Come write live with me.

You have something powerful to say.

In the summer of 2012, I was commuting 2 hours each way to my job in Queens from my home in Long Island.

Summer was the busiest time of year in my role – I was a program specialist for a training program for public school principals. That July I was spending 90% of my waking hours on the train or in a fluorescent-lit, badly-air-conditioned school supporting the Summer Intensive.

Until I escaped.

When I was hired the previous December, I explained that I was enrolled in a low-residency MFA program and traveled twice a year for 10 days of classes to complete my degree. They wanted me so badly they agreed to this arrangement.

So one Friday afternoon I got in my car and drove out of New York City to Mystic, Connecticut.

It took FOREVER.

If you’ve ever driven in Friday traffic out of NYC, you know.

But I finally made it to Mystic and drove over the low stone causeway to Enders Island.

The evening began with a wine & cheese reception under a huge white tent on the green. I could see the Long Island Sound in every direction. A light breeze rippled through my hair. I felt like I could finally take a deep breath.

Two days later, during an afternoon break in classes, I went swimming off a nearby dock with two friends. The sun dappled the water and I flipped over to float on my back. I closed my eyes and thought, THIS is what it means to be alive.

Not working myself to death in a badly lit office.

THIS.

Being outside. Connecting with friends. And writing.

It took me another year to leave that position and that commute, and another 6 years to leave the organization and strike out on my own.

Yet that moment in Mystic is always tied to my deeper knowing of what it is to be alive.

That’s why I’m holding my writing retreat there.

Here’s what I know about you, dear heart:

Writing makes you feel alive.

Whether you just started writing or have been writing for years, if writing makes you feel alive, I made this retreat for you.

I just added a special Christmas surprise: if you sign up by December 24, you’ll receive a private, 1-hour coaching session with me in February before the retreat.

(Already signed up? You’re already getting this bonus! Surprise!)

Come join me.

vulnerability

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about vulnerability. (I’ve been teaching on this topic in my Facebook group, The Writing Circle – you can join us here.)

I’ve also been obsessively watching The Crown on Netflix.

And I’m noticing a tidal wave of cultural change when I compare these two seemingly disparate things.

The old paradigm is the values exemplified by the monarchy in the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign: say nothing, do nothing, show no emotion; present a facade of perfection; this is how you remain safe and secure.

The new paradigm is vulnerability.

This is what the businesses of the future will be built on.

This is what relationships and connection require.

People today are starving for connection. Strangled by stress. Burned out by professional expectations to be “always on,” our addiction to technology, and the fact that we’re often raising our families without the local, in-person support of our own parents, siblings, and friends we grew up with.

The old ways of being – stiff upper lip, suck it up and push through – are crumbling.

A new way is being born.

The new way looks like this:

We are honest about how we are really doing. (The baby hasn’t been sleeping well and I am really starting to feel the effects.)

We ask for help when we need it. (I hired a babysitter for Sunday afternoon because Simeon has a work event.)

We take risks to form new relationships. (For me, this means inviting a new mama I met at daycare out for our monthly mom’s night.)

Vulnerability, as Brene Brown teaches, isn’t predicated on the amount of information you disclose. She says, “Live tweeting your bikini wax: not vulnerability. Vulnerability minus boundaries is not vulnerability. … You measure it by the amount of courage to show up and be seen when you can’t control the outcome.”

In a world that’s starved for belonging, vulnerability is the only solution – in our workplaces, our homes, our schools, our relationships and our businesses.

How will you practice vulnerability this week?

how to stop talking about it & just do

Way back in 2010, ’11 and ’12, I really wanted to write an Advent devotional.

Advent is my favorite time of year.

I love the themes of darkness of light, of waiting and attending, of turning inward, of intentional preparation.

Every Advent season, I said to my friends and family, “One day I’m going to write an Advent devotional.”

In 2013, I got sick. I was so fatigued that I could no longer work full-time. I transitioned into a part-time, work-from-home role.

My days looked like this: I woke up and had breakfast. Went for a walk. Wrote for about one hour. Rested (often for a couple of hours). Did maybe 2 hours of work.

Day in and day out.

It occurred to me that if I wanted to write an Advent devotional, now was a good time.

I had very few commitments and, it seemed, a lot of time (if not a lot of energy).

So I did. Each morning I wrote one devotional and in a few weeks, I had one for every day of Advent.

I had a friend design a cover and I published it on Kindle. (You can get it here – Advent starts on Sunday!)

Here’s what I realized during that process: I have a tiny tendency to overcomplicate things.

Can you relate?

Sometimes achieving a dream is actually pretty simple. Do the work and put it out into the world.

In this case, it took just a few weeks of focused work (while I was operating at literally about 50% of my normal physical capacity) to complete a dream I’d had for years.

So let me ask you this:

What dream are you overcomplicating?

And…

What dream do you no longer have the time to procrastinate on?

And…

What dream have you had for years that you actually want to let go of?

my 8 favorite emails + lessons you can steal from them

I love email. Well, I love reading useful, inspiring, true emails from people I love + admire.

I know that Katherine North’s weekly missives come on Saturday mornings and that Susan Hyatt’s weekly roundup comes on Fun Fridays. I check my inbox specifically on those days to read their messages.

So without further ado, here are 8 of my favorite emails ever and lessons you can steal from them. {Note: okay, I wrote two of them, and they are two of the emails I’m proudest of in a career of having written literally hundreds of emails for clients. So consider them culled from a wide field!}

Because I deeply admire all of these writers, I’m including links to join their email communities if you want more. When you read and study amazing emails, you become a better writer.

1. I’ve made it – Melissa Cassera.

Melissa teaches publicity strategies for small businesses and is also a screenwriter. Her writing is fun + addicting. (Go jump on her list and get her I Heart Batching guide.)

I loooove this email. First, I love the concept – this is a life coaching concept called “living from the end.” Basically, you imagine your dream in detail. In Melissa’s case, her Big Dream is that her paranormal YA romance trilogy becomes a cultural juggernaut a la Twilight and is made into smash blockbuster movies. She’s decided to live as if this is already true. Because she’s already having so much fun.

I love that she is being so open about her dream – in spite of the fact that her Big Dream may not ever come true. It’s okay to dream big and it’s okay to talk about it. Because we’re not failures if our Big Dreams don’t come true. We’re actually inspirations.

Lesson: Share a Big Dream with your community. Acknowledge that it may never happen. Share how you’re embracing the process. Give updates periodically on how the Big Dream is going and what part of the process you’re working on now.

2. You need to hear these 6 words today – Caroline McGraw

Caroline is my best friend. We’ve been friends for 16 years, since we were freshmen at Vassar. She sent me this email for feedback and I literally got chills when I was reading it. Caroline writes and speaks with so much truth and light. Join her community here.

Lesson #1: How can you use something mundane that happened (in Caroline’s case, a physical therapy appointment) to relate to a larger theme?

Lesson #2: Use a metaphor or simile to explain what something was like. I love these lines: “The ears of my soul perked up, like a cat at the sound of kibble. That’s what my body feels like when it hears something true; my inner animal snaps to attention.”

3. Your banana milkshakes business model – Marisa Corcoran

Marisa is a copywriter friend and colleague. She writes with so much sass and personality. Her emails are just plain FUN. Jump on her list here (scroll down and you’ll get a pop-up).

Lesson: Use a story to bring your email to life.

Marisa draws us in to the story with her grandpa with so many sensory details. We’ve got a hot summer’s day, a white floor fan, mayonnaise sandwiches and icy banana milkshakes.

Marisa links this memory to her drive to create time and location freedom in her business – so she can spend more time with her grandpa making banana milkshakes. Then she links this to her call to action so brilliantly you should just go to the email and study it.

4. Let’s talk about the rest of this year – Katherine North

Katherine is a self-described ‘heathen mystic’ and I had the honor of interviewing her on my video series last year, Skyrocket Your Online Business. I’ve been following her for about 3+ years and she is a DELIGHT. {If you click to read the blog post above, you’ll get a popup inviting you to join her for weekly missives. DO IT.}

Lesson: Take a common theme (prepping for the holidays) and offer your own beautiful twist.

What I love about this message is a) how sane and practical it is and b) the fact that the timing (mid-October) was unique.

She invites you to brainstorm all the things you’re going to handle over the holidays – the gift-buying, cooking, decorating, wrapping, extra events – on top of your normal day-to-day life. She writes, “…when you look at EVERYTHING you’re going to be handling over the rest of this year, it really seems absurd to expect you to carry on without some extra support in place, doesn’t it???? … Absurd and kind of mean, honestly.”

I quick went to my calendar and scheduled myself some solo time and also a spa day in December. I noticed that my husband was traveling for 4 days in November and I proceeded to round up some resources for myself – a babysitter, my mother-in-law, a massage. In other words – I took action on her email in that exact moment, which is always what we want our readers to do.

5. How to think about an offer – Simone Grace Seol

You may have heard me obsess over Simone’s work. She’s a coach and her marketing advice is like a breath of fresh air and makes me sigh with relief. She is super approachable and I consider her a friend, just from reading her stuff and messaging her on Facebook. This is what I love about social media and being in online business – you can make actual friends just by engaging with someone’s content. (Get Simone’s 20 Unsolicited Copy Tips here – and let me just say, I’m a professional copywriter; Simone isn’t; and her teachings on copy are some of the best I’ve ever seen.)

Lesson: BE USEFUL.

This post is JAM-PACKED with super-useful content – and it’s different than the same old stuff you hear about offers elsewhere on the internet. It shifted the entire way I think about offers – and I’ve been studying online business for three years.
Some ideas about how you can create useful content that’s different from what other people are saying and doing:

  • What bothers you most in your industry?
  • How are you different than your competitors? How can you describe this essence – what is different – and explain it?
  • What are the 3 foundational things you know to be true? (This is one of Simone’s questions.) How can you reiterate those today?

6. Everything that’s wrong with you is what makes you amazing – Susan Hyatt

Susan is a client, has been my coach through her Summer of Yes program, and is an all-around feminist entrepreneur badass. Get on her list here and get a free guide on 3 things you can do right now to get more clients.

Lesson #1: Reuse content. Retell stories. I’ve seen Susan use variations of this topic as a blog, a podcast, and an email, over time (not just repurposing it in different mediums once). I actually love seeing her reuse stuff because it makes me feel like she’s a friend – I know some of her core stories! Plus, there’s a ton of people out there hearing it for the first time.

Lesson #2: Take popular advice and turn it on its head. The popular advice is, Listen to what people praise you for and use your strengths to find your way.

Susan’s advice is, Notice what you’ve been scolded for and find your superpower in that. Fricking brilliant.

7. From bud to blossom {a story of personal transformation} – Tammy Templeman

I wrote this email for Tammy, who’s one of my amazing clients. (I tell the story of how the email came about in the email I’m linking below!) Tammy owns a beautiful design/build firm with her partner Niall. Her content is part personal transformation and part gorgeous home design (we talk a LOT about the connections between life transformation and changing your physical space).

Lessons:
-Be honest with your email community. Tell them what’s really going on! If things are bumpy, name it. Vulnerability is incredibly attractive. (I’ve been working with Tammy for 18 months, and we’ve never gotten as big of a response as we did to this email.)
-Don’t be afraid to tell stories that are “unrelated” to what you do. You are one whole person, and what matters to you ripples outward into every area of your life. You get to talk about WHATEVER YOU WANT.

8. a pocket of silence – yours truly

This email represents for me a turning point in my business. Everything is “before” this email or after it.

Lesson #1: Share what you’re really thinking. Be vulnerable. And share EVERYWHERE. I sent this as an email, posted it to my blog, copied it onto Facebook and Instagram. And I 100% wanted to hide – I had a vulnerability hangover. But I’m so glad I shared it. For me, this email is everything I am becoming.

Lesson #2: This email actually did not get a super-high open rate, so I resent it the next day with a different subject line to those who hadn’t opened it the first time. This is a handy tool you can use for emails you REALLY want to get people to read – you’ll typically get a bonus 5-10% open rate by doing this.

What was your favorite email? What lesson was most helpful for you?

My husband was away this week for four days. 

I did something radical and lined up help before I got totally depleted and resentful – because I knew I would need it. 

Check out my 3-minute FB Live about this topic here – and what I did to stay out of martyr mentality. 

ALSO!

I have so many things happening that I’m excited to share with you. 

I have another live Writing Circle practice time happening this Monday at 10am Eastern time. Register for The Writing Circle Live

I started a free Facebook group! It’s also called The Writing Circle and it’s a hub for coaches, creative entrepreneurs and writers who want to dig deep, dare greatly and write from their souls. Join us here

Aaaannnnddd…

::drumroll please::

I just confirmed dates & location for my first in person writing retreat.

Think: gorgeous windswept island. Tons of time to write. A beautiful mansion with cozy fireplaces and meals cooked for you. Plus tons of goodies & surprises.

I am soooo beyond excited.

Me and six women who want to set aside dedicated time to bring forth writing projects.

Can’t wait to share more info soon.

{If you’re interested in more info now, comment below.}

I obsessed with Queer Eye. 

Have you watched it? 

The premise is that five gay guys (the Fab 5) make over the life of someone who is in desperate need of a change. There’s a guy who focuses on transforming the person’s fashion, one who focuses on design (making over the person’s living space), grooming, culture and food. 

What I love most about the series is seeing masters of connection in action. 

The guys will connect with someone who’s socially awkward, lacking confidence, wearing the most outrageously unflattering clothes … in other words, people we tend to ignore, make fun of, or avoid in real life. 

They will just LOVE on this person. “You are so gorg!” (Gorg, n., short for gorgeous, and the Fab 5’s preferred term of praise)

They get into this person’s BUSINESS. “You are not a failure.” 

They will get into this person’s SPACE. “We hug! I’m going to hug you!”

And here’s what you realize:

We are all the same. We are all starving for love and acceptance. 

So, I promised last week that I would offer part 2 of my series on the energy of buying & selling, and here it is. 

Connect with your people. See them. Love them. 

That’s all we really want.

And I promised a story. Last week I had a photo shoot. (Wanna see some of the final photos?! Check out my new & improved website.) 

I decided to spring for professional makeup for the shoot. 

This might sound like a no-brainer to you, but I didn’t even have my makeup professionally done for my wedding. So this was a big deal. 

I was pretty nervous – but also excited. This was a big step for me, and I was committed to showing up and being seen.

I showed up at the makeup artist’s studio right on time. I was wearing the pants and boots I planned to wear for the shoot, with a plain black V-neck T-shirt because I figured I was just going to get makeup dust on it. It wasn’t the best fitting shirt – it’s cut a little short, it’s a little pilled, you get the idea.

I’ll call the makeup artist Bridget (not her real name). Bridget showed up a minute late. Now, obviously one minute late is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But if you own a brick-and-mortar business that includes one-on-one appointments, it’s a nice touch to arrive before your client, unlock the door, and turn the lights on. 

Just sayin.

She had a hurried, harried sort of energy about her – as if coming in at 10am on a Monday was a lot to ask. 

Her eyes raked over my outfit. I could literally feel waves of judgment coming from her.  

The awkward middle schooler in me started to shrink. THIS IS WHY I NEVER GET MY MAKEUP DONE. I don’t like feeling judged by people I perceive to be more sophisticated than me. 

Inside the studio, she asked me a few questions about what I did and what the photo shoot was for and what I wanted the makeup to do. 

I explained that I really wanted my skin to glow. “I have a four-month-old baby,” I said, “hence the circles under my eyes.”

“And the spitup stain on your shoulder,” she said. 

Yikes.

She started applying foundation. “Your skin is so–” she began. 

Maybe I’m naive – or maybe just confident – but I really, really thought she was going to say “beautiful.”

“–dry.”

Then she tried to sell me an exfoliating facial and some customized moisturizer.

Let’s pause this scene right here. 

Let’s imagine that Bridget arrived early, opened the studio, turned on the lights and some lovely music. 

Let’s imagine that from the moment I walked in, she was authentically trying to connect with me – telling me I was beautiful, being actually interested in my photo shoot, asking about my baby, assuring me that she could transform my dark undereye circles.

You’d better believe I would have been waaaay more receptive to buying an exfoliating facial and customized moisturizer.

Here’s the thing: in the end, she did a great job on my makeup. But it wasn’t a great experience for me. 

Now, I can criticize her all I want. 

But I have been in her shoes. 

I have been so desperate to make a sale that I have projected disappointment onto the person I was trying to sell to. 

I have been so caught up in myself that I had trouble seeing the person in front of me. 

I have put so much pressure on myself to SELL and SUCCEED that I have lost sight of who I was trying to SERVE. 

Not my finest moments. 

So in this moment, I want to step out of my judgment of Bridget – and of myself – and offer us both some compassion. 

She was doing the best she could. She’s great at what she does … she could just use a tiny little upgrade in connecting with people. Couldn’t we all?

I also offer compassion to my past self. I was doing the best I could. It was pretty terrible at the time. (If you were on the receiving end of one of my super-awkward pushy sales calls, I am so, so sorry.)

It all boils down to this, my friends:

Think about the person in front of you instead of obsessing over the sale. 

See her.

We all just want to be seen. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the energetic experiences of buying and selling. 

On Monday I did a photo shoot. It was my first-ever real photo shoot with a professional photographer.

I had reached out to several photographers local to me back in August.

One of them was recommended by a friend. I messaged him on LinkedIn, filled out a contact form on his website AND reached out via another site he was on. (Couldn’t find his email address anywhere.)

He took a few weeks to get back to me, then was noncommittal when I asked about packages. 

Another woman kept telling me how busy she was. That she’d only provide ten final edited photos. (What the what?!) Then she said in an email, “I shoot high and light. What’s your style?”

I had no idea what “high and light” meant, not did I really know what style I was looking for.

Two other people simply never responded.

Then I asked my friend Tammy if she’d recommend the photographer who had recently done a shoot for her. I’d been reluctant to reach out to him at first because he lived an hour away, but it was time.

I texted him, and within 15 minutes he texted back and suggested we get on the phone.

He asked me a few questions – what I did, what I needed photos for, the emotions I wanted to portray. THEN HE LISTENED. Then he asked more questions and HE LISTENED MORE. 

I loved everything about his energy. This was a Thursday evening, and he said, “I’m freelance, you’re freelance – when do you want to do this?”

We scheduled for Monday.

So many of you are so worried about what YOU are going to say during a sales/discovery/consult call. 

If you make LISTENING your primary intention, and you state what you do clearly and unequivocally, and you’re passionate about your work and good at what you do, you will book business without ever having to do a hard “sell.” You won’t have to convince, cajole, enroll, or otherwise trick people into saying yes. You won’t have to emotionally manipulate people or chase sales or do anything that feels icky.

They will just want to hire you. (They may even go out of their way – i.e. drive an hour – because they want to work with you so much.)

If you’re having trouble selling, run through your typical sales process mentally. 

What feels out of alignment?

What parts feel high-energy?

What parts feel low-energy?

Stop whatever feels out of alignment (no matter what your business coach/teacher/role model says). Plug the energy leaks that are creating the low energy, and do whatever you can to amplify the high energy. (This doesn’t mean you’re Suzy Creamcheese on the phone – you can be low-key and still aligned with powerful energy.)

Meeting Daniel, I felt at ease right away, despite my nerves. He did all the hard work at the shoot, telling me where to stand, look, smile, look away. In other words: he was a consummate professional from start to finish. He wasn’t weird at the selling part and then amazing at the work part. (Some of you are saying that you’re amazing at coaching but terrible at selling – but you are ONE PERSON and how you show up one place is how you show up everywhere.)

Now – I had a completely different (and much less positive) experience with the woman who did my makeup. Tune in next week for that story.

Onward and inward,

Brooke

P.S. I’m offering something new called The Writing Circle. I’m trying out the first one on Monday morning at 10am EST. Whether you want to make time for a journaling practice, write a blog post or work on a book idea, come join us! Bring yourself, any writing project, and a cup of tea. I’ll kick us off with some inspiration, we’ll set an intention for the time, and then we’ll each work separately on our own projects. Then I’ll close out the hour. Register here. (*Note that the U.S. starts Daylight Saving Time on Sunday – so the time difference may adjust.)

The 5 most common website mistakes I see

I was shocked the other day, looking at my Acuity client list, that I have worked with more than 100 coaches in the past two years. 

I actually have more than 150 people in my client list (so, people I’ve had appointments with), but a handful of those are people I’ve a) interviewed to be partners (like web designers) and b) people I screened to interview on my video series, Skyrocket Your Online Business. 

But more than 100 of those folks are tried-and-true people who have been either 1:1 paying clients, or folks I’ve done free website or landing page audits with, or women in programs I’ve taught in who got a free consultation with me as part of their program. 

And I’ve looked at pretty much all of their websites. 

So today I wanted to share with you the 5 most common website mistakes I see. 

I break it all down for you in this video:

Here’s the quick list of mistakes I see – check out the video for more detail:

  • There’s no clear path through your website.
  • The call to action is muddled, or not repeated enough times.
  • There’s no lead magnet, or it’s not featured prominently.
  • The About page is bland/forgettable/too corporate/lacking YOU.
  • The BENEFITS of working with you are not clear. 

Let’s get real here for a sec: I’m working on updating my own website!! So don’t use mine as a model right now. I’m changing my offerings, updating my tone, adding new photos – the WORKS.

Have a question about your own website? Comment below and ask me!

Follow my photo shoot today LIVE in IG Stories!

I’m doing my first real photo shoot today!

EEEEE!!!

I’m so nervous/excited. Nervcited!

If you’re on Instagram, follow me at @brookeadamslaw to check out my Stories – I’ll be sharing snippets from the shoot all day. 

I’m showing up and being seen, my loves. 

It’s all happening. 

Have you read Steven Pressfield’s work? I’m obsessed with him. In his book Turning Pro he writes, 
 

“Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.”
 

Can I get an AMEN?!
 

I’ve been pursuing this shadow career of copywriting for a little while now. And the irony is that while I built up my business I’ve been “failing” at my calling – which is writing – because I haven’t been writing. 
 

I’ve been neglecting my second novel for almost a year now. And that’s partly because I made a decision to focus on the business in the short term so that I could have more control over my time in the long term. 
 

But I haven’t taken back that control of my time. I’ve let the business expand to take up all the work time I have. 
 

Now, I’m not saying that I’m a failure or that anything is wrong with the path I’ve taken. I wanted to have my own business, and I do. I wanted to leave my job, and I did. 
 

And now I’m ready to embrace my true calling, and I am. 
 

So let me ask you this: where are you pursuing something that doesn’t actually matter to you? Where are you making money “over here” because you just “can’t” make a living doing what you really want to do? 
 

I’m not saying go out and quit your job right now. I’m just asking you to admit to yourself where you are playing small. Where you’re excelling at something that entails no real risk and has no real meaning for you, anyway. 
 

And here’s another question that came to me this week: 
 

Where are you playing a role instead of being yourself?
 

For example … I like to practice being very careful about how I introduce myself in different contexts. 
 

So even though my husband is a pastor, you’ll almost never hear me say, “I’m Pastor Simeon’s wife.” I always say, “I’m Brooke. Pastor Simeon is my husband.”
 

If I’m meeting another parent at daycare, I try to say, “I’m Brooke. Jacqueline and Elijah are my kiddos” instead of “I’m Elijah’s mom” or “I’m Jacqueline’s mom.”
 

In other words: I try to be very careful with my language not to define myself as my role. Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend. 
 

I am all these things, and more. 
 

It’s the “more” that I’m exploring now. 
 

Because I want to be braver.

More present.

More me. 
 

The song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles has been stuck in my head all week. 
 

Say what you want to say

And let the words pour out

Honestly

I wanna see you be brave

Let your words be anything but empty

Why don’t you tell them the truth?
 

Here’s the truth I want to tell you:


You are more powerful than you know. 

More beautiful than you believe. 

And more worthy than you fear. 
 

Make it a beautiful week, my friend.