I’ve been all over the interwebs and have found lots of amazing people, companies, tools and resources. I figured it would be super helpful to compile them all into one helpful place! If you have any questions about any of them or want to chat about a book you like shoot me a message!
Services & Support
Hiring a virtual assistant (recommended to me first by the 4-Hour Work Week mentioned below) always seemed like a good idea but I never really knew how I’d use one. I ended up hiring one in my transition out of a management role and into my coaching practice. This was the single most effective purchase I made in growing my business.
My assistant (and many others in the company) helped me find my apartment, create and design my website, manage my contacts, keep me on task and provide me the peace of mind that even if I took a couple minutes to go to a long lunch or stop off in the pool for some sun that my business was still moving forward. It was one of the most powerful tools for helping get rid of my “overwhelm” and I cannot recommend them enough.
I also love that you’re contracting with a company and not just an individual. If something were to go wrong you have a lot more options available than you do in a one on one hire situation. It’s the perfect way to get started with virtual assistants while you develop how you work with them.
Uassistme will listen to what your needs are and match you with a candidate who you get to interview first and if you sign up through my site you’ll get a free week to try it out! If you own your own business, work as an independent contractor or just feel overwhelmed by everything you’ve got on your plate this is an amazing resource.
Here are some of their plans:
Elance & Odesk
These are two other services you can use to find a virtual assistant. These will be more individual based and you can see ratings from former clients and judge whether or not they’ll be a great fit. You can find people who are more tailored to your specific needs at the time this way if you only have a quick project you’d like to finish up and don’t feel the need to hire a full/part time assistant. If you need to go project based then this is a great way to find who you’re looking for.
This one can get a little weird. The pro is everything is five bucks. The downside is you might not always get the best product. If you just want a handful of design ideas or something super fast like a transcription this may be the place to go. It’s also apparently the place to go if you want a customized video of an overweight man rubbing chocolate syrup all over his body while singing happy birthday to the lucky person of your choosing. Soooooo there’s also that.
The first time I read through this book it felt like the author had just been following me around in my head for the past 30 years of my life and telling me “hey I see what you’re doing and get why you’re doing it…buuuut maybe this is a better way?”. It really flipped how I approach my old sense of perfectionism which had for the longest time been pretty debilitating. While it’s still something I struggle with the insights here have influenced my learning style, my coaching style, my approach to practice/development and really shifted how I approach my life.
Sports warning! There are a lot of examples about famous athletes utilizing a growth or a fixed mindset. While that’s probably really inspiring for some…as someone who doesn’t give two craps about sports I feel you can read a couple and get the general gist. Fixed mindset = bad. Growth mindset = bad ass.
Dear Jen Sincero, you’re a rockstar to me. I love your face. Please let’s go visit 10,000 Waves together.
For everyone else. Go read this book (or listen to the critically acclaimed audiobook read by the author herself). This was the first real “self-help book” (gasp!) that I ever read that I felt really got me. Her unique voice and commitment to avoiding unnecessary woo-woo helped dig through my cool kid veneer to really start making some serious changes. I can say that this book was the one that really started me on my path to being a coach and I couldn’t be more thankful. Check her out at jensincero.com
You’ve already heard of this book just go buy it. There’s a lot of information here and not all of it will pertain to everyone. While there’s definintely a lot to be gained by selling products on the internet it wasn’t my focus. Maybe someday I’ll do it though and if I do, I’m glad I have this book to refer to. My recommendation is grab the audiobook and listen while you’re commuting, figure out the spots you really wanna delve into then read those. It can be a lot to take in while listening and I think having the material in front of you really helps. There are some real gems in here with a healthy dose of humble brag thrown in. Tim Ferris clearly has his shit together so he probably earned the right to drop a couple (hundred) of his laundry list of impressive feats in there.
When this book was first recommended to me I nearly lit it on fire because the font drove me nuts. I had a pretty entrenched idea that a “real” author would never have their font look like this and expect to be taken seriously. Turns out that’s not really the point of the book. Pro – because of the font it’s a super quick read but no less powerful. This was the book (along with my bad ass therapist) who really started pointing me towards some pretty deep self-hate that had plagued me since I was a little gay kid growing up in the hollers of south eastern Kentucky. It’s still a practice to this day I keep an eye on and I’ve recommended this book to tons of my perfectionist friends. We’re not perfectionists because we love it. We’re perfectionist because we’re covering up something. Generally it’s that we’re not thrilled with ourselves so if we can just get EVERYTHING RIGHT then we’ll show everyone we’re worth it…whatever it is.
Seriously, go get this book and stop hating on your shit.
This is the densest book on the list. I will admit it is a bit of a slog to read through it but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t totally worth it. The basic idea is that we all have a “winning strategy” that brought us this far. It’s been working for us for a really long time and we’re really good at it. At some point though, it gets us as far as it can and our life or business stalls. If we want to get through to the next level of whatever we’re working on we have to identify what our winning strategy is and start catching it in the act. There’s quite a bit more to it but as I said the book is packed full of info and I couldn’t do it justice in less than 30 pages so just go read it.
I bet you recognize the cover of this book because it’s everywhere. There’s even a coaching training program developed around it that I can only imagine is a wonderful feather in the cap of any coach. It identifies why most solo-preneurs fail and what you can do to prevent it. I love their ideas of 3 different types of hats a business owner has to wear. Practitioner – do the thing. Manager – Structure how to do the thing efficiently. Entrepreneur – Figure out where the thing can go. I’m simplifying of course but you get the idea. Hand, Head, Heart. We’re generally good at one or two of those but not all 3 and you’re going to struggle if you can’t train yourself in the deficient sides. A fantastic read for anyone thinking of opening a business or already in one.
I know I promised no woo-woo stuff here and I assert that I’m still holding true to that even with putting this on the reading list. Disclaimer: I am not a religious person. I am in fact generally an agnostic person but in that agnosticism comes a healthy dose of “hell if I know” which I’m happy to own as my thing. I’ve always thought that it’s pretty arrogant for someone to say “I KNOW THERE IS A GOD AND THE ONE I PICKED IS THE REAL ONE” just as much so for someone to say “THERE IS NO GOD YOU HAVE NO PROOF!” so I end up sitting in the middle saying “I’ve never seen God for sure and some of your ideas of what that might be don’t resonate with me but I can’t pretend like I know everything and there very well could be something out there I don’t know or understand…in fact it’s probably pretty likely there’s something out there I don’t know or understand…whether or not we call that God or spaghetti monster seems inconsequential.” /end disclaimer
If you’re someone who has railed against religion for a long time (like me) this is a great place to get some spiritual insights without it feeling too ooky. I again recommend the audiobook here because it’s narrated by Ed Asner and Ellen Burstyn and if someone is gonna play the voice of God it might as well be them. One note though they randomly switch voices sometimes in the middle of sentence with NO warning it’s coming, which can be disorienting at first. I thought I had skipped a section somehow in my pocket by accident when it first happened but you get used to it as you go along.
Dear Brene Brown – You changed my life. I’m still working at it but your stuff is made of magic fairy dust and I am so thrilled you exist in this world.
If you haven’t already seen her TED Talk click here and be prepared to have your world rocked. Then immediately go buy this book and devour it then go listen to her deliver her lecture series around it here. If you want to become a better friend, parent, partner or person then you owe it to yourself to check this out. She’s a delight to read or listen to and she’s got the academic cred to put her officially in the “impressive to death” category for me.
Oh look, more Brene Brown! Yup, go read this one too. I’d also recommend “I Thought it Was Just Me” but I haven’t read it yet and didn’t want to put it up before that. It’s on the list though! If you’re working on something big in your life (and if you’re on a coaching website right now I’m guessing you are) this is an amazing place to get some insight into what may be holding you back and offers some great advice on pushing through. (Hire a coach might even be in there somewhere…)
If you’re a gay man put down whatever you’re reading right now and start this. Dr. Alan Downs does an amazing job of describing many of the early experiences of “growing up gay in a straight man’s world”. It’s an amazing exploration of the idea of shame, authenticity, fabulousness, and love. I had about fifteen times while reading it when I thought “Oh shit, that’s me.” My partner actually read this first and tried to get me to for months but I kept putting it off. If you are a gay man and want to improve your life and your understanding of self, check this out. If you work with or know a gay man (you know you do and you love him) then this is an amazing way to get some insight. (Disclaimer: I know that every gay man has different experiences, families, quirks but this is a wonderful resource that speaks to the often shared experiences of gay men.) I love it.
I’ve got a huge professional mancrush on Seth. He’s written so much, spoken everywhere and is such a huge figure these days. If you’ve somehow never heard of him rush to his blog now and subscribe then buy the books, listen to the TED Talks and admire his socks.
“Sometimes the best thing you can do is quit.” This quick book focuses on figuring out when you’re needlessly pushing through a roadblock and when you’re just in “the dip” which is the dip between where you’re motivated to do something great and you’re actually accomplishing it. The Dip is gonna come and it’s gonna take some awareness to push through it but be sure you’re not wasting time pushing through an unnecessary one. Great quick read.
This book title has made it’s way into the modern business lexicon. Finding your tribe now that we’re no longer based around nuclear family units is more important than ever. We find groups of people “like us” who we identify with. We start to interact and move in specific ways with similar goals and hopes. Finding your tribe can be an amazing resource for you as a person and knowing how to market to your tribe can be an amazing resource for your business.
In a world full of information, advertisement and services how do you stand out? You gotta be a purple cow. In a herd full of normal cows you’d definitely notice a purple one. In a herd full of normal businesses you have to figure out what makes you purple and do it hard. Do you pay for the hotel rooms of your guests when they sign up for your retreat? Do you provide massages with personal valet service to and from your spa? Do you piggy back all your clients around the city? What makes you stand out? Figure it out and show it off.
Remember cereal boxes with prizes? As a kid you usually bought the cereal not because of the cereal but because of the prize. You’d think as adults we’d be so beyond that but Godin suggests we’re not. We still just want that added bonus and this book is full of practical ways to make your business stand out with that “free prize”. Can you delight your customers with something surprising? A free upgrade with every service? A social boost for using your product or wearing your gear? Free shipping with their order (thanks Amazon!)? Entice your market with a free prize and you’ll increase your value and up your sales.
Are you important? Well of course you are but your boss might not know…or your clients. Make sure you are able to show to the company that you’re indispensible. If you can make yourself the linchpin for your department, for your product, for your company, for your division, for your region, for your whatever then suddenly you’re holding all the cards. “Steve is the only one who knows how to edit this properly! We have to appease him!” These are the people who know what to do when no one else does or when the handbook doesn’t say anything about it. Linchpins bring their heart and soul to the work and because of it end up with the jobs they want and the freedom they crave. You can be a manager, you can be a laborer or you can be a linchpin. Which do you chose?
This is one of his shorter books and it is a recapitulation of a lot of stuff he covers on his blog (go subscribe now!) but the idea is powerful. The takeaway is everyone is weird now. We all have access to learn, buy or do whatever weird thing we’re into. Playing Dungeons and Dragons, wildly following a band for 50 concerts a year, making our own clothes out of old ties or even just riding our bike to work instead of our car can qualify us as weird in some circles and awesome in others.
Own your weird and do what you want and go for what you want because somewhere out there are other weirdoes like you and we can’t wait to meet you (or buy your stuff).
Another amazing author/entrepreneur mancrush! Daniel Pink was named one of the top 15 business thinkers by Thinkers 50 and it’s easy to see why. His work is well researched and extremely accessible. You don’t sell over 2 million book copies without having something pretty amazing to contribute (or angsty sparkly vampires).
Does selling make you feel ooky? It does a lot of people. We’ve got this image of schmarmy used car salesman attached to the idea of sales. Daniel Pink suggests we all do more sales than we think we do. When we convince our partner to go where WE want to go for dinner we’re selling the idea. When we get up in front of a group to present our findings we’re selling them to the person. Sure maybe there’s not monetary exchange but there is a process of showing the value for the person and sharing how it is in their best interest to “buy” what you’re “selling”. If you are a professional these days there’s almost a guarantee at some point you’re going to have to “sell” something and it’s time to get over your hang ups and see it for what it is, a mutually beneficial transaction. If what you’re selling isn’t beneficial well then maybe then you should re-evaluate the product instead of the action.
What makes you do stuff? What gets you off the couch and pulls you away from your Candy Crush or Flappy Bird? Is it the promise of more money? Is it the promise of fame? Prestige? Social justice? What actually drives humans to do things? Pink suggests that it’s not quite what we’ve always thought. More money = more drive. More drive = more productivity. More productivity = more money. Turns out it’s not entirely true. There’s actually a negative correlation between more money (after a certain point) and drive. If you find yourself stuck and unable to motivate yourself it’s a great place to check out. For a quick (and adorable) run down of the basic premise check out this video done by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).
I include this book as it was the first one that got me into Mr. Pink as a writer. It was a wonderfully affirming study that told me (as a young and somewhat burnt creative type) that my skills and abilities were not in fact soft and without value but that we were swinging into the era where they would actually be highly saught after and well paid for. If you’re a young creative type who feels stuck in a world of lawyers, mathematicians and corporate synergy business advisors check it out and feel better. If you’re one of those 3 I mentioned I know you’re still creative somewhere in there. Let’s find out where.
I use this thing every damn day. It keeps all my craziness in one (searchable) place. I can word vomit my ideas for blog posts, keep all my lists, archive all my copy for the website and generally just keep track of all my ramblings. It’s totally free and whoever made this I would like to hug.
I love reading but I’m also all over the damn place and I am not very good at reading on a crowded subway train while standing up and holding on to the bar. I see you mutant X-men who can handle this and am jealous. For the rest of us, Audible lets us get all our learnin’ in while on the go. I have torn through more books since using Audible than the past 5 years combined. It’s a monthly subscription that gets you 1 audiobook a month + huge discounts on most of their titles. It’s synced up with Amazon so there are some cool features to play with. They offer a free trial to see if Audiobooks are indeed your jam like they are mine. Click here for your free trial!
To do lists are the best and worst thing ever. I have experimented with online to-do lists for years and this has been the one I’ve found that offers me the best options and the most intuitive style. Things is built to work with the GTD or Getting Things Done methodology of David Allen. I took a Skillshare class a while back in an effort to get my shit together and the system they recommended was great and it has REALLY helped me organize my life (well a little bit more). It’s a pricey download and I know I was super hesitant but they give a free trial which you can check out here. Also before you write it off, check out some of the online tutorials with exactly what you can do with Things. That Skillshare class I took is here and definitely worth the investment.
We’ve all got a lot of stuff that we want to read. Our Facebook feeds are full of articles and links we’d like to check out but don’t have time right now. I used to end up with about 30 tabs open of articles I’d like to check out someday but couldn’t get around to immediately…that is until having so many tabs open crashed my computer and I lost them all. Pocket is great because you can install a widget directly on your Chrome browser and all you have to do is click the button and it’ll save it for later. When you’re in line, early for a meeting or just waiting around pull up pocket on your phone or laptop and check out all the articles you’ve been meaning to get around to. It’s also a great place for me to keep resources I like to send to clients.
For the record I thought meditation was ridiculous for most of my life. Sitting around chanting and doing nothing (so I thought) didn’t seem like the highest and best use of my time. Turns out though, almost ALL the development books/experts suggest some sort of a meditation practice so I set about trying to find one that made me roll my eyes the least. I bounced through a couple different options until finding Headspace which is far and away my favorite meditation assistant. You learn the basics through their Take 10, 15, & 20 programs and then you can focus on specific areas of your life. There’s a subscription fee for the full program but you get to try Take 10 for free! When I haven’t gotten Headspace for a couple of days I really start to feel it. Amazing tool for the meditator on the go.
In a past life I was a massage therapist. As a massage therapist my arms and hands got pretty tired. Even now, as a coach my arms and hands still get tired (these posts don’t type themselves). When I was convinced my forearms were just doomed to be tight for the rest of my life I found the armmaid. It’s $100 so I was a bit nervous dropping that much cash on something I’d never used but I took a leap and holy crap I’ve never looked back. This thing is amazing and if you have symptoms of carpal tunnel, sore wrists, pain in your hands or elbows I can’t recommend this enough.
Another roll over from my past life in the spa community is the Spoonk mat. It’s an acupressure mat with hundreds of super sharp spikes all over it. I saw it originally at a spa conference and thought it was ridiculous and a gimmick. They had me come over and stand on the matt (after having walked around NYC and the conference floor all day) while they gave me the pitch. I walked away without buying one but when I got back to my hotel I found that my feet and calves felt amazing and knowing my body that was ridiculous after all the standing/walking I’d done. I ran back the next day and bought mine and I love it. If you have troubles falling asleep, stand a lot for your job or just like the idea of your own bed of nails check it out.
You may have noticed my man crush on Seth Godin above with all the books I listed of his. Well that man crush really developed out of reading his blog. He sends out little tips and nuggets of wisdom almost daily and his stuff really makes me think and inspires me to do the damn thing. Go sign up now. You won’t regret it.
Tim has some great blog posts over what it’s like to be a coach. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone who is thinking about becoming a coach (check out these posts) or someone who is working on developing their practice. I appreciate his no-nonsense style (which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea) but even if you’re not a fan of his style you’ve got to respect his content. He also leads a wonderful “Coaching the life coach” class which I have taken. Definitely worth checking out. You’ll get a ton of resources from the class and if you’re looking for a website review he’s a wonderful person to give you some real tips on design, SEO and social media.
Pat is all about setting up passive income (and idea that I first really started learning about from Robert Miyzaki of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” fame). He’s got some great start up tricks for figuring out a passive income stream and making it happen. While I’ve not instituted as much of Pat’s outline as I would like yet it has been a huge help in figuring out how I plan on setting up my business in such a way that passive income streams are an option. As someone who often related income to effort it was a huge mind shift for me.