Today I want to share with you a great discovery I made that led to me to writing my first book which was so successful that I built a whole coaching practice based on it.
And yet, I almost missed the idea!
Can you believe that?
I almost missed it!
And I don’t want you to miss a gem of a idea that’s probably hiding just out of sight.
The idea came to me in a session with a mentor of mine. We were talking about the ‘hidden gems’ in your past experience that can bring you incredible success.
Overlooking Hidden Gems
I’ll share this story with you to show you how you could be overlooking hidden gems in your life and business that could form the most brilliant idea for your book – that’s why they’re ‘gems’ – they’re brilliant, they’re priceless!
My mentor said: “Tell me your past business story.” So, I was telling her about my history in the dance industry, the dance studios I’d had, and my whole world of experience there, not only as a teacher and choreographer but also performing then creating dance programs, running my own studio, and employing teachers. This whole career spanned 20 years and now I still work in this amazing industry of performing arts – one to one with dance teachers, studio owners, and dance movement educators, and I love that work, that one to one business coaching work.
My mentor had been following me online, she’d heard my podcasts, seen my books, and heard me talking about business coaching, marketing, writing and books but she wasn’t really aware of this whole other side to me. And she said, “How do I not know this? About you running a dance studio business? “Why? Why don’t you talk about this?
All The Skills You’ve Learned
And I said to her, “I didn’t think people would think it was relevant to marketing and business coaching, I mean it’s not really relevant is it?” And that was how I saw it – that it wasn’t really all that relevant, so I downplayed it in the business landscape at large.
But my mentor saw all these other things. She saw all the skills I’d learned from running any business whether it’s a dance studio, a hairdresser, an accounting firm, whatever it is – from running a business you learn just so many, many things.
She saw that I’d:
- Built a business that was successful from the ground up
- Done all the marketing on and offline
- Had all these sales conversations
- Had classes that were filled to capacity (and that’s hard to do)
- Worked on customer service systems so that we had no outstanding class payments and very high customer satisfaction
- Developed a totally unique and creative dance and drama program
- Set up all the business systems, the legals, the accounting
- Recruited, trained and managed teaches
- Sourced and hired venues
- Built a team
When I got off the phone what struck me and what concerned me was how many of us are downplaying key parts of our story and missing out on potential success.
Because often we’re seeing it as one silo rather than seeing all the other aspects.
I thought that dance studios were just not that interesting to the entrepreneurial landscape outside of that industry. That it wasn’t relevant. But that was a story I had made up in my head. My mentor saw something completely different.
So, let’s dive in because I want to get to the bottom of this because you might be doing this, and it could be hiding some ideas and skills that you could be using to increase your credibility and raise your visibility.
The fact is, there is value, knowledge, experience, challenges, dos and don’ts, and more from your past experience that can be used in other areas, in other industries to connect with a wider range of people. Pay particular attention if you are doing this because you have repositioned yourself, (which is what I did and what I have been doing) be really aware of this.
Don’t Discount What You’ve Done
Whatever you do, don’t discount all the things you’ve done in your life – your business your work, your relationships, your parenting, your creative pursuits – this is where your next brilliant business idea, podcast, program or book probably sits waiting to be unearthed.
What do we do about this?
The following exercise is a simple but revealing way to start to unearth those hidden gems. Like when miners go underground and shine lights on the rock and, often in hidden away places they find the most amazing treasures that they can then unearth, craft and polish and bring to people who are just waiting for them.
Mine Your Knowledge and Skills
So, this is really easy, it takes a while, so you don’t have to do it all at once. It might take you a week – but spend the time doing it to really get the benefit out of it.
Step 1: Prospecting
a) Write down all the jobs you’ve had (yes the ones when you were a student as well)
b) The businesses you’ve run – successful ones and the not-so-successful ones and c) The big moments of change in your life too.
These are the big moments, when you went through something big either something excellent or something challenging, whatever you classify as big. It might be having a child or adopting a child, going through a divorce, having cancer, changing careers, building your own home or living overseas for 10 years in somewhere that was really testing your comfort zone – they’re big moments, life-changing experiences.
Don’t include studying because studying is great but it’s a bit more theoretical, and informational. What we’re looking for here is really experiential, really in-there stuff, right in the experience.
List a maximum of 10 jobs and 10 life experiences.
Now, look at your jobs, look at your businesses, and look at your big moments.
Remember these are things that are not what you’re doing now. This is looking into your past.
Step 2: Drilling Down
Now put each of those individual things you’ve listed – one each at the top of a blank page – so if you are listing a job have that on one page, a business that you ran on another page, each life changing moment on a separate page and so on.
Now list all the things that you did and learned while you were doing that job, running that business or going through that life changing time. Don’t go into too much detail stage just the main things that come to your mind. Even if some of those things seem unimportant just list them for now. You won’t use everything. This is a brain dump.
The actual day-to-day things that you were doing on a practical level, but without going into detail about how you did those things at this stage.
So, if you’re in a job it might be making customer calls, if it’s running a business it might be writing a blog post or creating a system, it it’s a life changing event it might be going for treatment or taking your child for her first day at school.
Step 3: Mining Your Gems
Then the third thing you want to do is look at those practical things in more detail.
Take each one and write a few dot points about it.
Writing a blog post might include:
Thinking of a topic
Creating a title
Planning what to write
Writing and editing the post
Uploading the post to your website or blog
Sharing it on social media
You can see how the list of all your skills is increasing rapidly and how most of them are not specific to a particular job but are transferable skills that you can talk about and write about in a range of industries and be able to connect with a much wider range of people or find more people within your own niche.
Don’t Downplay Your Skills
What had happened to me was I had downplayed dozens of skills that I had because I hadn’t seen how they crossed over into other industries. In the dance industry I’d been talking about these experiences and teaching these skills, which is great and I’d had great success there, but as my mentor said, it was time to highlight all that, showcase it, bring it forward and not necessarily be talking just about dance but shifting the angle onto the business skills and saying, “These are all the things that I did, and I learned and they worked and these ones didn’t work. With these skills and experiences I can help people across all different service-based, bricks and mortar and online industries.”
So, you can see from this, that whatever you’ve done career and business-wise and in your life, there are lots of skills there that you can use with whoever you are working with and you can use it in your marketing. You can take any one single item off those lists and write a whole book about it or create an online program about it. You could blog about it, do a Facebook live about it or talk about it in a podcast interview.
For example: Sales conversations – everyone wants more customers and clients – but how do you design and carry out successful sales conversations? People want to know. They want to know in your industry and in every other industry they want to do know too.
If you have had a big moment (that moment could go on for years) like a divorce or cancer or a traumatic event you could think about all the things that happened on a practical level during that time. Diagnosis or going through treatment, or health plans etc And what about all of those other things too that you have to bring from within?
Learning to be resilient
Learning about being intuitive
Knowing how your body works
Learning about self care
Learning resilient mind sets
Knowing how to negotiate with people
Navigating the complicated health system
How to be assertive and say what you want
All these other skills, these other resources that you drew on, that came forward, how can they then be used for an idea that you can use in your business?
Don’t let them stay in that silo in your past experience and only think that they relate to one group of people or one particular industry or area.
A Profound Discovery
This discovery was really profound for me. If one cluster for me is dance, dance studios and dance businesses those skills can also be used for other service businesses.
So, if you think that there’s stuff you’ve either left in the past or you say to yourself: “That was my old job when I was an accountant, I don’t do that anymore.” or “Oh no, that was ten years ago when I had that experience overseas, no that’s not relevant now.”
Instead, go through, do the exercise and identify all the things you did and learned and who you became, and what you now know as a result, and then how you can make that or part of that into something of value in your business that you can share with your clients, build your credibility, raise your visibility and increase your reach.
So – this is how to discover the hidden gems in your past experience that can fire you up with brilliant ideas for your business.
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