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Marketing Mindset

Is your mindset holding you back in your marketing?

If your marketing sucks it’s because your mindset sucks. That might feel insulting, but it’s 100% true. With the right mindsets, you can move mountains. With the wrong ones, you’ll be buried under that mountain.

A sucky mindset is simply a false belief attached to an emotion. And these kinds of mindsets ain’t interested in success, but in being right, in maintaining their limited and false perspective.

Mindsets are not who you are. Who you are is unlimited. But your mindsets are always lying, always deceiving. These mindsets are trying to protect you but they’re only making things worse. You don’t need them to succeed at marketing, or anything else.

You need to root out these mindsets, see them for what they are, and move heaven and earth to get beyond them. It starts with that one terrifying action – telling the truth.

Ready? Here are 13 mindsets that can kill your marketing success. Just click on the links and learn more about them and how to go beyond them.


Ambition – I must succeed, no matter what, despite the consequences

Confusion – I don’t know what to do

Frustration – This is just not working

Impatience – Things are not going fast enough

Arrogance – I always know what’s best

Overwhelm – I have too much to do

Unworthiness I’m not worthy to succeed

Imposter – I feel like a fake, a pretender

Fear – I’ll be hurt or rejected if I take action

Shame – Others will think I’m trying to con them

Blame – It’s someone else’s fault.

Obsessiveness – I just can’t let this go.

Inadequacy – I can’t make it as a self-employed professional

“Your mindset matters. It affects everything – from the business and investment decisions you make to the way you raise your children, to your stress levels and overall well-being.” – Peter Diamandis

“No matter what, people grow. If you chose not to grow, you’re staying in a small box with a small mindset. People who win go outside of that box. It’s very simple when you look at it.” – Kevin Hart

“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” – Claude T. Bissell

“I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in.” – Roger Clemens

“F*** Inspiration. Inspiration is cheap. I want action and results.” – Anonymous

“My greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people. Mindsets play strange tricks on us. We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see.” – Muhammad Yunus

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Earl Nightingale

“Growth hacking is a mindset, and those who have it will reap incredible gains.” – Ryan Holiday

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

“It’s sort of a mental attitude about critical thinking and curiosity. It’s about the mindset of looking at the world in a playful and curious and creative way.” – Adam Savage

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

“I’d been reading Eastern philosophy since I was a kid. And I meditated. I did it on a daily basis. It’s the one thing I do with any consistency. Meditation gives you a different kind of mindset. It’s very powerful.” – Forest Whitaker


Ambition – I must succeed, no matter what, despite the consequences

If you must succeed, then you can’t fail. That is, it’s not in any way OK if you fail. Ambition is a tricky one because it does have a positive side, it tends to drive you and put you into action. But in being driven, you block other things out, other people, other important things. You always feel right and justified in what you do. So in marketing, you can easily fall into unethical practices. And then the means justify the ends. But ultimately it breaks down.

The best way to handle ambition is to think of your business and your marketing as a game. Yes, you want to win, get more clients, and make more money. But you can play in a less driven way that is all about fun and engagement and building relationships and making a real difference. When you do this, the money will follow. This leaves you with the feeling of true accomplishment and growth, where you celebrate your wins and include others in that celebration. (Think Bernie Madoff vs. Richard Branson.)

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Confusion – I don’t know what to do

Confusion is very common when you start on any enterprise. You soon learn that there are so many components, so many moving parts and that it’s hard to know what to do first or where to start. Many people get stuck in confusion and feel that they’ll never get beyond it. The first impulse is to try harder, the final impulse is to just quit. Confusion seems to be innocent, but it’s not, because it arises out of thinking you should know more than you do. Confusion is a lie.

To combat confusion, you need to be humble. Admit what you don’t know and let it be OK that you don’t know. You need to research and learn from others and discover what really works. Study by reading books, searching on Google, making lists and plans, and getting advice or coaching from others can get you out of confusion. When you are no longer in confusion, it doesn’t mean you know everything, it means you know what you don’t know and what you need to learn next to succeed.

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Frustration – This is just not working

Frustration is a cousin of confusion in that you know what to do but aren’t getting results yet.  Confusion is like casting around in the darkness; frustration is banging into walls over and over again, thinking you should see some light by now. Frustration can also lead to quitting. It’s like fishing without ever catching any fish. But the source is the same as confusion – believing you should have the answer, even when you don’t.

To get out of frustration you need more than general directions, you need a guide who has been there before. You might find a guide in books or other instructional materials, but usually, you need someone who has figured out how to make something work and can give you specific directions. A guide may be a consultant, coach, or mentor. Realize that the investment you make in a guide will pay off many times over by helping you reach your destination more quickly and with fewer costly mistakes.

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Impatience – Things are not going fast enough

Impatience is a lot like frustration but has a sharper edge. Not only are you frustrated that things aren’t working, you are impatient and perhaps a little angry that they aren’t working. And this makes you do stupid things. You follow-up with someone with an impatient tone in your voice: “Why the hell can’t you get back to me and set up a time to talk?” When we’re impatient, we feel that people owe us something, that they should respond faster and differently. It’s not a lot of fun to do business with impatient people. They are fighting against what is.

To get past impatience you need to realize that you’re not entitled. The world owes you nothing, and neither do your potential clients. You need to find time to be still, to be calm, to meditate. I’m not kidding. Impatience is a very agitated state of mind. You’re not only impatient, but you’re also impatient that you’re impatient! Take walks, go to the seashore or the woods and contemplate how long those trees took to grow. Cultivate patience. It’s so much more powerful than impatience. It’s facing reality just as it is.

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Disappointment – I’m not getting what I want

You feel disappointed when you seem to have done everything right but still don’t get the results you want. You’ve spent a lot of time and have traveled a long way. Is it time to give up and try something new? Sometimes it is. But not always. Have you really tried everything? Have you read the books, listened to the experts, gotten some coaching? Or perhaps you’ve set your goals so high that it’s unrealistic to achieve them in the time you’ve set. Yes, you can make a million dollars; but probably not in a year.

Before you get dragged down by disappointment, look at your goals and your expectations. Were they too high? Look at the efforts you put in. Did you really go the extra mile? Look at the information you used. Was it the best information available? Look at the support you got. Did you really use the support to its fullest extent? Now, after looking at all of that, set a new goal, and make a new plan. Get some input from others, and set up a support system that you’ll stick to; then go into action.

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Arrogance – I know what to do

People who are arrogant will rarely admit they are confused or frustrated. After all, they think they know what to do. Many arrogant people are intelligent and resourceful and have had many successes. But success in some areas doesn’t guarantee success in others. For instance, very successful people in business often think being self-employed will be a breeze. It’s a rude awakening and a blow to their egos when they realize they have no idea how to attract clients in any kind of consistent way. I’ve worked with people who have master’s degrees in marketing but can’t attract clients themselves!

The cure for arrogance is to simply admit you don’t know – at least in the area you are struggling with. So be humble, ask for help, read a lot, find a guide, and use your intelligence to learn more and learn faster than the average person. Hopefully, that won’t lead you to more arrogance, however. Become a mentor and coach yourself and give back.

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Overwhelm – I have too much to do

Overwhelm comes from believing you should be able to handle every thing, every idea, every detail without effort. Again, it’s a false idea that we have about ourselves, that we must be perfect and handle everything. When we are faced with a multitude of options and choices, we don’t handle them well. Quitting is a frequent reaction, but simply engaging in avoidance behavior is more common.

To get past the feeling of overwhelm you need to realize you can only do one thing at a time – the thing in front of you right now. Sure, it looks like a million things, but it rarely is. All those items on your to-do list, or the pile of papers in your in-basket, or the hundreds of unanswered emails are completely neutral. They are not doing anything to you. Getting organized helps overwhelm greatly. Creating systems for email, files, paper, and actions puts things where they are easy to access and get to when you need them. Think of what you can accomplish just for today, and then think of what you can accomplish right now. Then start.

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Unworthiness – I’m not worthy to succeed

Now we’re getting into deeper, darker territory where we doubt our intrinsic value. When we don’t feel smart enough, good enough, or talented enough, we doubt our ability help the clients we have, let alone attract new clients. This is the place of low self-esteem, and sometimes self-loathing. To quit at this point is common, but we can carry this around like a cross for a very long time, being a victim of our perceived inadequacies.

It’s easy to find reasons for our unworthiness, but this is the lazy way of avoiding success. Instead, we need to build arguments for our worthiness. What have we succeeded at, no matter how modest? What are we good at? What do we love to do? What do people praise us for? To ignore these obvious abilities and accomplishments is to undermine the truth of our potential. Build on what you have, not on what you think you should have. Make a simple plan and get support in moving forward one step at a time.

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Impostor – I feel like a fake, a pretender

When you feel like an impostor, it’s as if you’re pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. You believe you don’t have the skills, the experience, the track record, or the know-how to pull things off. But nevertheless, people trust you to get the job done. But what will happen when your clients discover you were faking it all along? When they do, won’t that mean the end of your life and business as you know it? Those who feel like imposters are similar to those who feel unworthy, but who take action anyway.

The recurring pattern for all of these mindsets is that “things shouldn’t be the way they are.” Well, in case you didn’t realize it, things are exactly the way they are. You should know exactly how much you know, you should be able to do exactly what you do, and you should have exactly what you have. That’s reality. And if people trust you to get a job done, they see something in you that you may not see. So you’re not an impostor, just someone doing the best job you can. Get over it. Take the acknowledgment and recognition and work at doing things even better.

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Fear – I’ll be hurt or rejected if I take action

This is a big one in marketing because nobody likes to be rejected. We are always waiting for something bad to happen – but it usually doesn’t. We put off making follow-up calls because we think we’ll be rejected. Or we don’t write that article because we worry we’ll be ridiculed. Or we avoid trying to get speaking engagements because we’d only make a fool of ourselves. Fear puts our marking on “play it safe mode.” We rarely take a risk because we just can’t face the imagined consequences.

The way to conquer fear is by making a commitment to finding the truth. Will you really be rejected, ridiculed, or make a fool of yourself? What’s your proof; what’s your evidence? When it comes to making that follow-up call, ask how bad could it really be? Will the person you’re calling send a hitman to take you out? No, not likely! What if they are simply not interested right now? Can you live with that and move on? Of course, you can. Fear is based on the belief that everyone should like you and accept you. Is that true? Sounds narcissistic to me! So tell the truth about your fear and take one action at a time. Take that scary next step.

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Shame – Others will think I’m trying to con them

If fear is bad, shame is worse. It stops so many capable people from marketing themselves. “What if they think I’m trying to pressure them? What if they think I’m like a sleazy car salesperson if I promote my services? What if they lump me in with con men whom people despise?” Thoughts and beliefs like that will stop your marketing cold. Your marking plan will look something like this: “I’ll do the best for my current clients and I’ll pray every night that they send me referrals.”

Shame can be overcome by looking at others who market themselves successfully and with integrity. Sure, you can think of the unsavory types out there, but think of the ones who are great communicators, the ones who listen, the ones who care, the ones who make you, the buyer, feel comfortable. You don’t resist or hate these people, do you? Of course not, you admire and appreciate them. Find someone who is a model of high-integrity marketing and selling. Get to know them; take them out to lunch. Learn about their mindsets and you’ll discover a whole new, shame-free way of doing business.

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Blame – It’s someone else’s fault.

Blame is the ultimate cop-out. It’s not your fault that you didn’t succeed, it’s not your fault that things didn’t work out. It was the advice you got, it was the market conditions, it was your partner, it was whatever conveniently comes to mind. What’s the belief that underlies blame? The same as most beliefs: Things should be different than they are. And, of course, if they had been different, I would have succeeded. This is a sad and tragic place to get to.

To get past blame you have to turn your attention to yourself. But the trick is, it can be easy to blame yourself as well. And that’s just as bad, if not worse. Instead, you want to take responsibility. If something didn’t come out the way you wanted, you had something to do with it. That’s all. After all, if you had succeeded, you’d take responsibility, wouldn’t you? Of course! You’d look at all the things you did to make things work, and you’d work to repeat them. Now, having fallen short, you need to do the same thing in reverse. Look dispassionately at what you did that made things turn out the way they did. Then create a new plan to do things differently. Keep moving on, it’s the only real choice you have.

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Obsessiveness – I just can’t let this go

Obsessiveness can be the fuel that drives every one of the mindsets discussed. That is, we can be obsessed in relation to ambition, unworthiness, fear, blame, etc. We can be obsessed with a mindset before we realize that it’s not reality-based, and then we may still continue to be obsessed whenever that mindset gets triggered again. “Oh, I’m always afraid of that; I know it’s not based on anything real, but I’m still afraid.” My wife is like that about snakes, even harmless snakes.

Our first step in getting beyond a mindset is to realize that it’s not based on anything real. But once you’ve seen that, the next step (which can last for a very long time) is just to ignore what the mindset is telling you and move on. “Oh, there’s that shame mindset rearing its ugly head again. Something must have triggered it. Oh, well, it’s just an old pattern, no big deal, time to get back to what I was working on.”  If you stop giving this mindset your attention, its pull on you will tend to fade over time.

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Inadequacy – I can’t make it as a self-employed professional

Feeling inadequate or not worthy is a common mindset that can undermine you before you even get started. “I’m not good enough, smart enough, well-connected enough, knowledgeable enough, ambitious enough, persistent enough, ad nauseam enough.” It’s a personal self-assessment, based on scarcity and a self-imposed demand that we become more than we currently are. These kinds of thoughts spiral into fears, defeatism, and even depression.

In the early days of my business, I was triggered by inadequacy but I ultimately realized that the only thing that worked was to do the best that I possibly could. That didn’t mean I was self-satisfied, or complacent but was willing to be more self-compassionate. After all, when we’re learning something new, none of us are very good at it. But with commitment and persistence, we’ll naturally get better. Like all mindsets, it helps if we put things in perspective.


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