Episode 220 | May 12, 2020

Unlock Your Creative Genius with Terri Trespicio

A Personal Note From Orion

Many plans have been impacted by this pandemic. It’s definitely been difficult for most of us. But let’s take this with a grain of salt and try our best to focus on the bright side. This can be the perfect opportunity to be more creative and resourceful. Maybe this is your time to try something new, and you just don’t know it yet. If you’re thinking of ways to pivot your work or business and clarify your branding, this episode is for you. 

My guest Terri Trespicio is an award-winning writer, speaker, and brand advisor. She helps professionals harness their creative genius. Her TEDx talk, “Stop Searching for Your Passion,” has 5.8 million views. She was named by HubSpot as one of the top 18 female speakers who are killing it, and one of the world’s leading creatives by Creative Boom Magazine.

Terri is such a New Yorker!  She’s straightforward, very genuine, and really fun to listen to. She’s going to give you so much to think about. You are going to love this episode!


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About Today’s Show

Hey, Terri and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast. It’s wonderful having you here.

Thank you.

Thank you. How is everything in New York these days?

Someone asked me if it was peaceful and I said yes, kind of how an apocalypse might be peaceful. As you can probably hear, unfortunately, we will have a lot of sirens in the background. In New York, you hear ambulances all the time, but when you hear them now it has a particular gravity because you worry that something very bad is happening.

Wow, yeah. I used to live in New York and I can’t even imagine what Manhattan looks like with no people.

It’s empty. It’s very strange. The other day I went for a run and I ran down the middle of the street, which you couldn’t normally do.

Do you run in Central Park or did they close the park?

Yes. I love to run the park, but people still are out there and I try to stay away from people, so I just run down Central Park West in the yellow line, the double yellow line. I just ran that way.

I used to run in Central Park when I trained for Tough Mudder back in the days. I was never a runner, but I had to learn how to run. I really enjoyed it. Terri, I’m so happy that you’re here because what we are going to talk about is so relevant to many people that are looking to reinvent themselves and looking to create more financial stability in this very unstable time. Before we start, can you share a little bit about yourself?

Sure. I am a New Yorker. I’ve been living here for 10 years. In my earlier part of my career, I spent as a magazine editor for Martha Stewart for one of her publications that she acquired. I spent a lot of time with words. I was a writer, then I worked as a copywriter, but the big part of my career that really made me feel like I was on the right path was when I was working as an editor because I got to be in the business of magazines, which was really fun and exciting in the world of health and wellness.

I got to do that because I was working at the magazine, I got to do TV, radio. I got to host a daily radio show. I got a lot of wonderful experiences, and then I got laid off. As happens to lots of people all the time, especially now, but especially in the case of magazine publishing, it is hardly a headline to hear that a magazine has laid off employees. That happened to me eight years ago, and that was another critical turning point. I’ll tell you this, I decided not to apply for another job.

Now, most people, the minute they get unemployed they’re like, “I got to go get employment. I got to get another job.” In truth, I could have gone and applied for another job at another magazine, but in my heart of hearts, I already did that job and that job is over, so now what? I never went back and applied for a job and I never got another job. I decided that I wanted to figure out how to serve people using the skills I have without doing it in the traditional way.

It’s almost a decade. Now, I’ve been my own boss longer than anyone was my boss before. Let me tell you, it is not for everyone. It’s not the ultimate accomplishment to work for yourself. It’s great if you like that, but for some people, they really like being part of a team. I’m careful to say it like that because I don’t want people to think that because someone decides to go into business for themselves, they’re somehow better than someone who didn’t. The hard fact is that a lot of people who are laid off may be forced to be working under their own steam for a while. It would be helpful to talk a little bit about that.

Manage your energy in order to manage your business. Click To Tweet

Both my husband and I have a home-based business and we got hit pretty bad with everything going on.


Everyone and especially when you work for yourself, you are not immune. It can be a rollercoaster sometimes. Sometimes you’re living the life. This is awesome. Some days, you don’t know what to do and what’s going to happen tomorrow, and you have to just keep going and keep the faith that everything’s going to work out.

Yes, but also remember—you know this already because you run your own business—people sometimes say, “Well, I want to work for myself because then I don’t have to answer to anyone but me and I get to be the boss.” Someone else is always signing your check. If you’re the boss, you can’t write yourself your own checks, you have to have someone paying you.

The difference between having a full-time job and working for yourself is that with a full-time job, you have one boss, When you work for yourself, you may be your own boss, but you have many bosses because now you mean to get paid by lots of different people. This idea that somehow I’m freewheeling, nothing’s predictable. If you lose your job, you’ve lost everything in a day. When you work for yourself, the chances of you losing all of your clients in one day are very slim, although everyone’s being hit by the tanking economy right now, for obvious reasons.

We never know what’s going to happen. There’s no one who’s immune, full-time employed or self-employed, but I wouldn’t change how I’m doing it now.

I’ve been talking to many people and messages came back over and over again that life is never certain, but now with the blanket of the heaviness of whatever is happening right now, people are facing uncertainty because we used to feel more invincible. With everything that’s going on, there is a lot of fear.

We were never invincible. We were under the illusion.

Exactly. That’s the idea that we’re more into the illusion that we were invincible and now there is something bigger than us, there is a bigger plan, and we need to co-create, we are not the creators.

That’s right. I totally agree with you.

How do you help people? If somebody lost their job right now—I have friends who lost their job as well—if they’re looking for different ways to create a new source of income, what are some ways they can go about it?

I realized I didn’t even say what it is that I do now. I mean, I was a magazine editor.

I forgot to ask you because I’m so excited about talking to you.

I do work as a writer, speaker, and brand advisor. What that means, since it means everything and nothing, is that I am an expert in helping people identify their key message and help them surface their own creative genius to make that message sing. I work with individuals, I work with teams, I train people to speak, I help them craft their messaging for websites. It doesn’t actually matter the medium. To me, it’s always the same thing. Everyone feels a particular level of pressure to communicate the value of what they do.

I am not a job or career coach or anything like that. I can only speak from what I’ve done and what I did. I found this helpful for me and it might be helpful for people out there who are finding themselves without jobs as well, or worrying that now they have to pivot. Yes, we all have to pivot. I make a good piece of my income every year speaking, and I go to events, I get paid to speak of those events, and I also then got a lot of business from those events, and when this hit, I lost all those events.

All of the places that I was going to go and thought I was just going to be making a list of prospects, all of that disappeared in a day, actually. Two of my major events which would have been incredible lead generators for me were canceled. I do a lot of work with financial services, not because I picked them, but because I found some traction with them. I spoke at one event and spoke another. If I were invited to go speak to the Dog Walkers Association, I guess I’d have a lot of dog-walking clients.

A lot of it has been an accident. It’s been an accident who I ended up with, but there are two things I want to tell you. One is, I cried for a day when I saw those events canceled. I sat on my couch and cried, and then I said, okay, time to tap dance. Time to turn around, pivot, and figure out what you are going to do. When you lose a job, your events are canceled, or something like a pandemic sweeps the entire globe and everything goes away, rather than worry, who can I get to give me money, because that’s a very grasp feeling. Who’s going to give me money? That’s a beggar feeling.

I didn’t think that. I think that’s a terrible way to go about it because then you worry that there’s not enough money. The amount of money in the world didn’t go away. It froze because everyone got scared. It’s not that the money is totally out. The money is gone because it wasn’t coming in. It’s frozen. Just like if the pipe freezes, I have no water

What I said to myself then when I first got laid off, and what I said to myself now when all my events canceled, which was the second major time I think that everything was wiped clean, I said to myself the same thing I said eight years ago. What do I do? What can I do? What are the services I can offer? What skills can I bring to bear? And what needs do other people have? It’s fine if you’re a writer and feel like writing. Good for you. It doesn’t mean something’s going to pay for it.

You have to think, what do people need. For instance, another thing that got canceled this spring was a really lovely retreat. I lead these small, intensive, wonderful retreats for a few people to come together and spend the weekend writing and digging into their own passions, ideas, stories, and we do really great work together.

We can’t do that this time, so I said, people still need that. I didn’t go, what do I feel like doing now, and how do I get people to pay me? I said to myself, what do people need now most and how can I help? I’m not a doctor. I’m not a firefighter. I’m not a ventilator maker. I have to reach other needs of people, and the need that I could reach is they need a place to have a creative outlet. They need to let off steam. They don’t want to feel alone. They want to feel connected. I can do that. I will take my writing workshop and I will put it online and I will make it free.

Be a problem solver if you aspire to be your own boss.

That’s so beautiful.

Thank you. I would like to meet more people, and for sure it is self-serving, but it is also serving. It was serving other people, so I said, let’s do this. I’m going to do a five-day challenge. Join me and I had it. It’s over today, a morning session and an evening session. I am a small company. It’s just me and a few contractors. I’m tiny. I don’t have a huge following. I don’t have a huge list. I have a good list but it’s small.

I wrote emails, I put things on social media, and I pushed it out there. I said, “Who wants to come and write with me? Who needs this right now?” Would you believe at this point, I have over 400 people who said I want to. That blew me away. Now it’s free, so they just come. Four hundred people didn’t show up. Four hundred people signed up because people sign up for stuff all the time; they don’t show up. But on these calls, twice a day, I’ve had between 50 and 80, maybe or more people who showed up.

They light me up. I’m so excited. I don’t even see them. It’s a webinar, so I can’t see them, but I see that they’re there. We’re chatting, and I lead them through a little meditation and writing exercise, and then I let a few people read their work. I’m telling you, I know this workshop-style that I do. It’s called the Gateless Writing Approach which I have been trained in. It’s very small and not very known yet. I’m 1 of only 60 teachers trained in the world with this particular approach, and I’ll tell you about it in a minute.

I said, this is moving and important not for them only, but for me. I felt excited. I had a reason to get up, do my hair, get in front of the camera, and do it. It was amazing and fun, and people were sending me emails, thank you so much. Orion, this is not connected to a paid offering because I also do this for a living. I made the offer and invitation to people who wanted to join me. I’m running a six-week program and there’s a cost. There’s an investment associated with that.

I don’t expect everyone to do it and frankly, not everyone should. Not everyone has the money to do that right now, but of all those people I’ve had a small group, maybe at this point, there might be more under 20 people who said, I will join you on that journey. I want to do that, and now I have a group of people that didn’t work before now I get to work with them, so yes, it did turn into a paid thing, but I gave a lot too.

My advice to everyone, it doesn’t mean you’re going to run a writing workshop that’s not for everybody. What can you do? Write down two columns. The first column, write down the things that you think people need right now that you would love to help with. What do they need? Connection, a bunch of things that you think people need right now, that you address in what you do, and then do another column. All the things you wish you could give them.

What are the things you wish you could give them, and then look at the lines that connect those two things, the things people need, the things you can give them, and what way can you give it? What way can you do that? Maybe it’s in writing, maybe it is in doing videos, maybe you want to have free workshops, maybe you want to do whatever, but figure out from your bag of tricks yours, no one else’s.

What would you love to do for people that they need now, and then your marketing materials or whatever you do to share that invitation should reflect what they need, not what you do? No one actually cares what we do. They want what they need.

That is so powerful, and I’m at a place right now where I wanted to do a Facebook Live for the longest time. I used to do Facebook Lives in the past and videos and now I’m a new mom and really busy with my little boy. It’s been a week and I’m procrastinating. I know that I can share a lot with people and I can help there. I think my thing is to help people’s hearts and to light them up.

I’ve been just not wanting like, there is this conflict in my mind like I want to do it but I want to hide at the same time.

Why do you think that is?

I think I’m just tired. I don’t sleep well.

Well, yes. First of all, it’s not overlooked the fact that you are already providing a service because you do provide content that is accessible to anyone who is within your show who can find it can listen to you. You already are creating a lot of content, but there is something that I heard said that during times like this, even though a lot of us are not moving, we’re barely leaving our houses, that there’s incredible weariness, there’s exhaustion because our brains are having to think about things they never thought about, and worry about things we typically don’t worry about.

That has its toll. Of course, you need to rest. You also are a new mom. That has its own weight just on its own of exhaustion. We do not want to work ourselves to the bone. I think that’s important. I think part of it is choosing. What do you want to help with? You don’t have to do a Facebook Live. It’s more like, well, what would you get from that, and what do you think you can offer from it?

That’s why I think this exercise and I’m going to do it after we finished recording, I think it’s so powerful because I think this is actually something that can create momentum that gets the juices going, because when you see this, and then this is what they need, and then I’m a giver at heart. I always want to help people. I always want to be there for everybody. It fuels me to know that I can provide something that can help people.

I think just linking those lines of what the people need and how I can give that to them, just seeing that on paper will be powerful for me personally, and I’m sure for everybody that is going to do this right now. After you listen to the show, you have to take action. Don’t just listen and say, “Wow, she was amazing. That was great advice. I really enjoyed listening to her, I can listen to her all day long.” It’s not all about listening. It’s about taking massive action, even if you’re a little tired, and that’s okay. It’s okay to rest but after you rest, go and do it. It’s not a difficult exercise. It’s a very powerful exercise, and I think it can help a lot of people.

Does it just take you out of your own head about what will I get paid to do? What could I do? By the way, we’re talking about doing free stuff to help and be of service because so many people are doing it, but it’s also okay to offer things in exchange to be paid. Right now, there’s also some guilt well, known as money right now, so now I feel bad asking. Remember that the economy may be down but there’s still an economy. It’s okay to give something but then for another level of service to charge for it and to charge something that is fair for your time.

I did give, I worked a lot of free hours this week doing that, and I loved it. But then remember, I did offer something that was paid, and then a few people did join me. I don’t want people to be afraid that they can, especially if you work for yourself, or you’re about to start. You know that times are difficult, but can you offer tiered offerings? Can you think of things that would have value for people that they need, because we don’t have a lot of money coming in right now, maybe, and depending on the business you’re in all that, but there’s also a lot of money not being spent.

If you love what you're doing, you wouldn't mind how challenging things are. Click To Tweet

I’m not out buying dinner, I’m not paying for drinks, and I’m not spending money that I would have normally spent. I have also saved quite a bit because of that, so then maybe I invest in something else. I don’t think we need to feel bad. I don’t think they have to be at cross purposes. I think we need to think about all those things. Orion, probably the reason I came across your radar and anyone who’s ever even come across me is because of that TEDx talk I did five years ago called Stop Searching for Your Passion.

It’s got almost 6 million people watching it.

It’s a lot of people and I’m nobody, I’m not famous. The reason people watch us is because the message matters to them. Had nothing to do with because it’s me. No one knows me. Let’s talk about it. Do you want to?

The title is Don’t Look For Your Passion.

It’s called Stop Searching for Your Passion.


That’s okay.

I wrote it wrong.

The same point, but if you type in don’t look, you won’t find it. If you type Stop Searching for Passion, it is one of the first things that comes up, and grew out of my annoyance at the advice that I had heard for years. That was, oh, if you just follow your passion, everything will work out and just follow your passion. I thought, why does that feel like such glib advice? It sounds like it means well, but often advice that means well doesn’t do much for me. I’m a pickle. I pick on things and I don’t like that. I’m a brat. I know it.

Sometimes when I get bratty about ideas is when I come up with a bigger idea. I came up with that idea, I just had it in my head, I had been laid off. I was trying to figure out what I’m doing right, and I’ll try this for you. By the way, how did I make money when I first got out, when I first got laid off? I reach out to the people I had been cultivating in my network and saying, what do you wish you had helped within your content or marketing? What do you wish someone could do for you? Let me do it for you.

I just took on projects and said, “Pay me this, and I’ll do this for you.” I just kept doing it, but I was just hand to mouth. I was just figuring it out, and then someone said, “Hey, there’s this big TEDx event that was the biggest one in the country. Someone dropped out, a journalist had to drop out.” So someone who does not even know me—I do not know this man personally—said, “Hey, our company sponsors the TEDx event. I see you on stuff. I feel like maybe you’d be good at that.” I said, “I wish I could and I go, sure.”

He put me in touch with the organizer. A lot of people put their friends and colleagues in touch with the organizer. He was fielding lots of requests to fill that spot. I was not handed that talk. I was one of several contenders for it, and he got on a call with me that day. I had not written a TED Talk. I had never applied for a TED Talk. I had no idea I was qualified to give one. He said, “What do you think you want to give a talk about?” I was like, “Well, I have a few ideas that have always bugged me,” and he was like, “Like, what?” I said, “I always hate this idea of fate. I feel like it’s very limiting, but I also hate this idea of passion.” He goes, “Well, why do you hate the idea of passion?” I said, “Because I love passion, like anyone, but I think it’s really annoying when people say that you should just follow your passion. Everything works out.”

He goes, “That is annoying, but why do you think?” and he just kept asking me, and I said maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that. He goes, “You know what? Why don’t you write up something about that and let’s talk again tomorrow.” I went off that call and I started writing. To me, I think the page is where you go to figure stuff out. I started writing the talk as if I were giving it.

I said, “Okay, I think this is one.” I sent a few lines. I sent a few paragraphs to him. We got a call because this is very interesting and we kept talking about it. Then he goes, “Why don’t you go and write a little bit more?” I wrote and talked to him every day for five days, and he just kept pushing me along and saying, “What about this?” He kept pulling it out of me, which is exactly what I do with people today, trying to get it out of them. Yes, he did that.

I go, “Okay, what about this?” and I developed the idea under his… not tutelage. It wasn’t telling me what to say. It was more like, while he was watching, I was figuring it out.

He was your audience.

He was, and then I go, “Well, what do you think, Mike? Do I need to buy a plane ticket?” The talk was a month away. This was not six months, someone had just dropped out. I go, “Do I need to buy a plane ticket? What’s happening?” He’s like, “Yeah, you got to buy a plane ticket,” and I was like, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Is this happening?” I was so excited. But the talk wasn’t finished. The answer, of course, is the question: if you don’t follow your passion, what are you supposed to do?

I didn’t know when I was booked to do the talk. I wrote that talk. Every night, I wrote a little bit more and a little bit more, and then he looked at it and said, “Well, what about this?” and we collaborated on it, because he thought it had promise, and the day I nailed that last line of the talk, which is two days before the event.

Don’t think you have to know all the answers going in. I didn’t know he gave me very good advice. He would look at something I wrote and say, “Now, why are you saying that?” I said, “I don’t know. I feel like people might want to know that I’ve done XYZ before.” He goes, “Nah, you’re writing that to make yourself look good. Take it out.” I was like, “You know? You’re right.” He said, “Whenever you’re putting something into a talk, try not to pad it to make yourself feel good. Take it out. This isn’t about you really. This isn’t about making yourself look good. You’re already on the TED stage, you’ll look fine. What is the real goal?” 

I learned a lot about how to shape a TED-worthy talk from him, I gave that talk and I said, “That was really fun. Wow, that was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had, I hope someone watches it.” Within six months, half a million. Within the year, a million people have seen it. Then every year since it’s almost a million year over year. That talk changed my life because it got so much traffic. People found me, they just invited me. I wanted to do more speaking. As a rule, you don’t get paid to do TED, but I started to get invited to speak places. As that talk got widely seen, it transformed my speaking career.

Here’s the thing. Since then, it is actually not that hard to get a TEDx Talk. There are just tons of organizations. They are all independently run TEDx. They are not from TED headquarters. TEDx is like a franchise. Anyone can apply to run their own event. That’s why they are a varying quality, and some of them are really crappy, and they don’t get the license again the following year.

Some break the rules, some do this, so you have to be really careful about which event. TEDx is not created equal. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity with one of the best produced, but even if someone invited you to go do a TEDx Talk in their stage is really crappy, and you’re not like their recordings of what they’ve done, maybe you don’t do it like, you can do it but the fact is, anyone could get a TEDx Talk, but is anyone going to watch it?

The average TED Talk has a couple of views, maybe 100, 200, maybe 2000, maybe 5000, but it’s very rare to get the kind of reach, and maybe it was a bunch of happy accidents. I don’t know. All I know is that the message mattered because people like me also hate that and I get emails from people all over the world who say, “I was feeling really bad about myself, that I didn’t know what my passion was, and you made me feel better.” That’s what the talk did. It made people get off the ledge and stop hating themselves. That’s how that talks served and became served. It worked.

I don’t think it was a series of happy accidents. What is it about you and the way you present your idea because a lot of people can present the same idea and need one to have the same gravity? What is it about you? I have my own idea of why.

I was going to say, I think you have an answer for that.

No. If you look into it, what do you think?

If I think I do it, I do think it’s the message. It’s partly knitted to me, of course. I could have written it and handed it to someone else. Maybe someone else would have delivered it. Maybe it would have gone well and maybe not. The irony is, someone might go, “Well, you really delivered it very passionately,” which is just funny.

You did.

I did. I believe this and this is either part gift or part skill and something I’ve learned is that I for whatever reason, it matters to me that people are not bored when they’re listening to me and that they feel they can trust and relate to me. I am less concerned with how I look. I’m less concerned with anyone else if I’m as good as someone else. I just say, “Listen, this is it. This is what I do and I have a gift.”

Develop a profound understanding of what people need by making yourself aware of the world you’re living in.

I believe that I have brought to shine over the years of being able to say things in a clear way that makes people think it was almost their idea. They feel that they own it and they like me for making them feel smarter. That is the key to a TED talk. Can you say something so simple that the person listening feels they almost came up with it themselves? That’s why when you try to be smarter, try to be above people, and try to say things over their head to feel smart, you lose. I think it’s part of the sound of me. I think there are people who like to listen to me, I guess.

I think it’s a lot to do with your sound as well because you are very interesting. You’re the opposite of monotone. There is so much variety to your voice and so much relatability. You come across as a very genuine person. There’s not a lot of ego in the way you weave your talk. You want to serve people, you want to sell your services, which is what we all want to do, and there is a lot of the passion, kindness, and authenticity that is coming through, and I think this is why people relate to you more.

I think it’s that I’ve always considered myself a bit of an iconoclast. I hate the go-along advice. I always have a little bit of a bone to pick with something but in a way, I make it funny. Being funny and making something the other people can laugh at, makes it more digestible for them and more fun for me. If I were just a brat and just picked on everything, well, no one would like me.

I like to say, are we really believing this right now? I love to cut through. I said, there’s no BS, there’s no room for it. We have to like to be honest to a fault. I do not like the ego, the posing, the guruing, and all that stuff has always driven me crazy. If we can just exactly cut through it, be truly honest, and not try to put on airs at all, then that matters. I believe that is the reason why I’ve been able to do what I do. That’s it, but I do believe the message counts as well.

Of course. The message counts and you gave that beautiful exercise of what do people need right now, and how can I serve them. Let’s say somebody did this and they figured it out. What’s the next stage? Do they create a challenge? How do they sell your services?

If you’re saying now that I’m here, I can try this. I want to try doing something on my own, in terms of running your own thing and getting your own tribe, and then ultimately serving that tribe for a living. The goal of that it never starts with, what can I do? What will people buy? Let me buy a ton of Facebook ads and throw it against the wall and see if it sticks.

My argument always, because I do come from the brand and the messaging thing, is you cannot sell to people that you’re not in a conversation with, especially if you’re doing a personality-based business, which essentially mine is because when people hire me, they get me. I don’t sell water bottles. People who sell water bottles, they do sell to people. Like, look at the really sexy water bottles, very expensive water bottles. You might go, well, they’re selling to people they don’t know. Yes, but they’re in conversation with people, they know who their people are, who’s going to spend $50 on a water bottle because if it’s beauty, someone who has money who believes in that.

Linchpin by Seth Godin

One of the people that I follow—speaking of gurus, he deserves it—his name, of course, is Seth Godin. He is one of the greatest. If you haven’t read anything by him, read Linchpin.

Purple Cow?

Purple Cow, of course, was his first and big one, but if you’re looking at what you can do in the world, Linchpin was probably my favorite. Seth is always saying the same great things in different ways over and over. You could read any of his books and get that message. Basically, He’s saying that if you really want to help as many people as you want to, then you cannot hide. You have to get out in front of people and share it knowing that some people won’t care.

Some people will criticize and be mean to you, but most people won’t even look at it. You’re not there to get the world to give you money. You’re going to reach out to the world with your offering, so that you can find the people who would naturally like you anyway. You’re looking for your people out there. You’re not looking to convert people. I hate this idea of converting. It’s like forcing someone to buy from you.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Thank you so much. I really appreciate you saying that.

Because you know what, I don’t really appreciate being converted. If someone gets me to do something, oh, they converted me? Screw you. I chose to do it. You gave me a good reason to do it. I think you have to treat your customers and your clients as humans, not as numbers. You cannot look at it that way. Most of us are running around things, we’re not dealing at scale. We’re not doing things like selling sneakers.

To start it, start having the conversation with the people that you want to have conversations with. Start giving them things. Giving them the insight, don’t just give them hacks and tips. Don’t start acting like an expert like I’m supposed to tell you how to run your life. No one actually wants that. If you want to pull people in, start talking to them, share stories, share your own vulnerability, share what happened to you and what you discovered. Then, they’ll listen to you.

You’ll come at them with advice. Oh, who the heck are you? I don’t come at people’s advice. I come at them by saying, “Here’s what I found. Here’s what I struggle with. What do you think?” You might start with just posting on your own social media, and being consistent about what it is that you’re interested in learning about them. You might call your friends. You might do a Google form and say to your friends, “Hey, I’m looking for people who are interested in doing XYZ? Do you know anyone? Would you have them fill this out just for me, just so I could learn, and learn from them, and maybe optional, put their email in so that you could ask them questions.”

When I created my first online course, I sent out a questionnaire and had people write in the answers. I didn’t guess multiple choice answers. I don’t know. I want to know what they think. Tell me why you haven’t done XYZ before. Well, because I’m scared. Oh, okay. You have to find out what they need. Start asking questions and then develop things whether they’re blogs or podcasts or whatever based on what they tell you they want, then start offering things, and you offer a thing. Maybe you’re like, “Okay, everyone’s telling me that their biggest problem with eating vegan is that it’s too hard.”

Everyone has addressed that saying, well, I’m going to do this. I’m going to be the microwave vegan and show you how to be a vegan without having to do a lot of preparation, whatever. That’s your thing. Create a guide and offer it. Your goal when you start doing this. I wish I had done this sooner is to start growing your email list, and the most important reason for this is because you can’t trust what will happen to any social media platform.

If you want people to believe you, cut through the BS, get rid of the facade, and just be honest with your intentions. Click To Tweet

I was looking at a wealth managers’ website and I go, “Great, you wrote in this magazine, you have stuff on LinkedIn. What if both those things go away? What if all LinkedIn gets blacked out? They just go out, they’re gone for a few months, and this magazine goes on there.”

They already start censoring stuff on Facebook. My sister and I had a page and I don’t know what she did. She may have posted on too many groups or whatever she did there, and they just took down the page that just ran for a few years, and now they just decided to take it down. Just because I have nobody to talk to.

No. All they have to do is change an algorithm, come up with a new rule, or decide to delete all your stuff. You don’t own what’s on those platforms. The minute those platforms go down, you’re done. I do use the platforms a lot, but I use them as mirrors to reflect what I already own. I write it for me, I keep it for me, and I post other places, so everything on a social media platform is a copy of what I own. I own all those methods. 

You don’t do lives?

Oh, sure. Facebook Live? Sometimes but I don’t want to build my whole life on Facebook Live because what if Facebook goes down? I do videos, I do think fine, if there are some things that you will invest in like a Facebook Live and when they’re gone. Just know that when they’re gone, they’re gone. When you do it, if you’re able to download it or get it transcribed because you can’t trust that all these things will go away.

I did an Instagram takeover for Emerson College where I got my masters. The next day all those stories were gone, or within a few hours, actually, because they had a blip in their system. They went away, and then they brought them back the next day. Oh, the gods gave us back our stuff. How nice. 

What you need to do is you need to make your goal. If you’re serious about growing something on your own, is to get people to give you their emails first, not their money, they’re not going to give you their money right away, and they’re not going to give over their email either. Unless you have given them every reason to trust that you won’t abuse it, that you won’t spam them, that you won’t send lots of junk their way.

I treat my email list like gold, I am incredibly careful about what I share with them. I talk to them more now than I ever have. I started late in the game with this, and I wish I’d started sooner but I was nervous. I didn’t know what to say to them. I didn’t know what to do with it. That fear cost me, so now I get them by inviting people to join challenges. Sure, you’re going to do a fitness challenge while people are in quarantine? A hundred push-ups a day, simple as that.

Keep your offerings very specific and targeted. You’re not looking for 100,000 people to sign up. That’s not going to happen. You’re not going to look for viral. No one can plan viral clearly. What you’re going to do is try to get some people to be engaged, like it, and care about those 10 people.

Instead of looking for your passion, you look for what people need. You actually ask people or you figure it out from your form, and then you go out and you set it out. You test it.

You test a challenge.

What if you don’t feel like you have a clear message or you are multi-talented or multi-creative and you have so many ideas?

You have so many ideas and you’re multi-talented. Guess what? No one gives a crap how many ideas you have. They don’t give a crap how many talents you have. People tell me how I’m going to tell them that I also play the piano and I love to do this. No one cares.

You’re only serving one need. I serve one need. I help people find clarity and tap their creativity, get very clear on who they are. That’s my skill. That’s what I do. Of course, you can hire someone like me. You can hire a lot of people. You could learn to do it yourself, but no one cares about all the things. All of your things serve one need. If you want to serve another need with all your fancy skills, you start another website for another crowd of people.

You don’t need to squish it all in. You bring all your talents to bear quietly to serve loudly the needs of someone else. Once you have, that’s it. No one cares about all the things you like to do. No one actually cares. They want their need met and if you can meet that need, done.

Continue to improve your craft by taking courses, listening to podcasts, or reading books.

To the people who signed up and paid for my six weeks sprint, it’s a writing program for six weeks, we write together. Does anyone there care that I also love to do poetry from time to time? No, it doesn’t matter, but my love of writing poetry brings to bear an insight when I read their stuff, and that’s what they want to hear.

Again, it’s only about how it touches the customer, the client, the colleague, whatever. After you’ve collected your email, say you have 50 emails now, great. Talk to them. Write to them every week. Tell them to write you back. Find ways to engage them. Don’t just aim for numbers, aim for a very vibrant, engaged group.

Every time you send an email, someone will opt-out. I have tens, at least, every time. Ten people opt-out. Twelve. Twenty. They’re not the right people. They don’t need to have this message. Good. Thank you so much for clarifying both of our lives by leaving. Your life is not meant to be—

Second dating.

That’s right. You’re always trying to find your people, and the people who peel away, I never convince or cajole anyone to stay with me, to work with me, nothing. I don’t want anyone who doesn’t want to be there. That is how you approach it.

What are some keys to clarifying your message?

Keys to clarifying your message would be not just what you like doing, but what are the things that you have done for people that other people have complimented you on. And ask. Go to the people you’ve worked with at jobs or clients and say, “What was the thing that was so helpful? Please, I would love some clarity. What is the thing you would turn to me for before you would turn to anyone else?” Ask friends this, ask family, ask people who’ve paid you, ask people who haven’t paid you, people who used to be your boss, what would you turn to me for? Do an inventory that way.

It’s a great exercise to hear what people say about you because you might go, “Oh, my God. I never thought of it that way.” When you’re branding yourself, you’re not branding yourself. You’re branding the thing you offer that someone else wants. I play with words. Words are the key medium there. I write a lot about it. If I were me, if I were you, trying to figure out who I am, write about things that you found, remember those moments that you were so excited that you’re like, “Yes, I love this.”

I have a friend who keeps a journal. She’s a consultant. As soon as she gets off a call or finishes a task, she’ll write down a scale of one to 10, how fun was it? How hard was it? Did you wish you never had to do that again? What is she feeling right now? She has very short little entries throughout her day so that she can go back and go, “Wow, look at the things I hate. I hate this. Why am I doing that? Why don’t I do more of this thing?”

You almost have to watch your own metrics. I didn’t have to write them down because I know. I know what bothers me and I know what doesn’t bother me. I love working with people on messaging, but I just don’t like working with jerks. When someone’s a jerk I go, you know what I have to do? Screen better for jerks and if I can afford to, turn people away who are going to be a nightmare. Control expectations upfront. Your time is very valuable.

What are the keys to selling, not converting but convincing people that they need your services and have them be in alignment and understand that they do need what you have to offer and they can profit from it?

No. You can’t convince people that. I don’t convince. I say, what is it that you want? In my own sales pages and my own stuff, I go, “Hey, what is it that you wish you had right now?” Here’s an example. On a recent program, I said, “What are you working on? Is it what you wish you were working on? If not, when do you get to do that stuff? Why are you doing the stuff you like doing? Ah, good question. Why don’t you come with me and try this approach, like the thing I was offering?”

Plug yourself into the mind of the person who you want to serve. The person who isn’t convinced they need you, doesn’t need you. Trust me. If you try to convince someone to give you money for something, they will kick and scream the whole time. They’ll be your worst client. I would be very careful about that. Do not try to convince people that they need what you have. You offer what you have. Trust me, if it is valuable, people will find it and they will want it. If you’re finding that no one wants it, it’s not that no one wants it. It’s often the positioning. You look at it and you have someone else look at it and you say, “Does this speak to you? Is this clear?”

Most times people just weren’t clear on what they’re offering. “Oh, come and live your best life.” That’s not clear. Everyone wants you to live your best life. My dermatologist, the person who paints my apartment, everyone wants me to live my best life, but how are you doing it? Again, people fail on the specifics. They tend to fall short on the specifics. They don’t spell it out. They don’t say, “Here’s your problem. Here’s what I believe I can help you solve.” Then you get into, “Here’s how I do it, here’s the value of that, and here’s what you can invest to have it.”

When promoting yourselves out there, no one actually cares about what you like or do. People want what they need and if you don't have that they're not going to bother. Click To Tweet

If it’s not a good deal, no one will pay for it. I think Seth Godin said, “If someone bought it, they already thought it was worth more than they paid or they wouldn’t have paid.” You got to keep that in mind. A lot of people go, “But I’m worth more.” This isn’t about your worth. This is about the worth of the thing. Make sure you separate you from your work. Your work is valuable and you are valuable, but work has a price.

At a certain price level, someone might not pay for it because you maybe haven’t positioned it high enough in the market or you haven’t made it very clear why they need it at all. If someone will say the economy is tough, if someone doesn’t want to pay $100, they won’t pay $50, they won’t pay $15. People often think, “If I keep lowering my prices, I’ll get more business.” Good luck. I hope you have that fun time racing to the bottom.

In this economy, you don’t think people should lower their prices?

I have lowered in some cases depending on who you’re speaking to. Not everyone lost money. Not everyone is sitting there with no job and no resources. There are plenty of people who are in there in a panic who have no money. Why would you sell to them? They’re not in a position to spend any money. In fact, I’ve been offering that program and I said on the call, “If you do not have the money, you should not be investing in this right now. This is not for you right now if you can’t. It’s only if you have money that you’re going to spend elsewhere that you’re not.” That’s who you have. You always want to stay in integrity with that.

I love that. That is not something I’ve ever heard in a sales pitch.

Ramit does it. Ramit Sethi does it on his. For a while, he said he would not allow you to buy his course if you had any debt at all because it’s tempting to buy a lot of things and think you’re gonna make money from it.

I had a teacher in Speaking Empire, which was a speaking course that I took and also won an award for Best Storyteller and Best Closer. Thank you very much.

Did you win it?

Yeah, I won an award and I was very insecure because I’ve never spoken before. English is my second language and I was so scared. It gave me a lot of confidence. One of the things that my mentor Dave VanHoose said is that he was selling real estate to people and there was this Mexican dude who had no money who bought the program and he couldn’t sleep at night. He talked to him and he was like, “Listen, I don’t think you’re in a place to buy this program right now. Please, take the money back.” The guy was like, “Nope, I want this program.” He couldn’t convince him otherwise. After this guy bought the program, he made a real estate deal for a few hundred thousand dollars. I don’t know. He made a lot of money because he bought this at a point where he did not have money.

Also from my own life, I remember there was a time where I hit rock bottom and I still bought a Tony Robbins program. It changed my life forever. I did not have the money at that time. I invested my last dime. I’m going all-in because something needs to change and I was fully committed, burned all the ships and I’m going into it and I’m going to do it. And it did change my life. I find the truth to what you’re saying that if people don’t have it, they should save and hold on to the money, but what if this program can completely change your lives?

Maybe. I just think that if I was Tony Robbins selling it and I knew people were risking their last dime, I don’t know that I could sleep at night. I had someone once take money out of an account that maybe they shouldn’t have touched. It rubbed me the wrong way. It bothered me because I felt that somehow she felt more owed and I don’t want that on me.

You need to give people the credit to understand that. They are their own people and they have their own intuition. If they feel like, “I don’t care. This is the thing for me and I know it’s going to change my life,” we cannot lead them by this.

Of course. That’s fine. Look, we’re all adults. You do with it what you want, but for every person who buys a course who changes their life or who happens into a real estate deal and has $100,000, there are many more who go into debt and debt and it’s not just the one course. There are a lot of people who pay for lots of things and they aren’t able to make good on it because a course can’t change you, you change you.

Luckily, there are so many free resources that it’s a good way to start. I think from a sales perspective. It’s one thing you’ll make the decisions yourself on what you want to buy. When I’m the one offering, I am also really careful not to use any fear or rush tactics. I have tried it. I have done it like, “Go do this by this time…” but it did not feel integrity, and I’ve seen people do it. “It’s your last chance,” and then it’s like, “We extend the deadline.” This is a bunch of you know what. I think it’s BS and I don’t like it when it’s done to me. It makes me feel like I’m being toyed with. I don’t like doing it to people. While I did follow what people say you should do for a while, I stopped doing those things.

I am free.

I am free and I don’t want to feel that I have to pressure people to do it. Plenty of people will. In fact, a colleague did try, too. We’re colleagues but he did offer me something to buy. I said I don’t know. He put on the full press and then I was like, “No, I’m not interested.” I think part of it was that I just don’t like it. We all get to run our own shops and you will just never hear that from me. You will never hear that kind of pressure. If I thought someone was about to go all-in and lose it, then I feel that I must deliver them something that will save them and that’s a really dangerous dynamic. I think that it’s great that it worked out but just be careful when you’re the salesperson, when you are the person offering. 

The most important thing is your integrity and intention in whatever you’re doing because you want to be aligned with your own inner values and would ever serve in the world around you, serving your clients, and we want to create a ripple effect of goodness and not have sleaziness.

Trust your intuition. Trust your gut. If your gut told you that course was right, then you trust it. I can’t tell you what your intuition says, but that’s what scares me is when someone in a position of sales tells someone else what their intuition is telling them. That’s not right. So I say, here’s what I can promise you.

Sometimes people don’t buy and I know it would change them. I had that happen recently. She backed off and I was like, oh, what a shame because this would have been great for her, but she’s got to come to it on her own. This is the game. If you stay in integrity, you will. You won’t always be rich. We don’t know that, but at least you’ll know that you’re delivering real service. For me, that’s the most important.

Thank you, Terri. What are your three quick tips to living a Stellar Life?

My quick tips would be to listen to your gut and you will rue the day you go against it. Any decision even if it sounds like, “Oh, this is a no brainer. This is awesome, it’s gonna be great.” Something nags at you, listen to that above everything else. Secondly, use whatever part of your day when you have your most energy, whether that’s morning or your late-nighter. Manage your energy in order to manage your business.

My job is to be able to be up, have energy, and deliver. If I don’t take care of myself in some way, I won’t be able to do that. It’s not just about managing money. It’s not just about managing clients. It’s managing my own energy so I can get as much as I want to get done. Pay attention to that. If you’re fresh as a daisy at 7 AM, use that time for the stuff you most need to and want to get done. Don’t fritter it away on emails and news.

When something doesn't feel right, you're never going to enjoy what you do. Because if you love what you're doing, you wouldn't mind how challenging things are for you. Click To Tweet

The third thing I would say is to make sure that you are always doing something that feels good for you to do. It might not even be your favorite thing to do but it should feel—as my business manager tells me—inflow. You have to feel like it feels right to do it and you should enjoy what you do. The funny thing is if I told you that I’d pay you a million dollars to braid my hair, you’d all of a sudden love braiding hair so much, you wouldn’t believe it. Don’t worry about that, you have to find something isolated that you love.

Sometimes when you’re paid to do a thing and you realize how much value it has for someone else, it becomes fun because it’s an opportunity and because someone else values it. People will never pay what they don’t value. They won’t pay for it. When they do, that value and that worth can light you up in ways that you can only imagine.

Terri, thank you so much. Where can people find you?

I think the easiest way, since I have a very complicated last name, is to go to terrisentme.com. That will take you to a page where I have a guide called the 5 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Genius. I wrote it to help people get past their own blocks in order to tap their creative intuition, to create work that they love.

If that sounds like fun to you, that’s a no brainer. You will end up on my email list, you will hear from me, and you can always say goodbye at any time. That is what I would say. terrisentme.com would be the best. I really appreciate you having me on.

Thank you, Terri. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you. This was so much fun and so great, I’m sure everybody that listens to it. Thank you.

Thank you.

And thank you, listeners. Remember, listen to your gut, manage your energy in order to manage your business, enjoy your day, and live a stellar life. This is Orion, until next time.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

{✓} Be a problem solver if you aspire to be your own boss. Having no boss means you will be of service to the people you work with.
{✓} Develop a profound understanding of what people need by making yourself aware of the world you’re living in.
{✓} Once you determine what the demand is, decide what you want to do. Find ways you can provide help or solutions.
{✓} Continue to improve your craft by taking courses, listening to podcasts, or reading books.
{✓} It’s not enough to write notes once you’ve read or learned something. Take action after you acquire new knowledge.
{✓} Offer your services rather than entice people to follow or subscribe to what you’re presenting.
{✓} Cut through all the artifice and lead an honest life. Help people know your intentions are genuine, and you truly want to help improve their situation.
{✓} Establish the message you want to convey and let that be your brand. This is how you find people who are willing to support you and will eventually become your tribe. 
{✓} Seek feedback from your audience so you can keep offering them what they want. At the end of the day, running a successful business is not about you. It’s about providing what people need.
{✓} Discover your inner genius when you check out Terri Trespicio’s website, www.terrisentme.com.

Links and Resources

About Terri Trespicio

Terri Trespicio is an award-winning writer, speaker, and brand advisor who helps professionals of all stripes harness their creative genius. Her TEDx talk, Stop Searching for Your Passion, has almost 6M views. She was named by Hubspot as one of the Top 18 female speakers who are killing it and one of the worlds leading creatives by Creative Boom magazine.


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