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Human-to-Human (H2H)

Community, Diversity, Human-to-Human (H2H), Inclusion, Marginalization, Social Media, Women in Tech

Don’t tweet in a bubble: why & how to diversify your feed

Birds of a feather tend to flock together, but that’s why they call them ‘bird-brains.’ Here’s how, and why, to diversify your Twitter feed.

Twitter Stats & Social Facts

Tech doesn’t just have a diversity problem in the workforce – tech workers and leaders often live in an online social bubble of, well, men. Mostly white men.

When the echo chamber of our tech community continues into our online social communities, it’s too easy to find yourself in a homogenous bubble that is so large and opaque that it eclipses the world outside of it.

And that is dangerous to us as people, as world citizens, as tech makers and users.

Yes, the Twitter feed diversity problem is real.

Not-so-fun fact: Elon Musk didn’t follow a single woman on Twitter until October of 2016 – and only then because a Motherboard article called him out on it. Musk isn’t alone. The Guardian looked at the Twitter accounts of several male tech leaders and found that they followed between 2 and 11 times as many men as women. The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, for instance, followed 238 men and 29 women at last count (also in 2016).

And that’s just the male to female ratio. They didn’t even touch on people of color or the LGBTQ communities.

When you consider that most founders of tech startups in America are white, and the average white American only has one black friend (75% of white Americans don’t have any black friends), it’s clear that not only do most of us in tech live and work in our bubble – we’re so far in it that it’s hard for some to imagine how to climb out.

I suggest starting to diversify your life and work by inviting in different ideas and opinions on Twitter. No, it’s not going to fix the diversity problem in tech or lead to world peace. But at least it’s a start.

How can you diversify your feed?

As with making most changes, awareness is the first step.

Check yourself

It’s easy to look at the list of people you follow on Twitter and feel fairly satisfied that you do have a diverse group. The human mind is funny that way. We see what we expect to see. Try this app, Proporti.onl, to see how your feed really stacks up. If you’re surprised by your results and feel like you’ve got a long way to go, that’s okay – I’m still working on diversifying my feed, too!

Consider all types of diversity

Diversity doesn’t just mean ethnicity or the spectrum of LGBTQ – it’s also about cultural diversity. People who believe, think and act differently than you. That isn’t to say you should befriend people who don’t share (or who are actively against) your core values. But try to recognize and respect other ways of being.

Don’t just add – listen

James Governor, co-founder of RedMonk, wrote about his effort to diversify his Twitter feed and made a very important point:

It’s not enough to add people who are different than you – you also have to listen to them. And that’s not always comfortable.

“You will certainly find yourself challenged. […] Question your assumptions. Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll be smarter for it, and learn crucial lessons in empathy. Sometimes it’s the little things.”

The benefits are worth the effort. When you listen with an open mind to what different people are saying (and yes, complaining about) you gain insight into how to treat people with more sensitivity and communicate more effectively.

As James Governor also says, “following a broader range of people means that suddenly – surprise! – it’s a lot easier to find amazing speakers for tech events.”

Perhaps, most importantly for us in tech, this is an exercise in empathy. When we have empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – we build better products, better user experiences, and better relationships in and outside of work.

Not sure where to start? Here’s my shortlist of diverse voices who are sure to add unique, smart perspectives to your feed

Acquisition, Customer Experience, Emotion, Human-to-Human (H2H), Product Management, Products, Retention, SaaS

9 Empathy Exercises that Help Product Teams Improve CX

9 Empathy Exercises for Product Managers

What is empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. For Product Managers looking to improve customer experience (CX), that definition translates to doing more than understanding the user’s pain points, but also looking at the emotional landscape of what it’s like to use the product – when it is working, and when it isn’t working.

Empathetic Product Managers ask themselves:

    • How does using the product make the customer feel?
    • How does the customer want to feel when using your product? What would be the best possible emotional outcome for them?
    • How do I ensure the product developers understand and take the customers’ needs into consideration in their process?

The answers to those questions affect every facet of business, from acquisition to retention. It’s how, through CX, you can generate rapid growth through word-of-mouth recommendations, and sustain your success with customers who never want to leave.

Read More on Wootric
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Bots, Customer Experience, Human-to-Human (H2H), SaaS

How SaaS startups can build human-centric relationships faster and at scale, supported by automation

Isn’t automation the antithesis of person-to-person contact? It certainly has been. We’ve all been caught in the labyrinthine automated phone support systems that never give you the answers you need. Automation has, for too long, acted as a gatekeeper to human contact. Almost like it’s there to weed out the faint of heart, or weak of purpose.

(That’s called segmentation, and we’ll get to it later).

But there’s an idea forming that elevates automation from gatekeeper to facilitator. Instead of barring the way, automation should be helping you on your journey and connecting you with the people and solutions you need.

And that’s where human-centered-relationships come in.

What does ‘human-centered relationships’ mean? Relationships that are personal, friendly, generous and meaningful. Relationships that aren’t just about what you can get from the other person, or how much you can sell. But about how much value you can provide, how much empathy you can offer, and how delightful an experience you can create.

I know, it sounds like a lot of work. One of those ‘nice ideas’ that’s impractical to implement (and your CFO would laugh you out of the room if you tried).

But, call it karma, or call it a sustainable business practice – it’s been proven that companies that take care of their customers do better in the long run than companies that prize profit over people.

Automation, and specifically chatbots, can be part of that picture. In fact, for growing businesses that want to make a big impact, automation should become an integral part of making customers experiences feel personal and delightful at scale.

Read More on Freshchat
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Community, Curation, Diversity, Human-to-Human (H2H), Inclusion, Marginalization, Women in Tech

Delightfully unconventional women-written newsletters in marketing & tech 💌

I’m subscribed to more than one-hundred newsletters – not kidding, I’m a curator. It’s my passion. There are so many newsletters out there for marketers right now. Nearly every startup and entrepreneur in the field has a newsletter to offer. Of course they do. We’re marketers. We know newsletters work as part of our long and glorious sales funnels.

These women-written newsletters are on my can’t-miss list. I try to read them every time. I look forward to reading them, because each one not only has immediately useful value to offer, each one is really fun to read. And, their perspectives are refreshingly unique and unconventional, because these women think deeply about their subjects and don’t shy away stating their opinions.

I love that.

Also, fair warning: I added my own newsletter at the end. It’s all about building communities around SaaS products, and if you’re into that, then hopefully it will make *your* can’t miss list.

Marketing

WordWeaver // Alaura Weaver
I’ve included some of the best copywriters in tech on this list, but what sets Alaura Weaver apart is her unique story-fueled content and copywriting, as well as her commitment to only work with businesses who are legitimately trying to make the world better in some way. Her newsletter is tightly packed with insights into how to use storytelling and powerful language to create human connection that helps businesses sell and grow.

Inkwell // Autumn Tompkins
Copywriter and editor Autumn Tompkins focuses on copy, content, and editing for artists and creatives – a notoriously difficult industry, both to work in and to write for. She brings the stories behind the art to vivid life, attracting clients and building relationships (that attract more clients). Her newsletter includes her best tips for writing creative and effective copy, and it’s so good, that a lot of other copywriters I know read it too.

Copy Hackers // Joanna Wiebe
Joanna Wiebe made a commitment early on to give away her very best information. It’s how CopyHackers began, and why it’s become the go-to resource for professional copywriters interested in honing their craft, or getting a quick refresher on what headline copy works best. Each newsletter she sends contains a mind-blowing insight that you can use right now – it’s how she ‘trains’ us all to open every one of her emails. They’re always so good. Also, notice her writing style. She keeps you hanging on…

Every…

word.

Forget The Funnel // Claire Suellentrop & Gia Laudi
Forget The Funnel is for marketers at product-first tech companies – it’s a weekly series of free, 30-minute workshops designed to help tech marketers “get out of the weeds, think strategically, and be a more effective SaaS marketer.” These 30-minute workshops are not fluff, and you can tell that by their impressive list of workshop leaders, like Talia Wolf, Joanna Wiebe, Ross Simmonds – and oh yeah, me. Really didn’t mean to plug myself, but you’ll see me on the list, and I didn’t want this to get awkward…

GetUplift // Talia Wolf
If we’ve spoken for more than 5 minutes, I’ve probably mentioned how much I LOVE Talia’s newsletters from GetUplift. That’s how much I talk about this conversion optimization newsletter! I’ve used these as inspiration for my own writing more than once, because her writing style is so personal, so fun, so interesting and always informative, pulling insights from her own experiences (which ensures the content is always fresh).

Katie Martell
Unapologetic marketing truth-teller Katie Martell will be the first to tell you – in a bright red banner across her home page – that this is “the world’s best newsletter about marketing, business, and life.” She’s got some stiff competition there, but I won’t argue. This curated newsletter is really good.

Yeah Write Club // Kaleigh Moore
Copywriter Kaleigh Moore’s first newsletter was A Cup of Copy, which included beautifully-written advice for new and seasoned copywriters on writing better copy, and on building a writing business you love. Her Yeah Write Club is completely different – it’s interviews with working writers at the tops of their fields, book recommendations and even writing opportunities. I love both, but those interviews are fabulous.

Strictly Tech

Sarah Doody
Sarah Doody is an entrepreneur, UX designer, consultant, writer and speaker. Her weekly UX newsletter is a compilation of her personal experiences in UX design, curated articles, UX tips and prompts to get UX teams talking.

Femgineer // Poornima Vijayashanker
Femgineer promotes inclusivity in the tech industry, which is already pretty great (and much needed). The newsletter is an outstanding source of inspiration, practical advice and free weekly lessons for people of all backgrounds learning tech.

MarketHer // Jes Kirkwood
MarketHer helps female tech marketers grow their careers, and the newsletter (hover over the pop-up chat on the bottom right to find the Subscribe button – it’s a little hard to find) shares real stories from women working at companies like Eventbrite, Glassdoor and HubSpot.

Product Talk // Teresa Torres
Product Talk is all about product development – from learning much-needed insights about your customers, to conducting experiments and measuring their impact. It’s not strictly a newsletter, but subscribing will ensure you get their latest posts in your inbox, and they’re all really good.

Women in Product
Founded by senior women product leaders in Silicon Valley, Women in Product is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in product management. Not only can you subscribe for their news and updates, they also have a Facebook community with over 9,000 members (of which I’m one).

Women 2.0
Women2 is focused on closing gender gaps and increasing diversity and inclusion in tech. Their articles often focus on female-founded, early-stage companies, as well as “the future of tech and startups.” One glance at their home page lets you know what kind of content you can expect – topics like “speaking out about equal pay” and “an introvert’s guide to collaboration.”

Whackadoodles // Emma Siemasko
Written by a content marketing specialist, Whackadoodles isn’t strictly about content or marketing; it’s more about living a better business life. It’s a great read for writers, marketers and entrepreneurs.

Other

The Good Trade: The Daily Good
A 30 second read of good things to listen, follow, visit, browse and read—delivered to your inbox each morning. Curated by and for women.

And…mine:

Sunday Brunch by Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

My newsletter is strictly about building online communities, in places like Facebook groups and Slack channels (to name but two), around your SaaS product and brand. Communities help promote higher lifetime value, lower churn, happier customers, and – my favorite – customer success. But it’s not enough to just invite people to join. Creating a genuine sense of community is a little more complicated – and that’s what my newsletter is about.

Subscribe below! Are you thinking of starting a newsletter? Let’s talk about what makes the BEST newsletters out there. Leave a comment and let’s chat.

Community, Customer Success, Emotion, Human-to-Human (H2H), Retention, SaaS

Set the tone of your SaaS community to be like Sunday brunch with friends 🥞☕️

Set the tone of your SaaS community


This article was originally sent as an e-mail as part of my newsletter, Sunday Brunch with Nichole: A Weekly Missive on Community Growth


Here’s the thing you may not know about me: SaaS companies hire me to help them build and grow communities around their SaaS products. I don’t advertise this. But they’ve seen me doing community growth at Growth Hackers, Product Hunt, Inbound, and now Zest.is and…

They want in.

Because they know they’ll only get the benefits of a community for their SaaS company if they can manage to build a community that’s more like, well, Sunday brunch at my place.

Or your place. It’s not really the venue that matters.

It’s the chemistry of the people.

The tone.

To get all woo woo on you – the energy.

This is where you come in.

Every Sunday morning, we’re going to talk about building, launching, engaging, and growing online communities for SaaS products.

We’re going to start at the beginning. What is a community? What does it do? How can you set the tone so everyone has a good time, and gets what they came for?

That’s what this very first email is about.

What does a community do?

Communities share ideas, give advice, ask questions, make jokes, support each other’s goals, break bread and bake pies. And community members help their neighbors build everything from barns to businesses. At least, that’s how they work in real life.

Here’s something else you may not know about me: I host gatherings at my house with large groups of creative, brilliant people every Sunday.

We cook, eat, make things together, have deep important conversations and blow bubbles in the pool.

Sunday get-togethers

However, It’s a little different when I talk about online communities with SaaS businesses.

Here’s what they hope will happen:

  • Customer retention
  • Upselling opportunities
  • Brand advocacy
  • A ready pool of voice-of-customer data that’s pure gold for sales & marketing

These are great goals, and the best way to achieve them is to create an online community that feels like an offline one.

How can you set the tone of your SaaS community to be like a Sunday morning brunch with friends?

Here’s how it works in my house:

If the gathering is large with new people who don’t know each other, introductions are important.

I’ll ask everyone to go around the room, say their names, their pronouns, and fun facts about themselves. This opens up the conversation.

When I know two guests who really should know each other, I introduce them and tell them what they have in common.

Then we have ice-breaker games like Loaded Questions where people have to guess who answered what to questions like:

Loaded Questions

The first steps toward building an online community are actually very similar.

Incidentally, CRO specialist Talia Wolf, has a new Facebook group called We Optimize where she took my advice and tried this out for her ‘Intro thread.’ But instead of a ‘brunch,’ she went with a tea party.

Talia Wolf

The responses she got were thoughtful, honest and open – the raw ingredients of real friendships. It gets down to people’s values, rather than “what startup are you at? What do you do?” Much more interesting. Much more engaging. (If you want to see this in action, let me know and I’ll show you the thread.)

Step 1: Know your guests (You got this!)

You’ve already laid the groundwork for genuine connections to happen if you’ve defined your ideal customer, actively market to attract them, and have a customer success process in place to make sure they’re getting what they need. (And if haven’t laid the groundwork yet, don’t worry, we’ll get to this too in an upcoming post.)

Do this, and your customers already have a lot in common. They share the same goals. They want the same things. They share the same values. They’re onboard with your mission.

That is an incredibly powerful place from which to build an active, engaged community.

Step 2: Write down your vision (You already know what it is)

When I throw a party, I have a few specific outcomes in mind. I want everyone to get along really well; I want people with related interests to meet each other; and I want stimulating conversations. It’s about creating an experience for everyone there that’s helpful, inspiring and fun.

Now, my guests know that’s what they’re getting when I send out the invitation. But yours don’t – not yet.

Before you invite your first members, get clear on what kind of community you’re hoping to build, and what experience you’d like their help with creating. What is the purpose of your community? (Tip: That purpose had better be helping your community, not just making more money for your company.)

Next week, I’ll share how to make your online community the place to be for your niche – and it all starts with your initial guest list.

kitten tea party

Have yourself a gorgeous day.

P.S. Hit reply and I’m happy to answer all your questions.

Know someone who could benefit from reading this e-mail? Please forward it on!


This article was originally sent as an e-mail as part of my newsletter, Sunday Brunch with Nichole: A Weekly Missive on Community Growth

If you’d like to receive emails like this one, sign up for my newsletter:

Churn, Community, Customer Success, Human-to-Human (H2H), Products, Retention, SaaS, Startups

Slack’s community superpower for SaaS is all about churn


This article was originally sent as an e-mail as part of my newsletter, Sunday Brunch with Nichole: A Weekly Missive on Community Growth


For SaaS products – whether B2B or B2C – Slack is where it’s at. By which I mean Slack is where your customers are already. But Slack has more going for it than just that. The platform is remarkably well-suited to creating exactly the kind of communities and engagement we’ve been talking about. The kind that fosters loyalty.

Consider:

Subscription-based businesses require strong customer relationships to prevent churn and increase customer lifetime value (the metrics that make or break your business).

Creating a community is one way to strengthen customer relationships and improve loyalty.

This is really – really – about eliminating churn.

Eliminating ‘Champion’ Churn

One of the leading causes of churn, especially for B2B SaaS, is when your ‘champion’ (the person who’s been talking you up to the boss, convincing everyone that you’re the solution they need) leaves. But if the whole team is on Slack? You’re already cultivating relationships with everyone, and they understand the value you bring.

Eliminating Churn among VIP Customers

BubbleIQ reported ZERO churn among the customers they shared Slack channels with. Now, they only began opening up private channels for their VIP customers who were already loyal and engaged, but still. Zero is a good number.

“Most companies rely on email or chat for support — but it turns out that’s a surprisingly high friction method of support for business customers today. Forcing customers through a formal contact form or into a long email thread creates a barrier between you, and makes it difficult to respond quickly to high priority issues.” – BubbleIQ

ProdPad’s Slack Community Experience

ProdPad also has never had a customer churn who was part of their Slack community.

Customers who join our Slack community were not cancelling their ProdPad plans at all. In fact, 99% of our cancellations were (and still are) coming from customers who weren’t part of our community.

In fact, ProdPad published a fantastic 40-minute video about their Slack community, and you should watch it. But I particularly loved what they said about how their Slack channel fostered and strengthened their relationships with their customers.

Andrea Saez, Head of Customer Success, talks about the “happy accidents” she discovered when their Slack community went live.

  • Users were helping other users to troubleshoot issues – out of the goodness of their hearts. So for those of you who might be concerned about the increased pressure put on your Customer Service teams, you might see the opposite effect. Cool, right?
  • The whole ProdPad team became involved and made themselves available to chat and answer questions, even the CEO, which meant that customers were taken care of even if the primary Slack designees weren’t immediately available. The “side effect” of this was that the whole team became more customer-centric, adding “a human touch to everything.”
  • Engagement levels rose – to the point where customers made friends with other customers.

As with any community, moderation was a challenge. They help set expectations with a Welcome Bot named Winston who greets new members and tells them the basics: how to submit feedback and ticket requests, and how to reach ProdPad members, as well as reminding them to be kind. I love the use of automation here!

There are so many good ideas in in this video for how to set up and use your Slack product community. It’s definitely worth the watch.

If you’re considering using Slack for customer support, Robbie Mitchell wrote a comprehensive Playbook for Working with B2B Customers in Slack that I recommend.


This article was originally sent as an e-mail as part of my newsletter, Sunday Brunch with Nichole: A Weekly Missive on Community Growth

If you’d like to receive emails like this one, sign up for my newsletter:

Community, Human-to-Human (H2H), SaaS

#ForgetTheFunnel: [Slide Deck + Video]: Boost your SaaS product with a community that grows itself

From Claire & Gia:

“If anyone could be considered a community-building expert, it’s definitely our friend Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré. Not only has she played an instrumental part in growing the famed Inbound.org, GrowthHackers.com, and Product Hunt communities…she also now maintains several of her own thriving Slack and Facebook communities for SaaS marketers and founders. As members of some of Nichole’s online communities ourselves, we can attest: they’re the most positive, engaged, and fast-growing online spaces for SaaS folks to hang out, learn from each other, and form new friendships. If you’ve considered starting a community as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll 100% want to hear Nichole’s process:”

Watch the 30 minute workshop

I teach SaaS founders how to build, engage, and grow communities around their products. I am happy to help you with your community, too, just send me an email at nikki.elizabeth [at] gmail if you are interested in potentially working with me.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Diversity, Human-to-Human (H2H), Inclusion, Marginalization, Women in Tech

20 Women’s Stories on How They Learned to Set Boundaries

I didn’t realize until my late 20s that boundaries were a “thing” you could set. That you could tell someone “no.” Then it took several more years for me to actually start doing it, and only because I was forced to as a result of people hurting me and losing my trust — not because I’d finally gained the ability to set healthy boundaries all by myself.

But we all have our teachers, and those were mine.

Now, in my mid-30s, I can honestly say that I set boundaries.

But I still feel guilty about it.

Someone recently asked me for advice in working with one of their clients, and probably for the first time ever — I declined.

I honestly didn’t have the time. I’ve barely kept up with my own clients in recent months. As much as I love helping people — it’s who I am — I’ve come to a place in my personal and professional life of max capacity. For my own mental, emotional, and entrepreneurial health, I have to say no to things I’d otherwise do without a second thought.

I did feel bad about declining. But I also got over it. And I found that it’s less stressful to say “no” than to sign up to do one more thing on an already toppling list.

As a woman, especially, I think many of us have been socialized to say “yes” and be “nice” and “volunteer to help” when we don’t feel like it. Unless we have a really good excuse, like a broken limb or a fever above 103. That’s how I feel, anyway.

And it shouldn’t have to come to that! Someday, I hope to say “no” without guilt, just because I’d rather spend my day taking pictures of flowers and trees, or scrunching my toes in beach sand.

Today, I’d like to have an honest, open discussion about being a woman and setting boundaries. I asked 20 women to tell me their thoughts on boundary setting. Maybe you’ll find some tips you can use. Maybe you’ll just find camaraderie (because none of us are boundary-setting experts).

And hopefully you will find a bit more strength — because after reading what these women have written to me, I know I have.


Tia Fomenoff, People & Culture at Thinkific

When did you realize that you can set boundaries?
still struggle sometimes with setting boundaries as it’s in my nature to want to help everyone! I have definitely been getting better about this just over the last couple of years — after nearing burnout many times I had to make decisions to not always say yes, and be okay with that. I can’t say I regret any of the times I’ve had to say no so far!

How do you set boundaries in your personal and/or professional life?
I don’t so much worry about this in my personal life — I find it’s easier for me to decide what’s important or not. If I’m ever put in an uncomfortable situation, whether at work or personally, I make sure to be direct, but kind and understanding, as early as I can now. When I was younger, I would often let comments or issues that bothered me slide off to the side instead of deal with them head on, because I felt that was easier. I know now that’s not true — that addressing your concerns quickly helps you avoid the negative snowball effect that can crop up because of unclear communication.


Val Geisler, Systems Strategist for Freelancers

I’m still learning to set boundaries and I find they get tighter the more I practice them. Running a business, being a mom, working online… all of these things required me to set boundaries.

However, I only actually set boundaries when I decided that my personal happiness and wellbeing was the main driver of all of those activities. If I can’t show up as my best self, I’m letting everything drop.

When I set boundaries I’m happier. I’m taking care of myself and, by extension, everyone around me.


Joanna Wiebe, Author, Copywriter, Creator of CopyHackers& Co-Founder & Head of Growth at AirStory

Actually my first reaction to your question was a chuckle — not sure I’ve learned to set boundaries or even realized they’re mine to set. I feel the need to justify my boundaries. As if others have more say over what I do than I have. Setting boundaries means saying no, and I still struggle with that in a major way. So I’m not sure I’ve arrived at a place where I know I can set boundaries. I need to work on that.


Kaleigh Moore, Copywriter

For me, setting boundaries is an ongoing process that I’m still working on. I have a lot of room for improvement.

In my personal and professional life, many of my boundaries are around my time. I’ve become much more protective of how I spend/invest my time — and with whom — so that I’m only doing things that I truly see value in. Often, that means saying no to opportunities, putting hard lines around my availability, and being less of a “yes” person in general. The power of no is incredible for establishing boundaries, and saying it more often has helped me become happier, healthier, and more sane.


Shayla Price, B2B Marketer

I set professional boundaries by stating and reiterating my expectations. In the work environment, it’s important to stay consistent in your actions. Someone will always test your boundaries. So, don’t waver to please others.


Crystal J. Allen, CTO of HausCall, Multicultural Media Wizard

As the CTO of HausCall, it was really important for me to create boundaries for my own sanity. Before I had a team of engineers, it was not uncommon for me to work around the clock on our product. In some ways, that can obviously be good for production — but as a manager, this can easily be a terrible habit to create. When I hired my team and realized how responsible I was for their career growth during their tenure with our company, I felt comfortable establishing healthy boundaries for their success and mine.

Using messaging tools such as Slack allows me to still stay on top of things without work requests, questions and concerns coming directly to my text inbox all the time. The ‘do not disturb’ has also had its fair share of value here!


Emma Siemasko, Founder of Stories by Emma, co-host with Kaleigh Moore of Ask Content Gals

I am REALLY anal and crazy about boundaries, in my personal life and in my business life. I realized I could set boundaries about a year and a half into running my own business (late 20s). I was super burnt out, THOUGHT that I maintained solid boundaries, but kept feeling bulldozed by clients. I just wasn’t very good or deliberate at managing my relationships.

One of the things I did was start creating processes that all clients had to follow. For example, I won’t work with a client unless they schedule a 15 minute call with me first. It seems small, but unless I get the client on the phone, I won’t know if they’re a good fit or if the project is a good fit. It’s also a quick compliance check– if they can’t follow my process at the very beginning, I probably don’t want to work with them. One of the other things I did was only take client meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and never after 4:30 pm. This means that I have “meeting” days but that Monday and Friday are reserved for quite working, or working no my own business.


Kristen Hillery, Editor of the InVision blog

Here I am in my early 30s, and I didn’t realize I could set boundaries until pretty recently. I’ve always equated being a good friend, teammate, and family member with doing whatever anyone asks of me. If someone needs help, you help. If someone’s having a get-together and invites you, you’d better be there. Saying no is rude, so never, ever say no. I think this is a common thing we teach little girls — always be polite and take care of everyone else before you take care of yourself.

The thing about that is that, eventually, you run out of energy. I realized this when I barely made it through the day without falling asleep, because I’d taken my neighbor to the airport at 4am that morning.

She’d texted me the night before: “Hey. Can you give me a ride to the airport tomorrow? At 4am?” Three grimacing emojis.

I said yes, of course, and I showed up at 4am on the dot with my trunk popped. She got in my car and said, “Wow! I can’t believe you actually said yes. My husband is mad at me for asking you because he thought it was really rude. But I told him you said yes!”

I couldn’t stop thinking about that the whole way back home. Why did I say yes? Well, because I thought I couldn’t say no. It was that simple.

The fact that even the askerwas surprised I said yes made me think pretty deeply about my personal boundaries and that they were basically non-existent.

Would saying no to someone result in something terrible happening?

Would it make someone swear me off as a friend? Of course not.

Others say no all the time, and it’s fine. I gave myself “permission” to say no to things I don’t want to do — things that won’t bring me joy or things that just don’t interest me.

It was honestly very difficult to start doing this, but I quickly realized that it meant I had more time and energy to spend doing things I loved. It’s so cliche, but life is just too short to waste your time doing things for the sake of doing things.


Sarah E. Brown, Director of Marketing, Service Rocket

I realized that work boundaries were important in my mid-twenties when I began doing consulting. Learning how to set healthy boundaries with clients and boundaries with others in my life in order to maintain balance as a sole proprietor was incredibly valuable.

In my personal and professional lives, I try to live by the rule of “full body yes,” which my friend Sue Heilbronner turned me on to. The idea is that if something doesn’t feel right on a cellular level, I don’t say yes to it. It’s kept me from some nice-seeming opportunities that I know weren’t right for me (perhaps at that time). It’s an ongoing practice.


Amy E. Dixon, Press Release Queen

I started setting boundaries when I realized I tend to be more loyal to my companies than they ever were to me. I’d been taken for granted and/or taken advantage of, and then tossed aside. I don’t know if I aged out of sucking it up, or stopped being afraid of owning my wellbeing.


Lauren Van Mullem, Copywriter for Coaches

I used to work late into the night and during weekends — and I’d say the most success I’ve had with setting boundaries is to stop doing that. But I’m not great at setting them across the board. I want to help everyone, as much as I can, as much as they’ll let me. For me, the #1 cardinal sin is selfishness, and generosity of spirit is the ultimate good. Recently though, a relative stranger asked me for help, and I gave her all the help I could, even though I didn’t really know her. That opened the floodgates to her asking me to do more and more things for her, and there was no reciprocation. This is not my first rodeo with a narcissist (I’ve been burned before — over-givers attract them like ants to a picnic!), so this time, I recognized the signs early on. And I shut off the giving. Funny thing — as soon as I set ONE boundary with her, she disappeared. Boundaries are magical things!


Whitney Antwine, Digital Marketing Coach & Keynote Speaker

Setting boundaries is a direct reflection of your self-respect; and for me, that came right around the time I turned 30. I made a conscious decision to work 8-hours a day, not keep work email on my phone, and commit to taking a lunch break every day. I still can’t help that feeling of guilt when taking care of myself over my business, but I understand its importance on my well-being. When I’m taken care of, I’m able to focus productive energy on my work.


Natalie Smithson, Digital Innovation Copywriter

I realized I had to set boundaries when children came along. I was fiercely protective over theirboundaries, and it took me a while to recognize I could do the same for myself. I put boundaries in place for my business, which in turn protected me and showed me how effective it is to use them. Now I’ll put up a boundary quicker than you can say ‘Could you just… ?’ and “No” rolls off the tongue with no effort at all.


Holly Wolf, Director of Customer Engagement, Solo Laboratories

I started setting boundaries when I realized that what I gave wasn’t reciprocated on any level. I used to put in long hours, attend events, go the extra mile, but when I asked to leave 30 minutes early, it was a big problem.


Caroline Zeichner, SEO Specialist at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

Don’t set yourself on fire to keep somebody else warm! If you’re negatively impacting your own well-being for the benefit of others, you’re just hurting yourself in the long run.


Coral Wulff, Onboarding Specialist at Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

Beauty does not equal weakness and kindness does not equal naïveté. I give people the benefit of the doubt that they will be respectful, but the first time a line is crossed, there needs to be action/conversation on my end to ensure where the line lays.


Marijana Kay, Freelance Writer and Content Strategist

I don’t think I realized the importance of setting boundaries until I burnt out at a full-time job and realized I wanted to work for myself. Months after making that transition into running my own small business, my work life and personal life were spilling into each other. I had to draw a line to stop looking at emails at night and not let non-urgent personal matters creep into my working hours. I’m easily distracted, and that cycle was taking up all of my energy. Over time, I’ve gained the ability to block off time for work and put my phone and laptop down when it’s time to focus on my husband, family, friends and hobbies. It’s still a struggle, but I’m getting there.


Tracy Oswald, Leads with Love, Big Change Coach, Keynote Speaker

For me it’s about not rearranging my priorities to respond to everyone else’s “emergencies”. A lot of the time all we have to do is say “No.”. No further explanation is needed.


Alaura Weaver, Content & Story Editor for Inflectionpointradio.org, Copywriter

Your question got me thinking about how my lack of boundaries led me to getting sick with pneumonia and how our limitations are opportunities to create space in our lives. It took a physical and mental collapse to finally give myself permission to stop feeling like I wasn’t trying hard enough. It shouldn’t have to be that way.


Stefanie Grieser, Global Markets, Partnerships & Events at Unbounce

There’s this quote from Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self Esteem:

“People with high self-esteem have strong personal boundaries. And practicing strong personal boundaries is one way to build self-esteem.”

I think to set boundaries you have to know yourself really well and be confident in who you are. Sometimes you only really figure out who you are in your late 20s. I saw Michelle Obama speak and I forget exactly what she said, but she talked about the significance of being true to yourself and how that happens later in life.

I most recently went through an exercise of writing down my core values — which are: integrity, curiosity, adventure, passion and perseverance. I know that if something doesn’t align with those values, my boundaries are being pushed.


Thank you to all the women who gave their unvarnished stories of struggles and successes in boundary-setting.

How are you at setting boundaries? When was the first time you discovered that you could? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!


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Customer Experience, Human-to-Human (H2H), SaaS

Soft Skills are Real Skills – In CX, You Need These 10

“Soft skills” have traditionally been undervalued, and that’s slow to change. But more companies are realizing their worth. And even if the skills themselves are difficult to quantify (how much more likeable is Job Applicant A than Job Applicant B?), their effects aren’t.

The soft skills CX professionals possess directly affect metrics like:

  • Net promoter scores
  • Customer satisfaction scores
  • Customer effort scores
  • Qualitative survey feedback on customer support interactions
  • Qualitative data gleaned from online customer reviews
  • Number of referrals and recommendations

Human-to-human interactions can make or break those scores, generate referrals or cancellations, and either fuel word-of-mouth growth or silence it.

But before you break out your old copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (a classic for a reason), I’d like to talk about why I’m reading more articles now on “soft skills” as they apply to customer service, customer success, and customer experience.

Because we need them more now than ever.

“So let’s uncomfortably call them real skills instead. Real because they work, because they’re at the heart of what we need to today. Real because even if you’ve got the vocational skills, you’re no help to us without these human skills, the things that we can’t write down, or program a computer to do.” – Seth Godin

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