The Ebb & Flow of Life & Biz Abroad


The ocean view from my Miami hotel reminds me of the importance of establishing a work-play rhythm when you’re working abroad—wherever that is.

Set work hours that allow you to keep your business humming and the income flowing AND make sure you have dedicated adventure hours to expand yourself.

BOTH are needed. One without the other results in worry (“I’m working too much and not getting to enjoy where I am!” or “The money’s drying up…I’m not getting any work done!”

Making sure you book time for BOTH is like sprinkling pixie dust over your life!

Getting Stuck in a Rut Can Be GOOD for You

boxIt might seem crazy that something so uncomfortable and confining as being stuck in a rut could actually be good for you.

But hear me out…

What IS it to be stuck in a rut?

It’s experiencing the same-old-same-old, every day pretty much the same as the one before it. It’s not necessarily bad…just the SAME.

Same house, same office, same phone number, same things for dinner, same four office walls. Same streets, same restaurants, same movie theaters, same car, same routine.

It’s experiencing the years ticking by without being fully aware of it, except for the occasional shock of seing someone’s kid suddenly graduating from high school (and you were still thinking of her as 6 years old).

It’s doing the same activities in your business with little to no variation. And, consequently, making the same income, month after month, year after year.

Being stuck in a rut is also about having the same beliefs. Not in a passionate “THIS is what I believe!” kind of way, but in a dull, limited “This is just the way it is” kind of way, unchallenged, unenlivened.

So what could possibly be good about being stuck in a rut?

In a word: CONTRAST.

Contrast is what precedes movement. It precedes change. It’s a necessary component of any kind of big shift.

There are plenty of ways to get OUT of being stuck in a rut — my hands-down favorite being traveling and living in other places, other countries.

However, until you’re AWARE that you’re in a rut — and KNOW the contrast, KNOW what you want instead — it won’t happen.

But, oh, the joy when it DOES happen!! Excitement, revitalized energy, explosions of creativity, thrill, contentment.

So what’s your rut? And what’s the contrast you want…your route to freedom?

Beauty and Your Business

colorful_tiesLet’s be honest: running and growing a business takes effort. And sometimes lots of it.

One thing that has always been a motivator for me — something to keep me going when I get tired — is something you can find in abundance ANYWHERE!

It’s beauty.

Sometimes, all it takes is for you to put your head up from your work and notice (the way the light plays on your dog’s ear, the graceful arch of the plant in the corner, etc.).

And sometimes you have to go in search of it. That’s one of the reasons I travel…I’m in search of beauty because it inspires me so.

If you can’t travel at the moment, take your laptop to a beautiful hotel lobby and work there.

Wherever and whenever, let beauty work its magic. You’ll be amazed by the possibilities when you align yourself with it.

Why She Made the Sale and the Others Didn’t

post 2I spent one of my last few days in Ecuador at a well-known indigenous market known worldwide for its bright, colorful hand-made and hand-woven goods.

My mission: two hammocks.

I wanted one for my upstairs porch that overlooks the pond/meadow in the back, and the other for my now-grown son who I used to rock to sleep in a hammock.

I arrived on a Monday, and it was clearly much less crowded than the weekends. In fact, it seemed downright sleepy.

The hammocks didn’t vary much from stall to stall, and after looking through them all, I finally chose my two.

Guess who got the sale?

This lovely woman (here with her cute daughter) did.

And do you know WHY she got the sale?

post 3Because she showed up.

The rest of the stalls were empty but for the hammocks and even though I waited at each one, no one came up to help me. Maybe they were at siesta, I don’t know. But this woman showed up. And she made the sale.

So here’s my question for you: are you showing up in YOUR business?

Are you showing up and having sales conversations with potential clients?

Are you sending a regular newsletter, showing up in your community’s inboxes and filled with relevant, valuable info?

Are you going to conferences where your ideal clients gather, and do you follow up after you meet potential prospects? By phone?

Are you creating videos? Talking to potential referral partners? Speaking publicly?

ARE you really showing up?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to be the perfect business owner/marketer, who does ALL the right marketing things ALL the time or you’ll fail. We all have places we could show up more fully.

But I am suggesting that you ask yourself this: “Where am I not showing up for myself, for my business?” Now list 3 or 4 of the biggest areas where you may be hiding or simply absent. And then take 1 action in each area — however small — and start showing up.

You never know who will show up for YOU, money in hand, ready to buy!

Create an International Audience

post 1I had the most exciting conversation with my sister a couple of days ago, and what we talked about could be VERY applicable to you.

My sister, Cindy, has a degree in special education, has worked in various school districts and private situations for years in that field AND, perhaps most importantly, has raised a son with severe cerebral palsy for nearly 17 years.

Cindy’s ready to put her expertise to work in a business of her own, and she called me about an idea that she had to do local, private, in-home consultations for parents of special needs kids.

That’s when my mind exploded!

Cindy doesn’t just have a local or regional business doing consultations. If she wants it, she can have an international audience and clientele and a full-on Internet business, with ebooks and teleseminars and home-study courses and 1:1 consulting and, and, and. I could see it all in an instant.

And there’s a good chance YOU have an international audience for your business, your gifts.

5 essential tools for an online business

To develop an online business — one that gives you the freedom to travel, like I love to do, or to just
run your business from home in your pajamas (like I also do) — you’ll need several essential business tools. Here’s a short list of the MOST essential:

Email service provider (ESP). This is for sending out emails to your growing contact list — newsletters, promotional emails, announcements, etc. Don’t make the mistake of trying to send group emails from your private email account (like Yahoo or Outlook or Gmail). That can get you in trouble with spam flaggers fast. Plus, you’ll miss out on the mailing statistics that ESPs provide. A few of my favorite ESPs: MailChimp, Aweber and, for the more advanced, Ontraport or Infusionsoft.

Shopping cart or other payment processor. If you’re serious about developing online products and programs, get a real shopping cart.

If you’re keeping it small and exclusively 1:1 client-based, you may be able to get away with just a PayPal account.

Website. The quickest to put up and easiest to maintain is a WordPress site. Pick a “theme,” customize it quickly and rock out.

Teleseminar or webinar delivery system. There are a variety of services available, and your choice will be based on whether your free OR paid training is live or “evergreen” and automated. A few of the online biz standards are: Instant Teleseminar, GoToWebinar (or GoToMeeting), Stealth and Evergreen.

Opt-in page generator. These services make creating a smart-looking opt-in page super easy. Two of the oft-used systems are: LeadPages and OptimizePress.

Rock these 5 systems and you can do anything — and go anywhere — you want!

What systems do you use as an online entrepreneur? Leave a comment below.

Online business and the chocolate experience

Chocolate tour

I had a dream come true today in Ecuador!

As a MEGA lover of pure, high-quality (dark) chocolate, I’ve always wanted to see and experience the entire process, from the cacao tree to my mouth.

So when I heard of this opportunity, I drove nearly 3 hours on windy, rainy roads through the Andes to get to El Quetzal in Mindo, Ecuador. And I LOVED it!

I got to see the entire process—from the big yellow pod hanging on a tree, through fermentation, drying, sorting, cracking, sifting, melting, stirring, tempering, cooling, sweetening, forming, cutting, packaging — was JUST what I’d been hoping for. It gives me an even greater appreciation when I bite into one of their artisanal chocolate bars!

Business is a little bit like the chocolate experience: when you learn and really understand the steps of a system you need for an online business, you’ll have so much more appreciation for the end product—yours and others’—even if you don’t end up doing all the work yourself.

Where are your people?

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Wherever your ideal clients congregate—online and offline—is where you want to be. That also goes for people you might collaborate with for mutual business growth. Where they are, you be there, too.

First, know specifically WHO you are looking for, and then look for a function or location that fills that with your ideal people.

If your ideal audience members frequent a gym or spa, could you offer a workshop there? A ghostwriter I know chats up attendees at several strategic business conferences where her ideal clients—and ideal referral partners—are gathered.

One example: while here in Ecuador, I wanted to find out about the lives of people who’ve moved here to Cuenca. I’m not much for bars, so when I discovered a “dinner club” restaurant with communal tables and a social hour before dinner, I jumped on it.

Wednesday night’s dinner was JUST what I wanted! A variety of folks telling their stories of how and why they landed in Cuenca, sharing their insights of the culture here, offering insider tips on where to go and what to do. Fascinating stories!

Think outside the box. Where are your people, and how can you get in front of them?

BIG passport tip

Cuenca, Ecuador

Cuenca, Ecuador

Hard to believe it: I’m in Ecuador! My first time south of the equator.
I am so excited to finally be here that I’m pinching myself! This has been a dream since last year.

But I almost didn’t make it!

Just before my flight from Atlanta to Quito began to board, I was called up to the desk and told that because my passport was to expire in JUNE—yes, JUNE—they wouldn’t let me on the plane.

Turns out that Ecuador has a rule that you can’t enter the country if you have less than 6 months remaining on your passport. I’ve learned now that a number of other countries do this, too, but I’d never come across it before in all my years of travel.

BIG TIP: Always check your passport before traveling—and be sure you have at least 6 months left before it expires.

Anyway, long story short, I spent the night in Atlanta, lined up at the downtown Passport Office the next morning, and to my shock, it took less than 1.5 hours start to finish to get a new passport. Bless them!

So here I am! Woohoo!

Cuenca is a beautiful Spanish colonial city in the Andes, founded back in the 1500s. I’m still catching my breath—literally—because of the altitude: 8,300 feet! But also the beauty.

The home I’m staying in (a home-swap arrangement) is right across the street from one of 4 rivers that run through Cuenca, and I hear the rushing water all day. LOVE IT! Out my window, I see local indigenous women scrubbing and slapping clothes against rocks and rinsing them in the river. Nearby, people keep fit on what looks to be an outdoor par-course gym. This is going to be interesting, I can tell!

You know, a number of people wished me a “good vacation” as I left—but this isn’t a vacation at all. I brought several projects to work on here. This is just what I do…find interesting and inspiring places to work from. The adventure and newness opens me up and stimulates my creativity. Makes it more fun to do my work. Just last night, I wrote a POETIC sales piece!

That’s not to say that it isn’t a little scary to arrive somewhere completely unknown, on my own, and set up house here for a month. It is. But I think it’s important to do scary things. Giving in to fear is like giving up on life.

Where is your next stop on your business adventure? Do you have plans (or dreams) to work abroad?

Teleclasses from a castle?

In Italy last fall, I discovered an amazing castle to stay in on my way from Bologna to Torino. I had a teleclass to give on Tuesday and Thursday, and I was planning to do it from my friend’s apartment in Torino.

But the castle…OMG!

Sitting atop thermal waters. Peacocks strutting around the grounds. Misty, magical views going on forever. I didn’t want to leave!

But how would I hold my teleclasses when neither the Internet nor my phone got great service inside the 11th century walls of my room?

See the simple solution in this video.

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