A-ha! Moments…


I live for those blinding flashes of insight that literally have you stop and go “wow!! I get it now!” Lucky for me, I have these “a-ha! moments” all the time, pero like, ALL THE TIME. And if you know me, you know my mantra: “the uh-oh precedes the a-ha!” In order to have an a-ha, there must be an “uh-oh” that necessitated it.

So recently I decided to learn about a-ha! moments, investigate them and start understanding why and how we have them — and how to have more. One thing I realized (a-ha!) is that one if the best times for me to experience the phenomenon is early in the morning, in that halfway period between awake and asleep. (Problem is, I’m usually so sleepy that I don’t want to get up and write it down!)

Well this morning, I had one, and I came here to write it — because this was my a-ha! moment (actually this was the uh-oh that preceded the a-ha!): I write thousands of words a day and have tons of original, interesting thoughts each day… Yet I struggle to put together content for my blog, emails and social media. What’s THAT all about? Ridiculous.

The realization I had right after that, is that all those thoughts are being recorded in random, scattered places, with a large chunk of them being written by hand, in Sharpie or just recently, by hand with a stylus the iPad “Penultimate” app.

My a-ha!: I love to write by hand. Instead if trying to fix or change that, why not embrace it and post those notes… Just as they are, in real-time? I can always type up an intro to explain them, if needed. Gotta figure out logistically how to make that work, but at least now I realize the big disconnect — I prefer to write by hand, and my notes are interesting and beautiful just the way they are — and now that I am aware, something can shift.

What’s the lesson in here for you? No idea. Why don’t you tell me!?

Ciao for now,
Michelle Villalobos (vee – ya – low – bos)


Climbing The Wrong Mountain

Last week I got a call from a man who wanted to find out if and how I could help his business generate sales online. All of his questions centered around tactical ways to drive business, but as our conversation progressed, it became clear to me that what we needed to be discussing was more strategic than tactical. I said as much to him, and he paused and said, “please explain what you mean.”
Rather than explain, I used an analogy. “Imagine you’ve got a team together to climb a mountain. You get your water bottles ready, you equipment together, you have team leaders, maps, compasses, everything… check, check, check. So you start hiking – your team works well together, you make great time, everything just goes swimmingly and you get to the top… only to realize you climbed the wrong mountain.”
Strategy is figuring out WHICH mountain to climb, and a big-picture plan for how you’ll do it. Tactics are everything that comes after that. In business, figuring out which mountain to climb involves questions like ‘Why are we in this business? Who is our target market? What niche or niches do we serve? What is our business model? Where is the growth in our industry? What is our pricing strategy? What messaging will attract our ideal clientele or customer base? And so on.
Because this gentleman came from a systems and operations background, he viewed business very tactically, and that was proving to be his biggest challenge, he didn’t “see the forest for the trees,” so to speak. He didn’t know which mountain to climb.
No matter what our background is, when we are working in our business day in and day out, we can get mired in the details of that business and can be blind to the big picture.
If you’re struggling with completing projects, assigning tasks and overall execution in business, you’re likely facing tactical issues. But if you’re struggling to attract business, grow your business and know where to focus your assets and energy in the future, chances are the questions you need to answer are strategic in nature.
As someone who values (and enjoys!) strategic planning, ideation and brainstorming, sometimes I forget that not everyone feels the same way.
My advice: every once in a while (at least quarterly), set aside some time – at least a day – to step back from your business and look at the big picture. I do this for clients all the time, and I did it for myself just last week. A whole day just dedicated to answering the big questions: “Who am I?” “Where am I going?” “What am I building?” And most importantly: “What’s next?”
Can’t wait to share what I came up with… Stay tuned!! And if you’re interested in doing some strategic planning with me, let me know! It’s my favorite thing to do. Call or email me anytime.


Forget Brand Loyalty… Try Brand LOVE

In business, the most profitable brands are those that people with money to spend LOVE (and love to HATE). Think about it: Apple (definitely has its fair share of lovers and haters), Christian Louboutin, Porsche, Whole Foods, and the list goes on and on…

By honing in on the real lovers of your brand, you can start to develop the most compelling messaging for them… which is the direct path into their hearts. And being in people’s hearts breeds loyalty.

On a related note, it also helps to “unload” those clients, prospects and audiences with whom you do NOT resonate.

Just recently I removed 20% of my contacts off of my email list. That’s right. I unsubscribed people from my own list. That may sound crazy to you… especially if you’re trying to build your email list. Why would I do such a thing? Simple. Metrics showed I didn’t resonate with them enough. And if I didn’t resonate, they’d never contract me or refer me business.

In addition to cleaning out my email list, I also eliminated several service offerings and stopped taking small, project-based or “one-off” clients (unless they pay a LOT more).

The result: some awesome free time to spend having a life.

Here’s to “blinging your brand!”

Michelle Villalobos (veeyalowbos)