physical connection. “Fire together, wire together” is the geeky-but-true mantra among neuroscientists!
Triggers, addiction, and negative spirals
Reframing your attitude to get gratification or take pleasure from these new goals and pursuits is a key step in the process. However, while the brain can be rewired to adopt positive new habits and changes, it can also easily slip back into established negative pathways.
Therefore, it’s crucial we look for the warning signs and avoid those “triggers.”
Stress is a big one. Research shows that acute or chronic stress alters our brain by entrenching habits, good or bad. So, when we’re faced with serious stressors, we’re more likely to revert to the easiest and most established neuropathway, which is falling back on our habits and familiar ways.
Depression, anxiety, and other emotional strife are more triggers, as the negative thought patterns that ensue can impair or sabotage the brain’s neuroplasticity process.
More triggers that inhibit neuroplasticity:
Emotional triggers: depression, anger, anxiety, exhaustion, loneliness, isolation, stress, and even memories
Social triggers: family, friends, coworkers, cohorts, enablers, and others
Environmental triggers: certain places, sights, sounds, smells, etc.
Escape triggers: drugs, alcohol, violence, abuse, and others
Practical methods to help rewire your brain
Ok, now let’s get down to 10 things you can actually do yourself to encourage neuroplasticity and rewire your brain for positive changes:
1. Performing specific brain-training exercises
Specific training that revolves around problem-solving or other cognitive tests can strengthen positive neuroplasticity. For instance, a study of London taxi drivers found that their hippocampus (a portion of the brain responsible for mental mapping) actually grow larger because they had to memorize every street and detail of the city!
2. Mindful meditation
Meditation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to strengthen neurological pathways, opening up a whole host of benefits such as improved clarity, focus, less stress, anxiety, or depression, better sleep, and more.
3. Cognitive behavioral therapy
For those who have brain injuries or serious emotional trauma, cognitive therapy conducted by a professional may be necessary to rewire the brain, but it is effective.
4. Learning a new language
Studying a new, non-native language is proven to improve cognitive function by increasing gray matter, as well as white matter. Those two areas of the brain are associated with increasing memory, attention, emotional intelligence, motor skills, and increasing communication and interconnectivity within the brain.
5. Making music
Playing instruments and making music promotes positive brain function and boosts our ability to learn, memory, focus, concentration, and also has been found to slow cognitive decline in seniors. In fact, research shows that musicians have 130% more gray matter in their brains than the average person!
6. Art and creativity
Artistry and the process of creation create new connections in the brain, as well as strengthening existing neural pathways. Art challenges us to see the world from a different perspective, which helps expand subjective interpretation and overall cognitive function.
As you can imagine, hitting the road to see new countries, cultures, and have new experiences boosts your cognitive flexibility, which offers the same neurological rewiring as art, music, and other creativity.
The great thing about travel is that you don’t actually have to get on an airplane and go somewhere to enjoy the brain benefits. Simply planning an epic trip, researching new parts of the world on YouTube, or even exploring your own city can do the same thing.
8. Playing video games?!
Many of us have scolded our kids that they should put down the video games and go outside to play sports or read a book instead. But studies show that video games (in moderation) actually offer cognitive benefits like problem-solving skills, improve memory, spatial navigation, and other gray matter boosters. But maybe you want to keep this one to yourself and not tell them!
Getting a good workout in, doing yoga, or just taking a brisk walk not only has plenty of physical benefits, but activates your brain, too. Studies show that exercise (especially aerobic exercise, or cardio) helps grow cognition function with improvements to memory, learning capacity, and even reduces stress, anxiety, and the instance of depression.
It’s not just a cerebral task that can stimulate our gray matter and form new neuro-connections, but the simple act of being with others. In fact, these social connections foster brain health and decrease the symptoms and seriousness of depression, anxiety, and stress. Social connection is a key component in the quality of both brain functions and mental health!
Now that you understand the art of rewiring your brain, I hope you use this to become healthier, happier, and change your life any way you wish!
I’ve heard it from many different people in different forms, from Navy drill Sergeants to motivational speakers, celebrities like the Rock and even our positivity superstar, Hal Elrod in his Miracle Morning series.
But the gist is always the same: he (or she) who masters their morning masters their day.
If you’re a late riser, “not a morning person”, or tend to stumble around the in AM hours but stay up late into the night, you may cringe to hear this. But everything from cutting edge neurological studies to ancient wisdom dictates that all hours are not created equal. In fact, those who wake up early and keep a consistent, positive routine see huge changes in their lives.
I know I have.
For years now, I’ve been following the exact routine I’m going to share with you below. Sure, I’ve missed a day or two here or there, and it’s easy to get derailed – even with good intentions.
In the routinely crazy scramble we call life, it’s all about priorities, and sometimes you have to take care of a sick child, work early or late, or even hit pause and support others. And once I get rolling with those priorities, I have a hard time stepping away and returning to taking care of myself or making myself the priority. That’s something you may experience, too.
So, this morning regiment isn’t perfect, but a north star to help me keep walking in the direction of the best version of my life. It’s also so ingrained in my existence that I’d be completely lost without it.
Since focusing on starting each and every day the right way, I’ve experienced a transformative shift in mind, body, and soul…as well as my career, relationships, and more.
But before we even get into the nuts and bolts of my daily habits, I want to mention that God is always my top priority, and I choose to honor that with everything I do.
My morning method actually starts the evening before. I often exercise in the evening, which is a perfect way to end the day with a healthy activity, literally sweating out the stress while reflecting as I walk, cycle, or lift.
Prior to bedtime, I also quickly review the next day’s schedule, mentally preparing so my head can hit the pillow with the knowledge that I’m organized and ready for the next day.
This is also my time to linger in gratitude a bit, feeling thankful for anything great that happened that day.
And if I have evening events that preclude me from exercising (like they often do), I make sure to schedule a workout or brisk walk in the morning.
My morning ritual:
1. I always wake up at least two hours before my first appointment or when I need to be in the office. That allows me one hour just for me so I can engage in my morning steps without feeling rushed.
2. Once I rise (after taking out my puppies and making my tea), the first thing I do is make my bed. This may seem like a trivial chore, but it serves a fundamental purpose. Making my bed allows me to gain momentum by accomplishing my first task of the day, as well as helping me feel mentally organized.
If you don’t believe me that a small thing like making your bed can make a difference, listen to this speech by a US Navy Admiral William McRaven, entitled “If You Want to Change the World, Start Off by Making Your Bed.”
3. One important aspect of my early morning program is that I never pick up my phone, check social media, or turn on the TV. Studies show that checking our smartphone and scrolling through social first thing in the morning sets the stage for increased levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and negative thoughts throughout the day.
If I pick up my phone, I’ll inevitably start checking emails or answering calls and texts, and pretty soon, I’m in full work mode. So, I make sure my phone is off or in a different room during my cherished morning time.
4. I mentioned that my faith is a priority in my life, and that’s why I read a devotional and my bible every morning. It’s become one of the bright spots in my life, and I look forward to it every day.
5. An extension of that morning study is reviewing my affirmations, which I do next. I set goals, go over my Bucket List, and actually visualize as if I’ve already achieved those items.
6. I end this segment of my morning by journaling, documenting my feelings, observations, and hopes from everything I’ve just read and thought. From bible study to journaling takes me about 30 minutes.
Putting pen to paper is crucial, and studies show that just writing down your goals allows people to achieve them at a 78% higher rate.
7. At this point in my morning, I meditate for about 5- 20 minutes. There’s no one “right” way to meditate, although most people sit quietly and focus on their breathing as they clear their mind. For me, watching meditation-inspired videos on YouTube or Abide is my favorite.
Research shows that meditating even for 15 minutes helps promote mental clarity, emotional health, soothes anxiety, and improves the quality of sleep. I know it works like a charm for me!
8. From quieting introspection to fast-paced cardio activity, I take a walk or hit the weights at this point of my morning. I absolutely love the feeling of getting a great workout in before preparing for work, and if I don’t have time to do it in the morning, I will exercise the night before or that same evening.
As long as I get a great workout in, it’s a victory!
9. My morning ritual concludes with a healthy breakfast to fuel my busy day, and I definitely include a hot cup of coffee or tea – which is well earned by this time!
10. The last thing I do before I leave the house or start work is to set my attitude to gratitude and service because that’s the mindset I want throughout the day.
I encourage you to try this morning routine for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Even better, adapt it to create your own daily ritual that works best for you.
I can’t wait to hear about the results!
1“But are you happy?”
That’s one of the most difficult questions to answer, which sometimes makes us squirm when people put us on the spot. I mean, the default answer is “yes,” but that’s not always true, is it?
We all have ups and downs; good days and bad, and it’s impossible to be happy 100% of the time (especially these days!).
But scientists and researchers point to something called “baseline happiness,” which is a consistent, long-term range of our positive emotional state. And the great news is that we can do things to improve our baseline happiness – there are tangible strategies to boost our mood, joy, and outlook in life.
If you want to feel happier TODAY, try these 10 techniques. Do these things regularly, and you’ll see a vast improvement in how much you enjoy your life!
1. Go work out
Exercise and physical activity are one of the most impactful ways to produce natural endorphins, or “good mood chemicals” in the brain. In one notable study, three groups of depressed individuals were treated with either medication, exercise, or both.
They found that all three groups showed short-term improvement in their levels of happiness, but the long-term prognosis was starkly different.
Six months later, those who just took medication relapsed into depression at a 38% rate. Even the medication + exercise group relapsed at a 31% rate. But only 9% of the group that treated their depression with exercise fell back into that state, a remarkable finding!
2. Spend time with a friend or family member
Did you know that one of the top regrets from seniors when they’re on their deathbed is that they didn’t spend enough time with family or friends?
Numerous studies point to happiness levels and the quality (not necessarily quantity) of our social connections, especially with family or close friends.
Men especially have a tough time connecting and forming meaningful relationships with friends. But research shows interesting data points on that topic, such as that a man’s relationships at age 47 are an accurate predictor of their health and happiness later in life!
3. Get outdoors
Most of us just feel better with a little sunlight and fresh air, but science backs that up. Studies show that even 20 minutes outdoors in pleasant weather boosts mood and other brain functions. And while you may guess that we get happier as temperatures climb, the American Meteorological Society discovered that the happiness-boosting effect of the outdoors is maximized at 57 degrees – positively brisk!
4. Practice gratitude
I said “practice” instead of just “be grateful” because encouraging a mindset of gratitude takes work and diligence before it becomes a habit. But the sunnying effect across just about every aspect of your life is profound.
According to Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat review, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
5. Meditate (and breathe deeply) every day
There’s an overwhelming amount of research that now proves that meditation and deep breathing literally rewire your brain, improving mood, clarity, focus, outlook, and yes, happiness. Meditation is also one of the best ways to treat anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness naturally.
A study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging found that after an eight-week course of meditation, the part of the brain associated with compassion, empathy, and self-awareness actually grew in size, while the part of the brain associated with stress shrank in size.
6. Volunteer and give back (according to this specific number)
One of the single most powerful ways to help ourselves feel better is to help others. Charity work, volunteering, or just performing a random act of kindness all go a long way towards boosting our own happiness.
But emerging research also points to an optimal amount of time for our philanthropic efforts: 100 hours, or approximately 2 hours per week. More or less than that, and we may still be helping others, but may not experience the same proportionate increase in our own joy.
7. Plan an epic vacation (even if you never hit the road)
We’d all love to hop on a plane (first class) and fly off to some tropical locale right now, taking the vacation of a lifetime. Whether it’s time, money, or this pesky pandemic, that may not be possible. But the good news is that we can launch our happiness just by planning that trip.
In fact, a study by the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that we feel the most joy just by planning a vacation before we ever say bon voyage, and those happiness levels drop sharply once we return.
8. Grow older
Yes, you read that correctly – we demonstrate higher levels of happiness as the birthdays add up. This isn’t just based on anecdotal evidence, but scientific studies where people of different age groups were shown photos of faces in both positive and negative situations. The researchers found that the older we are, the more we focus on the happy faces and tend to remember the negative details less.
Other research concludes that the simple things – like taking a walk or seeing a friend – will enhance our mood more significantly the older we are. Perhaps it’s because we learn coping mechanisms and techniques to lift our own spirits as time goes on, but we just need get older to be happier!
9. Step away from social media
We’re the first generation in the history of human beings who have had to deal with addiction to technology (unless you count Atari and cordless phones), and that’s taking a serious toll on our mental health.
If you don’t realize how much we’re slaves to our smartphones and social media, just watch The Social Dilemma, or consider this finding by clinical psychologist and MIT professor Sherry Turkle, which she wrote about in her book, Alone Together “Online life tends to promote more superficial, emotionally lazy relationships, as people are drawn to relationships that seem low risk and always at hand.”
So, if you want a near-instant emotional pick-me-up, just turn off the smartphone and log off of social media for the rest of the day or make it a habit to scroll only once per day.
10. Smile more
Far from campy optimism, the physiological practice of smiling has been proven to improve mood, mental clarity, levels of optimism, and even reduce pain.
Called the facial feedback hypothesis, psychologists posit that even when we force a smile despite feeling less-than-stellar, it will make an almost immediate and moderate (yet significant) impact on our mood.
But the real trick is backing up that smile with positive thoughts simultaneously, as a University of Michigan study found that the combination was far more powerful.
Please try the items on this list and let me know how they improve your happiness – I’d love to hear from you!
“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.”
-Diana, Princess of Wales
July 1, 1961 – August 31, 1997
Things are not easy right now for many people, and it’s starting to dawn on us that it may be this way for a while.
And even if we’re not personally dealing with the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, or food insecurity, the echoes of suffering in our world still reverberate within us since we are fundamentally good-hearted, empathetic human beings.
In fact, rates of anxiety and depression have reached unprecedented levels in the U.S. and across the world, up threefold since just the start of the year, before the pandemic. In a recent KFF tracking poll, 53% of U.S. respondents reported being increasingly anxious or depressed – and that was just in July.
Likewise, the levels of substance abuse, suicide, and other health conditions due to the mental health crisis may eventually cause more long-term damage than the Coronavirus itself.
So, whether it’s exercise, pursuing old hobbies or rekindling new passions, or endless Zoom chats with friends and family, we’re all struggling to stay mentally healthy and add some joy and light to our lives.
(Note: online shopping may or may not be a positive coping mechanism, but it sure works great for me!)
But there’s another method of boosting our happiness and enriching our lives these days: giving.
Can giving to others enrich our lives, keep us healthy, AND help the world?
Even before the pandemic, we were giving back, donating, and volunteering more than ever. In 2019, charitable giving reached $449.64 billion in the U.S., which was an increase of more than 5% since the previous year, 2018.
And while corporations and foundations made up a significant portion of that total number, it was actually individual, hard-working Americans who gave the most. In fact, giving from individuals reached $309.66 billion in 2019 or 69% of total charitable gifts and donations.
And that just covers monetary donations or financial support. But remember that we’re seeing a whole host of ways people can give of themselves and help others: we’re offering our time, voices, focus, energy, and skills like never before.
If there are any rays of hope during these times, it’s the small stories emerging the reconfirm our humanity:
- Giving a call to talk or going grocery shopping for a lonely senior who lives alone.
- Mentoring someone young, offering to teach them new skills online.
- Mowing the yard and taking out the trash cans for our neighbors.
- Using social media to raise awareness for different causes and charities in need.
- Children with lemonade stands to collect money not for themselves, but to give to their people in their communities.
- Supporting teachers, healthcare workers, and other front-liners who take risks every day to keep us all safe.
Of course, we know it feels good when we do something nice for someone else, even if it’s in a “warm and fuzzy” theoretical sense.
But it turns out there are some significant and proven benefits when we donate to charity, help someone in need, or just volunteer.
According to numerous credible studies, the tangible benefits of giving include increases in:
- Feelings of connection and engagement
- Affirmation of our value to others
- Levels of life satisfaction
- Lasting improvements in overall happiness
- Reduced mortality rates
- Longevity rates
- Levels of learning and mental awareness
- Feelings of daily gratitude
- Prosocial behaviors
The physiology of charity
When we look at that list, I can’t help but notice these benefits are some of the same offered by anti-depressant medications, exercise, or even being in a loving relationship.
That’s no coincidence, as scientists have mapped a neural connection in the part of the brain that registers reward processing, like when we eat our favorite food, win a sporting match, or even hit the lottery.
In a research study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, scientists tracked the brain images of participants, paying close attention to how their brain activity changed as a response to altruism.
They found that our brain activity is stimulated in two profound ways when we get in a philanthropic mood and give to others.
One is in the mesolimbic pathway, the area that dispenses “feel good” hormones and chemicals like dopamine. The second area of our brain that is stimulated by charitable giving is the subgenual region, which helps us form social attachments.
Why do people give?
Now that we understand the physiological basis for why we feel great when we help our fellow woman or man, let’s look at the common motivations for doing so. And beware – it’s not always just out of the goodness of our heart, but has a more primal or utilitarian basis.
One of the best studies into the topic comes from a Professor William Harbaugh at the University of Oregon, who isolated three theories as to why people give to charity or good causes:
- People give to be altruistic, focusing on making a positive impact or solving a problem, like volunteering at a soup kitchen to help feed the hungry.
- The next theory may call into question our motivations, as Harbaugh claimed that some people enjoy the feeling of making “autonomous decisions” about who to help, when, and to what degree, experiencing pleasure from that control or even feelings of power.
- Thirdly, people also give to charities because it enhances their social value or boosts their social status. We see evidence of this when we donate to a cause and then share that fact on social media, feeling the reward two-fold.
Who gives the most?
We mentioned that individuals gave almost $7 out of every $10 in 2019, but who among us gives the most? A study by the University of Notre Dame conducted a study and found these characteristics and demographics of the biggest givers:
- Higher levels of education
- More religious or faith-based
- Live in smaller towns – not big cities
- The study also found that people are also far more likely to donate to charitable causes when they understand and can relate to the cause or organization they’re supporting.
Additionally, studies show that women tend to increase donations when they are single, the head of the household, or when they earn higher incomes.
When it comes to income distribution, you may be surprised to hear that lower-income brackets give a larger proportion of their assets than middle or upper-class households!
The joy of giving never diminishes
No matter who you are, how you choose to help others, or what your motivation, there is some more good news about the psychology of altruism: it doesn’t diminish.
In fact, the pleasure center in our brain typically releases fewer feel-good hormones and chemicals as a good thing becomes routine. Such is the case when we stockpile nice material things, chase superficial goals, or do things simply because society tells us it should make us happy.
So, if we purchase that expensive sports car, win at the casino, or eat delicious food, the level of pleasure we receive diminishes as time goes on – and pretty rapidly, research shows.
However, when donating to charity, volunteering, or giving to help others in some form, the opposite is true. The pleasurable effect and mental health benefits actually do not diminish, but maintain and even grow over time.
I guess it’s true when they say the more love you give, the more you get back!
Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University
The NonProfit Times
National Academy of Sciences
National Philanthropic Trust
A young employee, fresh out of college and eager to conquer the business world, finds herself in an elevator with the CEO of the company. She musters the courage to introduce herself, thanks him for the opportunity, and is relieved when he turns out to be receptive and very kind.
So, as they go from the 15th floor to the 1st, she has the chance to ask him one more question: “If you could give me one piece of advice to help gain an edge in my career, what would it be?”
The CEO thinks about it and then answers, “Learn how to play golf,” before he wishes her the best of luck and walks out into the lobby.
When you think about it, that’s genius advice. After all, they say more business gets done and deals closed on the golf course (or the 19th hole) than in the office.
I’ve been covering a lot of “heavy” topics here on my blog lately, so today I wanted to lighten it up and talk about golf from a business perspective – in part because August is National Golf Month.
There’s no doubt that golf is considered the pastime of the rich and elite, with 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs regularly teeing off. (Studies show that executives who play golf actually earn 17% more income than their cohorts who don’t drive, chip, and put!)
On the back-nine, relationships are formed, introductions made, and there’s nonstop networking, all with a level of trust and bonding formed through the game they love.
No matter how unfair, so much of success in business is who you know (not just what you know or your performance). Therefore, running in the right circle could literally make your career and learning to play so you can get out on the golf course is one of the smartest ways to expand your career.
If you’re in sales (such as a Realtor, loan officer, financial planner, insurance agent, etc.), there’s no better way to meet with decision-makers, execs, and influential people.
And even if you’re not ready for the pro-am or celebrity golf circuit, there are probably countless charity, public, or fun golf tournaments in your area.
You’ll also find that people are relaxed and enjoying the serene surroundings while golfing, so their guard is down. By playing with friends of friends or jumping in to play with strangers better yet, you’ll have a couple of hours of one-on-one time to chat and get to know each other without distraction.
And after 18 holes, you have the perfect opportunity to follow up and stay in touch. There’s a never-ending supply of golf-related gifts for birthdays, celebrating work milestones, or just saying thank you.
Golf is also a game you can play for life, and it sure doesn’t hurt that you get some exercise walking the course (or, chasing balls into the woods the way I play!).
While golf has traditionally been an “Old Boys’ Club,” those antiquated norms are being challenged these days, with far more women playing golf in the U.S.
In fact, women now make up a significant portion of the 25 million regular golfers in our country. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 24% of golfers who play a course are women, but 41% of off-course golfers are female.
In her book, Even Par: How Golf Helps Women Gain the Upper Hand in Business, co-author Adrienne Wax notes, “Outside the office, you can communicate differently with your higher-level peers and get to know one another in a way that the office can’t provide. Being able to talk golf in the office gives you a chance to bond with the bigwigs. If you can talk about golf, suddenly you have reasons to talk with the CEO.”
Even if you’re just picking up clubs and learning the game, it’s still fun (and lucrative) to start on the public course, hit the driving range a couple of times per week over lunch hour or after work, and take lessons. You’ll find that your network and your career growth blossom as your golf game improves!
Now, since we have the business talk out of the way, I wanted to leave you with 10 fun and fascinating golf facts:
- The longest drive ever record was a jaw-dropping 515 yards. While teeing off at the National Seniors Tournament in 1974, English-American pro golfer and kinesiologist Michael Hoke Austin whacked the ball an unbelievable distance, as even a 300+ yard drive is considered a great shot.
- The first golf balls were actually made out of hardwoods like beech or box trees in the 14th century. Later on, they started crafting golf balls out of feathers packed into small leather pouches, but they were prohibitively expensive.
- Golf was actually played on the moon. When Alan Shepard, Jr. visited the moon on February 6, 1967, with the U.S. Apollo 11 mission, he pulled out a golf club and ball and took a one-handed swing, sending the ball soaring in the low-gravity atmosphere.
- Statisticians have calculated the odds of the average golfer hitting a hole-in-one on any given round at 12,500 to 1, but pro golfers have a better chance at 2,500 to 1.
While the odds of hitting two hole-in-ones in the same round are only 1 in 67 million, a golfer from Oakland University, Kassandra Komma, did just that recently!
- Is your game still a work in progress? Don’t worry, as 80% of golfers never achieve a handicap of less than 18.
- You probably know that a “birdie” is when you score one stroke less than par for that hole. But you may not realize the word was coined in the 1800s by American golfer Ab Smith, who remarked, “That’s a birdof a shot.” The term stuck.
- While the average golf hole is probably 300 to 400 yards, the longest hole in the world is at the Sano Course at the Satsuki Golf Club in Japan, where the 7th hole is an astounding 909 yards.
- The Tactu Golf Club in Peru is one-of-a-kind since it sits at 14,335 feet above sea level, nearly three times as high as Denver, Co. The game changes at that lofty altitude, as it’s hard to even catch your breath or think clearly if you’re not acclimated.
- The origins of golf can be traced all the way back to Scotland in the 14th century, although the Chinese had a similar game during the Song Dynasty in 943 A.D.
- Plenty of U.S. presidents have been avid golfers, including Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. But Woodrow Wilson may have been the most dedicated Presidential golfer, as he sometimes played in the snow – using black golf balls so they were visible. Golf never stops! ⛳️
Do you wake up every morning with a sinking feeling in your gut?
Are your everyday thoughts based on fears, worries, and envisioning worst-case scenarios?
Do you often have trouble sleeping at night because you’re stressed about finances, work, or other problems?
Your anxiety may be leading you to make questionable decisions, research reveals, and may even lead to the outcomes you’re most trying to avoid, sending you into a vicious cycle.
But if you’re like most people in our modern society (and ESPECIALLY these days!), stress, fear, and anxiety are an unfortunate part of regular life.
- In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety disorders affect at least 40 million American adults and more than 18% of the total population (almost 60 million people).
- 8 in 10 Americans are so anxious about their finances that it affects their physical well-being.
- Women are twice as likely to have general anxiety as men.
And let’s be honest – a good portion of our stress and worries in life come from finances.
- In fact, almost 7 out of 10 Americans (68%) worry about saving enough to retire
- 58% of Americans feel that finances control their life
- Financial stress leads to feelings of fatigue in 43% of Americans
- 42% find it difficult to focus at work, and 41% say it interferes with their sleep.
And those numbers are BEFORE the Covid-19 pandemic when 40 million people lost their jobs and 4.8 million people stopped making their house payments!
Needless to say, we’re all concerned, deeply worried, or even in panic mode over our finances these days in some capacity.
Add in an unprecedented level of fear over health concerns, whether the kids will be able to go back to school, and the mental health effects of social isolation or losing loved ones, and our cortisol levels (the fight-or-flight hormone) are continuously in an elevated state.
So, what does that do to the decisions we make?
Will an abundance of fear, stress, and anxiety help or hurt us when we’re faced with critical choices?
And as a business person who is in sales and maybe an entrepreneur, how might we see the effects of our stressors and anxieties on day-to-day decisions?
The data on decision-making and stress or anxiety
A host of studies show the profound effects of stress on our decision-making process, but I’d like to highlight a few.
In one prominent study, a University of Pittsburgh neuroscientist identified a neuronal mechanism within subregions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) that impacts the choices we make. They found that without proper function of the PFC, our cognitive capacity for long-term planning, critical problem solving, calculating options, and weighing risks and rewards is inhibited.
Based on the study’s findings, researchers concluded that anxiety and stress lead to negative decision-making, particularly when presented with distractions or conflicts. They found that the presence of excessive fear “disengage brain cells in a highly specialized manner,” deactivating PFC neurons in the brain that are linked to high cognitive function used for decision-making.
Research using neuroimaging data also shows that stress, fear, and anxiety play a role in our neural responses to stimuli. In fact, our responses to external feedback register in the ventral striatum, both those responses are diminished when we’re under stress, which takes away our capacity to look at a situation critically and logically.
A study at Rutgers University conducted a study on how acute stress impacts our risk tolerance as we make decisions about money or finances. They found that people are more apt to pause and reflect when facing a loss, and end up making riskier decisions. However, when they’re facing a financial windfall or gain, they tend to act much more conservatively. The study concluded that our pattern of risk and decisions are significantly impacted by stress.
Respected University of Southern California researcher Mara Mather recently spoke at a symposium, “How Stress Alters Decision Making.” She shared her scientific findings about our biological responses to anxiety and stress, and specifically how fear and stress impact our striatal dopaminergic reward systems. Basically, she summarized how our brains actually physically change under the influence of stress, and that causes our ability to process information and make decisions in a negative way.
There are countless further studies that confirm the relationship between stress and the decisions we make, but let’s actually take a look at how our decisions may be altered when under duress.
Here are 5 ways stress affects our decision-making:
When we’re in a state of stress, anxiety, or fear, our brains emit high levels of cortisol, which is known as the “fight or flight” hormone. In this heightened state, our perceptions are more acute, and we tend to be far more reactionary. While cortisol and an adrenalized state helped us when we were running from dinosaurs or fighting off invaders, it doesn’t serve the modern human well, as prolonged cortisol levels are harmful to our health – and cause use to be reactionary with our decisions at the exact time when we should be more careful, critical, and measured.
2. Disproportionately focus on the positive
You may think that high levels of stress prompt us to see the world as all doom and gloom, but the opposite may be true. Research shows that acute stress actually leads our brains to ignore negative consequences and focus on the positives, or pleasure, instead. That’s right – we’re more likely to cling to any positive feedback or hope for positive outcomes when under stress instead of facing the reality of negative consequences.
3. We may think our options are binary
One of the key findings of how our brains make decisions under stress is that we inadvertently restrict our options and solutions until we may think only two choices remain. We think that our only options are to take the job or not take it, to buy the service or not buy it, etc.
But in the real world, our options are never binary (yes or no), and there are a multitude of solutions we can find if we only have the clarity to problem solve. Unfortunately, when under stress, our menu of perceived options shrinks down to very few, which forces our hand with some bad or limited decisions. We should entertain more options when under fire and facing stress and anxiety, not less!
4. Quick options instead of problem-solving
When we’re feeling the strain of fear or anxiety, we’re also likely to make decisions much more quickly (which isn’t necessarily a good thing). Perhaps it’s our fight-or-flight instinct kicking in, but our thought processes, problem-solving methods, and decision making tend to be rushed when the heat is on.
That may allow timely, definitive decisions in combat or in the face of an emergency, but they don’t help us in day-to-day life when it comes to decisions about finances, business, relationships, or other important life choices.
5. Abandon your normal decision-making process
There are two basic types of decision-making processes, which are based on your personality type. Some people are analytical, crunching numbers, taking in as much information as possible, and weighing all options such as a chess player who scrutinizes all of their moves carefully.
The second personality type relies on their instincts and makes gut-level decisions, “going with the flow” and counting on their intuition when pressed to make a choice.
The fact is that neither method is right or wrong, and by sticking to the decision-making process that feels best to that individual, they build up a lifetime of practice and hone that skill.
However, when feeling the stress or pressure, we tend to abandon our comfortable and trusted method of decision making. Those who rely on instinct start crunching data and information; analytical people throw that out and go with their gut.
While we just noted that neither of these methods are wrong, you shouldn’t switch course and try a new, unfamiliar, or un-practiced decision-making process when under stress!
Do men or women make better decisions when under stress?
Interestingly, research has pointed to some inherent differences in the decision-making process of women and men. A study at the University of South Carolina found that under pressure, men took bigger risks than women, who were significantly more conservative. So, when forced to make decisions or solve problems under stress, women tend to take more time, weigh their options, and become more analytical, while men make snap decisions.
To account for these patterns, researchers point to differing responses in the anterior insula and dorsal striatum, which moderate our choices when rewards (like money) are on the line.
It turns out that women may make better decisions when under stress!
The good news is that no matter who you are, there are ways you can be conscious of your decision-making patterns and work to correct them as needed. There are also plenty of ways to naturally reduce your anxiety or be more clear-headed when making decisions, like deep breathing, meditation, exercise or fresh air, and positive visualization.
There’s a lot of money being thrown around by the mortgage industry these days. Firms are investing in digitalization, data, and recruiting more than ever, while individual loan officers look to boost their marketing and ad budgets.
With record-low interest rates, a preponderance of home equity to work with, and strong homebuyer demand, it’s no wonder why the mortgage industry is doubling down on client acquisition.
However, from the largest firm spending millions to the solo-preneur trying to keep up with their own marketing, a lot of that money is being wasted for one simple fact:
They’re doing it wrong.
In fact, there’s one fundamental snafu that many brands and organizations make over and over; their marketing is all about them, not their clientele and audience.
The good news is that this pivotal error is also incredibly easy to fix, and the shift will reap huge financial rewards almost immediately.
How do you do it?
Stop talking about your own firm, service, or process in your marketing, and start focusing on your customers.
“Make the customer the hero of your marketing story,” as presentation and sales expert Tom Bresnahan puts it.
Let’s take a further look at how (and why) to do just that.
The transformative solution
According to a comprehensive study by Rutgers University, all marketing content falls under one of two umbrellas.
“Meformers” mostly talk about themselves with their marketing messages, posts, and images.
While “Informers” do the opposite, turning their lens to the outside world by focusing on their customers or audience.
Informers post marketing materials that provide value, solve problems, acknowledge people’s challenges, and share experiences. Basically, they tell a whole lot of stories about others – not themselves.
So, that loan officer whose “marketing strategy” consists of posting nothing but selfies (we all know that person!) – he or she is a “Meformer.”
But the professional who posts tips, hacks, resources, educational facts, community news, and especially tells the stories of the clients they help is thoroughly an Informer.
And the benefits to being an Informer are profound.
Stats and facts that prove Informers win
- According to research by Deloitte and Touche, companies that focus their marketing on their audience are 60 percent more profitable than similar firms who focus messaging on themselves.
- But only two-thirds (66%) of marketing campaigns actually focus on their audience’s information needs over their own company information or messages, per a 2020 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends study.
- However, that same study (conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs) found that 88 percent of top performers and earners in any field are Informers!
It’s not only advertising campaigns that illuminate this crucial chasm, but regular day-to-day social media marketing.
- In fact, Rutgers University professors Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase, found that Informers have almost 300 percent more social media followers than Meformers.
- Consumer surveys back up that assertion. A study by Chadwick Martin Bailey found that consumers share 72 percent of social media posts because they find them interesting or entertaining, and 58 percent because they feel they are helpful (the two top responses for that question).
- And according to marketing research conducted by HubSpot, news (78 percent) and how-to information (58%) are the forms of social media content that are shared the most, while posts about products (45 percent) were near the bottom.
The tangible benefit to this marketing shift
By “turning the marketing lens outward,” you’ll engage and connect with consumers on a whole new level. These days, that’s a necessary tactic since they’re inundated with marketing and advertising messages at a mind-boggling rate – including from your competitors.
Did you know that the average person is bombarded by more than 3,000 commercial messages every single day?!
But you’ll stand out, develop an authentic relationship, and build brand loyalty once you look to make the consumer the hero in your marketing stories.
No longer is it sufficient to intercede and reach them right before they make a buying decision or certain consumer triggers pop up, like credit score checks, home value estimates, or home searches, etc.
Instead, you’ll share their journey every step of the way, offering advice, information, resources, help, and a lot of genuine investment in the relationship.
They’ll already understand the value your firm provides and trust you to provide solutions via your services.
Your audience will love you for it!
Your audience will appreciate that you’re authentically interested in their lives and experiences, and that’s backed up by mountains of data.
For instance, 77 percent of people surveyed are brand loyal according to HubSpot, and 90 percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends online.
The best part is that by making your marketing about THEM, you’ll see a significant uptick in user-generated content, like when your clients share photos, recommendations, shout-outs, testimonials, and other endorsements.
That’s HUGE – the Holy Grail of any marketing – as 70 percent of consumers trust content and endorsements from regular people (over brand-sponsored marketing), and 61 percent are more likely to engage with an ad if it includes a real customer or regular person.
That’s fundamental to your success (and a spike in profits!) since repeat clients or referrals from past clients convert at a 65 percent rate compared to just a 13 percent closing rate for new prospects.
I recommend you sit down and map out your marketing strategies to see if you fall in the Meformer or Informer category.
If you’d like more help – including marketing strategies to easily and quickly shift to being an Informer, just contact me!
In 2008, Steven Jobs gave an interview to Fortune Magazine in which they asked him about Apple’s strategy for the coming Great Recession. Jobs said, “In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that’s exactly what we did. And it worked. And that’s exactly what we’ll do this time.”
Instead of paring down R & D, laying off workers, and shuttering stores to withstand the economic storm, Jobs was focused on actually growing Apple, gaining market share in the season where most others were contracting and playing it safe.
In fact, many of the top companies and brands do exactly the same, and that’s one of the chief reasons why they last and stay on top.
But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company or blue-chip brand to grow your business in the coming months and years. Every salesperson, entrepreneur, boutique broker, and small business owner has the tools to succeed even as fear pervades our business climate (and rightfully so).
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is act boldly and confidently when others are in safe mode. Our natural reaction is to:
- Cut prices to gain enough clients and eke out some profit
- Cut our expenses to a bare-bones budget
- Cancel everything we think is non-essential
- Lay off and fire staff
- Put all plans for expansion or growth on hold
- Stop focusing on anything that will develop skills or educate
- Think you can do the same things as before, but just do more of them to get over the hump
It all starts with a 180-degree mind shift, a focus on execution, and a whole lot of hard work. But there is absolutely no reason why you can’t bring your business to new heights!
Here’s the game plan to expand when everyone else is contracting:
1. Invest in new skills and education
It’s time to learn and adjust to the new reality as fast and effectively as you can. Luckily, there are more courses, books, talks, and tools available to us online than ever, and most of them are inexpensive or free.
Instead of resting on your laurels, break your business down to the smallest blocks and build it all back up again, ensuring your system and operations are superbly efficient.
The difference between a solo-preneur and a true business owner is that the biz owner leverages other peoples’ time, energy, and skills. Stop trying to do everything yourself and start taking advantage of others and what they do well.
4. Look at partnerships/Team up
Of course, there will be plenty of businesses going under or looking to downsize, and there’s no shame in that. But it also creates a golden opportunity to entertain strategic partnerships and build teams that help you expand quickly.
The average person brags about their victories when times are good, but you won’t hear a peep from them in tough times. You should do the exact opposite, becoming a networking machine and reaching out to everyone you can. Create connections and authentic relationships, as they’ll pay off in huge, unexpected ways down the road.
6. Help others
That’s what it’s all about, and in dark days, your best product should be help. Focus on solving problems, bringing value, offering solutions, and empowering others to overcome their challenges. Become the person they turn to for advice and guidance. With that, your business will soar as high as the economy sinks.
7. Create new content
Throw out the blueprint from last year, last month, and even from yesterday. Create a brand new marketing and outreach campaign and create blogs, emails, videos, podcasts, webinars, graphics, and social media every single day! That’s how you expand!
8. Be the best communicator you know
Double down on points of communication and customer service with clients, and actively practice your listening skills.
9. Cut the bottom 20%
Just like an arrow needs to be drawn back to propel forward, we need to pull back by cutting inefficiencies according to the 20% Rule. Drop the 20% of your products that don’t sell, the 20% of your employees who are lazy or aren’t producing, and simplify the 20% of your day that consistently steals your time, energy, focus – and money.
To survive and even thrive through a recession (or depression), firms need to actively attract new personnel. Recruiting will be paramount over the next few years, and you should sign as many talented, battle-tested, and hard-working people from your competitors as possible.
11. Negotiate with vendors
If times are hard for you, they’re even harder for vendors, suppliers, and distributors. So, instead of canceling or doing without, renegotiate every product, service, and lease for lower prices, better terms, and added perks.
12. Nurture your people
Just like we talked about enhancing your own skills, do the same for your employees and partners by offering more training, guest speakers, education, and personal development than ever before. Investing in people always pays off!
13. Increase marketing and advertising output
People invest in marketing and advertising out of greed (when times are good) but tend to shut off that spigot when times are bad. Do the exact opposite, as effective marketing campaigns are vital to keeping your firm alive and well.
We’ve talked a lot about investing and not cutting back, but don’t do that senselessly, of course. Instead, set clear goals for every dollar that leaves your pocket and carefully measure the effectiveness of everything you do. If it doesn’t measure up, make the appropriate changes or cut it!
15. Rewrite the rules
I truly believe that when markets crash and the economy shrinks, it creates a proportionate amount of opportunity. Your job is to identify and take advantage of those opportunities. That starts with putting fear and uncertainty in a box when you come to work every morning, and instead making clear, big-picture decisions. Remove the limitations and raise – not lower – your goals and dreams.
It’s up to YOU to rewrite the story of your success!
Using social media to create more opportunities in the era of Covid-19.
Social media is just a passing fad, a flavor-of-the-month phase that will probably disappear in a year or two.
That’s what many people said back when Friendster, the very first social media outlet, was launched in 2002.
MySpace came later that year and soon usurped Google as the most visited site in the US. Next came Linkedin in 2003, believe it or not, and “The Facebook” was soon launched from a Harvard University dorm room in 2004.
By the time Twitter got its relatively late start in 2006, social media had already made an indelible impression on our world.
Today, Facebook alone has almost 2.5 billion users, which equates to about 1/3 of the entire world population! And Instagram (1.2 billion users), Tik Tok (800 million with an increase of +600 million since 2019), and Snapchat (382 million) are all coming on strong to collectively surpass Facebook soon.
Some passing fad!
Of course, if you’re in business and haven’t been living in a cave the last decade, then you’re probably using social media to grow your professional presence already. The “best practices” blogs and “social media tips” have been covered so extensively that there’s hardly anything new to add to the conversation, right?
Not so fast, as these unprecedented times have already shifted the landscape of how we use social media – and why.
In fact, Facebook, Instagram, and What’s App have seen a 40 percent spike in use just since mid-March!
If you’re a mortgage lender or in real estate, the rules of the industry are literally changing day by day (or faster!), so it’s crucial that you keep your social media messaging relevant and on-target.
Today, I wanted to offer some quick notes on how you can use social media to create more business opportunities during the time of Covid-19 and social distancing, which most of us are still observing.
By no means is this list exhaustive. There are thousands of courses on social media marketing in existence, but you may find these notes serve as a great launching point.
Thanks for reading and please contact me if you have any suggestions or questions.
1. The five purposes for social media posts.
What kind of content should you post for your business on social media?
It may seem overwhelming, until you realize that there are only five major purposes for posts:
- To inspire
- To motivate
- To connect and engage
- To educate
- To entertain
2. People are feeling isolated, so connect them through social media!
Everyone is feeling isolated, out-of-sorts, and even a little lonely these days, so you can help alleviate that through social connectivity. Focus on taking as many photos and videos of and with others as you can, including family, friends, clients, referral partners, associates, neighbors, and even the family dog!
Not only will they respond warmly to seeing others, but this establishes social proof, a pivotal aspect of building trust between consumers and professionals or brands (and dogs are really cute!).
3. Celebrate the new heroes.
One thing we can’t get enough of on social media these days is a tribute to our new heroes, including doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, mail carriers, and so many more. Highlight those folks on your social media platforms to show appreciation and gratitude!
(By the way, we also have a new appreciation for teachers since many of us are homeschooling our kids these days!)
4. Share information, resources, and updates.
The only constant these days is change, so a great way to serve your social audience is by offering useful information. But instead of just posting endless articles, try to offer local news and resources that are credible, relevant to your community, and offer tangible benefits. Info about property taxes, places to volunteer (or get help), closures, events, safety warnings, and other civic resources are especially appreciated.
Likewise, showing support for Mom-and-Pop or local businesses is a great way to impact change, so don’t be afraid to promote your favorite restaurant.
5. Zoom someone!
We talk about the importance of video as a marketing tool, and there’s no better way to do that these days than hopping on Zoom. This is the perfect time to start your podcast or YouTube channel, and you’ll be amazed at how open people are to doing interviews, having a conversation with you online, or even submitting a video testimonial.
6. Make sure it’s not all about you.
What’s the biggest mistake that lenders and Realtors make with social media marketing? Like I documented earlier, they tend to make most of their posts and content about themselves instead of their clients, their community, and their field of expertise! The best lenders and Realtors focus on solving problems and helping others a lot more than selling themselves!
7. Spread the good news.
It seems like every time you turn on the news or scroll through social media these days, we see nonstop negativity or depressing headlines. To help balance that, position yourself as the person who always uplifts and inspires others online (even if you don’t always feel that way).
After a short time, your followers will appreciate your positive messages so much that they’ll actually seek you out and share your uplifting content!
A perfect example of that is actor John Krasinski’s Some Good News video project, which went viral after just one episode with tens of millions of views and shares!
8. Stop relying on other people’s content – make your own!
You may post a few links every week or even use generic content from a paid service, but that’s a far cry from an effective social media marketing campaign.
Your audience will only see links to other people’s articles, blogs graphics, or videos. But if you’re serious about growing your presence online and attracting a far bigger audience (and more clients), you need to create your own custom content in all its forms: blog, email, graphics, video, visuals, and more.
If you’d like some free help or advice, my friend Norm Schriever of REMnorm.com has agreed to offer a complimentary consultation. Just email him and mention this article!
9. What should you post? Mix it up!
Ok, so that’s a lot of social media advice, but what forms of content should we share?
That’s simple, as the answer is: mix it up.
Of course, make sure you post plenty of (short) videos, as those are the most effective for views (video will make up about 80% of all online traffic within a couple of years!) and lend themselves to the newer platforms like Instagram and others.
FB or IG Live, stories, TV-like platforms, and webinars all do exceptionally well these days.
Visuals like photos or graphics are great, as people instantly see them when they scroll down their timelines. (You can choose not to read something but you can’t choose to un-see an image once you’ve scanned it!)
Links to articles, blogs, and news stories play an important role in your marketing mix, but make sure they are credible and come with a good anchor image. I also recommend writing your own blog/article periodically and sharing online.
Finally, the last thing you should do is write a huge body of text in a post and expect people to read it. If you have to write something substantial, break it up with bullet points and even emojis/emoticons.
10. Build your tribe
We’re all craving more interaction and socialization these days, so the best online marketing fosters conversation between as many people as possible who have the same values, challenges, and needs. Focus on building communities for the people you wish to serve – your target market.
From Facebook groups to Instagram Live, webinars to Stories, and plenty of video calling tools like Facetime or Zoom, find ways to connect with and host a larger audience!
What SHOULDN’T you post on social media?
What you don’t say is just as important as what you say. The wrong thing can alienate your audience or even get your accounts flagged for inappropriate content.
Steer clear of hot-button political issues, double-check sources and the validity of anything you post, and never disclose sensitive financial information or personal details that may compromise the safety of you or others.
Other than that, keep your messages authentic and constructive, and you’ll see great results!