3 Ice Cream Lessons

10 years ago last month I was observing my five year anniversary as a solo professional (sorry, too much math?).

That’s when my coach at the time asked me a simple question: “What are you going to do to celebrate?”

I hadn’t given it any thought and so I said, “I don’t know, go home early?”

Fortunately, she wouldn’t let me off the hook that easily and a couple of days later, the idea for a Blue Penguin ice cream party was born (hatched?). I’ve been doing it every year since.

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And so a few days ago, I sent an email to the subscribers of my newsletter, inviting them to attend.

Several interesting things happened as a result, all of which relate to your own business:

  1. Twenty people unsubscribed.
    That’s right. I offered free ice cream and 20 people essentially said, “Not only do I reject your frozen treat, I never want to hear from you again, until the end of time.”

    To put that number into perspective, that’s about three times as many people as typically unsubscribe when I publish. But it happens in the same proportions, every year.

    Why? I don’t know. Maybe they’re annoyed since they live far away and can’t be there. Maybe an ice cream party isn’t useful in the way a newsletter is and so it’s not what they want. Maybe they’ve seen my photo and fear meeting the real thing.

    The point is, when people unsubscribe from your newsletter, it could be for any number of reasons. You’re welcome to invent something negative – it was too long; nobody reads newsletters anymore; the idea was terrible; they hate me; etc.

    But if an ice cream party invite can send people packing, you’re wasting a lot of mental energy beating yourself up by imagining bad things that probably aren’t happening.

    Focus on the people who love your work and ignore the ones who are ready to move on.

  1. It gave me an extra opportunity to connect with readers.
    The RSVP form for the party included a space for comments; many people used it. I responded individually to each one of them.

    As people who market a professional service business, we tend to be hyper-focused on “look at me” content. Here’s my blog; here’s an article I’m quoted in; here’s a newsletter I think you should read; here’s me attending the International Conference of People You’ve Never Heard Of.

    It’s all good stuff and perfectly fine. But you know what really gets people’s attention? … paying attention to them, individually. Big companies can’t do it and plenty of small companies (and even solos) don’t bother.

    Those same kinds of opportunities are there every day. But they’re easy to overlook in our eagerness to promote ourselves.

  1. It reminded me to celebrate.
    My coach was right all those years ago: We need to pause occasionally to remember what’s going right, instead of only worrying about what’s gone wrong or has yet to happen.

    No boss, no commute, no dress code, no pointless meetings. I don’t even have shoes on.

    A chance to focus on what we’re good at and what we like.

    An opportunity, every day, to have an obvious and positive impact on something or someone.

    Hundreds and hundreds of terrific people that we wouldn’t know if we were still doing the 9-5 dance.

    If those aren’t reasons to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

So I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday, July 29th, for a little party, either in person or virtually from wherever you are. Shoes optional.


What’s your favorite type of ice cream and/or penguin?
Post your comments below!

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