business storytelling

13 Must-Read Books for Female Entrepreneurs and Freelancers

13 Must-Read Books for Female Entrepreneurs and Freelancers-2 FBTW

When you’re building a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant stream of new tactics and hyped up things in your newsfeed. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out who’s legit and who’s just full of hot air.

Which is why I’m a superfan of business books. To actually get a book deal, the idea needs to be proven and the writer needs to be a real, credible expert with an established platform.  And if it’s like the self-published books on this list, they’re scrappy books that are built on a proven process.

A business book is the most affordable training you’ll ever have – think of it as your Amazon MBA. So before you invest in another course or sign up for another freebie, check out these 13 must-read books for female entrepreneurs and freelancers:

Conquer Kit

Natalie’s just-released book tops the list. This is a business planning book unlike no other. It merges soul with selling and finance while encouraging you to play. My favorite part of this book is that it’s designed to be written in and provides you with practical exercises to dream and scheme your way to big things.


This is a classic from the creators of Basecamp. The book focuses on creating a simple approach to your business. It features short chapters and is an easy read that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.

Value Proposition Design

Don’t let the name of this book fool you. It’s actually kinda awesome! If you want to learn how to create products and services that customers want, this book is for you. Instead of putting your idea out on the market and hoping someone buys it, this book walks you through the process of research, testing and validating your idea so you know when you have a winner, and when you should walk away.


Running a business all boils down to one critical skill, persuasion. This book shares the core tenets of persuasion and the science to back it up, which will help you write and communicate better on a day-to-day basis. Consider yourself warned, once you learn the psychology of persuasion you may never look at marketing the same again.

First Break All the Rules

Released back in 1999, this book based on Gallup research is still incredibly relevant. (And fun fact, it was one of the first business books I ever read!) It looks at how the world’s best managers throw the rulebook out the window and manage to everyone’s strengths. Even if you have only one person on your team, this is guaranteed to change how you manage and think about skills development for yourself.

Everybody Writes

If you’re looking for a writing bible, this is it.  It’s my most favorite book on writing for the web. It’s packed full of tips designed to help make you a better writer, covering everything from easy grammar to 17 types of marketing content to writing credible copy. Plus, it’s an easy read that you can pick up and put down, and then use as a reference for your writing.

How the World Sees You

How do you fascinate? This book by Sally Hogshead examines the science of fascination and how you can become more of yourself. Learning about fascination has been a game changer for me and my business (and I use it with clients) and this book is the perfect place to start. (You can learn more about the Fascination Advantage System here.)

Why Not Me?

Mindy Kaling’s latest book isn’t a business book per se, but as a female business owner it has a strong message to share. If you struggle with feeling like a fraud or that you’re not good enough, this book asks the valid question of why you’re not the one who should be a huge success. Plus, it’s a blast to read.

Sacred Success

This book is a mashup of the practical, psychological and spiritual aspects of wealth and really looks at women’s relationship to power. It’s full of a-ha moments and exercises to help you gain control over your money while getting your head in check about what may be holding you back.

12 Week Year

Want to do more in less time? Or achieve big things instead of dreaming about them? The 12 Week Year brings the secrets of peak performance used by Olympic athletes to get improved results by working in 12 week chunks. I personally follow this book’s time management approach and it’s skyrocketed my productivity.

Get Rich, Lucky Bitch

Until I read this book I would have told you my relationship with money was fine. But newsflash – this book helped me realize I had some serious mindset issues and I needed to start to work through them. This book is a fun and illuminating read that I come back to time and time again.

Firestarter Sessions

Author Danielle LaPorte is better known for The Desire Map, but the Firestarter Sessions is chalk-full of goodness for the business owner. It helps you look at your passion and purpose, while delivering some serious truth about success and commonly held views about balance and skill.

Book Yourself Solid

If you’re struggling to find clients or book your calendar and run a service-based business, pick up this book immediately. Author Michael Port walks you through an entire system to, as the title implies, book yourself solid. It covers networking, follow-up, referrals and more that are relevant to every service-based business.

[clickToTweet tweet=”13 Must-Read Books for Female Entrepreneurs with @magspatterson” quote=”13 Must-Read Books for Female Entrepreneurs with @magspatterson”]

There you have it, my top 13, and I’m sure there’s more I could share, but I’ll save that for another post. What’s your favorite business book? Share in the comments below.

business storytelling

2015 in My Business: The Behind-The-Scenes

blog 12.17

Remember the E! True Hollywood Story?

Confession: This is one of my all-time favorite shows. What could be more enticing than the behind-the-scenes on a celebrity who seems like a mystery? (And if you don’t know this show, it’s a full hour on a celebrity’s backstory, including interviews with whomever they can dig up.)

It’s the exact same reason that I adore celebrity gossip blind items, VH-1 Behind the Music, A&E Biography, pithy articles in Vanity Fair and the Startup or Serial podcasts.

The idea of getting behind-the-scenes on pretty much anything is completely irresistible to me. Especially when it comes to business. Which is why I’m going to give you the nitty gritty on what went down in my business, and a bit of my life, in 2015.

The real-life what’s-working-now is how I tend to learn, and I appreciate transparency in a world of ever evolving hyped up success stories, unrealistic claims and really ridiculous marketing tactics.

So, here we go…

What Worked This Year

A lot of things worked this year, so I’ll spare you a detailed accounting, but here are some of the highlights that helped grow my business.

1. Creating Space

My word of the year was space, and honestly, I had no idea exactly what that would look like, but I knew it needed to happen.

At the beginning of the year, I was running two businesses on top of this one: a training business for teachers/demonstrators in the papercrafting industry, and a business teaching papercrafting and selling supplies.  Both came out of my inability to stay still for very long which meant I  turned my hobby into a successful business, and then seeing even more opportunity.

Even though I loved those businesses wholeheartedly, something had to give. The number of hours I was working was ever increasing, and I need to give myself space, so I handed over the training business to my trusty partner and then wrapped up my other business.

Not going to lie, this was a hard decision. I was walking away from a passion project that was profitable, along with a business partner and literally hundreds of customers I adored.

Much ugly crying and planning later, by mid-year, I was wrapped up. The hard decision was the right decision and this was the first time in a long time that I didn’t work all Summer, and my brain wasn’t on hyperdrive.

2. One Big Launch + Program

My name is Maggie and I have a launching problem. Before this year, I was perpetually launching.

Why? I’m all about new ideas. My primary Fascination advantage is Innovation, so I sort of can’t help it. Ideas flow easily and quickly all. the. time.

But when I started this year, my team and I committed to one program launch in September. My coach Natalie MacNeil held me to that all year long.

As a result, we were able to launch without a major meltdown or burn out. The worst thing that happened during the launch was a cart close email with the wrong subject line, but that was truly it. We were able to pull it off with lots of planning and preparation starting in February.

Along with the launch was creating the program itself (hello, nothing passive about this, I probably spent over 100 hours writing/recording course content) and then running it. In this first round we had 23 students, and I was seriously blown away by seeing them in the program, doing the work and making small wins every week.

Now, a lot of the work is done and when we open up the doors to the Inside Scoop Academy in January, we can focus on making the launch even better and most of all, taking care of our students in a big way.

3. Doubling Up Our Team + Revenue

When I basically started this business fresh in 2014, I had no idea what was going to happen, just that I was going to make my vision work.

Nearly two full years later, that vision has resulted in significant growth. Growth in our team going from a team of 4 of us in early 2015, to a team of 9 now in December. As client needs have emerged, we’ve been able to strategically add to our team and hire the right contractors to help me grow.

Back in 2014, if you told me the team would be 9 people I would have laughed my ass off. But here we are! 2016 is going to be a year of optimizing our existing team, adding some full-time hires and shifting my role so I’m not the chief cook and bottlewasher on all client accounts.

As the team has doubled, so has year-over-year revenue. We’re more than double last year’s revenue and that’s without year end numbers. It’s the biggest year in my business ever.  Think of it as an overnight success story that has been in the making for over 10 years.

That’s not to say my take-home is doubling…because growth requires investment, and that’s a strategic choice I’m making now for the future. It may not be the best choice for every business, but it’s the right one to help fuel the future.

4. Marketing Growth

A lot of what we started in 2014 was status quo this year with the podcast and the blog, newsletters and list building.

To support this, we focused more and more on social media this year which has been way more consistent, and we’ve focused increasingly on LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. So far, Pinterest is driving quality traffic to the site that convert well (outpacing Twitter and often Facebook), while Instagram is one big experiment at this point.  LinkedIn isn’t driving traffic at all to my site, but it is driving opt-ins as we’ve been publishing original content on the platform, and more than 50% of our posts have been featured on the site’s Pulse section.

Facebook ads were a big win this year, especially the Launch Tools and Tech opt-in that we ran this Fall. We were able to add over 1500 subscribers in two months with this checklist. This is definitely the direct product of the willingness to experiment and what could only be termed as a complete shit show over the Summer including: very expensive mistakes, a pixel that was behaving badly, a Leadpage that was utterly possessed and much more.

If you’re going to focus on ads, be prepared to lose money as you figure it all out. Or get help. Don’t be a DIYer like I was as you learn the ropes.

Most of all, a big win with marketing was an upleveling in overall branding with our designer, Amanda Genther, as well as getting everything we do super systematized and consistent.

What Didn’t Work

This gig isn’t for the weak. Failure is part of the game, and every single time you fail it’s a great lesson for the future. Here are some of my fails this year:

1. The Trademark Debacle

We started planning the Inside Scoop Academy in February, so you’d think by the time we started branding in May that we would have everything squared away with the name in time.

Nope. The day before I needed to finalize the name for the logo design, I had a short list. I ended up going with the No B.S. Marketing School. Which was right on brand, but I missed a super important step for a course with this level of brand investment and intellectual property involved – filing the trademark.

We went ahead and I was in blissful ignorance as we launched. Once things settled down and the course started, I got in touch with a Trademark Attorney.

After an exhaustive trademark search, the amazing Patrice Perkins told me I really shouldn’t use No B.S. Marketing as it was registered and not something that I would likely be able to secure.

This was literally on week two of my program. Branding and launch completed. So I had to hustle to find a new name. The first few of which weren’t going to cut it, so we finally settled on Inside Scoop Academy.

But, this meant time and money had to be sunk into redoing existing worksheets, video intros and more while the program was running. Then we had to move the site to a new domain. (Props to my team for making this SO much simpler, even if it was annoying as all get out!)

Lesson learned. First step is the name then the trademark before you do anything else.

Rookie mistake and won’t happen again. And don’t assume anything. Learn how trademarks work before you get too far in and have built brand equity in your product or service.

2. Monthly Behind-the-Scenes Posts

In March I had the big idea to do a monthly post on a behind-the-scenes in my marketing called the Lab Report.

Amazing idea. But I did exactly one lab report.

Why? They were WAY more work than I realized going in. Screenshots, videos, how-tos and more were needed to back up what I was talking about.

It bothered me not to execute on something I’d publicly declared and it’s been nagging at me since May. But, I’m going to consider this as an idea that was put on pause and that we can look at bringing back in 2016.

3. Client Experience

If you run a services-based business with any type of volume, there are going to be situations where a client isn’t 100% happy.

It happens to all of us. I wanted to share this as I did have a couple of these situations in 2015, and all you can do is choose to learn from it.

I do pride myself on trying to make the situation right by being fair and honest. But sometimes, it’s not going to matter what you do. Things are going to go off the rails to the point where you need to walk away and practice kind, but firm, boundaries.

I pride myself on client experience, so when these rare instances do happen, this hurts my heart. My business is personal, so I take it personally. Which means it crushes my confidence in more ways than I can possibly count, but I also know that if I let these situations define me or my business, then I’m not going to be able to help the 99.9% of clients that are delighted.

All you can do it make it right. Be fair and act with integrity. That’s it. Because in the words of Dr. Phil, “you can’t win against crazy.” Sometimes you’re going to need to agree to disagree and move on.

(Whoa, that was hard to write, but it helps you think about how you can better handle these situations, and to not let them break you.)

My question every single time these situations arise is how can we improve on what we’re doing to make things better. To stop SNAFUs before they can happen.

The lesson for me? A number of my services will be restructured with more specific timelines and deliverables, as well as setting clearer client expectations in writing. I’m thankful for the not-so-great moments, because I think these packages and how they are structured are going to be amazing.

What’s Next?

Well, I’m glad you asked. A fresh new year is about to begin, so of course, there’s awesome things brewing. Some big, some little, but all amazingly good.

1. Introducing Scoop Industries

But let’s start with the big one. My business is changing, and I couldn’t be more excited. As of January 5th, all my services (and products) will be offered through a new agency called Scoop Industries.

I’ve teamed up with my friend and Operations Director for the past 2 years, Brittany Becher, to co-found this new company. It’s literally been in the works for 11 months as we carefully planned and plotted every week.

Both of us come from an agency background, and we realized that for us to scale our respective businesses, we needed a different type of structure, and quite frankly, we didn’t want to build something bigger flying solo.

Scoop will focus on digital marketing for small businesses. We’ll be continuing to offer strategy, content/copy, tech and other services, and more products like Inside Scoop Academy will be developed over time.

So, what does this mean for you, my clients and community of listeners and readers?  Here’s a rundown:

The Marketing Moxie show will continue in 2016 and I’ve committed to another season focused on What’s Working Now of at least 12 episodes.

This blog will continue with two blog posts a month focused on a mix of business and more with a personal twist. Less tips and tricks, more deep thoughts, snark, sass and business goodness. It will become a little showcase for what I’m thinking and seeing in the industry called Maggie, Unlimited.

Scoop will have a twice weekly blog completely jam-packed with digital marketing, behind-the-scenes on what we’re learning from our clients and more. Plus, we’ll be adding a podcast in the first half of the year.

As for newsletters, you’ll still get The Scoop on Thursdays in your inbox curating ALL of this content, as well as things we’re diggin’, smart articles and much more.

2. Working my Ass Off for a Book + Publishing Deal  

My big push project for this quarter has been writing a book proposal for my digital marketing focused book for female entrepreneurs.

This is one scary mofo project.

Even writing about this here on the blog scares the ever lovin’ shit out of me. The goal to get a book traditionally published is the stuff my little 8 year-old Maggie dreamt of and pushing towards it is alternately exhilarating and terrifying. (Excuse me while I curb the urge to vomit as I write this.)

Right now, I’m in the process of pitching agents to find representation for this book. I’ve had some rejections and some agents quickly respond to take the proposal, but this is a long way from done. Which is why I’m putting this as a key goal for the coming year to get the agent lined up, a publishing deal and then the book written.

Ambitious? Completely. But if I’m in, I’m ALL in. (And if you happen to be an literary agent representing non-fiction writers reading this, I’d be happy to send you my proposal – it’s kinda awesome.)

I’ll keep you posted. Because any way you slice it, this is going to happen no matter what. Done deal. Coming to your local book store soon.

3. Family + Personal Time

2016 is going to be a year of expansive growth personally and professionally, so I’m making a renewed, conscious effort to focus on having a life.

That may make you laugh, or you may feel me 100%. But when you’re working so hard, it’s easy to let having a life slide.

And remember the theme for the year being space? Things at home have lined up completely magically with shift changes for my husband and more free time than ever before. (That’s a full blog post for the new year!)

This concludes my very own business edition of the E! True Hollywood Story, Maggie style.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. This is is the longest post I’ve ever written but I hope you’ve found a nugget or something in here that’s useful for your journey. Wishing you all the best for 2016.

business storytelling

Storytelling for Business: Why Stories Sell

blog 11.19

When you’re starting a business, nothing can fully prepare you for the sheer amount of learning you need to take on.

Sure, you’re good at what you do, but there are so many other functional areas from finance to hiring to legal that you need to learn the ins and outs of. Acquiring the knowledge and skills you need to actually run a business can quickly be a full-time job.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing. The sheer number of possible strategies and tactics is mindboggling. Then add on a layer of marketing speak and it’s too damn much. To the point where it’s hard for someone who actually works in marketing to stay on top of all of it.

It’s no wonder that all the copy and content-related terms get so muddled up. One of the biggest points of confusion I encounter is the difference between messaging and storytelling.

What is Messaging?

Think of messaging as the “facts” of your brand. Your messaging includes your values, personality and vision. It should also include your benefits and differentiators.

Typically, your message is one-way communication that’s focused on the organization. While your message is critical to shaping your brand, it’s only part of the picture.

The problem with only having a message is that it’s focused on you and your brand and it fails to answer the #1 thing prospective clients want to know from you: “What’s in it for me?”

Facts don’t cut it when it comes to standing out online. Even if you have the most compelling and interesting messaging on the planet. (Hate to break it to you special snowflake, I can assure you that even your most creative and original idea has probably been “done” in some form.)

The popular mantra, “facts tell, stories sell” is well-known in sales circles and extends to all of our marketing efforts.

Why Stories Sell

Stories help us create an emotional connection with our audience, but they also create context for our message.

Storytelling helps to consider our message through the eyes of our customer and provides the deeper meaning to why we do what we do, how we do it and the results or benefits we provide.

Messages are often carefully controlled, while a story makes you and your brand much more honest and human.

The role of stories is to bring the message to life and make the message appealing and relatable for our audience.

To understand stories, we automatically associate what we’re hearing with our own experiences.  Neuroscientists have identified what’s called neural coupling where the storyteller and the listener have similar brain activity patterns. In the study, when communication was broken, the coupling vanishes.

That coupling is what makes people willing to read, watch or listen, and ultimately that’s what drives them to actually do business with you, as they feel they can trust you.

In short, a story persuades people in way that facts simply can’t. Which is why you need more stories in your business if you’re going to be able to market and grow your business.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few types of stories that sell:

  • The Before/After: Share your before and after, or even better, your customer’s before and after to showcase results of working together.
  • Universal Experiences: Tell stories about shared experiences. If it’s way too outside your audience’s experience they won’t pay attention in the same way.
  • Happily Ever After: We’re all conditioned to love a happy ending. Keep your stories positive and productive with a memorable happy ending.

Start using stories to support your messaging in all of your marketing. From webinars to interviews to blog posts, stories help you sell your message and your products and services.

If you want help getting started and need a pro on the case, I can help you with the Story Distillery. This is my signature 1:1 services and limited spots are available. Click here to get the details.

business storytelling

Business Storytelling: Your Story, Your Way

blog 11.12

The year was 1995. I was down to my last $2.00 and was two weeks away from having my student loan clear the bank.

After scavenging around the house for loose change to do a load of laundry, I headed to the laundromat to wash my clothes. The only hiccup was that I didn’t have enough to dry them so I hauled the wet clothes home in a hockey bag through the February ice and snow.

As I walked home from the laundromat,  trekking uphill with my furry boots slipping on the ice, I made a decision that would change my life. Never again would I have only $2.00 to my name. The stress, shame and uncertainty wasn’t something I ever wanted to feel and not how I wanted to live my life.

The experience of being a broke student fueled my future. But what does that have to do with storytelling?

It’s simple. That story is personal. And definitely on the more depressing side of things. You may relate to it, but if you don’t have a story of that nature, you may be feeling you can’t tell stories in your business.

So much of the storytelling we see out there shares adversity, struggle and how we’ve gotten through it. And while this type of storytelling is valid, it’s not the only game in town.

Sometimes when it comes to telling a story in your business, it doesn’t need to be that deep. Sometimes things just aren’t and it’s totally okay for you to tell a story that’s lighthearted, quirky or so funny your audience will snort.

My Story Just Isn’t That Interesting

So many times I hear my clients or community say that their story “isn’t that interesting” and nothing could be further from the truth. The problem is they think that their story isn’t good enough because it’s not dramatic or involves overcoming something against great odds.

If you grew up like I did in an average middle class family, went to college, got a job and then got married (aka following the checklist) you’re bound to feel that way when it comes to sharing your stories. Because you didn’t necessarily have a major plot twist or a moment that’s going to be featured in an Oscar winning film.

Great storytelling isn’t about the big moments. It’s about understanding the purpose of storytelling as part of your message and brand. Stories help make your message more engaging and emotionally connect with your audience.

(Click here to get the Storytelling Shortcut and get on your way to telling engaging stories.)

The emotion you set out to evoke is up to you.

You may choose to get your audience to feel joy or laugh out loud. Maybe you want them to feel excited, ecstatic or elated.

Storytelling doesn’t have to always be inspirational or aspirational. The goal is to create a message that resonates because the reader, listener or viewer can relate to and remember it.

That’s where the know, like and trust factor starts and gets strengthened over time.

Telling YOUR Best Stories

What kind of stories should you tell? That’s up to you.

Your approach to storytelling can be whatever you want it to be. Maybe it’s a mix of quirky and plain comical, or it’s sweet and salty as you share the good, bad and ugly sides of building your business.

The real secret is to make it yours and not to worry about what your “competitor” or the “big name” in your industry is doing.  After all, you’re so much better than a sad knockoff, recycled, rags to rich story that doesn’t quite land.

If they all zig, you can totally zag. Because that’s what makes you stand out and makes your stories completely irresistible.

As Sally Hogshead, the creator of the Fascination Advantage says, “Different is better than better.” So don’t be better with your storytelling. Be different.

You can be the coach with yet another tired “how I quit my job story”, or the one with a knack for short, hilarious and completely out-there stories about your real life and how that relates to business.

Choose your stories wisely because the biggest threat to your business is never the competition. It’s you not doing what it takes to escape obscurity.

Do what it takes to bring all your wonderful weirdness to your storytelling and let the notions of what your story “should” be, go.

Sometimes it’s just not that deep and that’s okay.

Let your stories be more and explore how you can up your fun factor.  I promise you, you’ll have more fun and your tribe will appreciate that you bring a little bit of light and levity to their day.

business storytelling marketing strategy

Success and Sanity Lessons from My Small Business

blog 10.29

In the digital world, 2 years is a long, long time. An eon. A straight up eternity when you consider how fast everything moves and how much information we create every single day.

If we hop in the wayback machine, 2 years ago I was in the process of ripping apart my business and putting it back together to focus on small businesses and online entrepreneurs who wanted to use marketing to get results. While I’d been running my own business for more than 8 years before that as a marketing consultant, as well as a very successful side business as a blogger/teacher in the papercrafting world, I truly consider the last two years trial by fire.

Nothing could have prepared me for the lessons I learned every single day about myself, and my business. Just when you think you’ve got it nailed – surprise – you don’t.

Which is why I wanted to share three things that I do think I’ve done right (well, I’m doing them right at this point…more on that in a moment) to help you as you navigate the rocky path of small business ownership and choosing to be an entrepreneur.

Let’s face it, this shit is hard, and can be super lonely, but nailing these things down has made a massive difference in my success and sanity:

#1. Making Brilliant Business BFFs

You know that moment when you’re like “OMFG, what the hell am I doing and what is the point of this?” The temporary lapse of reason where you’re ready to get a 9-5 because it would be so much easier?  Or when you’ve taken so much abuse from a client who’s on a rampage that you’re in tears and so done it’s not even funny?

This is why you need business BFFs. Because when the shit is hitting the fan and you need to vent or to get support, only someone else in your shoes really gets what you’re saying.

Because to a non-business owner, getting a 9-5 or doing the safe thing seems like the most reasonable answer. After all, that’s what normal, sane people do, right?

When you bring these issues and challenges to your business BFFs, they’re going to tell you to get it together, how to fix it, give you a shoulder to cry on and if need be, tell you to get over yourself already. It’s a wondrous mix of support, figuring out the answers and tough love plus ass kicking in one place.

Sure, you’re building a business and this is going to seem like work, especially if you feel like you’ve got enough friends already. But this isn’t about being social, it’s business.  Taking the time to seek out and cultivate business besties isn’t frivolous, it’s a necessity.

If you’re on the lookout for business buds, watch for people you bump into around your online circles. Likely if you’re in the same places, you have things in common, and that’s always a good starting point.

Start by suggesting a get-to-know-you call, share their stuff with your tribe and generally get to know them. It’s no different really than making friends in real life. (And a word of warning just like real life, befriend them because you genuinely dig them, not because you think you can get something from them or are trying to get ahead. That’s so uncool, that I can’t even go there.)

In my case, my closest business friends – some of whom I’ve met in person  and others I’ve not – are people I’ve met in Facebook groups and as part of paid courses/communities. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Business BFFs aren’t frivolous. It’s a necessity. New blog post from @magspatterson.” quote=”Business BFFs aren’t frivolous. It’s a necessity. New blog post from @magspatterson.”]

#2. Establishing Boundaries

In some ways I’m reticent to talk about boundaries, so here goes nothing.

Let’s preface this boundary discussion with this – boundaries change and evolve over time. Different stages in your business demand new boundaries. But when you’re just starting out, you need to earn the right to establish harder boundaries over time.

Should you be a doormat? Absolutely not, but playing the games with clients over the scope of work when it’s really no big deal is a recipe for failure.

So when I talk about boundaries, I mean the ones that are unbreakable for me as a business owner, which are really quite simple: payments, time off and respect.

I don’t screw around with money and nor am I a credit lender, ATM or debtor  for my clients. This for me, is the fastest way to trigger me into a complete tailspin so I make my payment requirements clear. This took a good 9 years to get to this point of being a complete hard ass about it, but I’ll tell you this: I’ve only ever had ONE client not pay me and that was in year two of my business.

Taking time off from my business is a hard boundary that is unbreakable. Once a year I take a digital detox which means no email, no Facebook and no work. Clients or potential clients who raise eyebrows at this aren’t a good fit for me.

The rest of the time, I’m pretty flexible and my clients are cool with my Monday to Thursday work week. It works because I’m clear on delivery deadlines and I manage expectations. When you’re on time consistently, people respect your time boundaries.

And respect, well, that explains itself. I do my absolute best to be kind and thoughtful, and I ask that people I work with do the same. (Apparently that’s some type of crazy request for some people.)

Occasionally, there will be a complete communication meltdown – it happens to everyone at some point. But every single time it does, I go back to the root cause and work to figure out what happened.

Usually this means I have to be clearer about expectations or change contract language to guard against the same issue happening over and over. (Hint: When the same thing happens multiple times, it’s not the clients, it’s you. You need to own it and stop playing the blame game.)

[clickToTweet tweet=”The good/bad of business boundaries. New blog post @magspatterson” quote=”The good/bad of business boundaries. New blog post @magspatterson”]

#3. Invest in Coaching and Communities

In the last two years, I’ve worked with a number of coaches and been active in a number of communities. Some short-term and some for the long haul.

It’s not all been good. Like the coach who literally couldn’t remember what my business was, or the communities where people were epically annoying because they were too lazy to Google things before they asked their questions.

But there’s been some amazing experiences too. And because of all of this…at this point, I know exactly what I’m looking for. If there’s group coaching, the coach better show up and answer questions consistently and have a team backing them up.

If it’s a community, I don’t want to be in a group where I’m just another number and everyone is wrapped up in self-promotion or social BJs.  The second I start rolling my eyes as I scan posts, that’s a sign I’m in the wrong place.

Being part of a community should be enjoyable. You should actually like the people in there instead of worrying about how you’re going to form alliances and get to 7-figures.

For me, less is more with coaching and community.

Take the time to curate your experience so you can get the most out of it and maximize your time (or financial) investment. Because what good is any of it if you can’t use it or it consistently stresses you out? Or if you kind of actually hate the person you’re paying to coach you, or worse yet,  you don’t respect them?

This past year, the Conquer Club has been a big part of offering me the coaching and community I’ve needed. Which is why I’m SUPER excited to invite you to join us for Conquer Club 2016.  It’s coaching, community and sheer amazing-ness for anyone building their small business.

Details are below on how you can join us – and if it’s not your jam, find a community and/or a coach that is.

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I’ve teamed up with Natalie MacNeil, the creator of the Conquer Club, to offer you an amazing bonus if you sign up for the 2016 Conquer Club. When you sign up through me you’ll get a spot in the Inside Scoop Academy: Marketing School’s Winter class that starts in February. (This is the course formerly known as the No B.S. Marketing School – but that’s a story for another day.)

For the price of the Conquer Club – you’ll get the Inside Scoop Academy: Marketing School for free. (A $749 value). Plus, if you sign up by November 5th, you’ll get my new mini-course Stories That Sell for FREE when it launches on December 1st.

Click here to get all the details on this sweet deal.

The need-to-know. If you purchase, you’ll be purchasing directly through Natalie MacNeil and She Takes on the World and will be sent to her sales page and checkout. For this, I will be receiving a commission for my referrals.
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Three Steps to Getting Your Business Noticed with a Polarizing Point of View

blog 10.22


Earlier this week I was working with a client on messaging and storytelling, and she asked me an incredibly astute question.

“How do I NOT sound like all the other coaches out there?”

My immediate response came down to a few things, but the most significant one was that she had to share her strong opinions about what’s wrong with the conveyor belt type of coaching where people are just a number.

There’s a million and one ways you could be noticed, but hands down, the fastest way to get noticed is to have a polarizing point of view. To be the one that says the thing that everyone’s thinking or that at least your tribe has running through their minds. That’s the best way to go about getting your business noticed.

If you’re worried about pissing people off, don’t be. Trend Watching declared the “Brand Stand” as the trend to innovate with and profit from in 2015. The Brand Stand is about brands starting innovative, contentious and necessary conversations.

The Brand Stand doesn’t just help you stand out. Consumers believe brands should speak out. 73% of Millennials believe that businesses should share a point of view.

So while you may turn off some possible buyers (who aren’t the right fit for your business anyways), the payoff will be be much greater in terms of attracting the right customers and helping you avoid being obscure.

The Brand Stand, or as I call it in the Story Distillery Process, Getting Bold and Brazen (or the Polarizing Point-of-View), is a big part of your business’ story. It speaks to your brand’s heart and character as much as sharing your story or that of your customers.

Here’s how to be polarizing and make it a positive for your business:

Step #1: Get Comfortable with Sharing Your Opinion

You may be thinking, “No way, I’m not like THAT.”

But I’m willing to bet you believe in something when it comes to your business. I mean, clearly there’s some chutzpah lurking deep within you because, hello, if you wanted to do things the easy way, what are you doing running your own business?

Did you start a business for everyone to like you? Are you worried about people not liking you? What’s at the root of you not wanting to share your opinion?

Yeah, I get it. Especially if you’ve ever been branded a loudmouth, ball buster, or any other assorted things because you were willing to voice your opinions. (I totally relate, I’ve been called ALL of the above, and then some.)

If you’re in this to succeed, get comfy with your opinion and get okay with people not agreeing with you. It’s okay for people to not agree with you, and it’s not personal.

Diversity of opinion is necessary and needed. It’s up to you to speak up.

A few people I think do a great job of sharing opinions (even if you totally disagree) are: Paul Jarvis, Natalie MacNeil and Courtney Johnston. You’ll notice it’s not all dramatic, but they have a clear point of view on what they do share and there’s no guesswork about where they stand.

Step #2: Be Clear on What You Do Stand For

Once you’re ready to take a stand, you need to spend some time getting clear on what exactly it is you stand for.

Because here’s the thing. You can’t just pick something that you’re lukewarm on. Or something for the sake of choosing something. That shit won’t fly.

To be effective and capture attention, you need to have fire in your belly. You need to have a real, true belief in what you’re saying, otherwise no one is going to buy it.

Get clear on what pisses you off or what needs to change and what you want you/your brand to be known for.

On the flip side, don’t try to own all the issues. Carefully curate a few things, stick to a theme and make sure it’s aligned with your brand. Too many brand stands and you’re doing more harm than good.

Step #3: Make it Productive (And Not Crazy Ass Ranting)

Don’t let your brand stand devolve into the equivalent of angry girl teen angst where you’re listening to Rage Against the Machine or Nine Inch Nails all the time and hating the world.

That much anger or hostility isn’t good for you, and it’s not good for your business either. When you’re picking what you stand for, focus on how you can not only discuss the issue, but how you can be part of the solution.

By proposing solutions, sharing new ideas and owning the issue, you’re creating real change and not just being a big old complainer.

A prime example of this is a couple years ago, I wrote a post on 5 Ways to Ditch the Press Release which got a lot of attention, so much so that one of the leading PR Newswires was threatened and wrote a response post. That post was effective because it wasn’t pointless ranting, but offered productive alternatives.

Ready to Take Your Brand Stand?

The Marketing Makeover Starts Monday October 26th!

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So, are you ready to take your brand stand? Good news, I’ve teamed up with my friend and mentor Natalie MacNeil for a FREE 4 part training next week (Starting Monday October 26th) called The Marketing Makeover.

It’s 4 days, 4 mini lessons including a discussion and worksheet on the brand stand. We will give you an honest look at key things you need to do to grow your business, and actionable strategies to make it happen. Plus you get lots of inside scoop on what’s working for our businesses and what we really think about many things in the online business world. (And it’s short – no messing around – 10 minutes a day and you’re done!)

Sign up for the Marketing Makeover now.

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The Ultimate Guide to Storytelling


When was the last time you read a good book? You know, the kind that keeps you up half the night, even though you have a zillion things to do in the morning, because you MUST know how it’s going to end.

There’s nothing like a gripping page turner that you can’t put down. It leaves a lasting impression and sticks with you for weeks and months to come – but most of all, you can’t wait to share with your friends.

That’s the power of a great story at work.

So when it comes to sharing stories in your business, it can feel like a lot of pressure. The word insurmountable comes to mind, especially if you’re like me and you had a relatively “normal” upbringing and there’s no big dramatic turn of events. Or if you’re the kind of person who knows their mama wouldn’t appreciate you airing your family’s dirty laundry in public.

Not every story needs to have melodramatic twists and turns. Especially when it comes to the stories you share in your business.

The goal of sharing your stories is to create a link with your audience, no drama needed. As the saying goes, facts tell, stories sell.

At the heart of storytelling is making an emotional connection, and many times sharing something your audience can see themselves in is just as powerful as a rags to riches or overcoming the odds type of story.

Which is why I’ve put together the ultimate guide to storytelling to help you tell your personal story.

Understand What Your Audience Needs From You

If you’re going to share stories, you must be thoughtful about them. Otherwise you’re going to end up sharing a lot of things that don’t support your business or risk portraying yourself in a way that doesn’t jive with your community.

It’s not about taking on airs or being a big old fake, but you need to have a filter to run things through to make sure there’s a point to the story. Otherwise it’s just one big autobiographical storytelling jam session, which gets tired quickly.

The filter? Get to know what your audience is thinking, feeling and sensing. What do they need to hear? What are they looking for? Spending time on carefully defining this lets you frame how you communicate and what stories are worth telling.

A Little Personal Color Goes a Long Way

When you share personal stories, the audience filter comes in handy. You need to think about what’s a good fit for your audience and what may be completely over the top.

Personal stories are an ideal way for your tribe to learn more about you as a human and not just as an entrepreneur, coach or whatever it is you do. But do yourself a favor and be choosy about the stories you put out there.

In this iteration of my business, I’m willing to put myself way more out there than I EVER have and I make a point of sharing my own personal brand of my real-life anecdotes and straight talk. But that doesn’t mean it’s all about me and I let it all hang out.

The thing is I’m still a mom, and one day my kid will be able to read these words. I have a husband who works in a pretty conservative environment and I can guarantee there’s certain things he doesn’t want to see on the Internet. My friends likely wouldn’t appreciate me spilling the beans on some of our escapades or things that I’ve experienced alongside them (because while these things have shaped me in a profound way, they aren’t mine to share).

I know where my line is and I’m respectful of it. Because no one needs to know about that one time in Vegas. (Or maybe you do…but that’s a story for another day!)

[clickToTweet tweet=”Where’s your line when it comes to personal storytelling? New blog post.” quote=”Where’s your line when it comes to personal storytelling? New blog post.”]

Be Credible, But Don’t Oversell It

Part of storytelling in a business context is about stories that help you position your experience and how you’ve gotten to where you are today.

When I work with Story Distillery clients, we spend a lot of time working on packaging their experience in a way that’s credible but still accessible. The last thing you want to do is list ALL of the things you’ve ever done and how incredibly awesome you are.

For starters, that gets old quickly. Do you want to read an About page that requires you to scroll and scroll and scroll as someone recounts all the things? And then there’s the fact that if you didn’t lose your reader along the way, you may actually be intimidating them and they’re going to be scared to engage with you. (Sounds crazy, right? But people like to see themselves in people they work with or buy from.)

Think of your experience as needing a highlight reel. And on your About page or anywhere you talk about credibility, you share only the highlights, leaving the rest to be revealed over time.

You’re Not A Superstar

When you think of sharing stories in your business, it’s easy to think you’re the star. Because these stories are about you, right?

Not so fast! As you’re telling stories, you want to leave room to turn your clients and customers into the hero. What people really want to know from you is “how can they help me?” so showcasing your customers as the superstar lets you prove that you can deliver.

When you’re shaping these stories, focus on results. The personal relationship is important, but if you don’t deliver the goods, it’s not going to matter.

As a kid, I used to watch this TV makeover show called The New You with my mom, and I became pretty obsessed with the idea of the before and after. And I’m not alone. Transformation stories are incredibly powerful. That’s exactly why magazines and media are chalked full of them, and I’ve probably spent more hours of my life than I care to admit watching What Not to Wear and Style by Jury.

Think about what the before and after is for your clients. Start there and find ways to weave those stories into your marketing.

Stand for Something

Author, speaker and creator of the Fascination Advantage System, Sally Hogshead, has a quote that I love:

Different is better than better.

The point being you can work harder and do more, but if you’re not different, it’s hella hard to get a leg up. Which is why when you’re telling stories, you need to stand for something.

For some people, that idea can be scary, especially if you’re a people pleaser and the idea of someone not liking you is unthinkable.

If you want to truly be remarkable, it’s time to get over it.

To succeed, you’re going to need to embrace that you can’t work with everyone, you can’t serve everyone, and you’re actually doing yourself a disservice if everyone likes you.

The sooner you embrace that fact, the whole lot easier being in business and telling stories is going to be.

What does it mean to take a stand?

I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. You don’t need to stand on a table and rally a frenetic crowd of supporters to follow you into a battle you’re likely to lose.

For your business, it means you take ownership of key issues and have an opinion. This is what successful leaders do, and if you want to cut through the same old, same old, then it’s compulsory.

Find a way to state what you believe in a way that works for you. Take careful note of the “for you” part, as we’re all going to do this differently, and for it to work it must be aligned with how you actually are as a person.

If you need a hint, look at your Fascination Advantage report. My primary advantage is innovation and I lean on it a lot as I speak the language of ideas.

Otherwise you’re going to stay in obscurity and it’s hard to run a business when no one knows who you are.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Stop being a people pleaser and take a stand on something already.” quote=”Stop being a people pleaser and take a stand on something already.”]




business storytelling

The Art and Science of Storytelling Infographic

Storytelling is often discussed as a key part of messaging and branding yet, there’s a lot information out there. Which is exactly why I created this easy to digest storytelling infographic that shares why storytelling is so effective, how exactly to use stories in your marketing and ways to tell compelling stories that help you stand out.


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Episode #66 – The Problem with Being the Best Kept Secret


The idea of being a best kept secret sounds like a good idea because it’s exclusive. But as an online business owner, it’s a terrible idea that’s seriously bad for your biz!

For you to show up fully and make an impact people need to know about you. Today’s episode breaks down how to overcome this at a high level with some tangible ideas on how to put yourself out there more.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • The real challenge is not our competition or the market, it’s obscurity.
  • If no one knows who you are, that will kill your business.
  • It can be really challenging to show up in the middle of a party and introduce yourself, but the online world is easier to navigate and I’ll tell you how.
  • Why showing up to give your service with receiving nothing in return is so important.
  • How I figured out I couldn’t just rely on referrals for my business and what I did about it.
  • People want to tell others about you, but you have to let them know you’re open for business!
  • If you’re letting your clients know you’re open for business and you’re showing up and service, what else do you need to do?

6 Core Concepts of Being ‘Sticky’ (From Made to Stick):

  1. Simplicity: In order for your audience to really latch onto something, it has to be easy for them to grasp.
  2. Unexpectedness: The idea that you need to create friction and violate expectations.
  3. Concreteness: To be clear, you need to talk about things in terms of human action.
  4. Credibility: Let the concepts of what you’re putting out into the world be credible on it’s own merit.
  5. Emotions: You need to make people feel something to connect to you and your brand.
  6. Storytelling: When you hear a story, it becomes a shared experience and part of your imagination.

[Tweet “Are you too good of a well-kept secret? @magspatterson #marketingmoxie on putting an end to that”]

Top 3 Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. If you want to have a successful business, being the best kept secret is a terrible idea! You need to be somebody that people know your name. Being of service and being open and transparent is going to increase your chances of not being obscure.
  2. Referrals and Reciprocity should be a given. Really service the clients you have today and serving them is what’s going to make this happen. Don’t be too focused on generating new business instead of service your current clients.
  3. We need to be using the ‘sticky principles’ to be intentional in the ways you create your ideas and information so people can really hold onto it.


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Links for this Episode:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Link to Free Marketing Moxie Facebook Group

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Episode #62 – Creating a Category of One with Dr. Michelle Mazur

episode 62

When it comes to speaking, and pretty much anything else, it’s all too easy to be forgettable. Dr. Michelle Mazur joins us today to talk about how to create a story around you and your business that’s uniquely you and positions you into a category of one.

Items Discussed in this Episode:

  • Is just telling your story enough? Michelle explains why it’s not even close to enough.
  • Making your story ‘audience centered’ is key to speaking.
  • Michelle explains how you can use your story to create a connection with the audience, and then move on to how it can help them.
  • How to find your ‘small moment’ stories and then how to think about relate that to your audience.
  • Storytelling is almost like a fable, it should have a ‘moral’ or a key point to takeaway.
  • Michelle explains how to position yourself in a category of one, and why it’s so important.
  • What is a ‘me too’ speaker, and how can you avoid becoming one?
  • If you could pass your notecards off to someone else and they could give the same speech, your content is ‘milk’.
  • If you know your natural advantages, you can use that to create your presentation.
  • Michelle explains how to bring the category of one concept into everything else you’re doing, not just public speaking.
  • How to think about the conversation you’re participating in to position yourself as somebody different in your field.
  • Once you discover your core message, Michelle describes how to keep it consistent.

[Tweet “Does your presentation pass the notecard test? @drmichellemazur talks about positioning yourself as a category of one.”]

Top 3 Takeaways for this Episode:

  1. Your presentation doesn’t need to be about you. The story should be something people will actually be interested in. Just writing up your story and pitching speaking engagements with it is not enough.
  2. Are you standing alone? Are you in a category of one? Can you pass the ‘notecard test’? There is nothing worse than a boring or vanilla speaker.
  3. Don’t botch the closing.The last impression of your speech is the most important thing. What do you want your audience to feel, takeaway, and act on?

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Links for this Episode:

Dr. Michelle Mazur

Michelle’s Audience Journey Freebie 

Marketing Moxie Facebook Group