They say to be good at improv, you need to stay out of your head and in the moment.

You have to trust yourself enough to allow your body to lead you. And when it’s your turn to speak, trusting enough to know that you’ll say the exact best thing to be said. However you respond is a gift to the scene.

The trouble starts when you don’t trust yourself. There’s no way to prepare for what’s coming. You could have the perfect response to a comment made 30 seconds ago but it wasn’t your turn then. It’s your turn now and the rear-view-mirror now looks entirely different.

You can get the job done by thinking about it. It’s safer, even if it falls a little flat. At least you didn’t say something stupid or offensive.

But what magic are you and the group missing because you don’t trust yourself? It’s risky. Your response could be completely inappropriate or absurd.

It takes courage to trust that you already know the right thing to do or say. To commit to yourself.

Another kind of network effect

Why, when faced with an opportunity to get to know someone better do we so often pull back? We might say to ourselves we don’t have time, we have other plans, we just don’t have the bandwidth right now. Why do we resist deepening our connections to those around us?

Is it that we fear tripping up, saying the wrong thing, being exposed as an imposter? Is that we fear they will eventually ask for more than we can give?

When we resist the communities that surround us, we isolate and become islands. At first it can feel good to be an island. It’s safe and predictable. We’re free to go about our business without risking negative feedback, having to do anything we don’t want to, without the fear of being asked for more.

The problem with being an island is you don’t notice when the important things slowly start to erode. Perhaps you no longer know anyone in your building. That’s okay until you go on vacation and there’s no one to water your plants or empty your mailbox.

The thing about building relationships in a network is it takes time and of course, there’s risk. Perhaps you won’t be liked or your ideas won’t be supported. Perhaps you won’t always be understood. But when problems come up, the network is there to support you. Perhaps others in the network are experiencing the same thing and suddenly big problems don’t seem so big after all.

We have to invest in our networks just as much as we invest in ourselves.

Be the fractal you wish to see in the world

Fractal: any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given or larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size. - Merriam Webster.

When you look at your organization, does your process or product or output reflect your own internal systems or processes?

A fractal is a self repeating pattern, a pattern that recurs whether you are viewing the object at the macro or microscopic level.

I had a realization some months ago that if I wanted my clients to believe in the systems and processes we created for them, those systems and processes needed to be reflected in my own business. Then I read adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy where talks about organizations as fractals.

And this is how the work truly began. I needed to practice what I preached and as a marketer, there was no where to hide.

To espouse the value of content, I needed to be creating my own content. To keep my clients accountable to their goals, I needed to set, revisit and take consistent action to achieve my own goals.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy or that I saw overnight results. That’s simply not the kind of business I am building and it’s not the kind of business I help my clients to build.

See the connection? Fractals.

I’ve come to realize the value of slow, incremental, gentle change. I write a blog post every day. Not only because of SEO or to build a following or to generate leads, but because the creative process itself is so generative.

Because writing helps me organize my thoughts. Because daily practices help to ground me, to bring me clarity. I can then bring this clarity to the work I do with my clients.

Part 2: You are the marketer you need

So what kind of marketing am I supposed to be doing then?

That all depends. Maybe it’s blogging, maybe it’s podcasting maybe it’s telling Instagram Stories. Maybe it’s all of these things. Maybe it's something else entirely.

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Part 1: You are the marketer you need

Marketing can seem so overwhelming. After all, it’s everywhere we turn. It’s the water we swim in. And it has a way of triggering in us a feeling that we’re not doing enough. Especially when we’re doing everything it takes to keep a small business afloat.

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Making butter

If you have ever tried making your own butter, you know that before you see a yellow glob form in the jar, you must first endure a long period of shaking the cream back and forth. Back and forth. The process will fool you. You will begin to wonder how much more shaking will be needed. You will begin to wonder if this is really the way to make butter at all.

Meanwhile, your arm is starting to tire. The ache makes you switch hands. Still nothing.

‘Am I doing it wrong’? you will say to yourself.

Sure, there are certain conditions that do make the job easier. Using a large jar that provides ample space for the cream to move back and forth will help. Having a friend on hand to take over shaking the jar to give your arms a chance to recover has the added benefit of making the task more social.

Still, there will inevitably be a long period of shaking the jar when no change is evident.

The cream will give you no indication that it’s changing states until you sense a telltale glob moving from end to end in the jar. The butter will suddenly, almost miraculously, form itself in the bottom of the jar with just a trickle of watery run off remaining of what was once fluid cream.

Making butter is a repetitive process. There are no shortcuts. It involves doing the same thing over and over until you see change.

When a door closes

If the work you do goes against the grain, pushes against norms or truly meets an previously unmet need, be prepared to hear no.

We are trained to keep our options open, to wedge doors open for ourselves in case we change our minds or want to return to the safer, well worn path.

The further you go down the path less travelled, the more doors will be closed to you. People will close doors to you because they don’t understand the need you meet, or they don’t understand you or they are afraid of what you represent.

When doors close to us, our reflex is to believe that this says something about us. We’re not good enough or there’s something wrong with our message or we failed to convince the right people.

Usually though, when someone closes a door to you, they are saying something about themselves. That whatever you’re doing doesn’t work for them. They are telling you that your people are not behind this particular door.

Keeping our options open, keeping doors ajar helps us feel like we have options but usually having too many options only serves to dilute our focus, split our energy. Keeping one foot in the door means having one foot out the door too.

Doors closing is usually a signal you’re on the right path and it’s getting more right.

Right brain, left brain

Cost per click, search rankings, impressions, click through rates, conversion rates and relevance scores.

All will tell you how well you are performing, how likely a customer is to buy from your, where your efforts are getting derailed. Every action is measurable, every connection has a value that can be expressed in dollars and cents.

Our left brains love all this data - to be able to comb through it, analyze it and draw evidence-based conclusions. we all want to be able to prove it, to back up our findings, to draw logical conclusions and inform the next big push.

We live in a world where our left brains have been allowed not only to flourish but to dominate unfettered.

What then, has become of that other hemisphere? What has happened to our intuition, our connection to a deeper knowing? Intuition in business is a sticky subject. Yet, as we move towards automation, as AI becomes more adept and more reliable, cultivating our left brains - our centres for creative thought and emotional connection - could be where our competitive advantage will lie.