Ep. #45: Clarity

Welcome to 2019 everyone! Today I’m talking about the biggest wealth-killing problem that I helped listeners with in 2018, and how it helped me get clarity on how to shift for my business in 2019. Listen to learn how this shift will help us all get rich in 2019, and also how the show will change to help you get thin in 2019.


Welcome to Rich & Thin™ Radio, the only podcast that helps you get more bank with less bulk.

Today’s episode is the first episode of the New Year, welcome to 2019 everyone! I’m Kelly Hollingsworth, and I’m very happy you’re here. If you’ve been following the show up to now, you know that the last 8 episodes were devoted to living your dream in 2019.

The eight concepts we discussed in those episodes, you can stow in your wealth-building toolbox because you will need them, and you will definitely use them, as we get down to the serious and magical work of making your dreams come true this year. If you listened to these episodes, you know that I promised to make an announcement today that will help us all achieve our dreams in 2019, and to set the stage for how this will help the entrepreneurs who listen to the show, I’d like to describe the wealth-killing problem that I saw in each and every listener who reached out to me for help last year.

The wealth-killing problem I saw these listeners spinning in was what I’m going to call the story-telling checklist. What is the story-telling checklist? It’s a recipe that you buy in the form of a book or a business-building course, some of these courses are very expensive, so that you can learn to package your marketing message into story form.

Business owners buy these checklists, they buy into these courses, because they know that marketing through story-telling is the most effective way to reach your customers. Why is it the most effective way? If you’ve ever sat through a mind-numbingly boring  high-school history class, you know why, because what happens in high-school history class? You get fact after fact after fact thrown at you, and you’re trying to memorize it all, and it’s tough because the facts, by themselves, are meaningless. You don’t care about them, and the only reason you’re paying attention is because you’re forced to. You want the A at the end of the class. Or maybe you just want not to have to repeat the class.

How does story fix this problem? If you’ve ever been in a high-school history class and you had a substitute teacher who let you watch a movie for the day that the sub was in the class, you know how story fixes it. Story transfixes us. It captures our attention.

Think about the last story that had you transfixed. Mine was of course A Star is Born. Are you wondering when I’m going to stop talking about that movie? Probably never. I love it that much. But whatever your favorite story is, if it was a can’t-put-down-novel or a movie you saw in the theater 5 times and you would have gone to see 5 more times but they pulled it from the theater, horror of horrors, I want you to think about this: What would happen in your business if your marketing message had that same mesmerizing quality? What if your prospective customers couldn’t get enough of the story that is your marketing message? What if they repeated it to others, just as I’ve been waxing rhapsodic to you about A Star is Born for all of these episodes?

Story is something every business owner needs, because it cuts through the noise and commands attention in an infinitely noisy universe. We can be counted on to ignore everything, including things we’re supposed to be doing and paying attention to, to listen to a story.

Why does this happen? Because story takes otherwise meaningless facts, weaves them through a meaning that grabs at the heart and the soul and the brain of the listener, and then hangs that tapestry on a narrative framework that our brains find infinitely appealing. Story form is like crack cocaine for your brain. We can’t get enough great stories. This is why story is something we binge on. It’s why Netflix is now a verb. We can’t stop doing it.

Those who study story know that story follows a formula, just as songs follow a formula, and this is where the checklists come from—they hand you the formula. But here’s the thing about this formula: I started learning about story more than two decades ago. It is my obsession. I eat, breathe, and dream about stories. I study stories and I write them and I consume them, and I’m now at the point where I can tell my husband what’s going to happen at the end of a movie by how they set it up at the beginning. I can tell him why a bad movie isn’t working, and why the great movies do work. Not that he wants to hear any of this—he just wants to enjoy the film without thinking about the mechanics of what makes it great. And he certainly doesn’t want to hear, when he’s enjoying a movie, my thoughts on what’s wrong with the story and how it could be improved.

He doesn’t want to hear any of this, and I have to confess, I didn’t see a lot of these things in the beginning when I was learning about story. In the beginning, I read book after book after book about story. I attended training seminars about how to construct stories. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote some more. But I wrestled with understanding the form. With really getting fluent in story. As with everything that’s worth doing, it can take years to really become fluent, and  this is what happens with most people as far as story is concerned. Millions of books are written each year on how to write an Oscar-winning screenplay, but only a handful of people on the planet will ever accomplish this in their entire lifetimes.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that anyone can buy the checklist for how to build a story, anyone can sell the formula to you, but few people actually know how to use this checklist and bring the formula to life. This is just like performing surgery or flying a Boeing 737. Your surgeon uses a checklist to take out your appendix. Your pilot uses a checklist to get you from Chicago to your grandma’s house in Orlando. If you purchased these checklists and tried to use them yourself, without the training that they have, how would the appendectomy go? How would the flight go? My guess is not good, and this is exactly what I see for most business owners who are buying the story-building checklists.

What’s happening is that you’re spending $10,000, $15,000, even $20,000 for participation in a single business-building course and you’re walking away with bupkis, because they’re handing you a checklist to write a story, and you’re trying but you’re not a pilot or a surgeon in story-building terms, and the checklist is just bringing you a huge amount of frustration.

And of course you don’t see this when you buy into the course. All you see are the success stories. They show you the handful of clients who actually took the checklist and made it happen.

What they don’t show you is the behind-the-scenes. The success stories are the rare folks who are able to hit upon a story that does in fact bring in millions, and this happens, but the people who are struggling aren’t discussed at all, or if they are discussed, it’s to berate them. In one very expensive program that didn’t deliver results to the vast majority of its participants, I heard the leader of that program on a podcast saying, “The only reason people aren’t succeeding is they won’t do what I say.” In essence, the failure is on them.

And to this I thought, there’s a big difference between handing someone a checklist of what to do, and them actually being able to do it. Story is a skill. It’s a very valuable skill. A story-fixer in Hollywood is perhaps the most valuable person on a movie set, because if the story isn’t working, the movie isn’t working, and fixing the story can mean the difference between hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, or an utter disaster that flops in the first weekend of its release. If anyone with a checklist in one hand and a pen in the other could fix a story, this wouldn’t be the case.

But it is the case, and this is a big problem that no one is talking about. No one who’s selling these courses, and few people who are participating in them, are talking about the fact that a checklist in untrained hands might be worse than useless. It might actually be damaging, because handing someone the checklist implies that they should be able to execute the steps, and if they can’t, then they could easily conclude that they’re just not cut out for this entrepreneurship thing.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as every business needs a contract or two, but you wouldn’t go out and become a lawyer so that your business can have these contracts, you can be a great entrepreneur even if you don’t take the time, willingness, or inclination to learn how to tell a million-dollar story.

The listeners who reached out to me in 2018 were in exactly this predicament. They’d spent tens of thousands of dollars on courses to develop their stories, their marketing messages, but they couldn’t do it, and I helped them with it. I helped them write their stories, so they could get on with delivering the message and delivering their goods or services to the marketplace.

This is probably not a service I would have hit upon as something to offer if listeners hadn’t come to me with this problem, over and over again. But they did, and it’s a big problem, and it’s one I can definitely solve, because it draws on all aspects of my background and my interests.

Why is this the case? We’ll talk more about this in upcoming episodes, but for now I’ll just say that writing a story for you to use in your business isn’t just about the story. When I’m working with an entrepreneur on developing and distilling the story, we uncover all of the business-killing thoughts they’re thinking that were preventing them from seeing the story in the first place. This is where it helps to be not just a story-teller, but also a causal coach. We also look at the fictitious rules that they’re writing in their own heads. Struggling entrepreneurs write these rules—you can’t do this, you can’t do that—in their own heads that aren’t really rules. This is why they’re struggling. They’re just made-up reasons in the mind of the entrepreneur that the business can’t be as profitable as they want it to be. This is where my background as a lawyer comes in. I was talking with a client last week about some made-up rules for why her business wasn’t going to be as easy or as profitable as we initially envisioned, and once she saw that these rules were in fact made up, they were all in her head, she said, “I can’t believe this. I thought I was going to get on this call today and talk to you about these rules and how we can’t break them, and I thought there would be no way you could wiggle out of this, but now that I’ve talked to you, I can see I really did just make this up in my head. It was an imaginary rule that I was using to kill my own profitability.”

So this work of developing a highly profitable business involves more than just developing and distilling the story that is your marketing message. It also involves deconstructing the story in your head about why you’re not making money, why it’s not allowed, and writing a better, more profitable story, that integrates all aspects of you so that you’re elevated into the star we know you can be. And as I’ve been working at the intersection of these two things, the story that is your marketing message and the story that represents your business success–I’ve felt myself working in a space that feels invented just for me and in an intersection where no one else is working. No one is operating in this space, and I think the clients who’ve been working with me in this way so far are feeling this, too. One client said to me, as we were working on her business last year, “What you’re offering is the missing piece.”

So I definitely see that this as something of value for listeners of this show, but it’s also enormously valuable to me, because integrating all of these various aspects of myself into a single service, a signature offer, in marketing speak, represents a huge weight being lifted off of me. Thus far in my career, I’ve always been at least somewhat scattered. For some of my clients, I’m just a lawyer, or just an accountant. For some, I’m just a causal coach. For some, I’m just a story-teller who helps them with their message. Wearing all these different hats with different clients is not easy. It results in lots of moving parts and pieces and things to keep track of. This detritus, feeling pulled in all these different directions and without a singular focus, is the high cost of dis-integration, and I for one am breathing a sigh of relief that I’m done with disintegration. I now have a single offer, and here’s the funny thing: when you get integration right, it seems so logical everyone else says, “Oh, of course that’s what you’re doing.” The other night my husband and I were at a Christmas party and he was telling a friend, “Well, you know how Kelly has always written stories, and how she’s always helped people with their businesses? Now she’s helping them with their businesses by writing stories so they can market better and sell more,” and our friend said, “Oh, of course.”

This is something I didn’t discuss about integration in episode 42. When you get it right, it seems completely logical. No one says, “What?” Everyone nods and says, “Oh, of course, that makes perfect sense.” And I have to tell you, this move I’m making to a single offer in 2019, does make perfect sense for me, but it’s also a bit scary. We talked in the last episode, episode 44, about how faith is like stepping off on that single slalom ski, and letting the other waterski go behind you in your wake, and I do feel that’s what I’m doing. I think, just like on a slalom waterski, I’ll be a lot more skillful with this signature offer, but it also feels scary because so far I’ve told myself that I’m disintegrated because that’s how I make money. For example, I make a lot of money doing legal work, even if all I’m doing is legal work, and that’s why I’ve hung on to the work so far that is pure legal—it pays me. A lot. But I also have to believe, this is where the faith part of a paradigm shift comes in, that if I’m doing something that’s valuable that no one else is doing, that it will find success. And I definitely do believe this is valuable and no one else is doing it.

So this is my shift in 2019, and if you’re struggling to develop the story of your marketing message in 2019, I’m available to discuss what you’re up to, what you’re struggling with, and whether I can help. If this is you, email me at kelly@richandthin.com and we’ll set up a time to chat. This is how we’re all going to get rich in 2019, because story is the single most effective way to attract customers, and I will love to help you with your story.

So that takes care of rich for 2019, but now, you may be asking, what about thin? Isn’t thin something we’re doing as well? And the answer is YES. As I was preparing the episodes on living your dream in 2019, I was very clear, what is my dream? It is rich AND thin, my friends. All the way. So what’s happening in 2019 is that I’m bifurcating the show. Starting next week, we’ll have one episode on bringing  more money into your life, and another weekly episode on getting rid of excess pounds that are weighing you down. Because rich without thin is sort of depressing. In my mind, you’ve gotta have both. Who needs money to buy all those beautiful clothes if they don’t fit? So I think this is a key part of our work in building wealth, because if one more person tells me that they’re backing off from their business while they go on a diet, I might just run screaming off the edge of a cliff. So in those episodes, the second episode each week, starting next week, we’ll discuss how to get to your dream weight without dieting and it’s where I’ll tell you what’s going on in Rich & Thin Workshop, which is the group, so far it’s a teensy group, where we apply the principles of creating wealth to weight loss. Because anyone can put you on a diet. That’s not good enough for me. I don’t want to live my life on a diet. Wealth is about having everything you want, and nothing you don’t, and I think this should apply to weight loss too—you should eat everything you want, and nothing you don’t, to achieve your dream weight because that’s how you’ll stay at dream weight, and that’s what we’re going to work on in those episodes.

So that’s probably enough for today. I want to welcome you to 2019. And I also want to say thank you. I want to thank the listeners who reached out for help in 2018, because in helping you get clarity, I helped myself get clarity, too. And I want to thank you for supporting the show, whether you did or didn’t reach out for help in the past doesn’t matter. Just thank you for being here. And please join me next week and every week after that in 2019 because we are going to rock 2019 and I can’t wait to do it with you!

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