If you’re not familiar with Airstory, it’s a research-based writing platform that makes it easy for writers, marketers, students, and teachers – anyone who has a story and message to get out into the world – to turn their ideas into published works, like articles, blog posts, emails, sales pages, you name it.
The fabulous creators of Airstory at Copyhackers.com plan to “sunset” the online version of Airstory and, instead, focus their attention on a browser-based extension. Unfortunately, the browser extension is not as versatile as its online cousin.
What follows is my personal thank you, good-bye, and a plea to #SaveAirstory…
You’re scheduled to sail off into the sunset within the next three of weeks…
So it is with a heavy heart that I’m writing to you to say “thank you.” You’ve been a great companion for me as I’ve honed my skills as a conversion copywriter and marketer while drafting and crafting countless emails, sales pages, web pages, and even a screenplay–frequently while burning the “midnight oil.”
Now I’m hoping this isn’t goodbye forever. But you need to know that your cousins, the Extensions, could never, never, ever, ever take your place in my head and heart. Or keyboard.
When I was practicing as a plastic surgeon, there was one particular hospital where the operating rooms were so well run and the staff was so top-notch, that they made me a better surgeon than I was at any other hospital. There was one scrub nurse who was so sharp and organized that she anticipated my every move, even before surgery started.
While you don’t anticipate what I need to write (until you get the AI version upgrade), YOU MADE ME A BETTER WRITER. You’ve helped me stay in the flow of creativity. You’ve helped me pay attention to what matters WITHOUT the mechanical distractions of stumbling and bumbling for source material that’s hidden in the morass of Google Drive.
On the other hand, in preparation for your untimely departure, I started studying a course on Lynda.com so I could figure out how to use Google Drive to sort out any and all templates that I’m going to need to rescue from your collection. I gave up.
You know, it took me over 30 minutes to export ONE template into a Google Doc, format it properly (which is a massive PIA in Google Docs), and then save it to the right folder in Google Drive.
Like the best OR scrub nurse, you’ve laid out everything I need at my fingertips, from my notes, images, and templates. And you even delivered material when I most desperately needed it, including from Evernote and the World Wide Web. And you’re such a party animal, you’ve made it easy to invite collaborators to join in on the fun.
No, you’re not perfect but what’s NOT to like and love about you?!?
You probably already know this, but there are countless other writers, marketers, teachers, students, and startup founders around the world who rely on you to write copy that converts, to draft music lyrics that touch the soul, to craft proposals that sell, to craft lessons that teach and inspire. And each of us already mourns our loss. Many would rather poke our eyes out with a hot stick than get into a family feud with the Extensions.
Besides, if you’re riding off into the sunset, who’s to say that the Extensions won’t follow you as well???
In just a few weeks, a lot of us are going to be left high and dry. We’ll be forced to settle for second-best. We’ll scatter to find tools that force us to adapt our styles and workflows to how the tools were designed by developers who could care less about UX and UI, rather than the tool fitting into our workflows and naturally suiting our styles. (Excuse me while I dab my eyes.)
Admittedly, I don’t know any of the business or logistical reasons behind why you need to leave.
But selfishly, I want you to stick around, And I know for a fact that countless others want you to stay by their sides as well.
Isn’t it possible for you to stick around AND peacefully co-exist with the Extensions? (Or are you worried about a replay of the epic feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys?)
I don’t know if it’s too late, but in your honor, I’ve started a #SaveAirstory crusade.
If there’s anything I do to “make Airstory great again,” count me in.
If your creators are open and willing to put you up for adoption, I have an experienced team ready to go that can provide a GREAT home for you, a home where you’ll be loved and honored.
We’ll love, feed, nurture, and grow you to be everything you can and should be.
Whatever it takes, we’ll be there for you:
If you need your inner workings tuned up, we’ll get your code humming in a flash. If you need more people to know about you, we’ll shout and sing your praises from the highest mountaintops. When you need us to nurture your supporters, we’ll give them an exceptional customer experience.
And on behalf of your myriad of Airstory fans across the globe, wherever you end up, THANK YOU!
And always remember that we’re still rooting for you to stick around and always be by our sides!!!
Recently, I was speaking with a client, Marylynn, while training her on my Freedom from Selling 2.0 system. An essential element that makes the Freedom from Selling approach work is getting crystal clear about your “core client process1” or “signature system1.”
So I asked her to tell me about her “signature system.”
She spent the next several minutes describing what she called her “signature system.”
Here is a condensed version of how she laid out her “signature system:”
Level 1 Program: Achieve Program
Level 2 Program: Find Your Healthy Diet Program
Level 3 Program: The Immersion Program (Her highest level program, which she called her “signature system”)
Well, what do YOU think?
Have you been taught about signature systems? If so, does this look anything like what you’ve been shown?
From my perspective, in the end, what she described to me was a tiered collection of programs. A group of different program levels is NOT a “signature system.”
Contrast her description of her “signature system” with this…
A Practical Definition of a Signature System:
Your signature system is the core process, the step-by-step methodology for how you work with a client. It’s also the methodology that’s underneath the initial conversations you have with a potential client. Most people don’t realize this. But it makes those conversations more powerful, yet it’s invisible to those potential clients that you’re speaking with.
Defined and designed this way, your signature system, regardless of the program, would be infused as the underlying foundation of that particular program.
In Marylynn’s words…
“… [my core process] hasn’t been defined, probably because no one’s ever…I can’t tell you how many signature system programs I’ve taken. So nobody has ever explained that the signature system is NOT what I’m doing; [the signature system] is the approach that I’m using.”
Then, the light bulb went off in Marylynn’s head, and there was no stopping her!!!
Here’s how it went…
“So if I were ever to create the ultimate, or 10 bajillion programs, they would each follow the same approach [at its core].”
If you have a Basic program, you apply your Signature System at the basic level.
If you have an Advanced program, you still have your Signature System but at the advanced level.
The practical definition you gave me, that a signature system is my core process, is not being taught in the mainstream like that.
Not only that, but other supposed experts helped me create what I currently do. And that is supposed to be my “Signature System;” that is, the different levels of my programs. This is very interesting.
Me: Well, that’s okay to define a “Signature System” that way. It’s just not how I define it.
I’m defining it like “This is the CORE. Like “core strength.”
Marylynn: Like core values.
Exactly. Core values and core strength, they have to be there wherever you go.
If you’re a tennis player. If you are a gymnast. You still need the core strength. It goes everywhere.
Me: So, your signature system goes everywhere you go.
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the tiers and levels of programs you’ve created. It’s just that I’m looking for a more specific definition of how you approach solving problems and delivering value. Like, “what’s your secret sauce?”
I’m looking for your “secret sauce” codified so that we can see it on paper.
I’ll give you an example…
My secret sauce starts with FOCUS. Focus includes “what’s your values, mission, vision? What are your business goals–financial, marketing, and sales goals? What is your big why? What’s the big reason behind your business? What’s the compelling reason behind why you do what you do?
And getting clear about these things gives you the ability to stay focused when there are so many shiny objects that are bright and fun and exciting that can distract you.
Having clarity on values, mission, and vision helps you to stay on track.
What are your STRENGTHS & BLOCKERS?
What is your business STRUCTURE, as in, the business MODEL?
What are your STRATEGIES for growing the business from the inside out, including marketing and sales strategies? But also operational strategies, growth strategies. Whether you want to build a lifestyle business or you want to have a leveraged business that goes beyond a certain income level.
What are the operational business SYSTEMS that need to be there, from financial management to delivering value to clients, to marketing, to selling, to all the logistics?
And what are the SKILLS you need to have? or you need to develop or bring in, for your business to thrive, and to achieve goals that you’ve set?
What SUPPORT is needed for you in the business – for you and the team – to be able to create an environment where you function at the highest levels of productivity?
What are the prioritized ACTION ITEMS?
What’s your system for ACCOUNTABILITY and FOLLOW-THROUGH?
So, that’s my core process, or “Signature System.” I don’t always say it to people like that. Because it doesn’t really matter. But it only matters to the degree that we’re working on a particular part of their business and, in my mind, I’m thinking to myself and formulating questions, “What are their strengths, blockers, strategies, systems,…”
So, I go through a cascade or mental checklist almost in a heartbeat where I’m kind of using x-ray vision and superimposing my “core client process” to find where opportunities, gaps, and vulnerabilities exist in that business or project.
Does that make sense?
It makes sense. This has been extremely helpful. That was a major “ah hah” moment.
I mean, everything that you say, all the verbiage you use, is exactly what every other program says. With the exception of breaking it down to the point of – everybody else explains the elements of your signature system as “what are the steps of your program?” – but not from this program to that program.
It’s like each “signature system” has a step-by-step program, each one has steps, Each one is a system. Each one follows something. But they’re never the same from program to program. Or, thing to thing. They’re always totally different.
Nobody has ever taught this.
But this makes total sense.
Like all of a sudden, everything in my brain clicks.
Of course, you’d do that. It makes it so much easier to create anything.
And YOU taught me something…
Because I haven’t taken training on signature systems myself, so I didn’t realize that people are saying that your signature system is your sequence of different program levels.
I have literally spent over $60,000 developing my signature system – I really have – with coaches and courses. And every single one of them confirmed and built upon what I had created [from the previous program or coach.] So, with each one, I only kept getting confirmation that I was doing the right thing. Or I was on the right path.
So, I would never think anything was wrong, other than the fact that my signature system wasn’t working. That’s why I kept buying programs and coaching!
I must say, I can think of at least six programs that I have been part of.
And [those other programs,] it’s all surface level. The best way I can describe it; it’s a very surface level approach to the whole thing.
But it’s the way most people approach it, right?!?
But what’s missing is that all these people have more than one program that they teach and, from program to program, it’s a completely different approach. It’s not the same thing, other than the surface stuff.
There’s no skeleton to it. And because it doesn’t have the same skeleton, it’s like a completely different being every time.
But each one has the surface stuff. So from the outside, it’s like the lipstick on the pig.
Everything is dressed up, but there’s no skeleton underneath.
But they are calling it, “this is your signature program” because that’s the one you one you sell the most (or want to sell the most) or it’s the most expensive program you offer.
But there’s nothing “signaturey” about it. No universal approach that you would use with anything. It’s like, mind-boggling to me. But it’s the exact same verbiage that you use, which is why it gets confusing.
That’s why I thought I had a signature system when you first asked me about it.
What you just described to me is more of like they teach you how to reinvent the wheel for each program that you design.
That is literally, exactly what it is.
Your signature system or core client process is really your way of articulating to someone how you see the world.
It’s the world through the eyes of Marylynn; here’s the framework.
Of course, you can add to it.
But it’s like the framing of a home, the structure of a building; it’s there.
And you’re not starting from a blank slate.
It’s like a tree: A tree has roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. There’s a general structure to it.
And a tree is a tree, but there are different species of trees. Just like you have different types of programs.
But the general framework, which is your core client process, or signature system, is still embedded in whatever other programs you create, even if it’s in a different industry.
What you just described is what people really need to hear: The separation between the old way of thinking about signature systems (that I’m totally done with and that never worked for me) and what a signature system really is.
One day later… Marylynn sends me this in an email:
“Now that my eyes have been opened, I can’t believe all of these people are selling others on the idea of signature systems. But they themselves are confused about what that even is; they don’t have a signature system themselves!”
“They simply believe their system is a “signature” one because the exact process for the exact same thing can be repeated. But it’s not really replicable, or they’d easily and always be able to take their signature system and apply it to multiple modalities, niches, sectors, genres, and it’d work. But it doesn’t. If you deviate from their course, they can’t really help you. They don’t really know why their stuff is working.”
So now that you know what a “signature system” really is, you get to choose:
Do you keep putting “lipstick on a pig” and call it good?
Or, do you do the work to develop a real “signature system”?
Let me know what you think!
In the next blog post, I’ll share what happened to Marylynn when you applied what she just described during her next interaction with a potential client.
1 Though the term “signature system” is used generically in many circles, I was first introduced to the concept of a “core client process” in 1998 by my very first marketing mentor, Robert Middleton, who also referred to this as a “signature system.”
I’m a former plastic surgeon. I left my practice in 2003, disgruntled with the overall state of healthcare—the legal, political, and business climate.
In 2005, I started my coaching practice, working with service-dedicated entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. In 73 days, I created a six-figure annualized revenue stream, and I’ve sustained it and grown it ever since. I’ve had clients best my record (70 days) or at least come close (99–226 days).
I’m writing this not to brag, but to set the context for what I’m about to say about picking your niche.
I’ve learned that just because I know a lot about something—for example, being a physician and surgeon—doesn’t mean that’s what I should focus on. For instance, I know a lot about cosmetic surgery, but I have no interest in writing about it. Or even advising about it.
Now, if you’re excited about writing on specific topics, then, by all means, follow your passion.
But consider channeling your skills as a writer and educator into fields that may or may not have an obvious correlation with your past experiences and training. In the end, you may still end up writing for the very audience you are considering now. And if you do, it will be with greater confidence and conviction.
Write and speak about subjects that you are naturally excited about.
Pick ONE area and test it out.That’s the only way to learn: by experience.
As an example, when I first started practicing plastic surgery, I was trained to operate literally from head to toe. So on any given operating room day, I’d do surgery, say, on someone’s head; then, for the next patient, something on their chest or back; then I operated on the next patient’s hand, and then I’d end the day with something on a lower extremity.
Over time, I realized I hated doing nose jobs. I quit doing that. Then, a couple of years later, I realized I was tired of getting up in the middle of the night for people who had cut off their fingers. I quit doing emergency hand surgery. Then I finally figured out that I was sick and tired of dealing with facial fractures at 3 AM. So I gladly gave those up. But tummy tucks—I was totally excited to do those!
My point is, I learned from experience what I liked, and my preferences changed over time as I gained maturity and experience.
I encourage you to do the same, in the roles you play as an entrepreneur, educator, change-maker, and/or thought-leader. Go out and explore working with different audiences. Experience what comes to you readily, what sparks your creativity.
Have fun with your exploration; you don’t have to hit a grand slam in your first at-bat.
Recently, I was a guest trainer at a business-building workshop for independent service professionals. All of the participants chose to attend this training, ostensibly, to help grow their businesses, to be more profitable, and to help more people.
As I got to know the participants, two things became readily apparent to me:
100% of the participants were 1000% passionate about their work, which ultimately was about making a contribution to their clients’ businesses and lives.
Only about 10-20% of them were financially viable, even though they were all making a valuable contribution to their clients.
This observation both puzzled and troubled me. You see, for years, I used to believe that if a person was really passionate about something, success (however way they define it for themselves) was a foregone conclusion.
So, I wondered what it was that separated the financially successful and passionate business from the equally passionate (in loose, relative terms), but financially non-viable business.
After percolating on this for a while, I realized that the significant difference between a successful business and an unsuccessful one lies in the depth of commitment. Yes, the “C” word – commitment.
Commitment means being willing to take on a greater level of personal growth, to face the unanticipated challenges with courage, to take bold actions, even in the face of extreme pressure and uncertainty. Commitment is also about being willing to grow from the inside out, at a deep, personal level – being willing to face one’s inner demons – those limiting beliefs and lingering self-doubts that only serve to keep you stuck where you are.
(And, by the way, commitment is not about working hard, ‘paying one’s dues,” sacrificing, or suffering. That may be part of one’s experience along the journey, but that’s not commitment; that’s simply part of the ride.)
Without a doubt, having the passion for what you do, have, and experience in business and in life is an important element of personal fulfillment.
But having passion alone is not a surefire formula for success.
See, there are many people who are passionate about something, whether it’s ‘ending world hunger,’ ‘saving the whales’ or ‘freeing Tibet.’ But far fewer are committed to doing something about it, to taking action even against great odds and tremendous challenges.
Passion without commitment is akin to a rocket ship on the launching pad without fuel: It’s a great idea, but going nowhere – fast.
Conversely, it’s entirely possible to be financially successful, without having a passion for the business. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Looking at your own business and life, where would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being high) as far as being passionate about the business you are in (not just a part of it, but the whole of it).
Now, list your top three business goals for the next year or two. Go ahead, put them down on paper or screen.
Now ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to doing whatever it is you’ll need to do to have those business goals be a reality? Let’s be honest here.
The critical link between passion and success lies in the level of one’s commitment to the pursuit of ‘success.’ If you find yourself below a 5 or 6 on the level of commitment (and you are being honest about it), you really need to ask yourself what you’re really spending your valuable time and life energy on. Maybe it’s time to commit to something else.
But even at the highest levels of commitment, there are no guarantees of success.
For those of you seeking guarantees, I leave you with one of my favorite quotations from W. H. Murray, one of the first to climb Mount Everest:
Commitment. Until one is committed there is always hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
“You have a mind, but you are not your mind. You have a body, but you are not your body.
You have emotions, but you are not your emotions.
You are a child of God; therefore, you can create anything within the constraints of Universal Law.” – Dr. Michael Gladych, WWII fighter pilot ace-turned-yoga master
Behind every success story, there’s at least one key person in the background, serving as the catalyst for success.
Most of you reading this know the story of my struggles early in my career as a plastic surgeon in private practice back in 1995. In the midst of serious financial struggles (near-bankruptcy), studying to pass my plastic surgery boards, and going through a divorce, I managed to avert near-bankruptcy, turn both my life and practice around and live to tell about it. In retrospect, it seems miraculous that I made it through that challenging period of my life at all.
The part of the story most of you don’t know about is what I actually did that turned things around. How, in a span of three years, I went from broke plastic surgeon with no hope of financial reprieve in sight, living alone in a dingy, dark apartment, to buying a home in a neighborhood that was in the world of wishful thinking, marrying the woman of my dreams, and having children that would make any parent proud.
But, this isn’t just my own story. It’s really the story of how you can achieve anything you want in life. You see, during this period of time, I was introduced to a remarkable man, affectionately known as “Dr. G.” He’s my yoga master, but the work he does has nothing to do with yoga poses.
With Dr. G, I studied what he calls “yoga therapy,” which is the application of Raja yoga principles to everyday life. One of the first things he taught me was how to attract and achieve the things in life that are most important to me.
First, a little about the 96-years-young Dr. G.—Of all things, he used to be a WWI fighter pilot. Meeting him in person, you’d probably think he was in his late 70s or early 80s. A few years ago, he underwent open-heart surgery for a two-vessel cardiac by-pass procedure. The remarkable part is that he did so without general anesthesia!
What philosophy and physics have in common.
Years ago, Dr. G. told me that as a youngster in Poland, he was fascinated by physics and studied the work of Albert Einstein. When he moved to the United States, he had a friend who knew Einstein, so he asked his friend to arrange a meeting.
Dr. G. said to Dr. Einstein: “Philosophy and physics look at the same things in life, just from two different perspectives.” “Philosophy looks at life from the perspective of love. And in this sense, I define love as unconditional giving.”
My yoga master then asked Einstein, “Since physics and philosophy are looking at the same things in life, but from a different perspective, what is the physical correlate of love?”
Einstein and my yoga master walked around the Princeton University campus. Einstein scratched his head and thought for a bit. Then he replied, “Of course, the physical correlate of love is radiation.”
You see, radiation goes everywhere and is stopped by nothing. And, so goes unconditional giving.
One form of electromagnetic radiation is alpha-waves. Because alpha waves are low-frequency, high-amplitude electromagnetic oscillations, they are able to penetrate deep through the Earth, into the depths of the oceans. That’s why the military uses alpha frequencies to communicate with their submarines.
Guess what? Your brain produces alpha waves as well, mostly when you are relaxed, but alert, as in a meditative state.
Consider that your thoughts can ride the alpha waves to the far reaches of the planet. No joke. While I don’t know exactly how this works, let me just say that Dr. G taught me a process of “thought broadcasting” that enabled me to attract the people, seemingly fortuitous events, and resources that I needed to miraculously pull my life together.
So you think. So it goes.
Here’s the deal: Your thoughts create your reality. And your beliefs lead to those thoughts. Even if you don’t believe something is possible, if you begin thinking it is possible, you can “trick” your mind into accepting that belief. Once you believe something is possible, just thinking that it is possible then makes it possible.
This means you can really create anything you want, within the constraints of Universal Law. That means anything.
For example, since traveling faster than the speed of light violates a universal principle, there would be no use in thinking and believing that is possible.
Flying without wings
Landing a man on the moon
Breaking the four-minute mile barrier
Or traveling faster than the speed of sound
…were once thought to be humanly impossible.
Beliefs => Thoughts and Feelings => Actions => Desired Results
If you are ready to take on the process of manifesting what you desire in life, download the free Broadcasting Toolkit. I’ve turned what Dr. G taught me into a short eBook, summary guide, and included a mp3 audio walk-through as well. It’s not hard, but it does take a commitment to consistency. And it takes patience. But what a pay-off in return!
“You can make your life into a grand ever-evolving work of art. The key is your thoughts, the wondrous invisible part of you that is your spiritual soul.” Dr. Wayne Dyer
Sprinkled throughout the rest of the Freedompreneur blog, you’ll learn more about the many lessons I learned from Dr. G and how they apply to your business success.
The other day, I sent my ezine subscribers a playful email in which I changed the words of a popular Dr. Seuss quotation to describe the power of lead magnets. Of all the emails I’ve ever sent, stirring up controversy was the last thing I expected from this email.
This is a snippet of what I received from the reader: “You are obviously a wonderful person, but your advice in today’s email is just plain wrong. You are coming at it from the wrong end. The solution isn’t a lead magnet to create traffic, it’s a deeper one of creating a better business that is inherently attractive.”
First of all, let me clarify one thing: a lead magnet does NOT create traffic. One of the many purposes of a lead magnet is to turn traffic into well-qualified leads.
I completely agree that “…creating a better business is what is inherently attractive.”
That aside, I maintain that learning to create high-converting lead magnets is a lifetime business skill.
One can create an inherently attractive business, but that doesn’t guarantee that people will find it. Let’s suppose, though, for a moment, that people find out about a business of interest, online and/or offline… if they don’t readily understand the business’ core message, then it’s all wasted effort. A good lead magnet serves as a conduit for providing value and information, as well as beginning to build a relationship of trust, credibility, and competence with interested parties.
Like a knife, a lead magnet is merely a tool. It can be used for good or not so good, used with class or distastefully. How the tool is wielded determines whether the use of the tool produces results (or not). Clearly, if there is no depth or substance to the programs, products, and services that a business offers, no lead magnet in the world will matter. A well-designed lead magnet is no panacea; rather, it serves as one of many “moments of truth” where an opportunity exists to engage with, inform, educate, and even entertain a prospective buyer.
I know many exceptional people who are superb at what they do. They deliver on their promises. They do make the world a better place. Yet, they struggle to develop sustainably profitable businesses. A well-designed lead magnet would be of great value in leveraging their ability to “connect with the right people and send the right signals about how they make their world better.”
Lead magnets are highly effective offline, as well as online.
I used to naively believe in the aphorism that “the best marketing remains a job well done.” A job well-done does not guarantee a successful business. I was given such advice by more established plastic surgeons when I was starting my surgical practice and it was flat-out wrong, misleading, and impractical advice that nearly led to the demise of my practice.
Furthermore, a job well-done should be the minimal level of performance for a business. Plenty of businesses in the history of humankind have provided exceptional services and products. Yet, they still went out of business.
I’ve made countless costly mistakes with my own offline and online traffic and lead-generation efforts. Consequently, I’ve made it part of my business to help others avoid such mistakes and to use available technologies wisely and effectively. I take high-level concepts and strategies and distill them into practical principles and best practices. I teach the “what to do” and the “how to do it” as well as recommend specific tools and technology to get the job done. Teaching about the power of lead magnets is no exception.