The Quest for Your One and Only Growth Style™.

The Quest for Your One and Only Growth Style™

Earlier this year, Tara Gentile introduced the concept of Growth Styles™.  The online workshops Tara hosted sparked an amazing response and lots of great conversations in the CoCommercial Community.

One of the most animated conversations has been around the concept of choosing one Growth Style™.  There are a number of people (myself included) who felt drawn to two or more Growth Styles™ and who were having a tough time committing to just one Growth Style™.

To be honest, I was starting to feel like my 10 year old son in the weeks before Halloween.  One day, he can totally see himself as Wolverine.  The next day, he is adamant that he wants to be Deadpool and then, five minutes later, he is even more sure that he wants to be the Joker.  Each time his conviction is absolute.

 "No, Mama, for real, this is the one".  

Until it isn't.

So that is where I was after watching the two online workshops.  I was a 10 year old boy trying to figure out which "costume" would get me more "candy".

When I watched the first Growth Styles™ workshop Tara hosted, I was sure that I wanted to pursue a Relationship Growth Style™.  The whole concept of being an emcee and host really lit me up.  I was seduced by some of the details of the style rather than the point of leverage itself.  It wasn’t that I wanted to leverage the power of people (because, let’s face it, people can be kind of tricky) - it was that the description of Relationship founders resonated with me.

After the second workshop, I was equally convinced that I was Bespoke.  Or, at least, I would be Bespoke until I hit a certain income point and then I would become Identity which is what I really, really, really wanted to grow into. Leveraging the power of meaning was what I saw when I imagined my business in 2 years time.

"No, Tara, for real, this is the one."

There were some discussions in the CoCommercial community about the idea of starting with one Growth Style™ and then switching to a different Growth Style™ once you had reached a certain goal in your business.  It seemed to make sense and yet it didn't feel quite right either.

Last week Tara hosted a Growth Styles™ training for Quiet Power Strategy™ certified strategists to give us some tools, training and insight to use the concept with our own clients.  

So let me share with you some of the insights Tara gave us on how to help our clients hone in on their one and only Growth Style™.

Tara talked about the disconnect that exists when business owners are wavering between 2 (or more) different Growth Styles™.  It is a disconnect between what they do now to earn money and what they really want to create in their business in the future.  It isn't that we change Growth Styles™ - it is that we have one Growth Style™ and sometimes we are better at using it than other times.

You don't need to change Growth Styles™ as your business grows.  You need to discover what your real Growth Style™ is and utilize that style no matter what your business model is and no matter what your marketing style is.

Some of the business owners in the CoCommercial community were tempted to choose one Growth Style™ over another because they need to make money now and couldn't see how the Growth Style™ they were really drawn to would allow that to happen.  

Quite a few of us were assuming that we would build a Prestige or Bespoke business now so that we could earn money now but would then transition into an Identity or Exploration or Relationship business once we hit that income goal.

The reality is that you can create a business that makes money now but still has the Growth Style™ you really want at the core of it.  You can build a business with 1:1 clients (possibly at a prestige price point) but in such a way that your business leverages the power of meaning or people rather than the power of experience.

Tara's advice is to get clear on the style you ultimately want to be and start implementing that style into your business now.

To do this, you need to not only look forward to where you want your business to be in 2 or more years time but you also need to look back.  Take a moment and think of the times in the past when you have felt most masterful, most purposeful, most alive or where things have just clicked.  These moments might have happened in your business but equally might have happened in a former career or in your personal life or in a creative endeavor.  It doesn't matter where they happened - it just matters that you get clear on what those moments were.

Then you can look forward to where you want your business to be in 2 or more years and see if you can find a thread that connects your most masterful moments in the past and how you want to be more masterful in the future.  Once you see that thread or connection, it is much more likely there will be a point of leverage that resonates with you more strongly than any of the others.

When I do this, the point of leverage that makes absolute sense for me is meaning.  The points of leverage of process or people no longer feel so compelling.  They inform the tactics I might use as I build my business but they aren't at the very core of the business I want to have now and in the future.

The one thing to keep front and center as you choose your Growth Style is that the piece of each Growth Style that is absolutely non-negotiable and non-transferable is the point of leverage.  That is the one thing which truly defines the Growth Style™.  It is the thing that provides the leverage which is the whole point of this concept in the first place.  

The core piece of information that our Growth Style™ provides is what point of leverage your business will utilize to make its biggest impact.

I am working with a photographer who is a Prestige business owner.  In our work together, we have discussed how - from the very first point of contact with a prospective client until the final point of contact with that client - the experience needs to be exceptional.  We have worked on the PDF document she sends to prospective clients to make sure that not only does it represent the quality of her work visually but also that it gives a sense of the experience of working with her in the words she uses and the testimonials she includes.  Each and every interaction should reinforce the experience because experience is the point of leverage.

The point of leverage is set in stone and defines each Growth Style™.

The revenue models and marketing methods, on the other hand, are not set in stone and do not define the Growth Style™.

A coach who is building a Prestige business can offer webinars to promote her coaching practice as long as those webinars give a taste of the experience of working with her because experience is the point of leverage.  Webinars are not listed in the marketing methods of a Prestige business but that doesn't mean that a Prestige business owner can't choose to use marketing tactics listed under a different Growth Style™.

As your business expresses its unique style, you’ll continually integrate your vision as an entrepreneur, your unique skill set as a technician, and your most compelling messages as a marketer. While the style you use to grow will fit into one of the 8 core Growth Styles™, your particular style as a business founder will evolve to be uniquely yours.
— Tara Gentile

Once you have chosen the point of leverage, you can then choose whichever revenue models and marketing methods you want as long as they reflect the point of leverage you have chosen.

One quick warning about points of leverage.  Some of the business owners in the CoCommercial community have talked about their tendencies when they work - for example, how they are very process oriented.  This can lead to an assumption that their business style should be Bespoke.  This may or may not be true.  Even though process is very important to the way you work or how you naturally approach your work (it is very significant in my own business strategy work), it isn’t necessarily the point of leverage.

During the training for strategists, Tara shared a helpful exercise to help a client "try on" different Growth Styles™.  She helps her clients to craft a value proposition from the perspective of each of the styles that they are interested in.

She did this exercise with me as a business strategist who is interested in Bespoke, Identity and Relationship styles.

Here are the value propositions she created:


"I will take you through a step-by-step process to save you time and remove anxiety and hassle so that you know exactly how to create the business you really want to have based on your unique strengths."


"When you work with me through this business planning process, I will help you not just figure out what you need to do in your business but also to become the leader of your business you want to become."  (You are asking them to elevate themselves into that leader role).


If you had a mastermind option in mind, your value proposition might be: "I work with small groups of business owners to connect them with both their ideal plan and and their ideal network.  We bring the best people together to ensure that you're not alone when you're creating your business plans."

Once you have made it more real in this way, it can be easier for the business owner to decide which of those value propositions he or she feels most equipped to deliver on. Which value proposition is closest to your most masterful moments in the past?  Which is closest to your vision of your ideal business five years from now?

I would love you to try this with your own business and the two or more Growth Styles™ you are torn between to see if it helps you to discover the style that resonates most deeply with you.  

Please share this in the CoCommercial community.

As I have used the Growth Styles™ concept with my own clients who are trying to choose between two different styles, I have noticed a pattern.  What tends to happen is that one style might seem like it is "the one" but then as we flesh out the details of how they will implement the point of leverage into their business model or marketing, we hit stumbling blocks or struggle to make things quite fit. When we look at the other style they were considering, not only does it feel right but the ideas just keep flowing as we look at their business model and their ideas for marketing.  This has become an indicator for me that the client has hit upon the Growth Style™ that truly is the right one for them and their business.

Try this with your own business and different Growth Styles™ and see where you hit obstacles or where your ideas just keep flowing.

Again, please share what you uncover with the CoCommercial community.

One final suggestion if you still feeling torn between two different styles is to look at the pitfalls associated with the two different styles.  You might look at the pitfalls associated with one style and know for sure that that is not a pitfall you want to deal with.  When you look at the other style you were considering, the pitfalls associated with that style are pitfalls that you feel much more equipped to deal with if they occur in your business.

I hope that this has been helpful to you in your quest to find your perfect Growth Style™.

If you would like to dig deeper into your own Growth Style™ and how to start to implement it into your business, I am offering 90 Minute Growth GPS sessions. This is a tool that really gets my creative juices flowing and I love the impact that it has in providing a focus and framework for business owners who were feeling overwhelmed and distracted before we applied the concept to their business.

If you would find my input and Quiet Power Strategy perspective helpful, please click the button below for more details on the 90 Minute Growth GPS Session.

Here's to your creative success!

sal robertson.jpg

What's your story? Including the stuff that sucks ...

Onlyness is that thing that only you can bring to a situation, the collective combination of all your experiences, hopes, dreams, achievements, setbacks, meanderings and accidents of birth.
— Nilofer Merchant

When I start working with a client, the first thing I do is help them to get clear on their story. Their real story.  Not the polished and somewhat sanitized version that appears on their resume or on LinkedIn but the fully-fleshed version of who they really are. 

To uncover their passions, talents, skills and experiences as well as the things that drive them crazy or the things that they consider their "flaws" or "weaknesses".  Or, as Nilofer Merchant so eloquently expresses it, "the collective combination of all [their] experiences, hopes, dreams, achievements, setbacks, meanderings and accidents of birth."  What she calls your "onlyness".


There is something about that word that sends shivers down my spine.  It is a word that conveys so much more than "uniqueness" or "talent" which were words that Nilofer considered but which didn't fully capture the meaning she wanted to convey.  Onlyness encapsulates a lifetime of experience.  It brings together achievements (the qualifications and accomplishments that appear on our resume or professional bio) with "setbacks" and "meanderings" - the things we try to explain away or hide on our resume.  

In an interview with Nilofer Merchant, Tara Gentile asked her to say more about what "onlyness" is.  

So Onlyness is that spot in the world only you’re standing in. It’s a function of your history and experiences, visions and hopes, and I use those four words very specifically. I’m saying it’s everything that might have happened to you, even if it sucked. It’s everything where you’re from, and sort of what has shaped you up to this moment, but it also has to include your aspirations and dreams for where you want to go. So it’s both the moment, it’s the creative space that you’re living in that is both the past and what has made you, and the future and what is pulling you into the future.
— Nilofer Merchant in an interview with Tara Gentile

I absolutely love the idea that your "onlyness" includes "everything that might have happened to you, even if it sucked.

As I have worked with clients, I've really started to appreciate how the stuff that "sucked" in my life and business has made me a much more effective and impactful coach.  Having been a business owner for 11 years, I learned first-hand how much I got in my own way.  My former business, The Creative Groove Studio, went from one class a week in a church hall to 100+ students per week in two studios with 10+ teachers and annual revenue in excess of $200,000.  The business that it grew in to exceeded my wildest expectations.  In many ways, it was a real success story.

But it also sucked.  Big time.

It sucked because I had no strategy in place to navigate the growth from one class per week in a church hall to a thriving business with 100+ families showing up for classes each and every week.  I ran the business as a one-woman-show for far too many years and, when I did finally hire staff, I overpaid them.  One teacher confided to me years later that she thought I must have a Trust Fund as she couldn't see how I possibly made a profit while paying her so incredibly well.

The way we do anything is the way we do everything.
— Martha Beck

Overpaying is something that I do in all areas of my life - whether it be babysitters or how much I tip a taxi driver or hairdresser.  I'm not sure what it says about me but it's a pattern that I've noticed and a pattern that I definitely brought in to my previous business.

I also learned that I'm crap at delegating.  So I would overpay staff but not fully give up the role I was paying them to do.   So that worked really well.  Insert sarcasm emoji.

However all of the bits that sucked have proved invaluable to me as a business strategist.  If I hadn't battled those tendencies as a business owner myself, I would have much less understanding and empathy for my clients who are battling their own "stuff".  I would also be much less impassioned about how important it is for my clients to address those tendencies in their own businesses and lives.  That hard-earned wisdom informs my work as a business strategist and is invaluable to my clients.

What's your Onlyness?

Set aside 10-20 minutes and make a list of the following:

  • your experiences,
  • your hopes,
  • your dreams,
  • your achievements,
  • your setbacks,
  • your meanderings; and
  • your accidents of birth.

As you look at the list you wrote, do you get a clearer sense of that spot in the world that only you are standing in?  How all of those different experiences, hopes, dreams, achievements, setbacks and meanderings combine to create a perspective and value that only you can offer.

This is the first building block in crafting your business' most compelling story.  Getting 100% clear on who you really are so that you bring that fully-fleshed you (the most compelling you) to your business.  It will make your work resonate so much more strongly than if you lead your business from the perspective of your one-dimensional, sanitized self.

Your business starts with you.  It starts with a crazy idea that came to you at that spot in the world that only you were standing in.

I would love to hear from you on the topic of "Onlyness".  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

To listen to (or read a transcript of) the interview with Nilofer Merchant, click here.

To learn more about Nilofer Merchant, visit her website at



Are you speaking your customers' language?

This is about as close as I get to my toes!

This is about as close as I get to my toes!

I'm 7 days into a new commitment to take better care of my physical self.  Or rather, four days of actually doing it, a couple of days off the health wagon, and one day of re-commitment.  The struggle is real for sure.

I decided that yoga would be an important part of this as so many people have told me how  much it would help my overall sense of well-being and, in particular, that it would help me to sleep better.  I've battled with insomnia for 15 years so it should be an absolute no-brainer for me to try yoga.  But I've tried yoga a couple of times in the past and hated it.  Really hated it.  Hated it as in I want to give the middle finger to anyone who says Namaste hate it.

A few years ago, someone was offering free trials for a new health club to people in the street and they approached me and my daughter.  Before I could say anything, my daughter said "no, thank you.  Even yoga gives my Mommy a headache."

Finally the desire to sleep better and feel better has finally worn down my reluctance to make yoga a part of my life.  Or, if I'm totally honest, George Michael died at age 53 and I'm almost 49 so it's time to get serious about this body of mine.  This miracle of a body that hasn't slept properly in 15 years and still does it's best, bless it!  It's time to return the love.

Anywho, I've been looking at all the yoga studios where I live to see what they offer for beginner yogis.  They don't seem to have a section on their website for people who f'in hate yoga so I figure that beginner is the category of yogi I currently fall into.

Quite a few of them offer foundational or beginner classes.  Some offer "all levels" classes which terrify me.  Some offer a 4 or 5 week series for beginners so that you can learn with the same group of people which seems like a great idea but none of the class times work for me or the studio is kind of far from where I live so I don't want an hourly class to turn into a three hour commitment.  I even looked at the pre-natal options but am wondering how I would fake a pregnancy and that kind of deceit doesn't seem to gel with my newfound commitment to yogic devotion and shit.

Imagine my relief when I saw that one studio offered a two hour workshop called "Yoga for People Who Can't Touch Their Toes".  As someone who genuinely can't touch my toes (I can't actually remember if I ever could), I felt like this workshop had been created just for me.  This is how I would describe what I'm looking for if I was chatting with friends.

When you are describing one of your products or services on your website or in marketing materials, it's really easy to slip into jargon and phrases that don't make sense to the actual people who would benefit most from what you have to offer.

Some of the beginner classes I found sounded great but many of them referenced different styles of yoga that mean absolutely nothing to me.  I have no idea what the difference is between hatha yoga and kundalini yoga.  Up until now, I would simply have assumed that I would hate them both equally.  So, although I assume that it's a good thing that your class is introducing me to different styles of yoga, how much more powerful would it be for you to describe the benefits of the different styles and in particular the benefits of those styles of yoga for beginners?  I would feel like you really get me and I would be reaching for my credit card immediately.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I totally have my credit card number memorized so no need to reach.  Thank goodness.

But my point is that you wouldn't be selling to me - you would simply be sharing something with me that I'm actively looking for.  I use the word "actively" loosely but you get my drift, right?

When we stop seeing our customers as ‘prospects’ or ‘targets’, and begin to see them as people with problems we can solve or desires we can help fulfil, we won’t have to struggle to get their attention anymore.
— Bernadette Jiwa, story strategist and author

Take a look at your website and marketing materials and read them as if you were someone who would really benefit from them.  Even better, go out and talk to people who you think would be perfect customers for the product and service.  As you talk to them, let them do most of the talking and you do most of the listening.  

How do they describe themselves?  

How do they describe what they are looking for?  

That is the language you need to use when you describe your product or service.

"Yoga for Beginners"?

It's kind of bleh even though I might give it a try.

"Yoga for People Who Can't Touch Their Toes"?

  Brilliant.  Sign me up!

Mama said there'd be days like this

I'm writing this on Wednesday January 11th as I recalibrate and get re-focused after a slightly rocky start to the week.

I woke on Monday feeling just a wee bit smug.  I had sent out my first newsletter of the year the previous week, was four days into a new commitment to take better care of myself and had just cracked open a brand new Self Journal as I embarked upon a brand new month, new quarter and new year.  I had spent 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon planning the week ahead.  

So, yes, just a wee bit smug.

I knew that my work day was going to start a little late on Monday as I had a 7.30am hospital appointment.

5.45am alarm.  6.40am ferry into New York.

But then the morning stopped reflecting my neat writing in my Self Journal.  The hospital tests took longer than they should have - although I did get to lie down so that was a win - and then it took me longer to get home.  So, the "at my desk working by 11am" clearly wasn't going to happen.

I finally made it home but received a text from my husband that the dog hadn't pooped when he took him out that morning (because sometimes s**t doesn't happen).  So instead of sitting at my desk working, I'm out walking the dog in 15 degree celsius weather (did I mention how freaking cold it was?) by which time I'm pooped but he still hasn't ...

Eventually I collapse at my desk, open up my Self Journal and put my work hat on.  10 minutes later, a text arrives from my 15 year old daughter to say the pain she's been having in her hip has got much worse and the school nurse thinks she needs an x-ray.

So the already-shortened work day shrinks even further.  Along with my smug feeling.

By 3.15pm, my daughter and I are sitting in a doctor's waiting room with a one hour window before I need to pick up my son from school.  We are out of there with a prescription for an x-ray by 4pm giving me 15 minutes to rush home, chop some vegetables to throw in roasting pan with chicken and put it in the oven, before speed-walking to school to pick up my little guy.

At 5pm, this pooped Mama gets home.

The evening Pilates class I was supposed to attend got wiped from my Self Journal because sometimes self-care looks like giving yourself permission to collapse.

Did I get through my work to-do list?  Hell no.  Although I did knock off a couple of things in the tiny windows of time I had and - even  more importantly - I was reminded of one of the biggest reasons why I have my own business.  To be able to drop everything when my kids need me.  Or when the dog won't poop.

A lot of the business owners I work with are leading equally distracting lives.  Many of them are parents who have chosen to run their own business from home so that they can spend as much time with their kids as possible.  The really, really hard part about this is just how many distractions there are at home in addition to all the business distractions that already exist.

Here's what I learned on Monday:

  • the fact that I had made a plan for the main things I wanted to accomplish meant that I could still get some of those things done even on a work day that barely existed.  If there had been no plan in place, I would have spent those tiny windows of time feeling frantic as I would have been mentally juggling everything on my work to-do list rather than the much smaller list of things I had outlined in my journal; and
  • that I need to be realistic about how much energy I am going to have on certain days.  Even if the day hadn't taken on a life of its own, I was exhausted after such an early start and the emotional stress of hospital tests.  It was maybe a day where the first thing that should have been in my journal for when I got home was to take a nap.  So that I had the physical and emotional fuel to tackle work.  Rather than thinking about rushing back to get straight to work, I should have set time aside for me to take a breath to just BE before charging into DOING.  

I'm happy to report that Tuesday was a BRAND NEW DAY!

Do you have a daily and weekly work plan in place?  

As self-employed creatives, I've learned that it is vital to have a framework in place so that you can stay focused on the things that will make a real difference to your business and ignore all the busyness that won't make any difference at all.

After trying lots of different planners and journals, I've decided that the Self Journal works really well for me.  It felt like a sanity-saver on Monday to see that my whole business wasn't going to fall apart from one lost work day.  

Build Your Business Bird by Bird

Re-reading "Bird by Bird" on Asbury Park beach this summer while my son learned to surf.

Re-reading "Bird by Bird" on Asbury Park beach this summer while my son learned to surf.

As business owners, it is all too easy to become overwhelmed and distracted by all of the moving pieces of running a business.   Marketing, admin, the actual work you do with your clients or for your customers, customer service, building a team, invoicing clients etc etc.  It can feel like all the moving pieces have their own moving pieces.  When you think about marketing your business, you are suddenly faced with so many choices and there is always a shiny new marketing technique that can throw you even further into a dizzying state of distraction.

I re-read "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" by Anne Lamott on Asbury Park beach this Summer while my son did a surf camp.  So much of the book provides invaluable instructions for business too.

... thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
— Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life"

During the eleven years when I ran Creative Groove Studio, I would find myself feeling especially overwhelmed as a new season of classes approached.  We offered 15-20 classes per week with 100 or more students each week.  Between class admin (the sheer logistics of 100+ registrations, communicating with 100+ families), creating curriculum for the new session, preparing for classes and making sure all teachers and assistant teachers were prepared could make my head feel like it was going to explode.  But then I would take a moment and realize that I just needed to prepare for one class at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time. 

Bird by bird.

What seemed insurmountable instantly became do-able.  The energy that could have been invested in stress and overwhelm instead could be invested in tackling the first "bird".

Sometimes even one class at a time felt like too big a bird so I would plan the first 15 minutes of the first class.  Once that was done, I would plan the next 15 minutes.  Bird by bird, I built a business.

Take a moment, take a breath and build your business bird by bird.