Quiet Power Strategy Summit 2016

Quiet Power Strategy Summit 2016: Big Ideas and Smaller Plans

It’s pretty fitting that my first experience with Tara Gentile was when her program was called 10,000 Feet, because I’m writing this blog post at about 30,000 feet on my way home from Tara’s first ever Quiet Power Strategy Summit.

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself answering client emails on a Saturday, when suddenly I stopped myself and instead scheduled the email to send first thing Monday morning. Why wait when it was already written? Because you teach people how to treat you, and by doing so, I was also reinforcing that boundary for myself.

Lately, though, my boundaries have blurred, sometimes to the point of nonexistence.  

The past month or more has been a hectic season in my business and life. I’ve been juggling scheduling and recording interviews for my new podcast on top of regular work, selling a program by chatting with potential students individually, on boarding new clients and new writers to my team, and — oh, yeah, trying to prep for a 10-day family vacation right before three days in Portland for the QPS Summit. And it doesn’t look to slow down any time soon.

I found myself breaking one of my cardinal rules around my work-life balance and working when I was home alone with my daughter. A lot. 

And then, right before leaving for the Summit, my plans for summer childcare fell through. 

Tara asked us to set an intention for the weekend. A question we wanted to answer, a task we wanted to accomplish. I wrote in the Summit Facebook group:

“I want to work on finding focus and clarity. I LOVE to produce, I love to hustle, I love to try new things, but lately it all feels overwhelming. I’ve committed to so much, and some of it feels very disparate. I’d love to come away with some clarity about how and where to FOCUS.

I also just found out that my childcare for the summer has fallen through, which could make what might have been my most productive months much, much less productive. And rather than FREAK THE HELL OUT about it (which is my first inclination) I’d like to sit with and consider the idea that maybe it’s a suggestion from the universe that I slow down a bit. Not sure. But I’m noodling!”

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know I believe in listening to the answers you get when you ask the universe a question.

The opening keynote speaker for the summit was Charlie Gilkey. I wasn’t familiar with his work before this weekend, but you can bet he’s got a new fan/groupie/devotee in me now.

The amazing tweetable from Charlie’s talk was, “Go deep: Build a small fire and sit close to it.” 

When you follow the swan song of more (more people, more exposure, more money), you get more complexity, more work, more burnout.

But delivering your best isn’t about more quantity, it’s about better experiences.  

“If you’re not creating an experience, you’re in competition with Wikipedia — and Wikipedia will always win.” 


The key, then, is about cultivating a sustainable number of true fans through deep experiences: deep content, deep relationships, and deep contribution.

This was such an important message for me to hear. I preach the message that more isn’t better when it comes to content, but I had forgotten to apply it to my business.  Rather than trying to do so much, I want to try to do less, better. 

I’m not a hundred percent sure what that looks like yet, but Natasha Vorompiova extolled us at the end of her talk to eliminate some things from out to-do lists, and I definitely intend to follow her advice. 

Natasha also delivered a framework for figuring out which systems — and I would say, indeed anything in your business — are right for you:

  1. Trust your system
  2. Make sure your systems reflect your values
  3. Discover how your quiet power informs your systems and business.

What this revealed to me is that I need to do a sort of total business audit. I want to feel confident about what’s working and what’s not in my business, and edit things down to the most necessary.

For example, Stacy Howe-Lott gave me a very important clue in her talk about keeping courses manageable and relevant, when she suggested blocking out very specific chunks of time to interact in groups — as opposed to the 50 times per day schedule I was using. 

Breanne Dyck offered an advanced framework for evaluating the effectiveness of products and marketing channels with her building blocks model:

  1. What do people want (products) and how do I get people to buy more (marketing)?
  2. What will my business accomplish (plans) and where and when will I make money (projections)?
  3. And what needs to change (projects or processes) and who will be responsible (people)?

I’ve never been comfortable with the numbers side of my business (I’m a words girl after all), but I’ve dedicated myself to pushing past that fear and dealing more directly with my numbers this year.

(P.S. Here’s a great tweetable from Tara about fear that she delivered almost as a throwaway line during a Q&A session: “Fears are really just questions that prey on us emotionally.”) 

Jacquette Timmons offered a new way for me to look at my numbers with her financial wheel exercise and by dropping the truth bomb that “Every business decision you make is a financial decision, and your business and personal finances are intimately connected.”

And those business, personal and financial decisions should all be informed by something deeper than the numbers on a spreadsheet; they need to tie back to that age old question of why.

Charley Gilkey asked, “When is your fire big enough?” 

Michelle Mazur wanted to know, “What’s your big idea? That one sentence that creates a huge transformation.” 

Kathy Bourque asked, “What do you want out of this business? And how do you want to show up?” 

Brigitte Lyons asked, “What do you want to be known for?” and then asked us to build intense commitment to that idea. 

And then, finally, to top it all off, in Tara’s keynote, she walked us through the steps to declaring a chief initiative for our business in the next 3/6/12 months, and then encouraged us to

  • Make BOLD choices

As a path to greater self leadership.

Well, ok then. I guess the message might be that I need to get clear on my big why.

The whole weekend was beautifully inspiring and positive. Yet as I sat at the desk in my hotel room this morning, planning out my week before I had to get on a plane to head home, I almost started to cry out of frustration and overwhelm.

I have been so focused on making money in my business that the tasks have eclipsed the vision.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I am for making money in my business. Unlike many women entrepreneurs I know, my grand vision when I started this business was not, in fact, to change the world one blog post at a time, but rather money driven: to replace my previous salary with something I could do working from home. My “big why” was entirely selfish, even though I went about achieving it by being of service to others.

I admire businesses with a deep personal or social mission. Mine just doesn’t happen to be one of them. 

And I have achieved so much progress and momentum towards that vision and goal. I’ve nearly doubled my salary (that’s what I actually pay myself, not the business net or gross). And I’ve built this resource and community of which I am desperately proud.

But I’ve been focused so wholeheartedly on that monetary goal that I’ve neglected the other half of my vision. I am a work from home mom, but the amount of work and the amount of mom-ing feels way out of balance lately.

Which takes me on a quick segue:

On Friday afternoon, sipping a dry Rosé in the wine bar at McMenimans, I was introduced to Brenda. We sat next to one another on the couch and made small talk.

“And what do you do?” I asked her.

“I’m a fiction writing coach,” she replied. “I help authors get past their blocks and maybe finally finish that book they’ve been stuck on.” 

I immediately liked Brenda. I liked her ombré dark brown to purple hair and her polka dot dresses with bright colored cardigans. I liked her personality. I liked her business card and I kept taking it out to look at it over the course of the weekend.

Something was telling me that I had met Brenda for a reason. That deep longing to write and create revealed that, while partially fulfilled by my work and my business (I do really enjoy the creative parts of marketing) there was a different spark still waiting to be nurtured. It hadn’t been doused or smothered by hustle and stress and life. That deep, soul-fired need to create art through fiction still wanted to come out, even though I had neglected and ignored it for so long.

(Wow — I got a little verklempt just writing that out.)

On Sunday, I told Brenda that I’d like to talk to her about finishing my book.

And what I was really saying to myself, is that I’d like a little more life in my life.  

I don’t have the energy and drive to write my fiction because I don’t prioritize it.
I don’t have time to go to yoga class because I don’t make time.
I am busy all the time because I am choosing busy.

I also realized (and this is a major DUH moment when I type it out loud) that it’s OK if my business isn’t the only passion in my life. It’s ok if blogging and content marketing — which I still love and geek out about — isn’t my only life’s work.

My life’s work is being a mom and raising this incredible person I’m responsible for.

My life’s work is helping other business owners realize their dreams by saving them time and making them more money with their content marketing.

And, if I’m very lucky and work at it, my life’s work might also be about writing down the stories that fill my heart and soul.

The shift won’t happen all at once. I have obligations I must fulfill first before I can begin to swing the pendulum back closer to center again. But I deeply and truly believe that I can have a successful business and a deeply fulfilling personal life with time for my daughter and husband, time for my hobbies, time for myself. I just have to choose it.

I walked into the Quiet Power Strategy Summit looking for clarity, looking for answers, but I wasn’t prepared for how deep, how fundamental, and how powerful those answers would be. I hope all the other attendees didn’t mind that the whole event seemed to be speaking directly to me.

Although, I have a feeling I wasn’t the only one moved by the quiet power of this experience.

18 thoughts on “Quiet Power Strategy Summit 2016: Big Ideas and Smaller Plans

  1. YES, YES, YES! I expected a solid program, but did not expect to feel so personally transformed by the experience. The best part is that I did not leave with a list of tactics to try (someday maybe when there’s time), but SO much clarity and direction. Making new friends was the cherry on top!

  2. I’m a huge fan of Chris’s and want as many people as possible to know about his work, and I’d love an inside view of the launch, because I plan to do my own book launch someday. 🙂

  3. Lacy,
    This is amazing. Such a deep and thoughtful post that truly resonates. I, too, walked away with much clarity. I know the balance beam very well and fall off more than stay on. Building something to be proud of is a big and noble vision. But so is building a family. Thanks again dearheart.

  4. As a writer and performing artist, I have made peace with the idea of money without yet committing to the systems that sustain my business. I really identify with what you say about being a “words girl,” though my amazing math-professor friends get a little huffy when I try to make that a virtue. And I like sitting in my counting house counting money!

  5. Ooh, Lacy, “…a little more life in my life.” That’s a gem and a wonderful reminder for us all. Thank you, and thank you for the shout-out. Much appreciated.

  6. You’ve written so many wonderful posts, but this is one of my all-time favorites! I really wanted to go to Tara’s event, but I missed out this year (it’s at the top of my list for next year) and it sounds like it was 100% worth it.

    I love her focus on working backwards and thinking big, then breaking it down to step-by-step (that’s totally how I do it).

    Also, “ultivating a sustainable number of true fans through deep experiences: deep content, deep relationships, and deep contribution.” … wow, boom! That blew my mind open. A dedicated audience is always better than a large, half-interested audience 🙂

    P.S. Congrats on your upcoming podcast! I launched my show last month and it’s so much fun. I’d be happy to have you on my show + it sounds like I might be a good fit for yours too.

  7. Great post Lacy. I loved all the quotes. Looks like I need to put the QPS on my must-do list!

  8. I’ve been following you and Tara for a little while now {I’m a word nerd too}. Your words usually resonate with me on a business level.
    This, however, I totally get on a personal level, when trying to do so much and not getting it all done. Busy is good but not when it gets in the way of life.
    Thank you for this post. It hit home for me in a big way. I’m working on my vision for me in business so that my gifts and my purpose meet.

  9. Lacy I love this post and the insight into your weekend. It would have been fabulous indeed.
    “… a little more life in your life”, so beautifully said. This is exactly the essence of my journey and the why behind my business too. Helping women connect to a life they love. It’s not that you need to have a completely different life to the one you have, just connect to what is right in front of you.
    Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us.

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