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On this Cyber Monday, I wanted to share an important article from my dear friend and trusted IP lawyer Rachel Rodgers. Having been in business for 18 years, and worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I have either lived through or seen just about every mistake you can make in business. The legal mistakes can be especially egregious, and costly.

I want to emphatically recommend that you follow Rachel’s advice. It will not only protect you from risk, it will make your business much stronger and more enduring.

Enjoy her advice, and cover your assets! 🙂



“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact. For individuals, its the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you have created … For organizations, it is the products, property, inventions, ideas, and value they share throughout the course of their existence.”
— Pamela Slim, Body of Work

On your journey to create your body of work, there are a variety of productive questions you might ask yourself to determine exactly what your business will look like. You might say to yourself, “who do I want to help?” and “what drives me?” and “what do I want to create?”

Unfortunately, when creating something of value to contribute to the world you’re also forced to ask yourself a few less exciting questions, such as “should I trademark this?” and “I wonder if I could pay less taxes as an S-Corp? and “should I get this in writing?”

Creating a proper legal foundation for your body of work may not fill you with delight, but it’s what smart entrepreneurs, side hustlers and makers do to ensure they don’t have to worry about making legal mistakes that could derail their plans.

While most entrepreneurs know this, they still tend to avoid the legal stuff like the plague. Here are some of the reasons that you’ve been procrastinating when it comes to handling the legal aspects of your business:

  • Because it’s stressful and confusing and you’d rather pretend you didn’t have to,
  • Because you think everyone is ‘nice’ and therefore you don’t need to have contracts, register your intellectual property or form a proper business entity,
  • Because you’re scared to find out that you’ve been doing it wrong all this time,
  • Because you figure you can’t afford to get legal help so you might as well ignore it until you can,
  • Because you think your business is too small for anyone to steal from you, sue you or otherwise screw you over.

I know the legal stuff seems scary and hard, and you know what, it kinda is. But so is becoming an entrepreneur and you’ve taken that leap and lived to tell the tale. So you can do this too. Plus, there’s something out there that’s much harder than the legal stuff and that’s never building the kind of business/art/app you’re dreaming of because you didn’t want to deal with the hard stuff. So with that in mind, I present to you the 7 Rookie Rookie Legal Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make (and How to Avoid Them).

Mistake #1: Not vetting the name of your business/product/service before you begin using it.

By vetting I mean conducting a thorough trademark search before you invest large sums of money in the name of your business, product or thingamabob. It would be devastating to invest thousands of dollars in building your brand around a mark only to later find that the mark is infringing on someone else’s trademark rights and therefore, you have to change the name, lose your place in Google search results, rebuild your website and destroy your products and marketing materials bearing the mark.

Here’s how to avoid it: Be sure to conduct a thorough trademark search before you commit to a new brand name for your business or one of your products.

Mistake #2: Not separating your business and personal finances.

From an accounting perspective, this is a major no-no for managing business finances (how will you know how much profit you’re generating if you’re mixing and mingling your personal funds with your business funds?). As a business owner, it is really hard to make smart decisions for your company without clear financial data. But from a legal perspective, commingling funds between a personal account and a business account has an even worse result — commingling is a surefire way to lose the liability protection from any business entity you have created.

Here’s how to avoid it: Set up financial accounts solely for business income and expenses — that means business bank accounts, business PayPal accounts and business credit cards. No accounts should be shared between your business and personal finances.

Mistake #3: Not maintaining annual corporate records.

Piercing the corporate veil is when courts find that a business entity and its owner are not actually two separate entities but one in the same because of the way the business is managed. Piercing the corporate veil means that business creditors can come after your personal assets, including your home, your car, you inheritance, your retirement accounts, your future wages if you currently have a job or if you decide to get a job in the future. The way to avoid this is by updating your corporate records annually by drafting your annual minutes and submitting your corporate filings with the state your company is registered in every year.

Here’s how to avoid it: Record everything that happens in your business on an annual basis and take care of your annual state filings each year. Have a corporate file with all of your insurance, contracts, leases and other legal documents.

Mistake #4: Not reducing your business relationships to writing.

Doing business without a contract is a really bad idea because the whole purpose of a contract is to prevent lawsuits by making sure that your and your clients, contractors and business partners are on the same page about the terms of your arrangement. Think of it as a way to take care of yourself and the people you work with.

Here’s how to avoid it: Have proper contracts in place between your business and all of your clients, contractors and business partners with terms covering what exactly being exchanged, who owns the resulting intellectual property, cancellation clauses, payment terms and all that beautiful boilerplate that is sure to save your ass one day.

Mistake #5: Not having legal notices on your website.

For many of us entrepreneurs, our websites are our storefronts. If you collect information from those who visit your website, you need a privacy policy. You should also have terms and conditions on your website to govern your relationship with your website visitors, subscribers and clients, particularly if you sell products or services from your site. Lastly, disclaimers are a way to notify people of how to use the information on your website and put limitations on the inherent promises, advice, and guarantees that may be expressed in some of your website’s content.

Here’s how to avoid it: Post a privacy policy, terms and conditions and appropriate disclaimers on all of your websites including your blog, landing pages and sales pages.

Mistake #6: Not protecting your valuable intellectual property.

Intellectual property is “creations of the mind — inventions, literary and artistic works, symbols, names and designs — used in commerce.” The longer you are in business the more intellectual property your business produces and the greater the value of that property. Things like logos, slogans, apps, e-books, classes, written works and visual designs are some of your businesses money makers and identifiers of your brand. It’s important to take steps to protect those company assets.

Here’s how to avoid it: Register your intellectual property with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office so that no one else can cut you out of the profits for your hard work.

Mistake #7: Classifying all your team members as contractors instead of employees.

This is one of those pieces of advice that business owners are really disappointed to hear. Unfortunately, the IRS has very strong bias towards workers being classified as employees rather than contractors (blame it on the substantial revenue the IRS enjoys from employment taxes). The IRS uses three categories, behavioral control, financial control and the nature of the relationship between the parties, to determine whether a worker is a contractor or an employee. When you do this analysis, you’ll likely find that your VA? Is probably an employee.

Here’s how to avoid it: Do a proper analysis to determine whether your workers are independent contractors or employees. And be sure to have all independent contractors sign an independent contractor agreement. Pro tip: If you have employees on your hands, Zen Payroll is your best friend.

Don’t sell yourself or your business short. Once you are generating revenue as an entrepreneur, supporting yourself, your family and your community at large, you and your business deserve to be protected. Don’t risk losing all or even some of your hard work, creativity and money. Your business deserves better than that.


Need a battle plan to get your legal foundation in place? Well, you’re in luck. I designed Small Business Bodyguard+, my comprehensive, laugh-out-loud legal resource, complete with contract templates, cheat sheets & more to meet all of the legal needs we just discussed and save you $10,000+ in attorneys fees.

And through today only, we’re giving you $150 off SBB+ AND $6,000 in ass-covering bonuses. You can learn more about SBB+ and the Cyber Monday Swag Bag right here.


When I first started writing about small business marketing many years ago, one of the first people I heard about was John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. John had a great reputation, a solid business and a well-respected and highly trafficked blog.

I referred many clients to his first book, Duct Tape Marketing. Then to his second, The Referral Engine, and his third, The Commitment Engine.

Through the years, we became good friends, and he has been a very trusted and valued mentor in my own business.

I was thrilled that he wrote a new book, this time about selling, called Duct Tape Selling. I could not think of a more perfect person to talk about the new world of marketing and selling than John.

In this 27 minute conversation, we talk about:

  • The recent dramatic change in sales and marketing
  • How to use well-tested inbound marketing techniques to drive and close sales
  • The different skill set required for marketers to sell, and salespeople to market


Check out John’s new book, Duct Tape Selling here. It is a powerful resource for entrepreneurs, marketing and sales professionals:

Download the interview here:

Or listen online here:


Many entrepreneurs dream of starting a business in their garage, scaling it, then selling it to Google for a billion dollars.

Such things rarely happen.

But scaling happens every day, in our career, our business or our workplace. We are constantly trying to improve ourselves, share our ideas, and put in systems and infrastructure that will grow our organizations without destroying that which made them great.

Stanford professors Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao describe in their exceptionally well-researched and readable new book, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less that knowing how to scale is a critical skill for the 21st century workplace.

And they have 7 years worth of research, analysis and case studies, consolidated into this great book.


In my lively conversation with Bob Sutton, we discuss:

  • Scaling excellence in your own career
  • Scaling up competence as startups get past bootstrapping
  • Looking for hot causes and cool solutions
  • Why big teams suck
  • Scaling excellence in large companies: Why change should happen in pockets of excellence, not be spread like peanut butter across an organization

Bob has been my “adopted professor” and High Council of Jedi Knight member for the last 8 years. I respect his work so much, and hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

Read more about the book and order it here: http://scalingupexcellence
Give Bob a shout out on Twitter @work_matters

Download the podcast here:

Listen to the podcast here:


Happy New Year’s Eve!

2013 has been a very special year for me. In addition to working with some amazing people, traveling to great events and having fun with my family, I wrote a brand new book, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together that I believe will define my own body of work (pun intended!) for the next ten years.

Here is the book trailer created by my awesome friends at Simplifilm.

Today is the last day to get preorder goodies, including an all-expense paid trip to Phoenix to get a consulting day with me where we work intensively on your career or business. Go here to order the book and enter the drawing!

My hope for this book is that it uplifts, inspires and activates hundreds of thousands of people to have joy, meaning, prosperity and success in their lives. I hope you enjoy it!

This year, I changed my business model and stopped working with new 1:1 clients in July so that I could work halftime with the amazing author Susan Cain , (her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking won just about every book award in 2012) her business partner Paul Scibetta, and her amazing team of quiet revolutionaries. We are building some very exciting things for 2014 that will support and celebrate the amazing gifts of introverts in every aspect of our lives. Be sure to sign up for her mailing list to receive word on the new offerings here.

One of the amazing things about my job is that I get to work with truly creative, passionate, committed people. They are the very best part of my work, and their accomplishments make me very proud. Not everyone likes to share their wins in public (many still work in corporate jobs where they need to maintain a low profile while they work on a side hustle), but all of them are so appreciated for their courage to build new things.

I could not do my work alone! Thanks to my amazing team for keeping the business rolling this year — Tim Grahl, Joseph Hinson and Lauren Baker of Out:think Group, I owe you everything! Sheila Sanders, my incredible operations manager, confidante and friend, you rock! Kyle and Cynthia Durand, thank you for keeping my legal and financial systems sharp!

Thanks to my team at Portfolio for believing in me and Body of Work. Adrian Zackheim, Will Weisser, Margot Stamas, and my amazing editor Emily Angell, and editorial assistant Jesse Maeshiro, thank you! And to my agent Joelle Delbourgo, thanks for being a staunch advocate for writing the right book, at the right time. 🙂

To my dear friends at Martha Beck, Inc, thank you so much for the opportunity to serve your coaches for 5 years! To my partners at Citrix, I have been so delighted to develop a strong partnership with you! To my AZ friends  and partners at Infusionsoft, I foresee great things for us in 2014! To Fran Tarkenton and Office Depot, and my fellow small business advisers of the Small Biz Club, I cannot WAIT to create great things with you next year!

And to the broader community of Escape from Cubicle Nation, I am so thankful for your years of support and encouragement. I write for you, and believe in your dreams. 🙂

And so like we did in 20092010,  2011 and 2012 please raise your fists in the air and celebrate these amazing people who rolled up their sleeves, faced their fears and shipped something meaningful  in 2013.


A for Awesome

Aarathi Selvan – Online business, Mindful Motherhood

Abe Cajudo continues his quest for better business storytelling through new consulting packages and wrote his first book, #Novembher, a post-digital book of poems written entirely on an iPhone and published to Facebook over thirty days in November.

Alaia Willaims launched the At the Helm Podcast, a show geared toward solopreneurs and micro business owners.

Ali Davies launched “How To Stay On Track To Achieve Your Goals”. A practical step by step guide to help you achieve your goals faster, easier and consistently.

Anja Schuetz – What if instead of “What do I want to start/stop doing in 2014?” you would ask yourself, “Who do I want to be in 2014?“Understand how happiness really works and join an inspiring community in this 5-week online course, that will lift you up and carry you all through 2014!


B for Bodacious

Ben Fanning launched the 14 Day, Conquer Your Burnout Home Study Course.

Beth Hayden, Social Media Coach, launched an instantly-downloadable course called “Pinfluence Academy”  that is receiving rave reviews from my customers. The course is perfect for business owners who want to learn more about using Pinterest to connect with their prospective clients and make more sales.

Brian Shea worked with an amazing group of clients in 2013 through his IT consulting company Shea Consulting LLC. In addition, he was part of a number of other projects including the 10K on 10/1 campaign for charity: water and Hacking Your IT Budget, a webinar for InformationWeek magazine. You can check out these projects at Brian’s blog: Results, Transparency and Trust in IT.


C for Committed

Cheryl Dolan is the first external coach and Subject Matter Expert in Communication and Presentation, for the CIO Executive Council (CEC), an IDG Company, which serves CEOs, CIOs and other professionals internationally in the IT world!

Chris and Heather Lee – We raised almost $27,000 for Teen Lifeline through Twestival Phoenix 2013.


D for Delicious

Debbie Reber announced Your Personal Book Partner, a new one-on-one coaching program where she gives writers working on a book guidance and support from start to finish (hand-holding included!).

Denise Mironti – After years of deliberating and anguishing over leaving the secure nursing administrator job I finally escaped to build a business around my passion for food!

Dory Bertsche – I finished NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words of my novel in one month.


E for Excellent

Elizabeth Crouch expanded her local and national speaking, writing and book research .. she continues as a paid speaker, advocate for women’s health and intergenerational community advocate for PIVOT Edmonds. In partnership with these two educational and community organizations, she continues her speaking and writing on an even bigger stage locally, nationally and internationally – on college campuses, radio presentations and interviews.


H for Hooray

Heather Robertson E-RYT, ELCOwner, Centre Line LLC  created and led 7 fully attended workshops for motivated professionals ranging from lawyers, judges, to entrepreneurs with the focus upon how to be more effective, impactful, and aligned within our modern mosaic of livelihood.

Heidi Noel Hauck launched her new site, focusing on helping Multi-Passionate Introverts build awesome, successful businesses! Over the next three months, she’ll be teaching a series of free webinars on the foundations of building a business, and would love to have you along for the ride.


J for Joyful

Jackie Dolan completed mind-body coach training and will be soon become one hot Endorsed Mind-Body coach, ready to flow, grow and glow. Life Extraordinaire

Jennifer Lyle –  – Jennifer Lyle and her partner, basketball coach Dr. Jim Burson, gave another successful webinar with 94Fifty and finished his book, “The Golden Whistle”, a story for all basketball coaches and for every person who wants to achieve more in life.

Dr. Jill Syme started a blog, ReVisioneer

Jules Taggart hosted her very first mastermind retreat for women entrepreneurs. Thrive Hive Live – Mastermind Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs 


K for Killer

Karyn Osinowo, Social Enterprise Attorney launched a website and first info product, which is a checklist to help guide social entrepreneurs and sustainable business owners through the proper legal channels to follow when setting up their businesses.


L for Lovely

Laura Gates – We’re launching another round of Be Your Own Guru in January, a 9-week online class that helps initiate people’s purpose, passion and connection to their spiritual calling.


M for Magnificent

Maia Duerr continues to be a visionary in helping individuals and organizations use mindful awareness to become more connected to their mission and effective in their work. This year, she offered her e-course, “Fall in Love with Your Work”  to rave reviews — meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg said, “Maia’s wonderful work inspired significant elements of my new book, “Real Happiness at Work.”

Mary Deshong Kinkelaar, CFP® launched Money Swift Kick a 60-day online program for women to get financially smart, comfortable and focused so they can build knowledge and master the money issues that hold them back.

Melissa Anzman relaunched her businesses helping people launch their career, business and brand; and kicked off her new podcast series.

Mike Ambassador Bruny$10K Raised in 8 weeks for charity: water using G+ Hangouts and a 24hr Social Media-thon

Mike Hrostoski launched The Conference For Men, a weekend of accelerated personal growth for 300 inspiring men in San Diego on April 25-27.

Mindy Holahan – In Power Boost Marketing, Mindy Holahan grew her author services business, More Time To Write. She works with authors on their research, editing, and audio production; as well as partners with Winning Edits to provide other author services.


R for Righteous

Rachel Gogos launched a new business – a web app for high school and college students called MyPath101 which will empower them to figure out their purpose, pick a major, clean up their online brand, build it and land a job.

Rachel Rodgers, Esq. created Small Business Bodyguard, a hilarious (no, really!), easy-to-read, comprehensive legal resource for entrepreneurs that covers everything you need to know about running the legal side of your business (and includes a bunch of contract templates, too!) — its sold over 650 copies in less than 6 months.

Rasheryl McCreary – Launched Brand Y.O.U.™ for Entrepreneurs. Personal branding for entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants.

Rebecca Clark – We nudged, and accepted nudges, resulting in new products, a closer knit community, and inspiration to keep on nudging others to pursue their big idea. Need a Nudge?


S for Super Star

Sabrina Ziegler – Global Awareness Creator at  Free online summit “Living Your Ideal Global Life” January 13-17, 2014 with Pam Slim as one of our speakers!

Sarah From launched Workflow Essentials, a group coaching program for nonprofit leaders.

Sonia Quinones left her full-time day job as a public information officer to launch her writing business full-time. Sonia provides writing and editing services to mid-sized nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses with a social good focus. She helps these public-service-oriented organizations hone in on their unique narratives to shape stories that inform and influence the lives of real people and real communities.

Susan B Clarke I found my voice beginning in the January Sedona Writing Retreat working on my memoir, Crazy, Cracked, Warm & Deep which supported refreshing our business brand, thrive! inc, blending both the professional & the personal. Oh Sh*T! to Aha Moments

Susan Foster Completed Masters Coaching Certification (Martha Beck Inc)


T for Toasting You

Theresa Campbell launched Her Life, Her Legacy: a business and movement centered around helping women across the world live their legacy today, so they can leave their legacy tomorrow.


U for Useful

Ursula Jorch – A high note for 2013 was creating and teaching “Rapid Revenue: Ramp Up Your Business Income Fast”, my online course to fire up your business bottom line, which I’m offering again in early 2014 – you can pre-register!


W for Wonderful

Wendy Kranz launched her first coaching retreat, Damn Thirsty Adventure Camp



Any professional journalist will tell you that maintaining an objective point of view is a critical part of telling an accurate and interesting story.

Boston Globe reporter Billy Baker maintained this principle when he went in search of an interesting story about someone on the #19 bus line in Boston.

He found it, through the help of Emmett Folgert, who runs the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, in the story of George and Johnny Huynh, who traveled on the #19 bus from their rough neighborhood into Boston Charter School, which Billy called “one of the great symbols of hope” in the city.

George and Johnny, in addition to their older sister, had essentially raised themselves after the divorce of their parents. Their father committed suicide, and their mentally ill mother was unable to work.

With support and guidance from a neighborhood mentor, they were able to get to school at Boston Charter School.

Billy documented their story in a series of articles in the Boston Globe, in addition to a video. The story was met with much interest, and an outpouring of support for the boys.

After it was over, however, is when Billy was able to leave his objectivity behind, and become part of the boys’ life.

“After the story ran, our story was just beginning. I stayed close to the boys, partly out of an obligation, but mostly because I cared about them. They inspired me. And they were fun.”

What transpired next was a symbol of all I consider right with the world:

With self-determination, love and mentoring, the youngest son George was able to accomplish something amazing.

I will let you read the conclusion yourself. Be sure to watch the original Boston Globe story, and the video.

There are three things that hit me profoundly about this story:

Your past history of pain and scars does not dictate a future of more pain and scars.

Sometimes challenge can incite powerful action, like the focus and drive that George and Johnny had to succeed. After overcoming huge odds to achieve academic success, they mentored kids from similar backgrounds.

Their understanding of the reality of struggle and poverty meant that they were specially equipped to help their peers.

They were driven to a better life so that they would not repeat the painful past of their parents.

When you look for good stories, and the good in all stories, good stories come to you

Billy began this journey looking for a good story.

“At that moment, I was looking for hope. I had seen some rough things. A lot of people who saw no end to their struggle. And I wanted to end the series on a positive note. When I saw that bus go by, I knew immediately that I had found my story.”

After publishing the original article and being released from the need to be objective, Billy Baker became a mentor to George and Johnny. The quality of his own life, and the faith in his profession, was strengthened by the experience of getting involved in the lives of these young men.

I firmly believe that we spend too much time looking for the bleakness in life — economic woes, political divides and personal challenges.

What if instead we went in search for the good in bleak stories? How might we believe differently in the world, and in ourselves?

Storytelling is very powerful in new mediums

I was very moved by the way that Billy Baker told his story on Twitter. I don’t know if he wrote the whole thing out in advance, or crafted one tweet at a time.

The process is secondary. The result is what I loved – an emotional, dramatic, community journey to a powerful ending.

I imagine that George, Johnny and Billy will continue to face challenges in the future.

Life is not as neat and sappy as a Hallmark Christmas special.

But we have a choice about the stories we tell about ourselves and each other.

Craft your stories well.

5 Days Remain!

My brand new book Body of Work launches on December 31. Pre-order the book and get a whole plate full of goodies to help you implement the ideas in the book, including the chance to win an all-expense paid trip to Phoenix to spend a day with me, coaching you on your career or business. Click here for details:

P.S. My great friends at Simplifilm just finished the beautiful trailer for my book! Check it out here: Official Body of Work Book Trailer on YouTube


Much to the Internet’s amazement yesterday, without any prior buzz or warning, Beyoncé dropped a brand new album straight to iTunes, complete with 10 brand new videos.

She said:


“I see music. It is more than just what I hear. When I connect to something, I immediately see a visual. Or a series of images that are tied to a feeling or emotion, a memory from my childhood, my dreams, my fantasties. And they are all connected to the music. And I think that is one of the reasons why I wanted to do a visual album. I wanted people to hear the songs with the story that’s in my head because that is what makes it mine. That vision in my head is what I wanted people to experience the first time.”

She goes on to say:

“I wanted to make this body of work. And I feel it is something that is lost in pop music. I wanted people to hear things differently and have a different experience … It was important that we made this a movie, made this an experience. I wanted everyone to see the whole picture and see how personal it is to me.

I will make my best art, and just put it out. That is why it is out today.”

All I have to say to this is YES, YES, YES! Whether or not you are a fan of her music, Beyoncé demonstrated the true spirit of the creative process: sharing a fully narrated, full-color and full contact piece of her body of work.

Mixing Mediums

Brené Brown also recently shared an amazing mash-up of powerful spoken words (her speech on empathy at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts) with illustrations by artist Katy Davis. The result creates a new and deeper, richer message, which is much more than the sum of its two parts (great words + great illustration). With these mixed mediums, you understand the story on a much deeper level.

Full Contact Spurs Action

Andia Winslow demonstrates style, humor, and motivation in her Fit Cycle videos, intended to inspire kids and adults alike to exercise in their real lives — on the playground, in the laundrymat or walking down the street. (After watching her videos and going on a hike with Andia when she visited last weekend, my son said “I want to go hiking every weekend, Mom. And eat healthy food.” It works.)
The Playground Workout – The Fit Cycle: Kids

These examples make me excited about spurring you to create and share “full-color, full-contact” stories.

Our lives are rich, interesting and multidimensional.

Our ideas are multi-sensory.

So the creative challenge becomes: how can you engage more of yourself in your work, and bring more color, sound, movement and dimension to the way you share it?

Here are some ideas:

  • Choose images to accompany your writing
    Get images from Stock photo sites, take your own photos or browse free license sites to look for images that strengthen and reinforce your words.
  • Choose soundtracks
    Use music to help narrate your day, enliven your events and warm up your web communication. (This makes me think of my recent trip to Philadelphia where I walked through the rain for miles with the Rocky theme song in my head, slowly winding my way to the “Rocky Stairs,” which I ran up triumphantly singing in my head “Gonna fly now, Flying high now …”)
  • Incorporate movement
    Find ways to move more throughout your day. Learn Tango, Tai Chi, hiking, fencing, football, or anything that makes your body feel alive. Incorporate movement into your work with clients, your meetings and your holiday parties.
  • Clear unnecessary clutter from your surroundings
    Have you noticed that when you are surrounded by stuff, you don’t really see the beauty of a room? Or when you visit a website that is full of buttons, boxes and images that you don’t know what to do? Remove excess stuff so you can display your ideas clearly. Look at a beautiful example from my friend, minimalist Colin Wright:
  • Add video
    You may not have Beyoncés production team or budget, but you can tell amazing stories with a video camera. Look to Abe Cajudo for ideas.

Isabelle Allende says it beautifully in Portrait of Sepia (which is why I lead Chapter 9 with her quote):

“Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story. I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses the luminosity. I live among diffuse shadows, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone of telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia.”

Take a cue from Mrs. Carter: Make your best art and just put it out.

And thank you Beyoncé, for that global celebration of your Body of Work. Preorder the here! 🙂


A mentor once told me that the only way you truly know what your values are are when they are violated.

Like when a key partner betrays your trust.

Or when you try a new marketing strategy that makes you feel disingenuous.

Or when you are encouraged as a kid to tease someone at school, even when you don’t want to.

When you betray your values, you feel awkward, uneasy, and even sick.

Conversely, when your actions match your core beliefs, you feel a sense of calm, ease and peace.

In my decades coaching people in many different work environments, I find that values mis-match is the biggest cause of angst, dissatisfaction and conflict in the workplace.

And most often this is the case because we don’t take the time to clarify our values, then choose jobs, partners and clients that resonate with those values.

So as you finish up this year and look toward planning your business and career moves for 2014, answer the following questions:

  1. What do you value?
    Brainstorm a list of values. Review the list, choose the top five, and create a definition for each.
  2. What do you believe?
    List the top five things you know for sure about your life, yourself and your career.
  3. Why do you believe them?
    Describe the life experiences that have shaped your values and beliefs.
  4. Whom do you care deeply about serving?
    Who are the people you want to impact?
    Why are they important to you?
    What will happen in their lives as a result of your support?
  5. Which problems do you want to solve?
    What do you want to fix?
    What could be made better in the world with your help?
  6. What drives you to act?
    Which thoughts, feelings, circumstances or beliefs drive you to act?

Now that you have this information, look at your current work situation.

  • Are you in a role where you can act according to your values and beliefs?
  • Are you serving those who you care most about serving?
  • Are you making an impact on problems and issues you want to solve?
  • Are you set up for success, so you have the support you need to take action?

If so, keep at it! Build on this success, and go deeper and stronger in your work next year.

If not, look at changes you can make to get yourself in alignment with your values, up to and including changing jobs, changing your business model, or getting new partners.

Life is too short to trade your well-being for a paycheck. Take action.

BODYofWORKsoftWant to learn more about creating work-values alignment? Pre-order my brand new book Body of Work. Details here:


I have always been a huge fan of underdogs.

Josh Shipp started his life without a safety net. Abandoned at birth by his mother, he spent most of his youth bouncing between foster homes, growing increasingly disillusioned and angry.

He finally landed in a home with a family who gave him the kind of support and encouragement he needed.

He then built an amazing speaking business, reaching more than 2 million teens with live presentations.

He created a television show called Jump Shipp where he pairs a person with a big dream with a mentor and a challenge to make it happen.

His latest book is called Jump Ship: Ditch Your Dead-End Job and Turn Your Passion into a Profession.

In this episode, Josh and I discuss:

  • His own journey, and how he turned a bleak childhood into a life of service and inspiration
  • Strategies for finding more meaning in your life and business
  • How to integrate all of your “ingredients” in your work – skills, strengths and scars

I was so inspired to talk to this young man who has done more with his short life than most people twice his age.

Download the interview here:

Or listen here:

Turkey Dinner Closeup

You know that moment, when you are looking around the table at your family and friends who are clutching their silverware in anticipation of the steaming, delicious food that sits on the plate before them?

If you are in a Navajo household, this pause is a good 20 minutes while grandma does a lovely blessing over the food. 🙂

This pause sums up the best part of any creative endeavor:

The moment when you look at the beautiful things in front of you and say: I made this.

Getting up at 3am to put the turkey in the oven, running to the store in the freezing rain to get that last, critical stick of butter, the mad dash around the house with the vacuum as you simultaneously shove the extra coats and toys in the closet, five minutes before your guests arrive, so that they assume that you are not only a great cook and talented professional, but also an effortless housekeeper (hint: they know you aren’t, but it doesn’t hurt to try to fool them) are ALL worth it in that moment when you collectively rejoice in the thing you have created out of a bunch of random ingredients.

Experiences, meals and memories are all part of our body of work.

And food carries a special legacy, like in the eggnog recipe that my dear friend Susan Baier’s Great Grandma Allie created 80 years ago.

Susan lost her mother this year. So when her family sits down together for the holiday meals, I know that when they take their first sip of eggnog it will connect them to the history, love, joy and relationship they feel with their mom. That is what favorite recipes do: remind us of decades of shared experiences.

Not everyone has good memories of family holidays. They can often be a time of stress, conflict and awkward conversations with Uncle Steve about why you are not actually unemployed, but rather have an Internet business. (“What the hell is that, and when are you going to get a real job like your brother?”)

We have a choice about the memories we create for ourselves and our families. You don’t have to repeat patterns that aren’t helpful anymore.

This holiday season, I invite you to reflect on the following questions :

  • What feeling do I want to create in my home this holiday season? (peace, connection, laughter)
  • What do I want to create to bring this feeling to life? (food, music, decorations, solitude)
  • What traditions and legacies do I want to make sure endure through the generations?
  • What unhealthy, unhelpful or stressful legacies do I want to let go?

When I pause before eating my delicious Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, I will raise my glass to all of you, and the beautiful legacy you are building through your unique bodies of work. I am thankful for our connection, and look forward to seeing what you create in 2014.

Big hugs,



It is hard to imagine life before the web.

If I have to do anything — make soup, download a Mod in Minecraft for my son or get someone to haul away trash from my garage, the first place I go is Google.

After scanning past the sponsored links (why don’t I trust those?) I scan to see what information is available.

If I am hiring a fix-it person, I love a link to Yelp, where I can check out their track record with other customers.

(When I researched “carpet cleaning in Mesa,” George from Paradise Carpet Cleaning got my business because of the near-perfect 5 Star Reviews from his customers on Yelp)

If I want to research a professional, I like to dig into LinkedIn profiles or personal websites or blogs.

(I was looking up information about a mutual friend here in Phoenix for a writing project, and found out that not only did she provide social media services for business, but that Social Media Stole her Kidney).

If I want to learn something, I usually turn to YouTube.

(Tobuscus is one of the reasons my son is planning his first career step to be creating and monetizing his own YouTube channel).

For better or worse, we learn who people are, and what they do, by Google results.

Because you are not the only one who contributes content to the Internet, you cannot always control the story Google tells about you.

But you can influence it by making sure that you are adding great content and information to the web.

In order to influence the story Google tells about you, think about the following things:
  1. What could you create that would tell the story about who you really are?
    How can people learn about your interests, strengths and talents? Where do you share your particular point of view about life? Of all the things you do in the your life, which do you want to be known for? You could create:
    -A video
    -A blog post
    -A book or ebook
    -A Facebook page
    -A Tumblr blog with photos
  2. How can you curate a place to tell your story?
    The problem with telling your story exclusively on public sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Yelp is that you don’t have control over how all the threads of your story tie together. This is a great reason to have your own website where you can aggregate different parts of your body of work.

    Even if you don’t work for yourself, it is a great idea to reserve the URL of your own name (if it is not available, look for the closest equivalent). Then use this page as a central place to link out to other places where you share content.

    (For the parents among you, reserve your kids’ domain names early!) 🙂
  3. How are you sharing your body of work with others?
    Once you create things you are proud to share, how are you getting the word out?
    You can:
    -Add a link to your site on your business card
    -Add links on the bottom of your email signature
    -Share on social media
    -Share in a live setting, then encourage people to connect with you on the web
    -Start an email newsletter
Where is the best place to start?

Google yourself!
  • See what information is available about you.
  • Note what is missing.
  • Imagine what you would love to find.
  • Decide what you need to create to close that gap.
  • Break down the steps to creating that piece of content, and add them to your 2014 plans.
We are complex, nuanced, flawed and imperfect human beings. Don’t worry if everything about you on the web is not glowing.

Do make sure that you contribute the best, strongest and most powerful part of your story on the web. That is the story I want to read!

My brand new book, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together can help you create and share your story! Check out some great pre-order goodies including a workbook, videos from my live event and a lifehacking guide right here: