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On this lab, you find content about personal and professional growth. Life sometime is hard, but it don’t have to be. If you are into learning, productivity, health, finances, and entrepreneurship, let’s connect and grow together.

Life is journey, not a destination.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

How to appeal to the right audience through the persona?

Being assertive is one of the bigger challenges for writers and content creators. Far from lacking skills and talents, the problem is that, at the beginning of our entrepreneur journey, we are not clear about the kind of person we want to reach. In other words, we don’t have a clear idea about who our persona is. Let alone understand what are the pains and dreams the persona has. So that we can guide the persona to transform their reality with the best solution. 

When we start our business, it is OK to feel lost about our audience’s needs. But as we grow our platforms, we need to get more and more certainty about the people we want to connect with. 

To do so, we need to acknowledge a universal principle Oprah Winfrey learned from more than 30 thousand interviews. After each conversation on her talk show, she noticed a pattern behind the scene. All her interviewees asked her some version of the same question: How I was? Did I perform well? And the lesson she learned from observing common concern over and over again is that:  

“Everybody just wants to be heard”.

Oprah Winfrey

At the end of the day, all of us humans seek validation. As Oprah explains, we want to know if we are being seen, heard and if what we have to say matters. Having this universal principle in mind is key to defining well our persona

Interestingly, the technique to understand the person you want to connect with through your content is the very same used for Oprah Winfrey. Talking to the people connecting to you through your platform, free from judgment, with an open mind and heart. Of course, the greatest way to do so is by listening to people personally. Since most of our connections are from the waves of the World Wide Web, there are some strategies to work around and make this listening happen remotely. But don’t forget the goal is to understand more about their needs and aspirations. 

1) Do scrutiny on the online interactions with your audience

Once it is not possible to reach out to people in person, you can interact with them on your online platforms. Go to where you expose your content (blog posts, Youtube channel, Instagram, or other social media) and collect comments or feedback from them. 

2) Research your clients and customers

If you are more advanced in providing services or selling info products to your audience, you can actively research them with a brief survey. 

3) Analyze the data and came to some conclusions

Try to find patterns related to the main complaints (or problems) the audience has and what are the dreams and aspirations (solutions). Also, pay attention to how you think about your content and work.

If you do so and use the data created to guide you, the outcomes will be remarkable. You will be able to:

  1. Create the better solution to the right person;
  2. Appeal to the right person to your content and thus grow your audience;
  3. Build clients and customers portfolio that resonate with you and your work.

What the h*** is the persona and why does it matter for our content?

The persona has been at the center of entrepreneurs’ public debate. But as content creators, we sometimes underestimate the importance of that concept to reach our goals. The reason for that might be a lack of clarity of what it is and the advantages of using the persona to customize our content. Let’s briefly introduce ideas that will hopefully start to address these issues.

According to Wiktionary, the persona is a word borrowed from Latin persõna. It’s worthwhile for us creators to figure out its etymology. Persona stands for “the appearance one presents to the world”, a “social role” or a” character played by the actor”. Marketing and user experience areas currently grab a little of each of these ideas to state what it is. In this sense, the persona is “ an imaginary person representing a particular type of client or customer, considered when designing products and services that will appeal to them”. 

I underlined the quote above to call attention to the trickiest part of this concept. Many professionals struggle because they buy into this theoretical approach of persona. Thus they don’t go to meet real people to validate those ideas empirically. The result is content, products, or services that don’t resonate with anybody. In the end, what they create in their mind is far from the real person they should deeply understand and serve. 

As simple as it can seem, the persona is the average person with whom we are speaking.

Jess Labs

The more we know them, the better we’ll be able to touch their heart and mind. Indeed, the main benefit of the persona is to make crystal clear how to customize the products, services, and also content to fit into the person’s needs and aspirations. 

Tomorrow, let’s continue to reflect on the persona and practical ways to hone into their specificities by simply listening. This understanding will leverage our impact.

Serenity from focus on what we can control

I am in love with ancient wisdom that has changed the way I manage my energy. So much so that I wrote it on my handmade whiteboard to see it as often as possible.

This prayer is attributed to the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, though stoics were preaching this idea two thousand years before. Reflection and practices inspired by these words are so powerful that they became popularized for helping people to overcome alcohol addiction on the A.A. program. 

But the value of the prayer is not applicable just when we face extreme issues. This wisdom can shift our perspective and contribute immensely to our day-to-day wellness. Think about how much energy we waste worrying about stuff totally out of our control. Wouldn’t it be much more useful to use our limited time to move the needle forward to what matters the most in our lives? 

Paying attention to what is in our circle of influence and what is out of it is key to those on a self-awareness path. It comes from the understanding that things are what they are and the only thing we can act upon is our reaction to it. In other words, we learn to acknowledge that facts cannot bother us. What makes us upset is the beliefs we hold about the facts. And to become mature adults we need to train our minds to distinguish these two possibilities. Once we can differentiate what is changeable and what is not, we may laser focus our energy on what we can control. Furthermore, we become much more productive and effective people. 

The great news is that it’s easy to put this prayer to use. We can start by just paying attention to the situations in your life, categorizing it, and acting according to this summary table:

FACTSBELIEFS
Do you have control?NoYes
MindsetAccept it, without losing energy with worries and complaintsFocus your energy
What to do about it?Figure out ways to deal better with this realityWork on it

If you want to give it a try, please let me know how it affects your serenity and happiness.

Where am I in the 10th GDT moves?

Today I’ll share with you my reflection about how I am doing with my GDT implementation. I started to read The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and Brandon Hall in September 2021. I am so committed to organizing my life and work that I am even tracking it on my whiteboard, as recommended in the book:

Reproduction of the GDT Progress Tracker from the book mentioned before

As you can see, I am stuck on the second fundamental – Clarity – related to the fourth and fifth moves – Get your in-tray to empty and Get your emails to zero

Giving you some context, there are a lot of things going on both in my personal and professional life. And the deadlines are very tight. Both of them had raised the need to adapt my routine. These changes are definitely influencing my execution of GDT. 

Here you have my assessment of the up and downs of my GDT journey so far:

Hights

1 Capture – I am already familiar with the habit of putting down on paper on my digital tool every new demand. It is helping free my mind to be more creative.

2 Choose my capture tools and set them – I also find useful and simple digital tools to include and manage my current projects.

Intermediates

3 Do a mind sweep – I have taken some time to write every single thing that got my attention at the moment. I used the lists suggestions in the book as triggers. It was great to see the volume of my commitments at the moment. However, I feel anxious because I feel like there are a lot of important actions stuck in my capture tools that I am not addressing. 

5 Get your email to zero

I need to confess that my email inbox was a total mess before the GDT method and the hand my husband gave me. He helped me to optimize my time by creating some filters to get rid of junk email. I had over two thousand emails in my Inbox. And the reason is that I used my email as a disorganized storage tool. I hardly ever use the Delete button on my emails. In my mind, I could need that information later. But I learned that to bring new things we aspire for our lives, we need to create space for them. And we just make it if we let go of useless stuff that no longer has meaning for us anymore.

Even though I have already gotten rid of more than 95% of my old storage emails, I am still anxious to get it to zero.

Lows

4 Get your intray to empty

The most challenging part for me has been creating the habit of regularly processing all the entries of my system. Although the workflow to make these clarity moves happen is simple to follow, this step requires a lot of decision-making.

Reproduction of the GDT Clarify Workflow from the book mentioned before

Maybe this lot of mental effort is what is holding me back and making me procrastinate to conclude this task.

My still full in-tray

My goal is to have all my GDT Systems working decently well by December 31st, 2021. In order to do so, I’ll have to put in place the action plan below:

  • Block 16 hours (two days) to get over the moves 4 and 5 once and for all.
  • Schedule more 16 hours to gradually execute the movies 7 to 10 up to the end of 2021.

Craft the superpower of the century

Did you know that the usual lifespan of technical skills is around 18 months? The pace of life is faster than ever. As a result, adaptability became a survival faculty to navigate this cutting-edge technological era. In fact, lifelong learning has become the lifestyle of those who are thriving despite the challenges of the contemporary world.

When I came across the following quote, it just blew my mind. It was a wake-up call to me:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Alvin Toffle

It made me feel uneasy. I started wondering whether I am part of the illiterate group of the century or not. Or better, to what degree am I illiterate when it comes to those three core abilities? I invite you to sleep on these questions too. And if you identify many rooms for improvement like me, don’t worry! 

The great news is that we live in the best moment in history to teach ourselves whatever we want.

Jess Labs

Let’s dive into these three pillars for building up knowledge and skill.

Learn

As stated in Cambridge Dictionary, learning is “to get knowledge or understanding of facts or ideas or of how to do things”. We are more acquainted with this ability since we have practiced it since the earliest stages of our lives. Research backs up that babies can learn in the womb from 30 weeks of gestational age. When we learn, our brain forms new connections and neurons. Besides, existing neural pathways get stronger or weaker. 

Unlearn

The definition is “to make an effort to forget your usual way of doing something so that you can learn a new and sometimes better way”, as reported by the same dictionary. This second faculty is a little more challenging for us. Neuroscience studies usually cover this in terms of limiting beliefs and negative behaviors of individuals. It takes some extra effort to unlearn because it is difficult for us to let go of what we consider facts. It has to do with unconscientious assumptions, beliefs, patterns we wear. It is evident, for instance, when we start to learn a new language. To be successful, we need to unlearn sounds, structures, and rhythm we’re used to welcoming the new ones. Indeed, unlearning can completely shift a person’s perspective. 

Relearn

Interestingly, this word isn’t included in the Cambridge Dictionary yet. This lack of definition speaks volumes about our still-developing ability to relearn as a society. We are constantly facing issues related to fixed ideas we hold in groups or as individuals and we are not willing to reframe. But the world is hungry for curious minds, people open-minded, able to wear opinions lightly, and humble enough to detach from old behaviors and ideas no longer helpful. When we relearn, our brain redesigns the paths of the neuronal connections, discovering new vias not explored before. It can be even more effective and stronger than the previous connections. 

Of course, the advantages of adopting this learn, unlearn and relearn cycle are countless for us. We gain the superpower of adaptability, which is an asset recognized by the ever-changing market. Gaining adjacent knowledge can generate new opportunities for partnership and work, helping us to experiment with other positions and ways of work. Not to mention that we can get a lot of fun while going through this evolving journey.

Do you like this topic? Please, tell me practical ways you learn, unlearn and relearn in the comments. I would love to learn from you.

Watch your personal movie and rewrite your script (part 2)

We started to think about how reflection can leverage our work and life. Sometimes we have a great vision, a sense of purpose, and the principles to guide us. And we are totally able to nail it all. However, there is a missing piece to make our dreams a reality. The puzzle may be solved if we stick to one single habit: stepping back constantly to assess whether our day-to-day actions are heading in the intended direction.

Yesterday we saw two different points for this habit of chewing on our living and correcting our GPS direction to the right route. While Stephen Covey compares it with the act of “Sharpen the Saw”, Brendon Burchard prescribes “Seek Clarity”. Both agree that this habit will enhance your performance, effectiveness, and leverage your impact. 

Today, we will discuss based on David Allen’s viewpoint. Like the previous authors, he emphasizes the value of distancing ourselves from the day-to-day chores to gain some perspective and coherence.  

“Reflect”

This is the fourth practical step of his well-known method of Getting Things Done (GDT):  

  1. Capture
  2. Clarify
  3. Organize
  4. Reflect
  5. Engage

According to David Allen, reflecting is key to optimizing your productivity system. It is when you can scan the whole horizon of our commitments. Because it is easy to get caught in the hamster wheel and forget about the long haul meaning of what we do. So David Allen dissects the many layers of our life we should constantly ruminate: 

  • 5) Purpose and principles: meaning
  • 4) Vision: work and lifestyle
  • 3) Goals and objectives: short and long-term
  • 2 ) Areas of focus: our roles and responsibilities
  • 1) Projects: things to get done
  • Ground level: actions

David explains that the clearer you are about those different levels, the more comfortable you are to make decisions about priorities. Being aware of each one of these zones is critical to making trusting choices on what to do. More than that, it helps us to feel comfortable with what we decide not to do. It puts us in control because we can actively decide about your next moves aligned with the higher levels of our commitment. Additionally, this prepares us to focus our attention later and not be distracted when it is time to act. 

Of course, the way we implement the reflecting step constantly in these many levels varies. For instance, the GDT method instructs weekly reviews to look at all the projects we committed. Knowing all the content of our lists of actions in advance, in light of the other levels, make your decision-making lighter and free us to be more spontaneous on how to execute our priorities. 

I have already told you I am implementing GTD as a tool to organize and simplify my life. So far, I am a fan of this method since I feel much more relieved and in control of my stuff. This Reflect move, especially, has helped me to locate myself in space and in time. Even though I still have tons to learn, it has given me more confidence to do less with boundaries and accomplish more. Fulfillment, peace of mind, and coherence have been side effects of this mindful journey. I highly recommend taking time to watch yourself and amend your script. I believe this self-awareness increase will overflow on the quality of your content creation.

Watch your personal movie and rewrite your script (part 1)

Reflecting regularly on the big picture of our lives is a game-changer activity. And it definitely influences our outcomes on writing and content creation. 

Many of us just go through the motions, without a moment of careful thought about what we are doing with our time on this earth. At the first sight, it seems waste of time, but the truth is that it is a great investment in your success and wellness. And the reason is that it helps you understand whether all the effort you are doing pays off or not. 

Distancing ourselves to observe our behavior from a different angle is so powerful. It allows us to work from a creator perspective to adjust the script of the “movie” of our life along the way. 

This simple but empowering lesson was reinforced by many different bestseller authors I came across in my journey. It is helping me to smoothly navigate the ups and downs of life as a longsighted person.

“Sharpen the saw” 

In his book, Stephen Covey introduces it as a crucial habit cultivated for highly effective people. The metaphor came from the acknowledgment that sharpening the saw is essential to cut wood efficiently. Although improving your tool takes time, it saves you a lot more later since speeds up our work. It also decreases the effort you need to put in to achieve the same result. In this sense, the author advises everyone to keep regular, consistent, balanced, and wise renewals. The way to go is to exercise the four dimensions of human beings: physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional. It requires taking alone time to carefully “watch your own move”, criticize it and take some lessons to improve your path.

“Seek Clarity”

The author Brendon Burchard frames this as a habit that makes high-performance people stand out from their peers. According to him, the habit of seeking clarity has to do with how people align their current actions with their envisioned future. This contributes to the long haul engagement, growth, and fulfillment of high performers. The great part is that research backs up an increase of overall high performance when one has more clarity on these points:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • How to get there? 
  • What do I find meaningful and fulfilling?

And again, to reach a vision, you need to stop to watch your personal movie today and envision your tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will see more evidence that it is worth creating the habit of reflecting. We will see David Allen’s take on this topic. 

A handy approach to never lack ideas (part 2)

The last post covered two notions that had been shaping my creator mindset to help me go ahead. Today, we will keep going with the discoveries I found useful along my way. Hopefully, it will give you some insights too. 

A fast recap of the previous thoughts:

1 ) Guide on the side, not a guru

Knowing I don’t have to pretend I have it all under my control alleviates the weights on my shoulders. Being OK with my current level of knowledge makes me more relaxed, confident, and motivated to keep experimenting.

2) Document, don’t create

This concept of sharing your way publicly is so liberating because it simplifies the creation process. It frees me from the illusion (that got me stuck for a long time) that you need a Eureka moment, and shout out  “Aha” (what hardly ever happens) to inspire you to produce great content. It shifts the focus from quality to quantity. This is particularly useful for newbies since it stimulates them to keep working, relying on the compound effect of consistent practice to build up skills.

Now we are ready to move forward:

3 ) Steal like an artist

Honesty hooked me when I heard this approach. I admire the courage of Austin Kleo to put down in clear words what is part of the creative process, even though artists may deny it. His wise and bold opinion comes from the acknowledgment that “you are a mash-up of what you let into your life”. It is a wake-up call for us creators to take care of our information diet, as framed by Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet: A case for conscious consumption. In a nutshell, the content you consume matters for your creative results and we should be mindful of it. So, all the originality we claim for our content is, in part, the fruit of influences we may or may not acknowledge. For me, there is no point in pretending we create something totally new as if we had reinvented the wheel. It is not a shame to give credit to our references. Instead, it shows how curious, passionate, and interested we are about certain topics.

4) Make an idea sex

I found this metaphor simple genius. According to Anne-Laure Le Cunf, idea sex “is the process through which ideas “mate” to produce new ideas”. For her, approaching our creative process with idea sex instead of inspiration is a healthy way to make the most out of our minds. The reason is that idea sex is an active process, more predictable, and less stressful, whereas inspiration is passive, unstable, and nerve-racking. This combinational creativity approach taught by Matt Ridley is a useful way to program your creativity. If you let your ideas “in the same room, having sex with each other”, you can create a sustainable system to combine different ideas together. Then you observe whether something interesting comes up from your experimentation. Just like I am doing in this post. By adopting these tips, you will be able to create new ideas on demand, mindfully, without forcing yourself to stare at a blank page till a muse visits you. 

The great news is that creativity is not a trait a person was born with. Instead, it is a skill that can be developed by cultivating some habits and breaking some limiting beliefs as we saw from the four frames to generate ideas:

  1. Consider yourself a learner;
  2. Not overthinking what to talk about. Pick what makes you excited and do it;
  3. Acknowledging we model the references around us. Don’t be concerned about being original;
  4. Experimenting put together information that, at the first sight, doesn’t match well.

The more action you put into content creation, the better you will get to generate ideas. So, let’s keep up the good work of exercising our brain with serenity to make it sustainable.

“The good news is: originality is overrated. Instead, combinational creativity is the way to go.”

Anne-Laure Le Cunff

A handy approach to never lack ideas (part 1)

Writing blocks is a common issue faced by creators. Any human can undergo the blank page syndrome. I started my content creation journey challenging myself to put my work out there. I am committed to prioritising progress over perfection because my work ethic aligns with the thinking that consistency leads to outcomes. I decided it was time to stop with excuses and try out new methods. Thus I would aspire to new outcomes. Let’s break into pieces some frames that influence my work here at Jess Labs.

1) Guide on the side, not a guru

My approach to writing or to creating content (I am willing to use multiple platforms to share my deeds) is more a “guide on the side, rather than a guru”. I first heard this expression from the incredible Marie Forleo. What she means is that she does not have all the answers. But she does have valuable experience and can share the shortcuts learned with people who are just starting the same path (in her case, beginning a business). It touched me. After all, everyone has something to teach. And all of us must start from some point, isn’t that true? Then we can evolve step-by-step.

2) Document, don’t create

Getting to know this idea was a breakthrough I needed to get started. The core preached by Gary Vaynerchuk is that you don’t need to prepare perfect content to spread your messages. Instead, your journey might be itself valuable content to others who want to follow a similar path. As a wonderful side effect, you add blocks to build your personal brand wall as you go. The more you put out in the world, the bigger your creation empire becomes. Between countless advantages, it favors the serendipity effect, which can increase your opportunities to connect with like-minded people or get a job offer.

Tomorrow I will keep going with this post. To conclude this first part, I let you with an inspirational invitation to get your creative juice flowing:

“The key to content success is you gotta start documenting, instead of creating. Let me tell you how. Just start!”

Gary Vaynerchuk

3 reasons why our writing useful

If we deepen our thoughts about the challenges humankind still faces today, it is clear that many critical answers have not been found yet by our society. For instance, why on earth does the market still follow production standards established long ago, during the Industrial Revolution era, despite the environmental protection, the technology advances, and the wellness of workers?

1) To contribute to finding solutions to social problems

If we deepen our thoughts about the challenges humankind still faces today, it is clear that many critical answers have not been found yet by our society. For instance, why on earth does the market still follow production standards established long ago, during the Industrial Revolution era, despite the environmental protection, the technology advances, and the wellness of workers?

2) To democratize content that otherwise wouldn’t reach the right people

Additionally, there are messages out there that are still very complex. Writers develop the ability to transform complex ideas into simple ones. This didactic process of clarifying the content that otherwise would be misunderstood. The scientific field is full of cases to back up this plea. The coronavirus spread of fake news, for instance, displays how urgent it is to educate society on topics such as health.

3) To make messages effective and actionable

On top of that, humans are fans of other humans they relate with. To get our attention, a person has to build a rapport with us. That is when our unique identity comes into play. Behavioral science backs up that, sometimes, the messenger is more important than the message itself. When Obama was working at the White House, his team has used this knowledge to adjust many public policies to raise the adhesion of the target public.


To wrap up, I see a contemporary paradox for us writers. Despite the overload of information, there is plenty of not solved problems that regular citizens like us may give a hand to find a better solution. Writing is a way to polish our thinking process. And the unprecedented opportunities open by the Internet can turn our writing into a means of social change.