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I’ve seen far too many of you endure unsatisfying client relationships or stay small in your business because you’re not quite sure how to address certain “sticky” situations in a way that feels safe, confident and kind. You worry that if you’re honest or direct you may disappoint or offend your client.

As entrepreneurs, our reputation is everything so the last thing we want to do is offend our client or damage our reputation in any way. Clear, assertive communication is an important element in any successful business, but how do we balance the needs of our clients with our own needs and goals?

How do we stay true to ourselves and also honour the relationships we care about?

How do we approach sensitive topics with kindness AND assertiveness?

How do we achieve a win-win outcome when we’re seeing things completely differently from our client or colleague?

We’re ready to show you how you can confidently and kindly answer these questions within your own business. That’s why we created this value-packed e-course.

This has been a love-filled collaborative project between myself and my dear friend and colleague Krista Smith, that was born out of our desire to share the tools and skills we’ve both been using successfully in our own business for years while supporting our clients.


The e-course begins on February 11th and runs for 7-days. One topic each day for 7-days, straight into your inbox. No Facebook forums. No hoops to jump through. Just good solid value from our business to yours.


Learn how to face the hard-to-have conversations in your business with honesty and grace.

In this FREE E-Course we’re sharing:

  • the 3 biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when dealing with difficult conversations
  • the 5 things you MUST do before your next difficult conversation
  • how to have a difficult conversation without power plays or show downs
  • how to deal with negative feedback from a client without feeling secretly crushed or broken-hearted
  • tips, scripts and best practices to keep communicating courageously


 Note: This E-Course begins Feb. 11th; you may already be subscribed if you previously opted-in to hear about the soon-to-be-released Communication Kit.

If you know someone who could benefit from this FREE e-course, please help us spread the word!

A few Tweets to make it easy:

New +FREE e-course for entrepreneurs: The Ultimate Guide to Difficult Conversations via @thekristasmith @jacmcneil Tweet this!

Learn how to have a difficult conversation without power plays or show downs. +FREE E-COURSE! via @jacmcneil Tweet this!

Honest-to-goodness problems AND answers for the way you want to show up in biz. FREE COURSE!!  via @jacmcneil Tweet this!

Learn how to have those difficult convos even when they catch you off guard. FREE E-COURSE! via @jacmcneil Tweet this!

Learn how to find a win-win outcome even when you and a colleague aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. FREE E-COURSE! via @jacmcneil Tweet this!




Welcome to In Her Element, a series that shines a spotlight on some of the remarkable women entrepreneurs I get to work with. The purpose of this series is to demystify what happens in a Thought Partnership or Brand Brilliance Experience, share inspirational success stories; and to highlight tips and teaching points that might help other women entrepreneurs as they walk along their own path.



Meet the Prince Edward Islander, Single Mama (by choice) and Coach Extraordinaire – Lisa Chandler!

Lisa’s coaching style has been compared to “a business suit with a silk blouse underneath.” This has less to do with how she actually dresses (t-shirt, yoga pants and sand between her toes when possible) than how she helps with all the things that need to be buttoned down in business (policies, processes, systems) and all the things that need to be woken up (big dreams about what’s possible, new product innovation, and how the work gets done).

I first met Lisa for coffee as she was passing through to lead a workshop. I was instantly attracted to her down-to-earth presence mixed with her laser sharp business mind. Such a wonderful combination. Lisa is the first female ENTJ (for you Myers Briggs aficionados!) that I have ever worked with and I loved how our partnership unfolded. She’s not only an experienced leadership coach, she also has a personal story that I find incredibly inspiring. She chose to have a child on her own and then, after years of working in fast-paced Montreal, she relocated herself and her sweet daughter, Lali, back to her home town in Prince Edward Island to be close to her family.

It has been an absolute delight to partner with Lisa and to be her sounding board and confidante as she reshaped her brand and brought a new website and service into the world. Most people know about beautiful Prince Edward Island because of Anne of Green Gables–well I’d say that Lisa Chandler is putting this sweet Island back on the map. Learn more about Lisa here.

This is Lisa:

1. What were your top goals when you stepped into your Thought Partnership with Jac?

I was singularly focussed on revamping my Chandler Coaches website which I had outgrown. Before hiring Jac as my Thought Partner, I had been going in circles on my own, struggling with my purpose and strategy for the site.



2. Whenever we bring an outsider into the tender secrets of our business it can feel really vulnerable. When you hired Jac, what were you most worried about?

When I think back, I would say it was the cost. As I coach myself, I truly believe in coaching but somehow when it came to coaching for my website, I paused as I was reluctant to spend $ on top of the web design and programming costs. Once I realized I would get web strategy with Jac, the investment felt worth it.

3. What impact did your work with Jac have in your business (and life)? 

Jac was the partner I needed when I was feeling like an isolated entrepreneur. We had the good fortune of sharing a coffee face to face in June of 2014 thanks to a coaching friend who introduced us. I had no intention of hiring a coach that day but as Jac sat across from me asking me some tough and caring questions, I realized she was the partner I was missing for my web work.

lisachandler4 (2)

4. What specifically did you achieve?

The end result is a great new site www.chandlercoaches.com! It represents me and my coaching business so well. It doesn’t look like what I originally had in mind and yet it reflects me so well. The site doesn’t feel like I am marketing myself in an uncomfortable way. Instead, it tells a concise story about who my ideal clients are, what they get when they coach with me and what I am about. It also makes it easy for my ideal people to figure out how to work with me.

Beyond the site, my thought partnership with Jac helped me be courageous about business development pursuits and helped me refine content for a few group coaching sessions I led.


5. You’ve done incredible things in the last few months, what’s been your proudest moment?

Completing my site was a proud moment BUT I am more delighted that I met a wonderful guy last fall. While it may not seem linked, I believe that feeling more settled and inspired in my business has helped me turn my attention to matters of the heart.


6. Based on what you learned about yourself in our time together, what’s had the most impact for you? What ideas or concepts do you find yourself wanting to teach or share with others?

For the longest time, I have worked with my own clients to help them identify their right clients and to become crystal clear about their own brand. My work with Jac hammered home for me how important this work is. I loved her methods and her energy. I also loved how Jac took a strong stand on issues that came up for me as this pushed me to process my thoughts to come up with better answers.

7. As our Thought Partnership comes to an end, what are the next challenges you’re facing in your business?

It’s been a few months since Jac and I wrapped up our coaching. As time passes, it is becoming more and more apparent that I would love to partner with others to create great programs versus working alone. I delight in my clients’ accomplishments and feel privileged to be brought in to their business worlds. I know that partnering with others would help me bring greater innovation and inspiration. One of my goals for 2015 is to be on the lookout for how I can create partnerships in my business.


8. What worked for you about Jac’s approach, style, expertise?

Jac is playful, spunky and fun. She can also be methodical, strategic and goal oriented. That ability to dance between fun and focus really worked for me.

9. What are your top tips for hiring a Thought Partner or Coach?

As a coach who has hired a number of coaches, my best advice is to be open to being coached and the coaching process. My second piece of advice is to trust your gut. If what you read about the coach feels like what you need at the time and you have a good connection when you first meet, dive in. It is up to you to make the investment worth it.



Lisa Chandler coaches established entrepreneurs & professionals (i.e. lawyers, accountants, consultants) in Atlantic Canada and all over North America. She helps them grow their businesses on their own terms: for freedom, financial rewards and meaning. Sometimes her clients need a sounding board, a champion to stretch them, or a confidante to talk through tough decisions. Other times, they need structure, skills and accountability around how to develop business. Lisa’s clients love how she dances between challenge and support to help them achieve strong business results. Find Lisa at her site or on LinkedIn.

Let’s Connect in the Comments

Many of us are struggling with making big decisions and managing competing priorities–kids, business–even moving. I think Lisa is such a wonderful example of how it is possible, and she shows us that when you really want something, challenges can be met and overcome. What struck you about Lisa’s story? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Tweets Made Easy

Meet the Business Coach putting Prince Edward Island back on the map! @ChandlerCoaches via @JacMcNeil. Tweet this!




I spend a lot of time helping women entrepreneurs navigate the turbulent waters of risk and vulnerability. Over-exposure to vulnerability often shows up as lethargy, burnout or dissonance–a general feeling of “meh”. When we trace the symptoms back to the source we tend to find a pattern of too much vulnerability and not enough respite in between.

Let’s be honest. It takes a lot of emotional energy to put yourself (and your art) out there day after day and the more sensitive you are to the noise and feedback from your outer world, the more you need to pay attention to your own internal rhythms and needs for stillness and calm. I believe in honouring our need for stillness and reflection so much that I even created this highly embraced Retreat Kit.

But what if you’ve been hiding out in stillness for a little too long? What happens when a week of solitude and reflection turns into months of inactivity? What do you do if the business you once loved suddenly feels … boring?

When ambition and purpose are your fuel it can feel damn right unsettling, even scary, to be floating through your business without it.

At least that’s how I’d describe it.

I’m emerging from an incredibly busy year. In 2014, I signed on so many 1:1 clients that I stopped making time to market my work. I went radio silent on my blog. I neglected my e-letter subscribers. I rarely showed up in social media. (Gawd, social media can be a real drainer sometimes.)

I became so insulated with an over-focus on my clients that I actually lost my ambition, my drive, my marketing mojo.

What you need to know is that I LOVE my clients. I am genuinely attached to who they are and I care deeply about their growth and happiness. But over time, my actual client work became the only thing I loved about my business.

I created an imbalance that left me with only enough energy and enthusiasm to focus on my clients. I became jaded when it came to anything marketing related. I recognize that in part, that had to do with helping my clients market their business which ultimately drained the creativity and excitement I had for my own.

Let’s just say that 2014 offered me a lot of “lessons learned”. Thank you, 2014.

Hello, 2015.

In December, I made it a priority to do some intentional soul searching. I called on my closest peers and confidantes and talked openly about my fears. I was looking for questions and answers. I wanted to know who else was feeling like this and what the hell they did to fix it.  At the heart of my gigantic feeling of “meh” around marketing and connecting online was a real need to stoke that fire that already lived within me. To re-connect with what I love about my own business. To be willing to slow down on the number of clients I work with so that I can create a more robust and balanced approach to running my own business.

Today, I’d love to share a few things I’ve done to intentionally stoke my own inner fire and breathe life and love back into my business. Each of these actions are renewing my own sense of excitement and possibility. I hope they help you too.

Here are 5 easy, effective and fun ideas to help you fall back in love with your business:

1. Do what’s fun even if it has nothing to do with your business.

I joined my all-time favourite sport: Muay Thai. It’s the real-deal kickboxing where you wear gloves and wraps and throw knees, elbows, punches and kicks. I met a new friend who I adore. I feel empowered, challenged and strong. My favourite compliment is when my partner tells me that my roundhouse kick is so strong it rattles her brain. Seriously, that stuff is fun to me.

Having fun outside my business has helped to lift the “meh”. It reminded me that life is about waaaaaay more than my business. I started seeing the parallels between the mindset of training in an intense sport and the mindset of an entrepreneur. I  remembered that at the heart of what I do is a belief that we are all strong, capable and full of personal power.


2. Keep talking about what you’re feeling without trying to shift it.

For months I would strike up conversations with clients, friends and peers around the topic of ambition. I stayed curious about what I was experiencing. I asked for other’s insights, experiences and perspectives and I observed my own behaviours and thought patterns.

I stayed more attached to naming what I was feeling rather than trying to shift it. I think giving myself permission to be in it rather than push out of it actually helped it run its course. In fact, the idea of “This too shall pass” rings true for me.

3. Don’t make it about you.

I decided that instead of focusing on how I could make myself fall back in love with marketing that I’d try the opposite. I thought, what if I got out of my own way by making this about my community and not about me? As soon as the idea of being generous crossed my mind I felt a spark of excitement. All I can say is follow the spark!

I created an easy way to give back to my e-letter subscribers by creating a simple “Ten-in-Ten” Draw. Once a week for ten weeks I’ll draw a name from the list of entries to either receive a free copy of my Digital Retreat Kit or a free 45 minute Vision & Strategy Session (in total, I’ll be giving away five of each item). The first draw happens this week. The response has been so heart-warming I may do something like this to kick-off every new year.

Not on my list? No problem. Sign-up and follow the entry directions in my next e-letter.


4. Get involved with a project or person who DOES have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for their biz.

I was invited to take part in the #Fearlessin15 Challenge which is a free offer and looks like a lot of fun. I loved their exuberance and professionalism in making the Ask and it seems like another fun way to re-engage with my work without having the pressure of it being my own program. This is an up and coming business that offers another perspective on building a thriving business as a woman. I plan to engage in their photo contest and soak up the excitement they have for their own project.

I don’t think we need to be fearless, but I do think we need to be brave and believe in ourselves.

Note – as part of my involvement in this free challenge I’m automatically given an affiliate link to their upcoming course Boss School for anyone who may want to check it out. I haven’t done their program so I can’t speak to it personally.


5. Follow the whacky out-of-the-box idea that just won’t leave your brain.

I’ve had an idea for months that has nothing directly to do with business coaching. In fact it’s a product idea. It’s too early for me to share any details. It feels like it needs some more protecting before I “out it” to the world. What I can say is that I have hired someone to research the product and I’m creating a plan to bring into the world. I promise that as soon as I have a solid idea of exactly what I’m doing I’ll be shouting it from the roof tops.

My point is that we can’t force ourselves to be excited about something we’ve done for a long time but we can follow the bread crumbs toward that new and whacky, out-of-the-box-idea that just won’t leave our brain (or our heart) alone.

Let’s Connect in the Comments!

Gosh, I really shared a lot here. I’d love to know who else has been feeling bored, unambitious or even falling out-of-love with their business. Let me know where you’re at and if any of my ideas resonate. I’d love to hear from you!

Tweets Made Easy:

What to do if you’re feeling bored, unambitious or even losing your passion for your business. via @jacmcneil Tweet this!

How to fall in love with your business again. via @jacmcneil Tweet this!


communication kit

My client said to me yesterday: “I think it’s me. I’m just too sensitive.”

She was seriously contemplating throwing in the towel. Too many sticky situations and unpleasant client relationships had taken their toll.

Have you ever wondered if this self-employment Thing just isn’t worth the emotional hassle?

Too many self-employed women endure unsatisfying client relationships or stay small in their business because they don’t know how to address certain situations without disappointing themselves or their clients. They struggle with how to communicate what they want because they worry they might offend someone or damage their reputation in some way.

Instead, they decide to suck it up and just get through it. They default  to martyrdom. And after a while, the resentment creeps in.

I don’t want you to suck it up and I definitely don’t want you opting out of self-employment because you think you’re too damn sensitive.

The problem isn’t your sensitivity. In fact, you’re the perfect amount of sensitive.

The problem is that your communication toolbox is missing a few important tools. It’s as simple as that.

That’s why we made THE COMMUNICATION KIT for you.

It’s a collaboration between me and the amazing Krista Smith and it was born out of our desire to bring to the forefront the skills we’ve been using successfully in our own businesses for years while supporting our clients.

But what is it exactly?

It’s a downloadable self-guided resource kit that includes six stand alone modules dedicated to the most common sticky situations we face in our business. We’ve included easy to follow frameworks, effective scripts, best practices, and practical applications for navigating those bumpy business relationships.

We think it’s the answer you’ve been waiting for. And it’s coming soon!

communication kitInterested in learning more? Please pop over to our Communication Kit Launch Page and leave your email. You’ll be the first to receive the details and special pricing.

Please Spread the Word

We’d LOVE for you to share this with your own tribe of supportive women entrepreneurs–heaven knows we could all use a hand addressing some of this icky stuff without getting derailed or depleted.

A few tweets to make it easy (and thank you!)

The problem isn’t your sensitivity. In fact, you’re the perfect amount of sensitive. via @JacMcNeil Tweet this!

How to get unstuck from sticky situations especially if you’re the sensitive type. via @JacMcNeil Tweet this!


Welcome to In Her Element, a series that shines a spotlight on some of the remarkable women entrepreneurs I get to work with. The purpose of this series is to demystify what happens in a Thought Partnership; share inspirational success stories; and to highlight tips and teaching points that might help other women entrepreneurs as they walk along their own path.


Meet the Alaskan Medevac Helicopter Pilot, Coach & TEDx Speaker: LORENA KNAPP!

Lorena is a medevac helicopter pilot and accountability coach. Helping people achieve their dreams has always been her personal go-go juice. First it was the students in her elementary school classroom, then the adults she taught to fly helicopters. But when she transitioned from teacher to helicopter pilot she had to overcome some major resistance – both internal (her inner critic) and external (people around her saying she couldn’t succeed). Her work as an accountability coach has expanded from mentoring female aviators around the world to working with all kinds of people who are ready to expand their comfort zone, make important changes, and live a bigger life.

When I first met Lorena I was totally ‘wowed’ — I mean come on– a female medevac helicopter pilot from Alaska? That’s pretty badass. Then, I watched her Tedx talk and felt completely inspired. This woman has a gift and a personal story that reaches far and wide. I loved the challenge of supporting her to build a business that expresses her creativity and heart even though she has a full-time job she LOVES and has no plans to leave it. People say we have the same time in the day as Beyonce. I say, we have the same time in the day as Lorena Knapp. So get your ass moving.

It has been an absolute delight to partner with Lorena and watch her business and brand evolve into a clear and powerful platform with an updated 1:1 and group offer. This inspiring woman claimed her point of view and stepped solidly into her zone of genius. Learn more about Lorena here.

Meet Lorena:

1. What were your top goals when you stepped into your Thought Partnership with Jac?

I’ve always had a passion for helping others achieve their dreams. It is my personal go-go juice this has been expressed in various ways throughout my life. First it was in my career as a teacher, then it was when I mentored others, and now it is with my dream job of flying a medevac helicopter pilot in Alaska.

Several years ago I had a life-changing experience that further crystallized the importance of not waiting until “someday” to pursue your dreams. (You can hear more about this in my TEDx talk).

Now not only do I get to fly over a landscape that is as stunning as a Planet Earth video, I help transport people to medical attention so they have more tomorrows. My job is great in that much like being a firefighter, I’m able to do other things while I’m at work as long I’m able to get the helicopter up and off the ground within ten minutes.

My side business as an accountability coach is incredibly rewarding and a creative outlet that helps provide balance to my highly technical job. It is also one more way for me to help people achieve their dreams and create their own “Big Life.”

I hired Jac to help me wade though my own overwhelm, get focused and streamline my business. I had been doing okay on my own but I was ready to take things to the next level. I know how a really great coach can help people move through their fear and limiting beliefs and achieve greater results with greater ease.

I have no intention of giving up my day job so I wanted to meld my side business to fit within my time constraints and the seasonal fluctuations in my flying schedule. I wanted to feel good about what I was doing and know I was doing it well.


2. Whenever we bring an outsider into the tender secrets of our business it can feel really vulnerable. When you hired Jac, what were you most worried about?

When I create something new, it feels fragile and unable to stand up to harsh criticism. My business was just over a year old and even with my skills as a navigator in the air, I often felt lost as an entrepreneur. I was worried that Jac wouldn’t understand my time constraints and would want me to do more. I didn’t want to “do” more, I wanted to work smarter and more strategically.

3. What impact did your work with Jac have in your business (and life)?  

Working with Jac helped me better understand myself and how I show up (and hide!) in relation to my business. Jac offered insight into how my personality type might excel at things while also struggle with others. She helped me understand that I will always have more ideas than time to implement the ideas which gives my inner critic an endless supply of material to berate me about.

Understanding my primary archetypes was enlightening and I had so much fun with the exercise that I shared it with my family and friends. This helped me customize my website copy to ensure I was attracting my “right people,” the people that I would best be able to help and enjoy working with the most.

I know people often look at my job as a medevac pilot and think, “wow she’s badass.” Don’t get my wrong, I love flying and even today when I watch another helicopter fly overhead I think, How freakin’ cool is it that I get to fly every day? but my “regular girl” archetype has me feel like I’m just a normal person. My regular girl helps me create a sense of “we’re in this together” with my clients while my ruler archetype has a lot of wisdom and experience to offer has me be a more effective coach.


4. What specifically did you achieve?

As a result of working with Jac I’ve completely redesigned my website in a way that resonates with me and my clients. She helped me accentuate what makes me different in regards to other coaches. To excel in my career, I’ve had to learn a lot about managing resistance (both internal and external). I’m able to share these insights along with an intuitive ability to assess how to help a client navigate their own obstacles to meeting their goals. We updated my group coaching, (Big Life Accountability Support Team) and one on one program (Big Life 1:1 Support Sessions) to highlight some of my specific strengths as a coach.

5. You’ve done incredible things in the last few months, what’s been your proudest moment?

Often when we look around online it is easy to compare ourselves to others and notice where we are coming up short. Jac helped me let go of comparing and create my own “conditions of enoughness” in relation to what I do for my business each today. As a result, the panicky feeling of overwhelm has left (okay, mostly left) and I’m able to feel more at ease. This is success.


6. Based on what you learned about yourself in our time together, what’s had the most impact for you? What ideas or concepts do you find yourself wanting to teach or share with others?

Each of us has an inner wisdom that can guide us (if we listen) to make choices that nurture and fulfill us. Stripping away the protective layers we create to hide and play safe allows others to really connect with who we are and gives others permission to be more fully themselves.

7. As our Thought Partnership comes to an end, what are the next challenges you’re facing in your business?

I’ve learned to see my business as constantly evolving and that things are never quite “finished” in relation to it. Where I am now is exactly the right spot at exactly the right time and there is know where to “get to.” Based on past results, I know I will be completely delighted and surprised by what develops in the future.


8. What worked for you about Jac’s approach?

Jac is adept at distilling what is on your mind into a concrete thought or actionable step. One of the things I love about working with Jac is they way she is able to blend the intuitive with the practical. Her prompting about “What feels right?” helped me tap into my own inner wisdom. She always comes from a place of what is best for the client, knowing that what works well for the client works well for her business.

9. What are your top tips for hiring a Thought Partner or Coach?

Make sure that you fit well together. The partnership should challenge you but feel fun and enjoyable all at the same time. I wasn’t sure I was ready for a coach when I first considered working with Jac but she kept bubbling up in my consciousness. I needed someone else who really got me and what I wanted to achieve and help me wade through my own overwhelm and figure out how to move forward.


Lorena is a medevac helicopter pilot and accountability coach. She helps others determine, implement, and accomplish the action steps needed to achieve their dreams. Her online coaching programs provide weekly support and guidance to tackle the limiting beliefs and resistance that prevents people from doing the things they’ve always wanted to do. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Let’s Connect in the Comments

Have you ever struggled with having two passions and wondered how you could give attention to both? What struck you about Lorena’s story? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Tweets Made Easy

Success story! Meet the Medevac Helicopter Pilot & Accountability Coach @bigstatebiglife via @JacMcNeil. Tweet this!


Welcome to In Her Element, a series that shines a spotlight on some of the remarkable women entrepreneurs I get to work with. The purpose of this series is to demystify what happens in a Thought Partnership; share inspirational success stories; and to highlight tips and teaching points that might help other women entrepreneurs as they walk along their own path.


Meet the Sugar Shift Queen: MICHELLE MACLEAN!

Michelle is a certified Wellness Coach and Nutrition Consultant on a mission to help you shift your relationship with sugar so you can change the course of your health and live the sweetest life possible. Michelle’s personal story has been an important influence in the development of her business and brand. A few years ago, the trajectory of her health was headed straight for diabetes. Today, her life is filled with a lot of other sweetness. Freedom. Lightness. Energy. Balanced emotions. No cravings. Pure, whole real foods. And her work now takes people on an 8-week transformation in how you think and feel about your body, about food and about sugar.

When I first met Michelle, I fell in love with her integrity. She is someone who walks her talk in every way. She knew she was making a difference for her clients but she was really run ragged in how she was operating her business. After a year of really hustling she was ready to differentiate her brand in the marketplace and define her key messaging and approach. What unfolded over the last four months has been a complete transformation.

It has been an absolute delight to partner with Michelle and watch her business and brand evolve into a clear and powerful platform with an amazing new signature service. This lovely woman claimed her point of view and stepped solidly into her zone of genius. Learn more about Michelle here.

This is Michelle:

1. What were your top goals when you stepped into your Thought Partnership with Jac?

My top goals were to:

1. Have offerings that come from an authentic place within me and serve a true need for my right people

2. Be on my way to implementing strategic, original, tiered programs and services

3. Initiate the process of a developing new website

4. Reach new audiences and build my list

5. Reduce overwhelm and learn to co-habitate better with my inner critic

2. Whenever we bring an outsider into the tender secrets of our business it can feel really vulnerable. When you hired Jac, what were you most worried about?

I was worried that the initial success I had in my business was coming to an end. My business felt like an apple tree. One that had been picked clean of the low hanging fruit during my first year and I was not sure where the next harvest of apples was going to come from.

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3. What impact did your work with Jac have in your business (and life)?

The initial self-discovery work with Jac helped me dig deep into my life experiences and draw out the lessons, learnings and my unique gifts. I believe this process enabled me to be open to seeing the next right steps for my business. I always felt like my right people would show up, and because of the work with Jac, I was able to see and identify them clearly. Jac’s support, encouragement and insight gave me the confidence and courage to step out of my comfort zone and take my business to the next level.

4. What specifically did you achieve?

I accomplished so much more than I ever dreamed we would together:

1. I refined my brand positioning so I could clearly differentiate myself (this included new key messaging and all new copy).

2. Developed and launched a gorgeous new website.

3. Made my television debut! (and they’ve invited me back!)

4. Grew my list by almost 50 percent.

5. Created and launched my brand new signature service called The 8-Week Sugar Shift (and registration is now open!)

Today, my business feels like an apple tree in full bloom all the time with lots of ripe juicy apples.

michelle smaller

5. Youve done incredible things in the last few months, whats been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was being interviewed on Global TV. As a former PR and media relations gal, I spent time reacting to negative media converge, pitching corporate angles and securing media opportunities for executives. I always wanted to be in the background. Being in the spotlight was completely different for me and totally out of my comfort zone. I felt very proud that I mustered up the courage to overcome the fear, stand in my passion and truth, and believe that I could do it and do it well.


6. Based on what you learned about yourself in our time together, whats had the most impact for you?  What ideas or concepts do you find yourself wanting to teach or share with others?

I believe that we all need to do own own work first. Whether it’s in our business, our personal lives or our health. If we are truly wanting to make lasting change and reach new heights, it’s got to come from within, by going deep and listening to our hearts. And that there is no one-sized-fits-all approach or quick fixes if we want change to be sustainable. These concepts are integral to my approach to wellness coaching and nutrition consulting.

7. As your Thought Partnership comes to an end, what are the next challenges youre facing in your business?

In health and wellness, new information surfaces every day. Staying on top of the latest findings, research and trends is key to having a timely, relevant and effective practice. Staying fresh, current and connected to what my right people need is an ongoing challenge.

michelle 2

8. What worked for you about Jacs approach?

Jac is ferociously supportive, loving, and empowering. Knowing she was there in my corner with brilliant advice, counsel and mentorship gave me the strength, motivation, inspiration and belief in myself to dig deep and take the leap. She helped me make peace with my inner gremlins, kept it simple, cut through the clutter of overwhelm and kept me on track.

9. What are your top tips for hiring a Thought Partner or Coach?

I decided to hire Jac because I got to the end of last year and was at a complete standstill in business planning for this year. I just couldn’t do it alone anymore. I was tired of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. I needed a partner who was focussed solely on bringing my unique gifts into my business. Hiring a coach was life changing. I always knew when I was ready it would be Jac. I didn’t really entertain other options. For me there has to be a personal connection, someone you trust, someone who has been there and done their own work. I respect and admired Jac’s integrity, warmth, realness, and fierce belief in her clients.

Jac helped me bring the Sugar Shift to life and Im thrilled to be sharing this transformative, step-by step program with women who are struggling with the negative impacts of sugar. If you’re curious, you can check out my signtaure program right here.


Michelle MacLean is a certified Wellness Coach and Nutrition Consultant on a mission to help you shift your relationship with sugar so you can change the course of your health and live the sweetest life possible. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest or check out her new Sugar Shift program here. 

Join us in the Comments!

In what ways can you relate to Michelle’s journey? What stands out to you? We’d love to hear from you.

Tweets Made Easy:

Check out @JacMcNeil ‘s Thought Partnership with the creator of The Sugar Shift @MMHealthCoach! Tweet this!

Is your initial biz success coming to an end? Read @MMHealthCoach’s story in brand positioning via @JacMcNeil. Tweet this!


This is a guest post by Abby Kerr Founder and Creative Director of The Voice Bureau which focuses on brand voice development for values-based business.


You need to write sales copy but you have zero professional copywriting experience.

You’re transitioning your business from offline to online only (or online mostly). You know how to sell effectively to the Right People in person through a no-pressure sales conversation, but when it comes time to translate that acumen on to the page, you choke up.

Sound familiar?

Sister, you are not alone.

Even though writing is a gift of mine, I, too, struggled with writing sales copy for the first couple years of my online-only business. I used to own a brick and mortar retail store and had no trouble selling high end gifts, home furnishings, jewelry, and apparel to my in-person customers.

Whenever I’d try to write a sales page for my copywriting or brand consulting services, I’d slip into a voice that felt about 90 degrees off from my usual conversational speaking voice. My ‘sales voice’ felt slicker than it needed to be, snazzier, and lacking the confident, ease, elegance, and wit I knew suffused the rest of my site copy.

It took several years and lots of practice writing both for myself and for paying clients before I fully stepped in to writing sales copy in a way that worked well for me and my Right People. But I got there. And I’m getting there still, growing and learning more with every sales page I write.

If you need to write good sales copy for your offers, programs, events, or services, but you have zero professional copywriting experience and are feeling intimidated and twisted up about selling through the written word, this post is for you.

First, the truth: It’s not possible to become a great copywriter overnight. It’s just not. Great practitioners and creatives are never made overnight, even when there’s a high level of talent present and mucho desire.

But you CAN learn to write good (and better) sales copy for your own offers in a short amount of time. And you can write great (and better) sales copy over time as you practice these techniques offer after offer, page after page, and observe what other sales page writers are doing well.

Here are my best tips for writing good sales copy when you have zero professional copywriting experience:


Assume that this one person is really ready for and desirous of the offer you’re making. Yes, we all have to overcome objections  and address some ambivalence in our sales copy, but you should never approach writing copy as if you’re sitting down to sell to an adversary or a naysayer. NOTE: There is a time to understand what the naysayers would think and say when you’re outlining your ideas for your sales page, and we’ll go over that in my new sales page-writing course.

Write your sales page for your particular Right Person client or customer who is full of high hopes, positive expectations, and a shining degree of enthusiasm for what you’re offering. And make sure this Right Person you’re writing for is perfectly wired and prepared to receive the full value your offer encompasses.


Features are what the offer has, includes, or does. Benefits are what the buyer gets, receives, or experiences, as a result of the features.

It’s tempting when writing descriptive sales copy to go feature-crazy, bulleting out what’s included and adding a dozen high value bonuses to pad the core offer. But here’s the weird truth: often people will buy something without totally understanding what it is if they’re convinced they know what they’ll get or experience, in terms of enhancing their life or self-image.

Case in point: my partner and I just signed a two-year lease on a townhome we’d never seen in a community outside of Seattle we’d never been to. I know.  Although the online photos were not so flattering and we hadn’t a clue what the neighborhood was like, we knew the following: that we’d be living in proximity to a safe, pretty, interesting community; that the home was animal friendly with a fenced backyard; that the property had a good price-to-perceived value ratio, and finally (a perk I couldn’t overlook), the place has a “garden soaking tub.” Proximity to a desirable community, animal friendly, price-to-value ratio, garden soaking tub: all features.

Here are the benefits we saw that really sold us:

Feature: Proximity to good community —> Benefit: Good “quality of life,” illusion of safety, prestige factor

Feature: Animal friendly with fenced backyard —> Benefit: Safety for our beloved furry kids

Feature: Price-to-value ratio —> Benefit: Perception of getting more for our money than we might elsewhere

Feature: Garden soaking tub —> Benefit: Relaxation, ability to warm up on chilly Seattle evenings, and (for me, as a Pisces) immersion in water for ultimate creative inspiration


You’ve probably heard this advice a lot when it comes to writing online copy, and that’s because it’s true. The best sales copy has an informal, relaxed tone and style (even when selling B2B or to fellow professionals), varies its sentence structure, length, and rhythm, and mimics the flow of everyday conversation in that it subconsciously allows for the reader’s mental pauses, need for white space and thinking time, and arising of questions.

In general, most non-professional copywriters could stand to be a LOT more casual and informal in their sales copy. No need for fancy words, stiffness, or laboriously constructed sentences. It’s more important to communicate plainspoken integrity and approachable relability than it is to project an unusually high intelligence.


This is the part of writing your own sales copy that is both art and science. Every good sales page strikes a balance between (A) getting to the point with clarity and (B) building relationship, rapport, and recognition, based on what type of buyer your Right Person is. The balance of brass tracks-to-story is also influenced by why your particular Right Person is drawn to your offer.

The suggestion here is to learn to edit your own copy so that it reads clean, straight up, and to the point.

And also to learn how to frame your own experiences with life, business, health, clients and customers, family, relationships, personal development, leadership, what have you, into compelling stories other people can see themselves in.

Let’s Hang Out in the Comments

I would LOVE to hear about your own sales page-writing experiences. What feels like it comes easily to you when you write to sell? What successes have you noticed? What’s been challenging? What continues to mystify you? I’ll be hanging out in the comments and look forward to meeting and conversing with you.

Note from Jac: I’m thrilled to be an affiliate for Abby’s course: Writing the Conversational Sales Page - registration is open and the course begins September 8th. If there’s one popular area of “stall-out” for the women I work with, it’s around writing a sales page with confidence. Abby’s courses are always professional, the content is top-shelf and the community vibe is welcoming and safe. I say go for it! xo

Tweets Made Easy!

  • How to Write Your Sales Copy with Zero Copywriting Experience by @AbbyKerr. Tweet this!
  • Confused about features vs/ benefits when writing your sales page? Read these great tips by @AbbyKerr. Tweet this!

This is a guest post by Tanya Geisler – a certified Life and Business Coach (CPCC, ACC), TEDxWomen speaker, and writer – who teaches women how to step into their starring roles, own their authority, and overcome the Impostor Complex in their life, in their work, and in their life’s work.



I’ll never forget the day it was “named”.

It was June 24th 2009, and there she was. In fabulous heels, piercing eyes, dreadlocks, glorious heart and her breathy voice.

Danielle LaPorte.

Talking about her days at the future-studies think tank.

Talking about her days at the head of a lifestyle media company.

Talking about hustling.

Talking about fabulous heels.

Talking about magnetic authenticity.

We were nodding along, spines tingling from the lightning rods of her white hot truth.

And then she named IT: “There were times when I felt like an Impostor.”

Holy hell.

There it was.

That feeling. THAT FEELING.

That just-a-matter-of-time-before-they-find-out-that-I’m-a-fake feeling.
That this-success-isn’t-going-to-last-because-it’s-not-real feeling.
That I-just-got-lucky-that-one-time feeling.


I knew that feeling so well, I’d experienced it THREE TIMES in the 90 minutes leading up to her taking the stage.

When I picked up my coach colleague in my car to head to the event (would she find out that I wasn’t as powerful a coach as she’d heard?)
When I parked by my old high school just next to the venue, and remembered how surprised that I’d won a student council election by a landslide (surely a vote recount was in order?)
When I met other women entrepreneurs before D’Love (that’s what I call her) took the stage, (will they call me out for not belonging?)

But then, these words:

“There were times when I felt like an Impostor.”

And in that moment, my heart lit up and I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing.
It had a name.


Sidebar: I entertain the possibility that I’d heard the “Impostor Complex” before that day, but resonance doesn’t work like that. We hear what we need to hear when we need to hear it. And THAT was the day I needed to hear it.

So yeah, it had a name.

And the moment I knew it’s name, I knew two more things:

1) that if it had a name, then it was “normal” to experience (y’know, the whole “you’ve gotta name it to tame it”)
2) that I was in exquisite company.

Inadvertently, I spent the next couple of years immersed in the observation of the Impostor Complex. I say ‘inadvertently’ because it’s not like I devoted my days to studying everything I could on the topic (though I did read much of what the clinical psychologists who first coined the term, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, had to say).

No, I mostly just couldn’t unsee it in my clients and myself.

Seeing the costs of believing its lies. And the costs show up in a myriad of ways:

• Not communicating with our audience.
• Not launching.
• Not owning our authority.
• Not saying yes to opportunities.
• Not asking for help.
• Not reaching out to influencers.
• Not taking the stage.

On the flip side, I’ve seen and attribute much of the success that my clients and I have enjoyed to finding ways to overcome the Impostor Complex…once we see the lies for what they are.

I now see the Impostor Complex as a (totally fictitious) family member that shows up at gatherings telling ridiculously outlandish tall tales. And once you stop believing his lies, you can just enjoy him from a place of pure entertainment. What will he come up with next?

Because the best news about the Impostor Complex is this:

If you experience the Impostor Complex, then you are a high-functioning, high achieving Super Star who strongly values integrity, mastery and excellence.

Every time you strive for the next rung, it’s gonna show up, harping on with its lies. And the sooner we see its lies for what they are, the sooner we can get on with sharing our excellence in the most meaningful and delicious way. Knowing that we are in excellent company . . . each others’.

Grab Tanya’s super quick and very powerful ’12 Lies of the Impostor Complex (and One Truth)‘ right here

Over to you . . .

In what ways has the imposter complex shown up in your life and business? Tanya and I would love to hear from you.

Please Share!

Revealing the Lies of the Imposter Complex by @TanyaGeisler via @jacmcneil. Tweet this!

If you enjoyed this post please pass it on. (A BIG thank you for doing so! xo)



Welcome to In Her Element, my new series that shines a spotlight on some of the remarkable women entrepreneurs I get to work with. The purpose of this series is to demystify what happens in a Thought Partnership; share inspirational success stories; and to highlight tips and teaching points that might help other women entrepreneurs as they walk along their own path.


Meet the cake-makin’, Harley drivin’, Mama of two: SHAUNA AUSTIN!

Shauna is a cake artist and the owner of City Girl Cakes in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. If you have a big reason to celebrate you can count her in! Shauna loves to break conventional cake rules and create stunning showpieces guaranteed to make people smile. She’s a master of fabulously sweet, edible art. Her online gallery shows off a wide range of styles from delicately feminine to modern edge to over-the-top hilarious. She’s the cake boss of the Canadian East Coast.

When I first met Shauna I was completely struck by her raw talent. She walks into her “cake cave” with a spark of an idea and she walks out with a masterpiece that absolutely delights her clients. I’m so impressed with how Shauna stayed the course and turned what was initially a hobbiest attitude into a full-time successful and sought after business. And she did it by showing up completely as herself. Nothing put on or fake about her (you’ll see that in the interview!)

It has been an absolute pleasure to partner with Shauna as she moved from hobbiest to badass business owner. This quiet rebel claimed her point of view and stepped solidly into her zone of genius. Learn more about Shauna here.

This is Shauna:

1. What were your top goals when you stepped into your Thought Partnership with Jac?

When I met Jac, I was feeling lost in my business and alone as a solopreneur. I wanted my business to have a life of its own, but one that was deeply connected to my values (which I still had to identify, so that became a goal) and that reflected my personality and not some generic brand. I also wanted to get out of the “oh, it’s just a hobby” mindset.


2. Whenever we bring an outsider into the tender secrets of our business it can feel really vulnerable. When you hired Jac, what were you most worried about?

I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively. Sometimes, I don’t feel like an adult in an adult world. In a room full of women entrepreneurs, I often feel like a shy teenager who’s just hanging out. I had a lot of jumbled thoughts in my head and would just randomly spit them out. Jac is a master (yes, a MASTER!) at listening and would take everything that I’d said and sum it up in a neat little phrase, “so, what I’m hearing is….” And she always hit the mark. I remember responding (in a loud voice), “Yes! Oh my god, how did you do that? How did you take everything that I just said and send it back to me in a way that makes sense?”

1_1Cakes_working file4-003

3. What impact did your work with Jac have in your business (and life)?

My work with Jac was a game changer for me, both personally and for my business. The two are practically intertwined. There’s a lot of my personality in my business now. I started as a girl who had a knack for cake design, but when asked what I did for a living, I’d just say, “I make cakes.” I’ve always been the one who never sought the spotlight but just wanted to fit in with people, so most of my life was spent hiding a lot of my personality.

With Jac’s help, I identified my values and my beliefs. I am who I am and that person is freakin’ awesome (even if she does drop F-bombs. A lot). My confidence level soared and I signed up for things that I’ve always wanted to do (voice lessons, dodge ball, and now aerial silks!). And the best thing I have ever done for myself: I bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Badass.

I don’t think any of this would have happened had I not identified and developed my values and beliefs with Jac. It was, for me, the key to everything else. As a result, I revamped my website and logo from the fluffy pink/brown to a bolder black and gold and updated my copy to better reflect my business. I am now able to proudly articulate why I’m in this business and what I have to offer.


Jeff Cooke Photography

4. What specifically did you achieve?

The biggest outcome was a complete revamp of my website and logo. When I started my business, I chose the fluffy pink/brown style that I felt would be popular or most accepted by others. It was safe. It was common. I am not safe – I’m a quiet rebel. I like things a little edgy. This feels right to me now.

I learned how to introduce myself without feeling like an idiot. Haha.

I also learned how to tell my inner critic (that nasty voice in my head with a Southern drawl), to take a hike. I learned how to take emotion out of the equation and look at the facts.


4. You worked really hard in our time together, what was your proudest moment? What’s been your proudest moment since then?

I loved that one morning when we’d gotten through the identifying my values exercise and I read the list and I was like, fuck, yeah. This is me. And since then, I’m proud to be living by those values – especially when making decisions in my business.


5. Based on what you learned about yourself in our time together, what’s stuck for you? What do you keep coming back to?

I absolutely loved learning about archetypes and identifying mine. It helped me set the tone for my business and focus in on the important things. It’s probably what I come back to the most. I continue to check in with both my archetypes and values once in a while to see if I’m staying true to them. I also come back to our “right client” discussions.

1_Cakes_working file4-019

6. What are the current challenges you’re facing in your business?

With my business, there’s a busy season and a not so busy season. My current challenge is not panicking when it’s my not so busy season (things like, “shit, do I need a job? Where’s my resume? I don’t even know how to write a resume anymore”. It hasn’t been updated in 7 years! *insert sobbing call to Dad*).

This past winter (in a panic), I tried to launch several different ideas, spent a lot of money I didn’t have, and strayed from the core essence of my business. I let fear lead the way when I should have rationally looked at my books and realized that this is okay and focused on other things like practicing my skills, or marketing… or just enjoying a little tiny bit of downtime.

1_1Cakes_working file2-004

7. What worked for you about Jac’s approach?

Everything! Jac is the kindest soul. And she shoots (kindly) from the hip – and that is what you need when you’re looking for answers. She is caring, empathetic, intelligent, an amazing communicator, and funny. Sometimes you have to dig deep within yourself to get to where you want to be. She never left my side for a minute while I was struggling to find my answers.


Jeff Cooke Photography

8. What are your top tips for hiring a Thought Partner or Coach?

Good question. I hired Jac based mostly on her blog. I loved her writing style.  Her content was excellent and it wasn’t cut and paste from some self-help book or completely technical jargon. I clearly heard her voice when I was reading, and I immediately knew she was someone I could trust, connect with, and work with. I actually also hired my current personal trainer based on the same – read and loved her blog posts. And both hires have been the best decisions I’ve ever made! So, top tip: read their website or blog posts and see how it feels to you.


Shauna Austin is a cake artist and the owner of City Girl Cakes a boutique style cake company in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She’s a master of fabulously sweet, edible art and stunning showpieces that make people smile. You can follow her on Facebook Twitter and Instagram . Or check out her cake gallery right here.

Over To You!

In what ways can you relate to Shauna’s journey? What stands out to you? Ever wanna drive a Harley? We’d love to hear from you.

If you enjoyed this post, please share.

“I am not safe – I’m a quiet rebel. I like things a little edgy.” Success story with @CityGirlCakes via @JacMcNeil. Tweet this!

Check out @JacMcNeil ‘s Thought Partnership with Nova Scotia’s Cake Boss @CityGirlCakes. Tweet this!




When I hung my shingle as a CPCC (certified professional co-active coach) eight years ago, the title alone was disruptive enough to differentiate myself as an entrepreneur. I networked in person and handed out business cards and free sample sessions like candy. I was incredibly proud of my post-card style website and cut-n-paste generic copy.

I was living the dream.

I fuelled my non-niche-y business with will power and optimism (two INFP traits that have taken me far in life and biz). I happily coached a range of clients and I never lost a wink of sleep over blogging, marketing or social media. Seriously, those were the days when all you had to do was show up in person, be you, get hired.

Old school worked for me until the day it didn’t.

It felt like I woke up one morning to a world that was flooded with coaches and consultants who called themselves coaches. I wasn’t part of an elite group anymore. My once unique profession had become the greener pasture for the unhappy employed folks who longed for an escape.

I mean, of course it did. This work is utterly transformational. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

But the realization that I was now adrift in a sea-of-same was a moment of awakening.

My eyes opened wide to the fact that I had no answers for questions like: What makes me unique? What’s my niche? Who are my ideal clients? Oh my God, Jac, just freaking pick something. I’d spin and I’d spin and I’d spin some more.

I didn’t have any answers for a very long time.

Now enter realization number two: a flooded market meant quality assurance took a hit. With anyone and everyone calling themselves a “coach” the public rightfully became skeptical. (Life) coaching took a dive. In some circles it was even made fun of.

In order for my business to survive and thrive, I had to figure out my point of differentiation and I had to work extra hard on credibility so that I stood clearly apart from those who were out of integrity.

Note: my point here isn’t that you have to have letters after your name to be effective or in integrity; my point is that some people misrepresent themselves, don’t get good results and taint the pool for everyone else who strives for excellence and professionalism. It happens in every profession.

Our job isn’t to control what everyone else is up to, our job is to keep our eyes in our own lane of truth and move forward from there.

Brand positioning and zone of genius work has been my greatest growing edge since I’ve become an entrepreneur–so I’m not the least bit surprised that this is also the greatest growing edge for most of my clients. The old adage: we teach what we need to learn rings true for me here. (Add in ‘finding my courage’ and ‘being a leader’ and we’ve got my teaching career just about covered.)

Based on my own methodology and best practices in brand positioning, I’m sharing six strategies that can help you strengthen your brand’s position in the marketplace.

I invite you to read through these strategies and explore what you know right now.

Note any gaps or fuzzy areas and pick one or two places to spend time getting clear. These strategies aren’t necessarily easy, but they’re worth exploring as a starting point. Circle back to these strategies every 3-6 months and notice what’s become clearer.

6 Strategies for Better Brand Positioning:

No. 1:  Perception is everything.

It doesn’t matter what you think your brand’s position is in the marketplace it matters what your right person’s perception is. Perceptions are formed from working with you plus the sum of all the ways your business communicates. How is your business being perceived? Intend to move away from assumptions and consider doing research within your community. Invaluable, really.

No. 2: Readiness matters.

When it comes to clarifying who your right people are, forget about demographics, instead ask yourself: what specifically makes someone ready for my offer? This is a clarifying first step in understanding what makes someone your right person.

No. 3: Bottom line the benefits.

What’s the bottom, bottom line of what your business does? Think tangible outcomes and functional results. What could you say that would eliminate confusion?

No. 4: Focus on desire.

What underlying desire(s) does your business address? How does your client feel because of having worked with you? Think about the emotional take-aways your clients experience, these are intangible but extremely important.

No. 5: Be evidence based.

What’s the proof that you can do what you say you can do? Credibility is built on evidence. What reasons do your right people have to believe you can achieve the results you promise? What are their reasons to believe?

No. 6: Stay in your own lane.

Once you establish what your zone of genius is within your business, notice the boundaries that contain this zone. How will you decide what’s in or out of scope for your business? Stepping outside of your lane can sometimes impact your credibility. It’s ok not to be everything to everyone and refer on.


If what you really need is dedicated time for you and your business – and a strategic ally who will make that time count please check out my Thought Partnerships.

Over to you!

What are you learning about brand positioning? What questions have helped you get clear?

Please share.

6 Strategies to Better Brand Positioning via @jacmcneil. Tweet this!

Let go of what others are up to; keep your eyes in your own lane of truth and move forward from there. Tweet this!