How to Say What You Do: How better words can increase your income

How urgent is it for you to be able to have the words to say what you do? How critical is it to your business’ success? For Denise Kelly-Ballweber, it was vital.

Denise had had a long successful career in healthcare. But she’d left that field, and now found herself in the world of self-employment. She wanted to help people figure out how to make their work rich, alive, and compelling.

When she came to me, Denise admitted, I really didn’t know what my business was. I had this nebulous idea of what I offered. For her, the crisis moment was when people asked “what do you do?” and she didn’t have a clear answer. She had a few clients through referrals but not much else. She had no web site and her business wasn’t growing.

The way she described it:

It wasn’t about the web site, but my ability to create content for the web site was a litmus test of how clearly I understood what was I offering.

And I was at zero. I didn’t know what I was selling, what I was creating, what I was promoting, or why it was important. Sure, I had an internal idea but I couldn’t get it on paper in a way that would connect with someone else. I could talk about my work at a high level with myself and my husband. But from everyone else, I got a lot of blank looks.

I had tried writing the copy by myself. I had thousands of crappy first drafts.

What was frustrating is that I’m a good writer! I’ve had experience writing for the public when I worked in health care. What I didn’t know was how to write about a unique body of work – it’s a different writing than writing about a cardiac program. But when you are bringing something new out in the world you have to walk someone up to it step-by-step.

Self-employment was still pretty new for Denise. She said: Frankly, I was terrified. I wasn’t willing to spend 4 or 5 years figuring out my language. I needed the web site up now.

On one of the free calls I offered, I said something that really struck Denise. I asked “Where were you last year in terms of being able to communicate your value? Where are you this year? Where do you want to be a year from now?” When she heard that she suddenly realized : Oh my goodness, I have been doing this for a year. I don’t want to be in this same place next year. I need help.

Despite the not-insignificant cost, she decided to invest in working with me in the Put the Mojo in Your Message training. She says: What convinced me was that you would be reading everything I wrote. That was important to have someone skilled enough to look at my writing and help me pull out what I was trying to say. The cost is high but the touch is also high. It’s like therapy, you don’t know what is wrong. You start talking. And the person listening starts to pick things out. Mirror it back. The writing is so important to get concise, we need a mentor.

Denise said she was attracted by how comprehensive the program was. She knew at the end, she would have the outline for a program. She would have copy. She would have an elevator speech. She would have a talk or a report.

It’s OK to Write Long

Denise said that one of the biggest aha moments for her in the training was to write long first. She says:

I had not done that writing for myself, taken my message and written long and for myself. I was always thinking about the finished product and what it would say on the web site. And I could never really get anything together that worked.

Writing the way you asked, taking the finished product off the table, not worrying about the audience, was a long and hard process. But that writing for myself became a holding place for everything I wanted to say. It became the foundation that is always there. Writing this way creates such a strong intimacy with the work you are doing.

I had been looking out there for the language. But the language was in me. And when I was encouraged, or even challenged, to write what was inside of me, the language appeared out of that.

Here’s some of what Denise developed as foundational language for her business.

The True Spirit of Denise’s Work

The True Spirit of my Work is to give people

the freedom, joy, and profound sense of fulfillment that comes from

complete immersion in their life’s Work,

being a model for what it is to craft a living Work of artistry, excellence and service.

Discovering the magical way their Work inspires,

the way a living Work is born to restore our capacity to unite with others,

the way their Work evolves to create new futures.

From this Work, they come to know they hold the potential

to bridge worlds, to teach the world how to heal.

Denise’s Public Language

That deep inner story translated into public language that sounded like this:

What is Amazing Work?

For all of us, work begins with the basics. You acquire knowledge, practice its application, and with time and attention you become competent, skillful, perhaps expert.

Then one day, you begin to hear a call to challenge yourself to create more freedom in your work, to find and follow what matters most to you. Its arrival, however, is signaled by your surprise that it’s no longer satisfying just to be competent and skillful. Whether disheartened, restless, constrained or deeply dissatisfied, your feelings arise from a growing desire that your work satisfy on many levels, have more meaning, impact and greater reach.

Your feelings signal that it’s time to:

* redesign your Work and shape it around a purpose you care deeply about.
* develop dormant capacities you’ve longed to express.
* work in partnership with a community of others who are invested in your success, and you in theirs.

You can read more about Denise and Amazing Work at

Rapid Growth

With her foundational language in place, and with all the public language she needed in place, Denise says:

I have a confidence and a certainty that the message is in me now, not out there. I knew I wanted to offer a great product, a great service, I knew why what I did was important. But I did not know HOW to find the words for it until I went through the Mojo training.

On a practical level, Denise quickly got a web site up, and reports: I got a lot of wows – I get what you do! Her referrals doubled as soon as she put the web site up. She also feels much more at ease talking to people about what she does.

Doing the foundational work on her message also allowed her to develop offers in a new way. Before she pulled her words together, she had a hard time getting people to the outcome she wanted in six weeks. But as she got clear about her process, and modified her process, now she is seeing much stronger results with her clients in the same time frame.

While we didn’t work together on program development, the written work we’d done had given her the seed of a signature program. She’s been running that program with individual clients, and is now offering that same process in groups.

Her revenues doubled in the year after she took the training, and she anticipates they will come close to doubling again in this year.

What you can learn from Denise:

1. Take a moment and evaluate how much time you want to take to get your words and your message right. Is what you are doing now getting you closer to that message? How long are you willing to wait to get it right?

2. Write for yourself first. In our marketing, mass-appeal culture, this can feel so hard! But it’s where your authentic voice and distinctive presence emerge.

3. Develop your business from a strong foundation. When you can articulate your message and walk people through what makes it important, you can more easily create everything from there: your marketing language, your conversational language, as well as new programs and offers.