10 Ways to Cut Internet Distractions so You Can Focus on What Really Matters (FS228)

10 Ways to Cut Internet Distractions so You Can Focus on What Really Matters (FS228)

As an independent entrepreneur, your business lives or dies on the progress you make week in, week out. Let’s talk about some EFFECTIVE ways to stay focused on things that matter.

Avoiding distractions is utterly essential to your success, but that little device in your pocket…

yea, that one…

the one with the screen and the apps and the notifications…

that thing is hungry, and all it eats is YOUR ATTENTION.

When you’re scrolling through a Facebook feed or half-a-dozen videos deep into an unanticipated YouTube binge, do you know what’s happening?

Well, I’ll tell you what’s NOT happening: your business ain’t growing and your projects AREN’T getting done.

So, here’s the deal…

… we’re not recommending a puritanical approach to business where modern technology is abandoned. The internet is undeniably powerful for building massively successful online businesses, included our own.

But we must make sure we are using the tool, not the other way around.

“If you work for yourself, make sure you use the internet (and don’t let IT use YOU)”

As we’ve written before, your humanity is your greatest business asset. Through your humanity, you experience, intuit, empathize and create.

These are the core concepts of business success, and they have little to do with technology, smartphones, or the Internet.

What follows are 11 steps you can take today to break the Internet/smartphone addiction, re-engage with real life, and ensure technology is supporting your business growth, not hindering it.

1. Determine What Really Matters

Before you can focus your efforts, you first need to define what really matters to you and your business.

What are your goals? Who are you serving? What are you trying to achieve? What problem are you solving? Are you tracking vanity metrics or actual key performance indicators? Are you focusing on the right things?

Quite often we use our smartphones to fill-in the gaps throughout the day. When we’re not clear and intentional about what we want to achieve, those gaps can expand out to eat up big chunks of time.

When you’re unsure what achieving your goals will mean to your life, the short term dopamine rush of Facebook will inevitably win the battle for your attention.

Conveniently, negative patterns of behavior can help point the way to your True North. When you find yourself randomly scrolling through a social media feed, it’s a perfect opportunity to stop and ask:“

  • What is it I’m actively avoiding by wasting time in this manner?
  • What is it I’m afraid of or unclear about?
  • What is the important project or goal right now?
  • Why is it important to me? Remind me why this goal/projects matters TO ME.

Often the answer to those questions will be exactly the thing you should be working on — the thing that really matters.

Another way to clarify what really matters is outlined in our productivity and vision live training (it’s free right now), which explores how to use a daily productivity journaling practice to find direction, motivation, and focus.

The training describes a simple process of getting clear about your intention and — this is kind of crazy, but it works — using affirmation and values to FEEL inspired about your project.

Our own Chase Reeves developed this training out of his personal work process and people are experiencing clarity and focus they’ve never had before using these exercises.

So, check that out if you’re interested, because when you know what matters, you’ll be better able to harness your phone to help you achieve those goals.

“When you know what matters your phone will be a tool, not a distraction.”

2. Consider How Your Smartphone Aids and Hinders Your Work

Much of what we do on our smartphone is the result of mindless habit.

We feel compelled to check our phone whenever we have a moment of free time. We can be on Facebook and scrolling through the newsfeed before we even realize we’re doing it!


So take some time to become mindful and conscious of how you’re using your phone.

Monitor yourself for a day or week. Observe how you use your phone and the Internet. How much time do you spend checking things? How do you react when a new message arrives? Consider how that usage supports or hinders accomplishing what you established as really mattering in the previous step.

You may want to make a list of the apps you use on an average day, how much time you spend on them (Rescuetime can help with this), and whether they’re supporting your work, or distracting you from it.

The next few steps will help you with this, but there’s no substitute for simple awareness of WHAT you’re really doing with your internet and phone.

3. Turn Off Notifications

This Harvard Business Review article about “the cost of continually checking email” notes that several University studies have found refocusing attention on work after being distracted by email can take up to 20 minutes.

In addition, people can lose up to 10 IQ points due to being distracted by email and social media notifications.

The constant bombardment of notifications is not helping us get our work done. Luckily, this problem has a relatively simple solution: turn off your notifications.

Maybe you want your caregiver or your co-worker to be able to text you at all times. Maybe you want to be notified if someone posts to your business’ Facebook Page so that you can respond quickly. That’s all fine. But maybe you don’t need to know every time someone likes one of your Tweets or shares a Facebook post.

In our article, “10 Time Management Tips Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know,” we explained how you can use the Eisenhower Method, popularized by Stephen Covey’s book First Things First, to determine the difference between “urgent” and “important” activities. Notifications feel urgent, but they’re almost never important.

You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things. Notifications are small things, so shut them down.

(For you Apple users, here’s a helpful article on how to perform a number of notification related tasks on your iPhone/iPad, including how to: remove apps from the notification center, turn off badge app icons, remove notifications from your Lock Screen, and more.)

“The constant bombardment of notifications is not helping us get our work done.”

4. Move Distracting Apps to Folders and Pages

Everyone once and a while, it’s time for a digital clean up…. Specifically, let’s look at the apps on your phone.

In the same way that cleaning and organizing a physical space like your office or home can help your productivity and mood, so too can digital streamlining.

When you monitored your phone use (see step 2) you almost certainly noticed apps you rarely use. Delete them!

For apps you use frequently, but find distracting, place them within folders. We’re using an “out of sight, out of mind” method here. Just put the apps in a folder where you have to hunt and peck a bit to find it, instead of keeping them front and center all of the time.

Save the main home page on your device for the apps you’ve determined support your efforts, but clear away the rest of the distracting clutter. When you unlock your phone, you should be looking at a collection of apps that reflect what really matters to your business.

“Phone tip: move distracting (but necessary) apps into folders away from your home screen”

5. Use Focus Tools

If you don’t have the self-control to timebox your day and stick to a schedule, some helpful tools can help support your efforts to stay focused.

Inbox Pause puts new emails on hold, so they don’t appear in your inbox until you are ready for them.

New Feed Eradicator is a Chrome plugin that replaces your entire Facebook newsfeed with an inspiring quote.

Freedom blocks access to websites, apps, or the whole internet for a chosen period of time.

Unroll.me sends one email a day to summarize all your newsletters.

Boomerang for Gmail allows scheduled emails to be sent later, come back into your inbox if people don’t respond in X days, and have emails boomerang back to you on a particular day when you can actually deal with it.

(For more email management tools, check out our article, “Email Inbox Management Tips.”)

6. Schedule Social Media Posts

Has this ever happened to you?

You hop on Facebook or Instagram to post relevant content related to your business, but before you have a chance to post, you notice something interesting in your feed. You read it. And then another post catches your eyes. You click through. Suddenly, it’s half an hour later, and you still haven’t gotten around to posting your content.

This scenario has happened to all of us at some point, which is why scheduling social media posts ahead of time can be extremely helpful. By scheduling, you’re able to consistently get your valuable social media content posted, without getting swept up into the black hole of social media time-suckage.

Scheduling a week of posts in advance can be an amazing experience in terms of both the time and mental energy it frees up.

Facebook has a built-in scheduling feature for business Pages.

Later is a fantastic tool that allows you visually plan and schedule Instagram posts, along with other social feeds like Twitter and Facebook.

Edgar and Hootsuite are other good options for social media scheduling.

Getting out in front of your social media posting by pre-scheduling it during a timebox allows you to return your focus to the real work of your business.

7. Timebox Specific Activities and Apps

Another way to manage your apps and prevent distraction is to use timeboxing, the process of assigning specific time slots and durations in your daily or weekly schedule for particular activities.

This can include social media and email. It works as a focus technique, but also a productivity method because people tend to complete tasks quicker when they are assigned a specific timeframe or deadline.

  • Need to tame your Instagram addiction? Only check your feed on coffee breaks.
  • Wasting too much time on Youtube? Limit your video watching to the bathroom.
  • Is email dictating your daily focus by putting you into a constant reactive mode instead of a proactive one? Only check email twice a day.

We’re not party poopers. If watching 20-minute videos of cats being frightened by cucumbers brings joy to your life, by all means, keep watching! But watch during your lunch break or before you go to bed.

You don’t have to stop doing the activities you enjoy. You just have to manage your time in such a manner as to ensure you aren’t distracted from your deep work.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things.”

8. Get Clear on What’s Next

A crucial step in removing digital distractions is making the thing that matters to you (i.e. your work) more important than the potential distractions.

When you love your work and are deep in a flow state, distracting notifications stop being an issue.

In step 1 you identified the big picture of what really matters, but big picture goals can be vague and nebulous, and that’s exactly where distraction lives. Understanding what matters most just isn’t enough. You need to know what specific steps you are going to take right now.

Deciding you want to lose 50 pounds is an excellent goal, but how are you going to do it? What food are you going to eat for your next meal? What exercise regime are you going to implement? Those details are crucial.

An excellent way to identify the steps you need to take is by working backward from the desired end state. If the desired end state is a sale to a customer, ask yourself, “What needs to happen directly before the sale? And what is the step before that one, and the step before that?” By working your way backward in this manner, you’ll identify what you need to do to get started today.

When you’re confident you know what needs to get done, you’ll be a lot less likely to start itching for the distracting pleasures of the internet.

“When you love your work and are deep in a flow state distractions can stop being an issue (here’s how)”

9. Create Action Momentum

There’s excitement and energy that comes from stringing together a series of successes, and the more success you have, the more the thing you’re working will become attractive to you.

This is a thing almost all of us experienced. (If you haven’t yet, keep it up, you’ll notice it randomly one day.)

The more you set your intention (step 1: define what’s truly important) and then take action towards that intention, the more “ACTION MOMENTUM” you generate.

And this is a big deal!

Why? Because the whole internet sometimes feels like it’s out to get you. And sometimes the group text is on fleek! (i.e., sometimes group SMS text messages can be exhilarating and fun.)

It’s in this CRAZY DISTRACTING world that we have to try to shepherd our projects into the real world. It’s delicate, it’s feeble, it’s gentle work to keep an idea alive, to keep inspiration and motivation alive.

So, we need all the help we can get!

And this “action momentum” is one of the biggest aids we have. It’s like a powerful wind that always blows when you’re sailing out far enough.

You want to continually move in the direction of doing the work so that you can begin to gain a sense of momentum. There’s excitement and energy that comes from stringing together a series of successes, and the more success you have, the more the thing you’re working will become attractive to you.

It’s like going for a long run: at first, you might feel uncomfortable or unsure of how it is going to go, but then you fall into a comfortable rhythm that turns the previously uncomfortable process into a pleasurable experience.

You want to create that same pleasurable feeling for the business building tasks you have in front of you each day. The more energizing your work, the more focused you’ll become. The magic happens on the ground at worker bee level. When you consistently do the work, momentum becomes the norm.

“Action Momentum: energy that comes from stringing together a series of successful actions”

10. Continuity Between Projects

As with the period of time in-between smaller steps in a project, there’s also a danger of getting caught in the down time between larger projects.

When you’ve accomplished something big, but aren’t sure what’s next, you can quickly fall back into old patterns of distraction.

At Fizzle we try to have continuity between our big projects. When one project is starting to wrap up, we begin thinking about (and get excited for) the next project.

This is a really important point here. It’s kind of advanced Aikido level stuff. We explain it more in depth in the podcast below.

Knowing what big thing you’re going to be working on next is fantastic motivation to finish up your current project. And that motivation will, like so much of what we have discussed in this article, help keep you focused and distraction free.

BONUS: Take a Digital Detox

If you implement the first ten steps we’ve covered here and still find yourself addicted to time wasting activities online, it just might be time for a digital detox.

When you simply cannot give up the habit of checking your phone, it’s a big red flag telling you it’s time to turn your device off.

Put it away in a drawer. Walk away.

Take a day, or a weekend, to live your life without the internet.

Go outside. Spend time with your loved ones. Take a trip.

Pick up a paint brush or a pencil –— do something with your hands that isn’t scrolling.

When you return to the internet after some healthy time away, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Facebook, Instagram, Candy Crush, Kim Kardashian’s booty, and your email inbox will be there waiting for you.

We promise the world won’t end just because you put down your phone for a weekend and lost yourself in what really matters.

Go deeper with this podcast episode:

We recorded a lively conversation about these tips and go into a bit more depth on each one. Enjoy! (And subscribe if you haven’t!)

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A Renewed Relationship with Your Phone

With these eleven techniques, you’ll be able to reframe your relationship with your smartphone and the internet into something healthy and productive.

When you’re excited by your projects, you’ll be less attracted by distracting activities, and when you minimize the distractions, you’ll get all the more excited about your work.

It’s a cyclical process.

You’ll still get that endorphin rush you used to get from checking your notifications, only now you’ll get that rush from checking off items on your ‘To Do List.

When the work you WANT TO DO is more energizing and exciting than your addiction to technology, you’ll be able to pursue your business goals with renewed vigor, engagement, and focus.

And when you’re clear about what’s important, what you need to do next, and how technology can help get you there, there’s no telling just how much progress you’ll be able to make.

“10 Ways to Cut Internet Distractions so You Can Focus on What Really Matters”

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/cut-internet-distractions-focus-really-matters
via My Media Pal NYC


Humans have a destructive tendency to overcomplicate things. Building a small business is no different.

The essence of a successful business is incredibly simple. As Paul Graham says, you have to build something people want. Expanded just a little, you have to create something that solves a problem or addresses a desire for people in a way they’re willing to pay for.

Simple, right? Simple, but not easy.

Building a business isn’t easy by any means, but entrepreneurs often have themselves to blame for much of what makes building a business so hard.

For example, it’s suddenly not good enough to grow an email list. Now we’re told we have to segment our email list and customize what we send to each subscriber. Thus, turning what’s already a huge effort into a huge effort times two.

It’s not good enough to pick one social platform and do it well. We’re told we have to be everywhere, all the time.

It’s not good enough to create one solid product and grow it. We’re told we have to create up-sells and cross-sells and down-sells and “tripwires.” Yuck.

The #1 problem we hear entrepreneurs complain about is not having enough time. Who could possibly have the time to do all of the above? Don’t count the gurus and a-listers who told you to do all this in the first place, they have huge teams, elaborate processes, workaholic tendencies, and an incentive to tell you about the newest shiny thing.

It’s just not realistic for a solo entrepreneur, let alone one with a day job, or god forbid a family, or a life.

Likewise, we tend to overcomplicate success itself. Surely it can’t be that simple. Once we find something that works, we have to move on to the next channel, the next product, the next technology, don’t we? That’s how you grow a business, right?

This is where most of us get stuck. We experience a modicum of success, then start looking for something that can take us to the next level… when that thing might be right under our noses.

Here’s the boring reality of growing a business: sometimes success is about resisting the urge to second-guess the formula. Sometimes success is just about doing what works, then doing that thing again, and again, and again, over and over and over.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “what got you here won’t get you there” before?

Well, what gets you to initial success is an intense process of trial-and-error, of searching and experimenting. But maybe, this isn’t what will get you there. Once you’ve found what works, maybe your job is to perfect that thing BEFORE you branch out and optimize.

Building a business is hard enough, without giving in to the temptation to overcomplicate things.

Instead, do what works, then do it again and again, and again.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/do-what-works
via My Media Pal NYC

How to ENJOY Sales, Without Feeling Cheesy, Manipulative & Gross (FS227)

The whole “sales” thing has been a little bit wrecked by used car salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross and old dudes in suits in weird hotel ballrooms.

In the online business world, there’s a lot more fun shiny stuff to talk about than real deal selling.

Sometimes we inadvertently make content creation the sun around which our entire businesses orbit, as if churning out enough content powers our business.

But as a Fizzler, Harriet, admitted in a recent email, she created 300 videos and never made more than $5,000 a year in her business until she dealt with some deeper sales fear.

So today, we’re facing this head on: sales is the sun, or the engine of our businesses. Without sales, you’ve got a glorified hobby.

Do you have a sales problem?

Maybe you already know for sure that you have an aversion to selling and you avoid it like the plague. Or, maybe you aren’t sure whether sales is your real problem.

Here’s what an aversion to selling feels like:

  • You feel like you’re begging.
  • You hold your breath and pray when it’s time to name your price.
  • You’re hearing a lot of “I can’t afford it right now, maybe later”.
  • You’re not sure how much people need or want your thing.
  • You feel panicky in general about getting sales.

Why do we have such an aversion to selling?

We’d all love a quick fix to our sales issues, but of course that general “ick” feeling that accompanies asking people for money goes deeper than a list of tactics & tips.

For one, we know how uncomfortable it is to be on the other side of the equation. Inconveniencing other people with a big ask goes against our basic human nature, and we certainly don’t want to voluntarily make anyone uncomfortable.

On top of that, many of us have complicated relationships with money. Questions like, “Do I deserve to make money? Who am I to take this person’s money?” simmer below the surface. Even if they don’t permeate our conscious thoughts, these money-based fears can hold us back from selling with ease.

Finally, our self worth tends to get all mixed up in our sales success. If we put our big passion projects into the world, they will get rejected by some people. And while that’s totally okay, the sting of hearing “no” can lead us to believe we are being rejected. And who wants to consistently set themselves up to get shot down? Not me!

So how do we overcome it?

Quite simply, we need to shift from trying to convince, to trying to consult.

From forcing the sale, to finding a fit.

From persuasion-based selling, to needs-based selling — lots of authenticity, hold the douchebaggery.

You know you’re on the right track when you’re asking more questions than you are doing the talking. We feel really salesy when we talk, talk, talk. When we’re listening, we can actually assess what someone needs — and provide an appropriate solution for a fair price.

Here are 6 big strategies for more relaxed, effective selling:

  • Know the objections. Selling is a lot less scary without surprises. Step into a customer’s shoes and list out all the reasons someone might be hesitant to buy your thing. Instead of getting defensive, get in her head! What would you want to hear?
  • Never beg. Begging doesn’t work in the dating world, and it definitely doesn’t work in sales. If a prospect walks away, let her go. In fact, encourage her to go! A “no” is better than a “maybe”, because “maybe” just wastes your time (and it means “no” anyway!)
  • Sell like you’re independently wealthy. This is one of my favorite tips I held on to from my sales training days. I know it’s hard to imagine, but what would it feel like if you didn’t need this sale? Without that pressure, you can sink into a natural conversation with a prospect led by curiosity, not desperation.
  • Use third party stories. There’s a reason we like reading the reviews on Amazon! Even if you’ve never had a client, collect stories and praise from people who know you. Use these not only as testimonials, but share more about the role your product or service has played in that person’s life in order to demonstrate that impact.
  • Do the unexpected. Old school selling is kind of like a really annoying song on the radio — we know all the words by heart, and we really want to turn it off ASAP. So flip the script! What can you do in the sales process that is surprising, a disruption to the tired pattern? When I did lots of cold calling, I would often make a joke early in the conversation to disarm the person on the other end. Nine times out of ten, I could feel that defensive wall come right down and we could actually have a conversation.
  • Guarantee results. Plain and simple, nobody wants to buy something only for it to break or fall short in some way. Awesome companies like Nordstrom and Zappos thrive by making the return / refund process super easy in order to lower the risk in clicking “buy”. So how can you make a potential customer feel like investing you isn’t risky?

Bonus Round: Handling common objections

Every single one of us will hear objections or obstacles as to why prospects can’t become customers. While of course we wish they would jump up and down with glee and throw their money at us immediately, the truth is that most buyers are going to have questions or concerns about working with you — and that’s natural!

Whether you’re having a client consultation call or you’re writing up a sales post, you can use your platform to educate your followers about the value you bring (without trying to convince them!)

Recently on the Courage & Clarity podcast, my friend Emylee Williams of Think Creative Collective gave us an awesome example of how she used her platform to educate and, therefore, overcome objections.

As a high-end photographer, her services weren’t cheap. As such, her biggest competition was what she calls “shoot and burn” photographers — aka, you get your family’s photos taken and you get a CD with all the photos afterwards to print yourself at a very affordable price.

Emylee started using her blog as a platform for educating her readers about why her services were worth the extra cash.

Many of her potential customers hadn’t considered that a CD full of photos to be printed at the drug store won’t pass the test of time. Sure, they’d save money today, but those pictures would likely get lost in years to come.

Instead her photographs, which were printed on canvas, were durable and quality enough to become family heirlooms, passed down for generations to come.

See what she did there? Emylee stepped fully into the customer’s shoes, completely understanding that of course they would be tempted to shop the cheapest photographer. With that understanding she offered another perspective without being pushy, and instead gave her prospects another factor to consider — quality & durability.

You did it! You just got a crash course in non-sleazy sales, the needs-based way.

I would love to hear from you in the comments — what will you do to make your sales process less stressful? How are you going to shift from convincing to consulting in your own business?

Go Deeper with this podcast episode:

We recorded an episode of the Fizzle Show about this very topic where we get into more detail and share some tips that may not be in this article. Enjoy!

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“How to ENJOY sales, without feeling cheesy, manipulative and gross”

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/enjoy-sales-without-feeling-cheesy-manipulative-gross-fs227
via My Media Pal NYC

10 Killer Links for Entrepreneurs in 2017 (FS226)

As entrepreneurs we’re always finding new things to educate and give us a little motivation. Because, I mean, we’ve got to strategize and sh*t, you know!?

And strategizing takes effort.

And then after the strategy, we gotta do ALL THE WORK.

You know what I mean? That can take a lot out of a gal.

So, on the show today we’re talking about 10 links that are helping us so far this summer, 2017.

You’ll find books, ideas, products and services linked to below.

And more importantly, in the podcast episode you’ll hear WHY these things might be so important to your work.


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10 Links for Entrepreneurs — Ideas, Products, Books + Services to Know About in 2017


Lisa Congdon: Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist: a brief book on creating and marketing art as a business, just $1.99 on Amazon Kindle. Lisa is an illustrator, author, course instructor and fine artist based in Portland, OR.

SaaS Weekly by Hiten Shah: Hiten started Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout. One is venture capital backed & the others are self-funded. His weekly newsletter is focused on SaaS, but also covers startups and entrepreneurship in general, especially growth topics, including some topics aimed at startups that are a little further along.

Kindle Fire 7 Tablet ($49) vs. iPad mini ($399) — great conversation in the episode about this one from Corbett.


  • Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert — I’m loving these episodes with Liz. Many of them are short and sweet, and they hit the nail on the head when it comes to providing inspiration and the necessary mindset re-adjustments we need as people pursuing meaningful work.
  • Trint.com — quick n’ dirty affordable transcription service I’m loving for the Courage & Clarity podcast. I love having the text format of my interviews so I can read through, make notes and use them to record my intros + outros. Also a great service if you want to include transcription on your site for SEO & visitors who prefer reading over listening.
  • Woman Code by Alisa Vitti — a MUST for all our ladies (and guys who have ladies in their lives.) This book details a protocol for re-balancing hormones in order to achieve optimal health, fertility, mental clarity and vitality. Health should be a priority for all of us, but especially as entrepreneurs our mental state & physical body must be tended to. This book has changed the lives of many (myself included!)
  • Taco Bell is Launching a Brilliant New Lyft Feature Called “Taco Mode” — just for fun, because I mean, what?? 😃 Taco Bell realized that 14.8% of its customers visit between 10pm – 4am. Though it’s goofy, this is an example of observing a market, listening to your customers and treating every business idea as a hypothesis worth testing.


The Defiant Ones: A 4-part, nearly 5 hour documentary film portrait of two visionaries that illuminates both their colorful pasts and their historic influence on the music industry. The subjects are Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. HBO describes it as “a master class in how to work your way up from the bottom to beyond your wildest dreams.”

  • the filmmaking
  • the story
  • intersection of creativity and commerce

Magic Lessons Podcast: I love Liz Gilbert and I’m not afraid to admit it. Her podcast works like this: 1. regular people struggling to create something they want to create amidst all the daily life hubbub, 2. Liz’s excellent coaching, 3. excellent expert guests commenting on the creative process. I binged season 1 in 1 day.

  • The regular people
  • The experts

Peak Design Backpack & Tote Bag: Really well built and extremely thoughtfully designed bags. I especially am digging the tote bag as a daily carry bag (works like a backpack also, so great for when I ride my bike). I just love the way a great bag can make me feel a little fresher for a time.

  • Design thoughtfulness
  • Organization
  • Company marketing/positioning

Special thanks to our sponsor GUSTO: Sign up for Gusto today and get started with 1 month of payroll free when you go to Gusto.com/FIZZLE.

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/10-links-entrepreneurs-2017-fs226
via My Media Pal NYC

Are Pursuing Your Business, Creativity or Project Enough? (FS225)

As an independent, a full time indie-entrepreneur, a maker of things that sell, a creator of my own wealth, a designer of my own creativity over time, I feel a strong call to do more things my way for the results I want.

Which, for many of us, seems to beg this question: can you give more of yourself over to being a creator?

Often times I hear it referred to as “pursuing completely” — like, how completely are you pursuing your thing?

I think this plays solidly into that dream of being an artist who abandons herself to her work.

Like, many of us really, if we’re honest, feel like we should have that kind of abandon, conviction, sold-out-ness to the thing we’re pursuing. Right?

BUT, what if pursuing that thing is putting other things in our life in jeopardy?

What if we want to pursue our blogging more completely, BUT our blogging isn’t contributing to our financial needs yet. We want to give blogging more time because maybe that’s what’s necessary for us to even get to a place where we can generate revenue, BUT, spending more time there may take away from the job that IS earning us revenue, or our family or other relationships that might be good for us to keep in tact as well.

So, today we are going to talk about this: how much are you pursuing your thing AND how much SHOULD ANY OF US pursue our thing?

Should we leap with abandon and trust the universe and the intention of our hearts to construct the solution in real time? Or does being cautious really give us a better chance at success?

Let’s get deep

In case you aren’t familiar with what we do here, we make honest, in-depth conversations on topics like these for indie entrepreneurs.

It’s like hanging out with really experienced entrepreneur friends.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to our podcast in your podcast app and get every new episode as it comes out.

Here’s the podcast conversation where we go deep into the topic for this article:

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A Fizzler Shares his Story:

In the episode you’ll hear from Paul, who sent us a really nice audio note which sparked this whole conversation.

Here’s a couple notes from Paul’s audio note:

  • I always dreamt of making a living off creating content that i care about. I’ve made content, but I’m not earning a living yet.
  • I once hid from a young creative entrepreneur in the restaurant I worked at. They had pursued it completely, I knew in my heart that I wasn’t pursuing it completely.
  • I felt shame because I knew in my heart that I’m not pursuing what i really want with everything I had within me.
  • I realize now I need to be open and admit to people I need help pursuing what I want to do.

Paul, thank you so much for being a part of the Fizzle business movement and for sharing your voice with us.

“How cautious should you be in your creative business?”

Money is not the point

A little while ago Corbett Barr wrote an article titled Money is not the Point. He brings this up in our response to Paul’s story.

If you talk to Paul just about his art, not about his money or job, I bet Paul could talk all day on it. How did he land those guests? What’s it like to talk to someone with so much gravitas!? (Paul has had a long-time radio show and interviewed tons of big guests.)

But when you’re talking to peers, money is used as a measuring stick a lot of the time.

Sometimes this is how we judge ourselves and how completely we’re pursuing our creative work: how much money we’re earning from it.

Do you think that’s the right stick to measure our conviction and creativity by?

The Influence Error

In step’s response to Paul’s not she kept thinking of the word “influence.”

“I think about how this manifests on social platforms. A lot of us fall into the trap of competing with our peers. What if you just thought more about your customer?”

Who cares if your peers find your stuff? Who cares what peers think of your stuff?

To these questions Steph responds: what if you cared more about your audience and the problem you’re helping them solve?

She continues: “This kinds of thoughts have helped me around this topic because my whole energy changes when I really connect with my audience.”

Picking a better metric

Both insights from Steph and Corbett are bang-on in my experience and point to the fact that we’ve got to be very careful what we measure ourselves by.

If you worry about not being committed enough to your creative work, DON’T judge yourself by either money or peer influence alone.

Money matters, but it’s not the point.

Influence and respect is, for many of us, essential, but might be best treated like salt in a recipe: you can overdo it.

So, be careful how harshly you judge yourself by these two metrics.

The Shame Game

Now, Paul bravely confesses to feeling some shame in his audio note. He effectively hides from seeing someone in a restaurant “because this other person is ‘pursuing it completely.’”

Paul continues, "I felt shame because I knew in my heart that I’m not pursuing all that I want with everything I had within me.”

These are just the words he used as a kind of shorthand, but I think it’s something a lot of us have felt.

“I wish I was pursuing this completely.”

“I need to be pursuing this more.”

“Things will work out different for me if I was pursuing it more completely.”

The first step here is to acknowledge that we all have an obstacle that keeps us from going all in. To some degree all of us have some kind of experience with this.

And so this is how we disarm the shame like this: we see it, we share it.

“Shame cannot survive being spoken, cannot survive empathy.” – Brené Brown

“Paying The Bills” vs Exploration

“The thing that I’m constantly concerned about is “paying the bills.” Sometimes I feel like as a business we have to pay the bills, earn a living, and maybe that keeps us from going ALL IN on something that could be really magical for us. Maybe we need to cruise up to the arctic and take a crazy step to find the magic for us. Maybe that’s the case for Paul too, and many of us.

I don’t know though, it’s really hard to know what you should do. I’m one to be a little more conscious. Experiment with the new thing a little bit before cutting off all ties, revenue sources, whatever it is, before jumping off because maybe then you’ll have a better shot at both fulfillment and achievement.” ~ Corbett Barr

The Bid for Balance

So, to me this seems like a place for a very delicate balance.

Now, I personally have had times in my life where I KNEW I wasn’t giving myself over completely to a thing that was kind of calling to me.

I think a better language for that might be: I wasn’t totally acting in accordance with my conviction — that I really desired to head a certain direction but I was too afraid in my mind and didn’t let myself fully engage in that direction.

This is a repressive posture — kind of like the mind repressing the heart, for lack of better terms at the moment.

So clearly there is a way to live that’s too imbalanced in favor of fear, leaning too hard towards “what will they think!? Who do I think I am!?”

So, we need to balance that with our heart, our desire, being honest with ourselves that, “hey, actually it feels really good to go this way and I really want that.”

But it is also possible to have an imbalance of too much heart, too much desire.

You really love making comics, so fuckit, let’s spend all our time doing that and hope the universe takes care of us. I don’t think that’s serving your desire very lovingly. I think that puts too much pressure on the shoulders of your creativity.

It’s very dangerous to think, “Hey, I’ve repressed my natural creativity so much, and it feels so good to pursue it, so I’m going to just flow completely towards that feeling even though it’s scary and go super hard after it, pursuing it completely.”

It might be the right direction for you to head more towards the heart (in my life it clearly has been), but you can head gently in that direction. You don’t have to drive 100 miles per hour to arrive safely at your destination… in fact, maybe going that fast makes you less safe.

Now, in Paul’s situation, I hear something that is absolutely magical: I hear heading towards better balance.

It’s almost like he’s saying, “I’ve been too afraid to pursue harder what I know has been calling me. I’m ready to lean into the fear a little bit more and surrender a little bit more of myself to this thing.”

“I’ve been too afraid to pursue harder what I know has been calling me.”

I think this thing that Paul is saying is SACRED, you guys. To head towards that calling AT ALL is a kind of sacred path.

And you don’t need to head towards it at 100MPH to be in the flow.

So, as you think about your creativity, look for the BALANCE for YOU right NOW.

As you think about whatever thing is the thing that makes you feel the “oh my gosh, this might not work” feeling, look for the BALANCE… for YOU… right NOW.


Those three words: balance, you, now. What is the balance of courage, for you today… that’s the way to think about this question, about if you’re pursuing it completely or not.

Because we can obviously live with too much fear and not enough passion or desire or feeling. But maybe the other side is true as well: we can live with too much blind passion that we’d actually enjoy a lot more if we allowed ourselves to go a little slower, drive at a more sustainable pace.

Maybe in this sense we can not only live passionately, but also be good stewards of our passion.

Getting to Minimum Viable Income

A specific business element that may help many of us is getting clear about our MVI — “Minimum Viable Income.”

This is a concept we created to answer this question: how much money do you need to make in order to support yourself (and possibly a family) on a monthly basis?

Learn more about your MVI »

Ok, How about you?

What makes sense do you about this question? How do you feel about how “completely” you’re pursuing your thing?

Have you learned anything about this on your own journey so far?

We’d love to hear it in the comments below. Please share!

Thanks for reading. Hope this was helpful. Please share if it was!

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/pursuing-businesscreativityproject-enough-fs225
via My Media Pal NYC

Why You Don’t Feel Confident (& How to Fix it) FS224

How can we decrease the volume of fear in our head and increase our feeling of confidence? Because, for many of us, if we can do that, won’t our work have a better chance of succeeding?

“I got this!” That’s the feeling we want. “I got this. I can do it.”

You know what I think of when I think about confidence? I think about the difference between “this MIGHT work” and “this might NOT work.”

Which way does the voice in your head normally sound like? For many of us it’s WAY more common to resonate with “this might NOT work.”

Truth is, for many of us, it’s difficult to feel positive, optimistic or confident about a creative idea or project.

Does your head sound like that?

Well, you’re in for a treat because you’re about to hear things you need to hear about confidence, how to grow it and how to change that dialogue in your head.

Because you need confidence to take the right kind of risks, and success for us independents relies on us taking the right kind of risks with the right kind of energy and outlook.

So, first of all lets talk about what I call the “Necessary Delusion” of being an entrepreneur.

The Necessary Delusion

If you’re going to TRY, you need to think you have a shot… at least a little.

That’s the Necessary Delusion, the voice in your head that says, “hey, I don’t know, maybe we could do this. I mean, it’s not like we’ll hit a home run our first at-bat, but maybe we can do something in that direction.”

It’s like a little bit of delusion because you have to have the audacity to think you CAN, JUST MAYBE, A LITTLE BIT do this thing you’re dreaming of doing.

And it’s necessary because… well, frankly, if you don’t have that little voice in your head you’re never going to take any leap. You won’t jump ever. You’ll be too afraid, too hopeless.

So, that voice in your head that feels confident and optimistic about your chance, it’s necessary, but it’s also a little delusional.

The “Other” Voice

But there’s this other voice in your head, right? The one that’s really super extra good at shutting down any creative ideas. You know the one I mean, right?

This voice we’ve called things like “gremlin” or “fear,” and for some of us {raises hand} it sounds like a drill sergeant screaming down at us.

And some people have told me over time, “you should kick fear in the face!”

But I much prefer this frame: That voice of fear in your head, it’s not so much an enemy of yours as it is a kind of bodyguard. Think of fear like a bodyguard, a big, strong, kinda dumb body guard. It just wants to take care of you! And it’s trying to do that the best way it knows how.

When I think about it this way it changes how I relate to fear. If you want to learn more about that, you can check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic which blew my whole creative mind and I sleep with under my pillow every night just in case word osmosis through pillows is a real thing.

OK, back to the matter at hand: why do we lack confidence?

Why We Lack Confidence

We lack confidence because one voice is simply too loud right now. Your fear is a bit too loud in your head and we need to bump up the enjoyment, the freedom, the optimism.

We need to turn up the “this MIGHT work” and turn down the “this might NOT work.”

Ok, so first of all, here’s what you need to do right now:

You need to listen to this podcast episode. I don’t care if you “aren’t a podcast listener.” Get a podcast app on your phone, find The Fizzle Show and click to listen to this episode as you go on a walk or something.

Listening to this will change the way your brain thinks about this. At least for a little while. Ok? So just do it.

Mandatory listening:

It’s better to listen on the go!  
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“Why you don’t feel confident (& how to fix it… for reals)”

Ok, now, let me show you a few notes from this show.

All of the training and ideas are in the show, but I’ve pulled out some notes here you can come back to again and again.

These notes will lack context and meaning if you haven’t listened to the podcast episode above!

1. We're putting a lot of pressure on ourselves.

Pressure to reach a certain point, gain expertise, match up to other people.

You might feel a lot of pressure to be further along than you are right now. You feel like you should be further along. You want to be seen as an expert, you want to be an expert, you want to BE DOING IT. You want to be THERE, wherever “there” is for you.

And until you're there — at this undisclosed, desired point — you’re going to, basically, beat yourself up.

Sweetheart, this is not where your best work will come from. This is not how your path is asking you to behave. OK? Take some pressure off yourself.

2. Take action.

Lack of confidence leads to hesitation, which leads to less action which leads to less confidence! It's like a terrible reinforcing cycle, a snake eating its own tail.

Take action to grow in confidence. As you take the action in tiny steps, your confidence grows over time. It's gradual and we improve 1% every day.

Here’s a good way to think about it: be brave for 5 seconds at a time! Take action, let the action give you some confidence. Of course, this means the action we commit ourselves to today is something that feels just a little scary, but mostly totally doable.

Did you hear that? The action you’re committing to today can’t be something way too far down the road for you. You’ve got to keep yourself to something that a). you know you probably COULD do, and b). also requires a bit of courage for you to complete.

OK? Not too crazy here, alright? You want to take up surfing, don’t paddle out at Mavericks (a big wave spot for crazy people who are extremely good at surfing). You want to get into mountaineering, don’t buy a flight to basecamp of Mt. Everest! Instead, get a guide to take you on a local trip so you can see what it’s like and learn the ropes. To get the guide you’ll have to face a little embarrassment maybe, but it’s exciting because you’re on the path!

Note: hearing from your potential customers will absolutely, completely, radically shift your mindset and your vision. Take this course ASAP.

Seriously, there’s a particular way you need to talk to your people, this will teach you how. Finish it in the free trial. Just do it.

Yea, you gotta put in a credit card, yea you gotta make some time in your calendar (about 45m I’d say). But you’ll cancel right after you finish the course, never be charged, and your life will be different if you get to talk to a handful of your customers.

And yea, you’re gonna have to talk to people. I know, that sounds like a bummer, but trust me, you’ve got this much more than you know. The first one is awkward but you can absolutely do this and it gets much easier after that.

Besides, hiring a guide like Fizzle’s courses, community and experts to get you to your own goal of owning a real small business that works might be exactly what you need right now.

3. Know more about the process, the roadmap, of the thing you’re trying to do.

Lack of confidence can stem from a lack of certainty — not knowing the process, not knowing the subject matter, etc.

A great example of this is with public speaking. The first time you speak at an event is a cesspool of uncertainty. Who are the people that’ll be in the audience? What are they wondering about that you can help them with? What will you speak on specifically? Do you know this subject matter really, truly, deeply?

In that environment of uncertainty you can feel very unconfident. This is where the voice is screaming in your head: ”WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE WE DON’T BELONG HERE!”

Knowing the subject better, researching the audience, building on things that have worked in the past… these are the foundations of confidence. As I’ve spoken again and again I’ve learned more every time, and it’s grown my confidence enormously.

So, if you lack confidence in a thing you’re trying to do, acknowledge and accept that something in your psyche KNOWS there’s stuff you aren’t convinced of. It’s like it’s saying somewhere in a whisper, “I don’t know, guys. I don’t think we understand everything about this thing. We need to know more about how this works. We need to get better at this stuff.”

And you can choose to either “punch that in the face,” or instead respond with, “you might be right. How could we start learning more about this?”

And THAT is how you grow confidence… you take steps. You commit to a process of learning, a direction of regularly facing your fear a tiny bit for the sake of getting a better grasp on this thing you’re trying to do.

If the thing you’re trying to do is a business, then you need to have a process of learning what you need to know about business. Our Small Business Roadmap is literally the best tool for this… quick, totally understandable, guides you every step of the way.

4. Realize that confidence grows over time.

Confidence is not something you either have or don’t have. It’s something you grow over time.

Think about the process and functions of a business: from idea to customer to product to launch to growth, etc. The more you know about that process, the more confidence you'll have.

BECAUSE CONFIDENCE IS GROWN. We always talk about "growing" confidence, "gaining" confidence. This is how confidence evolves, it grows over time.

And again, we'd like you to think in terms of improving 1% every day. Moving from 0 to 1. Lots of great explanation of this in the episode. Must listen section where Chase talks about the Rob Bell inspiration!

5. You’ll naturally get a little more comfortable with uncertainty.

If you follow the first 4 steps, you’ll notice that over time you get more comfortable with uncertainty. It’s like you have a dialogue with your expectations: “Ok, last time we thought we’d publish a blog post and the people would just find us and love us. That didn’t happen, BUT that also doesn’t mean publishing the blog post was pointless. Maybe it’s just one step in many.”

This is why we say making a business is about having a hypothesis, being a researcher. Your job is not to make the impossible happen, it's to focus on what you can know right now.

Now, in the roadmap we have videos to teach you stuff like this. Here’s one of them that we’re making available for you here because it’s a really important lesson and we’re a damn generous company! (Just promise me you’ll watch this video about the roadmap too, okay?)



6. And finally, traction can grow your confidence.

Gaining subscribers, gaining traffic, gaining revenue… these things really start to grow your confidence. In the business world we use the term “traction” as a shorthand for stuff like this.

But this one comes last. Long before this one comes you have to start growing in understanding the process of your business, understanding your own conviction, understanding your own purpose in doing the business, how audiences and sales works, etc.

If you think you don't have confidence because you don't have traction, you're actually thinking backwards. If you want the traction, you may need to get comfortable growing the confidence first (using the steps above!).

OK, what’s the biggest thing you personally got out of this episode? Let us know below. We’d love to hear!

And please share this with a friend or two if you know someone who could probably get a little inspiration from this post.

Thanks for listening and reading!

“6 steps to feeling more confident in your creative work”

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/dont-feel-confident-fix-fs224
via My Media Pal NYC

How to Become a Successful Maker Without Destroying Yourself (FS223)

No matter what kind of business you’re thinking of starting, you have got to solve a REAL problem with a REAL solution.

We tear apart this idea in depth with Dan and Tom from Studio Neat, makers of fine, modern physical products.

They’ve just launched a brand new (and very unique) notebook on Kickstarter, and it hit it’s goal in just a few hours.

So, naturally, we wanted to ask them about what they’ve learned about business in their several years creating successful products from scratch.

Here’s three pieces of advice from them good for all of us, no matter the kind of business we’re running:

  1. It's OK to start really small. Because there are so many hard things hiding in product development (logistics, QA, fulfillment, etc.), choose to come up with a product you could find 100 people to buy. That way you'll get the entire cycle of how developing something works. Take a small bite at first, this will teach you enough to take a bigger bite next time.
  2. Don’t underestimate how much you have in common with your audience. One of the things that's really underestimated is that you've got all this knowledge about what you and your peer group want. So, trust a little in what you want. Trust that because, for example, if you're a young person you have insight into your peer group that doesn't exist yet. You basically have this big advantage that companies are spending millions of dollars on trying to research. We are very similar to our audience and that made a huge difference for Studio Neat.
  3. The trick is not "wouldn't this be cool", it's "oh there's actually real pain in my life about this thing, and this would be truly valuable." Focus on creating something really valuable/useful, instead of getting caught up in cleverness. It can be very easy to be precious about things or to value the wrong things (e.g., material choice that doesn't solve the problem, it's just a nice thing). This is known as “the problem of expertise.” The more of an expert you become the more you geek out on the details. But nobody else necessarily cares about the details; they care about the value/usefulness.

These are just a few of the conversation points we hit on in this podcast. Highly recommended listening, even if you’re not a physical product maker!


It’s better to listen on the go!  
 Subscribe on iTunes 

Subscribe (how to)  
Pocket Casts  

“No matter what kind of business you’re building, you have got to solve a REAL problem with a REAL solution.”

from Fizzle https://fizzle.co/sparkline/become-successful-maker-without-destroying-fs223
via My Media Pal NYC