Walk Like a Penguin (+ 19 More Tips to Love Your Marketing Again)

This month the fine folks of the (almost) world famous Word Carnivals chose to write on a topic about re-energizing your business.To me, re-energizing is really about dealing with that feeling of being “stuck” — whether you’re bored and standing still or sliding out of control — and how to avoid and/or move yourself out and past that feeling into the place where things are humming along again like you want them to.

Since most of marketing advice out there addresses the bored and standing still type of feelings, I thought I’d tackle the sliding-out-of-control kind. Ready?

First something fun: 

Did you find yourself laughing at any of these situations? A snort? A chuckle?

Sure you did. Probably (most likely) because you’ve been there yourself.

Even this California girl has found herself hurt and humiliated at the bottom of an icy staircase on more than one occasion. (I also discovered just how horrible my driving skills really are while attending college in Boulder, CO.)

Those of us not raised in a wintery clime don’t usually learn about the dangerous combination of ice and mobility as children. It’s not until we’re older and taking our first ski trip with friends (in our own cars!) that we begin to learn how to drive, walk or sometimes simply stand upright on the ice and snow.

Funnily enough, the same tips for successfully navigating in winter can also help us find our way through the trials and tribulations of marketing a small business. In short, to keep us loving what we’re doing.

20 Tips to Avoid Being Stuck on the Ice

1. Take your time. Make sure you leave early so you don’t have to rush. Don’t let other drivers intimidate you into driving faster than is safe.

Tip: Just say no to those Roadmaps to 10,000 overnight fans. They’re really just a distraction from doing the real work.

2. Double or triple the space between you and the car ahead of you. Stopping distance is important when things get slippery. It might be the driver in front of you who goes sideways, so leave enough room to avoid the collision.

Tip: Leave enough white space on your calendar for hiccups — whether it’s an appointment with a prospect or an entire campaign, it’s good to leave a generous buffer zone around those tasks.

3. Avoid the white knuckle syndrome. When we’re nervous, we tend to tense up. And gripping the wheel too tightly can slow your reaction time in an emergency. Loosen up and breathe.

Tip: Consciously focus on your breathing at intervals through out the day. Take a walk or do something physical to relax. A relaxed body is a relaxed mind. Which is what you need to have to ensure you make good decisions quickly.

4. Know the road conditions. Pay attention to where you’re going. To the weather. To your car. Are you properly equipped for the trip? If your route involves a steep hill, you might need to find a different route.

Tip: Plan ahead. Check in with your mentor. Keep your eyes and ears open as you move forward with your marketing campaign. 

5. Keep one set of wheels on dry pavement as you approach an intersection. Find the side of the road that’s dry or has sand — where ever the best traction is, to avoid sliding through your stop.

Tip: Leverage the grounding ability of your mastermind cohorts. Checking in with them on a regular basis can give you traction when you need it and keep you safe when it looks like you might be sliding out of control.

6. Slow down for bridges and overpasses. They ice up first. It’s important that you avoid changes in your driving. Don’t change lanes. Keep a light touch on the steering. Any sudden movements could spell disaster.

Tip: Know where the crucial junctures are in your marketing and pay extra close attention to your execution. This isn’t the time to switch gears or change direction. Doing a live presentation? Be sure you’ve prepared an outline so you can stay on track.

7. Be prepared to be stuck. If you get stuck in the snow or ice, the worst thing you can do is spin your tires. This creates heat that melts the snow, making the spot you’re stuck in a frozen bowl of ice. Plus the treads of your tires fill up and freeze as well. You’ll never be able to drive out of that bowl without help. Carry some sand or kitty litter for these occasions. If you’re forced to drive in bad winter conditions on a regular basis, a wise investment would be snow tires and a set of chains.

Tip: Once you’ve got Marketing Plan A, try to think about what might go wrong and plan for the eventualities. Do you need a safety fund of cash? A back-up computer or hosting service? It’s also a good idea to build a circle of colleagues you can call on for ideas or help when you hit a wall.

8. Just stay home. Sometimes the conditions outside aren’t worth the risks. It’s okay to say no to an invitation or a trip that might turn deadly.

Tip: If you find yourself saying yes to everything, you’ll end up burned out and ready to quit sooner than later. Practice saying no to things that aren’t in your best interest or might lead you away from your goals and vision.

But what if it’s too late and you find yourself out of control and stuck in a dangerous slide? That all depends on the type of car and/or brakes you’ve got. Let’s take a look:

9. Rear-wheel drive cars should steer into the slide. If your rear end starts to slide to the right, turn your steering wheel to the right. And don’t forget to let off the accelerator.

Tip: If you find your marketing campaign beginning to slide off in another direction, it’s time to slow things down and notice where you’re headed. Give this new direction your full attention for how ever long it takes to decide whether or not it’s helpful or hurtful. Then you can choose whether or not to continue down that road.

10. ABS brakes. Maintain steady pressure, the brakes will pulsate and help you get control.

Tip: Systematize your marketing so that you can maintain consistency and delegate when possible.

11. No ABS brakes. Don’t maintain steady pressure on the brakes. Rather, take light stabs, hold, release, press again, and you’ll eventually regain control.

Tip: If you haven’t yet systematized your marketing, you’ll need to work on this in regular intervals. Try something. Test it. If it works, document it. If it doesn’t, adjust and try again.

12. Small, short wheel-base cars. These vehicles are more prone to sliding out of control. With a short wheel base the vehicle will turn around much quicker and easier then a long sedan. Sometimes you’ll have no warning. Drive accordingly with a small car.

Tip: If you’re a solopreneur or micro biz owner, it’s easier to find yourself off track and out of control because it’s just you making the decisions. This means you need to pay extra attention to your operations and the desire to automate or put things on autopilot (either mentally or literally). 


And if you’re trying to walk on ice (not drive), remember to “walk like a penguin.”

13. Keep your center of gravity over your front leg.

Tip: Lean into the challenges of marketing yourself and your biz. Going slowly doesn’t mean standing still or procrastinating. It means putting one foot in front of the other. Deliberately. Every. Single. Day.

14. Take shorter steps or shuffle-walk.

Tip: Build your business slowly and surely. Take the time to get to know the people on your email list. Skype with them. Take them to coffee. Build real relationships. 

15. Avoid shoes with smooth soles.

Tip: Marketing tactics that look pretty but have no real tread will get you nowhere fast. Be sure that you’ve taken the time to plan, implement and evaluate each step. 

16. Keep your knees loose.

Tip: Don’t be so wedded to a marketing plan that you can’t make last minute adjustments when necessary. 

17. Extend arms out slightly for balance.

Tip: Don’t tie all your hopes and dreams to just one strategy or tactic. Create a balanced approach to how you build awareness with at least three prongs. For example, online, offline and long-term (e.g., email, public speaking and partnerships).

What happens if you do fall?

18. If you fall backwards, tuck your chin into your chest so your head doesn’t smack the ground.

Tip: Have a crisis plan ready. Know what you will do when things screw up so you can act quickly and minimize the damage.

19. When you fall, try to relax your muscles.

Tip: If things go sideways for you (i.e., tech gremlins, people not following through on commitments, etc.) try to step outside yourself mentally and be the objective observer. Do what you can to get things fixed, but don’t get caught up in the drama of what’s going “wrong.” You might find in the end, that what happened was really a blessing in disguise. And then all that drama will just be wasted energy.

And finally,

20. Look back and laugh. When you do finally get out of whatever mess you happen to have found yourself in, remember it’s all fodder for your success (or your memoirs). Loving your business requires you to chuckle, snort and giggle on a daily basis. <– best tip of them all!

How about you? What tips do you have for avoiding the stuckness? Have you ever found yourself stuck on the “ice” of a marketing campaign? Share in a comment below.

photo credit: stupid is the new clever via photopin cc

This post is part of the January Word Carnival. The topic is Beat the Motivation Blues: How to Re-boot, Re-energize and Love Your Business Again. Come read the rest of the genius ideas and join the carney fun.
About Tea (the Chef) Silvestre

As a marketing coach/consultant, Tea loves to help her clients find and share their Secret Sauce with the world. She’s also the founder of the ground-breaking reality web series, “Prosperity’s Kitchen” and the author of “Attract and Feed a Hungry Crowd.” Connect on Twitter: @TeaSilvestre.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=760384447 Laura Petrolino

    Great tips! And I love this analogy! The road to success isn’t always a smooth one, but if you plan ahead, map your route, do your safety checks and be aware of your surroundings, you’ll make it.

  • Pingback: Beat The Motivation Blues: Reboot, Re-Energize And Learn To Love Your Business Again | Word Carnivals

  • http://twitter.com/MelanieKissell Melanie Kissell

    I grew up and learned to drive on ice and snow in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Tea. Your post and video brought back mounds of memories! (Slippery ones) And, boy, could I walk like a penguin! It looks really silly but it sure beats the heck out of having your rump hit the ground. LOL!

    Love all the analogies and wonderful marketing advice you’ve offered up here — thank you! :)

  • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com/ Sharon Hurley Hall

    I was well into my 20s the first time I drove on ice and I still remember the panic! Love the analogy here, Tea. The only thing I’d add – when you fall, get back up (carefully). ;)

    • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

      Oh yes! I forgot that part entirely…any specifics on how to get back up from the ice?

      • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com/ Sharon Hurley Hall

        From a marketing viewpoint, it’s about assessing the reasons for the fall and working out how to avoid falling again – in other words, tweaking your strategy.

  • http://pajamaproductivity.com Annie Sisk

    OH MY GOD I LAUGHED SO HARD. The BUS! (Calming down now…) I love #5 – and I need to work like hell on 13, 14, and 18.

  • http://www.WTFMarketing.com/ Nick Armstrong

    There’s a lot of great ideas here, Tea! Well done. I’m looking forward to your “re-education” in driving when you come back out to CO.

    I learned this great thing from Michael Clingan yesterday: keep asking clients for their “yes, but”s – you’ll find most of their worries, negative expectations, and roadblocks in advance, and then you can build them into your project plan as a sort of “disaster recovery” effort in advance.

    Building real relationships is really vital to the success of a business – you can’t just stay stuck at home or in your basement to build a business (although, sometimes, you might get away with it). Eventually you run out of groceries and have to head out to the store!

  • clarestweets

    The ice analogy is classic! Do we not often feel like we are slip sliding around as we try to get our businesses moving forward. I think you could do a blog post on each of these! Do I see an new ebook coming? Mey favs are 13 to 16 — all about balance! As someone who struggles with that, I got some great tips.

  • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

    I learned a very important lesson today: winter is evil!! Seriously, I actually did snort at that scene where the woman who fell on the ice finally gets up and brushes herself off and a guy walks right into her from behind and falls in the same place. As an aside story, I had my first car for 13 years and after a while it got sort of… tired. And I lived in a very hilly place so whenever it snowed I would literally hit the gas at the bottom of the hill and get up as much speed as I could, make it as far as I could, then ditch the car at the side of the road and walk the rest of the way home, lol… Ah, good times….

    But wait, there was more to this post! Yes, an awesome analogy that seems like it could be turned into a whole course all by itself. I love the tip about “space” – leaving space on your calendar for things to go wrong. It’s one of the most overlooked components of planning that I see. Everyone schedules according to some perfect ideal. And then I add two months :)

    I really liked these tips. You should consider putting together a whole motivational series based on these!

  • SandyMcD

    Oh my word but you are one creative lass, Tea.

    As a person with little ice/snow knowledge at all (born African you see and now an Ozzie with little interest in being cold), it looks scary and painful, even disastrous. But for the uninitiated, so to might building a business. Even for those of us who have done it before and an embarking on the journey yet again, it is scary, often painful and down the track, sometimes disastrous.

    Your Ice Driving, Penguin Walking map gives us all the right tips for falling less, breaking less and not going off the bridge into the icy ravine below.

    And now I want to ask you a question. How did you learn SO much about driving and falling on ice?

  • http://virtuallydistinguished.com Michelle Church

    Interesting…I was born and raised in the snow and you can always tell a difference of people that weren’t. Even having moved back to the snow after being away from it for more than 30 years you discover some things you don’t forget, and some things you just can’t and should not do like you did as a kid in the snow. It’s fear that creeps up over time and lack of practice I think that can be crippling. I suppose in keep with the theme of the post, it’s also fear that can cause a hiccup generating a need to reflect and pull ourselves up one more time. Trying to stop and all you are doing is sliding with no control is a very scarry thing. My last winter living in Illinois in 2008-2009 was rough and it even snowed in May…I went to stop at a stop sign, while I was already taking my time and the my truck just kept on going. Fortunately no one was around…I suppose through all of this and I think my favorite tip is #1…Slow down…regardless of why or what…it’s always good to slow down. Very enjoyable read…as always. BTW…Another thing to carry in snow to get out of ditches..which we do more in the midwest…SALT!

  • http://www.thenumberswhisperer.com/ Nicole Fende

    Oh @teasilvestre:disqus this is a perfect post from first to last. I live in Minnesota, and we recently had a thaw followed by a deep freeze (we’re talking sub-zero without factoring in the wind). Ice is everywhere. The video made me laugh and wince in sympathy.

    As someone who grew up in northern Michigan I can relate to all of these, yet I never considered how they might help me in my business. Wonderful food for thought (pun intended). So when I venture out later to pick up by daughter from daycare I’ll be considering all the business corollaries…

  • evan austin

    WOW. Start-to-finish clever…as tidy (and unlikely) a metaphor as there ever was! Thanks Tea!