the inspiration blog

Making Conscious Business More… Conscious

Posted on: October 1, 2013

I just returned from spending an amazing 3 days with 75 other top coaches at an intensive retreat in San Francisco, the Conscious Business Playground. I went knowing that we would be examining common practices engaged in by those of us who participate in conscious business (as a coach, practitioner or entrepreneur), and seeking to uplevel industry standards. I thought that I was already doing pretty well in this arena, since authenticity is a must for me, but I wanted to learn.

And I did. Boy, did I! So, I want to humbly share my experience.

Now, I won’t name all the names in the room for confidentiality’s sake, but you’d know many of them – all quite big names – business coaches, wellness coaches, relationship coaches, and personal transformation experts. And we covered many deep topics – both for our internal growth and how we do business – that contained room for all of us to grow.

For example, we discussed how newsletter marketing isn’t working so great these days, because trust has eroded in the entire industry. Most people just assume they’ll be marketed to, and not given actual value, so they don’t bother to open their emails (and thank you for opening this one!!).

If you read my posts from time to time, you probably know that I always strive to be authentic and real. It’s a super high value for me, to speak honestly, and as one human to another. However, when I really dug into it this weekend, I realized that a subtle energy of lack, and mistrust in the Divine, pervaded my motivations. Sure, my business is going very well. But I realized I was, on some level, wanting to control things. Like, if I didn’t use particular marketing methods that everyone else does and which I was taught (such as the format of sales pages, for instance, which I just dislike in general), I feared that people might not join my trainings – no matter the quality of my work. This subtle fear and mistrust surely gets conveyed energetically – and also means that, on some level, I perhaps haven’t been trusting the universal flow of energy, or my own value.

Shifting this, now, is already leading to a significant deepening of myself in relationship to my business… I seek to become even more conscious about every aspect of my business, at a higher level. To hold every single thing I do in highest consciousness, surrender and trust. And to make sure that I am likewise appreciative and fully respectful of you, and your path, too.

Why is it so hard to keep our consciousness raised around our businesses?

A big part of the problem, in my opinion, is that we emulate what others are doing. That’s not always a bad thing: I believe it important to know the path well-traveled, because it’s likely that it has worked for others. And, if we want do do things our way, it’s essential to know what works in order to deviate from it. Instead of reinventing the wheel, or trying to drive on triangles or cubes, we can make the wheel our own.

Another problem: for fear of things going badly, we can become risk-averse… and then we stop innovating, or even cease doing what we truly love.

This strain of thought may bring to mind certain newsletters or interactions that felt salesy or manipulative. However, this is the problem with trying to grow: it’s easy to critique what others are doing that feels out of alignment… but much harder to really look at our own stuff. 

So I pose to you, if you’re willing, an inquiry – the same questions I am asking myself:

  • What aspects of my business don’t feel aligned?
  • What practices have I learned from others that don’t totally feel right?
  • What would I like to make my own?
  • Knowing that making mistakes is part of the path, what seemingly risky ideas do I simply want to try, in order to make this path truly mine?

One of my other huge takeaways from this weekend was my deep desire to continue to forge collaborations and be in community. So I would truly love to hear your responses. Would you be willing to share some of your reflections?

If so, please comment below, so that we can all learn together. Thank you – your sharing will inspire and move so many others!

I hope my reflections and lessons I’m learning are helpful for you. May we all raise our consciousness further – in our personal lives and in our work in the world – to create the planet on which we wish to live.


24 Responses to "Making Conscious Business More… Conscious"

Thanks for these questions, Jonathan.

I really appreciate them, since I’ve joined a network marketing company for the first time in my life — and I think we all know how much icky-ness there is around that.

The thing is, the products are high quality organic, nonGMO vitamins, minerals and supplements — a big deal to me. The company is also very professional and helpful, and I’ve loved my dealings with everyone. And I love using the products!

In a way, it’s the ultimate marketing problem. I refuse to be anything but direct and honest about what I’m doing.

The training is great and is all about valuing and honouring relationships, but my challenge is to bring this to a whole other level where we all win and everyone feels great about all interactions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.



Diana, it sounds like you’re on the right track. Many network marketing companies provide great products – and yet, many feel they need to adapt the marketing and enrollment techniques to feel more aligned. I’d recommend getting outside support (that is, from someone not in your upline) to find ways of working that feel good. -Jonathan

Thanks a lot, Jonathan. One thing I’m doing is taking my time, using the products and being open with people about them if they ask. Those who know me know how picky I am about food, and also how much I value my relationships.

One of my friends was unable to eat solids (soups, broth and the odd tidbit only) for about 2 months, but now buys a meal replacement from me that’s gotten him back onto solid foods. He was the one who asked me about it, and the whole interaction has felt completely clean. That’s how I want all my business interactions to feel.

I’m relatively comfortable financially, so feel great about taking my time, using the products and developing my whole approach very slowly.

What I have planned is a website that’s all about right relationship in the broadest sense of the term that will be more of a blog, hopefully a community and a place where people can buy products that are organic, fairly traded, nonGMO, etc. which represent an economic kind of right relationship. But there’ll be a lot more than sales.

I really appreciate your affirming my approach, Jonathan. Thanks very much.

Interesting. Building on consciousness in business: isn’t the preservation of authenticity a barrier to business growth?

I sure hope not, Benoit. It also depends on how you define authenticity, and the culture in which you work or the people you serve. Ideally, they are aligned so that you can be yourself in your environment, but this isn’t always the case.

I’d then suggest to have it as an alive inquiry: How can I be more conscious and authentic in every moment, no matter where I am – even just a little bit more, perhaps?

I think that’s been the prevailing wisdom… but there are many people out there providing services (and products) that they really feel strongly about and have a big motivation for (that doesn’t necessarily revolve around money). I think it’s entirely possible to be authentic and grow a business. It does mean that I won’t appeal to everyone. But I don’t need to.

Love that, Jill! 🙂 woo hoo!

Hi Jonathan, my friend Janice sent along your latest posting and it was very timely. I am also a coach, although new in officially launching my practice, but I have been doing the work for 6 years. Before saying I was officially in practice, it was easy to have one or two clients and not get caught up in growing a business, because it was a side project. Now that I have launched I am finding myself traversing the edge of what sells and what feels real and true for me. To be totally honest I have had emotions of jealousy, anger, and sadness as I see friends who are sky rocketing their success in ways that feel off to me. I appreciate you pointing to this in your article and asking your readers to turn their attention inward to understand where misalignment is happening in their own work.

I am reflecting on your questions today. As someone who also roots my coaching work in truth and authenticity, I would welcome connecting with you further as you call in collaborations and community.



Thanks for your note, Jenny. Yes, it’s a lot to be negotiated. And, if it’s any help, many successful coaches are undergoing the same examination. I commend you for your journey with it – and further connection is very welcome. -Jonathan

Hi Jonathan – I hear you about not needing to reinvent the wheel yet heeding the importance of balance with our own integrity. Wherever we are on our path, there is an evolutionary process around stepping into new territory, around trusting ourselves and our guidance, especially if we are afraid of making a mistake. It takes compassion and patience.

It’s such a balance between “best practices” and being authentic. Others have done a lot of hard work discovering what’s effective, but effective doesn’t necessarily mean genuine.

I understand why people don’t open newsletters. Most of the time they appear sneaky, boilerplate and uninteresting. And usually wordy. And riddled with empty, cliched words like “juicy.”

When I open one, I wonder “how long until they try to sell me something I’m not interested in” or at best, “how is their language effective?” It’s rarely because I see value, and I’m finding myself unsubscribing to most lists.

One of the imbalances seems to be people’s skill at selling vs. their skill at building community. They see their list as an ATM rather than a group of people they might serve humbly, learn from, and appreciate. I’d love to see the balance swing back toward community.

The word “juicy” has been getting on my nerves too, Arthur — glad I’m not the only one. I also agree with your evaluation of most newsletters.

An exception is the AWeber newsletter. I actually find it so helpful that I store back issues. They’re always short and relevant.

Thanks for your comments, Arthur. You’re speaking exactly to the problem, in my opinion: most people have completely lost trust, and assuming that if an offer for a product or service is made, that they perhaps want to take advantage, in some way, of people on their list.

The difficulty is that many coaches etc *do* offer excellent services and products. So, is there something inherently wrong with offering it to their lists, or making a living by reaching people that way? My belief is that it’s out of integrity only if their perspective isn’t honoring everyone as real people – and serve and appreciate, just as you said. But I don’t think this is incompatible with offering their services.

In other words: my feeling is that we must offer from a place of service, and use emails as a way to respect, and connect with, those who are reading… *and* spend far more time connecting and serving than simply selling. Arthur, I’d love to hear your continued thoughts on this – thanks.

I agree. Perfectly okay to offer services through lists, especially since that was a motive for creating them. It’s the balance that’s off.

Newsletters feel like walking onto a used car lot. How long can we just look at the cars before the salesperson comes to make the sale? How many words before this innocuous email turns into a sales pitch?

Balance would create more freedom to discover, to explore without a transaction being at stake. Balance would be wondering how to connect more deeply with readers. I love the idea of thinking about it through the lens of being of service.

The Brendon Burchards of the world are a little closer to service and balance in providing a boatload of free content pre-pitch. They are also much farther away from a sense of trust and community in the way they execute – tricky email subject lines, disabling the controls of their videos, lack of transparency on cost of their products until the very last possible moment. It may be effective, but it’s also disrespectful.

What would it be like to offer value, share interesting things, be of service, be real? It’s different for each of us – and different for every reader. One reader may feel served while another might feel (s)he is getting fleeced.

What we control is the our approach. Are we approaching our communication in a spirit of community and service, and how far are we willing to go to guarantee it for our readers?

Arthur, I agree with you completely about newsletters… and the word “juicy”… argh I dislike that word! And yes, community building is the most important piece of having a list… opening a dialogue about something important.

Great article with great questions. Don’t we all have areas of our business that we struggle in and don’t want to admit it. I’m no exception. There are elements of the on-line game that are completely foreign to me. 🙂

Jonathan, I feel you. Seriously. I’ve been working with a business coach… loving her templates… AND knowing that I couldn’t follow through with some of her recommendations because they don’t fit for me. It’s really been a beautiful process… learning the well-worn path and determining what’s authentic for me. Like you, the sales page (well, my whole website really) is where I HAVE to differ. I can’t do the template that I see. It’s just not me. Still revising… tweaking… figuring it out. And yes… it comes down to surrendering to what I call “the Divine Flow”. Sigh. Conscious business is the sure fire way to keep your edges stretching… yes?

I love your work… and how you come across. I do get real authenticity from you. I’ve signed up for a lot of newsletters that I then promptly remove myself from. I learn as much from things I don’t like as I do from what I do like. You’re a definite like… will stick around to see you embrace your wider purpose!

Thank you, Jill! Really appreciate your sharing, and your witnessing as well. You’re so not alone – it’s such a struggle. I need to redesign my sales pages too… and I haven’t chosen a new coach yet for me to work with since I do know all of the basics, and want the next level of things. Yes, I’m totally with you on surrendering to Divine Flow – and it really asks us to examine all areas of our lives where we don’t trust Source.

I’m excited to see where things continue for you, too!

if there is something I like very much about you is your authenticity. I like your close and open approach. We are not face to face but I feel like it we were.

I am starting a coaching business and I would like to use your approach. It resonates with me and I would like it to resonate with my clients.

If there is something I miss it to have online live events with you. I wonder if you are considering this possibility.

Looking forward to your next announcement 🙂
Thank you!

Thank you, Eduard!! So appreciated – really.

I’m interested in holding more live in-person events, but I like your idea of something online in the meantime. Thanks for the feedback – I’m on it.

I love this (and all the above comments and discussion). I know you and I have had this discussion before and it really helped me stay true to myself and helped me really distinguish what relationship I want to have with my list. I put in the extra work to write content rich emails and blogs when I do promotions because it’s what feels authentic, real and rich for me. I want my audience to get value from me regardless of whether they sign up to work with me. Like Jill, I have had business coaches that pushed me in directions I didn’t want to go – and sometimes seriously pushing my buttons. Luckily, I am fierce enough to play devil’s advocate and to stay true to what I believe. As a business coach, I also tell my clients that my opinion is just my opinion and that the only right way is what feels “right and light” to them.
Personally, I’d rather have a smaller business that I love and feel it is an authentic expression of who I am then be a “big player”. If I grow bigger, I want it to be because people are drawn to me, not because I’ve “sold” them.
Thanks for sharing this!

Amen, Tara! So agreed. Bigger is not better.

I think some of the problem is that business coaches may feel unworthy if their advice isn’t followed – or afraid of what happens if their clients don’t get results. I know I’ve had this fear in the past (since I do some business coaching too) – but it’s really about my own sense of worth… and also not taking responsibility for my clients’ actions. It’s not in service when we do so, in fact – they need to learn their own stuff and make their own choices. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Your thoughts hit the mark, at the absolute perfect time, no coincidence. What I opened to/realized, after masterminding with a colleague and reflecting upon your comments was that I, as a Life Performance Coach, do not have to have a ‘program’ per-se. It was pounded into my head with a year long training that a ‘practice’ is not ‘business’ and that to make the ‘big’ bucks one needs a program, needs a giveaway, etc. All these ‘have to’s’ that I thought I needed to implement never felt in alignment for me… I’ve been a successful bodywork and sound therapist /practitioner for over 24 years, and just because I’m now adding public speaking/performing and coaching with my new business venture, Feel It…. Believe It… Be It! , I do not need to follow the predominant model if it feels ‘off’.
It’s amazing how I was willing to ‘carte blanche’ follow the leader with whom I have, of late and in retrospect, come to disagree with on so many levels.
Thank you for your freeing words of wisdom. Yesterday’s insight freed me, and now I feel the inspiration and possibility coming to life, re-emerging and flowing. Without the belief in the possibility it is all for naught. And, it is of primary importance to follow one’s own inner wisdom, with a little help from friends…
Thank you, Jonathan – keep up the good work! Katharine Gilpin

About to start a new business helping green companies, and your email was food for thought. After some experience in voluntary organizations and a fairly disastrous business partnership where the partner ended up looking to me like somebody completely willing to rip off anyone he could, I’m trying to do something similar to what I couldn’t do with that partner.

Issues around ethics have been very much in my mind, and my current take is this: There is no possible harm in being perfectly honest with everyone. Worst that can happen, somebody else might think you are doing things wrong. And if you are lucky, that somebody will spell out exactly why they think that. Which is useful information to improve what you are doing. But if you try to hide things out of fear of something or other, first, you run the risk that people will notice you are hiding something (they are awfully good at that) and won’t trust you, and second, you can’t possibly get useful feedback on stuff you aren’t telling.

Another thing that’s pretty clear to me: Information is very cheap nowadays. The Internet is full of all sorts of useful information, of any kind you could possibly want, and almost all can be had for free. So it’s very important to offer clients something that goes above and beyond information. I think that’s one good reason why even good newsletters can struggle nowadays.

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