You’re doing it wrong!

Living Life and Growing Your Business on Your Terms

Have you ever received unsolicited advice?

You know the kind I’m talking about. One of your “friends” takes it upon themselves to tell you how you’re screwing up your life. And if you would just make one or two “minor” changes you would be so much better off.

This advice is usually sincere. Your friends are probably genuinely worried about you. When they look at your life they likely see the struggles you go through, how hard you work for seemingly little return, the heartache, the sleepless nights, you name it. Your friends see all the stress and they are genuinely worried about you.

If you’d just give up on your dream and take a job with a steady paycheque. Or maybe just slow it down a bit and relegate your business aspirations to weekends and evenings, maybe you’d be better off. You’d have more money, less stress and live longer.

Or so they think.

But make no mistake it’s never really about you.

It’s about how they feel when they are around you. Maybe they feel sorry for you – but that’s not about you, it’s about them. Maybe they feel guilty for their own success in the face of your seeming failure – but that’s not about you either, it’s still all about them. And maybe they feel envy and jealousy because they see the huge potential for your success and wish they had what it takes to be an entrepreneur. But you guessed it, that’s not about you either.

The fact is, no one can give you advice on what you need to do to be successful. Sure there are some general principles but they are ultimately the same whether you work for a boss or not. At the end of the day nobody knows better than you what it will take for you to be successful. Nobody knows your business better than you. Nobody works harder than you. Nobody cares more than you.

So stop listening to everyone else. That’s what you’re doing wrong.

Entrepreneurship is lonely. And for the most part the pay sucks. Work your ass off for 5, maybe 10 years or even more and maybe, just maybe you’ll become so successful you’ll forget about the years of struggle that led up it.

Maybe not.

You have to be prepared to live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else.

That’s my best unsolicited advice.  Take it or leave it.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on

He can be reached at or by calling 613-295-4141.



3 Lessons From the Hallway – Advisor Summit 2015

hallwaycrowdI just spent the last 3 days at a conference for Financial Advisors from all across the country. The content taught from the dais during various sessions was great but it paled in comparison to the wisdom gleaned just by rubbing shoulders with men and women who have been in the business for decades. I’m a relative newbie to the whole world of financial planning, just 4 years in but as one fellow newbie put it, “this room is full of legends”. After the first day I decided that attending conference sessions was merely a secondary distraction, something to do between the all important networking that happened in the halls outside.

So I started to approach these legends, introduce myself and ask them one question. “When I get back to the office on Monday morning, what do I need to start doing immediately that will ensure that I am back here not only next year but in 20, 30 or even 50 years from now?”

The following are 3 of my favourite responses.

1 – Know your purpose and demonstrate your value, from 33 years in the business.  

This came from a regional manager who has not only developed a loyal client base but has been involved in training and developing financial advisors for most of his career. I’m a big believer in the importance of mission statements and that closely mirrors the idea of knowing your purpose. But demonstrating value is a bit harder. What that comes down to, according to this legend isn’t about you, it’s about showing your client what you can do for them. Rick Warren, in the first line of the Purpose Driven Life said it best; “It’s not about you.” It’s about what you can do for others.

2 – Ask good questions and let the answers lead you where the client needs to go, from 53 years in the business.

The man who told me this started in the financial services business at 34 and is still working today at the age of 87! Oh how I would love to be as vibrant, healthy and engaging as he is at that age. His response came after he asked me a series of increasingly personal questions. How old are you? Are you married? Do you have kids? What did you do before you started in this business? Are your parents still living? What did your Dad do? Finally leading me to a discussion of what kind of insurance I currently hold and why I bought it. He then got a sly smile on his face and asked me why I had answered all of those personal questions that under normal circumstances would seem a bit off putting?  I laughed and said I see what you’re doing, you seem genuinely interested and sincere, and he was, oh that’s GOLD!

3 – Do What’s Right for the Client, from 31 years in the business.

After making one of his first sales over 30 years ago this person’s manager noticed that as he drove away from the client’s home he was very quiet and appeared to be working something out in his mind. The Manager looked at him as said, “stop doing that.” Doing what? “You’re mentally calculating how much commission you just made aren’t you?” This goes back to the first one, it’s not about you.  If you concentrate on doing the things that are solely in the best interest of the client the commission will take care of itself, even if you don’t say anything, clients can tell when your in it for yourself and no them.  Stay focused on the client and you will develop loyalty for life.

After 23 years in business myself, the last 4 in this capacity, I know all of these lessons to be true. I’ve seen them play out time and time again across all lines of business.  It’s about humility, respect and genuine honesty. Those are the traits that make great salespeople and business leaders. You don’t have to be an extrovert or an introvert you just have to be true to your purpose, ask great questions and do what’s right.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and our mission (purpose) to help people manage money better write to:

Stop Sharing My Videos! – No really stop it…

My second video in the series running up to the release of the rebooted 6 Steps to Financial Freedom Coaching Program is out.


I’m following Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula whereby marketers are told to release a series of “teasers” ahead of the official launch of a new product. So far I’ve released two videos in as many weeks. Each time I’ve sent announcements to an email list of about 140 subscribers, posted on twitter to my 3000 plus followers, linked to them on facebook, linkedin and pinterest for about 500 more people and of course blogged about them here.

As a result, according to YouTube I have received a grand total of 0 – count them ZERO views!

(If you go now and look at them the count is actually about 20 views between the two of them but all of those are just me going there to grab the link so that I can tweet it, post it or embed it in emails.)

What gives?

I can understand if you don’t like my videos, or they don’t resonate with where you’re at right now but to have no views at all, after posting to almost 4000 followers across all of my social media accounts? That makes no sense to me.

I’m following all the rules about Social Media Marketing.

  • I’m posting regularly
  • I’m using hashtags
  • And I’m following up on all my retweets and favorites

Actually that last one is the most mind-boggling of all. So far I’ve received about 20 favorites and retweets from people who haven’t even watched the videos themselves! What’s up with that? I even had one guy forward it to a friend with a comment “you should watch this”, how could he know?

There is something very wrong with the way we engage with new products on-line.

Social Media is a relatively new phenomenon when it comes to product marketing. We’ve been taught that the key to a good marketing campaign is the social share, the more people share what you are posting the better. I’m getting shares but the sad fact is sharing is not engagement. In order to sell a product you need people to engage with it, not just say, “hey this looks cool, check it out.”

What’s worse in my case at least, people are saying “check this out” without having checked it out for themselves! How can you endorse something if you haven’t used it? Not only is it killing your credibility it’s damaging my brand in the process!

So, I never thought I’d have to say this but: please stop sharing my videos, unless you’ve actually watched them.

The third and final video in the series will be posted next week. You can watch both of the current ones here – and here –

Please watch, then comment, then share if you are so inclined.

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and our newly re-launched 6 Steps to Financial Freedom Coaching Program write to

Honest Emotions, 3 Keys to Building Deeper Connections

Really making emotional contact with people, inviting an emotional closeness either in a casual situation or a long-term relationship, requires that we open ourselves to them. It requires that we not put up defensive walls and that we accept others for who they are. – Stuart Brown; Play, How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul


I love my work. In fact most of the time it doesn’t even really feel like work at all.

Don’t get me wrong. There are aspects of my job that I would rather not do, like the reams and reams of seemingly unnecessary and redundant paperwork. But I have created a great system and daily routine that I follow in order to get that stuff done so that I can focus on the fun part, the people part.

Now I have made it no secret that according to the Myers-Briggs personality assessment I tend toward introversion rather than extroversion so it may surprise some of you that I like the people aspects of my work more than the technical but it’s true. The fact is everyone falls on a sliding scale between introversion and extroversion and recently psychologists have come up with a new term to describe people who skew closer to the center of the spectrum. They call them Omniverts. Maybe that’s what I should really call myself.

True, I still lean introverted but I can be comfortable in a social setting when called for without having to retreat into a corner most of the time and I honestly do love people, especially in small groups and one on one settings.

According to sociologist Stuart Brown, making emotional connections with people is the key to long term relationships. Here are a few ways I’ve learned over the years to make a lasting connection with clients that remains true to my personal leanings and respects their own boundaries.

1 – Let them lead.

There is nothing more off putting than someone who won’t follow you where you want to go. In conversation with clients small talk often leads to some very interesting and potentially lucrative destinations. Following the kernels dropped my your prospect during small talk can tell your more about that person in a few seconds that hours of well planned “fact finding” ever could. It’s spontaneous, honest and it shows you what your prospect is thinking about right now.

2 – Be honest.

If your client wants to talk about football and you don’t know the difference between a running back and wide receiver (I don’t) tell him that. Don’t try to be interested in something you’re not. Either the prospect will change the subject or he’ll try and educate you. Either way you’ve made a connection and have a basis for further discussion. On an emotional level honesty about the things that excite you and make you happy and the things that frustrate you or make you miserable leads to deeper discussion about the things that matter. Misery Loves Company as they say, and while that can be destructive shared frustration can lead to some great innovations and forward movement. By being honest about where you stand on things you’re opening yourself up to finding common ground and opportunities to work together on things that resonate beyond just the cash register.

3 – Respect the boundaries.

When you follow people’s lead and are honest about how you feel about things people will generally let you into their lives in a deeper and more meaningful way than they otherwise would. But there will always be places that you are never invited to go. Don’t push it. Doing business with friends is always a touchy area, trying to make intimate friendships with people who are business associates first is even harder. Few things can derail a promising business relationship faster than crossing a personal line uninvited.

Everyone has boundaries don’t be afraid to enforce your own as well. Making friends with your client’s is not the problem, so long as everyone is in agreement about the facts of your relationship and no one feels like things have gone too far.

Human beings are emotional creatures. Effective relationships, even business relationships are fraught with emotion. Being in tune with and respectful of emotions, both ours and other peoples is key in building long lasting relationships, both personally and in the business world.

What other things have you learned about emotions in relationships?  Tell me your stories…

Are You Friendly?

3 Tips for introverts on being friendly and staying true to themselves.

mr friendly

Friendliness is a communication event. If other people don’t perceive you as friendly, you aren’t friendly. – Tim Sanders; The Likeability Factor

I have to admit, I can be a little aloof. My default setting is to keep to myself and quietly do my work. I don’t need a lot of recognition, input or help from anyone else. I prefer to put my head down and “get ‘er done”.

One of the stock phrases that teachers use on report cards is; “plays well with others.” I never got that one, I always got, “prefers to work alone” and “needs encouragement to engage with fellow students.”

I have never considered myself “unfriendly” though just because I don’t feel I need a lot of friends. At any given time throughout my life I can honestly count on one hand the number of people I would go to for help and support in a time of crisis. As I write this I am hard pressed to come up with more than three names that come to mind. Does the fact that I don’t have a lot of people that I trust deeply mean that I’m not friendly? I don’t think so.

I do communicate a lot with other people. Communication is a big part of my life. I even track it to make sure I am hitting my targets and growing my business. I make over 200 individual client communications a week, be they phone calls, emails or good old fashioned letters (yes I still write letters). Does that make me friendly? Not exactly but it’s a better measure than the number of friends I have.

In his land mark book on communication, The Likeability Factor, Tim Sanders tells us that in order to be friendly you have to be perceived as friendly. It’s not about the number of friends you have, or the amount of time you spend alone. Friendliness does not come easier to extroverts than it does to introverts. Friendliness is found in the way we communicate not in the volume of our communication or the intensity and gregariousness of our personality.

So speaking as an introvert with few true friends here are my tips for being perceived as friendly even when I don’t want to make you my friend.

1 – Smile.

If you’re happy somebody should tell your face. People are naturally drawn to a happy face. Even without saying a word you will be perceived as an easy going and relaxed person. If you do most of your communicating on the phone smile anyway, your voice will sound different, and more upbeat if it comes from a smiling face. People on the other end of the phone can tell.

2 – Use short sentences full of positive imperatives.

Remain positive and succinct. Use words like “Do” “Go” and “Be” and stay aware from words like “Not” and all of its derivatives like “Don’t”, “Can’t” and “Won’t”. This works in the spoken word but it is even more important in writing, I do a lot of my communication in writing. While conveying deeper emotions is very difficult in the written word, staying positive is extremely important in order to avoid misunderstanding. Never try to be sarcastic in writing, unless you know your audience extremely well. Sarcasm is a minefield for misunderstanding.

3 – Retreat when you need to.

Keeping in mind the first two points, if you just aren’t in the mood to communicate with people, tell them. Honesty is powerful. There is a lot of power, and believe it or not friendliness in saying to someone, with a smile of course, “I would really like to stay and talk but I have a lot of other work to do right now, can we continue this conversation later?” You will not generally be perceived as unfriendly and aloof if you are just honest about your need for some quite time.

Remember, friendliness is key to effective communication.  If you find it difficult that’s okay.  Just remember these three tips and it should get easier.


Are You a Leader Sheep?


In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! [Philippians 2:5-8]

One of my future books is going to be on leadership. I’ve already started to write it. It’s tentatively titled; “Leader Sheep; Leading From a Posture of Submission in Ministry, Business and Life”. Last night I began meditating on this passage from Philippians and what it means from the perspective of leadership the way Jesus modeled.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of books on leadership. What I have found is that while many of them will pay lip service to things like generosity, grace and humility, at the end of the day the overwhelming majority give the impression that leadership is the domain of the macho-man (almost all of the authors are men) who takes no prisoners and unapologetically grabs leadership opportunities by the horns.

As a Christ Follower I find this approach to be unacceptable, unspiritual and downright unbiblical. Time and time again throughout scripture we find examples of “natural leaders” being shunned by God in favor of misfits, outsiders and even a few outlaws. God tends to use some of the most unworthy and incapable people as leaders.


Because leadership is never really about the leaders. It’s about the goal that has been set before them. It’s about the outcome, the people, the process and most of all from a Christ following perspective it’s about God.

That passage from Philippians shows us that the way Jesus led his people was through service, even if anyone had the right to lead with bravado and power it was him. Earlier the Apostle Paul tells his readers to live a life that is worthy of the sacrifice Jesus made even when faced with persecution.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.  For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,.. [Philippians 1:27-29].

So how do we live our lives and lead in our ministries and businesses in a manner “worthy of the gospel”?

We serve. But we more than just serve in the way you would expect. Secular service is done with the expectation of a reward. Service sector businesses expect to be paid for their services and ultimately make a profit. Jesus taught us to serve with no such expectation. In fact he expected and ultimately received death in response to his service.

I am not suggesting that Christians in leadership should expect to die or that Christians in business shouldn’t expect to make money. But we need to change our understanding of what it means to lead in submission to God. We may never receive any recognition for our service and that’s okay. It’s not about us any way. All the leadership books and popular psychology on the subject of success miss that one key element. As Rick Warren so famously put it in the opening phrase of his book The Purpose Driven Life – “It’s not about you!”

Even Jesus had to learn to be submissive and give up on a traditional notion of success in order to be effective. Are you worthy of that kind of responsibility? Can you lead without expectation of any reward ? Are you a servant leader? Are you a Leader Sheep?

Attention Fellow Bloggers – You’re Doing it Wrong!

I read a lot of blogs. I follow even more people on Social Media. I am very active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I spend an average of 2 hours a day on-line, not including e-mail and the cloud based applications I am required to use for my day job.

In short, I spend a lot of time looking at what people are doing and how they are using the internet. Quite honestly I think what a lot of my fellow authors and “social sellers” are doing is about to blow up in their face because they’re doing it wrong and it’s starting to piss me off.

look at me

The internet and social media has done a lot to democratize business. Today anyone with an idea and some time can open an on-line store and be in business for free in a matter of hours. My own on-line presence didn’t cost me a dime. After a few months I did decide I needed my own domain name so I pay a few bucks a year for that privilege but really in the grand scheme of things I haven’t paid anything to be on-line. I have 4 active social media feeds, a word press site and an e-commerce page powered by PayPal to sell my books.


And you can do it too.

But here’s the catch. The internet is set up to provide free access to information for anyone willing to take the time to look and learn. The minute you start trying to profit from you presence online you need to be aware of one key thing. Unless you are willing to invest in a physical product, that will carry some production and shipping costs, there is likely someone, somewhere online who is willing to give away what you are trying to sell. So stop hiding your “unique” information based product behind a pay wall. We see what you’re doing and we don’t appreciate it, we’ll just keep looking for a free version somewhere else, thank you very much.

E-books, On-line video courses (especially the ones about how to make more money on-line), live chats with the author etc. Snake oil, every last one of them!

The worst are the bloggers who write about how to become a better blogger. They are constantly trying to sell courses that amount to nothing more than teasers on how to buy more courses. You know what I’m talking about.

Watch this video (only $5.00, pay here), the video says, come to an evening seminar (only $500, pay here), the seminar says come to our weekend course (only $1500, plus airfare, meals and accommodation, pay here). And what do you learn after dropping all those thousands of dollars? The same thing you could have learned at your local bookstore for about $25.00. Or free at the library.

So here’s my advice for how to stop these on-line charlatans:

Number 1 – If after you add someone to your twitter feed the first thing they do is send you a note about how to buy something, especially more followers, un-follow them immediately. They probably aren’t even a real person.

Number 2 – If you go to their blog and they have a pop up about a product behind a pay wall, stop, don’t read any further. Free e-books are okay but pop up adds in general are annoying. We’ll get to your product page eventually if you show us the value of your offering elsewhere. But don’t rush us, that’s just rude.

Number 3 – If they start sending you unsolicited emails about products behind pay walls, stop, delete them immediately and subscribe. This is the equivalent of telemarketers calling you at dinner or sales people following you around the store. Just stop it!

Number 4 – If every post on their blog is really an advertisement for a product behind a pay wall, a video course or seminar, stop, delete them immediately. This is not a blog; this is a store and probably a scammy one at that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some legitimate marketers and products on line. Almost every serious retailer and author has a web page where they sell their products and services. That’s not the problem. The problem is when you assault your audience with advertising from the start and never let up. It’s like a used car salesman who follows you around the lot chatting in your ear the whole time. This tactic went out with plaid sport coats. It’s not the 1970s anymore we’ll buy when we’re good and ready.

Most people on-line are just looking for information and a little advice, if they want to pay for something they are no different than any other customer. They want value and most of them can spot a scam a mile away.

So give the people what they want. Give them information and show them were they might be able to make a purchase if they want to and then shut the hell up. Otherwise people will leave your store in disgust never to return.