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On June 16 I’m hosting a free webinar where I’ll teach all this stuff (and more) in person.

Register here to save your spot.*

*feel free to email me any specific questions you have before hand so I can make sure to answer them for you

Last week, we wrapped up the The Flight Formula LIVE – an intensive, in-person, heart-centered business incubator program.

For 7 days, a small group of motivated entrepreneurs met in the mountains of Asheville to discover their gifts, activate their purpose, and build heart-centered businesses from scratch.

Jason and Asher led the way (with me providing a virtual support role from Peru) providing a truly transformative experience for all attendees.

It’s only been a few days, but the reviews are starting to roll in…

“I spent $380,000+ over 5 years and got 10% of what I needed to build a heart-centered business. I attended The Flight Formula LIVE and got the other 90%.”

- Samuel Nazar Walsh, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“Words fail – one of the most truly transformative, powerful and meaningful events I’ve ever been a part of….”

- Bruce Brodeen, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“There are so many people who I think would benefit from this work…I am totally inspired and grateful for the experience. All my clients and colleagues want to know about it and I tell them it totally exceeded all my expectations – WOW!”

- Ciel Walko, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“Wow. Just… blown away by the content of this retreat… and by the compassion-filled spirits that are joining me for the experience.”

- Lehua Kauhane, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

These are just a few of many reviews and testimonials that are coming in.

Truly humbling to say the least.

What’s The Flight Formula Secret Sauce?!

Good question.

In a nutshell, we focus on:

Inside to out; Gift to service.

Not many business incubator programs work this way….actually, none do (that I know of).

All other business incubator programs start with an unmet need in the market.

This is great.

It helps focus our solutions on a real problem (not something we created in our own heads that doesn’t really exist).

But it also misses a fundamental piece of the pie…

Your gift.

What you can give and how you can serve best.

That’s what’s different about The Flight Formula:

We start with the person, his or her gift, and design and implement a way for that gift to serve others in the marketplace.

And today, I want to share with you the 11 step formula we built for The Flight Formula to create transformational change in our students and help them launch heart-centered businesses.

My hope is that these 11 steps will help you create the same transformation in your own life and business.

*note: if you like this post, shoot me a tweet and let me know [click to tweet me!!]

Let’s get to it:

Step 1: Discover Your Gift, Purpose, and Story

There’s no such thing as a heart-centered business if the founder doesn’t understand his or her gift, purpose, and story.

Every heart-centered business starts with a powerful purpose explained through an equally powerful story. And the founders of heart-centered businesses are people who lean into their gifts.

The discovery of your gift, purpose, and story is something that takes quite a bit of time if you’re doing it on your own.

But if you create a safe container or safe space – a tight-knit group of people with shared core values, in an equally safe environment free of criticism – you can multiply and magnify your results in a fraction of the time.

We built this safe space into The Flight Formula as a core, foundational component of our program.

You can develop the same “safe space” into your group, organization, or program. All it takes is a cooperative group to sit down and set expectations from day one and hold everyone accountable to the same standards (no criticism, no judgement; just pure focus on gift, purpose, and story).

Step 2: Break Through Limiting Beliefs

Like clockwork, once someone has discovered his or her unique gift, purpose, and story, a set of mental roadblocks emerge from who-knows-where.

  • This isn’t going to work
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’ve never done anything like this before
  • I’m too young
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too inexperienced
  • What will Henry VonHater think?
  • What gives me the right?…

And so on.

These limiting beliefs are deep-rooted and generally only expose themselves when under attack (I’ve written about this a few times before).

This is the enemy, of course, and while we rationally understand why the enemy is wrong…the excuses can seem so real.

Like discovering your gifts, purpose, and story, breaking through limiting beliefs is hard to do by yourself.

It’s much more effective when you have unconditional support from a tight-knit group who share the same values (and are at a similar stage). Coaches and mentors at this stage are invaluable and can speed up the process dramatically.

Step 3: Identify Who Are You Serving

Once you’ve overcome the mental hurdles of why you can’t succeed (be honest, we all experience this), it’s time to focus on who you’ll serve.

The people you decide to serve are your target market or target audience.

I personally prefer the term “who am I serving” versus target market or target audience simply because it is much more tangible and visceral for me to think of the people and individuals I can directly serve…it’s just much more human for me than target market or target audience.

That said: different strokes for different folks, so think of it whichever way you prefer.

Regardless, the people you serve or your target market are the people that need your gift and who, if presented and approached the right way, will happily pay you for it.

Step 4: Define the Transformation You’re Creating

Step 4 is all about clarifying your offer to the people you’re serving.

This is the part people mess up on…a lot.

Just because you have a gift for playing Halo or drinking craft beer or playing dodgeball (guilty on all accounts) doesn’t mean that it’s something that can serve others…

Whatever your gift, you need to set it in the context of a need that must be met.

In other words: what is the transformation your gift is making in another person’s life?

This transformation must be specific, applicable, believable, and something the person wants and would pay money for.

How do we frame the transformation?

It’s all about outcomes.

Here’s a quote from James Gibson of The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception that helped me better understand the transformation process (and how to frame it):

“What we perceive when we look at objects are their affordances, not their qualities. We can discriminate the dimensions of difference if required to do so in an experiment, but what the object affords us is what we normally pay attention to.”

We don’t look at grass and think about color, saturation, length, whatever.

We think: that’s a nice spot to lay (because it looks soft), or: that’s a nice spot to grow something (because it looks fertile)…

Affordances NOT qualities…

Or to translate:

OUTCOMES (benefits) not features…

Step 5: Create Your Mini-Transformation Product or Service

At this point, you’ve got to bring your gifts in alignment with those you’re serving. The fastest, most effective way is to start with a mini-transformation.

What is a mini-transformation?

It’s a simple solution to a problem that positively changes the person you’re serving (your target audience).

The point of a mini-transformation isn’t to be groundbreaking, but to build trust with the people you intend to serve.

After all, who do we follow / believe in / want to be like?

Those people who demonstrate they are capable of doing (or being) what we want to do (or be).

Can you fix just one small problem your target audience has? Of course you can.

(and if the answer is: I’m not sure what problems they have, engage with them: they’ll be happy to tell you)

This step is all about connecting your gift, the most beautiful part of YOU, to the offer and how you can best serve others.

Simple – not easy.

Step 6: Listen and Engage

What do the people you intend to serve want?

What are they willing to pay for?

It’s not good enough to say “I have this problem, so I’m going to build a solution for it.”

I interviewed Andrew Warner of Mixergy for the next issue of Bootstrapped (the magazine formerly known as The Creative Entrepreneur) coming out this July, and one of the most powerful things he said was to NOT try to solve our own problems. Andrew has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and business owners from across the world. He’s had access to some of the sharpest minds in the world.

So when he gives business advice, it’s best to listen up.

Don’t try to solve your own problem. Get to know the audience you want to serve, find out THEIR problems, and find out what solutions they would pay for. This is called product/market fit.

Identifying product/market fit isn’t rocket science, but it can be uncomfortable.

*note: if you’re an entrepreneur / artist / writer (or aspiring to be any of those): get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Step 7: Design the Flagship Product

At this point, you do not want to build anything. You simply want to wireframe a solution to a particular problem that your target audience said they would pay for.

In order to build out the wireframe (and, for the record, that is the ONLY thing you’re building at this stage – just a rough draft / outline / wireframe), we need to take the feedback from our target audience and mold it into the product or service they said they would pay for.

Wireframing your flagship product is not done in isolation.

You must continue to go back to the people you’ve initiated contact with (the people in your target audience who you listened to and engaged with in step 6) to develop the idea into something worthwhile.

Remember: Creation does not exist in a vacuum.

Use your potential and future customers for help in building what will be a solution to their problems (I promise they will help).

Step 8: Pre-sell to Early Adopters

Once you’ve gone through a few iterations with your target audience to develop the product or service wireframe, it’s time to sell.

If you’ve been communicating with the people you intend to serve throughout this entire process, getting presales will be easier than you think.


Because you’ve built trust with them and you’re providing a solution to a problem they said they would pay you for.

Simple, right??

These are the people that will buy your product or service on proof of concept alone (in other words: they are your early adopters).

*p.s. you have to actually sell your product or service at this stage – that means real money in your pocket (doesn’t matter what your mom thinks of your product at this stage unless she’s putting money down for the first version)

Step 9: Learn. Improve. Evolve.

This is an ongoing process and if you want to build a business that sticks around, you must continually learn, improve, and evolve.

Remember what I said about antifragile businesses – business success isn’t about the best products or the greatest profit. Success in business = survival.

By continuing to grow from the feedback you receive from your target audience, by continuing to build better versions of what they ask for, and by being able to pivot or change direction if necessary, you increase your chances of survival (and this is all that counts).

Step 10: Launch v1.0 of Your Flagship Product

By now, you’ve connected with and built trust with your target audience, you’ve built out a wireframe that your audience is willing to pay you for, and you’ve taken additional feedback to develop and improve the initial concept.

Now it’s time to launch.

Launching isn’t the simplest process – there are quite a number of variables to launch a product the right way, especially if you use an upside-down sales funnel like we did with The Flight Formula.

That said, by the time you get to this point, if you’ve done everything else right, you’ll be able to leverage your early adopters (the ones that bought on proof of concept, remember?) to be your most effective promoters and marketers of your product.

While not recommended, if this small group is all you can leverage to expand distribution of your product or service, it will suffice for now.

*note: I’m writing a book on how to validate a business idea, assemble a team, and ship a collaborative project to market (complete with how to nail a big launch for your product or service). Sign up here if you’re interested in early access to content.

Step 11 (and beyond): Progressively Validate, Build and Ship New Solutions

For The Flight Formula, we started with a very expensive, premium product.

While Pay What You Want, the nature of the program being at a particular place and time meant it was inaccessible to some people.

Once we successfully launched the in-person incubator, the next step was to build out another solution that was accessible to a wider audience.

A lot of businesses start with a small sale and upsell from there (like a $39 eBook to a $399 course to a $2000 whatever).

We decided to go the opposite way, starting at the top and working our way down. This gave us more working capital and validated that what we were creating was a true need in the market.

At this point, we’re developing an online incubator program which we’re getting ready to launch in a couple days (a couple spots are available but we close up shop Monday night – if you’re interested, go here).

In the future, we can continue to build out even simpler and less expensive options for those interested in the same transformation but with limited time or funds (for example: a DIY course with all the core elements, but completely self-guided and self-paced).

The key here is to continue to find and fill unserved needs in the marketplace. You can do this by looking at income level (less expensive or more expensive products or services will attract different audiences), time (people with more or less time on their hands want different solutions), or any other number of variables.

Next Steps

So that’s The Flight Formula in summary form.

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into anything that creates real transformation (like people, mentorship, one-on-one time, space, access to the tools, strategies, techniques of the best in the industry, etc.), but I hope this gives  you a new way to approach building a business.

You don’t have to do things the conventional way:

  • You can start from the inside and work your way out.
  • You can sell your idea before you build it
  • And you can create something that impacts people deeply, personally, and for life

But it all starts with you:

Will you take the plunge to build a heart-centered business?

If you’re still not sure (or leaning toward maybe / yes), Jason and I are hosting a free webinar Monday night where we’ll cover these steps in quite a bit more depth and answer all your deepest, darkest questions about heart-centered entrepreneurship.

I hope you’ll join us.

Here’s the link to the webinar page (no need to optin – just show up).

*p.s. so you don’t miss it, put it on your calendar!!!

*p.p.s. if you thought this was a useful blog post, let me know!!!

Started, Finished and Shipped in Huaraz, Peru

Writing time: 6:34 hours



Subscribe to In The Trenches on iTunes. If you love the show, hate it, or think it’s okay, leave a review!

Winning the Battle for Attention with Ryan Hanley

content warefare bookHow often do you find yourself competing for attention online?

If you’re a writer, artist, entrepreneur, or blogger, chances are a lot.

It comes with the territory.

There are millions of websites and our audiences’ time and attention are limited.

So the question is: how do you distinguish yourself from the crowd and earn that well deserved attention for your high quality content?

Enter: Ryan Hanley.

Ryan is the creator of ContentWarfare.com, the host of the Content Warfare Google Hangout / Live Podcast, and the founder of Hanley Media Labs.

Ryan is THE leading authority on winning the war for attention online by building your brand the right way (and a person whose advice I implicitly trust – something I say about very few people).

The best part: Ryan isn’t keeping his genius to himself.

Instead, he’s  taking all the knowledge and experience he’s gained over the years from building brands online and putting it into a book he’s launching through a new book crowdfunding platform called Publishizer:

Check out Ryan’s book (appropriately titled: Content Warfare) on Publishizer here.

In today’s podcast, we sit down and discuss Ryan’s background and how he transitioned from corporate America to online entrepreneurship; how he became a leading authority in building brands online; and his unique journey to published author.

p.s. Ryan is crowdfunding his book right now and he needs your support. If you enjoy the interview and would like to improve your chances of success online, contribute to Ryan’s crowdfunding campaign. Not only will you get a great book (and a bunch of other bonuses depending on what level you contribute at), but you’ll be supporting an entrepreneur and author who definitely deserves it.

What Ryan Hanley and I talk about:

  • Ryan’s transition from accounting to online entrepreneur, Podcaster, and brand building authority
  • What Content Warfare is all about….
  • How to distinguish yourself from the crowd
  • The three ingredients for successfully capturing a segment of any market (hint: it has to do with Audience, Story, Experience)
  • The three components of Experience:
    • Customer Service: Good or Bad
    • Price: Low or High
    • Delivery: Fast or Slow
  • Which components of experience matter and which don’t (you might be surprised by this)
  • How to tell your story so that you attract the right customers
  • Which is the best social media platform and why (and how to implement it for your own success)
  • Why Ryan went the crowdfunding path for his book and how crowdfunding is changing the landscape of publishing for the better

Wise Words from Ryan Hanley:

“Attention without trust has little value”  [share]


 “Where once we as brands and marketers chose our audience, today our audience chooses us” [share]

Where You can Find Ryan Hanley Online:

content warefare podcastWebsite: www.ryanhanley.com



Other Resources:


* * *

If you enjoyed today’s podcast, leave a review on iTunes here. And let us know what you think in the comments below!


the entrepreneurs journey teaser imageThere it is.

After grinding it out for years…

After hustling every minute of every day….

After putting 100% of everything you’ve got into your journey…

You see the top and it’s within reach. It’s been a long time coming.

You take a knee to pause and reflect…

When you began, the wins were easy: beginners luck is on the side of every person starting a new adventure. Everyone supports you. You feel invincible. Even the Gatekeepers tip their hats, opening the gate for you to walk through. Some of your peers, so inspired by your enthusiasm, follow right behind you…

But once outside the ramparts of Median City, the easy wins fade; trials and challenges take their place, testing your intellect, passion and resolve.

The shock to your system reverberates down to your soul.

You want to turn back and return to the safety of the ramparts and masses you left behind. Your peers do just that (and now they’re sitting at the town tavern regaling stories of stepping outside the walls and their adventures that ended before they wanted them to, but life is life and you have to do the reasonable thing, right?).

Your heart sinks. You see the reason in your peers’ choices to turn back…but the thought doesn’t comfort you; it boils you to the core. Your feet stayed frozen, planted to the ground, not wanting to concede an inch to fear, uncertainty, or failure.

There you are, all alone once more. Scary at first, but then…freeing. For some reason, a weight has been lifted, as if you were carrying their packs all along. No longer.

You set off on your own, your burden less heavy, your mind clearer with every step.

Days, weeks, months pass…

You keep marching.

You conquer the Army of Bad Habits, navigate your way through Conundrum Forest, dodge and weave your way through Hater Swamp, and muscle your way up the testing Cliffs of Insanity…

At the top, you look around; all the progress you’ve made? A drop in the bucket compared to what lays beyond.

You keep marching.

Every day you learn something new. Each day, you become better: your skills expand, your strength (emotional and physical) improves, and your instincts become more refined. You handle your sword and shield effortlessly, as if the heavy steal is made of feathers – as if these tools are a part of you now. When the path diverges in the woods or stops dead in its tracks, you don’t wait for inspiration – your gut tells you left or right and you go – no hesitation.

But there’s a hidden side-effect to improvement: every increase in strength, intellect, and resolve brings with it a new path, a new obstacle, a new challenge that would have forced you to turn back just weeks or months ago, but now it’s within your ability to conquer.

Your skills have improved, but so have the challenges.

And with each new lesson-learned comes a painful realization: how much you still don’t know. It’s as if for every step up the jagged, rocky slope of Tribulation Mountain, another mile of perilous journey appears before your eyes.

You keep marching.


*    *    *

What the REAL Entrepreneur’s Journey looks like (click to enlarge)

The Entrepreneurs Journey (what the real dip looks like)*    *    *

More than a few times you want to quit; to throw in the towel and head back. Yet with each renewal of commitment to stick it out no matter what, providence provides you what you need, whether a new friend who walks the path with you for a while, access to new tools and resources to help you along the way, or an easy win you didn’t expect (even the smallest win in times of desperation can change everything).

You keep marching.

Through the wastelands, deserts, and valleys, you keep marching.

After so many tests, so many obstacles, so many struggles, you’re within reach.

You rise and make your way to the top.

You grab your prize – the goal that was just an ephemeral vision so many years ago, but here it is, in your hands, made manifest. As you enjoy a few brief moments of unfiltered gratitude and pride, you look around. Behind you, on the horizon, you can see the silhouette of Median City on the water. It sure would be nice to go back now and share your stories with old friends…

But then you spot something on the horizon, opposite the way you came. A distant light that glimmers in the fading sunlight. The whisper of light vanishes as quickly as it came into view, but the vision…the vision sticks with you. You don’t know what it was, but your heart does.

You make your way down the mountain.

Do you turn back or keep moving forward?

That’s an easy one.

You answered that question a long time ago.

You keep marching.

* * *

Started, finished, and shipped on the coast of Hourcon, Chile.

Total writing time: 3:03

Total drawing time: 3:16 (harder than it looks, I promise)