Escape from Cubicle Nation Podcast
Advice, support and encouragement to stop being a corporate prisoner and start your own business

To round out the pricing series, I talked to my fellow business coach Sherry Garrity from Corporate Fugitive who illuminates some of the specific pricing challenges faced by corporate employees transitioning to entrepreneurship.

The three main challenges she talks about in our interview are:

  • Under-dreaming: thinking too small about the vision of what your business could be, and simply trying to match your salary as an employee
  • Under-pricing: not valuing all your experience, and using ineffective measures like billing by the hour
  • Under-billing: underestimating all the time and effort it takes to effectively deliver your products or services, or not charging the client for all the work you are doing

You can find Sherri at CorporateFugitive.com

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I hope you have enjoyed this series!  I have never done anything like this on my blog before (long-time readers are probably shocked to get six new posts in one week since I have been slacking on my writing lately!). If you enjoyed it and want to see more intensive discussions on particular topics, please let me know what you want to learn about.

Thanks for following along, and thanks to all my wonderful guest experts (links go to their interview in this series):

John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing
Mark Silver from Heart of Business
Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Andrea J. Lee from Thought Partners International LLC
Alexis Neely from Family Wealth Institute
Direct download: EscapePricing_SherriGarrity_09.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:32pm EDT

"There are a lot of business owners out there who are giving their stuff away for free because they don't know enough about pricing. That was my story," says Alexis Martin Neely, our next guest in The Price is Right Interview Series.

Alexis is a lawyer and founder of two million dollar businesses.  She is also the author of Wear Clean Underwear: A fast, fun, friendly and essential guide to legal planning for busy parents.

After quitting her job as an employee in a prestigious law firm to set out on her own, Alexis learned the hard way how not to run her solo practice. From these good lessons, she developed a very effective way to price and structure services, which parlayed into a whole new business line teaching and coaching lawyers.  Her current business, Family Wealth Institute serves both lawyers and small business owners.

In this interview, Alexis walks through some specific pricing structures for independent service professionals, as well as discusses her passionate views on charging what you are worth.

You can find Alexis at www.alexisneely.com.
Direct download: EscapePricing_AlexisNeely_09.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:52pm EDT

Andrea J. Lee, CEO of Thought Partners International LLC has been a huge influence on my approach to business since I read her book Multiple Streams of Coaching Income in 2006.

She is one of those rare individuals who combine clear business intelligence with wit and humor. Her coaching is said to be a combination of tenderness and bite. I could not agree more.

In this edition of the pricing series, Andrea will talk about Guerrilla Pricing Tactics including:

  1. The concept of free, which she terms a "pink spoon marketing." This is creating a business on the concept of generosity (much like you get with free tastes of ice cream from pink spoons at the ice cream shop).
  2. What too much free looks like in business, which can involve going to long at free and getting kickback when you start to charge for services.
  3. What too little free looks like in business, i.e. too little blog content and a quick sale of products.
  4. What is a product funnel and how do you use it to design your product offerings? The pros and cons of starting at the top or the bottom of the funnel.
  5. The why and how of market comparison in pricing.
  6. What are your values and brand in business and how does that impact the price points you choose?
 I hope you enjoy the conversation!

And if you get inspired to learn a lot more from Andrea, check out the live event she is hosting in Vancouver, Canada in March, 2010 called The Wealthy Thought Leader. (I will be there, and would love to see you!)
Direct download: EscapePricing_AndreaJLee.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

So much of what you learn about pricing focuses on the external market.

But in the daily practice of being an entrepreneur, much of the confusion and angst about pricing comes from an inner feeling.

Mark Silver, co-founder of Heart of Business, has a very unique perspective on the inner game of pricing which is specifically tied to the spiritual side of business. In addition to being a long-time business coach, he is also a Sufi teacher and healer.

Listen to our 40 minute conversation here.

Mark covers a very interesting exercise which he terms "resonant pricing." My good buddy Havi Brooks wrote a wonderful post about this exercise where she gives a specific example of how she applied it to a particular program she was launching with Naomi Dunford from Ittybiz. Read her example here.

Even if you pride yourself on having an extremely well-formed left-brain muscle, I invite you experiment with some of Mark's wonderful teaching.

Mark explains resonant pricing in a detailed post called The Wackiness of Resonant Pricing which includes a PDF with instructions. I used in on a group coaching call for KickAss Mentoring the other night and we got a lot out the exercise.

Find Mark at HeartofBusiness.com.

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Up tomorrow for the pricing series: Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You to be Rich who will share all kinds of juicy lessons for moving from totally free blog content to well-priced products and services.

Direct download: EscapePricing_MarkSilver.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:51pm EDT

I am thrilled to kick off a week-long series about pricing in small business with an interview with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing.  John is a well-known authority on small business marketing who has a very popular blog and speaking platform.

Despite his solid business background and decades of experience, the thing I like best about John is that he absolutely walks his talk. He is extremely grounded, kind and generous with his knowledge.

Listen to the 30-minute interview here.

Some of my favorite parts of the conversation:

  • "Price is a terrible place to compete. There will always be someone willing to go out of business faster than you."
  • There can be a backlash if you price your services too low, because your customers might think there is something wrong with you if you charge below the market, or that you cannot deliver the value promised in your offer.
  • "If people keep saying 'gosh, you are too expensive!' all that means is that you are not doing a good enough job educating them on why you are different."
  • Measure the results of your efforts by following up with your clients to see what value you produced by working with them. This can give you fantastic data, case studies, testimonials and a strong foundation for referrals.

You can find John at www.ducttapemarketing.com.  Also, check out his new course on Social Media Marketing at www.ducttapeu.com

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Tomorrow's guest expert on pricing will be Mark Silver from Heart of Business.

Direct download: EscapePricing_JohnJantsch.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

Smash your goals with a mastermind group

The biggest obstacle to business success is not lack of a great idea, but poor execution.

New entrepreneurs, lacking expertise or perspective, often struggle alone with starting or growing their business.

It doesn't have to be this way!

In my latest podcast (listen here), seasoned business coach and long-time small business expert Karyn Greenstreet describes the power of mastermind groups, which are small groups of 6-8 people with similar values and interests who help each other set and achieve really big goals.

Karyn attributes much of her current business success to her mastermind group, which she has been meeting with for 90 minutes each month for the past eight years.

In this 30-minute interview, Karyn explains:

  1. What a mastermind group is, and isn't
  2. Why they are critically important for entrepreneurs
  3. Who to select for your own group
  4. How to get a group started
  5. Where to go for more information

She has a free e-book which you can download at her site specializing in mastermind groups, www.thesuccessalliance.com

Her advice is to learn about mastermind by starting your own. I plan to do so myself to get 2010 to a great start!

P.S. I gush about Karyn quite a bit in this interview, and that is because A) I have been getting solid, practical free content from her for years and B) many of my clients and blog readers tell me how great she is. Marketing lesson: When you share great information freely and serve your clients well, business and partnerships come to you.
Direct download: greenstreet_mastermind.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

Web Startup Success Guide: Great advice from Bob Walsh While there are many core business practices shared among any type of startup, web-based companies have a unique set of opportunities and challenges.

Perhaps no one has studied these unique challenges more than Bob Walsh, author of 5 books, the most recent being The Web Startup Success Guide.

Bob has learned his field from the inside-out, creating and marketing his own "Micro ISV," (Micro Independent Software Vendor) business for many years, and advising many others on theirs in his consulting service 47hats.com.  He is also one of the moderators of the popular Business of Software forum on the Joel on Software blog.

In this interview, I talk with Bob about:
  1. Some of the unique challenges faced by web-based entrepreneurs
  2. Tools and approaches to making the start-up process easier
  3. Recommendations for those worried about colleagues stealing their great idea if they share it
  4. How to define the right problem to solve with your product so people are compelled to buy it
  5. How to use social media to connect with your community and promote your product
  6. Which tools you can use to get things done in your business
Direct download: BobWalsh.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:18pm EDT

Great advice for aspiring authors: Interview with 100 Business Books of All Time author Todd Sattersten My love of books goes back to when I was about three years old.

As soon as I could form the sentence "I want to go to the library," my Mom or Dad would take me every week to get a new stack of books.  I remember the smell as I entered the San Anselmo library and strolled through the aisles.  My senses tingled as I saw new stories, and I would have to negotiate with my Mom and Dad about how many I could carry home in a given week.

This love stayed with me my entire life.  Picture books turned into Miss Piggle-Wiggle, then the Chronicles of Narnia, then books about world mythology, then school books, then a phase of intellectual books to convince myself that I was smart like The Archeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucault.

About fifteen years ago, I fell in love with business books and have never looked back.  I never tire of reading new ideas and insights for how to start and run a business.

But the volume is overwhelming.

Todd Sattersten, President of 800CEORead, co-authored a book with Jack Covert called The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

I jumped on the chance to talk with him about the book, since I was really fascinated to understand the process by which they selected the very best business books.

As an author, I was excited to learn the criteria they developed to select one hundred books from the hundreds of thousands in the business category. The criteria were:
  1. Accessibility: Is the book understandable, easy to read, engaging?
  2. Applicability: Does it apply to today's business environment?
  3. Quality of Idea: Would we do this in our own business?
Favorite quotes from the podcast:

"I am amazed at how often authors overestimate their ability to be writers."

"The best books offer a promise to readers: This is what you are going to get out of the book."

Listen and learn!

And buy the book here.  This one's a keeper!
Direct download: 100Best_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:11pm EDT

The link between leaving your small cube and thinking big I think it was fate that Michael Port released his new book The Think Big Manifesto within a few days of the release of mine.

Becoming comfortable with thinking big and gathering the courage to leave a "safe" life in a cube behind walk hand in hand.

So I interviewed Michael about his book in this 20-minute conversation, where we talk about:
  1. Why you need to unhook from the "gurus"
  2. How your kids can push you to do your best work
  3. Why it is important to think big about what you do and how you operate in the world
  4. The benefits of collaboration vs. competition
  5. Our shared passion for martial arts, and the connection with thinking big
Direct download: thinkbig.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

Learn how to build your personal brand I will never forget reading Tom Peter's article The Brand Called You in Fast Company Magazine in August 1997.  Growth in Silicon Valley was sizzling hot, and the fresh perspective on personal marketing was totally new and exciting.

25-year old Dan Schwabel felt the same thing when he read the article, although it was many years later, when he stumbled upon it on the internet.  According to Dan, it summed up what he had been doing in his own education and career since Junior High.  So he made the decision to become the personal branding expert for the new generation.

Today, Dan releases his first book on the topic, called Me 2.0:  Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success.

I interviewed him in a 23-minute podcast where we discuss:
  1. How to build your own personal brand
  2. Can you still build a strong personal brand if you are no longer a young whipper-snapper?
  3. How to maintain focus on brand building in a busy life
  4. How to start small and grow your visibility in national and global markets
We can all learn from Dan's focus, drive and determination.  He is, like my other young mentors Ramit Sethi, Ben Casnocha and Shama Hyder, showing that experience is not the only thing that builds a great brand.

Enjoy the interview and grab the book
Direct download: Dan_Schawbel_on_2009-04-05_at_16.04.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:20pm EDT

How to become a masterful presenter with Nick Morgan, author of Trust Me I spent many years speaking to groups across the country, and even teaching presentation skills to hundreds of salespeople and engineers.

It was always fascinating to me since it combined so many favorite subjects:  motivation, communication, fear, physical movement, design and creativity.

In today's conversation with Nick Morgan, I took my learning to a whole new level.  His new book, Trust Me:  Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma integrates a lot of new research about the brain to help speakers become truly masterful.  We talk about:
  1. Why you do need to practice to appear spontaneous
  2. How your brain drives your body language which can make you lose credibility (or gain it) before you even open your mouth
  3. The specific steps to build great trust and credibility with your audience
  4. Why the "Tell em what you are going to tell em, tell em, tell em what you told em" presentation structure that has been the standard for years is totally wrong.  (I gulped a bit on that one, since I used to teach this)
  5. How to structure the content of your presentation for maximum impact
  6. Where to start if you are considering professional speaking as part of your business model or marketing strategy
Direct download: presentationmastery.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:25am EDT

Ready to freelance?  Learn from Michelle Goodman of "My So-Called Freelance Life." Just about an hour ago, Daniel Kehrer asked me (on Twitter of course!):  Are you finding lots more folks going freelance because of the economy?

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Glad you asked Daniel!

In today's podcast, I talk with Michelle Goodman, author of the new book My So-Called Freelance Life.  It is chock-full of information for people who are considering freelancing on the side, or as a full-time pursuit. 

Michelle and I talk about all kinds of nuts and bolts questions about freelancing including:

  • How in the world do you get your first client when you work full-time in a "real" job?
  • Should you ever work for free to get started?
  • How to you contract for work appropriately to avoid scope creep?
  • Should you bother to list your services on the "bidding" sites like Elance or Guru?
  • When can "competitors" be a great source of referrals for your business?

I think one of the best ways to test the waters of entrepreneurship, even if you are not ready to leave your job for a few years, is to do a freelance project.  Enjoy the conversation, and the book!

Direct download: freelancelife.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

Great way to start your year:  Set up a personal board of directors I may have set a new record for the shortest time from concept to production for a podcast:  20 minutes ago, I shared on Twitter that my best friend, Desiree Adaway, set up a personal board of directors last year and just sent me her annual report.

Desiree is the Senior Director of Volunteer Mobilization for Habitat for Humanity, and felt the need to get expert advice and insight from people she trusted and admired.

Many people were interested in hearing her story, so I called her up and recorded a podcast on the spot.  I hope you enjoy our conversation in which we cover:
  1. What is a personal board of directors
  2. How to choose good members
  3. How to make sure the relationship is mutually beneficial
  4. How to get the most out of the mentoring relationship
Desiree and I learned of the concept from Jim Collins in Good to Great.  Here are a few articles which expand on the topic:

BusinessWeek:  Good to Great Expectations
In Jim's own words from the Fast Company Design Conference in Phoenix, 2000:  Why have a personal board of directors?
Direct download: personalboard.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:44pm EDT