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Nov. 10, 2021

130. Live Your Best Self-Employed Life with Jeffrey Shaw

Understand your business model more clearly so you can create the results and lifestyle YOU truly desire.

Understand your business model more clearly so you can create the results and lifestyle YOU truly desire.



As a speaker and small business consultant, Jeffrey Shaw helps self-employed and small business owners gain control of their business in what seems like otherwise uncontrollable circumstances. 

Drawing on his experience as a renowned portrait photographer, Jeffrey shows business owners how to see business through a different lens and strategies to compose the often-chaotic pieces of life and business into sustainable success.

Jeffrey’s TEDx Lincoln Square talk is featured on and he’s the host of The Self-Employed Life podcast

And author of The Self-Employed Life: Business and Personal Development Strategies That Create Sustainable Success 










The reason the distinction is important between self-employed entrepreneurship, small business is that is the only term, I think, that accurately describes both the lifestyle and business model. To me, when we say I am self-employed, you're letting the world know that you are gutsy enough to employ yourself.


You're gutsy enough to put everything on the line and support your lifestyle on your own. Welcome, everybody. I am so happy to have with you here today Jeffrey Shaw, he's going to share with us about how you can live your best self-employed life. Thanks so much for joining us today. Jeff Harry. Hey, Wade. I'm thrilled to be here with you. Awesome. So he and I had a great preinterview conversation. He really knows his stuff.


He's a speaker and a small business consultant. He helps self-employed and small business owners gain control of their business in what seems like otherwise uncontrollable circumstances. He's been a speaker. He has a podcast called The Self-employed Life Is, a book coming out called The Self-employed Life, which you'll share a little bit more about with later. But I just really think there's so much you can add to this conversation. So what I just first start with is Jeffrey Shaw a little bit about your journey as an entrepreneur, as a self-employed person, and then even why, for example, you even bother to make that distinction between self-employed, even just as far as how you communicate to people and what you do.


Sure. So, you know, the journey like it is for a lot of us has been a, you know, a jagged road, if you will.


I was going to say how long a Jaguar doesn't have to be long for everybody. For me, it has been I've been in business for thirty six years. My my rooted to self employment started when I was 14 years old. You know, at 14 years old. I grew up in the country and you want to make some money. So I had this looking back, I think pretty ingenious idea to strike a deal with a local farmer and buy eggs from him.


And then I went door to door and I sold eggs. And what made that interesting is that although I was living in the country is a unique town because it was where IBM was starting their production plant. This was IBM as a startup company at the time, or pretty a very new company. The reason my family was moved there was because they were a startup, as in nineteen sixty seven, my parents moved to this small country town and is because IBM could afford to buy up huge, just a massive amount of land because of cheap land.


And that was would become later on the largest production computer production plant in the world. So what made it unique is that it was a small country town, but the highest in technology was being built there. And everybody that lived there was a transplant from somebody because it wasn't the local people that originally lived there that worked for IBM. It was people that were brought in. So there was a cachet to farm fresh eggs. And I picked up on that as a kid.


I'm like, OK, these these people moving out from New York City are going to really dig these these farm fresh eggs. So it is a pretty ingenious marketing ploy.


And I did really well with it. My mom also owned a beauty parlor, so I would pack up cartons of eggs for her to bring to her beauty parlor on Saturdays and she would sell them there. So it was scalable. So I did really well. I did this for a few years.


And, you know, eventually, you know, you grow up and you think, well, what I do the rest of my life, but the area which I grew up in didn't offer a lot of promise.


And I have two older brothers. Neither of them went off to higher education. So I didn't really see higher education as a route, I went to the type of high school, which is odd to me now, but it look back like nobody ever talked about college, like I didn't have a guidance counselor, that it's like it just wasn't it was such a kind of a blue collar type of area that nobody spoke of higher education.


So the one thing I was I was good at but honestly, the one thing that allowed me to escape from the world as I wanted to escape was photography, because back in the day you could hide out in a darkroom. And I was able to miss a lot of classes in like two years of gym class by hiding out in the darkroom, literally skip gym for like two years and had to get permission to graduate because I didn't have any gym credits.


So but only because I was so good of photography.


I brought a lot of awards to the high school because I was winning all these awards as a photographer. So they let me slide on the gym.


And then I went off to photography school, went back to that same town to try to start a photography business and three years of failing. I then got my act together and realized who I was meant to serve. And that was a life changing moment and really the root of my previous book, Lingoa, which is what I realized as I was meant to serve an affluent clientele. And not because there were rich, not because they had money, but because I shared their values.


I didn't I didn't have the same values as my family. Like I had life insurance at 19 years old. I was always a long term thinker. I became a photographer because I really believed in preserving life's moments. You know, life is short. That's why we should only work four days a week. Life is short.


And, you know, in order to for people to buy into those values, they have to have discretionary income. It has to be people that can invest in the future.


So I shifted my business model to to reach that clientele. The problem was that I didn't come from that, so I didn't understand it. So I set about really understanding what makes the affluent market tick, how they think, what are their values, what's important to them, and realize, my gosh, I'm just like them so much more like them than my own family.


Like it was actually the most comfortable world for me to be in more comfortable than holiday gatherings with my family, to be honest with you, because I got those people I was going to serve.


And that set me on a course of what is now a thirty six year career as a photographer for very affluent families, for different targeting locations. I get to go to great places and fabulous homes and other countries and yachts and on the whole, the whole thing. And then along the way. I just really felt I wanted to help others build their businesses, so I started coaching about 12, 13 years ago, and then once you start coaching, that leads you to speaking because people want to hear more of what you have to say.


So speaking, that led to writing. Now, what is my my second book coming out so. It's it's been a jagged journey, if you will, one of it's kind of scattered, but they all connect for me.


And that's the important thing is I don't I have never really felt scattered, which is something we multi passionate people get accused of a lot to me about scatter.


To me, I'm not all over the place. I actually feel like I'm on one mission. While that mission can change, I'm very committed to the direction I'm going in whatever direction that is. So that's kind of my journey in a nutshell. It's been a rather jagged one and only I guess I'll add to that, which answers your second question along the way, really within the last year.


And so many other people have recognized this. And it's been interesting how people see things from the outside. So many people have noticed that I've gained incredible clarity again, once again about who I'm for.


And while I have always considered myself as a coach for entrepreneurship and to help entrepreneurs, I've realized where my heart, passion and my commitment and my own story lies is specifically with self-employed business owners.


Which the value of separating self-employed from entrepreneurship is so important for, for many reasons and to answer your question, I'll dig into those a little bit. But it's to me that was it was such a fundamental shift in clarity. And now what's been intriguing to me is how everybody else is seeing it. You know, I mean, people are reaching people. I'm introducing me to other people because, like, OK, you know, this guy, he knows everything about being self-employed.


Like, it's very specific now where entrepreneurship has been too broad to answer. The second part of your question, Wade the reason the distinction is important between self-employed entrepreneurship, small business is that is the only term, I think, that accurately describes both the lifestyle and business model.


And that's important, too, to us, to you when you are self-employed, because, you know, somebody said, hey, what do you what do you do?


I own a small business. Well, what does that mean? I mean, it's so broad. And the truth matter is, it's such a vague definition because you can have up to five hundred employees and be considered a small business. And yet 80 percent of businesses that are considered small business have left fewer than 20 employees. And I'm just way I mean, and how many of those are Solopreneur or companies? Fewer than five. I mean, so the definition of small business applied does not apply to the people you and I are probably speaking to.


And then entrepreneurship. Hey, it's cool. I've always loved calling myself an entrepreneur because it has an energetic quality to me. But again, it has absolutely no explanation of your business model.


If anything, people today can think you're an entrepreneur, meaning you're in between jobs. Or it could mean that you're not you have a habit of creating things and moving on like it doesn't explain enough to me when we say I am self-employed, you're letting the world know that you are gutsy enough to employ yourself.


You're gutsy enough to put everything on the line and support your lifestyle on your own.


And it explains to another self-employed person or to other professionals exactly what your business model looks like. They know you're filing a Schedule C, they know understand your taxation.


So it gives it brings such clarity that we need to embrace the term more. Because I will tell you from doing my own research, it's rarely Googled. Self-employed people don't look, don't use the term self-employed enough. But the reason is that they've caved in to real a feeling. I think the reason is, is that they've caved into feeling like nobody other than self-employed. But they're going to get it anyway. So I might as well just call myself an entrepreneur.


I may as well call myself a small business. But hey, my feeling is let's take let's take ownership of the term and make it a thing, you know, make being self-employed the answer when you are when you own your own business, just tell people you're self-employed.


Yeah, absolutely. And I as somebody who's been through different stages. In my work outside of a corporation, you know, at different times, I ran it like a self-employed person that had a software business started growing, and I brought on employees, which I would then use the term maybe like a small business. And to your point, definitely for me or micro business. But then it used the word micro something. Say, what do you mean MicroCon?


Now you're telling me about this small and does not have enough zeros or whatever it is. But there was a difference in how I ran it with no people, with one person, with even two people as opposed to one person. And then when I scale back to primarily having freelancers or outsourced people, that would help me with specific issues other than me mainly doing it. And to your point, how you handle your Insurance, how you handle your taxes, just even like you said, the lifestyle choice, you know, the word entrepreneur is one of those buzzwords.


It's become a sexy word to a lot of people. And like you said, you know, it's like when somebody says serial entrepreneur, that means you're like multiple failures and you have you know, or you actually start a lot of businesses that work out a gazillion variables in between. And I have more recently in a similar way, more embraced the term solopreneur, which at times I even thought of. Oh, it's almost like shameful. Like I don't have ten people that are working for me or that sort of stuff, as if it's not enough to be what in the 10 percent of people around the world are, even in this self-employed entrepreneur solopreneur that whole genre in general.


But just again, to say, look, I'm basically and have been at least at the stage of our lives with my wife, where we've had two children, I've been primarily a Lifestyle Solopreneur. And what that means to me and to a lot of people is I've put my lifestyle before scaling my business. And that's not a moral judgment. But it explains to someone when of says Wade, you been doing this for 20 years, you're still doing this task.


Why haven't you delegated everything? Well, because, for example, in my software business, at one point I did scale it and it grew or it kind of scaled with the market and then it went back down. And put simply, I can run my software business in one day of total effort or eight, to be precise, eight hours or less of effort per week make more than good enough income from it. But if I hire a tech support person, I'll lose the majority of that income just to have somebody sitting there the whole time, but if I have a strong enough ego that I can answer a few tech support questions that are well beneath my pay grade.


But again, as a self-employed person, Solopreneur, Lifestyle Solopreneur, I'll trade off answering five to 10 tech support questions to have Fridays off and to have another 30 to 40 thousand dollars of income, because I'm not necessarily looking to make ten million dollars a year or even a million dollars a year. And again, it doesn't mean that I don't want that. It doesn't mean I'm not setting up systems that could turn into that. But as you and I both know, there's the yes, I've got books or online courses or things that could scale up to that versus I'm aggressively pursuing making six figures, five hundred thousand a year, a million.


And those are also noble pursuits, depending on what you're looking to do. But that's a different playbook. And if you really want to make half a million a year or a million a year, you are going to be doing a lot more hustling and grinding. And there's nothing wrong with that. Whereas where I'm at is a different thing, and especially to your point of even self employed being more of sometimes the artist or the technician or the person who loves doing the craft as opposed to the person that wants to scale that.


And I just remember so many times I would meet people as I was traveling that to say, you know, at first I was the artist, I was the technician that I grew company, that after a while I went right back to just just me and one or two people because I didn't want the scale. And again, nothing wrong with it, but it's not my path. How would you say that's been perhaps similar for you and in your journey?


Well, I certainly don't see any ceiling on potential when you're self-employed. You know, I mean, my business model is very different than my business models of Togawa was.


I had a staff of four or five people at any given time. I was always the front guy doing all the photography, doing all the sales, doing all the connecting with my clients. Everybody else is kind of behind the scene except my my right hand assistant.


You know, now my business model looks different. It's it's all virtual.


But I think to your point, you know, I love I love the point you made earlier about how you ran your business business differently when you thought of it as you alone versus one employee even versus two employees. And that, to me, I think, is the key point that we can hold more than one one energy. Right. I mean, to you can be as I am today, I am, I would say, a business of one, except I've got a lot of virtual people around me.


I mean, my podcasting team alone is a team of four people.


So, you know, but they're all everybody's virtual. Everybody's remote, actually.


The people on virtual, but they're yeah, everyone's remote.


But on a day to day basis, it's it's it's been working on my own.


But there's no there's no reason for someone to think that that means that you have to be a tiny business. That doesn't mean that, you know, I can't be a six.


I you know, you can still be a multimillion dollar business of one self employed. Like there's nothing holding back to the scalability of what I can accomplish right now except to your point, my own lifestyle. I'm very clear in how I want to live. I've always led all my decisions by my lifestyle first always. So I'm at a different stage at this point in my life. I've raised three kids. They're all on their own. They're on their twenties.


I'm fifty seven years old, you know. So although I'm working harder probably on now than I ever did in my life and I say harder. I don't mean painful and I don't mean more hours.


I mean by choice. I mean that I'm so all in because I love what I'm doing that by choice. I feel as though I'm probably putting more effort. I realized, looking back, that I was able to build a photography business that allowed me to slide a lot. I had a lot of time off and, you know, that was the structure of that business. I don't even why it's always a lifestyle choice. Like I understand the structure I want now.


And yet I what I think is what's beautiful about the moment we're living in right now, Wade is I think a lot of people, after a year of lockdowns and everything else we've been through, the beautiful moment right now is that people are making lifestyle choices.


I think people are looking at I because I'm a professional speaker, I have a lot of other professional speakers that are truly looking at how much they want to travel. Now, you know, I'm seeing a lot of my friends getting on planes for the first time and posting.


I am not enjoying this as much as I used to, you know, because we've had a chance to take a little break from the norm and break and a break from the habits that we got into that we thought were charging us and taking a break from that and now reassessing. And I think this is a beautiful moment of reassessment that everyone can consider the hours they want to work, the number of days, the number of days a week that they want.


Right. This is this is the time to do it. And I say, I know you're a great take a van.


The opportunity to reassess or realign before you move forward. Awesome. That's something that has come up so much for me, Jeff Harry I know a lot of the people in my stage are children are 15 and 12, and a lot of my friends that are either working for somebody or speakers or people who are used to traveling, no one have gotten over the hey, I get to travel. It's more like I have to travel.


And then the other thing is. A lot of them had gotten used to being told, well, you need to go travel because they work for somebody and the person they work for might sell your airline tickets are cheap. And if you can make a sale for the company, that's big enough, great. You go travel. And who really is concerned about your lifestyle? And maybe it's not done. I don't need some maliciously. It's done just without even any thought for it's like, hey, just bottom line, bottom line, bottom line.


And I think most people don't want to be part of that. So whether they're an employee, whether they're starting their own gig, whether they're self-employed, I think most people are realizing there's a lot of habits we've gotten into that are busy their activity, but they're not necessarily. Productive and the other thing you mentioned, which I think is so true, is so many people say, oh, well, if you're self-employed, it means you're you're a floozy or you couldn't figure things out or you're scattered or you're you know, and one of the things I look at is, despite my ability to help other people plan their businesses, I'm not a long term planner.


Some of it has to do with my view of the world. Someone has to do with my beliefs, some spirituality, some of all different things. But long story short, I don't plan for using more than about three to six months in advance. And yet I've paid my bills for most of my life. Most people would consider me a reasonably responsible person, but that's how I design it. So when somebody says, what are you going to be doing in 20 years?


I have all the respect for the person who sets a 20 year goal and breaks it down and does all that stuff. That's just not me. What do you want to call it? Wiring. And I don't pretend to understand how that works, but that just doesn't engage me. So for me, there's certain things I know I need to do, and I certainly have commitments that I will hold to been married for, what, 17, 18 years, raising kids, all that good stuff.


But to your point, just because I'm jumping around or just because, like you said, there have been times where I wanted to put 60 hours a week into my work and that felt great for my lifestyle. And there's times where I wanted to put 30 hours and that felt great. I think that's the point. Is the choice, the freedom piece, it's kind of like the difference between saying, you know, do you have to retire at sixty seven or 70 versus saying I have the money in the bank or in the investments and I can retire, but I'm probably going to choose not to.


So it's nice to have the option. But as opposed to being forced into it, when you work with people, you talk with people who are coming to that decision about whether or not they want to be self-employed, how would you say that ties into the personal development work that they're doing? Are they doing work on themselves? Are they growing? Because that's something that maybe 30 years ago were considered two different spheres altogether. And you and I have both witnesses.


More and more people are seeing how those two integrate or at the very least impact each other.


Yeah, it's it's a it's one of the cornerstones of my book, The Self-employed Life, is that it is. It's such a unique blend, I think, of personal development and business strategy. It's actually broken down. I introduced in the book what I call the self-employed ecosystem, because this ecosystem is what I have deemed the answer, the formula for success when you're self-employed, if you will, and I bring to that thirty six years of actual business practical experience and over a thousand hours of training.


As a coach, I can't even count the hours over 12 years that I've actually been coaching people. So how could I not write a book that's a blend of coaching and business strategy?


Like, it's so ridiculous that and believe me, publisher is everybody wants you to excel.


Although my publisher immediately bought into the idea like they loved it. I actually got my book proposal on an email. I didn't I didn't have to do a book proposal. I just sent them an email saying, here's the concept. And they were so in. That's how great my publisher is. But I reached out to them specifically because I've interviewed on my own podcast many of their authors, and they have this unique blend, I would say, of business and personal developments.


I knew they were the right fit. And to me, it's there's. It is undeniably connected throughout life, but, you know, trying to try to get corporations to see that as well.


That's like pushing a boulder. It's just not doesn't the change is not going to move fast enough for me.


I like fast change. I like fast change in the world. And I truly think that the best way to change the world we're in for the better is to help small businesses and self-employed businesses do better, succeed and live the lives they want. Like if we actually want to set a standard in the world that people live their lives making decisions based on the lifestyle. First, self-employed people can do that. First, they can lead the way. They can be the example that corporations will be then scratching their head and say, we might want to get on this bandwagon, because the reason that we have so many unhappy employees, high employee turnover and high rate of sickness is because our employees aren't actually allowed to live their life the way they want to.


It's like, yeah, guess what, corporations. That's the truth. The problem is, is going to take them too long to understand that. And I want to focus on the people that can represent that change quicker. And those are self-employed people.


So you know what I find about people that that come to me for coaching, there are different stages.


But one of the stages of life that they're at that I find really intriguing is what I call the midlife self, a self-employed.


And they are those folks that are fifty six to fifty sixty five somewhere in there that may have a high paying corporate job. And they are far from looking at retiring. They might be leaving the job, but they're actually looking for their next chapter, like what's the next thing, what's the more meaningful, purposeful work we can do.


And often they come to me, which I prefer is a blank slate. They just know there's something in them that they can't find it. They don't know what it is. And that's actually what I'm incredibly good at. I'm really good. I think it goes to the roots of being a photographer. I can see what other people can't see. Right. So I know how to ask the questions. I had a dig. I know how to really, really trust my instinct and present back to them.


Well, here's what I see as a possible route that you can go down. And then that's how I see their light bulbs. They all their whole life starts coming together and connecting and they start seeing something that unique they have to put out in the world that they can build a business on. And then I helped them build the business. So I love that stage. A client that comes to me. But everyone, regardless of the stage of life they're at, when you are self-employed, the connection to your personal development is undeniable.


I always say self-employed begins with words, sell for a reason. You know, it's it's undeniable for a couple of reasons. One is a good chance, your name in one form or another is on that business, so of course you're going to take it personal. The old adage it's business is business, don't take it personal doesn't apply to us. It does not mean, however, that we're dainty wallflowers and get our feelings hurt really easily. It's not that kind of I take things personal.


It's like, no, it's not. That is that we care at a high level. But the biggest and most important connection to personal development when you're self-employed is that literally and I really try to I'm really trying to get this interpret his head.


This is the answer to your your future success.


Your level of success is directly proportionate to your personal development.


In order to grow in business, you actually have to expand the capacity of who you are as a person. And it is capacity. And here's what I mean by that.


In order for you to have more, grow your business, build a bigger business, you have to let go of limiting believes that are holding you back right.


To increase the capacity of what you're capable of. You have to this is the probably the hardest one. You have to step into what you really deserve, not what you currently think you deserve. That seems to be the hardest thing for people to because we have this socialized humbleness about what we deserve.


It's like, no, you have to actually expand what you really, truly believe you deserve.


In order for that to come in. You have to you have to, as I often say, about time yet to strive to be bored. Right. Meaning you have to you have to run your business the way that you're constantly carving out more time for yourself, like empty time, bored, boring time, so that there's something else valuable that can fit into there. So truly, the way your personal development connected to your business success is that is it.


You're in a constant journey to expand what you're capable of, to unblock any mindsets that are in your way holding you back that you may or may not be aware of.


You have to run your business in a way, even set up your systems so that you build systems for the business to come, not the business you currently have. Right. So there's all this open a runway in front of you. That's how intimately connected personal development is to your business. The only way to succeed when you're self-employed, when you are your business and you're running your own business, the only way is to lead by expanding your capacity for which there's more room for the business to come in when you don't do that.


I just want to point out, because it is important to people understand when you don't here are the symptoms. If you're not doing that, you're working really hard, but you're hardly getting ahead and you feel like a hamster on a wheel and you feel like you're all over the place. The three things that almost every client says to me when they when they reach out for support.


And it's because they have fallen, I'll even say victim to the common things we see in the world about keep applying action, hustle, add more work, add more hours, add more days, just more, more and more.


How do you add more to a capacity that's limited? You can't with the result of that is that you're blocking it. And that's why, you know, that's why people, when they reach out to me, that's always they're always going to say one of those three things I feel can work really hard, but I'm hardly getting ahead. I feel like a hamster in a wheelchair. I feel like I'm all over the place. And the answer to that is, well, let me help you bike through coaching, really step into the bigger version of yourself and set your business up that way.


It's not all WUO and set your business up for that future business. The end result of that is that you have the lifestyle that you want.


You know, there's a couple of things you said there. One, which I think is so important is people get caught up on this idea of and I have to I've been caught up in this for so many years of my life of, well, I deserve more. And I think it depends how you look at the world, either from scarcity or abundance. If you're coming from scarcity, I deserve more means you get less. And so then you say, OK, well, that's very selfish, Wade you're going to want more and what's going to happen to the other people versus I deserve more.


We all deserve more. But I got to work on me first. I got to put on my own oxygen mask first. I've got to do the work on me first and then I can help other people. Whether you look at world economies, whether you look at even the basic concept of us both living in America and people saying, well, there's so many people coming to the US, will, if we can help other people make their countries function better, then there's going to be less of a need for them.


Have to run from something. Doesn't mean we're saviors. There's good things we do not. And we're not going to go down that rabbit hole conversation. But put simply.


Me saying I deserve better doesn't necessarily negate somebody else also deserving better, and I think that's the thing that a lot of the times people get stuck in and just goes right back to. Look, if you have issues about making a lot of money, well, if you make a lot of money, you can serve a lot of people, assuming you're doing it honestly and you're providing the value and there's different paths to you can make less money and say, hey, I'm going to give people a price break so I can help people who can't afford it.


That's cool, too. But there's so many different ways to do it. And it reminds me of Wayne Dyer quote. We said, you can't get poor enough to make another person wealthier. You know, you're getting poorer, doesn't help other people. And it doesn't mean, you know, that's different than greed. But again, this idea that if I'm the rising tides, if I do better and I'm growing and you're growing and you inspire me and I inspire you and inspire the people around us, that's a better situation.


And, you know, I've just always thought that if you want to cure war in the world, get and this is maybe gender biased. I'm a man. I know how a lot of men think. Get guys a beer, a football game, and it can be football.


If you're in other parts of the world, if you're in America, it can be American football at a little bit, 11:00, and there's going to be no wars. You get that every week. There's no wars. It's really that simple. But again, that's an abundance type mindset that looks at, you know, how do we how can we help each other get more? And so many people I talk to like you where they say, look, I've reached a point where I'm doing well, but I want to help other people do.


And if you were to hear that years ago, I mean, it sounds like a really good tagline like, oh, that's oh, OK. Here here he comes with his marketing thing. He's trying to sell more books. First of all, if you're not an author, you don't make a lot of money with books. Just for those who don't know, it's how you share your message with the people who often can't afford your coaching or other things that you would just do simply.


Go into a little more depth, you don't mind, about this concept of feeling like we're all over the place? I've certainly had this as on my journey, and part of it was when I started and you'd say, OK, Wade, when you first you didn't know what was going, you figured out.


And but I've had it multiple times in my career. It's certainly not something that goes away any more than as a saying. Çanakkale, I figured out this parenting thing when they were three and then now everything is smooth. There's different versions. How do you how do you help a person when they say to you, hey, Jeff Harry, I feel like I'm all over the place? What are some of the first steps they can do to kind of kind of get back on center more, something that's very specific that maybe they've been overlooked?


Yeah, I think it starts with the often it starts with a core brand message and it's almost inexplicable to people understand how important that is.


Right. Because a core brand message serves two purpose. One, it it becomes your north star like your core brand message. You doing the work and chances are. Almost always having to work with somebody else again, as I said earlier, like I can see what other people can't see. And one of the things that I continue to unwind at this point in my life, how much photography? The irony is I started my life selling selling eggs. And now I use the phrase chicken or egg a lot because I don't know which came first.


Like, I don't know if who how I was naturally wired led me to a kind of photographer's mindset or of being a photographer's mind. Being a photographer created this mindset. It's probably a little bit of both.


I think it really is probably the definition of mastery and that there was innate characters in me that drew me to photography. But thirty, thirty six years of being a photographer has literally, I think, wired my brain a certain way. And one of those ways that my brain is wired is that I see the world in pieces and a composer as a whole. Right. So that's something that I think is unique to my abilities. So when someone comes to me feeling like they're all over the place, I'm like, no, no worries.


I gotcha. Like, I see you that way anyway. Like, I see all the pieces. But the difference is I also see something whole and complete and clear.


And I may not know what I'm not going to know what it is right away, but I'm going to dig it up and we're going to find it and I'm going to see it. I'm going to present it to you and you're going to own it. And that's your core brand message.


And what becomes of that is the the way people own their corporate message. And they just they move forward with such commitment and clarity. Right. So and then there's a there's a logical side of it. And that's what I'm always I'm always, always going for that blend. I can look back at everything I've ever loved in my life, photography. I love to bake. I love gardening. Everything I love to do is both an art and science.


It plays with both sides of the brain. I love that.


That's to me is where the juices and so know. Same thing in the way I coach. It's like, yeah, it's, it's personal development work and I don't do anything that's not going to have a practical application. It's going to make you more money. Even like the daily habits and practices I admit I offer my book are very specific and I'm very clear in saying I want you to meditate for ten minutes.


I want you to journal for five minutes. But here's why. Like here is the actual business result of doing it this way. Like I have I have a very specific strategy to journaling, a very simple, very specific strategy to setting intentions so that it's efficient and actually has tangible results because none of us self self-employed have time for nice to haves. Right. We want especially if you want to if you want to work a four day workweek, you're you're looking to maximize your time.


I'm not going to waste anybody's time.


So I'm always.


So the core brand message has that emotional impact of moving you forward with clarity because you own your stuff. And it can be sometimes it's the same words, often it's different words. But it becomes what I refer to in your branding and your all your marketing as your standout statement. And I call it the stand out statement. Different, a tag line, different than a slogan because of what it accomplishes. Taglines and slogans are cute and clever and generally speaking, have been something somebody thought of.


Which means it came from their head, it's lacking energy, a standout statement comes from doing the personal development work to know what you stand for, who you stand up for, and then you say in a way that's so compelling, it stands out so that when you have that core brand message that you're using in your marketing. It represents the energy of the personal development. You work, you did, and your deep understanding of the people you're meant to serve and the people you're meant to serve feel it.


And because they feel it, you are undeniably irresistible to them. Right, and when people feel that energy of, oh, my gosh, this person gets me, it's like, wow, it's like they're in my head, price becomes irrelevant.


Everything else becomes irrelevant, because that's such a rare experience in our lives that we meet people.


I mean, think about how unfortunate, how rare is it, even in personal relationships, that people are in partnership with people for life, with people that they feel are genuinely get them. When you find a business person that makes you feel like, oh, my gosh, this person genuinely gets me. Are you going to carry out a quibble about price? No, and that that to me, that's again goes right back to your earlier question about the connection between personal development.


It comes right down to that core brand message. So that's I start there with clients who feel like they're all over the place is like, let's get your thing. Let's get your core brand message that helps you move forward its commitment and lets the world know what you stand for. And then you have the rest there again, a lot of I always say most of the heavy lifting is mine, because the truth matter is because of the way we create as we're creating a business, creating ideas, it's being piled on top of one another.


So the pieces are there, but they're all over the place, all over the place. And I help curated composite to bring it back to something that's simple and something that's clear, narrowed down the services to those that make sense, a way to communicate it. That's clear. As I dig through people's websites, I can almost always find all the interesting pieces, but it is all over the place because it's been created in an interim basis. I'll give you a very specific example.


I bet a lot of listeners will be able to resonate with and I've I I've learned this from observation of ass for years of asking clients to write things out, because what I'll do is I like I like things to sound like people's own voice.


So they may hire a copywriter or professional later on to clean it up, but it has to be expressed first from their own voice in order for copywriter to not make it disingenuous.


So I ask my clients to write things. I'll say write a paragraph about why somebody should hire you first, write it in a way that it's kind of general. Like, why would why should somebody hire a coach in general? Like, how can that change your life? And then the second paragraph specifically, what makes you unique? Why should they hire you? So I'll ask people to write out all sorts of paragraphs. And the way people write is the way they build their businesses.


They process as they go. The way people write is they start not kind of stuck. You could tell their brain is a little stuck and they keep writing and writing and it gets juicier and juicy and juicy or inducer.


And at the end is all the good stuff. OK, the mic drop moment is at the end. That's great in comedy, it's great in know it can be great in a cliffhanger of a series, but it's terrible in marketing because you may not have kept people's attention to get to that dramatic drop moment.


So what I do is I let people for free form write what's on their mind, let them process as they go, and then I reverse it to make it marketable, compelling in a market, compelling in a marketing way, we take what's at the bottom, move it to the top, and all of a sudden when they themselves are like, oh my God, that's amazing. It's like, no, it's actually everything. It's the essence of what you said just reversed.


And that's that is why people generally start feeling like they're all over the place, because the way we build our businesses, that we're always processing, always creating as we go. And it just we wind up I can almost, almost always I find the best stuff most deeply buried in somebody's website.


I find the story of something fascinating about who they are or their background tucked away into the bottom of it, about page maybe or some weird place, the website like that actually needs to be on the home page.


I guess the most compelling thing about I mean, I had a client is working with ones that I didn't find out till some deep part in their website that she's a former military. I'm like, why is that not up front? Like, that's so respected and honored and explains so much about who she is because she's a kick ass coach. I'm like, I need to know that you're militant minded at the beginning.


There's so much I think we do know this idea of being all over the place and something you said it a few different ways, at least, or at least I heard a few different ways. Some of this is also about that owning it, that self-knowledge and. Sometimes you talk about this idea, my gosh, we're so taught to be humble in our communications, and if we're not careful, that can turn into failing to recognize where we're excellent. And I always try to tell people know there's that phrase, that phrase, call you an idiot savant.


And of course, a lot of words were gentle with words these days, or at least we try to be. So it it's not a nice word and whatnot. But the concept that there's this brilliant part and there's this really not brilliant part, and I happen to believe we all are what they want to call them, savant idiots, brilliant idiots, whatever have you want to word it. But to say that if you can recognize what you're brilliant at and be really clear about what you're not really that doesn't mean we have to it's not self-defeating yourself, basically saying I'm not good at these things, but I'm really good at these things.


One doesn't have to be self-hate. The other one doesn't have to be being arrogant. It can just be an acknowledgment. And knowing that if you're doing the things that you do best, while you're more likely to then feel I know at times when I felt like, oh, wow, I really do see, like you said, that Mike Trouping, like I'm seeing it and I'm aware of it and I can then so I have to first see it before I can even verbalize, like you said in your message.


So if I can't see it, we're we're hosed because at least from a marketing standpoint. So now I'm on that Jeff Harry I keep serving people and at the end they tell me I'm awesome. And then they say, gosh, you really undercharge. I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. And that's the person that was just ready to pay me more. But now contracts are being said. And as opposed to getting getting clear that and getting to understand that.


And I definitely have found in my experience, there are some people that are simply not willing to do the personal work. And that almost is.


Well, the natural outcome is that is then then their only option is sometimes hustle harder or work harder versus the person who's like anything else and put simply, the person who says there's only one way to do things. Well, OK then. Yeah, then OK. Well then if you're not open to change, it doesn't have to be psychotherapy. But if you're not open to change in some way, well you're just going of keep doing it with more hours.


You're going to throw more labor at it.


And as you and I both know, as you get older, it's a lot harder to throw a lot of labor at it as opposed to being a little more elegant about it.


And those are the ones that burn out, end up unhappy when they get the supposed success that they think they wanted. You know, it's a weird oxymoron because those that say I did an interview on my podcast yesterday with a woman who wrote a book specifically for women, and my podcast is obviously not specifically for women, but it's a really good topic. And as a guy, I got a ton out of the book and I asked her why she wrote the book specifically for women.


And it almost tells you a little shy about it. I mean, it made sense. And yes, there's a point to which said, well, you know, more books like Women Need More Voice. And so in part, she wrote it for that reason. But I made the comment, you know, kind of speaking to my listeners. I said, you know, if you if you are like me, a guy who can read a book that, you know, is written specifically for women and get tons out of it and actually enjoy being part of the, you know, part of that that conversation of women, a book that the second word of the book is tampon.


And I'll just leave it at that. You know, if you're the type of guy that can really see value in that, then you're going to love this book. And if you're the type of guy who can't, you really need to read the book. Right.


And I say the same thing. It's like you can tell me that you don't think personal development matters in business. And I'm going to tell you back then, you're the person who really needs to do the personal development.


Absolutely. That's awesome. So I know you have. And actually, at the time of recording this, your book is about to come out in this, hopefully will be out very soon after. Share a little bit about your book and what inspired you to do that, if you don't mind.


Yeah. Oh, gosh, I have. I mean, I think this is my second book and I already feel like it may be by Legacy book, which is both incredible and intimidating because I plan on writing a book every three years.


So it's intimidating that I don't know that he'll ever be able to beat this, you know, and and at the same time, it's scary to put out your sophomore of anything like the sophomore album. Almost always sucks, right.


You know, so it's a little scary. At the same time, I'm like, I hope I don't suffer from the sophomore experience, but because I think I really putting up my legacy book because there's nothing left out. I mean, this is like the bearing of my soul giving you everything I've got of thirty six business experience and all my coach training. I mean, it's all in there.


I don't know that there's much left out.


So for that reason I'm really super, super proud of the book. It's a much more open book than my previous one because I mean I can I can read my second book, The Self-employed Life, and I could actually see where is able to let the walls down and be more vulnerable and really speak in a way I think needed to be heard. And as far as why, I mean, and this actually wasn't the book I set out to write at the end of twenty thought twenty nineteen.


When I started writing it, I was writing another book and I gave a talk at a gave a keynote speech at an organization I've spoken at many times and at that organization I had always given like my best business advice and I felt like I had been so many times I needed to hear something more for me. So I really stepped more into my my shy woo side. I really pulled out the coach in me and created a talk that was called Life as an Everything Bagel.


And there was a talk about to stop choosing between life because it's not until we stop choosing between things that we can actually choose everything. Right. And that is the essence of it being like life isn't everything. Bagels like we don't you shouldn't choose between poppyseed onion and garlic any more than you should choose between this, that and other things in life. Like it's not until you stop choosing that you can actually say, I want everything. And so that's the talk is very inspiring.


And it had some business application like how do you turn then? It's a business application. But I walked off the stage so charged by that talk and it wasn't my best talk, it wasn't my smoothest because I was really stretching. But I walked off this. I was so inspired. I text my editor and said, we're writing the wrong book. We need to shift. So I started writing the book that I really felt needed to be written, not even being perfectly clear and who was for yet.


And then the pandemic hit. And when the pandemic hit, I realized that every fiber of my body cared about one group of people and they were self-employed people, people like me, the people like me, who had been overlooked every time in the past when it came to help from our government, when we needed it.


People like me that were going to be. Devastated by this this pandemic, which I knew was not going to be a quick fix because I've been around a business long enough to know that this was we're in for the long haul here.


I just I became. Anxious, which is so rare for me, because I'm like never anxious, I sleep like I'm in a coma and I just became really anxious about self-employed business owners. How are they going to get through this? How are they going to keep their families together? That I started digging into what the government was doing, only to find out that there was good news that there was the loans.


But of course, I'm like, OK, and the government's going to screw this up. I know that, like, they have no idea how to speak to self-employed people. So I need to educate. So I got to I started educating people through videos. I got bankers and I got the president, the CEO of the National Association for Self-employed. I was digging up anybody I could find to interview on video and on my podcast to educate self-employed people to get this help, because for the first time in US history, help is available.


And I was going to help you. How? I was going to tell you how the government was talking to you wrong and what they really mean so that you can get the help you need. And it became such a level of commitment to me that while I'm writing this book that didn't have a title, didn't have really a core audience yet it became clear to me that this is all I care about. So the book and we very specifically called it the self-employed life because it wasn't just self-employed business strategies.


It wasn't it's the whole gamut. It's the life. It's the business strategies, the personal development. It's the daily habits that you need to do to maintain your your mindsets in your wellbeing. It's the whole gamut and it's the most unique book out there. And then I started doing when I got had the idea, start doing my due diligence and I go to Amazon and I search for a self-employed. The top 10 books that even come up on Amazon for self-employed prior to mine is all about taxes.


How to pay taxes when you're self-employed, how to, you know, it's like ridiculous. I'm like this is like the probably the lowest thing on the totem pole of priorities for a self-employed person.


And this is what every book is about.


Nobody has written a book of what it actually feels like to be self-employed. This is the this is it. I wrote a book that actually speaks to what it feels like to be self-employed, what you need when you're self-employed, people that are already reading advanced readers. One of the when the book comes out, May 4th, one of the online retailers started shipping the book two weeks early. So I have all these people are already reading the book two weeks before it was even released.


That's been odd. But the feedback is just the people are blown away because they're like, oh, my God, nothing like this has existed for me.


So I'm really proud of it.


And I also I've presented it in a way that I think of it as a guide book. Like, I really this is not a book you're going to read and put on the shelf. This is the book that's going to sit at the corner of the desk because it's so chock full, there's no way you can you can take everything out of it that's in it, including the business strategies.


I mean, there's some really innovative this I talk about hug marketing and step up step down business models. And I you can have a whole chapter on how to be an awesome podcast, guests, if that's a good way to market your business. So the business strategies are so concise and right. What I refer to as right size for self-employed business owners. They're not corporate ideas. They're not big business ideas. They're the ideas that work when you are a relationship based self-employed business.


And yeah, it's it should be people refer to it as a Bible, the guide book. I mean, and I said this will be a book I imagine will sit on the corner of your desk and you'll say, OK, let me try this Huck marketing thing. You'll dove into that for a while in the six months later. OK, let me let me dove into this emotional journey website map. Like if you're what you're getting ready to redo your website.


LAYTH is an entire template of how to walk your visitors to your website through an emotional journey to get them to be hooked and to choose you. So the business strategies are very specific to self-employed businesses. So I'm proud of the book. That's awesome. I'm really looking forward to that. And I love how you can clearly state how proud of it. And that's that's awesome. Speaks to what we talked about or the personal growth work. Where can people find out more about your work?


So the the page for the book, actually, the page for the the whole world of everything. Self-employed is the self-employed life me. So the book is there. I just hosted an organized and hosted a two day online summit, which was a smashing success. It was called the Self-employed Summit that's completed.


But we'll be doing it again next year and it may even be live.


But there's articles I've written for self-employed. So the whole ecosystem for self-employed business owners is at the self-employed life. Me and at the top of that page is something I highly encourage anybody as self-employed to do, which is to take my self-employed assessment. And you can get that at self-employed assessment dot com. So it has its own Eurorail. Plus it's on the same page. Self-employed assessment dotcom. I to be honest, Wade I dumped tons of money into and worked with a brilliant series of people actually to develop an algorithm that you answer six questions and the algorithm gives you customized results.


And in. Insights into where in the ecosystem of personal development, business strategies and daily habits that you need to do the most work in. And then there was even a step you can take to watch a more in depth the video, which will give you an even deeper explanation as to why that ecosystem is important.


So it's I really once the book was written, I started thinking I really wanted a tool to point people in a direction to making the changes that they need to make in order to have the business they want in the life of their dreams.


And this tool, I think, is really pretty spectacular in its ability to do that. Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing everything.


Jeff Morrill definitely to have all those links. If you're listening, it'll be in the podcast notes or on the website. Thank you so much for sharing what you're up to. As somebody who's done this for years, I can speak so much of what you're sharing resonates with what I've experienced. So I think people are getting a lot of the book. I'm looking forward to reading the book. And as always, for those who are listening and look forward to helping you help more people and make more money and less time, do what you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends, your life.


Thanks for listening.


Jeffrey ShawProfile Photo

Jeffrey Shaw

Author, “The Self-Employed Life”| TEDx, Keynote & Virtual Speaker| Small Business Coach Helping Self-Employed

As a speaker and small business consultant, Jeffrey Shaw helps self-employed and small business owners gain control of their business in what seems like otherwise uncontrollable circumstances.
Drawing on his experience as a renowned portrait photographer, Jeffrey shows business owners how to see business through a different lens and strategies to compose the often-chaotic pieces of life and business into sustainable success.
Jeffrey’s TEDx Lincoln Square talk is featured on and he’s the host of The Self-Employed Life podcast
And author of The Self-Employed Life: Business and Personal Development Strategies That Create Sustainable Success