Before we start our discussion for today, I want to first extend an invitation to those of you whose goal is to grow your career as a coach and take your brand and business to the next level, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
And side note, when I say career, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to quit your 9-5 job in order to make coaching your career. More on this later, but your coaching business CAN be a legitimate career irrespective of whether you’re in a 9-5.
If this is a career you want to build for the long term, come join me inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program. For all of the details and to apply, you can head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. You can enroll now to get early access to the program and other early bird bonuses. The next cohort of the Thought Leader Club will take place from March to July 2024. We kick off on March 1st, 2024. 👀
While I was marinating on how to kick start today’s episode, I was quite inspired to start off this conversation with the topic of interior design. As of recording this, it’s been about 2 months since my husband and I moved into our new home, after going through a few months of renovations.
One thing that really took me by surprise throughout the home renovation experience was how much my partner and I were required to have opinions and to make decisions about interior design and home renovations.
We redid our two bathrooms entirely, changed the floors of the bedrooms, living room, and dining room, and also repainted the walls. This was a relatively small amount of renovations, since only the two bathrooms had major renovations done to them.
But even then, we as the home owners had to be highly involved in the decision making process. For the months leading up to the start of the renovations, for example, we spent almost every weekend visiting different tile shops in Singapore to choose the bathroom wall and floor tiles.
We also went to multiple bathroom accessories stores to explore what were our options when it came to random things like the toilet paper holder. We were also spending almost every night browsing through Instagram and Pinterest to get a taste of what our preferences were when it came to interior design styles. Which, by the way, I think the most accurate description of my interior design preference is modern industrial.
Essentially, what I took away from this entire process was that my husband and I had to know our own values first and foremost. For example, we had to know when we prioritized aesthetics over price, for instance, or when we cared more about quality over price, or when price and practicality was more important over everything else.
This varied case by case, item by item. We also needed to have an opinion over how we wanted our home to look and feel, and to make small decisions in accordance to the big picture we had.
But you know what was the most challenging part of the entire process? We couldn’t let someone else tell us what to do. Even though we hired an interior design firm, they offered very, very, very little creative input.
Whenever I asked “What do you think we should do?”, their answer was “It’s up to you”. We quickly realized that there was no step-by-step blueprint. The interior designer also approached us for every single decision and asked for our opinion over every single detail.
And it was not an acceptable answer to say, “I don’t know, what do you think I should do?” or “What do you suggest?”.
Fast forward a few months later, I can proudly and confidently say that I am living in the home of my dreams. Especially as this is our first home, I cannot be any more proud of how our renovations turned out.
Because our home looks and feels exactly how we wanted it to look and feel. Also, I’ve not seen anything on Instagram or Pinterest that looks like our home.
I’ve spent months scrolling on interior design accounts and pages on social media and I have not seen anything that looks identical to our home. Sure, it’s not perfect. But it is original and an embodiment of not just our style, but also our creativity.
We created it and we designed it. That’s why the renovations translated into a finished home that is truly original and unique to my and my husband.
This exact same principle applies to our online coaching business. Meaning: There’s no step-by step blueprint in life or in business.
Beautiful and successful businesses are built on not only experimentation, trial and error and also a lot of failure and getting back up after you fall, but it sure as hell also involves knowing your own values and having an opinion on what business you want to build and how you want to build it.
This matters because this is the foundation to building an original and creative business and also to create original and creative marketing and content for your business and brand.
Having an opinion is applicable to both life and business. We need to value our own opinions instead of valuing someone else’s opinion over our own. Otherwise, it will keep us dependent on others, keep us small, and hold us back from creating our dream life, career, and business.
I think it goes without saying that leaders make decisions. They lead their community and people because they make decisions and they’re willing to take the step forward, first. And soon, their people follow suit.
Oftentimes, it may not be so easy to make decisions and go first. Even if it’s in the context of our online coaching business. This is often why a lot of entrepreneurs have anxiety around showing up online or putting themselves out there.
Sharing our story, our opinions, our ideas can often feel highly vulnerable. So many thoughts, worries, and fears will go through our minds. What are people going to think? What if I say something wrong? Do I need more research or facts to back up what I’m saying? Who am I to say this? What if I’m not qualified enough to speak on this? And so on.
But here’s a very freeing thought to remember: there are no rules.
Especially when it comes to how to build your business or what to say in your content. You’re not breaking any rules by sharing what you believe in or saying what you really mean.
And talking about what you believe in and what you really mean, is the first step to being creative in your business.
Because when you’re willing to take that risk and go first by sharing what you think, because of the sheer fact that everyone else isn’t willing to take that step that you’re willing to take, you’re already a step ahead of the curve in terms of originality and creativity.
Just by developing your own opinion, you’re taking that first step towards being creative.
But what exactly does it mean to be original and creative within the scope of your business?
For me, I view creativity as being able to offer a different way of looking at something. I’d also argue that being creative means that this viewpoint or perspective is one that stems from your own values, opinions, lived experiences, or beliefs.
What often seems to stifle coaches from being creative is that because they are worried about not saying the right thing or they’re so concerned with not wanting to waste time doing something that’s not effective, they will instead seek out someone else who has done that thing well, and ask them what they think they should do.
This isn’t even about asking questions or seeking mentorship or coaching. In such scenarios, what actually happens is that they’re asking someone else to override their own opinions, ideas, experiences, beliefs, and values.
When I coach clients who are shaky in their belief or confidence in their own creativity, some of the common questions they’ll ask me include:
The common thread between these questions is that while they may seem harmless on the surface because it seems like they’re simply asking their mentor what they think, what I see is that the client is putting way more focus on the strategy over the energy simply because of the lack of trust they have in what they have already created or written.
Because what tends to happen is that their mentor will have their own voice, their own opinion, their own lens through which they view the world. So if you were to ask your mentor what they think, your mentor is going to be giving you an answer based on their own lens, world view, lived experiences, opinions, values, and so on. Which is neither right or wrong.
The problem isn’t about whether their suggestions or advice is right or wrong. But the problem is that it’s not yours. It’s not your own lens or world view. It’s not your own lived experiences. It’s not your own opinions or values.
And the more we ask others what they think, the more we start to lose our own voice.
It’s very natural for us to feed ourselves with other people’s suggestions. Put another way: It’s easy to consume. There’s so much to consume. Always.
Whether it’s related to your business, life or career. There’s always someone with something to say about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
The more we consume, the more we start to look and sound the same as everyone else in the sea of coaches. Even if you’re not copying and pasting something from someone else, we still end up looking and sounding like everyone else who’s doing the same thing as you.
Even if the intention behind consuming is to learn from others and to glean helpful lessons, advice, or insights from someone else, if we aren’t filtering the information through our own lens, then the information we output will simply be a watered down version of the input.
The more we take on someone else’s opinion, the less of your own opinion that we get to see.
It can often feel uncomfortable to express your voice or opinion. But remember: Your opinion, your story, your experiences – all of that matters.
The more you hold yourself back, the more you’re slowing down the impact of your work, the more you’re keeping your business small.
The more you continue to perpetuate the belief that you’re not meant to build a successful business, that you’re not meant to be a thought leader, and that you need to keep seeking out other people’s opinions, keep investing in more strategy-focused courses or programs, or keep asking people what they think you should do in order to build a successful business.
And yes. Every business coach, marketing coach or social media coach will say that you need to have this skill or learn that skill. They do have a point: There’s always someone new we can learn.
But even as you’re learning and being a lifelong learner / student, never forget your own voice or stop trusting your own ideas or the vision you have. Especially in the context of your own business.
For example, learn to answer your own questions first, before asking for other’s thoughts and suggestions or advice on what you should do in your own business.
In order to maintain your own originality or creativity, we have to learn to learn from others without losing our own voice.
This means learning to trust your own voice. Trust yourself and who you want to be. Make your own decisions for your business. And ultimately create the business YOU want to build.
I want to offer three practical tips or insights on how you can express more of your own creativity so you can truly build the business that you want and do it in a way that you’re proud of.
The first tip is to learn from the actual experts and originators of particular information, rather than learning from other messengers. What often happens is that we learn from other coaches or entrepreneurs, who also learned from other coaches and entrepreneurs.
And each time the information is shared, it becomes a more watered down version from the actual original version.
By going to the actual source of the information, we get to access the rawest, purest form of the information. Then we can interpret this information in our own way, rather than learning it through other peoples filters and distillations.
Examples of such sources of information include any work written by the expert themselves. This could look like books, interviews, and TED talks.
Another source of information you could also look at are research articles the expert has published, or datasets, which are the actual statistical reports published. By looking at the purest set of data or numbers, you then get to interpret them from your own lens.
But either way, go to the source itself, rather than learning from someone who’s simply reteaching the expert’s information through their lens.
Again, there is value in learning from other people’s viewpoints, but if your goal is to generate more creative and original work, I suggest spending time learning from the experts themselves, first and foremost, before seeking out what other people’s opinions or interpretations are of that information.
The second tip is to find inspiration beyond your coaching niche, beyond the coaching industry, and beyond online entrepreneurship space in general.
Let yourself learn and make observations from outside of your niche or industry, and use your brain to translate those lessons into something that is relevant and applicable to your community and clients.
This is what I see some of the most creative coaches and entrepreneurs do. They are able to draw connections between seemingly unrelated topics and extract takeaways and lessons that then become highly helpful for their people.
This is how they’re able to come up with powerful and creative analogies and metaphors to explain their concepts or teachings. This is how they come up with super creative and unique frameworks that they then teach.
For example, interior design has really inspired the way I view branding. Whenever I think about the visuals of my brand, I immediately reference interior design terminology.
For my recent visual rebrand and refresh of my website cheryltheory.com, I first considered what is my interior design style, which is modern industrial.
When I was working with the brand strategist and web designer to help me execute my vision, I was able to use interior design photos to explain to her the experience I wanted to create via my brand and website.
From there, we were able to then decide on the colors, fonts, website layout, and so on, based on my use of interior design language to capture and articulate what I wanted my brand and website to look and feel.
What we ended up creating is a visual brand and website that is very, very creative, different, and uniquely me.
If you check out my website, you can instantly see and feel the essence of the Cheryl Theory brand. You can also see that the website design itself is something that I have never seen from any other coach.
I also have been recently spending a lot of time at cocktail bars and observing the bartenders there. I love watching them practicing their craft, i.e. making beautiful, creative, and delicious cocktails.
I also love watching them interact with other staff members and customers. Because when I’m sitting at the bar, I get to extract lessons on how I want to build my business and how I want to push my own creative boundaries to create something super special for my clients. And how to deliver an incredible customer experience without sacrificing the creativity and uniqueness of my own work, and so on.
There’s always lessons around us, no matter what your coaching niche is or what sort of business you’re running. We just need to perk our heads up from our phones or laptops, and start paying attention to the environment around us. I guarantee you will be able to learn from new experiences which you can then apply to your own content, marketing, and business.
Finally, never, ever forget to be inspired by your own clients.
For example, when it comes to what your clients are struggling with, look back at your own process that you teach and specifically identify the parts of your process where they’re not implementing fully or to the extent that you know they’re capable of.
Then actually go create a new tool or concept and teach it to your clients or via your content so it can actually help people.
Another example is: What are your people feeling? What do they want to feel more of or less of? Literally just think about that, and then think about what you can create in your content or marketing to literally help them feel less of that or more of that, or whatever it is.
If you know that they’re struggling with certain negative self-talk or limiting beliefs, then create content that helps them learn how to be kinder to themselves or help them reframe their thoughts and see their situation from a different angle.
My best content and marketing, more often than not, are inspired by my own clients who are already inside my coaching programs. I’m constantly observing what they’re saying to me on coaching calls and what I see them struggling with implementing, and then I’ll create content on it for them to consume, or a new resource or workshop exclusively for my clients to walk them through whatever they’re struggling with.
But the more we look around and pay attention to, let’s say, what other business coaches are doing, the more we neglect our own people and the less creative our own content and marketing will be. Because our content is taking on so much inspiration from other business coaches rather than actually solving the problems of our own people.
So please, the next time you have the urge to creep on other business coaches and try to reverse engineer what they’re doing, take a look at your own clients or community first and foremost, and find inspiration from them first.
Then create from there. This is how you’ll produce your most creative content and marketing, and one that is unique and different from other coaches.
I hope that these three tips are a starting point for you to create some of your best, most creative work in your business.
I also hope this episode is a reminder that all of us can practice the skill of listening to your own voice, making decisions you fully back, and ultimately creating something you’re proud of.
Because building a creative and uniquely differentiated brand and business will require us to lead with self trust, develop our own opinion, and filter information through our own lens.
There’s no shortage of information and ideas around us which we can learn from, and yes, explore other people’s Ideas and perspectives.
But always remember your own ideas and perspectives and lead with that.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and you can enroll now to get early access to the program and other early bird bonuses. The next cohort of the Thought Leader Club will take place from March to July 2024. We kick off on March 1st, 2024. 👀
SOUNDS GOOD? AWESOME. LET'S GET TO WORK