Off The Charts Live: Business Insights From The Front Line

Off The Charts Live

Sweaty palms.
Music pumping.
Heartbeat accelerating.

180 women and men, friends, colleagues, new acquaintances, and wicked smart business owners.

Thousands of miles traveled, thousands of dollars spent to get there. For both of us.

All of that nervous anticipation evaporated when eyes met, hugs were exchanged, tears shed in unison.

3 days of transformation, insights and truth from business owners across the spectrum sharing their experiences.

These are my lessons from running an event for 3 years in a row… and most especially doing it on a larger and more successful and aligned scale this year.

If you’ve been wanting to peek behind the curtain of how we run Off The Charts Live or you plan to run your own events, you’ll definitely appreciate these lessons.

#1 Allow Space For Inspiration To Strike

I got a “download” one night a few months after we had started planning for the Off The Charts event. I often get ideas and inspiration lightning strikes while I’m trying to fall asleep.

This one was particularly clear, and it felt fully formed. I got up and wrote these words down in a notebook by my bed:

Tuning in.
Teaming up.
Taking off.

I wasn’t sure yet exactly how it would all come together, but the next night I had visions of butterflies… of a caterpillar turning into mush before it transforms into a butterfly. Of each wing being a team for this caterpillar to take off and fly.

These simple words ended up inspiring the entire theme for the conference, and each day I was able to see clearly which speakers and what they were bringing could lend to the theme.

This also kept all the information that my speakers and I were presenting more manageable. There was something to hold onto, and it wasn’t just talk after talk… the pattern was building up toward taking your business off the charts.

the-team

#2 Hire The Right Team & Let Them Rock It

This year we hired a professional team of event planners, and it made all the difference. I can list off the things that they did that we didn’t do when we were trying to organize this event ourselves in the past.

One simple thing was to go over the schedule of events for the three days, and really write down practically minute by minute… who is doing what, who had what type of microphone, what music would be playing, and what slides would be shown.

That’s the kind of painstaking level of detail that made the event go off so incredibly smoothly, and if you plan to do any sort of live event I highly recommend you get this in place.

The other benefits of having a professional team of event planners is that they handle logistics and details on a regular basis, and they were able to keep everything running smoothly without breaking a sweat. I’m so grateful to Significant Events of Texas for their incredible work with us on Off The Charts!

Our internal team was truly on it, too and I’m so grateful to everyone who contributed to making this event possible and beyond amazing.

the-panels

#3 Start Planning Early, and Clear Your Calendar The Month Before The Event

This was our biggest event to date, and we started thinking about it the day after the last one ended in 2014. Yes, we took some downtime because we were moving from NYC to Dallas, Texas… but in the back of our minds we were already making decisions like where we wanted to hold next year’s event.

I’d say that we spent a solid 9 months planning this event, with tasks and items getting checked off every week during that time.

Between updating the event website, securing the speakers, marketing the event, answering questions about the event, running ads, and planning the actual content… there’s a lot that goes into an event of this scale.

I like to block out the month before the event to really focus my time on creating the best content and presentations for the people who are attending. I spend a lot of time listening to what they are asking for, hosting live pre-event experiences, surveying attendees, and just making sure everything is on track.

nathalie-takes-the-stage

#4 Know Your Numbers

One of the things that I’m really keen on is knowing my numbers, especially with a big project that requires such an investment of time, team, and money.

This year we spent approximately $50,000 to produce the Off The Charts Live conference. Between the venue, event planners, videography, photography, travel arrangements, cocktail reception, customized gifts, audio/visual equipment rentals… And that’s not counting my time or our internal team’s time spent organizing and coordinating everything.

It’s a doozy of an investment! Planning an event is a lot like planning a wedding, except the idea is that you want to make money from your event…

For the past two years, we’ve broken even on the Off The Charts event, with the understanding that we’re also using the event as an opportunity to offer a high end mastermind that makes up for the cost of running the event.

This year, we didn’t offer the mastermind that we’d been running (The Daring Business Cultivator) even though there was a lot of demand and it was a very successful program. Instead, we opened up applications for our AmbitionAlly Certified Partner program for tech savvy entrepreneurs and freelancers.

I’m so excited to be kick-starting that program off on August 1st, 2015!

christa-meola-sponsor

#5 Negotiate Conference Room Fees Via Room Block Agreements

One of the things I learned from Lisa Sasevich’s “Event Profit Secrets” program is that there are different ways for you to negotiate your conference room fees.

In our case, when we were selecting a venue we wanted somewhere walkable with lots of great restaurants that everyone could enjoy. We ended up finding the perfect hotel that had a great conference room.

Instead of paying full price for our conference room, we agreed that we could fill a room block with our attendees in exchange for a price break on the event space.

This meant that we had to fill 75 rooms for 3 nights each, and it put some additional pressure on us to get enough attendees to the event.

Luckily, we knew we’d be able to get enough people to join us live from our past two years’ experience, and because we had the room block we were also able to secure a lower nightly rate for our guests.

This was definitely an exercise in trust, because with an event you’ll always see people buying tickets and booking flights or hotels closer to the event date. Of course, our amazing community tends to be really organized, so they were on the ball and we knew we were in the clear and we wouldn’t have to pay for any empty rooms before the event date rolled around!

community

#6 Create Community Before The Event

One of the things that we have been doing successfully from the start is creating community online before we get together in person.

This year was no different, and we had a vibrant community of folks who were finding roommates and booking shuttles to get to the hotel together. That’s the kind of team-work and connection that warms my heart!

When people started arriving at the hotel, you could just see these amazing groups of entrepreneurs forming and having dinner, drinks, and getting to know each other even before the first day of the event.

There were also all kinds of selfies and great group photos being shared! It was beautiful.

focus

#7 Geek Out On The Small Stuff

One thing I’ve always been obsessed with is notebooks and pretty paper. As a little girl my mom gave me a purse, and I used it to collect notebooks, pads of paper, and post it notes… You might call that Virgo porn, but this paper obsession finally came in handy.

For the first two years of Off The Charts live, I went with a simple Moleskin notebook with an “Off The Charts” logo stamped on the front of it. It was functional, affordable, and did the trick.

This year, I wanted to really geek out on our notebook design. So I worked with our incredible designer and came up with a theme that would mirror my first talk at Off The Charts: The Spiral Staircase.

I wanted to include exercises in this notebook that matched my presentation, and that could be used by attendees in different ways after the event too.

We spent time researching notebook printing companies and finally found one that could do both customized covers and inside pages, too. We received a sample notebook a few months before the event, and I squealed!

So we ordered more notebooks, and we’ll be using them in different ways as fun bonuses in our business going forward, too!

love

#8 Watch The Magic Unfold

On the days of the event, it was time for me to completely surrender. We had done all the hard work, and now it was time to be fully present with what we had created.

During those first few moments on stage the first day, I fumbled. The clicker for the slides wasn’t working as expected, and I felt really self-conscious to be in front of all of these amazing entrepreneurs.

But about 30 minutes in, my heartbeat was steady again, and I recognized all of the amazing people who were there… and I felt my shoulders relax.

Then during the rest of the event, I felt like I was coming home to my group of friends every time I took the stage. The words flowed, the connections were amazing, and everything was smooth like butter.

I felt like each of the speakers were perfectly poised to share exactly the right stuff for everyone in the audience at the right time.

There was laughter, stunned silence, tears, and nods all around. And it was all beautifully captured on camera, for your viewing pleasure.

join-us

#9 Join In On The Action

If you weren’t able to join us at Off The Charts Live, either because of the timing, travel, or because you just found out about it…

No problem! We’ve packaged up the recordings from the 3 day event, and turned them into an instant access offering that delivers massive mindset shifts and business results.

Just click here to order now. We’ve made these recordings incredibly affordable at just $197.

We’d love to have you join in on the action, and get the benefits of attending without all the travel, expense, and time away from home.

You’ll learn from incredible speakers like Licia Morelli, Liz DiAlto, Christa Meola, Sarah Jenks, Kimra Luna, Nikki Elledge Brown, and many more up and coming entrepreneurs who have a lot of share.

I can’t wait for you to experience the magic that we created, and to see the ripple effects that take place in your business and life as a result!

Business Growth: Is Your Business In The Awkward Growing Phase?

Business Growth

Picture this: you’ve created a new business, and things are starting to gain traction… you’ve got some clients, maybe you’ve created a product, and you’re marketing your buns off.

From the outside your business is growing at a great pace, and you’re happy with your progress.

But on the inside of your business, it’s a complete mess.

You don’t have any processes, you’re constantly in catch-up mode, and it feels like you can’t keep up with your business.

Congratulations, you’ve just entered the awkward phase of growing a business. It happens to all of us, and today’s Off The Charts tip is going to help you move beyond this tricky stage.

Are you ready, here is the key that might have been missing: balancing your roots and branches.

Business Growth: Keep It Balanced

In business, your branches are all of the things that you do to market your business, interface with clients, and generally “be out in the world”. It could be your marketing emails, networking, or making videos… most of the stuff that we generally consider to be business.

On the other hand, your roots are the things in your business that are necessary but sometimes ignored because other people can’t see them.

These are things like setting up your legal entity, doing your book keeping, creating systems to automate and streamline tasks, hiring and managing a team, and all the “behind the scenes” stuff that gets left at the bottom of your todo lists.

But just like with a tree, you wouldn’t expect the tree to keep growing branches, if it didn’t have strong roots to match and hold itself up.

So my homework for you today is to take a step back, and look at your business as if it were a tree.

Are your roots and branches balanced?

Is one part of your business outpacing another? It’s totally okay to have strong roots, but if you don’t have any branches then you’re likely not bringing in the revenue.

I see this sometimes with clients who want to spend all of their time polishing stuff, but never hitting publish…

And if your external “branches” are going gangbusters, make sure to tend to your roots too, or you’ll run into some scalability issues.

You can also think of this as the teeter-tauter of your business. Sometimes you’re putting weight and focus on one side and sometimes on the other side of your business.

While a teeter tauter could be totally still in the middle, chances are that you’ll have times where you’re really leaning in one direction and then in the other, as your business grows.

What Phase of Business Growth Are You In…

I’d love to know what this exercise brought up for you.

Leave a comment below and tell us: do you have a strong external focus or internal focus in your business right now?

Which one needs your attention next?

Learn To Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Learn to say no without feeling guilty

In this episode of Off The Charts, we’re taking a look at a skill that’s going to help you grow your business in unimaginable ways.

And counter-intuitively, it all starts with saying no.

In the early days of your business, it pays to say yes. Yes to projects and clients you’re not sure will be a good fit… because the only way to learn what you love doing and who you prefer to work with is to try it out.

But as you start to learn more about yourself, your business, and your marketplace… you’ll eventually need to become more selective.

Many times we say yes, because we’re not clear on what a yes will do to other priorities. When you say yes to one thing, it means no for something else.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and while we all want to please everyone and not ruffle any feathers… By saying yes when we really mean no, we just open the door to resentment and poor outcomes down the line.

Learn to say no without feeling guilty

So here are my tips for learning how to say no without feeling guilty:

1. Design your schedule for yourself first, and then fit in your business priorities, and only after that any collaborations or invitations that fit in.

2. Having a plan and schedule helps you say no, but you’ll want to leave yourself some margin for magic. Leave enough space so that if Oprah or Warren Buffett call to hang out, you’ll be able to make it work.

3. Delivering the no: it’s a muscle you’ll need to practice, especially if you’re conditioned to be good like most of us are… Here are some sample scripts that you can use as a starting point.

Saying no in an email:

Let’s say somebody asks to meet you for coffee to pick your brain. You calculate that meeting with someone takes about 4 hours of your time between the scheduling, travel, and interruption to your day.

Your answer could be: “Thanks so much for the invitation. I’m working on a big launch right now, and while I’d love to meet for coffee, the best way to get my brain on your project is to hire me for a consulting session.”

Saying no in person:

You’re at a party and someone asks you to participate in a joint venture project, and you’re not sure if it’s the right fit for your business right now.

Your answer could be: “Ooh, that sounds interesting. I can’t commit to anything without checking with my calendar and my team.”

Trust me, it’s not easy, but saying no without feeling guilty is an important step to having strong boundaries around your work and personal life.

And I haven’t got it all figured out myself, I sometimes still feel guilty saying no… but I’ve also experienced what happens when I say yes to everyone else and get burned out without moving my priorities forward.

Your Turn To Comment!

Now I want to hear from you… what’s your script, trick, or advice for saying no? Do you have a feel-good phrase or mantra that reminds you of your objectives when you’re about to say yes when you really mean no?

Leave a comment below and share it with us!

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