The art of persuasion

Have you ever asked yourself: Why do we have mental breakdowns? I experienced a full-blown meltdown a couple of years ago. I’ve gone over it over and over again asking myself how on earth I got there. The only answer I can come up with is this: failing to take responsibility for what happened. One word: avoidance.

“I really want Google now,” I am talking my head off to my Doctor friend. “Will be bummed if I don’t. Are your sarnies selling well?”

“No. There is more bla bla here then there,” the Doctor tells me pre-occupied. “But I am negotiating to rent kitchen space. On Monday I do new trials.”

“Yeay,” I cheer him on as it does all sound promising although I am wondering why it is taking so long. Or on the other hand I keep asking myself if the Doctor has a better sense about setting up a business than I do. I’ll just observe for a while, I decide.

“Today I bake for new photos,” the Doctor goes on.

“Do people like them?” I ask him again.

“Yes they do,” the Doctor nods at me pleasantly.

“Posting photos to social media?” I want to know why he needs these photos. Is it digital marketing material, or is it content for his menus? “I bet they do.”

“Perhaps,” the Doctor avoids my curiosity.

“Do you make them happy too?” I prod further for more answers. “Can I order a sarnie with charisma?”

“I don’t know about that,” the Doctor eyes me suspiciously. “Yes when I come back as an employee as a mentalist for Google after you get the job. Going to get supplies. Back in half an hour.”

“Oooooh I m not sure I want you to come back,” I smile sweetly peering into my webcam to gauge his every reaction. “It’s always great seeing you and talking to you. Love having you around. Like really love the feeling. It’s comforting, soothing, nice, motivating. But dangerous too. And there’s Debbie and your sarnies. But would love to taste a sarnie with charisma. I really want that too. With or without Google. I want Google too though. And to become very, very rich.”

“What do you think will happen to you if you become very rich?” the Doctor turns to face me head on in the camera. He had been pottering around his study before this turn of conversation. “Are you ready for those problems?”

“I might lose touch with reality again?” I ask a little worried. “I would like to create businesses. Travel the world. Sponsor charity work, maybe start one myself.”

“You need to be more clear than that,” the Doctor points out to me.

“I will continue working as a consultant part time in my own consultancy agency,” I start out doing my utmost best to be very specific this time. “I will hire and educate young people in digital marketing. Heleen will be my office manager. I will also start up my Center for Inspiration, branches in Keerbergen, Mechelen and Brussels. Bring meditation to busy stressed out people. I will also open a shop selling designer clothes for kids. I will travel during school vacations with my three kids and the au-pair. We will tour South America. Also Asia, Japan, Bali, Vietnam. Stuff like that. And Scandinavia. We’ll blog about it too. And create immense Instagram following. I will start a charity for kids. Bring digital education, a center where kids can turn to: get food, clothes and comfort. Starting in Belgium and then other places along my travels. Maybe also teach them to make sarnies. I will sell my house and buy a new one, bigger, more modern, more center Keerbergen so my kids can go to school by bike. I will also do stuff with art and photography. Like workshops for kids and travel camps. That’s what I will do when I am rich.”

“Ok good enough,” the Doctor shrugs pretending not to care, but I can tell my the twinkle in his eye that he liked my answer.

“What will you do?” I ask him in turn.

“Consider risks, as its hard work to begin with,” the Doctor gives me a wise look urging me to pay close attention. “I will protect my money. Invest as best I can. Keep trying to grow my capital. Be wary of those trying to take it away. Mix with winners only and adopt their attitudes to success. Teach my kids to do the same. To achieve is better than a life of Reilly.”

“Ok will cogitate on that,” I tell him as I do think his advice is pretty sound.

“Think about it like this,” the Doctor looks at me sternly. “You work for longer periods than you vacation. This makes vacation special. If you vacation for long periods you will need to demotivate yourself to work.”

“Well yes there are long periods during school time,” I defend my cause. “But okay make vacation rare and special. I’m hoping I do get Google. I’ll be able to have paid vacation! Real vacation without a computer. Without being always on. I haven’t had that in years.”

“Yes I really hope you do,” the Doctor nods. There is something about the air around him that makes me feel insecure now.

“I will by a loft by the sea and organise meditation retreats,” I continue laying out my future plans, doing my best to shake the creeping feeling of insecurity. Why am I feeling this gut feeling? What am I not acknowledging? “Me too. Any magic spells?”

“Yes but they don’t work in Belgium,” the Doctor dissuades me of any hocus pocus. This also shakes me as I would expect my pure desire for manifestation to be the ultimate secret to getting what I want.

“They don’t?” I ask him annoyed. He obviously wants me to work for it. Maybe that was my uneasy feeling. “Where do they work then? Need to make this work. I’ll just have to trust that will happen what is best. Whatever is on my path. Sounds so fatalistic.”

“Spells work best among superstitious people,” the Doctor explains. “No you must make it happen. Pray a lot. Ask for it. Be clear on what you are asking for.”

“I want to be a top executive at Google,” I decide there is no time like the present to be clear about what I want. “It will give me the visibility and credibility I need to sell these training videos and to be successful. It will allow me to expand my career, learn, and have security. Security is good for me and my kids. It will reduce stress. Top pay 150k plus, indexable annually, car and fuel covered so I can get rid of my car costs, med coverage so I can save that cost too, pension and shares for later.”

“Yes. Plus you get to brainstorm with like-minded people,” the Doctor reminds me it’s not just about the money but about the satisfaction of working on something meaningful. “Just be selective on who you sleep with. Don’t go for low level management until you are at the top of your game.”

“Paid vacation is a ball,” I know I keep repeating myself but this is one of the perks I am really looking forward to. “I’m sleeping with Wim. But true. Sleep with top management?”

“Yes. You are,” the Doctor nods. “Things change.”

“Hmmmm yes,” I look disgruntled.

“Ok so focus on this position and what you can bring,” the Doctor changes the perspective for me to consider all sides to the story. “Ask for it in clear terms. Don’t worry too much about your contribution as it will fall into the scope. Ignore the vacation aspect, it’s a perk. Focus on the job only.”

“I want the job,” I repeat like a moron. “Conversion optimization evangelist. I want to be a Google evangelist.”

“Find out who you need to get to know to get support from them,” the Doctor gives me ideas how to keep working towards this goal.

“Quite amazing,” I cheer happily. “I would be like my analytics heroes. Never thought this was possible.”

“Keep that picture very focused in your mind,” the Doctor preaches. “Talk about it. Do your homework and due diligence. Meet the relevant people. Get to it now.”

“Okay,” I skip around merrily.

“You have the knowledge and skills,” the Doctor coaches me. “Go forward. Ignore the past. Recreate your history to make you look amazing. It’s in you. I felt it.”

“Yes,” I am beaming all over now. Feeling invincible. I like that. “Ha now BNP wants to negotiate too. And I don’t want to sleep around. I want to marry Wim.”

“You sound sure,” the Doctor prods me to get me out of balance on my last statement. “Well BNP is in your hand so negotiate. If Google comes resign and move on. Don’t turn BNP away in case Google happens some day soon. It may not.”

“Good plan,” I smile, but not inside. I don’t like what the Doctor just said. What does he mean, Google might not happen?

So instead of taking responsibility, I spent my time on sillies like the secret manifestation and other oddities I picked up from courses with Deepak Chopra. Just hoping the universe will listen and chanting mantras will not bring me the job. It’s hard work and doing your homework and research that will. That’s the part where I was supposed to be taking responsibility.

If I am ever to climb out of this pit I believe a reset of my way of thinking is in order. No more magical BS and unicorns for me. No sir.

Fiona

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I am blonde

When I dumb myself down, I sell myself short and lose out on opportunities.

“In fact you could be Francis,” I eye the Doctor suspiciously. “The blog is well written, talks about anxiety and depression, about taking off the mask and welcoming change.”

I am talking to him as I am talking to him as I am nonchalantly skimming my mails. One mail in particular catches my eye and I start jumping up and down excitedly. “Oh my God! Google is offering 150k annually. That’s worth thinking about. Paid holiday, paid sick leave, benefits. Still a slave, but a star slave with a lot of visibility.”

“Yes indeed,” the Doctor nods approvingly, his smile reaching almost ear to ear. “Worth the security I would think. Exec salary. In fact you could employ me.”

“I could,” I look at him with pure excitement shimmering from every part of my body. “Would need a great mentalist on board. Any questions I should be asking? What do I need to negotiate?”

“Would be wiser to ask Wim,” the Doctor cautions me. “But to get you thinking. Length of contract with penalty clause if they fire you. Perks like car, med insurance for the family. Share options. Pension contribution. And scope.”

What I admire the most in my friend is his ability to go into any social situation and sense the level of consciousness in that situation. His friendship is a gift. It enables me to move considerately in a world that holds all kinds of people. Although I am unable to shift my energy to accommodate people, I have caught myself out dumbing myself down to a regrettable degree. Sometimes, when I get into a particular social situation, I feel pressure to play it small in order to fit in. These are situations where everyone is drinking or smoking excessively, engaging in gossipy small talk, or complaining bitterly. I notice this and modify my expectations, but never entirely join in.

Where do you fit in, do you know?

Fiona

Fit and fierce milf

I am 42. I don’t like sitting around wasting time. In fact, I would like to be done with my workouts in less time than it takes to check a couple of emails? I have no patience to sit around longer than an hour to have my nails done. And the hairdresser? That really pushes me to extremes of utter despair. I want all of this fast self-care to give me the results as if you’ve spent all day doing yoga and a strengthening, toning, tightening cardio-type exercise at the gym like Britney Spears. I need to step it all up a notch. Not only do I want to look and feel fit and fierce, on a professional level I also want to feel more empowered in far less time. No one believes the amount of online courses I take each year. More importantly, want to be strong, fit ànd happy.

“Good morning,” I beam at my blurry friend. “I’m reading the psychology of persuasion. Think I need it. BNP won’t raise my fee. And I didn’t get that new client.”

“No they have a budget,” Doctor Who encourages me not to give up. “Who is the author of persuasion?”

“Robert something,” I answer short and confused. “So what next? So ‘because’ won’t work with BNP? What about Google? Already had 3 virtual interviews.”

“I see,” Doctor Who continues on the first line of thought. “You found him on YouTube?”

“Amazon,” I correct him.

“Sadly there is no easy road,” Doctor Who shakes his head. “Google ‘mentalist’.”

“Mentalist? Evangelist you mean. Sounds nice,” I go on telling him about my ongoing job application for the world’s largest search engine. “Wondering about pay. You see now I am out of the deep mess I was in but I’m still only just managing. I need to find something great again. It used to be great. I need to find that back. And then even better than that.”

“I understand,” the Doctor nods.

“I don’t,” I shake my head. “What went wrong?”

“You might have hung onto the past for too long,” the Doctor suggests. “Just a thought.”

“Possible,” I ponder. “The past in work? Hmmm. Like not learning new stuff?”

“Yes,” the Doctor nods mysteriously.

“I’m doing that now though,” I tell him defensively.

“Ok good,” the Doctor nods at me again with a twinkle in his eye. “It will take a little time to make the change.”

“A lucrative one. I hope,” I smile relieved my Doctor friend still believes it will all work out in the end. “How are the sarnies? Ever been to Oban? Scotland?”

“How is Wim progressing?” the Doctor evades my question.

“5 of the 12 treatments done,” I give him an update on the chemo treatment. “He’s doing quite well. Working 80%. We went to the solicitor’s yesterday. Sorting out marriage contract. And register that if anything happens to me, Wim will take care of Willem. Don’t want him going to an institution. Or worse, to my family. No way. Au-pair is still stuck in administration. Heleen will have had her baby by the time she gets here.”

“Cancel the au-pair if it’s a problem,” the Doctor tells me shortly. “Use a reputable agent.”

“It’s Belgian administration. Not the agency’s fault,” I tell him frustrated. “And I’ve already paid.”

“I see,” the Doctor nods only half listening to what I’m saying. “Well use them both to do analytics.”

“And social. It’s a great plan,” I feel a false sense of enthusiasm here. Mainly frustration. The Doctor doesn’t seem to know that it’s not all that straight forward. “But I need customers. Big plans and doing and learning stuff but need clients. So bummed I didn’t get that other client. Was counting on that to meet this month’s target. I’m not going go make my target. How common is the name Francis? Francis liked my latest blog post. Francis also happens to be the name of the young camera man. Francis is also the name of president Frank Underwood in house of cards…”

Instead of faffing about, I am going to get started on my Digital Psychology course today!

Lovingly moving forward,

Fiona

What are you waiting for?

Sometimes I get these moments when I look back on a given period in time. I have been having such a moment lately. It got me thinking about what crazy times we live in.

“Hi! How are you guys?” I ask Bakerman over Skype. “Spring soon? Getting scared about my aupair coming. Pfff BNP doesnt want to increase my day rate.”

It has never been easy to sell a product or a service over the internet. There is no real platform where you can just ‘buy’ new and lucrative client projects.

Crazy. Insane.

I have been talking about missed opportunities for too long now with Bakerman. I wonder why I am being so stubborn and focusing on what doesn’t work. I need a personal coach to show me where my best chances lie.

Why? Because I simply don’t know how to. I don’t know the techniques about creating a business out of nothing.

I am not the only one. I hear other entrepreneurs complaining about how to create a successful business. And then I also see other peers making it flawlessly to the top. I want to get there too. But I am going to need help.

Enthusiastically,

Fiona

Make every day count

Sometimes I purposefully, though unconsciously, cut myself off from my business and workflow so I can avoid dealing with painful issues.

“You could record live webinars in your kitchen and show people how to do it,” I tell Bakerman as we are brainstorming business ideas again. “Sell your recipes. Or maybe you want the quiet life by the sea.”

“Sex on the beach,” Bakerman teases back. I can tell immediately he’s in a funny mood.

“Haha yes that too,” I laugh back. “I’ve never had sex on the beach. I’m 42 for crying out loud. Wouldn’t that be lovely…”

“You don’t need sand in soft places,” Bakerman always knows how to sooth my hurts of lost opportunities.

“No it probably sounds better than it really is,” I decide. It’s like people who claim they were up all night making love. Never done that one either.

“Did you have a good holiday?” Bakerman turns the subject to something more fun.

“Yessss,” I emphasize as I beam at him. “Love my kids sea beach and champagne.”

“No side entertainment?” Bakerman is making sure I was on best behavior.

“No,” I snap back at him and squint my eyes. “Like what?”

“Cava,” Bakerman offers.

“Champagne,” I correct him again. “And a few smokes.”

“Nice,” Bakerman smiles pleased. “Did Wim miss you?”

“Yes,” I smile again. “A bit. Did you?”

“Yes. It was very quite while you were away,” Bakerman admits.

I let out a loud laugh as Bakerman gets to his feet. “Got to go. Be good,” he says as he pecks me fondly on the cheek.

“That company came back to me that I was too expensive,” I tell him on his way out. “Any way I can still win the deal?”

I guess we all experience periods where we are separated from the abundant ebb and flow, be it in business or in our career. These times of being disconnected from a steady source of income may occur for many reasons, but self-sabotage is the most common cause for me cutting myself off from the abundant flow of the universe. I find I cut myself off from this flow so I can avoid dealing with painful issues, shun the necessary steps for growth, or prevent the success I am afraid of achieving from ever happening. When I disconnect from the abundant source, I am blocking the flow of the universe’s generosity. I become like a sleepwalker who is not fully awake to life, and my hopes, plans and dreams begin to appear as distant blurs on a faraway horizon. Universal support has obviously never left me. If only I can remember that I became disconnected from the abundant source by choice, then I can choose to reconnect.

Faithfully,

Fiona

Is there someone looking over your shoulder?

“Poop I didn’t get that big client. Poop poop poop,” I am stomping around my study in front of my webcam Skyping with Bakerman. “So business wise I’m not there yet… Mommy wise still learning. Friendly but autistic. I’m a catastrophe. You should send me your sarnie. Wonder how long it would take to get here.”

“It would be a science experiment by the time it gets there,” Bakerman winks at me.

“It would be alive,” I joke lightening up in my doomy clouds. “It could wave at me.”

Did you feel interpellated? I don’t know about you, but I am the only one staring at my screen. There is nobody looking over my shoulder.

Which is why it sounds funny sometimes to write a blog post using plurals, like “we” or “ourselves”, even if I might mean “you and me” or “all of us” opposed to “all of them”.

Dear reader, I am talking to you. Maybe not original, but at least you know I am really talking to you. And I’m not hiding my self away behing a fictive group of “we”.

I’m a person too. I love talking face to face. Make it personal.

Love personally,

Fiona

A woman in the midst of patriarchal culture

When was the last time I gave myself a rest? A really, really, really good rest? And let every inch of my land lie fallow? I remember it quite vividly. It was Easter and I went with my three little cherubs down to Normandy in France.

“Happy Easter!” I cheer at Bakerman down my webcam over Skype.

“Thank you. Happy Easter to you too,” Bakerman smiles and waves back at me. “Are you on your way yet?”

“We arrived in Normandy yesterday,” I wink at him. Surely he notices the change in scenery through my webcam. Then again, maybe not. “Weather is awful but that was to be expected as I am a cloud and rain goddess. What does Easter symbolise to you?”

“Easter symbolises the plagiarism of Passover that Jesus Christ enjoyed before being arrested,” Bakerman spits out and I notice immediately I have gotten him started on something. “Catholic church bastardized the celebration much like Islam did.”

“Okay so it’s really about Passover. But what is it about?” I say trying to suss his rant. “Plagiarism sounds quite harsh. It’s normal for religions to adopt things from other cultures to gain more following.”

“Yes but to take the truth and twist it into nonsense is very bad,” Bakerman booms with a loud and heavy voice. “Worth a whipping at the least.”

“Liberation from slavery. I wish to be liberated from slavery. But without the whipping,” I reflect on his weird remarks. “You’d have to go back and whip Emperor Constantin.”

“Yes passive is about the biggest slave revolt ever. Passover,” Bakerman corrects his lapsus. “What besides chocolate does Easter mean to you? And besides little bunnies.”

“Family, chocolate, flowers, Jesus is resurected, hope,” I sum up everything that comes to mind on my fingers. “I’m not passive though, I’m really trying to make this work. Passive is no revolt, it’s apathy.”

“True,” Bakerman nods encouraging me along the path of philosophical discussion. “You will make it.”

“How can you be so sure?” I ask him as my voice quavers a little betraying my deep-rooted insecurity. Letting things lie fallow feels… biblical.

We don’t live in a world that honours just being still, like a plot of land unseeded. We are all celebrated for how much we do and how hard we work. And the weight and breadth of the what we accomplish is actually quite spectacular.

So stop a moment and reflect. What feels like an obligation that isn’t? Where could you make space for something unknown? What could you let go of? What could you say no to? Where will you allow a clearing to lie down and rest, praising the moon above?

In peace and love,

Fiona