It's my birthday today. I'm turning 45. I'm celebrating ME and taking a moment to look back at the other 5's birthdays so far. This one is by far the best one yet.

Be the gardener of your business

Bee and lavender

I live in Los Angeles, California, and though we tolerate bad traffic, bad acting and bad earthquakes, the gorgeous weather we get year round makes it all worthwhile. One thing I enjoy as a result of the weather is the ability to have a garden with an abundance of plants and flowers. My partner and I work hard to keep this garden alive, but we also have some help from mother nature. 

As we were designing the garden, we wanted it to expand and grow. We knew that if we could attract bees into the garden, they would bring with them ongoing activity and help pollinate the space. So, we planted a few lavender bushes around the edges of the garden in hopes that they would attract bees and pollinate the garden. 

It occurred to me that the garden, the lavender and the bees are a lot like your business, your marketing and your clients. 

Your business is the garden that provides you with the fruits you desire. The lavender is the marketing you put out into the world, and the bees are the clients who come and pollinate your business. 

Planting lavender in our garden was intentional. We knew that if we wanted a healthy garden, we wanted to attract bees. And, we knew that bees would come only if we had the right type of plant to attract them. 

Your ideal client is that bee that will look for the lavender in your business. The lavender is your marketing plan that needs ongoing care and nourishment for clients to keep coming back. Having healthy lavender will attract the clients you want. 

Want to grow a better, healthier business? Treat that business like a garden and you are the dedicated gardner. Here are a few tips on what it takes to create a flourishing garden. Apply this to your business and watch it grow. 

1. Experience: Gardening makes you a better gardner. The more you spend time on your garden (not just in it), you will learn more, fail more and grow more. Nobody wakes up one day knowing exactly what to do in their garden. You learn by doing. Same for your business. You need to spend time working on it, not just in it. 

2. Consistency and Persistence: Plants need ongoing care. Growing a garden isn’t like learning to crochet. You can’t put it down and take it back up three months later and expect everything to be right where you left off. Develop a habit of going out there on a regular basis. Your plants are like your marketing—consistency and persistence will give you a chance to understand your market, catch problems and observe changes. 

3. Plant the right plants for your climate: Chances are you won't be able to grow every type of plant you would like, so choose the type of plants that will grow well in your environment. Start with a small variety of plants and see how they do. Once they are growing well on their own, you can add more. Same goes for marketing. Choose the right tools that are the right fit for you and your business. 

4. Embrace Failure: Perfectionism is dead. As long as you have a garden, you will have plants that die. Sometimes plants die on their own and sometimes gardeners kill plants. Don't let that stop you from keep planting. If a marketing tool fails or stops working, learn from that experience and move on. Take chances and give yourself room to screw up. It's often in those failures that we have our biggest a-ha! moments.

Growing a business doesn't happen by itself. Without you, the business owner, nourishing and loving your business, you may find yourself in the middle of a dying garden filled with weeds and pests. Be the best gardner in your business and watch the magnificent beauty you can grow. 

The ABC index for choosing clients

I used to take any client that had a checkbook. That was the early days of my business, when every dollar mattered and I was working in fear and needy mode. I soon leaned that just because a client has money, it does not always mean they are a good client to work with. 

I needed to come up with an index that could help me make the decision if the client I am about to engage in is a good fit. I wanted a simple tool that will help me examine the most important values I look for in a client.

In your creative business, having a clear index to use when you are creating clients will help you filter out the bad apples from the bunch. This means that you must put yourself first and make a decision that comes from a place of loving your business, not desperation and neediness.

The index that worked best for me, and one that I often teach my clients is the ABC index. This index contains three simple questions that you can ask yourself when you examine a prospect and its fit with your business.  

A - Artistic :: Is working with this client going to allow us to be most artistic and creative?

B - Business :: Does it make business sense to take this client on? In other words, is the budget right? Are the terms OK?

C- Compatibility :: Do I like this client as a person? Is this someone I would want to cook dinner for?

If you are not getting a solid YES to any of these questions, chances are you're about to get into a client nightmare situation. I have yet to see a healthy client relationship that doesn't fit this index. 

In your business, what's your index?

The can't vs. the want to

Last year I started taking drum lessons. I often like to put myself in a student position mostly to remind me about and help me practice patience, humility and being present. 

My teacher is a young man in his early thirties who has been playing drums since he was 13 years old. Needless to say, he rocks. 

I knew I signed up to learn a new skill but what I didn't realize at the time was that I am about to get a whole lot of life wisdom from the process.  

My coach once told me ”how you do anything is how you do everything” so learning to play the drums has been a great way for me to see how I show up in the world. 

In my last session I was horrified to hear myself say the two words I never allow my coaching clients to say: ”I can't!” When my teacher instructed me to try a new beat (which he just beautifully played), a somewhat complicated Latin groove, I went into auto pilot and without even hearing myself say it, the words flew out of my mouth. 


The power of words

Last week a remark President Obama made changed history with a few simple words. ”Personally,” it was ”important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

To you and me this idea may seem obvious, but for the history of the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement this statement will change lives, including yours and mine.

If you look closely you will see that the most powerful word in this statement is ”THINK”. Because the leader of the free word ”thinks” same-sex marriage is ok, his thought became words and his words will become action. Obamas' words will influence people's thinking and create real social change. His words affirm an idea, create a new reality and bring forward a new future.