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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

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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.

Why?

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

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 “Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what’s waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It’s yours!” [Troy]

Creators have a dilemma.

We want the freedom to create whatever, whenever we want…

But the market will only compensate us for what IT wants.

This leaves your average creator (whether entrepreneur, writer, artist, etc.) in a particularly uncomfortable position, with only two real options.

Option 1: Create what you want, ignore the market…

Many creators do just that.  They build for themselves and completely ignore the rest of the world.

There’s only one problem with this: it rarely pays off.

Yes, there are outliers.  But that’s exactly the point: they’re outliers.

If the market doesn’t like what you create, you bear the burden.

‘Do what you love’ sounds fun and sexy, until you realize you’ve been living on your mom’s couch for 3 years.

Option 2: Create for the market, ignore what you want…

Many other creators (probably the vast majority) choose this route.

They ignore their curiosities, inspirations, and passions, and build widgets instead.

There’s only one problem with this: it comes at a cost.

How long can we supply the demand for something we don’t care about?  How long can we commit to creating something personally valueless?  How long until the money’s not worth being a robot in the robot factory?

A False Dichotomy

Of course, this is a false dichotomy.

It doesn’t take a human geographer to realize there are other options besides ‘starving artist’ and ‘miserable cog’ when it comes to the life we choose for ourselves.

Just look at how many starving cogs and miserable artists there are in the world…

I kid (sort of…).

So why do we do it?

Simple:

We create this dichotomy, first and foremost, because it’s easier to process the world this way.  The brain can only process so many things at one time, so simplifying things makes the brain happy (we avoid sensory overload).

Second – and much more insidiously – we create this dichotomy to create an out

The Enemy wants to keep us stagnate.  An ‘either / or’ dichotomy with seemingly brutal consequences is the perfect weapon to make this happen.

If the world is a zero sum game, if it’s either win or lose, if it’s either me or him…well, better reason to just stay put, keep our heads down, and blend into the rest of the tribe

Now that we have a good, rational reason to sit still, we are off the hook for not taking action.  We have our out.

The Real Creator’s Dilemma

But of course this out isn’t really an out.

It’s submitting for comfort and safety (or so we think…).

The real dilemma isn’t: do I do what I love, or do I do what makes me money?

This dichotomy doesn’t exist – it never did.

The real dilemma is: do we acquiesce to a life and lifestyle undesired because it’s comfortable and safe?

Or…

Or do we take the uncomfortable, uncertain, and difficult path…the one we know won’t be easy, clear, or guranteed…the one fraught with hardship, setbacks and failure…

Because we know it will be worth it?

Take it. It’s yours.

You can do important work and make money from it.

It’s possible, I promise you this.

I meet new people doing it every day.

More importantly, they’re doing it their way:  they’re picking the route, choosing their packing list, and drawing the map as they go along.  No, it’s not easy – but it was never supposed to be.

The same reality can be yours.

It’s waiting for you, just beyond that beach…

The question is: will you take it?

Start, finished, and shipped in Cape Town, S. Africa (after hanging out with penguins!)

Total writing time: 5:30 hrs

p.s. interested in taking the beach, but rather do it with an army?  I’m putting together an elite group of people for a new project…one I’m not sure will work.  If you’re interested in finding out more about it, join The Resistance: COMMAND Group today.

Note: this is an exclusive group, different than The Resistance Broadcast.  Only passionate entrepreneurs and artists commited to collaboration and excellence need apply.

“Once you decide on your occupation… you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success…”  – Jiro Ono (Jiro Dreams of Sushi)

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a map of the gilisFor the past two months, my wife and I have been traveling around South East Asia.

We’ve spent the majority of our time in Indonesia, with a one-off stop in Singapore for a long weekend (flights were $9 and we needed to renew our Indonesian visas, so it was a no-brainer).

Toward the end of our time in Indonesia, we made a trip to the Gili Islands, just off the coast of Lombok.

There are three Gili Islands – Gili Trawangan (Gili T for short), Gili Mano and Gili Air.

Each island has its own unique atmosphere (Gili T is more party, Gili Mano is basically undeveloped, and Gili Air is that quiet middle ground, more suited for honeymooners or people who prefer less crowded locations but all the essential amenities one might need while visiting an island paradise – like Wi-Fi).

We decided to spend the majority of our time on Gili Air.

Artisanship on an Island Paradise

I knew this place was different the moment our wooden boat floated up to its sand and coral beaches.

Unlike most Indonesian cities (and most SE Asian cities for that matter), instead of being greeted by hundreds of taxi cab drivers looking to take all our money (we stand out here), we saw a dozen horse drawn carriages lining the street with not a single moped in sight (again, for SE Asia, this is bizarre).

Courtney and I had done our research, though – Gili Air is only a few square kilometers, meaning everything is in walking distance.

So we started walking.

We had no set plans or booked reservations – we normally wing our travel and this was no exception.

As we walked along the half-cobble, half-sand roads, we were greeted with the standard set of Indonesian idiosyncrasies (smiles, laughter, offers for a place to stay or eat, and lots of ‘mista’ and ‘boss’ thrown into their sentences for good measure), and passed by dozens of independently owned and operated shops.

One shop in particular caught my attention.

gili air artisan

- How do you NOT stop here? -

A little hut, just off the side of the main road (there’s really only one main road in Gili Air), with a sign that read:

Gili Air Artshop Made to Order. Looking is for Free, Smile Included.

But it wasn’t the warm, inviting sign that drew me in; it was the man sitting outside the shop, hacking away at a coconut that did.

His name is Nin.

Nin is an artist.  He carves, paints, and constructs things from wood and other natural materials.  Today, he is carving a necklace out of a coconut.

Watch him work for just a few minutes and you realize a few things:

1. Nin is a professional.  This is his life.  It’s what he does every day for hours a day.  His craftsmanship shows.

2. Nin is an artisan.  He works with his hands to bring his vision to life.  And he’s skilled at it.

3. Nin’s workshop is sustainable in the perfect sense of the word.  He uses discarded wood and coconuts to make his art.  This isn’t for marketing purposes – it’s out of necessity.

Naturally, I had to buy something from Nin.

gili air artisan

- Nin hard at work -

He charged me 200,000 Rupiah for a coconut necklace.

As a point of reference, that’s less than $20 US.  As another point of reference, that’s more than it cost for one night on our beach front bungalow, and about 2 times as much as dinner for two at a high end restaurant on the island.

Depending on how you view it, it might seem like I got ripped off.  Relative to prices on the island, 200,000 Rupiah is quite a bit of money.  And I never bartered (something you’re supposed to do in Indonesia).

Of course, after watching him work, I didn’t want to.

He spent three days carving this necklace from a coconut shell.  Every day, I watched his progress, forming something from (essentially) nothing.

When it was finished, I wondered if 200,000 Rupiah was too little.

The Artisan in the Digital Age

I tell this story for a reason.

First, to point out that artisanship still exists.  All over the world.  And many people just like me are willing to pay a premium for it.

And second, to beg the question:

  • What does it take in the digital age – in the age of pixels, gigabytes, and high resolution – to create something artisan?
  • Is it even possible?
  • Is it worth bleeding over our work when there’s nothing to physically hold at the end of the day?

The Message and the Message Spreader

In the beginning of this essay, I quoted Jiro Ono, a sushi chef made famous from a little documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Jiro’s an artisan.

He lives and breathes the perfect sushi dish.  He’s been doing it every day for over 70 years and will continue until he physically can’t.

Jiro charges over $300 a meal.

He does because he can – because people want to see a master artist at work.

We’re naturally drawn toward those who perfect their craft, who’ve weathered the inner creative battle for decades and come out on top.  And we’re happy to pay a premium just to be in their presence (Jiro’s sushi shop is booked months in advance).

Again, this might solidify the idea that artisanship only exists in the physical realm…

Until I think about how I heard of Jiro.

I’ve never met Jiro in person, nor been to his sushi restaurant.

It was a documentary – a digital download – that brought his work to my attention.  It was this medley of pixels, gigabytes and high resolution that shined a light on his work and his philosophy.

The digital world made this message possible to spread.

And no other medium could have delivered the message with more impact.

We’re Waiting to Pay You a Premium

As entrepreneurs, creators and instigators in the 21st century, a very big part of what we do is online.

Yet instead of killing off what is left of artisanship, I honestly believe it’s helping to grow and expand the roll of the artisan (just listen to some of the interviews I’ve done with true digital artisans like AJ Leon and Dan Adams, among others) .

The artisan storyteller; the artisan craftsman (online and off); the artisan message spreader…

The roll of the artisan is expanding.

The question isn’t one of accessibility or ‘how’ – anyone can be one if they choose.

The question is: are you willing to put in the hours, days, and years (and the sweat, blood, and tears) to create the perfect product or service for the people who matter – the ones who want to hear from you?

My advice?

Start today – before you’re ready.

Because we’re waiting.

And we’re willing to pay a premium.

Started in Gili Air; thrashed in Sydney; finished and shipped in Perth, Australia (while listening to the song Perth by Bon Iver)

Total Writing Time: 3 hours and 8 minutes

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