Business

Why Is Brand Authenticity Important?

Let me tell you a story.

Six years ago, shortly after launching my business, I began a weekly newsletter called Fuck Yes Fridays.

I remember clicking “send” for the first time.

I was PSYCHED, my branding felt ON POINT and I was ALL IN to support people in leaving the mediocre behind. My mission then (and now) was to help others create a values-based business and lifestyle that went far beyond “good,” or even “hell yes.”

The email went out. 

I waited.

And then the response came: Many people LOVED the branding… and others were appalled by it (I know now that these are not my ideal audience members, but at the time their response made me feel scared about the viability of my business).

After receiving a few nasty comments, I made the decision to silence my voice.

–> Oof. Writing that sentence makes me cringe. <–

Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you needed to squash the real you in order to fit in, find clients or otherwise be successful?

This is a lie. Don’t believe it.

Now that I’ve studied marketing, led one of my businesses through the foremost incubator for creative companies in the world, and become a six-figure entrepreneur, I know a few things for sure.

Thing #1: You want a memorable brand.

Your job is to stand out and get noticed. This does mean, however, that people will have opinions about you and your work. 

“If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you,” wrote Seth Goin in his book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. “That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise–ever.”

But you know what?

People who don’t like you, think you’re weird or don’t understand what the hell you’re doing will often still talk about you. And that’s free promotion. 

Thing #2: Your audience needs YOU, specifically.

You will say things, offer services, etc… in a way that speaks to your ideal clients.

You are meant to serve a distinct population, not everyone. By using YOUR colors, speaking in YOUR voice, and being willing to say things that feel true to YOU (which may or may not include drooping the the F-bomb if you’re anything like me!), the RIGHT people will find you. Even better, these people will be over-the-moon that you’re there. They will feel connected to you. They will feel like you GET them.

Even if they’ve seen others offering the same service or sharing a similar message, it’s possible your people never feel connected to it. 

For instance, three different coaches might talk about reaching your goals in different ways:

Coach 1: We will use the principles of neuroscience to support you in establishing new habits!

Coach 2: Let’s talk about energetic alignment, the law of attraction and quantum physics

Coach 3: It’s time to clarify what you want and then create concrete steps to getting there

And on, and on and on. 

I’ve seen coaches from each of these different categories (and many more) cultivate thriving businesses and raving fans. The same person who goes to coach no. 1, however, may be completely different than the person who goes to coach no. 2. These service providers carve out their niche by being themselves and embracing their unique methodology. 

Being authentic also means less wasted time on calls with potential collaborators or clients, since people will already have a feel for who you are and what you value.

Thing #3: We live in an ABUNDANT world with TONS of people who need different things

You know that influencer who has 1 million followers? There are SO MANY PEOPLE on this planet that there could be 0 overlap between these people and your big, future audience.

If you buy into any story about scarcity, you may try to mimic others out there. This will not be as fulfilling or sustainable as showing up as yourself.

Be yourself and the right people will come to you. You will like these people better. They will like you better. Your relationship with them is based in authenticity and truth.

The process is similar to dating. Put on a mask, and you might get lots of people interested in you that aren’t actually a great match.

Thing #4: Being yourself makes decision making simple

WWID — what would I do?

If you’re trying to be someone else, mimic another person, or do things the “right” way (the “right” way is a complete myth, BTW), decision making can be a challenge.

When you’re you, you know your values, priorities, and goals. Because of this, you can make aligned decisions more quickly (which is key to our next-level of success). You won’t hem and haw wondering ‘What would this OTHER person do?”

Since being an entrepreneur in this world means trying something, seeing what works, and then iterating, fast decision making is absolutely key to moving forward.

Which of these tips resonates most for you? Share in the comments below.

Also — as you may have guessed — Fuck Yes Fridays are back. Sign up for my mailing list to get my updates in your inbox!

Embrace the Adventure,

Meg

How I Outcompeted my PR Company

A few months ago, I hired a PR company for three reasons:

1) To help me promote my book Dance Adventures
2) To see if I could outperform them when it came to PR
3) To practice investing in myself at a higher level (this company’s services cost about $3,000/month)

Now in the final phases of our contract, I feel grateful for what I’ve learned and also excited that I DID outperform them.

What I valued about this experience

Working with the PR company allowed me to cast a wider net with my publicity efforts, as I spent my time reaching out to publications that they did not contact. It was also a great accountability structure. I checked in with one of the women assigned to my book once a week about what we both had accomplished and outstanding articles I needed to write. The PR company’s efforts also landed me some opportunities I’m not sure I would have secured otherwise. This included my interview with an NBC affiliate, the chance to have a journalist at 60 minutes read my book, and features in publications that I had never heard of (but who have many readers). I wrote for Confetti Travel Café, Business Done Write, Thought Leaders LLC, and several other publications.

What I learned (and what you can apply to your own PR efforts)

  1. 1. It starts with a good press release: No surprise there. While I have experience writing press releases from my time in journalism school, working as a writer/editor in NYC, and working in business development/fundraising, I thought the PR company brought some cool new ideas (you can see the full press release here — note that this is the template, rather than the custom versions they sent to each media outlets). The PR company included quotes from my advance readers and descriptions of a few stories from the anthology they thought would get the most attention from major media outlets. Finally, they customized each press release with a few titles of stories I could write for a given publication, based on its unique interests.

2. Know your dream placements: I spent 20 – 30 hours creating my “PR Wish List.” This included more than 150 news outlets — from podcasts to newspapers to magazines — where I thought the book could be featured. I made sure these publications would have an interest in the subject matter, based on previous stories they published. I also created a list of all of the universities/organizations/companies that I and the other authors featured in the anthology were connected to. I knew these could also be great allies for book promotion. My point person at the PR company said it was the “most exquisitely organized” media outreach list she’d ever seen. I felt proud of this, since I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to support the PR company’s efforts.

3. It’s great to get others involved: Using my PR Wish List, I scoured Linkedin to find my connections to various publications. Sometimes, I knew someone who worked there (thanks, j-school!). Other times, I had to ask a friend for an introduction. Sometimes asking for these introductions was easy. Other times it felt vulnerable and challenging. In the end, I secured many intros and a few cool opportunities. When you ask, people can always say “no,” but you might be surprised at how often they say “yes.”

I also got the authors and Dance Adventures’ early readers involved. I sent them the press release, examples of emails to send out to their alumni magazines or other networks, and volunteered to support them in writing letters to any media outlet they wanted to contact. We also did some very fun author interviews, which you can check out here.

And, last but not least, there was my mom! She wanted to try to secure publicity for Dance Adventures on NPR, Ellen and in a few other places. One Sunday morning, we sat down together and typed those out. We thought about what would inspire and delight the editors/hosts, and came up with the subject line: “Proud Mama Reaching Out.” We were delighted when, not long after, NPR reached out for an interview.

4. I looked at current events: When it comes to pitching ideas, many editors are looking for things that are timely. In other words, they want you to have a good idea and for it to fit in with current events or trends. I went with pitches (such as my story on equitable editing, which will be out in early 2021) that would further conversations already happening in the United States.

5. Don’t be afraid to follow up: If I didn’t see a clip that was promised, or didn’t hear back about a pitch, I reached out. If I still didn’t hear back, I would contact the editor again a week later. I decided on the mindset that my follow up emails (as long as they were spaced reasonably far apart) were supportive to extremely busy editors. This kept me going, even when it felt like there was radio silence.

While there were other lessons, I will pause here for now. I am excited to share more about this process with my clients, as they work to get the word out about their own projects. I am also delighted that my diligence, organization and vision created so much opportunity. It is a testament to the inner work I’ve done (which has taught me to keep going even when I feel daunted) and to my skills as a writer and editor.

I would love to hear your takeaways from this post! Please comment below.

Some of the publicity we secured for Dance Adventures:

Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad (Press Release)

DANCE IS A VIBRANT FORCE FOR CULTURAL IMMERSION DURING TRAVEL 

New Book by Dance Travel Expert Spotlights How Dance Connects Travelers to Community, History,  and Cultures Abroad 

Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad by Founder of Dance Travel Company Releases  December 2020 

How can people with no shared language communicate? How can someone who has just arrived in a foreign country quickly make friends or meaningfully engage with local culture? To former professional dancer Megan Taylor Morrison, now a life coach and dance travel expert, the answer couldn’t be  clearer: 

Dance. 

In her new book Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad, Morrison demonstrates that dance can forge connections between people from different backgrounds, as well as lead to cross cultural experiences that promote greater understanding of another culture or engender tremendous  personal growth for the traveler. 

For many of us during the age of COVID-19, life-giving experiences are in short supply. The things we  love – attending incredible dance performances, going to dance classes, or hugging people within our  dance communities – feel far away. Dance Adventures brings the wonder of adventure and movement  to readers, wherever they may be. 

This anthology includes 19 true stories written by a diverse group of renowned performers, dedicated dance teachers, dance scholars, and other avid dance travelers who: 

● Explore their craft in locations tied to their family history and discover how dance helps them connect with their heritage; 

● Build bonds and community with locals through a shared love of movement; ● Challenge their assumptions, embrace the unknown and find surprising new truths by saying  “yes” to spontaneous opportunities; or 

● Reflect on who they are and discover how dance can make them a better version of themselves. 

The contributors hail from all corners of the world, and the stories take place in 17 different countries  including India, China, Senegal, Philippines, Angola, Brazil, Morocco, Cuba, China and Mozambique.  Contributors include:

Courtney Celeste Spears, a dancer with the world-renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In  Dance Adventures, she writes about her experience returning to her second home in The Bahamas and  serving as an ambassador between her family, her heritage, and her dance company. For Spears, dance  brought the two worlds she cherished together. 

Indian-American folk dancer Dr. Ted Samuel, who embarks on a year abroad in South India where his  parents are from. As a member of the Indian diaspora, he initially faces the challenges of feeling like an  outsider in India, but ultimately finds an important vehicle for connection in Karagattam: a traditional  south Indian folk dance. 

Zsuzsi Kapas, a Hungarian dancer whose family immigrated to the United States in 2000 to leave behind  a life of ethnic oppression. In Dance Adventures she shares a story from her three-year journey around  the world, during which she studied the healing effects of dance and movement improvisation. She  writes about her time in Indonesia, where her intensive work with the creator of a dance style known as  Joged Amerta Movement led to lessons that helped heal her childhood trauma. 

Makeda Kumasi, who teaches West African dance classes at UC Riverside, visits Senegal for the first  time. There, she fulfills her long-time dream to set foot on the land of her African ancestors and gains  the firsthand knowledge she feels she needs to teach West African dance at the university level. The  story highlights her final day in the country, when she visits Gorée Island and confronts the realities of  the Atlantic slave trade. 

Topics Megan can also address include: 

  • ● 5 Travel Hacks Only Dancers Know 
  • ● Cool Dances Around The World You’ve Never Heard Of 
  • ● Why Dance Travel is the Next Frontier of Tourism 
  • ● How Dance Changes Us: Life Lessons learned While Dancing Around the World 

Each of the stories in Dance Adventures highlights a way that dance travel leads to meaningful  experiences, thereby shaping a person’s identity, facilitating their personal growth, or uniting them with  people from different backgrounds.  

About the Author 

Megan Taylor Morrison is an avid dance adventurer and certified life and business coach. She has  studied local dance forms in 16 countries on six continents, as well as designed and co-led dance  retreats to Argentina, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. In partnership with Melaina Spitzer, Meg  debuted the talk “Dance Travel: The Next Era of Dance Education,” at the National Dance Education  Organization (NDEO) Conference in 2018.

Through lectures, roundtables, and articles, Meg continues to share best practices for cultural  immersion through the arts. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University  and a bachelor’s in international affairs and French from the University of Puget Sound.  

Advance Praise for Dance Adventures 

“Armchair travel has never had it so good! Dropping into these cultural adventures is like landing feet  first on the most dynamic dance floors around the globe. Each carefully curated story gives a dancer’s eye-view of the people, places, and practices that enrich our planet.” 

—Mark Metz, publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine and founder of The Dance First Association 

“This book is indispensable in light of the current social momentum with regard to Black lives and the  dismantling of violent systems. Many of the stories portray the experiences of individuals in whom  multiple languages, customs, and spaces coexist, and for whom dance is the unifying factor.” —Moncell Durden, Assistant Professor of Practice, USC Kaufman School of Dance 

“Dance Adventures contains beautiful moments of transformation and connection through dance—a  wonderful extension of Meg’s own mission. The anthology’s writers create a strong case for using dance  to understand the world.” 

—Mickela Mallozzi, Emmy® Award-winning TV host of Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi 

“I was captivated by Megan Taylor Morrison’s Dance Adventures! This vibrant and emotionally  explorative collection of tales captures the power of dance in a way that transcends the stage.” —Aisha Mitchell, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater member (2008–2013), Broadway soloist in  Oklahoma (2019), and featured performer in The Lion King (2013–2018) 

Title: Dance Adventures: True Stories About Dancing Abroad 

Author: Megan Taylor Morrison 

Hardcover: $49.99 

Paperback: $35.95 

Language: English 

ISBN-Hardcover: 978-1-7354842-4-2 

ISBN-Paperback: 978-1-7354842-5-9

Dance Adventures Cover

What are the Best Books For Entrepreneurs?

When I meet successful people, I ask them what they’re reading. These recommended books on business and personal development led to massive momentum toward my goals, and I’m delighted to share them with you. 

Books for Business

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

Why read it? You want a simple accounting system for your business that makes sure you have sustainable growth, get paid for the hard work you do, and have fun.

Quote: “A financially healthy company is a result of a series of small daily financial wins, not one big moment. Profitability isn’t an event; it’s a habit.”

The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you

Why read it? You’re launching new products or programs and you need to know how to interview your ideal clients

Quote: “Trying to learn from customer conversations is like excavating a delicate archaeological site. The truth is down there somewhere, but it’s fragile. While each blow with your shovel gets you closer to the truth, you’re liable to smash it into a million little pieces if you use too blunt an instrument.”

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It (1st Edition) (2.7.1995)

Why read it? You want a business model that’s replicable and can help you make good money without working around the clock

Quote: “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic!”

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Why read it? You’re tired of investing time and resources into ideas or products that don’t have the success you predicted.

Quote: “We must learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or what we think they should want.”

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable

Why read it? You’re ready to challenge yourself to have a brand that people notice. 

Quote: “If you’re remarkable, it’s likely that some people won’t like you. That’s part of the definition of remarkable. Nobody gets unanimous praise–ever. The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.”

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media and Self-Awareness

I recommend listening to this book, rather than reading it. You’ll soak in all of Gary V’s positive, high energy as he riffs about all sorts of topics relevant to running a successful business.

Quote: “I put zero weight into anyone’s opinion about me because I know exactly who I am. Can you say the same?”

Books for Personal Development

Rich as F*ck: More Money Thank You Know What to do With

Why read it? You are ready for your next level of wealth, and you need to challenge limiting beliefs or fears that are blocking you. I believe this is the best book about money mindset that has been written in the last 30 years.

Awaken the Giant Within

Why read it? It’s time to stop making excuses and start creating the life you want.

Quote: “Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards.”

Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised™

Why read it? You’re serious about shifting your money mindset. This may be my favorite money mindset book of all time.

Quote: “Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.”

The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It

Why read it? You struggle with imposter syndrome.

Quote: “You can have all the confidence in the world and still be reluctant to self-promote out of a steadfast belief that a person’s work should speak for itself. It doesn’t.”

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

Why read it? You feel like you are heavily influenced by others emotions, behaviors, and needs.

Quote: “Furthermore, worrying about people and problems doesn’t help. It doesn’t solve problems, it doesn’t help other people, and it doesn’t help us. It is wasted energy.”

Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One

Why read it? You want to shift from one career to another. 

Quote: “You can learn to enjoy calculated risk and uncertainty in exchange for adventure, flexibility, freedom, and opportunity.”

Getting Real: Ten Truth Skills You Need to Live an Authentic Life

Why read it? You’re interested in open, honest, authentic communication

Quote: “To really experience true contact with another person, you must enter a realm of uncertainty together.”

8 Ways to End The Loneliness of Working From Home

8 Ways to End The Loneliness of Working From Home

1. Start and end your day with people: Working from home doesn’t have to be lonely. There are plenty of options for a social fix before and after work. In the morning, attend a bootcamp class with your friends, join a jogging club, or have coffee with a fellow entrepreneur. In the evening, have dinner with your housemates/friends/family, host a weekly games night, go for a long walk with someone you love, or find an activity you enjoy, such as social dancing. It’s best to make these meetings routine so you can socialize without extra work. No entrepreneur needs the responsibility of more planning.

2. Set a boundary around your work hours: It’s hard to be social if you’re in front of your computer from dawn ‘till dusk (so many entrepreneurs do this!). Create a schedule that gives you room for life outside of work. Even if you get 10% less done each day, you will significantly improve your quality of life.

3. Pick up a social-heavy hobby: This can make your weekends a social extravaganza. Join a hiking group, take a pottery class, sign up for improv workshops, or participate in a Meetup group for wine-lovers. Whatever it is, make sure it gives plenty of time for conversation and
connection with fellow participants.

4. Plan Social Getaways Once Per Quarter: Whether it’s a weekend visiting a good friend or a trip away with awesome people (check out the retreats I host at www.packretreats.com), plan these well ahead of time. I suggest my clients schedule their quarterly getaways at the beginning of the year. This will give you something to look forward to, as well as help you avoid burnout, support your self-care and keep your creativity flowing.

5. Find an online community: A quick Google search of “online community for [your focus area here]” will return good prospects. I also highly recommend my virtual coworking community at
www.megantaylormorrison.com In The Thriving Creator, you co-work alongside other awesome entrepreneurs from around the world.

6. Co-work in person: Coordinate coworking at a local cafe with other entrepreneurs in your network. Make sure to keep meeting times consistent so people can plan for them.

7. Work with accountability partners: Find someone you can check in with a few times a week about your progress. You can do this in person or over Skype (seeing this other person, rather than just hearing them, will help fight loneliness). If you want best practices and training on how to maximize the potential of your accountability partnerships, check out my accountability training.

8. Collaborate: If you’re always working solo, consider a collaboration with someone you admire. Host a workshop with that person, edit each other’s work, or create a podcast that supports
both your businesses.

About the Author: Megan Taylor Morrison is a creative entrepreneur and business coach based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She loves travel, social dancing, and watching her clients build flourishing companies. Cowork alongside Megan each week in her virtual coworking community or learn more about Megan’s work here.

8 Ways to End The Loneliness of Working From Home