Stories from my clients
theresa chaney - squarespace web designer
I’m always impressed by how much my clients care about their clients, and Theresa is no exception - she gives 100% each time to delivering a polished professional site that reflects their unique business. She has a particular affinity with those who find tech challenging, and once she’s finished a site, she really goes the extra mile to make sure that her clients feel fully comfortable navigating and updating their new site. She’s very warm, patient and approachable and is great at making her clients feel that no problem is too small or too silly to raise with her.
When I started working with Theresa, one of her main concerns was how on earth to differentiate herself from the thousands of other Squarespace designers out there? She designs elegant sites that are carefully tailored to each client’s needs and tastes (for instance, look at this site in her portfolio), but she’s not someone who wants to focus on her own visual branding. How could she stand out from the crowd? And how could she compete without joining the race to the bottom with pricing?
The process I use with my clients is to uncover the story at the heart of their business, so that they can become known for being who they really are. They don’t have to try to fit into a mould that they think or hope is going to be popular - instead we capitalise on their natural strengths.
When I first talked to Theresa about using this story-based method, she was skeptical. “I can see how this works for other people, but I don’t have an interesting story.” However, one of the nice things about working with her is that she’s always willing to give something a try, so she agreed to give it a shot.
And oh my goodness, I’m used to clients not realising the goldmines they’re sitting on when it comes to their stories, but Theresa was ignoring a real humdinger of a story.
Here it is as we eventually added it in to her About Page:
My parents brought me to the US from Africa for a higher education when I was 16 years old. After three short days together, they left to return home and I was completely on my own, in a new country, on a different continent and in a very different culture. The familiar world as I knew it for the last 16 years of my life had completely changed! How was I going to make it?
I spent the first year having to figure absolutely everything out for myself. What I learned was that I'm a fighter - you can put me in any situation and I'll be able to pull myself out of it. I learned that it's always possible to find a way to survive, even if the odds are stacked against you.
What I've carried over from this life changing experience into how I run my business is an understanding that relationships are key - if you can build good relationships, you can work your way through anything. And I'm incredibly persistent - if you need your Squarespace site to function in a particular way, I will keep going until I find a way to make that happen.”
From this story we figured out that her Unique Selling Point is a combination of her focus on relationship-building, her determination and her willingness to fight for her client’s vision. Of course, we could simply have listed these qualities on her About Page without the accompanying story - but the story makes them unforgettable. If you come across this story when you’re browsing several designers’ sites, you’re now much less likely to get mixed up about which designer Theresa is. And if having a designer who will do what it takes to bring your vision to life is top of your wishlist, Theresa has just become your first choice. If you want to work with someone who understands how lost you feel in the bewildering world of tech and web design, why not work with someone who has huge empathy for culture shock - an empathy born out of her own lived experience of being thrown into an environment that initially made no sense at all to her.
That’s the power of stories - we’re hard-wired to understand the world through stories. They engage our emotions and, because they make us feel something, we remember them.
If you’d like to find out more about Theresa’s web design services, you can do so right here.
And if you’re interested to discover more about how you can uncover the story at the heart of your own business, you can find out how to work with me here.
tara leaver - artist, e-course creator & mastermind participant
Tara is a powerhouse of enthusiasm and creativity - one of those people who lights up when they talk about what they do. She's a painter and a born teacher and communicator and has been running an online business for five years. Her message of freedom through art has found her over 9,000 followers on Instagram, so although she describes herself as being ambivalent about marketing, she's clearly doing something right...
She joined the inaugural Mastermind, which ran in early 2018. You can find out more about her and her art and courses at her site.
Before signing up for the Mastermind, Tara was losing some of her passion for her business and feeling a bit stuck around how she marketed her e-courses. Having somewhat fallen into being an entrepreneur, after the side gig she set up as an experiment took off and turned into a business, she had done a huge amount of work over the years to learn more about designing and running online courses. Like all solopreneurs, she faced having to keep generating her own momentum, day in, day out.
"When I first read the sales page for the Mastermind, I was feeling like I’d fallen out of love with my work. Not to the point of wanting to give up on it, but just feeling jaded with all the marketing and outreach side. I think as an introvert, learning to navigate marketing in a graceful way is a particular challenge. I knew that I knew how to make courses, create and edit the videos and so on - it was the outward-facing side of things that I needed the help with.
I felt like I’d done a lot of business and marketing courses and I’d learnt as much I was going to in that context and I needed something a bit more personal that I could relate to the specifics of my own business. I’d reached a stalemate and felt like I was constantly reinventing the wheel with my marketing, even though I’d learnt such a lot about how to do it. I needed to find a way to make it self-sustaining.
I wasn’t consciously looking for something like the Mastermind, but when I saw the sales page a light went off, and I just knew, this is what I need. I could see how it could restart my enthusiasm and my faith in my ability to make my business work."
Before joining the Mastermind Tara was very used to working in isolation, without having easy access to feedback from other people who really knew the details of how her business worked.
"I was really attracted by the idea of a very small focused group, something that gives you the connection to other business owners but in an intimate way, rather than some of the big Facebook business groups I’m part of - they’ve been really helpful, but I’d reached a point where I needed something that bit smaller and more personal. And for the group to be run by someone who knows what they’re doing and can give you encouragement, but also specific pointers and accountability.
The small group was amazing because even though we all had quite different businesses, having that camaraderie made such a difference - and we also seemed quite in sync with one another, often having ups and downs at around the same times. Just being able to check in on the FB group and get someone else’s perspective was so useful. It was very cosy and non-intimidating. That personal element was crucial.
The other half was Sophy and her guidance and all her years of experience in various different spheres of business. It made such a difference to have that sounding board from someone who could look at what you were doing and give advice that’s not just encouraging but also practical."
How the Mastermind worked:
3 1:1 coaching sessions to be able to dive deeper than is always possible in a group setting
A 3 hour group coaching session to set meaningful flexible goals for the 12 weeks
A secret FB group with daily interaction and a weekly timetable of check-ins for group accountability
The option to create co-working sessions or simply to ask to be held accountable for getting something done on a particular day
Weekly opportunity for editorial review of sales copy, website rewrites, newsletters, blog posts etc
Fortnightly small group (5 people) video meeting sessions with 'hot seat' coaching slots for each person
Prep work before the 12 weeks of group work started and follow-up afterwards, meaning that the support lasts for 4 months
If this sounds good to you, you can sign up to go on the waiting list for the Mastermind by clicking the button below:
Being in the Mastermind has had a significant effect on how Tara feels about the processes that go into running her business, particularly around the areas of goals and focus.
"As a result of doing the Mastermind I have a very different feeling about goals. Before I was quite resistant to them, but now I can see how you can put goals in place that guide you while still having breathing room in them.
Having just three goals really made sense to me and linking it into how you’re feeling was so much easier to work with. Some of my goals had to be adapted as I went along and could see how it needed to be adjusted slightly - but then I started to see how they didn’t have to be so rigid.
The Mastermind really helped me with focus, and having the container of the group element running for 12 weeks gave it clear boundaries.
The marketing problems I was having (and that I see other people having) were related to focus. There are so many things you could do, but you have to choose one or two, try them, see how they go and course-correct as necessary. Left to myself, I’m self-motivated but also quite free-floating and having the external accountability was really important.
The structure was really helpful - the way we had certain check-ins on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and so on. Even if you set those kind of targets for yourself, it’s so easy to let yourself off the hook for deadlines, so having that kind of outside accountability is huge."
The Bottom Line
"During the 12 weeks of having all that group and 1:1 support, I was able to run mini experiments in my business and marketing and to gain a new level of clarity and authority. I got that guidance and container within which to experiment in a safe space and get lots of feedback.
An unexpected bonus was that the small group dynamic meant we built a relationship over the course of the mastermind, and because we all get on well and enjoyed the format so much, we've continued to meet for monthly calls to support each other, which so far is proving invaluable.
I only have positive things to say about it. I just got so much done during the Mastermind."
If you're interested in the Mastermind, or one of my other services, like The Full Story, you can arrange to have a virtual coffee with me by clicking the button below to book your free consultation. There's no pressure to buy - it's just a process of finding out whether we're a good fit and if the timing is right for both of us.
michelle ayn tessensohn, master coach & meditation teacher
Michelle Ayn Tessensohn is a hugely experienced Master Coach and meditation teacher, who works with women who want to deepen their personal and spiritual journey. She found her way to the worlds of coaching and meditation via a circuitous route, that included a breakdown, yoga, reiki, shiatsu, shamanism, counselling training, aromatherapy and life coach training with Martha Beck.
Based in Singapore, she has lived and studied all over the world and is one of the most open-minded and non-judgemental people I’ve ever met. She did a writing mentorship with me in 2017, in which the focus was on getting her writing regularly for her coaching blog.
You can find out more about Michelle and her coaching at her website.
Before signing up for the Mentorship, Michelle had been struggling to write much, despite (or perhaps because of) really wanting to express herself creatively through writing.
“I was feeling very frustrated because for eight years I’d been trying to write the blog for my business and it just always felt like such a big deal. It felt very daunting to me, the idea of writing really regularly. And I also had the idea for the memoir that I wanted to write but I didn’t feel like I could get anywhere with my writing, even though I really wanted to do it.”
Before taking up the mentorship, Michelle had been trying to write without any external support beyond attending a local writers’ group.
“When I saw Sophy’s bio, I thought, wow! The length and depth and breadth of her experience working with writers was so impressive. I thought it would be a great opportunity to work with her and that she could help.
I also felt like we had a connection, and for me, I always go with the person and the connection. Writing is quite vulnerable and I felt like she’d be encouraging and I wouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes with her – I felt I’d be able just to try things out without her judging me. Also, I know how powerful coaching is and I knew I would need the accountability, having someone there, it’s so key. I think I was just ready to try.”
How the Mentorship worked:
· It ran for 12 weeks
· 4 hour-long coaching sessions via Zoom video
· Weekly email check-ins for accountability and coaching
· Weekly ‘homework’ (to do a certain number of writing sessions in the next week)
· Editorial feedback on 5,000 words
If a mentorship sounds good to you, you can find out more via the button below.
Michelle’s ‘homework’ at the beginning of the Mentorship was to write for ten minutes, five times a week. We worked on ways to integrate this new habit into her life and work, but initially she was extremely resistant to the idea that starting so small would actually work.
“I was surprised that we started so small – I really didn’t think it would work to start so simply. I didn’t think I’d get anything written in that time. I was really doubtful. I didn’t expect it to work and I thought it needed to be harder. But in fact, it just built on the small foundations so that after a while I was writing regularly for longer sessions, and in the end it was really effective.”
The Bottom Line
“I got the writing done!
I started the Mentorship writing what I thought was drivel, but no matter how bad I thought it was, Sophy always found a way to be encouraging about it. That really helped. It was also effective to separate the writing and the editing.
Before the Mentorship, I would start writing and would then get stuck because I felt it wasn’t good enough. Working with Sophy, I didn’t get stuck and kept writing through my doubts. Before, I would write and stop – sometimes I’d get so stuck, I’d stop before I’d actually written down a word. I also started to make it a practice to write down all my ideas – I hadn’t taken that seriously enough before.
By the end of the Mentorship, not only had I written lots of blog posts, I could also see the memoir as being more possible. It started to feel like something that I could get going with, instead of being this big tangled ball of ideas that I didn’t know where to start with – it started to unravel and get clearer for me.”
If you'd like to find out more about the options for working with me, either 1:1 coaching or within my Mastermind group, click the button below: