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Life Lessons Learned From A Folk Festival

Having recently spent several days in Newport at my beloved Newport Folk Festival (live music again – yay!), I’ve realized why I love it so much beyond the music. It’s about how it’s run which also dictates the amazing community (#folkfamily) that shows up faithfully year after year.

In thinking about things I’ve witnessed or experienced over my many years of dancing around the festival grounds of Fort Adams, I realize that much could be applied to the way we might want to live our lives, run our businesses or even just host our gatherings.

So here are 7 Powerful Lessons You Can Learn From A Folk Festival:

1. Don’t judge people by the way they look or act.

Say “Hi” instead of passing judgment. Your first impression might not always the best indicator of who or what a person is about. What if you simply said “Hello” or asked them a question about your common interests that brought you to this common place. My sister and I met terrific new folk friends that we are sure to stay connected to in the future simply by chatting on the ferry, at the check-in gate and while waiting for bands to take the stage.

2. Get out of your spot. You never know what might happen or who you might meet.

While staking your spot and throwing down the blanket and chairs at a festival is a typical first thing to do, don’t limit yourself to staying put in one spot, or you are certain to miss other shows, acts, people, food or scenes. Go with a sample mindset of giving everything a try if you can – it will greatly broaden your experience and your perspective.

3. Be an inspiring leader. It sets the tone for everything.

The executive producer of the Newport Folk Festival, Jay Sweet, is so meshed into the mission of continuing to the make the festival the best it can be, while carrying on 60 years of legacy, that it oozes out of every interaction he has with his team, the artists he curates, the attendees and with the public in general. He gets the best out of everyone – sometimes even more than anyone knew they could be.

4. Make sure you have a capable, fun team.

Even if you are a volunteer who has to tell people to move or clear a lane, or dump out a water bottle (if it’s not filled with water), it can be done in a fun, safe and community focused way that makes it engaging for all. Make sure your team, whether paid or volunteer, is having as much fun as the people they are supporting.

5. Over-communicate to manage expectations but still leave room for surprises.

From the first day of getting the news we had festival tickets, through the decision to cancel last year and reschedule this year, to showing up at the gate on the first day, every email, social media post and app alert from the festival organizers was clear about what was happening, what we could expect and what was expected of us, the attendees. And even though the line-up was typically announced last minute or “with surprises” that was OK because we had been told that would happen – and we even got excited guessing who might show up!

Photo by JJ and Michael Kingsbaker via Instagram.

6. Always leave room for collaboration and connection – you never know what magic might be made. 

Life shouldn’t be a solo act, it should be one of creation and connection and making things better. That’s what happens when artists from different bands, genres and locations get the opportunity to create music together and sit in on each other’s sets or even create their one-off bands (High Women, Middle Brother) or relationships. It pushes boundaries and limitations and opens up potential that often lasts well beyond a set on a stage. 

7. Fly your freak flag and/or dance like nobody’s watching.

A festival, especially this one, is one of people who are interested not only in the music but also the community. It’s a safe space, so go ahead and be you! Wear your festival outfit (or not), sing at the top of your lungs (even if it’s off key), and dance your heart away (even if your son calls it a bobble-head dance 😁 ). We only have one go around – and I can’t imagine you’ll regret it. 

And if you can’t tell by now, I love music festivals, particularly this one that I’ve been going to off and on since 1990 when I was scooping ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s cart (see pic above) where I discovered this thing that is the Newport Folk Festival. If you’re curious about going to festivals or learning more about this one, let me know. Also, check out Season 2 of this wonderful podcast called “Festival Circuit” where you’ll hear about the festival as it unfolded in real time.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what life experiences or life lessons you are learning right now!

Head over to my calendar here and let’s schedule some time to chat!

What’s Your Planning Style?

Are you like me and the idea of resolutions makes you a bit queasy – especially talking or thinking about them before January? Join the club – and celebrate that January is just a month like any other. If and when you are ready to make some plans for your new year, then take a look at some of my favorite resources and experts below.

I basically take a little bit from each one of these approaches to mosh up “my plan” that feels good and aligned with what I want to accomplish and how I want to feel at the end of this year.

Kate Hanley / Better Than Resolutions Week – check out her episodes 89 – 94 of her “How to Be a Better Person” podcast. Each less-than-5 minute episode gives you an easy task to get started on planning and goal setting.

One Word – yes, there is actually a book and helpful approach to finding your “one word” for the year. I always think I know what it is going to be until I actually go through the process and then I am always surprised when my word finds me. The year it’s PRESENT.

Laura Vanderkam / Best of Both Worlds: Goals 2020 – This annual episode provides helpful insight on how to map out what you want to and actually put some time frames and accountability around it. Laura’s approach also helps to prevent the overwhelm that comes when you front-end your goals, but instead shows you how to pace them out over the year in simple categories.

Patty Lennon / Marketing Planner For Coaches & Consultants – If marketing is where you get stuck, then check out Patty’s easy and simple 5 Step Planner to take the overwhelm out of promoting yourself and your business.

Miriam Schulman / Art Journaling – Call all creatives who hate the idea of planning. Take advantage of Miriams’ FREE (for a limited time) Art of Journaling video series. Yes, doodling really can make you productive.

Jen Lehner / Content Planner – Another favorite of mine is Jen Lehner’s Content Planning System. Her holistic yet very tactical system ensures your content actually sees the light of day. It’s one of the many many overwhelmingly valuable tools she shares with her Front Row CEO group.

Nancy Sheed / Content Planning templates – I also have simple, customizable content planning templates to help you bring structure and schedule to your content and marketing planning. You can download them for free here – and learn more about how use them here and here.

Happy purposeful and productive planning!

Behind the “Seens” – Podcasting Advice from Phyllis Nichols

Phyllis Nichols of SoundAdvice Sales and Marketing is an amazing master of messaging and crafter of content. We’ve worked together on all things digital marketing and helping people get their message out for the past several years. On the heels of a record-breaking year launching podcasts for clients, Phyllis shares her advice about why you should consider podcasting and how to get started.  

Nancy: What is the difference you’re seeing in the type of client work you’re doing and in terms of content marketing in general?

Phyllis: Podcasting has been a game changer for us and the business obviously. It’s also been a game changer in how people can think about putting content together. Content marketing has a place and when it’s done well you get a good return but it’s a long game.

For some people depending on their team and their bandwidth and the way they like to communicate, creating content can be hard. Podcasting makes it easier. Most of us communicate much better verbally. We’re much more comfortable with that. We also come across better and more interesting than we might in written form. I could write an article with this information, but you and I having this conversation is ultimately much more interesting than anything I could ever write.

Nancy: What do you say to the person who’s says “I could never podcast because there is too much tech and investment involved.”?

Phyllis: The technology part was a legitimate issue a couple of years ago when podcasting was newer. In the early days of podcasting that was kind of true. You had to have some decent equipment and you had to understand some technology but today that is not true. You can start podcasting with your phone or with your laptop and a web-based app that doesn’t cost anything. Financially you don’t have to spend anything.

Nancy: Can people get into podcasting without having years of voice lessons or speaking lessons?

Phyllis: Podcasting is a really forgiving medium because it’s not live. You can sit down and record and you can pause, you can stop. You can redo it or you can edit it. Editing also takes out um’s and ah’s and pauses and background noise. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to say everything just right because it’s not a one take situation.  I could do it two or three times until it sounded just the way I wanted.

Nancy: How do you help your podcast clients look professional or how do you help them go from recording a podcast to showing up on iTunes?

Phyllis: I started podcasting a couple years ago and I figured it all out on my own. We’ve figured out all the steps you have to do in the very beginning. There are a lot of things you have to do once. There are a few steps that aren’t complicated but have to be done right – in a specific order. It’s about getting your foundation set up right. Most people don’t have the expertise because it’s just a one-time thing. We help people get all that set up done.

(Ninja note!) Here’s something else I want I mention. iTunes is the biggest platform but it’s not the only one anymore. There are almost 30 when I last researched it. We put people get on multiple platforms. There’s a specific process to follow to get your podcast on iTunes etc. It’s not hard but it has to be done they way they want it. It’s the same Stitcher and Spotify and Google. Once you have that set up then every new podcast in the feed automatically gets uploaded to all of those places.

Nancy: People are already doing social media and blog posts so they wonder why do I need to do a podcast?  But as we learned from Laura Vanderkam, one of our mutual author clients, she attracted a completely different audience than she was capturing on all of those other platforms. It’s become a new way to meet people who process information differently.

Phyllis: There are people who will listen to podcasts who would never read a blog post and may never read your book. There’s also a really cool connection factor too. It’s a singular experience. When I’m listening to somebody on a podcast it’s just me and them.

One of our podcasters went to an event not related to her podcast. Somebody behind her heard her talking and recognized her voice. That level of relationship building is powerful. It can be done in other ways, but it would be much harder and certainly much more expensive. Think about what it would take to speak in front of 20 intimate groups. It would require a lot more money and time and energy.

Nancy: What do you say to people who say it’s too late – everybody has a podcast?

Phyllis: It’s just not true and this isn’t me saying this. It’s industry people and people who track trends. Recently, Spotify announced they are planning to invest five hundred million dollars in podcasting in 2019. They want to be the place to go for all audio content. Adweek is tracking marketing dollars and comparing it to early stage internet advertising. They think this is just the beginning. So it’s not too late.

Nancy: What are the trends in podcasting and audio content?

Phyllis: One of the big drivers are the home devices like Alexa and Google Home. You can listen to podcasts there now too. You don’t even have to own one of the devices. You can use the app on your phone.

Amazon announced that over a hundred million of the devices have been purchased and are being used. That doesn’t count the people just using the app. That’s 100 million new people and these devices are in our home. Audience potential is crazy big and keeps growing.

Nancy: What if a person wants to test the water first, and be interviewed on a podcast? How does one get on a podcast as a guest?

Phyllis: With new podcasts being started come opportunities for conversations. Look for podcasts that are going to cover topics that you would like to talk about with an audience that’s similar to your target audience. Not competing interests but overlapping interests. Listen to the podcast to make sure you’re a good fit. Then pitch them an idea. Many podcasters have a form on their website for you to fill out if you want to be a guest.

A lot of podcasters are actively looking for interesting guests to talk to and most will appreciate a well thought out idea. You could take one or two hours once a month and identify four or five podcasts you’d like to be on and either fill out the forms or send a nice email. Think how cool it is to expand your network. It’s a really great way to expand how we’re connecting with people.

Nancy: And how often should people create and post their podcast? Also, is there an ideal time length?

Phyllis: Frequency and consistency help, so once a week is a good place to start.  As for length of podcast it should be however long it takes for you to be interesting and get your point across in a good way. Also be aware of your audience and where and how they listen.

Nancy: What’s the best way to find you? What’s the best way to learn more about getting started with podcasting?

Phyllis: If anyone is interested and want to find out a little more information you can go to the website SoundAdvice Sales and Marketing and download the Getting Started Guide. It will walk you through all the things related to getting started. Feel free to reach out to me there or on Facebook

If you know you want to do a podcast, I would encourage you to start recording. You can share info on your own or start having a few good conversations and hit the record button. The more you do it the better you get at it. The more fun you have and the more you do it, the easier it’s going to feel to you.

Nancy: Ultimately, it’s great advice to just get started. I want to see more people creating these conversations in more intimate ways and podcasting is a good way to go. Thank you for helping people do that.

Phyllis: Thank you Nancy! Someday, I hope that I’m going to be able to hear your podcast!

Nancy: Watch this space . . .

 

Are you interested in podcasting? Have you already started or been a guest? Want to learn more or plan out your content? Let’s connect and figure out how you can take your expertise to the next level with new audiences.

What Are You Planning For This Year?

Imagine the possibilities, then plan to make them happen.

Whether you are a resolute resolution maker, a pensive planner or an ambitious task master, most people treat the beginning of the new year as an opportunity to plan for big things. If you are in the midst of your big planning and need some direction, here are several resources and approaches I found to be very helpful:

> Best of Both Worlds – Designing You 2019: In this podcast episode, hosts Laura Vanderkam and Sarah Hart Unger and reflect on their goals for 2018 and look forward to the new year. What I like about their approach in goal setting is that they break the year into quarters (or quintiles in Sarah’s case) and make goals for the different categories of their lives. This pragmatic and balanced approach is appealing because it provides the path to success and gives a great sense of what your year will look like. Listen here.

> #AmWriting – 2019 Goals: Writers and podcasters, Jess Lahey and K.J. dell Antonia look at their goal setting and planning through the lens of their writing projects. Less quantitative and more qualitative, Jess and KJ blur the lines of personal and professional and treat their goals as the benchmark for which they can answer the questions, “Is this work that I am doing helping me to get to my goal this year?” Tune in here.

> Three Goal Setting Secrets (Most People Don’t Know): This upbeat blog post from author and coach Kate Hanley is an approachable and inspiring “how-to” make your goals become a reality. It’s not too detailed and doesn’t involve lots of tools, calendars and planners. It really is more about the action you take and your mindset. Learn the secrets here.

> One Word – Figuring out my one word for the year, has been an exercise that I have been doing for the past three years. The premise is that you take a very serious look at where you life is now and where you want it to go. And with reflection and discernment, your one word will come to you that should help to inspire and guide you for the year. [My word for 2019 is IMAGINE!] Learn more about “getoneword” here.

I have loosely created my own hybrid of planning using the best of all three of these this year.

One thing I did do differently this year was to go back and thoughtfully reflect on the past year. As opposed to focusing on all the things that didn’t happen, I earnestly focused on what did happen, why it happened and bring success into this year’s planning from the start. It was a valuable exercise in getting my head in the right space and my heart feeling gracious for all that is going well.

So onward we go! Whatever your approach to resolutions, goal setting and planning is, know that there is no right way. What is important, however, is that you’re do something – to guide your year to help you create the life you want to be living. It’s time to finish your book, redesign your website, start your podcast, get those lucrative speaking gigs, and let more of the world hear your message!

It’s not too late, we’ve still got 11+ months of 2019 to make things happen, so let’s get started now.

What’s your approach to planning your year? Don’t have one or are you getting stuck? I’d love to hear more about it and see how I can help. Leave a comment, shoot me an email or give me a call.

Behind the “Seens” with the “Getting To Hell Yes!” team

Let’s go “Behind the Seens” with Alexandra Jamieson and Bob Gower, co-authors of the recently launched book, Getting to Hell Yes! The Conversations That Will Change Your Business and The Rest of Your Life and my go-to branding expert and project partner, Vicky Vitarelli of The Organized Brand.

Vicky and I had great time working with Alex and Bob and were excited that they were able to share how they decided to write and ultimately publish their book.

 

(sorry for the wonky image – darn Facebook – but video works fine)

 

Theirs is not the typical publishing story.

Alex and Bob knew that to get their book Getting to Hell Yes! into as many hands as possible, the ultimate goal, it was going to be necessary to find new ways to brand, publish and market their first joint project together.

The premise of their book is that it provides a 4-part conversation structure and teaches you how to talk about emotional or highly charged topics in an easy non-confrontational way. It’s a tool they use and teach. They received so many requests for the guidelines that they began writing up what was first imagined as a simple Word document to share with clients and friends.

It then became clear that this should be a book and a resource. The goal: as many people as possible benefitting from having better conversations.

They intentionally made the book short and concise. You can read it in about 90 minutes or so. That was deliberate so that people are empowered to learn the system and then use it. It’s meant to be a practical resource that’s used often.

 

Don’t miss these great insights on their journey to Getting to Hell Yes! launch:

  • Hear how Bob and Alex decided to make this book come to life. The early decisions and the method for getting it into as many hands as possible.
  • Vicky shares how they figured out what the brand could be and how that was decided.
  • The branding process explained. Both Bob and Alex have personal brands and the new brand is resonating with both audiences which was the goal, but at first it was hard to see how to make that happen.
  • Bob shares the back story about how they created their avatar for the book.
  • Find out why “taking it home” was so important to the authors.
  • How to “Chicken Soup for the Soul” the message and framework. This is huge!
  • Hear how they determined what success with this book would look like.
  • The title Getting to Hell Yes! was strategic and they explain it in the book. A smart strategy!
  • Why they decided to offer this for FREE!
  • The (un)expected bonus from more people and companies knowing Alex and Bob as a result of launching the book.
  • Why a big launch wasn’t the goal and why longevity was the driving decision behind the website components and the free download idea.

This was such a fun project because it allowed for some out-of-the-box thinking and approaches to book marketing. It also proved there are a myriad of ways to plan, execute and measure the success of your book launch when you are clear about your message, your audience and your goals!

To learn more about Alex, Bob, and Getting To Hell Yes!, check out these these resources mentioned in the interview, and download your FREE Getting To Hell Yes! copy today!