Write Your Book



a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

I'm Stacy Ennis,

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Episode 120 | 2023 ups and downs—and looking ahead to 2024

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I'm a number-one best-selling author, success and book coach, and speaker on a mission to help leaders use the power of writing to uncover their unique stories so they can scale their impact.

Hi, I'm Stacy

Oh, hey, podcast listeners—I’m back this week with a solo episode. I don’t do these enough, thanks to the many wonderful guests I have the honor of speaking with on the pod.

This week, I’m reflecting on all the things 2023. To guide this episode, I’m drawing on a team meeting we had recently, where we talked through big wins, challenges, and even our theme song for the year and what type of car the business would be. Specifically, we looked at:

  • BTS on how I do vision work, our strategy planning, and how we use our annual work to guide the year
  • High points, including Instagram catching fire and the podcast drastically growing, adding new team members, and our social equity impact
  • Low points, including my personal challenges and the eclipse (this is the woo on my team—I’m too practical to think of these things!)
  • Three major accomplishments . . . OK, five
  • Two things we learned
  • Our theme song and car for the year 😊
  • Our big, hairy, audacious goal and what we are doing in 2024 to reach it

I hope this episode inspires you to reflect too. Here’s to a flourishing 2024!


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Transcripts for Episode 120

These transcripts were generated by robots, not writers.

Stacy: It’s really important if you set aside some time for vision that you really trust your imagination and lean into dreaming. A lot of times where I see people shut down their own possibility is when they start getting logical. There is space for logic. It I am a highly practical person and so of course eventually I’m going to go to that space. But how can you ever get to anything that you want if you don’t allow yourself to dream really big and imagine possibilities?

Welcome to a special episode. Today I’m going to be pulling back the curtain. I’m going to be sharing some of my personal wins, some challenges that I’ve faced over the past year. I’m going to share a little bit about what I’m looking forward to, what I’m personally leaning into, and my hope in doing this is to give you some insight into what I’m doing, so hopefully it will support what you’re doing as well.

I also think it’s really important that we share not just the shiny, sparkly things, but we also share together the things that didn’t work or were hard because I think that’s the only way that we can authentically connect and support each other. So that’s what I want to do today in this episode for a little context. This episode arose from a celebration strategy session I had with my team, and actually it was a continuation over a few days. So I brought in one of our team members to come in and spend a couple of days of strategy with me in person. We had another team member join us while were together live. She joined on video, we worked through some of it together and then the following Monday we met with the rest of the team and got to celebrate and share.

It was so awesome. And so I want to share a little bit of that time with you of what we reflected on and also share with you a little bit about what I’m looking forward to. Before I get there, I want to give you a little bit of behind the scenes on how I strategize. I think this is really helpful information because when I first got started trying to grow my business, I had no clue about how to do any of this stuff. So I want to give you a little bit of a play by play of how I work on strategy and I am going to include any links to things mentioned. I’ll be sure to include those in the show notes.

I always start strategy every single year with visioning work and I actually use one of my own resources, which is a life visioning guide. Again, I’ll be sure to link to that in the show notes. That guide is so incredibly useful now that I have been doing this for a while. I don’t necessarily go point by point on the guide, but I used to do that every single year. I would go through each item in this step by step guide and really dream. It’s really important if you set aside some time for vision that you really trust your imagination and lean into dreaming. A lot of times where I see people shut down their own possibility is when they start getting logical. There is space for logic.

I am a highly practical person and so of course eventually I’m going to go to that space. But how can you ever get to anything that you want if you don’t allow yourself to dream really big and imagine possibilities? So when I work on my vision work, I work really hard to shut down that inner critic, to be really present, to make sure I’m fully focused on what I’m doing, that I’m not getting pulled in a bunch of directions. And this is super important in this vision work. I work on my vision for one year, five years and ten years, and that informs then the strategy that I work on. Typically what I’m doing then is I’m taking my one year, these kind of milestones that I’ve dreamed about, and I am then working to create a high level strategic plan.

The way I do this, because I am the sticky note queen, is I work from sticky notes. So I like to build out different components of the work that we’re doing. So, for example, we really dug into marketing during this last strategy session because marketing encompasses also the programs that we’re running, what we’re talking about throughout the year. And so what we did is we set our key milestones. We worked on each quarter, what our area of focus is, and from that we then built a strategic document. So, not to make this sound like it’s happening really fast, let me just clarify, because it actually takes hours for each step. So I spend a couple, one to 2 hours on the vision.

I have a little bit of space to kind of reorient come into this next step, which is strategizing, putting things on sticky notes, and starting to think about, okay, I want to accomplish these things, what do I need to do? What’s the plan to start to get there? And we start to organize with these sticky notes to get this start to build it out. And then from there I start to build out tactically by quarter what we are actually going to do. So this is a multi hour process. And then once I get done with that piece, then I’m putting it into a more concise document that illustrates those targets that I’m looking for. One year, I do one year, two to three years, and four to five years in that document as well.

I’m also identifying what our metric goals are by quarter, what our key area of focus is by quarter. Because one of the things that I have learned is that if I try to focus on a bunch of things, nothing really gets done the way that I want it to. And so it’s much better if I have four things I want to accomplish. Let’s say in a year, I’m much better, served to narrowly focus one thing in a quarter and then turn my attention over in the next quarter. That has shown time and time again that the more focused I can be, the more successful I am going to be. So when I’m putting together both the big picture goals and plans for the year, I then get more narrow where I focus per quarter.

The other piece of this, and I do this separately outside of my team, at least at the current iteration, because I don’t have like a leadership team per se the way that you would in a large company. I’m also working on my revenue goals, and I should say actually, not to be talking in a roundabout way, but I actually work on my revenue goals around the same time I’m doing my vision work. And then I go into strategy, because the revenue really informs the strategy. When I look at revenue numbers, it causes me to ask good questions. So let’s say I have a revenue goal of x, and in order to meet that revenue goal at this current whatever it costs for a client to work with me, and I would need to take on why clients in order to hit that revenue goal.

But I notice that why number is more than feels reasonable to me. I start asking really good questions. I check in with, why am I aiming for this revenue goal? Is this something that feels like it’s important to me to a level that it makes sense for me to take on this number of clients? Or I’m asking, okay, if I want to hit this revenue goal, but at my current investment rate for clients, I cannot do it unless I take on this many, unless I raise my rates. And then I’m asking questions about that. Like, do the rates that I’m currently charging make sense for the demand that is on my work, the number of people that want to work with me, the calendar that I have filled up? Okay, then I’m asking questions about that.

I’m also looking at how much energy do I want to put into the program that I’m running versus working on one clients? I love both so much. And so I’m really asking that question because for me, I will never sacrifice quality of work for revenue. Ever. Never ever. And so that forces me to ask questions about my business model, the goals that I have, because I’d never want to set an arbitrary number and then get to the end of the year and be like, what the heck happened? Either I don’t even feel like I lived that year because I was so focused on revenue, or I didn’t hit my revenue goal. And now I’m feeling bad. I don’t want either of those to happen. So I try to be really mindful of that.

What was really cool this year is that I worked on my revenue goals, and I always set a stretch revenue goal and a more attainable revenue goal. That’s always more than I made in the previous year, but it’s a little bit more of a. It’s not like a stretch. It’s like I feel pretty confident that I can hit this number and then I have another stretch goal that’s like this would be knocking it out of the park. And this year, what was so cool is that the revenue forecasting felt so easy because we figured so much out in 2022 to a level that I don’t know how to exactly explain. It unless you’ve been through a business model change like I have over the last four years.

But it was so cool to just realize that so much is working so well and what I really need to do is lean into what’s working. That is super exciting. So that was pretty cool. Okay, I got on a little tangent, but my point is that the strategy work involves vision, revenue forecasting. Of course, I’m looking at past numbers. I’m looking at my profit and loss. There’s so much I could talk about there. Then I’m going to these sticky notes. I’m casting wide, beginning to narrow and then beginning to specify. And then I take all of that and I put it into a PowerPoint document that is our kind of like, guide for the year. The other thing that I’m doing a little differently this year is that we are not planning super detailed for the whole year.

We’re planning high level, and then we are drilling in by quarter based on the data that we have from the previous quarter. So we’re doing that a little bit differently this year to allow us to be a little bit more dynamic while still having really clear goals and metrics that we set. So with all of that said, I want to share with you some of the pieces that we reflected on as a team. We walk through this activity that I got from a dear friend of mine. Her name’s Abby Louis. She’s really great. She has lots of great resources. I’ll be sure to link to her in the show notes, but I’m actually using a resource that I got from her a few years ago that I’ve continued to use year after year.

And one of the things that it has you do is reflect on high points, low points, accomplishments you’re proud of. It has you go through all of these different things. So I’m going to talk through a few of those. I’ll start with high points. And by the way, this is a group team reflection, so it was really fun to hear what the team said were their high points and then also to have my own high points. Big high points for us were growing the team. So we added a new team member. Rita got to move into a full marketing position. So she’s a marketing assistant. If you haven’t gotten to meet Rita in our content yet or seen her on my socials, because I tend to share her every so often, that was a really exciting move.

We welcomed a new team member, Ketchiani, to the team. So that was really exciting. She’s now an executive assistant, and so for me, this was really cool because we now have a part time team of five, which was my goal last year. So we have Robin Bethel, who is a writer and coach. We have Kim Foster, who is an editor on our team. We have Catherine, who is in operations. Rita is a marketing assistant. And then we have Catiani, who is executive assistant. So super cool and exciting. Another really big win for me was my instagram just catching on fire. That was really cool because we have put a lot of effort into that. And I think the big piece for me there is recognizing that the thing that I’m really great at, which is storytelling, translates over there.

And I don’t know why I didn’t make that connection, but I didn’t, and now I did, and now it’s working. So that was really exciting. The podcast, too, has been drastically growing. We have been, at least the last time I checked in with the data on this, basically, our new listeners are doubling by a week. So that’s been really cool. And then the other piece that’s been really meaningful for me personally is our social equity impact. I have made a very intentional effort in the last few years to extend beyond business and leadership, which I love working within and into social equity.

And so in the past year, I don’t have exact data, but I want to say roughly 50%, maybe a little bit higher of our projects, had a social equity mission, and all of our books, in some way offered good into the world, made a positive impact on this world. That is so worth celebrating, in my opinion. It’s just like, I get chills. I really get chills just knowing that the work we are doing really matters in this world. It’s really making this world a bit a better place. So that’s pretty cool. Okay, so with all that said, let me share a little bit of our low points. We only had a couple. One of them was pretty funny. One thing you should know is that, as I mentioned, I’m a very practical person. I am highly creative, but I’m very logical.

And interestingly, I surround myself with people that are on the woo spectrum. You know how you can take those? I think it’s not a personality test. I am blanking on the. Oh, the strengths finder. You can take strengths finder, and you get measured in. One of your top strengths can be woo. I don’t know for sure, but I feel like probably like 50% to 60% of the people in my life are top strength and woo. So that’s kind of interesting. But one of the things that came up in our team reflection, which I thought was really interesting, is that when were planning our one big project, we did not plan it kind of in alignment with the seasons and, like, the, well, they brought up the eclipse and the energy of the year.

And so that was really interesting because I had intuitively not with this information at all, already had thought about the rhythm of next year and how in December we’re kind of in, like, coming together, working on the following year a little bit slower. Although November and December are very busy months for me because everybody’s like, oh, shoot, I didn’t get my book done. I want to do it next year. So I have a lot of calls, but I really planned for space for that. So rather than promoting something or trying to do a big project that we do most of those in the first three quarters, we hold the last quarter for connecting with people and team strategy and things like that. So that was kind of an interesting reflection from the team.

And so what I’d say is that woo extends to many of our team members, not necessarily to me, although I think my woo quotient has gone up in the last couple of years just because of who I surround myself with. Okay. And if you’re like, what is a woo? I don’t actually know how to define it, but I think of woo as, like, that spiritual connection, energy, universal connectiveness, those types of things where I’m much more, although I’m very introspective and very grounded, I just don’t think about things in that way. Another thing that came up for me just on a low point was not to do with the business. It was more just overcoming some personal hardships. We had a tough year in a lot of ways, but we also overcame a lot this year.

And so that was really good to reflect on that. In spite of that, I’m coming to the end of this year feeling so anchored and so good. Looking at the year ahead, three accomplishments were proud of. That was a fun one to reflect on, and we actually ended up with five on our team. So, first of all, was running the first cohort of my idea to draft program.

That was a huge accomplishment because I decided to ignore all of the advice of what all the quote unquote experts were saying and how you should run a program, and instead to really check in on how I want to show up, the way that I like to connect with people and the fact that I like to see people through to the end of their book, writing their draft and to give them a little bit more time to actually complete the draft with me. So that’s been really exciting. I love the cohort that I’m working with, and we’re opening that back up in January. So I’m really excited to welcome the next cohort. And if you’re like, oh, what is that? You want to learn more? Feel free to reach out to me.

Just say, hey, tell me about the new cohort and I’ll be happy to share. Or you can go to ideatodraft. So very excited about that and so proud of it this past year. Another area that we’re celebrating as a team is what I’m calling marketing sophistication. This is a pretty cool, I think, reflection. No matter what stage you are in as a business, as a brand, as an impact maker, I think of marketing success as being in these stages. And for me, it’s been a year in every stage. So the first year was really about consistency and it was just about regularly showing up. And then the next year was about marketing sophistication. So starting to just do a little bit better at the content that I’m producing and putting out in the world just for your awareness.

I have been producing content for a very long time. I mean, I started blogging in 2000, gosh, like what, nine, eight, somewhere around there. I have regularly produced content for years and years, but I never adhered to a consistent schedule. And I was not too concerned if I would publish something and then a few months would go by. Well, this isn’t really how it works. When you want to build a relationship with somebody through your content, you cannot just pop in, pop out, come in, go out, never really have a pattern or rhythm to it. And so once I had some awareness around really wanting to build valuable content, then I focused on consistency. So I spent a year, honestly, it was probably more like 18 months to two years and getting super consistent.

Weekly email then became two times a weekly podcast, all of those things that I’ve been doing. And the last year we focused on really leveling up. And that’s what I’m calling marketing sophistication. Looking forward, now we’re looking at how do we get even better? How do we learn how to not optimize is not the right word, but take in the data. So data to me is not just numbers, it’s also the sentiment. It’s your Instagram messages, it’s your replies to my emails, it’s your reviews. On this podcast, we are listening. We want to provide valuable content, so we’re really paying attention to. Now that we have all this stable and it’s working, how do we get better? How do we serve more?

The other accomplishment that we’ve all felt super proud of, and this is me specifically, well, let me say this is more mine, but I feel like the team was very proud of me, which made me feel really good, is I really reconnected to my intuitive decision making and really stepped into owning my voice this past year. Well, I shouldn’t say always. I have, for most of my professional career, really been kind of a consummate professional. I’ve never. I keep using these exclusive language. Never. That’s not true. But rarely have I stated a bold opinion or done anything with any even hint of controversialness, which is not a word. But this past year, I’ve really stepped more into my voice and my opinions, and that’s been pretty fun. It’s been a little nerve wracking at times.

I really pride myself in being an open place where people from opposing viewpoints can feel safe with talking to me. And so I never want to lose that piece of it, but I also want to be more of me when I show up, more authentic. And so I’ve been learning through that, but I feel like I’ve made so much progress this past year. Two more accomplishments that we reflected on as a team. One is our team flow tracking and our sops. So this means that we are documenting all of the things of how we do things within the team. We have checklists, we have templates. It has been so exciting in the nerdiest way, so exciting.

And then another piece is that one of our team members, Kim, she is really kind of stepping into her space as a writer, and that has been super exciting to watch her in that growth. She’s an amazing person, and watching that for her has been really exciting. Okay, so on to a couple things we learned. These are, I think, pretty big. One is get the education and mentorship, but then check back in with your own intuition. When I first started shifting my business model from being a sole proprietor solopreneur, I mean, I’m still a sole proprietor legally, but like a solopreneur, I’m doing everything to having a team. I looked outward for all the information, the mentorship, the advice, and that’s important. You have to fill those skills gaps in the knowledge gaps.

But then I think along the way, I lost connection to my intuition, which I mentioned a little bit earlier. And so that’s something that we learned this year is that we have a lot of knowledge and wisdom within us already. So we’re going to check in with that more and trust that more. The other thing that we learned is to go to the team first. In the past, when it was just me, I always had to find somebody to help with things here and there. And now we actually have a team that can do a lot of things. So that’s been pretty cool that we can look and say, okay, we have the resources. We don’t necessarily need to go find somebody new. Let’s lean on our team.

Okay, two more things I want to share with you before I share our big Harry audacious goal, what we’re working on and what we’re doing in 2024 to reach it. Our theme song for the year is, like anything Taylor Swift. Of course. I mean, could it be any other artist? If you follow me at all, you know, I’m a huge fan. I love her work. I think she’s so talented. And so one team member suggested our song, which is such a throwback, but I was feeling bejeweled, which I felt like really connected to the word for 2023, which was sparkle. We really were focusing on making things simple, sparkly, and profitable in 2023. And so I felt like bejeweled was such a good song. And then if our year was a car, it would have been a.

And one of the team members, Catherine, last year, she picked a great car. So this year, she got to pick this one again, and she said a Jeep Wrangler. And we agreed as a team it would be a deep yellow color. So this was her description. A bunch of people can pile in. It’s a manual car, so it requires a certain level of engagement in the driving process. It’s a lot of fun, and it messes up your hair and you have to go with the flow. So I really like that because I think it describes the energy that all of us bring to the work that we do. Okay. So with all that said, my big, hairy, audacious goal, which you may be familiar with this term, a bhag, is to grow 10,000 authors and impact 1 million readers by 2030.

I really think that’s doable. I know that maybe that sounds a little crazy and wild and big, hairy and audacious, but just looking at our numbers and what we are working on and how we’re impacting people, I think it’s within reach. In this one year, what we are really looking to do is to serve dozens of authors through idea to draft the program that I run through one one coaching. We’re going to continue to provide super valuable content. I’ve really been sharing more about my location, independent journey on Instagram and more book related stuff on LinkedIn. I’m still working on that book deal that I’ve been after. There’s some really cool stuff that we have in the works. As I look ahead to 2024, I have a real sense of peace going into this next year.

I’m excited, I’m energized, but I feel like I tried to explain this a little earlier in this episode and I’m going to try to articulate it. I feel really anchored and I feel very stable. Like in the past when I have worked on my strategic planning, there was a little bit of guesswork in it because I was launching new things or I tried something that didn’t work the previous year and now I needed to try something new. But like I said earlier, it’s more about leaning into what’s already working. And so I’m like picturing myself with almost like I’m barefoot, okay?

And I’m at the top of this mountain and my feet are planted and I’m like looking out over this 2024 and I’m seeing all the possibility ahead of us and all the things that our team is going to get to do in the world. I’m seeing ahead of us more social equity projects because that is really connected. It’s so connected for me. It feels so right. I see really stepping more into myself, stepping more into my voice. I see us continuing to grow our social platforms, our email list, and really serving people well through this podcast and through all the other things we’re doing. And it feels very anchored and very good. So thank you for joining me in this reflective and dreamy, forwardy episode.

I can’t wait for the new year, but before the new year, I’m going to go cozy up with my family and rest, right? And ring out 2023 and ring in the new year. So whenever you’re listening to this, whether it’s at the end of the year, the beginning of the year, I hope that you are also feeling really anchored into your new year. And if you’re not quite there yet, maybe just take some time to do some reflection, just like I did, spend some time on that vision, because it really helps you have a sense of where you want to go so you can start planning to get there. Thanks so much for joining me. I will be back with you before, you know it.

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