How to Market Your Book Without Fear with Lindsey Hartz

Episode 42

Lindsey Hartz is a marketing consultant for Christian authors and publishers. She is also the the book marketing agency, Lindsey Hartz Creative. Lindsey has been a part of over 60 book launches and she was actually a big help with my own book launch a few years ago.

In this episode, Lindsey breaks down the four main struggles practically every single one of her clients have experienced, her tips for how authors can push past their fear and become comfortable with marketing their books, how to find your audience so you can begin marketing to them, why you should be collaborating with other authors instead of trying to compete with them, why you need to take your target audience on a “relational journey” as you communicate with them, and more!

Mentioned in this episode:


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Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! Today, I have with me, Lindsey Hartz from Lindsey Hartz Creative, which is a book marketing agency for Christian Authors and Publishers. I know that whether you relate to the word “Christian” or not, you will definitely benefit from this conversation that we’re going to have with Lindsey, this book marketing expert.


Andrea: So, Lindsey, it is so good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Lindsey Hartz: I am thrilled to be here. Thank you!

Andrea: Lindsey and I have kind of known each other for maybe a couple of years, I suppose, because I had a book coming out and I connected with Lindsey and she gave me some really great book marketing advice. Now, here we are, a couple of years later and it’s good to have you here.

Why don’t you tell people that are listening just a little bit more about what you do and how you got going, like why did you even get started with book marketing?

Lindsey Hartz: Great. Thank you! I am officially a marketing consultant for Christian Authors and Publishers. What that means in layman’s terms is I get to sit on my fabulous front porch and read amazing books. Then I get the privilege of connecting with authors and speakers to help teach them how to market that book well to the audience they have and to the audience they need based on what the book is about.

So it’s a lot of fun and it’s pretty much my dream job because I’ve always loved to read.

How I got into it? My background is actually in corporate marketing and project management. So out of college until about 2007, I was on kind of a traditional career path. I was working my way up the corporate ladder then my family and I walked through a pretty difficult season that year which resulted in my leaving work and to come home to rebuild my family. It was kind of one of those moments where we were at a crossroads of staying in the life that we had or moving forward into the life that we were meant to be in.

During that time, I personally was taking stock of my life, kind of my gifts and my talents and the purpose and the passion and that I was not pursuing and really trying to figure out who I was meant to be outside of a career that was really based on success and on money and on being overwhelmed and overbooked, and all that sort of thing.

My leaving that job was kind of the trajectory of the next phase of my life. I was 31 years old, suddenly lost most of our income, most of our affluence, but what we gained was so much more.

In that 10 or l1 years since, my family and I had a complete 180 in our life. That season led to our faith, as mentioned. I worked with Christian authors. That’s a direct result of my faith transformation during this time.

My family’s faith, our focused changed from, again, that success mindset and money mindset to focusing on ministry and serving others.

This business really came about because I was trying to marry what I was really good at and what I loved to do which, in my case, has really helped peoples’ lives be transformed through the written word and really do it in a way where I felt like I could make positive impact.

Kind of the impetus for the business was my actually walking into a bookstore and finding a book and picking it up that identified me personally, like who I was and the struggles I was experiencing. Really, the tension I felt between the pull of success, the pull of possession and the pull of wanting to serve, it really helped me see that I wasn’t alone in that. So that book and those words literally gave me the courage to change my life.

It’s really amazing to me that so many years later I get to run a business that helps me provide resources to, hopefully, do the same for other readers.

Andrea: It’s always interesting to me in these conversations to hear people who are doing coaching and consulting like you. They seem to, a lot of times, end up feeling like they’re at these crossroads of some kind in their life and that’s the reason why they go ahead and try this.

It’s interesting to me that you were able kind of… it sounds like you really cared about books because their personal impact on you and then you were able to say, “Well, what do I have to bring to that, that passion, and bring those things together?” Like you, said marrying them. Gosh, what a powerful combination. What an exciting thing to be able to do to put those things together.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah. And I won’t say that the journey was easy. Obviously, I’m giving a synopsis of what occurred. But when I think back to all the struggle and all the heartache and all the pain that you go through of trying to figure out what really matters to me in my life and what impact do I want to make in the world, and then how can I make that impact on the world without sacrificing my family, which was very important to me.

When I think of the people that listen to this podcast, I think all of us are really just trying to do the same thing. We’re trying to make a little bit of impact to the people that we care most about and the people that we can help most, but we also have lives. We have hopes. We have dreams. We have aspirations. So when it comes to that personal brand and communication strategy in developing that, it’s really first and foremost identifying that for yourself first. Why are you doing this, and then how are you going to get there and keep the things that are most important first in your life.

Andrea: Oh, yeah. So true. This can get out of whack in the pursuit of trying to figure out what you’re doing.

You said it was more messy than you indicated. Can you give us a glimpse into what that meant for you, the messiness?

Lindsey Hartz: I think honestly, from a personal perspective, I had a lot of fear that I had to deal with because when you’re in a corporate environment the expectations are pretty clear. You have a clear career path, you have people holding you accountable, you have deliverables, you have performance reviews that state literally whether you did your job well or not, and you’re compensated for it. So I think in the corporate world, there’s a lot of validation that you get all the time, which can be positive, or feedback which can be like an area of opportunity. So it’s a much different world.

Then suddenly leaving that behind and doing everything on your own in kind of an entrepreneurial world, which is what most coaches and consultants fall into, right? So I think the messy part for me really boiled down to, in the beginning, lack of confidence. It was very scary to leave behind what I knew and what I had my master’s degrees in. Everything I had been working for and training for for years.

Not to be too overdramatic but I did feel literally like I didn’t… it’s like who I was was gone and I was left trying to figure out, “OK, now that I’m not that career woman, who am I? How do I live this life? How do I be a wife and a mom and how do I create a career that allows me to stay present in their lives?”

So I had to deal with lack of confidence. I had to deal with financial fear, I mean going from a paycheck every two weeks to never really knowing exactly how much money is going to come and when.

And I think confidence, it takes, honestly, a lot of guts and a lot of courage and a lot of bravery to get up every day and go, “OK, I’m gonna do what I know I’m great at. I’m going to help as many people as I can.”

Again, because of my faith, there’s a whole element of trust that that provision will come as long as I’m being obedient to what I feel as the divine calling. So that’s what I mean by the “messy”.

And then you also take into account just life. We all have experiences that just shake us. I think one of the misconceptions I had of the Christian faith, because before this I was not of the faith and then after I was, I had this misconception that just because I believed in God everything would be easy. That’s not been true at all. I think what’s changed is my awareness of the fact that really bad things happen to really good people and it’s going to happen to everybody regardless of your faith background.

But what my faith has allowed me to do is have a different perception of what I do with it. So I can let those circumstances and that messiness break me down and prevent me from making an impact, from loving people well, from serving well, and I can let it immobilize me, or I can let it activate me and help me keep going.

So I think, like I said, just different situations that happen with children, with jobs, with moves, with family, with friends, anything. You name it. All of that happens at the same time that you’re trying to live out your calling, or live out your job or live out your role. And every one of us has to take stock of how do we keep pushing through and working through this and be effective and have impact.

Andrea: Well said. OK, I’m guessing that what you learned in your own stepping out into this new role has really impacted the way that you work with clients and serve people who work with your agency. I’m wondering what kind of internal roadblocks or struggles do authors go through when they’re thinking about actually the idea of promoting a book or promoting themselves.

It feels like, I know because I’ve written a book, I know that it feels so personal when you birth a baby and you’re putting it into the world – the baby being the book, of course – and then there’s all this fear and then there’s all these other things that are quite similar to what you just described. How do you help people through that?

Lindsey Hartz: That is a fantastic question and I’m sitting here thinking out of the five years I’ve had the business, I’ve probably run about 60 book launches, had about a hundred clients that may not have been book launches, maybe we’re focusing in marketing, but they’re all authors.

I think I can really boil down the answer to this question to four main struggles that all of them have had. It didn’t matter whether they were a brand new author or whether they were self-published or whether they were traditionally published, whether they had a lot of experience or not. Every single author at any stage of their journey or their experience struggled with these things:

The first is actually comparison. I think there’s this question that authors ask themselves of, “Does my message really matter in the sea of voices that is out there?” The answer, of course, is yes. Your message does matter.

I tell a lot of my clients, especially when I have clients that have books that are similar to other books that are out, I always tell them, “You know, the topic may be the same but you are not. Your life experiences, your personality, your writing style, your unique perspective on that topic matters. There’s going to be an audience for you.”

So the whole notion of comparison is to shift it from comparison to collaboration, which we’ll talk about later and in more detail.

I also would think fear. There’s a very common fear because you said writing is kind of like a book baby. It’s a very vulnerable time. A lot of times authors have material in the book that’s personally difficult for them, or it’s difficult for family or friends. Sometimes there’s fear of, “What if my words are misunderstood by strangers or people who love me, or what if my words are rejected?”

There’s a lot of divisiveness in the world right now in terms of beliefs, in terms of politics, in terms of just all sorts of topics that everybody has an opinion. So when you put your words out there, there’s always the possibility that someone is not going to like it, or someone is going to misunderstand, or someone is going to be hurt.

So my response to this fear aspect of this is you have to be confident in the message that you were given and there’s a reason that it’s important. And just delivering it as well as you can with as much as authenticity as you can with as much integrity as you can, like your work in your brand will stand for itself.

But also having that healthy balance of knowing someone will reject it, someone will misunderstand it, someone will be hurt. You can’t change that but you can change your response to be one of caring and one of respect for that person. Because two people can disagree completely but still be respectful towards one another in their engagement about it.

Andrea: Lindsey, I think that is a really important point that we can’t guarantee that… like you said, people will get hurt. It’s just going to happen. It’s kind of like I love movies and so I always think of mostly superhero movies, because they’re so grand and I love them. Like Wonder Woman or whatever, you go into battle and you’re fighting for a cause and sometimes it just happens. People get hurt whether you want them or not.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah. I think it’s part of, like I said, that bravery and that courageousness of putting yourself out there. We can’t be afraid to be ourselves. We can’t be afraid to use our gifts because they’re given to us for a reason. So just not having those rose-colored glasses on and thinking everything is always going to be amazing but just understanding if you’re taking a risk to help people, you’re also going to have to understand that sometimes conflicts will come. Again, instead of letting it immobilize you, let it activate you.

Andrea: Love that!

Lindsey Hartz: The last two comments I had that relate to this actually have to do with a sense of overwhelm. I think a lot of my authors feel like, especially with marketing and self-promotion, it’s like what are the right steps and how do I find the time to do them well.

There’s a lot of information on the internet that’s free, and that’s amazing. And the challenges, you could become overwhelmed listening to too many voices. And you could be overwhelmed with understanding how to take those steps and tailoring it to apply to your specific message. I think visibility. You know, how can I get my work in front of the right audience at the right time and make the most impact to their lives.

So I think those four topics are really the biggest struggles authors encounter.

Andrea: Yeah, those were good. Do you have any additional things that you would suggest that people do to become more comfortable putting themselves out there or dealing with these? Or do you feel like you kind of covered that?

Lindsey Hartz: No, I actually have a whole lot to say about that.

Andrea: Alright. Please do.

Lindsey Hartz: Yeah, because I think, honestly, this is how I approach my own business. I am not immune to feeling these things even though I teach these all the time. So when I find myself kind of getting caught in one of those traps, I go through this process myself.

The first thing I always do is to adjust my mindset. I believe in the power of prayer but even if that’s not something that’s part of your world, like taking stock of how you’re feeling and really thinking through, “Is this something that is honoring that will move me for forward, or is this something that’s gonna just make me fall apart?” You can always take stock of how you’re feeling and identify how you can move forward.

Ultimately, when you adjust the mindset, you need to trust that your message can and will transform lives and be confident in that. Your job, once the writing is complete, is to steward that message well through the many tools we have available and just understanding that you as an author are obviously fantastic at creating stellar content. That’s what you do, right? Writing words really gives you the ability to convey hope and healing, transformation, change. That’s your gift.

So if you’re not reaching the audience you desire with your message, just don’t fall into the trap of creating more content. Instead, focus on the root cause of why you’re not reaching the audience and fix it. It’s usually lack of consistency and visibility when marketing your work. So, again, just taking stock of yourself personally, remembering that you were made to do this, and then focusing on what really matters and fixing it is really key.

How you do that is you start with evaluation, listing out your strengths and your areas of opportunity as a communicator and a marketer. Like what are you great at and what’s most natural to you and what stops you in your tracks. My husband and I love therapy because we’re a little strange.

Andrea: I think that’s great.

Lindsey Hartz: So we have a loving long-term relationship with our marriage therapist. One of the things that she described to us early on was this notion of accelerators and brakes in our relationship especially when communicating. So I thought that was a perfect example to use here.

So when you’re communicating or when you’re trying to pursue whatever it is you’re pursuing, launching a product or a book, etcetera, like really figuring out what causes you as a person to accelerate and move forward with drive and passion and what causes you to hit a hard brake, almost like you’re hitting a brick wall. So literally grabbing a piece of paper, putting accelerators on one side and brakes on the other and just jotting down what are those things.

Then once you have those outlined, you can also apply that same principle to just where you need to connect with people. So there are tons of online and offline platforms and it’s figuring out where your specific audience is and focusing there, not trying to be everywhere all at once.

Andrea: Oh, yeah, it’s such a good point because, kind of going back to what you said the last point too, I think we can get a little too spread out both with our message and with where we’re sending it. It’s easy to get spread out. I know I feel that way sometimes and it’s hard to decide how we’re going to narrow that in on both regards.

So you said to try to find where your audience is and then just focus there. But how do you know? And maybe this is something that people are supposed to do before they write their book, but some people are self-published and they don’t necessarily have anybody walking them through a process of how to make sure that they find their audience or know who they’re writing for. So do you have any thoughts on that?

Lindsey Hartz: I do. I think, honestly, this is kind of the phase that happens after that evaluation because before you do anything, you need to understand what’s going to be easy for you and what’s going to be really hard.

Then the next step is really preparing, like learn what you need to and delegate what you can’t. If you need to take a course, read a book or go to a conference, that’s awesome. You can learn what you need to and you can implement the steps well. And if you can’t handle whatever activity you need to do that’s where you start looking at people resources so you can do what you focus on the most or what you love the most, which is writing.

So people resources could be someone like me. I’m a marketing and book launch consultant. Or it could be a virtual assistant, graphic designer, website or tech support, whatever the case maybe. Like understanding that, yes, there may be an investment in those things but you have to weight your time, your strengths, your anxiety, and your ability to get things done across that investment. And then really taking all of that and putting it into a plan.

So when we work through teaching authors how to have a plan for their content, especially as it relates to the book, we always have a step-by-step plan that has due dates – those are very important – of how you’ll create content and communicate with your readers. So that can include things… well, the most important thing is I blocked time on my calendar to focus on these tasks weekly.

Andrea: Good point.

Lindsey Hartz: I do not move it unless someone is sick. Because if you don’t block the time, everything else would become more urgent.

Andrea: Definitely.

Lindsey Hartz: So blocking time to really map out your content monthly would be beneficial for most authors to do. So what I mean by that is taking time to really determine a monthly theme of what you’re going to write on.

You can determine that theme in one of two ways. You can come up with your own suggested topics based on like an upcoming book, for example, and then survey your readers and ask them, “Hey, here’s a poll of these topics. What resonates with you most? And then write on those topics based on what your readers are asking for because that will increase engagement and interaction.

Or do a survey and ask them, “What do you wanna hear about?” and incorporate it. This is really a key piece of building kind of that brand and that community because most readers don’t want to be talked at. They want to be heard and they want you to serve them and give them what they need.

Andrea: Definitely.

Lindsey Hartz: They’re coming to you for your voice of influence. They’re coming to you for your expertise and your wisdom, but they also want it to be personal. They want a relationship.

So constantly asking your readers, “Hey, how can I help you?” and then following through on that really, really helps you connect with readers and they’ll remember that down the road when they have a book that is available to them to purchase from you.

Then once you have your theme and developing your content from that, you know, what blog post or newsletter topics related to that theme are you going to publish that month? What social media copy do you need? What graphic needs do you have? And then create a posting schedule for yourself.

That helps with two things. We talked about consistency earlier. So if do you this every month, you’ll consistently create your content in advance. Don’t wait until the month of, so you won’t be behind and you can allow for life situations. And then it helps with visibility because your readers are going to know what to expect from you. They’re going to know they can trust that, every month, this material would be coming out and they can keep coming back to you for more.

Andrea: You know, Lindsey, as I was listening to your description of what we should be doing and how you structured that and everything, I was thinking about how perfect you are for this, first of all, and then also how well your particular voice fits with the methods that you’re suggesting. I know that you took the Fascinate Assessment, which I invite any of my guests to take, and you came out with Alert plus Power, which is actually the same as my daughter, first of all.

But alert is also all about preventing power with care, so that planning ahead and teaching people how to plan ahead and get all of that straight and figured out is a gift that you have that you’re offering people, which I’m sure is different than other book launch consultants. So they’re going to do something different, but your specific voice, the way that you handle this is I just love that.

Lindsey Hartz: And I actually loved the Fascinate Assessment. To be honest, I thought I would come out something different, usually around relationship building because usually my strength is that whole empathy, relationship building, building bridges, connecting people. That’s usually what my gift things fall into. Even though most people think I’m always going to come out as detail-oriented and organized, those things are true about me but it’s actually not my personality. You know what I’m saying?

And this assessment, the Alert and Power, one of the things that said is you’re respected because of your relentless pursuit of what you believe in, and I thought that is so perfect because it’s true. It’s the core of everything that I do in my business. Because my business is not just a business to me, it’s first and foremost a ministry to serve others.

I think if a lot of authors, coaches, and consultants would perceive their businesses that way, you’ll find that you naturally communicate in a way that highlights that and draws people in and almost makes them feel comforted by you but they can’t always explain it. Instead of being repelled by salesy, markety language, sometimes I do, in a great, kind of your typical sales emails and stuff like that and to my communication, but for the most part, it’s always overlaid with that care, with that purpose, with that mission. That’s really, really important for people to know and understand about you.

Andrea: What’s interesting, though, is, Lindsey, that that is what you believe, that that is what you’re pursuing. You’re pursuing that relationship, you’re pursuing that connection because that’s what you believe in. But you’re doing it in such a way that you come across as the ace, the person that has things organized and all that. So it’s an interesting blend of things. I love that.

Lindsey Hartz: Well, the last thing I’ll say about that is I pretty much thought I was weird until I started running my own business.

Andrea: Yes! Oh, I hear you.

Lindsey Hartz: I’m like, “Why am I like this?” Then as I kept learning more about the confidence in myself and my skill set and the way my mind works, it totally makes sense to me that I do the business that I do, that I run the business the way I do and that I’m not ashamed to do it.

I also teach my clients the same thing because, at the end of the day, again, marketing is more about building relationships with people and drawing their stories out of them so they understand they’re not alone. That really what marketing is.

You can go find tactics and checklists and sales formulas and all that sort of stuff and there’s very real, strategic reason behind that. I’m not dismissing it and I do use it, it’s just that that is the form and structure of what you’re doing, but the actual words have to be the “why”. Why are you doing this? Why do you want to help people? How do you want to change their lives? That needs to be more prominent in your work than all form and function.

Andrea: Yeah, good stuff. So is there anything else that you would recommend that authors, coaches, consultants who want to be authors, message-driven leaders who are thinking about sharing their message in this way, is there anything else that they should be clear on pretty much before marketing their books but maybe just things that they could be working on even now?

Lindsey Hartz: Absolutely. I have two main things. The first one is relational and the second one is strategic. I mentioned earlier that we would talk about collaboration later and that is now.

Andrea:   Sure. Great!

Lindsey Hartz: I want everybody to have in their head collaboration, not competition. So when you’re developing your marketing plan or you’re trying to figure out what to do with your book, you need to realize that you’re not meant to do this alone. You need to remember that you have a unique voice. You need to remember that there is a whole community of people out there that may have a similar topic or similar audience that you can connect with to increase the impact and influence of your work.

So take the whole comparison-competition piece out of the equation. Remember that there’s enough audience for everyone, and practice genuine outreach where you’re _____ with your peers to learn more about what they do and share more about what you do. Be generous, helpful, and authentic as you develop a relationship with your peers and build trust with one another. The big no-no is your first contact, second, third, fourth, or fifth should never be an ask. You’re building relationships with the people so don’t fall into that trap of reaching out to someone just to ask them for something and they don’t even know who you are.

Andrea: Yeah, don’t make it a transactional.

Lindsey Hartz: Right. It’s a relationship. So what’s important about this is I get questions all the time. “I just signed a book contract. What should I do for marketing?” And I’m like, “Build relationships with people,” because in the traditional publishing world that means they have 18 to 24 months usually before their book is going to come out. I’m like, “Start now building relationships.”

That doesn’t mean that everybody that you connect with in month one is going to turn into a collaboration, but you have to develop those relationships to see where it goes without expectation. And then also give people time to get to know you, to get to know your work, to get to know your heart before you ask for an endorsement or to be on your launch team or to promote your book.

I’m not telling you anything that I have a personally experienced so all of this information is stuff that I had to work through in building my business. I will tell you that my attitude towards collaboration and not competition is why I run a business of word-of-mouth referrals for five years. It’s because I genuinely care about people.

There are some people that we connected and it wasn’t really a right fit, we still talk because I’m interested in them as a person and I might know someone who needs their services.

So it’s really understanding you can’t look at every person you connect with this as someone to further you. You have to look at every person as someone that you can connect with, that you can give and receive from potentially. Sometimes, you’re just giving with no receipt and that’s OK.

Then when you do get to the point where there’s a natural relationship or collaboration that you guys can connect on, you always thank them personally. Send them a note, call them, send them a gift card, send them flowers, whatever. Don’t take for granted their time and their investment in you. So basically, don’t be a taker.

Honestly, I don’t think people do this on purpose. I think they just get so busy and so overwhelmed and they’re on so many deadlines that they forget the basics. I don’t know if you ever read those Ms. Manners columns?

Andrea : Sure!

Lindsey Hartz: I kind of grew up on that stuff because my parents were very much into etiquette. So I always think of those old lessons of “treat people the way you want to be treated” and “thank them even if they couldn’t help you”, like just be genuine.

The strategic part actually has to do with your email list. So we hear all the time about how people are overwhelmed with social media and algorithms change and they don’t know where to connect with their readers and they don’t know what to do. My philosophy is that if you’re focusing on building your email list first and foremost, that is your property. It’s permission-based marketing so you’re asking these people for permission. They’re giving it. That means they have signed up to hear from you and they want to hear what you have to say, so communicate with them.

The collaborations I was talking about earlier help you build that audience through word-of-mouth marketing and then social media is really just a way to amplify. So many authors get this a little bit backwards. They focus on the social media aspect first, which can be really like throwing tiny little pebbles in the sea hoping it gets seen.

To be honest, because of the social media platform is not being something we personally own, we’re subject to their changes. We don’t have any control if they change their algorithms or they change their policies. So when you have your email list you have a retain list of readers, potential customers that you have access to, that you can communicate with no matter what happens in the social media landscape.

Then once they’re on your list, make sure that you’re creating a journey for your reader once they join. So don’t have people sign up and then not communicate with them. Make sure you’re leading them through the resources you have, how you can help them transform their lives, gain their buy-in or ask for their feedback as you’re working on projects.

Ultimately, pique their interest with content related to your upcoming book, because that is what the email list is for, of course being generous and soft-hearted like we talked about earlier. But then the other thing is make sure that you’re not afraid to make, occasionally, a clear call to action or ask of your readers.

So if you focus most of your efforts on serving them and every once in a while you say, “Hey, I have a book. If you pre-order here, now, you’ll receive this.” That’s an ask. And, “I have a new product that’s coming out. If you wanna hear more about it, sign up here.” “I’m looking for people to interview on this book topic. Hit “Reply” and let me know when we can get scheduled.”

You have to learn how to integrate those kinds of asks into your email marketing from the very beginning because then your audience is used to you serving them and occasionally making asks of them. So it’s not so weird when you suddenly you have a book and you’re like, “Hey, I have a book.” So what you want to do is make sure you have a relational journey that isn’t full jarring to your audience. Make sense?

Andrea: Oh, yeah. Oh my goodness. So many, so many valuable things here, Lindsey. I can’t believe how much you’ve packed into this little interview. Love it!

So another thought that I do have is I know that not everybody feels like they’re prepared to do all the things that you’ve just suggested and so I just want to offer a little bit of comfort to the listener, too, that even if you’re not ready for everything, you can get started with something. And you can continue to build and make it a work in progress, basically. That you’re continuing to build this journey and you’re continuing to build the content and all those things.

So don’t be afraid of the big picture thing that might feel intimidating. Instead, use it as your vision for what you could do and what you’re headed towards because I don’t think I would be where I’m at right now if I had waited until I had it all figured it out. Because every few months, I’d be like, “Oh, this is this new thing that I can implement.” Or I have a better sense of what I’m doing, and things like that.

Gosh, Lindsey, thank you so much for all of those really helpful tips and that encouragement. I really appreciate that.

I know that you had something planned for our listeners, so why don’t you tell them about that right now?

Lindsey Hartz: Absolutely. What I’m going to do is I’m going to provide a download of the notes for this interview, because I know there’s a lot of great inspiration in what we talked about.

Andrea: It’s awesome!

Lindsey Hartz: I always love your insights and commentary, but also just kind of those step-by-step plans that we talked about.

So I’ll have the download for the notes for the interview and then I also have two free book launch project plan templates that actually start from the moment you know you want to write a book.

So planning for a book launch is not just about the time period around the release. It’s what you do before, to engage with the right audience and build the email list. It’s what you do during the launch to actually create your marketing campaign and get the message out. And it’s what you do after the release to continue ongoing promotion and to continue to connect with readers.

So at the link provided, you’ll be able to access the notes and those plans. I’m just looking forward to connecting with you.

Andrea: Awesome, Lindsey!

When she said “the link provided” that means they’re going to be in the show notes. So you can find the show notes at You can find that link with all that information that Lindsey is talking about in the show notes at So go to and that’s where you’re going to find the link that Lindsey was talking about with all these amazing stuff that she’s providing you.

Thank you so much, Lindsey, for your voice of influence with authors and to help get people’s message out into the world. Thank you so much for being here.

Lindsey Hartz: Thank you for having me. It was a true joy.

Andrea: Awesome!


How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Episode 41

What if no one cares about what you have to say? What if people will find out you’re not really the expert on your topic? What people think you’re a fraud?

In this solo episode, I dive into the dreaded Impostor Syndrome. It’s something almost every single coach, consultant, entrepreneur, and freelancer has experienced. We all have our doubts and fears; especially when we put ourselves out into the world in such a public way. Yes, even I have had experiences with Impostor Syndrome and that’s why I’m giving you my best tips and tactics for how to overcome those doubts and fears so you can feel confident in what you have to say.

Mentioned in this episode:


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.




Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! So, have you ever felt like an imposter, or maybe you’ve heard of imposter syndrome? It’s that feeling that some high achieving people, experts, get when they don’t just really don’t think that they have what it takes. They think that they are going to be found out that they don’t really know what they’re talking about or that they don’t really have the ability to do what they are setting out to do.

I think that this problem is definitely an issue that we need to talk about, because if somebody who is a message-driven leader; you have expertise, you have skills, you have things that you really care about, it’s so important to get a sense of what you are actually able to do, so you’re not questioning yourself a lot and so that you’re not super concerned about this imposter syndrome kind of feeling that people can get.

Today, we’re going to talk about what to do when you feel like you are an imposter, like somebody is going to find you out and expose you for who you really are. I tried to use a lot of personal examples in my podcast, writing, and things like this. It’s just kind of my style and it’s part of what I do. I disclose things about myself. I let people in to see things that I struggle with and how I’ve overcome them or that sort of thing in order to develop a bond with my audience, with you; in order to kind of be relatable, I guess. But at the same time, I also want to share with you what I learned from these experiences.

I don’t like to use other people as examples very often unless it’s my family and it’s a situation that we’ve agreed to share just because it’s hard, it’s hard to share other people’s experiences. I feel like what I want is I want to relate to you directly, personally, rather than give you outside examples and talk about a problem as though it’s not something that I deal with because it definitely is.

I want you to know too that part of what it means for me, what I believe in being a message-driven leader and what voice of influence means, is that you figure out your own voice. You may not want to share or even mean to or it may not be your thing to personally disclose your issues, your problems, and things you struggle with; but it maybe something that you can sprinkle in to what you do.

So, today, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my own experience of feeling like an imposter or feeling concern that I don’t have what it takes to be able to go out there and share my voice with the world.

A few years ago, I was struggling just internally, struggling relationally, just not feeling like I had a voice. I felt like I had expertise to share with the world, which seemed crazy that I would think that. Who says, “I have things that I need to share with the world.” Well, probably you. You’re probably somebody who feels that way, as well.

I didn’t want people to feel like I was being conceited in thinking that I knew more than they did, because there were plenty of times in my life, especially as a young child, where I had that attitude. And it was very clear that having that attitude does not actually help make change in other people.

When you think that you know everything and you just tell people what to do, it very rarely actually gets people to change. They might do what you want them to for a minute, but in the end, they don’t appreciate that. So I struggled. I was pulling back and forth with this “Should I share what I think that I know?”

I feel like I have this thing, it’s like this outward desire to move this outwardly and express it, but at the same time I was pulling back on admitting that maybe I had expertise. I know a number of reasons why and sometimes it had to do with feeling like an imposter but sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it had to do with really not having that expertise or it might have had to do with fearing what other people think and things like that as well.

So when you are looking at your own experience with feeling like an imposter, with trying to decide whether not you’re going to actually say and admit or share your voice with the world in a way that says “I am an expert in this.” When you’re looking at that and you’re feeling like an imposter or you’re feeling afraid to let it actually happen, to actually put it out there, there are few things that I want you to think about. So, I’m going to take you to those things right now and continue to share my voice with my experience with you along the way.

Number one, make sure that you are focused on serving others not on what others think of you. If you think that you have imposter syndrome or you think that you’re struggling with putting your voice out there because “What’s going on? What would people think?” It could be that you are more focused on what you’re going to get out of the equation than your audiences. That’s hard to admit because what you do when you say you have something to share with other people, you’re saying, “I’m going to share this with you whether or not it actually hurts me, whether or not you reject me, or whether or not you ignore me,” that sort of thing.

If you’re focused on making sure that you’re heard, you’re focused on making sure that you’re understood, or you’re focused on making sure that you get the reaction out of people that you want then you’re more focused on you and what other people think of you than you are on serving them.

I don’t want you to spend a lot of time dwelling on this idea that maybe you’re little too focused on yourself, but it’s something that you need to actually look at. You need to get really honest with yourself, with God, with others, and what is it that you’re really worried about right now. Because one of the definitions that I have for passion, my definition of passion that it’s not something that fulfills you, it’s something you’re willing to pour yourself out for, for others.

If you’re connected to a passion, you have this expertise and you have this passion to share your expertise, it’s not just about making yourself feel good for sharing it, it’s about being willing to put yourself on the line to share it. You may be somebody who had all A’s in high school and maybe you graduate top of your class in college or maybe you’re this entrepreneur who has been out there and making tons of money, I don’t know, you’ve done something amazing but you keep kind of pulling back and saying “Oh, but it’s not good enough,” or “Oh, but I’m not really that good.”

Number one, you ask yourself, is this something that you’re needing to fulfill you, or is it something that you’re willing to pour yourself out for? That’s number one.

The second thing to do when you’re feeling this way is to consider, “What do I need to learn? Is there an actual problem here? Is there an actual deficit in me?” If there is, if you feel like you actually do need to learn more about the subject, then go learn more.

You don’t have to feel like an imposter for saying that you really care about this subject or you do have expertise of some kind within the subject or a way to approach the subject. What you can do is you can go out and learn more. As Amy Porterfield says, “You can get down into this entrepreneurial rabbit holes,” and start just going so far and digging so far into it that you get lost.

You can do that with learning more, but I think that if you really do need to learn more about a subject, before you ever start moving in that direction, give yourself a chance to think about “What is my goal here? How much more do I need to learn about this?” Maybe you could talk to somebody else and ask them, “What do you think I need to learn about this?” Is this something that you need to learn information about, or do you need to grow in your skills? Because those are two different things but they’re both very important.

So if you are feeling this way and you know that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to pour yourself out for this thing, you’re willing to put yourself on the line to help others and serve others. But you’re not totally sure you have enough information or that your skills might need to be tweaked then you go do it. You don’t have to sit there and say “Oh, I’m experiencing imposter syndrome.” You don’t sit there and say, “I can never get there,” instead you say, “OK, well what is it gonna take to get there? What do I need to learn more about or what skills do I need to acquire?”

So you figure that out. Go to somebody else who’s doing what you’re doing; go to somebody else who has expertise in this area of some kind, somebody that you trust to give you really good advice and whether you just ask for the advice or pay for the advice, whichever way it goes. You can gain the skills that you need to get better. You can gain information that you need to move forward. If you care about this that much then you’re going to be willing to do it and you’re going to be able to put yourself in a position to grow in this area. So go ahead and go do that.

The third thing that you could do is to integrate your expertise. In episode 25 with Dorie Clark, it’s called How to Monetize your Expertise, episode 25 of this podcast, Dorie and I talked a little bit about concept that she talked about in a book called Stand Out. I really, really benefited from this little bit of knowledge. So I want to put you back to that episode if you want to go and listen to it. You can also buy her book Stand Out, which would be fabulous.

One of the things that she talks about in the book is if you want to stand out, one thing that you could do is to integrate your expertise. So you take two different concepts or two different ideas or two different genres or two different industries and you bring them together in a unique way. This is something that I did with Voice of Influence. I put together the concepts in my expertise in the area of voice (singing), singing and conducting and voice coaching (helping people to find their literal singing voice), and tweaking that and making it better and things like this.

I put that together with the idea of self expression and having a voice in the world and together that all became Voice of Influence. So this is something that you can do as well. Maybe like me, you’re not the best singer in the world. You have some experience and you’ve done some really cool things with this expertise that you have, but you’re not so stand out with this particular thing and at the same time, you really care about this other issue.

For me, it was self expression and authenticity and things like this, something else that I thought about a lot over the course of life. It’s something I really care about and I’ve studied, have a counseling ministries degree. So putting these two things together allowed me to be able to stand out in a different way than I would have if I was trying to do just one or the other.

I’m not an expert at counseling for example. I’m an expert or I’m not a standout star with singing, but when I put those two things together and come up with a way to talk about these subjects, all of a sudden it all make more sense. It’s about self expression and it’s about what you do and what you say. After a while, I realized that it was a personal brand strategy was this thing that I was talking about, “How do you figure out what you’re up to, what you want to do, how you express who you are in the world?” And that is personal brand strategy.

So when I put together those things then it becomes a unique offering that is mine. What you can do is you can do is you can do something similar to that. You can put things together to come with something that is uniquely yours and becomes your unique voice or your unique offering or way of talking about something or whatever. But it’s a way for you to stand out; it’s a way for you to combat this idea that you’re not good enough in one area, alright?

The next thing is to get real experience doing this thing that you’re doing, get really experience with real results. When you get experience, it makes more sense to your brain; it makes more sense to you that you actually do have something that backs you up. You know, you do have some expertise. You are helping people with this thing.

For me, when I was helping people before, not in the paid setting, I was doing it in ministry or I was doing it in my life as a friend, as a mom, as a wife helping people think strategically about their problems or think strategically about how they’re going to communicate with other people. I knew that I was pretty good at it but I didn’t know exactly what the results were.

I had to go back and when I got to this point, I had to really start trying to figure out, “OK, how does this work in the world when you’re putting yourself out there in this more public way when you’re wanting to be a coach or consultant or being known for a topic of some kind?” What I realized is that I really had to have conversations by kind of exploring my abilities around personal brand strategy.

So, I would talk to people or people would bring up problems that they’re experiencing and I’d like “That’s a problem I think can help with.” So I would just offer to help in some way, whether it’d be a conversation or over a course of time in helping somebody with a project or something like this. In doing that, that helped me to be able to see that there was something that I really did have to work with here like, OK, so I didn’t know a personal brand strategy was but now that I kind of knew what it was, I just needed to start exploring what that really look like for me to help people with it.”

That’s what I did. I did that for free. I would have these conversations and give people a chance to explore their personal brand strategy with me, or explore how are they’re going to write or talk or communicate concepts that sort of thing. This is something that I didn’t do right away and that I really wished I would have done more at the beginning when I was doing this.

When you are exploring options, when you are having conversations with people for free or to get testimonials and that sort of thing, you really need to try to make sure that you get a ‘before and after’ that you have a sense of the transformation that actually takes place in that person that they can articulate it and that you can articulate it in an authoritative way. If you’re going to do this, you could also do workshops, seminars, or teach a class or that sort of thing to explore this in person.

But what you do is you either do a survey and so you do a survey before and after asking people you know, “How comfortable are you with this topic,” or “What transformation are you really trying to get at,” because that’s how you’re going to structure your survey. But you find out their comfort level, their skill level ahead of time beforehand and then you do it again afterwards and you say “How much did this help? How much did you change because of us working together?”

When you do that then you have actual matrix and even if it’s subjective, it’s at least something that somebody outside of yourself has said “You know, you have made this much difference for me.” That makes a real difference when you’re trying to figure out whether or not you have what it takes and whether or not you’re feeling like an imposter today to go back and look at this matrix, to look at these testimonials that people give, and I will definitely ask for those if you can get them. Ask people “How did this help you? How did this change you?” That sort of thing.

Don’t ask them to say “Oh you’re such a good teacher,” you know that doesn’t help. You have to ask how this actually changed them and what was the transformation that took place inside of them. “I’m so much more confident about my ability to whatever, or I wasn’t able to work with this program and now I can do it masterfully.” Whatever the transformation is that you’re trying to accomplish that’s what you want to survey, that’s what you want to get matrix for.

So when you have that and you have this experience where you’ve worked with people, you’ve gotten the real results, you’ve tested out your content, and you’ve tested out your ability to help people with this area then you keep those. You don’t just throw a couple up on your website and then tuck them all away, instead if you need help remembering how much difference you make for people then maybe you need a board.

Maybe you’ve heard the idea of having a vision board where you put on there of things that you want to do or what you’re shooting for and that sort of thing. Well, this is a different kind of board; in fact I would call it a passion board poster.

At the beginning of this episode, we were talking about the very first thing that you want to do is to make sure that you are doing this in service to others instead of worrying about what others think of you.

Well, we’re talking about that same concept of passion, of being willing to put yourself on the line because of the results that you’re getting for people; you know that you’re helping people. How do you know that? Because you got pictures and testimonies from people up on your passion poster, your passion board or whatever you want to call it. It can serve for you as a reminder of those people in your life you have said to you “This matters to me. Your expertise has helped me.”

Then when you start to feel like it’s not worth it or that you’re afraid of standing out for this area of expertise, that you’re feeling like an imposter, you go back to that passion board and you say “You know what though, even if I do feel like a failure, even if I do feel like I’m going to get ignored or worry about being rejected or feel like I’m going to get found out, the truth is that I have seen results in the past and I’m going to keep going for them because there are more people out there like these people here on my passion poster. That changes things.

When you start to get really sure that you are helping people; that you have helped people then you need to be reminded of that. So when you get to this point where you’re feeling like an imposter, when you’re feeling like “I’m not sure that it’s worth standing out for this,” or that “I’m not sure if I really have what it takes, that people would respect me enough to listen to me,” that sort of thing. Then there are practical things that you can do to get rid of that.

Number one: Again, you want to make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons that you’re not here to get validated from other people but that you’re here to put yourself on the line for other people, you’re here to serve. When you do that, you have a real sense of your passion in that sacrificial kind of way, “I care about this so much, I’m willing to put myself on the line for it.”

Number two: You learn what you need to learn. Find out more if you need to find out more, the knowledge piece of it or learn the skills that you need. Get those skills, go ahead and get them. If you’re not sure how much of those things you need, go and ask somebody but make sure that it’s clear, “I’m going to get this. I’m going to learn this. I’m going to understand that. I’m going to be able to do this skill and then I’m going to move on and I’m going to keep moving toward putting myself out there.”

Then you say “Well, do I need to integrate my expertise? Is there a way to bring different things together, different areas of expertise or different industries, different things together to create a unique spin on what I have to say?” And then you got experience actually doing it. You get real results testing before and after, getting a testimonial, getting the matrix, like I said even if they are subjective. Maybe they’re not, maybe they’re objective. Either way, you’re getting people’s testimony. You’re getting people to say “This is the help that you’ve given me. This is how I have changed because of your help.”

You’re not asking for this just to be validated, you’re asking for this to be reminded that you’re voice matters. This is important. You’ve put those two things together, the idea of passion and the idea of validation, this passion board. We’re talking about getting this information so that you can say and tell your brain, “You know what, I am willing to put myself on the line for these people because I know it matters. I’ve seen the results. These people have seen the results of their lives and so I’m going to keep putting myself out there even if I feel nervous, even if I feel like an imposter. I’m going to keep going,” and when you get to that point that’s incredibly empowering for you.

I’ve had different people on the podcast over the past few months who have said things like “You know, I still feel fear but now I just kind of look at the fear and say ‘hi, I see you there but I’m gonna keep going.’” And that’s what I think we all need to get to that point where we can say, “You know what, maybe this fear is truly excitement and maybe I can just let this fear be with me even though I’m going to go for it and I’m going to go for it because I’m doing it for other people.

That makes it so much more clear. It makes this idea of the imposter syndrome or the idea of not wanting to share your expertise that just sort of diminishes when you think about the people that you could help. So the next time you feel like an imposter, go back and do these things. Look at your passion board if you’ve made one and remind yourself why you’re here because that’s going to change everything.

Now, I’m going to share with you just a little bit how this has worked for me, because it has to do with the podcast. I started a podcast a few months ago, it would be April 2017 and now we’re into February 2018, almost a year. Part of what I did when I started the Voice of Influence podcast was I did integrate those areas of expertise to find a unique spin but at the same time, I wasn’t totally confident of my own expertise and what exactly I was trying to share and had the sense of it and I did have some initial thoughts that really haven’t changed.

But since starting, I have learned a lot more. I’ve become more confident of what I’m doing and more confident about where we’re trying to head with this whole concept of the voice of influence and message-driven leadership. So what I did when I started it was I had an interview with somebody who I felt like did have a voice of influence and wanted to learn from people.

So there’s that conversation and learning from people and kind of testing out my ideas with them and then I also had the Voice Studio episodes where there will be short, maybe 5-minute episodes that would give me a chance to expand upon something that that person talked about in their interview. Those episodes came out out on Mondays and Thursdays.

Well, as things have gone and continued to move in this direction of me getting more clear and more confident, I’m realizing that I do have a lot more that I want to share for my own expertise around this area of message-driven leadership and voice of influence communication strategy and personal brand strategy. So what I’m going to do is, instead of having those long form interview and then a short episode with just me, I’m going to alternate probably half and half, maybe every other time or something like this where I’ll do an interview.

And then I’ll do a solo episode like this one today because I want to keep having this interview, I love them. I love doing them. I love sharing them with you. I love sharing these people and their voice, but at the same I also realized that there needs to be some additional equipping. I really want to help people who are wanting to be coaches consultants, other kinds of message-driven leaders, be able to do the things that I’m trying to promote around these areas of communication strategy, personal brand strategy, etc., etc.

That’s my plan. Instead of doing that shorter episode where I was just kind of exploring some different things and trying to share a little bit here and there, now I’m going to do some longer ones with me by myself that are really specific to equipping you in some kind of way and we still have the interviews as well.

So I just wanted to let you know that that is what I’m going to be doing but also because I really did start out by just going for it. But at the same time, I wasn’t totally confident of my own expertise. As time has gone on and I’ve gotten more clear, I’m feeling more confident in being able to do that. So that’s the kind of thing that I believe you can do as well.

If you are thinking about starting something or you have started something, but you’re not totally going for it or you know that you’re still holding back a little bit because you’re afraid of how people will perceive you or that sort of thing, I do encourage you to do these steps that I laid out today and take those bold steps where it’s actually getting your voice out there in a way that says “You know what, I’m an expert in this area.”

And for me, I’m not saying I’m an expert in leadership, I’m saying “I’m an expert” and gosh it’s even hard to say still. But I’m saying “I have something to share with you in regards to message-driven leadership.” And as I’ve gotten more clear on that, I can share it with you with more confidence. So dig yourself out of imposter syndrome with these steps and make your voice matter more!



Understanding the Value of Your Own Voice with Jolene Underwood

Episode 40

Jolene Underwood is a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background, and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived, no matter the circumstance. Jolene also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Writers.

In this episode, Jolene and I discuss how to know if what you want to write belongs in a private journal or on a public blog, why you need to be conscious of the burdens you’re placing on your readers, why she made the decision to join the #MeToo Movement by sharing her own story of how she became pregnant after date rape and how that experience led to her realizing she valued the voice of others more than her own, the struggles of finding the balance between guiding your children and letting them have their own voice, and so much more!

Don’t forget! Jolene is offering a special $15 discount exclusively for the listeners of the Voice of Influence Podcast on her Unleashed Heart and Soul Care Sheets! Visit and enter the promo code “reclaimmyvoice” now through the end of March 2018.

Mentioned in this episode:


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Hey, there! It’s Andrea Wenburg, host of the Voice of Influence podcast. In October of 2017, the hashtag #Metoo gathered a great deal of momentum as a symbol of solidarity amongst the survivors of sexual abuse and those who’ve experienced sexual harassment.

At the time of this interview, we’re just a few months down the road and a host of justice-seeking movements have begun to converge. From the times of initiative, started by women in the entertainment industry, to the fall of individual male celebrities who have been accused of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse to the sentencing today, the day of this recording of the USA Olympic and Michigan State University doctor, Larry Nassar, accused by over 150 women for child molestation and abuse.

As a woman who has not had to endure sexual harassment to the point of feeling like the #MeToo hashtag would apply to me, I can still relate to the trials and the confusion that comes from an imbalance of power in many spheres of the world, while recognizing the messy relational and emotional difficulties that this topic stores in both women and men.

As a human being who cares about others and believes in the value that every voice matters, I feel compelled to contribute what I can to this ongoing conversation. I wanted to let you know about the sensitive nature of the topic discussed in this conversation so that you can take whatever percussions you need to take. But I also want you to know that my guest and I speak mostly about the concept of voice and how it relates to the various movements I just mentioned, not so much of graphic description of any particular circumstances.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct; I completely understand if you do not want to join us for a conversation and I’ll just share a summary with you right now:

Your voice matters!


Today, I have with me, Jolene Underwood, a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived no matter the circumstance.

She also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Warriors, and after years of serving in multiple capacities and healing from various trials and traumas, Jolene enjoys a new season of life in Texas.

Andrea: Jolene, thank you for being willing to offer your voice to our listeners on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Jolene Underwood: Hi. Thank you so much for having me, Andrea. I’m super excited to be here.

Andrea: So would you tell us a little bit about what this particular season of life looks like for you right now?

Jolene Underwood: Sure, it’s very different for me because we spent so many years of my adult life; I got pregnant at a young age and had several kids and home schooling and lots of ministry things. Then we moved to foster on a ranch in a very unique set up where we had up to 12 kids in the home. When we came back, we ended up with two kids left in the house.

So I’m a grandma now. I only have two kids in the home. We’re longer homeschool and I’m not doing those particular ministries. But as a result of being at that ranch, it was a really stressful time for me.

After we served at a ranch, I came home with just signs of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It was an extreme, unique situation. At that time, I thought “Everything has changed.” I no longer have all these kids at home. I don’t have the energy to homeschool.

I loved writing and so I started going back into writing and considering blogging. It was mostly something that I enjoyed at the time and wanted to kind of keep my brain moving. So that started the season of really intentionally pursuing healing for myself, not only for all the things that had happened while we’re at the ranch but areas of fear in life that just became kind of thematic and the different experiences that I had.

I said “You know what; it is time to really deal with some of this stuff.” I don’t think I consciously thought of it that way but it was the path that I was going down and that I felt like I was suppose to take.

So the last four years have been really amazing. I mean, really hard in a lot of ways but also through those challenges there has been so much freedom, peace, and joy that has come out of it.

So for me this year, I feel like this is the year for adventure that we’ve been going out through this healing journey and now God is saying here’s a new season of things that I have re-explored. That’s part of what really matters to me as hearing from God’s voice and that’s why it felt like He had told me that it’s time to take the next steps and adventure.”

So the new season is full of writing. I write on my blog for the topics of emotional health and spiritual growth. The blog is still kind of shifting in tone of voice from over the years when I started writing. It was primarily, mostly me kind of figuring out my voice and what I wanted to write about and I was still processing a lot of the pain as well.

Now, I’m in a place where I’m writing content that I can identify with, that relates to other people kind of the struggles of anxiety or trying to live well but things keep not going well, and how do you keep persevering in hard circumstances. Some of the content there are becoming more practical but also sharing some of my story.

I serve a community called Rise Up Writers. It is Christian communicators. So writers, speakers, entrepreneurs, people who want to be effective at sharing the message that they feel that God has given them and wrestle with the intention of platform building or the value of their voice, which is something that I’m very familiar with and I find that it’s a common struggle. So I love having the opportunity to encourage them and help equip them and see what’s going to happen with their voices.

Andrea: Yes. And we have certainly connected over that shared desire to see that in people in that value of people’s voice.

So your emotional health, spiritual growth writing has shifted over the years, you said, in tone maybe. As you’ve been finding your voice, I’m curious what that looked like for you in your blog. When you started out writing, was it more to find and to be able to express what had happened or to be able to share your feelings and that sort of thing in a public way and now it has shifted? What’s the shift been for you?

Jolene Underwood: Andrea, I love that question because we’ve been talking in Rise Up Writers lately about several different things that have to do with platform. One of the things that I keep going back to is that we’re here to give value and not get value. When I first started blogging that’s where I was and I think a lot of people do that. It’s OK if you’re writing to just share your story and work through things. That’s fine. But I was writing kind of with dual intention. Part of it was because I enjoyed it but part of me also wanted validation for what I was putting out there even though my brain was not in a real healthy place to put out a great content and serve well.

So as I kind of would keep writing, it gave me an opportunity to test ideas. But then I could go back and look at it and say, “Wow, this is really just kind of depressing.”

I also realized that there was content that I needed to just write in journals and I was struggling to get some of it out. Like with the foster care situation, I carried a journal with me for a year or a year-and-a-half at least before I could even start writing any of the stories down because the trauma was impacting me. I thought I was going to write that on my blog. I thought I might encourage other people to engage in the foster care system, but it’s not what ended up coming out.

But over time, as I look back at some of the writing that I did, there was a consistent message that would come through as well. I started realizing that some of that was what was really inside of me was the passion to encourage people to see beyond the circumstances to pursue healing and growth.

So even though some of that writing had more less hope-filled content…and I’m not talking about tying a bow on every post. Some people would talk about where, “Oh, we just make it really lighthearted,” I’ve had a tendency to do that but it makes me cringe because we do go through really hard things.

So there’s I think a balance of sharing some of those challenging things but also not doing it in a way that puts this heavy burden on the reader. So that’s part of what has shifted as well that now I’m in a healthier place and I can write from a place that’s saying, “Here’s part of my story,” but not do it in a way that’s like, “Can you care for it?” Because it’s not the reader’s job to care for it. I get my care from my community, other people in my life, from me, or from my faith. So that has just been a huge shift.

I’m super, super excited about what’s ahead because, now, instead of thinking about whether or not people are going to click through and like what I read or whether or not they’re going to tell me that I put words together in a great way, I get to help people, and then hear their stories come back to me, the email or comments or whatever it is, and that gives me immense excitement.

Andrea: Wow! That is such an important point and so I’d like to dig into that just a little more, because I think you’ve got a lot of wisdom to share with us in this area. How does one know if what you want to write should belong in a journal or on a blog? Do you have any sort of advice for people who are trying to discern that?

Jolene Underwood: That is a really great question, too. I would say that if you’re starting to write something and the anxiety is starting to rise in you or emotion is feeling strong, consider that. That might be a signal that it’s not fully healed. It may not be. It maybe just a little bit of remnants after you’ve done a lot of healing work but it might be an indication that this is actually something I need to work out in a private journal because I think that’s really important and the healing process is to get the writing out and it can be really hard to let the brain release that. Your writing can get really like if you’re writing about it by hand, for example, you’re going to notice a shift in your manuscript, like whether it’s legible or not if you’re feeling a lot at the time that you’re trying to write it out.

So I think that’s a sign or an indicator. It’s not like “the sign” necessarily, but if it’s a fresh, current incident that you’re going through or have just recently been through, a lot of times we want to talk about it before we’ve processed it.

So sometimes I think we want to be helpful people. We want to encourage others. We want to be useful. We want our messages to matter. So when we learn something new, sometimes we want to just put it out there really quick for somebody else to listen to before we’ve taken time to actually process it, consider it, and let it penetrate our lives and change us in some way.

So that’s two things. I would say a third thing would be if you know that you’ve been kind of in some rough seasons and, you know, “Everybody knows I’m just kind of going through some rough times,” have a trusted friend or two read it and say, “What kind of tone do you hear from me? What kind of message are you hearing from me? What is the main point?”

For me, part of my writing not only was it focused more burdensome probably to other people but it wasn’t clear. So my brain wasn’t clear and I’m not getting the content out clear so even having somebody else look at it for clarity would have helped me.

So I would say that’s the three things.

Andrea: So what does that look like? You mentioned putting a heavy burden on the reader. How does one know? What is the burden that you think could be put on the reader?

Jolene Underwood: I think it’s tricky to know and I think that’s something that you kind of have to evaluate and ask yourself and then maybe go back a week or two later.

So if you’re not sure, this is the possibility that you could try. Try writing something; try even putting it into a blog post format or whatever, if you’re an entrepreneur, something that you’re using for other people. Let it sit for a day or two, come back and do some edits. Let it for two weeks; come back when you’re in a different season but make sure that you’re coming back when you’re feeling good at that time.

So maybe you’ve just exercised or you’re just having a good day whatever, come and re-read it and really think about the reader who’s reading it. What are they going to get out of this message? What benefit does it have for them to read what I’ve written rather than am I going to feel benefit because other people are reading it?

Andrea: I can relate, so relate to everything you’re talking about because when I first started writing and publishing on a blog… and this is maybe another good question, though, because when I first started, it was hard. There was such a tremble in my press of return, or whatever, to actually publish a post because it was personal. But at the same time, it felt like there was a duality going on there where there were two stories. There’s the story of I am pretty well healed from this but at the same time, this is very personal. So it does feel very emotional to share it because I don’t know what kind of feedback I will get.

So still I’m wondering, there’s still a desire for some kind of validation, just a nod even, from somebody in authority or somebody that I really respected to be able to say to me, “You know what, Andrea, this is good. It’s good that you’re doing this.” I really craved that.

So what’s the difference there and what kind of advice do you have for somebody else that’s kind of looking at that going, “You know, I am nervous about sharing but does that mean that I shouldn’t?”

Jolene Underwood: Oh man, you know what? I still struggle with that and I think it’s OK. I think that being nervous about sharing something and whether or not it’s going to be validated by somebody else is natural. I think it becomes more of an issue if it’s crippling you from putting the content out there or that you start thinking about it so much and you keep checking stats and you’re concern starts to shift over stewarding the gift of writing and the craft and the platform opportunities that we have in focusing more on what you’re getting out of, it if it keeps coming up.

It’s really important to have people in our lives that we can also go back to and say, “This is an area that I’ve recognized that I start to struggle with,” and just talk to them about what we’re going through.

If it’s really safe, close person then they could say, “You know, maybe it’s a time to step back,” or “Yeah, I understand.” And they just kind of comfort which helps bring that anxiety a level down so that you can keep going.

Andrea: OK, Jolene, are these the kind of conversations that you’re having in Rise Up Writers?

Jolene Underwood: I will say I don’t know that we’ve had these specific conversations but we… when Facebook announced another thing with algorithm than changes, honestly, I think some of those things have already been in place. And a lot of people started getting really concerned about what the changes were coming up and how that was going to impact pages. So many people in the writing community were facing building a platform and then also the writing and then you have to learn graphics and all these different pieces. So when something changes like Facebook Pages, it makes us little nervous that we have to learn something new.

So what I’ve been doing is I offer content that is both encouraging and equipping. So I alternate back and forth between I may do something that’s more spiritual in nature.

I might go, “Hey, it is time for us to do the work,” and really kind of kick our butts out there, or just really, “let’s get equipped in understanding something so we can make out choices.”

So with the Facebook Page discussion, I brought in another blogger and writer who’s had viral posts. We did a Facebook Like Video that was amazing and people ask questions. I had another guy come in and talk about SEO.

But then we took that Facebook page discussion and I did a separate blog post that I’m still working on. It’s pretty long, but it’s very scannable blog post with a YouTube video that will go out probably by the end of the week about Facebook Pages and Christian communicators to help people look at the practical aspect, “OK, what does this news actually mean? What are some things that we can do with it?”

But then they go into the aspect that encourages them and says, “This isn’t the end-all. This is not Facebook Zero. Here’s how we can learn and grow from it,” and encouraging people in that. So when I brought up the part about giving value and not seeking to get our value, that’s been repeated several times because I think a lot of the struggle with it. I’d still get out there and of course we all want some to read our stuff. We don’t want to do work where nobody could pay attention to it. That wouldn’t even make sense.

So there’s always going to be kind of that tension of is this starting to get a strangle on me? One of the questions that I ask is when we’re evaluating some of these things, is it something that’s stretching me? So maybe I can grow in it and take it some steps at a time.

Is it sapping me? Like this is not for this season. This is causing me too much tension, too much anxiety, I need to step back for a while.

Or is it sapping me and draining me completely of life and joy and, “I don’t even enjoy doing this anymore.”

So those are some of the conversations we’re having.

Andrea: That’s very helpful. I’m sure everybody probably feels like they’re getting fed on many different levels.

Jolene Underwood: In the community group of 350, it’s a very active community. And then I also offer a newsletter and the directions that were headed for Rise Up Writers is some collaborative content. So we’re doing monthly Zoom call and then sometimes we’ll do these Facebook Lives but this has been more spur-of-the-moment and I’m going to have some other people adding blog content. Because I really value the voices of the people that are part of the group and doing this as a collaborative collective work.

I have to balance how much time I have because it is free. Some people sometimes make donations to help me out. But I love seeing other people in our group step up.

And maybe they’re not going to develop a course, for example, on how to use Pinterest but last week we had a gal in our group lead a Zoom call on how to use Pinterest _____ and it was immensely helpful for people that were part of the community. It didn’t take a lot of time to do that. It wasn’t just me. It’s not just me sharing my opinion.

Andrea: Cool. That’s very cool!

So here’s something that came up in the last few months. This is currently, we’re in January 2018, and in October of 2017, the hashtag #MeToo became very popular. It kind of grew in momentum and started to kind of sweep over the nation and over the world. I noticed that you had posted a blog post with your own hesitancy to share and to actually use the hashtag, but you did. You used the hashtag #MeToo. Can you tell me and tell our listeners why you decided to post your article and your story and go ahead and say, “Me too?”

Jolene Underwood: Thank you for asking. It’s interesting to me that the one blog post that gets hits every single day is that blog post. So the story is about date rape and getting pregnant through date rape, and that blog post is titled, I Said No, He Said No Problem – A Date Rape Story.

Initially posting it, I hesitate some because calling it date rape was something that I have had to accept over the years because I know people who’ve been in situations where the rape was violent, and this situation wasn’t violent. But it’s important to use those words because a lot of other people have experienced it.

So after I’ve shared that story, I received emails every now and then from somebody telling me their story. I tear for them. My heart hurts for them. They’re just simply looking for someone to validate that they were violated.

So sharing the message and sharing with the hashtag #MeToo I felt was important to do. I think sometimes I wrestle with it because it’s not my main message but it is a part of my story and that’s something that happened to me and that there’s hope in the story too.

Andrea: And it is so tightly related to the idea of sharing your voice. Would you mind sharing with us about why you felt like… I mean, the title alone, “I said no, and he said, oh no problem,” that alone says, “I was trying to share my voice, was trying to use my voice, but it was disregarded.”

Jolene Underwood: Yeah. Well, I can share a little bit of the story if you want. Basically, I had been a new resident to Texas and I was struggling as a single mom already. I was trying to get work and I was a temp and I had moved down here for one guy. We broke up and then somebody else had asked me out. He had money and he seemed nice and I thought, “OK. Well, it would be great to be treated nice.”

So I agreed and then he invited me over to his house where he lived with several other people and asked me to bring my son with me. I actually really struggle with telling people “no” so I had to learn a lot in the areas of boundaries and confidence with my voice, and especially the value of it. But for some reason, I just had this feeling and I said, “Just so you know, I will come over but we’re not having sex.” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I would never do that,” and he just tried to reassure me over and over again.

Well, that kept happening progressively throughout the night and, ultimately, I was in a position where I just didn’t have the strength to keep saying “Look, I don’t wanna have sex.” And I was too afraid of hurting his feelings so basically valuing his voice over valuing my own voice and how he was violating me and disrespecting me.

So I did what I knew to do at the time. I’d actually already experienced the date rape situation where I lost my virginity and it had happened very, very, very quickly. I didn’t say no at the time and so I felt a lot of guilt for that and so maybe that helped prompt me this time to say at least that much, but I was scared. I wanted him to simply honor what I said. Why can’t you just respect the fact that I said no?

He basically just keeps saying, “Yeah, no problem. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to,” and then I got pregnant.

Andrea: You said that you were afraid of hurting his feelings. I think that this happens a lot in so many different levels for people, and a lot of times it’s women who are afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. It feels like we’re here to make sure that that doesn’t happen or something. I don’t know.

But what was it for you, do you think? If you were to look back and say, well, what was nurtured in me or what was… and I’m not accusing anybody in particular, I’m just curious. What was it about your surroundings; your growing up inside of you that was just so concerned about hurting his feelings?

Jolene Underwood: I have evaluated that and looked at that for the last few years and there are several different things, I think, that came into play. One, I’m a sensitive person and I have come to accept that. I have a friend who has a group called Sensitive and Strong for highly sensitive people who are strong women, and I was like, “You know what? That kinda fits me,” because I am sensitive but I feel strong. But I didn’t feel strong then. But I did feel like it was inside of me just I didn’t know how to live that way.

Much of my life, I would just really notice the way that other people responded or didn’t respond. It became very personal to me and I became more fearful of trying. They were not major incidences. It was more like peers laughing at you when you bring up something or teachers who think that you can’t do something that you’re trying to do rather than encouraging you. Those types of things that weren’t major but they still formed belief systems inside of me.

And basically, after I kept evaluating this and I started working through some of my own healing part of that was understanding the destructive beliefs that I had and dismantling them. It didn’t happen overnight. But once I was able to recognize that that was a destructive belief then it has continued to unravel over time.

The biggest one that came out for me, or one of the biggest ones, first, was other people’s voice matter more than my own. So over and over and over again, if somebody was in authority or they had more confidence than I, if they spoke and I felt shut down, I would stay shut down. That kind of pattern in my life played out repeatedly.

Well, in high school, I was struggling and I couldn’t get my own emotions out. I ended up in a hospital for eating disorder and depression, self-harm. I remember at that point I recognized, “Oh, my goodness, this is happening because not coming out of what’s inside of me,” like I’m not getting it out, I’m not telling people, I don’t have safe people to talk to. I really did but I didn’t know how to do that.

So that summer just before I ended up in the hospital, I had been sexually harassed at my job. That was just mostly my boss was buying me lingerie and I didn’t know what to do with that. I was like, “Umm, OK. Thanks.” I knew it was inappropriate but now I know that it would be better if I spoke up. I don’t have guilt for not speaking up because I didn’t know how to do it at the time but I know that continued to impact me and then the first situation of date rape happened just before I went to the hospital. I forgot what the original question was.

Andrea: So you were in the hospital because it was hard for you to not get it out. You couldn’t get it out. So it sounds like your voice was stuck inside.

Jolene Underwood: Yes, yes. It definitely was. I would journal and, at a young age, I had a relationship with God where I was writing in my journals but I was also very melancholy. I’m more of that type of person. I would kind of just be sad or I would enjoy songs that kind of felt deeper in my soul. I would just kind of curve inward and stick with my voice there.

You know what’s really interesting is, just in the last few months; I had conversations with a friend in particular where we were talking about a couple of childhood incidences where I really felt threatened with my voice. There were things that came back to memory and then I started working through in healing. When I shared the incidences with her, in those moments, I actually spoke up for myself.

There was a time when I was told that I couldn’t be part of choir and I said, “Well, I just wanna sing for God,” and I spoke up, but I don’t remember that. My mom had to remind me.

And there was another incident where somebody told me I couldn’t do something and I said, “Well, I’m gonna do the best I can.” I was young and those things I didn’t remember. So it’s interesting to me because that voice was shutting down more and more but it was always there.

Andrea: You said that confidence and authority, when other people had confidence or they were in positions of authority that really shut you down. One of the conversations that’s been taking place lately has been around the idea of imbalance of power. I understand that some people are just naturally going to express themselves more confidently and so that could shut other people down, whether they intend to do that or not or whatever. But do you think that you experienced imbalance of power?

I was thinking about even as kids, and I apologize for going on, but the trial sentencing for the Olympic doctor, the gymnast doctor, Larry Nassar, is taking place today. The sentencing is taking place today and I’ve been listening to the children, the voices of these women who were children at that time and that imbalance of power, just a doctor-child relationship. And then I was thinking about my own kids in that how are we supposed to teach our children to have a voice when they’re supposed to be respectful and not question authority? That sort of thing.

So I guess what I’m coming back to in this is do you feel like, as a sensitive young girl, that you were hearing messages that you really shouldn’t ever question somebody who has power, somebody who is in authority?

Jolene Underwood: I think part of me is wired,. You know the StrengthsFinder? One of my top five is… what do they call it in there? It’s Responsibility or Duty. So I don’t really know which came first. What part is part of me? I wasn’t in a situation where there was like a dictatorship or something like that. My parents they have things that they wished they could have done differently. Let me speak to my own things that I’ve done to my own children.

Andrea: Oh, sure!

Jolene Underwood: Because when you are parenting your kids and they’re expressing a different opinion than you, it is easy to get frustrated and to assume that what they’re saying is almost like an attack on you if you haven’t done your own work.

Sometimes, as children, we can come across a lot of people in our lives that start to try to tell us how to think, what we should do. And you have to do that in the beginning, like what you need to do today. “I’m taking you to a potty,” those types of things when they’re little, right? But what we don’t end up doing is as they start expressing their independence, know how to help them shape that for themselves but also giving them the healthy boundaries around it and that safety. And it’s really challenging.

So for me, with my own children, my older boys, when they would do things that would defy me or would go against what I wished they would have done, I was getting angry. So I didn’t give them a voice because I basically told them that they needed to do things my way.

So I have regrets, and I’ve talked to my boys about this, that I didn’t give them a chance to share what was going on with them. Sometimes kids can do things and we still need to tell them like they cannot do that and this is how the rules work in our household, but we don’t have to do it in a way that shuts their voice down. We could still give them an opportunity to hear what they have to say so their hearts are heard.

So as a young girl, I think it was more of just a small Christian school and I felt the obligation to serve God and to do the right thing. I felt the pleasure of when I got it right. I felt the displeasure of when I got it wrong. That really shaped me feeling like I had to do it all right. If I didn’t, it was too scary to talk about. It was too scary to be messy, too scary to be just a broken mess at times. I think that when we can give our kids that opportunity, my younger kids are reaping the benefits of that now.

Fostering changed my parenting paradigm significantly. So I’m seeing the benefits for them where they feel like they can still express that they’re angry about something but then we can talk later. They’ll apologize. We can have a conversation when they’re ready, and those types of things.


Andrea: Yes, that is so good. Trying to find that balance as a parent is so hard. It is such a hard road and it so guilt ridden. You feel guilty if your kids screw up and you feel guilty if you shut them down. But it’s something that’s worthy of our time and our effort and our sacrifice to screw it up, to just keep trying and trying to find that balance, if that’s what you could call it.

But I really value what you’ve just said about parenting and trying to grapple with how to handle this idea of voice with our kids because this is such a big, big issue in general, and especially having come to the forefront now. I think, for both of us and our work with people who are wanting to share their voices this is a huge topic for us to even begin to allow other people a chance to start to think about and give them that safe space to be able to consider where they’ve been, why it’s hard.

So do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share with us in closing on that particular topic?

Jolene Underwood: Yes. Let me put it this way. We have an opportunity to make a difference by considering any potential aspects within ourselves. So when these circumstances come to the surface, like the #ChurchToo, the #MeToo, the public media sexual harassment stories, these things it’s amazing to me that they’re all coming out at the same time pretty much in a short window, quite frankly. We can get hung up on focusing what other people doing wrong. We need to evaluate those things and especially if we’re in a leadership position, and those types of things.

But each of us can look to ourselves and say, “In what way am I, when I’m relating to another person, especially somebody who maybe reports to me or is younger than me or looks up to me in some way, is there some way that I am trying to get my value from them?” Kind of like I talked about before, because when we’re seeking value from our kids, from our spouse, from other people, we want them to do things our way to make us feel better.

If we have our own stuff going inside of us we refuse to deal with, so maybe it’s our own hurts, our own destructive belief patterns, our own unexpressed emotions I talk about too, like sometimes we go through grief situations or really painful losses or even small losses and we don’t let ourselves feel those emotions then we become kind of like this little ticking time bomb inside, or can be, I should say. So that ends up coming out to other people.

So this imbalance of power so many times I think these people that are harassing, they’re trying to get power because they don’t feel power or control inside of themselves. They don’t feel peace inside of themselves. So we can make a difference by working on ourselves and learning to become a more healthy person so that we’re offering more to other people and, in turn, when we’re in conversation…

I did an article for I Believe recently and the original title was Ten Ways You’re More Selfish Than You Think. They changed it to Being Selfish in Relationships. The first point of the article was that when we start to recognize areas of selfishness, we can live more free. So of the ten things, the first thing was being captain of the conversation. If we think of being captain of the conversation in relationship, even to our kids or to other people that may look up to us, if we’re in a position we’re constantly trying to tell them what to do, tell them what we think and make things happen, it’s unhealthy for us and it’s devaluing their voice.

Andrea: Yes. Yes. And I’ve shed many tears in the last… actually, it’s only been a very few hours I ended up staying up late into the night last night watching videos of these young girls and hearing their stories and thinking about our conversation. I just have been feeling like we really needed to talk about this. I’m just giving a hearty, hearty yes to what you just said. I feel like that is incredibly, incredibly important and I hope that we can keep spreading that message.

Jolene Underwood: Me too. When I see other people growing healthier and stronger as humans, it makes me so happy because we want to see changes in the world, we want to see good things, and we each have different ways that we get to impact the world.

But it’s such a beautiful picture and so valuable when we’re individually working on the things inside of us and it impact things exponentially. I think that we really need to see the value of the small work here, locally, in our own communities, in our own relationships.

When I wrote this piece, I was nervous about writing it because I wasn’t sure like, “Well, is anybody gonna read an article that tells you you’re selfish?”

But the feedback that I’m getting, hearing from other people, owning, “Yeah, a lot of these sound like me”, “a lot of these describe me”, “thank you for helping me more aware so that I can work on myself”. It’s not condemnation. It’s not like a heavy burden, but just awareness so we can grow.

Andrea: It’s awareness and yet, at the same time, to be aware of the pain that were causing other people is painful for us, and that’s OK. And that might actually lead us to some true repentance, some true change and forgiveness, the experience of true forgiveness which is so much more powerful than trying to empower our own voices.

So anyway, it’s so, so helpful. It’s so good. Thank you. Thank you, Jolene, for your work in the world empowering voices and for doing your own work of healing. I know that that’s not just been a solo process but thank you for engaging in it and being open to it so you can have a bigger impact with others and help others heal as well and so that will just ripple effect to the world. I just thank you for being here and, yeah, thank you.

Jolene Underwood: Thank you, Andrea. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about voice and the value. And I’m excited to see more people start valuing their voice and using it well.

I wanted to let you know that Jolene has a tool called Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets, and she is offering a voice of influence discount of $15 through the end of March 2018. So use the code reclaimmyvoice (all in lower case, altogether no spaces), reclaimmyvoice by going to

Friend, go reclaim your voice and make it matter even more!


Three Steps for Getting Your Team to Come to a Consensus

Episode 39

In this special solo episode, I use a recent experience with my two young children to explain the three steps, or tactics, you can take to get your team, group, family, etc. to walk away from a discussion having not only come to a consensus about what to do next but feeling energized and empowered about the solution.


Play here (the red triangle below), on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn Radio (Amazon Alexa) or wherever you listen to podcasts.




Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast! I’m consulting with teams and companies who are trying to move their companies forward with innovative initiatives and differentiating their voice in the market place and being able to communicate their ideas, their vision clearly.

One of the things that I found is that when people come to a table to have a conversation about a problem, about something that they need to solve or try to come to consensus, there are three things that truly help that group be able to come to a consensus and move an initiative forward with great energy.

So I like to use stories from our home life simply because it’s easy to tell those stories and I think they absolutely apply to teams and other kinds of relationships. But sometimes it’s easier to talk about kids and home life and most of us, you know, we all have a personal life. So I want to start there. I want to tell you about a situation that we had in our family where we had to sit down and had a pow-wow. We had a problem to solve.

Our son who is 8 years old have been working on his box sport out in the playhouse and he’ll just take boxes and he’ll come to us and ask us to cut them and he’ll measure it and figure out what he needs. He’ll come inside and will ask us to cut and then he’ll take his stuff back out there. We don’t really know what’s going on but he’s working on his box sport and it was winter time.

So right now, it’s pretty cool outside. We just don’t go out there very often. It’s kind of good to see him engaged, interacting, and wanting to do something like this. While at the same time, our daughter has been helping him a little bit but she’s also feeling a little bit like this box sport just kind of taking up all of the playhouse space and she doesn’t like that.

It all sort of came to our head the other day and I realized that our kids were not happy. One wanted to keep working – he was excited about the work that he was doing and he wanted to keep working and doing it however he wanted it to. I noticed that there were duct tapes in places that I didn’t want it to be and our daughter noticed that there were boxes in places that she was not really excited about them being.

So we said “OK, let’s all go back into the house and we’re going to have a pow-wow.” Emotions were running high and I can tell you that there was no true communications taking place between our kids.

This happens frequently in the world, in life. When one person feels disappointed or threatened and the other person feels frustrated, annoyed, or something and the two start going back and forth, it can easily turn into an ugly kind of a conversation, where people are saying things that they don’t really mean or maybe they really do mean them but they’re not thinking about the other person. They’re not thinking about “How can I get this person to see this point of view and how can we come to a resolution together that’s going to work?”

Most of the time when emotions are running high like that we’re not thinking about the other person in how we can make a good resolution. We’re feeling defensive, we’re feeling like we need to fight back and that’s the way that we come across, that’s the way that we can sort of show up in that moment. That was what’s going on with our kids. This is so typical for all kids, of course, for marriages, or for teams. It’s just the way things go when someone feels threatened and the other person feels frustrated or they both feel threatened in some kind of way.

So what we needed to do is we needed to pull away from the situation and have a meeting. What we did was I used this methodology, this trick that I know. It’s not really a trick but it’s what I know about people to help us be able to sit down and figure something out together. So the four of us got down…we sat down in the living room and I laid down some ground rules and this is something that I think we all need to do when we come to these moments where we’re trying to come to some sort of consensus or resolution on a problem. You have to make everybody feel safe.

This has to be a safe place. This living room, this table and people who are seated here at this table, meaning we’re not attacking each other. If we’re attacking each other then we don’t feel safe and what happens? Well, we feel threatened and we get closed up, some people close down and they make it go within themselves, other people kind of get offensive and sort of lash back out. That is not an environment that is going to produce real consensus because you can even have a real conversation in that kind of a situation.

So you want to start by laying the groundwork that we’re not taking sides here, that right now what we need to do is we’re not going to attack, we’re not going to do any blaming or accusing. That’s what we said at our meeting, in our family meeting “No blaming, no accusing. What we’re here to do is we’re here to solve a problem and this is the problem.” And this is the problem.

By laying this sort of foundation at the beginning of a conversation like this, you’re sort of setting the ground rules and letting everybody know what they are allows people to feel more at ease. They’re more open to discussion and they’re not so worried about what’s going to happen, “Do I need to be on the defensive?” It allows people to sort of let down their guard a little bit as long as _____ plays by the rules. But you have to say, “This is how we’re doing this, we’re not attacking and if we begin to do any attacking, if I starts to hear a blame then I’m gonna shut that down. I just want you to know that right now.” That allows everybody a chance to sort of just breathe and be like “OK, this is a safe a place.”

The second thing that you need to establish beside safety is a sense of celebration. People need to know that you value them, that you appreciate them, and that you understand them. If you can help people to feel first safe then you can give them a chance to feel celebrated. When people feel celebrated, they feel more willing to engage. They feel more willing who they are and the best of who they are to this problem solving conversation.

If they do not feel celebrated, if you stay at safe and you don’t go any further than safe then it’s likely that somebody could feel ignored or rejected. Even though they feel safe in this environment, “You’re not going to attack me; you also don’t really think that I have anything to say. You don’t really care what I have to say and what I have to offer.” That’s how people will feel if you don’t make sure that they feel celebrated.

Of course, when I say make them feel, I mean that you’re providing the opportunity for them to feel a certain way. You’re sort of laying the groundwork for that, you’re nurturing this emotion, and you can’t make people feel things. But that’s what I mean when I’m saying that. If people feel ignored or rejected instead of celebrated then they’re going to withhold the best of who they are, or they might get a little pushy and demanding “You’re not gonna listen to what I have to say then I’m gonna make sure that you listen to what I have to say and you better do it this way.” Or it might be, like I said, that person who goes inside instead of engaging more, they go inside more and that person is going to withhold some possibly groundbreaking insights that could help the group and could help solve the problem.

So what we did in this moment, the situation in our house was we said “OK.” So number one, no blaming each other about anything here. What we have is we have a problem. We’ve got to take that problem and put it outside of the context of ourselves. So this is an outside problem that we are going to team up and conquer. After doing that then we said “We are so impressed with your initiative to make this box sport.” We let our son know that we were so impressed with all the work that he has done because that was one of the things that he was feeling really crampy about. “Well, I might have to move things and I worked so hard and now it’s like a “It doesn’t matter,” that sort of thing.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like “Man, I worked so hard on this and now you want to change it?” That can feel really awfully crampy. So as a leader, as somebody who is wanting to gain consensus in your team, you want to make sure that that person that you actually do celebrate and appreciate what they have done so far. Even if it’s not all perfect, celebrate what they have done that’s good so that you can move towards a resolution.

But if you could just give them that opportunity to let them know that you recognize how hard they have been working “You know, son, you have been working so hard on this and I’m so proud of you. I love what you’ve done so far.” And to our daughter, we have to make sure that we understood that we celebrate her as well. We celebrate her desire to be able to play and engage with her friends in this space, “We understand that this is what you want.”

So by empathizing, by celebrating that other person and everybody in the group and making sure that everybody knows “Look, I see you. I see what you’ve done. I see your potential and I’m excited about this potential.” What have you done so far with this group? You have made them feel safe so that they open themselves up to this discussion and then you made them feel celebrated so that they feel willing to contribute the best of who they are to this conversation to this problem solving situation and then finally people need to feel challenged.

As parents, we could have just said “You know, we know the best solution for this. This is what we’re gonna do.” We could have handed down a declaration of a decision of what we’re going to do now because maybe we do see the best thing to do. Quite often that’s what happens; however, we’re not just looking for a problem solved, we’re also looking for consensus in our family.

We’re looking for everyone to be onboard and to do it willingly and that’s what you’re looking for in a team as well. You want everybody onboard. You could. I’m sure that you being the smart and intelligent and insightful person that you are, you might already feel like you know the answer and what should be done. But when you’re working with a team, there’s so much more going on than the need to find the perfect solution to this problem. So much of what you’re trying to accomplish is to draw out their innovative potential and to get everybody onboard so that everybody is rowing together in sync in the same direction so that whatever this initiative is that you’re trying to accomplish or move forward is that that it does.

So this third piece is to challenge the group. You don’t hand them down a declaration; you challenge them to rise to the occasion to help solve this problem. This is the messy way, not the shortcut. This is the more effective transformative way, not the compliance way. Sometimes you need compliance, sometimes you need to just hand down a directive and just make it happen. But when you’re wanting to gain consensus in a group and truly unlock the potential of the people inside of it, this is what you have to do. You want to make people feel safe, celebrated, and challenged.

This challenged piece is about presenting the problem as it is, presenting the problem by saying, for example with our situation in our own living room with our own family, we had to explain to them “Look, we see that these are the issues that we’re facing.” We’re not blaming anybody for these issues because if we blame people to the issues, what are they going to do? They’re going to close down, they’re going to get defensive, kids are going to start crying or yelling at each other and maybe adults do that as well. I’m not sure that I’ve seen that very often but sometimes the yelling could happen.

But we’re not blaming in this moment, we’re challenging them with the actual problem. These are the objective things that we’re facing. We are facing situation where we need to create more space in this environment and we need to take the tape off of the places where it shouldn’t be.

So we need to come up with a new idea. I believe, and as a leader of this meeting, because I was leading this meeting, I said “I believe that, we, together could come up with the solution that is not only going to make everybody happy. I think that it will be even better than it was before. By challenging them to this and casting this vision that maybe it could be even better than it was before that allows people to really start to think.

I think that when you give people this kind of environment, a table to sit at, they really feel like they do have a seat here at the table and that their voice really does matter. And even if you don’t use their ideas, you know, you can say “We’re talking about this in an objective way. We’re thinking about the good of the group. We’re thinking about whatever.” When you talk like that and you keep it objective and you stay away from blaming and you stay from rejecting or ignoring people and you make sure that you’re engaging them then they are going to get to that point where they feel challenged instead of feeling underwhelmed or overwhelmed.

If you hand down that directive without challenging them to be able to rise to the occasion themselves with their own innovative potential then it makes them feel drained. They are either overwhelmed by the fact that there are so much more to do now and I just don’t even know. There’s so much here to chop off like maybe the problem is too big and we can’t solve it. You’ve just given us the directive and I don’t even know what to do next and that sort of thing or they might feel underwhelmed like “Well, I have some ideas, but I guess we’re just going to do this and what I was thinking could have been better.” Whether they’re right or not, it doesn’t matter that that’s what could be going on in a person when they’re not allowed to give voice to their own ideas.

So overwhelmed and underwhelmed, what do these make people feel, ahhhh they’re just drained. But if you challenge them, they feel energized as a healthy amount of challenge. After they’re feeling opened and willing and now they’re feeling energized to meet these needs, to help contribute to the answer to the solution and then once everybody has developed a consensus even if not everybody is totally in agreement, most of the time you can come to a consensus where you can get agreement and people are pretty much onboard.

When you get to that point, people are more likely to truly be energized and move that initiative forward with their own energy instead of having to borrow energy from you. So rather than you having to come up with the solution and then give them the solution and then pull everybody together and try to motivate everyone to get this initiative to move forward that seems like a shortcut. In the end that’s going to take more energy from you.

As a leader of whatever group you’re with right now, whatever conversation you’re in right now, it could be a one-on-one conversation where these three elements come into play. Whatever you’re at in that discussion, it’s going to make a huge difference if you can lay the groundwork so that the person that you’re speaking to, your audience, your team, your family, your friend, or your spouse, whomever it is; if they feel safe and then celebrated then you can bring a challenge to them to opt their game, to get them, to dig into the best of who they are so that you can come up with this innovative solution and really make the difference that they want to make.

And then together, you have developed this energy behind your solution, behind this initiative that you’re going to move forward with less effort and pure bootstrap and kind of leadership. You are going to truly be inspiring your team and inspiring your family to move forward with their own internal motivation. Because if you do, they are going to be able to dig into the depths of who they are and give the best of who they are to the team and for the solution that you have together come up with.

So go make your team, feel safe, celebrated, and challenged and make your voice matter more!


This Is What Keeps Emerging Thought Leaders Up At Night

Four years ago I had an inkling that I should start learning to use Facebook for something more than just sharing about my life. I wasn’t ready to start writing yet, but it made sense that I should start sharing my heart and message more intentionally through social media to practice using my voice online. But it was terrifying! I often wondered what people would think and if certain people would “like” my posts or totally write me off because I was speaking up.

If I share something that could help others, will they think I am just trying to get attention?

Now that I help emerging thought leaders find and refine their message, I see this as a big problem. There is a big green monster keeping these folks up at night and it’s time to turn on the light and scare that bad boy away.

Here’s the truth.


Just when I think a creative, empathetic person is close to making a difference in the world with their message they back up and say, “I can’t do it. I don’t want them to think I’m bragging.” They don’t want to admit out loud that they have something that could help others, so they end up shrinking back and holding it in. They want to fly under the radar or have someone else promote their work because if they own up to the value of what they offer, they might just have to share it and look like they are…



But every once in a while someone gets in touch with their calling and joins a few brave souls who come up to the edge of the cliff, day after day, and jump into the great unknown of offering their work to the world.

But the reality is that this leap faith is complicated because…

We are conflicted. We do not want to promote ourselves for the sake of glory, but we recognize that we enjoy having your attention and making an impact on the world.

We are conflicted. We want to be humble and put others before ourselves, but we’ve learned that when we hold back our gifts, we are putting ourselves in front of you because then you can’t benefit from the gifts we have to offer.

We are conflicted. We know that our voice matters and yours does, as well, but we also know that we can make our voices matter more when we develop our message and our communication style.

We are conflicted. We know that we have opinions and an important message to share with the world, but we recognize that we might just be wrong. We want to share our message with conviction and power in our own unique ways, but we recognize that at some point we might change our minds. We might be wrong.

We are conflicted. We wish we could say what we have to say to you face to face, but sometimes those personal interactions and conversations are not the place to share our message. Sometimes it takes art to communicate through pictures and emotion, something that cannot be expressed in a one on one conversation with you.

We are conflicted. We don’t want you to feel like you aren’t doing enough or that you are not enough, simply because you aren’t doing what we are doing. We don’t want you to look down on yourself because we are stepping into our calling and you have a different one.

We are conflicted. Because we don’t want you to look down on us for living large and taking big risks. But at the same time we want you to know that you can take your own risks, that may look totally different than ours.

We are conflicted. We know that if our message touches just one person, it’s worth it. But we also know that settling for reaching one person could be a cop-out for doing the hard work of finding out who our message is really for, developing it, refining it and turning it into a work of art, a masterpiece that resonates with many people.

We are conflicted. Because we also realize that our message isn’t for everyone and when you are ready, you’ll be ready to hear whatever you’re supposed to hear, from whomever is sharing it.

We are conflicted, and yet, we jump anyway because we are convicted – to share our stories, to offer up our voices into the world, to live into the fullness of who we are, to work hard at our craft so that our message will resonate deeply within the hearts of people.

We are convicted. Life is fleeting. Many of us have experienced hardships and grief that put us in a position to realize that we don’t know what this life holds for us. Tomorrow we may not be able to speak clearly, or even have words to say.

We are convicted. Because we know that we are are called to extend our offering. If you reject it, if you ignore it or whatever, we will be ok. Because we’re in place where know our work and our offering isn’t about us.

We are convicted. Our offering is part of who we are but it’s about you. It grieves us when we see you hurting in ways we know we could help. But we also know we will not push you to partake of our offering. We simply invite and wait for you to decide when you are ready and what you are ready for. And we want you to offer your gift in a similar way. We are convicted that you have something to  offer the world and that we are simply one way of offering something. It just happens to be very visible.

And that’s what we want you to understand about our self-promotion. In our most loving position, we are not trying to elevate ourselves. It’s not self-promotion, it’s an invitation to enjoy what we have put hard work and effort into in order to serve you. We don’t want to promote ourselves, we want to share our offering.

We hope that you will be inspired to share yours, as well. That’s why I’ve put together this special PDF of 15 tips and strategies from experts interviewed on the Voice of Influence podcast to encourage, inspire and equip you to make your voice matter more. Read up, listen in and sleep well.

Download it here.

Like a Little Girl in a Candle Store

Last weekend I let my daughter and niece spend as much time in Bath & Bodyworks as they wanted. It was Amelia’s birthday weekend away and my mom and I enjoyed watching the girls do big girl things and delight in their time with each other. I watched for 45 minutes as they meandered around the store, sniffing randomly chosen candles, lotions and sprays. They each had a little money to burn and they wanted to find the perfectly scented treasure to bring home.

It was pretty darn cute. But I took note of their pattern. They didn’t methodically work their way around the store, they just smelled something, reacted to it, then set it down and wandered a few steps before doing it again. It was only when they began to get hungry that they finally made their decisions so they could go to lunch.

Decisions, Decisions.

Being on this journey to figure out what the heck I’m trying to accomplish with my book, blog and business feels a bit like wandering around, sniffing all of the scents, trying to figure out where I should commitment. I’ve been told that everything changes once you really know who you’re writing for and what you’re offering those people, but I don’t want to decide! I want to grab all of the candles and bring them home.

But as Marie Forleo says, “if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.” Ugh.

Sometimes I wonder if I have what it takes to actually make a decision! I’m constantly thinking of ways I could contribute, so much so that I get lost in the mingling aromas of the ideas and don’t even know what I’m smelling anymore.

But that’s part of the dilemma creative people face. The world of possibilities looms so large that it’s tempting to freeze right in our tracks. We often need community and mentors to guide us in our decision making processes. So I sought out help.

Podcasts, online courses, articles, books and great conversations have stretched and challenged me to hone my message so it aligns with who I am and makes a significant contribution to the world. And just as I’ve said from the beginning of my blogging journey, and as evidenced in my book, I want to help you do the same.

I see creative, sensitive, empathetic people hold in their thoughts and lock their voice in like I see with timid singers and it pains me. These people have insights and perceptions that could make a significant impact in their relationships and the world, and yet they stay quiet for any number of reasons. It’s quite a bit like this little movie clip I love so much.

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you don’t share your opinions because you don’t want to make other people feel as you’ve felt in the past – run over by someone else’s agenda. Or maybe you don’t share your wisdom because you’re worried people would think YOU think you’re full of yourself. Maybe you hold your voice in until you can’t hold back anymore and it explodes. Maybe you just don’t think your voice matters that much.

What if?

But what if you developed your voice and let ‘er rip like these kids?! Wouldn’t it be amazing to move with more confidence, humility and power instead of holding back? What if you’re voice has more potential than you realize?

Well, that’s why I’m here. I may still be sniffing around a little, but I’ve found a good stopping point for now. Just as I used to help singers find their authentic voice and develop as a singer, I always have and always will do what I can to guide others as they find and develop their voice of self-expression so they can make the difference they are born to make.

Do you believe your voice matters when you use it? Do you feel completely confident every time you step onto any stage in life, knowing that you know exactly what you want to say and how you can deliver your message so the people listening will be moved by your words? If so, you don’t need to waste your time on this website because you’ve already got what I have to offer: compelling communication strategy.

But if you know you have more to offer than your voice is delivering, you’re in the right place. If you have something you want your loved one, your team or the world to hear and yet you can’t seem to get it to come out right or it just doesn’t seem to be making the difference you know it could, stick around.



In April I’ll be launching a new podcast entitled “Voice of Influence.” It’s been a year in the making and the name of it changed recently when I had a massive breakthrough about the message and focus of the show. The podcast (previously “Brand Revelations”) will feature interviews with experts and leaders who share the story of their own voice of influence, as well as practical advice based on their area of expertise. I will also have short segments where I bring you into my “voice studio” and share actionable insights that you can apply, one at a time, to make your voice matter more.

Read more about the Voice of Influence podcast here. The interviews I’m lining up are truly amazing and will offer actionable insights to help you develop YOUR Voice of Influence even more.

If you’re really interested in the podcast, I’d love to have you join the launch team. I have some really cool thank you gifts for the 25 people who commit! Apply for the Voice of Influence podcast launch team here! Apply by March 21st.