30 Sep Wu Wei, F Bucks & Your Business
Wu wei can be defined as “effortless action,” which may seem like a contradiction to the American mind. Busy, busy, busy. Always on the grind. Never stop hustling. Yet what happens when we run out of F bucks in our daily F budget?
✔️ Too often we prioritize other people’s agenda for our own time rather than asking the simple question: does this even matter?
✔️ So Karen is mad that her apple cinnamon candle wasn’t perfectly balanced but rather did not have enough apple scent to satisfy her. WHO CARES.
✔️ We have a series of decisions to make before we even start work for the day. As time goes on, the brain gets weary. If you want to have gas left in the tank for family, friends, charity work, etc., you need to be mindful of your own F bucks and the overall F budget.
✔️ I LOVE how Sarah calls social invitations and extroverted hoo-ha “impositions” because that is precisely what they are. If you want to go and you give an F buck for it, cool. But if you don’t, the world will not end by saying, “No thank you.”
Special intro music: “Forget You” by CeeLo Green.
Link to Sarah Knight’s TED Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwRzjFQa_Og
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about Wu-wei, f bucks and your business. I’m going to try to keep this episode from going explicit, which is why I’m saying f bucks. And it’s also why I played you in with forget you by CeeLo Green. We’re all adults here. We all know what the song was actually titled. I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine who has a retail boutique store. I do have her permission to relate the conversation into a podcast episode. But I want to be really mindful of her privacy. So I’m not going to talk about her store specifically. And I’m I’m just going to call her Jane Doe for the purposes of this episode. She has an actual storefront. But after COVID hit and there were lock downs and stay at home orders. It really motivated her to get more of the business online so that she can do business anywhere with anyone in the world. And she’s not like hamstrung by the actual storefront. The storefront is great, but at the same time, she knows that she can survive regardless of what’s going on in the economy. So we were kind of converging together talking about customers that have insane, unrealistic expectations, some of the weirdest interactions that we’ve ever had. And I want to recount some of her stories here. And it’s all going somewhere, it’s going into this channel of Wu Wei and F books. So Jane said to me, you know, in the early days of my business, I would take things to heart. And if somebody bought something at the store, and they were even mildly dissatisfied, or they left me anything other than a five star review, I would have so much anx ety and so much turmoil over it. And it was really bleeding nto every area of my life, it was not only impacting how effec ive I could be as a business ow er, it was also impacting how functional I could be s a human. I felt like every as ect of my life was suffering my ability to be a wife, a mot er, a daughter, a siste , a neighbor, it was like to eve be a human on planet Earth was suffering because if some ody had anything less than a ste lar review, I would get so u set over it. If you’re a busi ess owner, I am sure that you can relate to that. I think at ome point, we have all felt hat way. I mean, this is our b by. And especially in the early ays of the business, if some ody stabs you in the back, o it feels like you’ve go an unexpected punch in the gut, oh, hey, I gave this perso an awesome product or an awe ome deliverable. I actually ent above and beyond the cal of duty and they acted like me it does smart. Jane told me and again, I have permission to ell this information. She sh red with me that she started se ing a therapist to talk about the situation, she did not wan to give up her store. She l ved being a business owner and selling the products that she had. But at the same time, she wanted to get some effec ive coping strategies so that e ery time there was a problem, a ump in the road, a dissatis ied customer, which let’s face it, especially in a re ail situation, I think that’s g ing to happen even more than it oes potentially with service b sed businesses. She didn’t wan to feel emotionally devastate by that. And I, I commend h r I have a high degree of res ect for her ability to troubles oot and to go, you know wha , I don’t think I want to feel his way anymore. I’m gonna reach out and get some help. I’m definitely an evangelist for therapy. I feel like t’s something that can be incred bly useful if you have the abi ity to do it, especially her in this era of telehealth, and you feel that it will help yo to feel better do it. We ere talking about horror storie as well as just funny things w ere you just have to sit back an go What was that person think ng? Like who does that? And on of the stories that she told me was about this woman who emailed her and said that she had purch sed an apple cinnamon candle fro my friends store and she go it home and she started burnin it and she felt like it had a lot of cinnamon, but hardly any apple. And so she felt duped and dissatisfied by it because she felt like it should have had equal amounts of both apple and cinnamon. And so she wante to know what Jane was going t do to make Right, Could she b ing the candle back? Could she get store credit Like what? hat could be done to overcome his sheer tragedy of the a ple cinnamon candle not smel ing Apple enough for this woman. And Jane was like there, there w uld have been a time in my ife where I would have been upse by that. Even though I would ave found it petty and stupi , I would have been upset, I w uld have let it ruin my en ire weekend. And I would have ent over backwards to try to ind some way of making this a ple cinnamon lady happy. And no if I get a DM or an email ike that, from somebody that ust has a petty silly complaint, you know, they’ve already bu ned half the candle, but they ant to know if they can get a re und or store credit, I just hit the weight, and I go on wit my life, it just simply does not matter. She also told me abo t a woman who emailed her and aid that she had bought a dress rom Jane’s store. And she had een on a crash diet to lose ome weight for this particular e ent that she wanted to wear the dress to. So she got in the dress, she wore it this one night to this one event. And then she stopped the crash d et, she gained some weight back the dress no longer fits. And she wanted to know if she c uld return the dress and g t a refund. Because it had only een more not one time for that one night. It didn’t have any st ins or rips or anything wrong ith it. And she didn’t fi it anymore. So she felt like she should just be able to get her money b And Jane was like, delete. I don’t even take the time to answer these people and say no, or to send them a copy of store policy about returns and exchanges and such I just hit the delete button. Because it’s just not simply worth the amount of headspace and the effort that it would take to deal with these people. It’s better to just delete them. And if if I lose their business so what what am I really actually losing by not having them come back to the store again, somebody that wants to wear a dress to an event and then bring it back because it doesn’t fit anymore and they have no use for it is that somebody that I want as a repeat buyer know, someone who burns half of a candle and they don’t enjoy the way that it smells and they want to come back in? Is that somebody that I want as a repeat buyer? No. Sometimes as business owners or as solopreneurs we make things bigger and hairier and scarier and more impactful than they actually are especially like if we can take a step back and look at it more objectively. I mean I’m sure as I’m telling you these stories that Jane told me about the the dress Lady and the Apple Cinnamon candle lady you’re laughing if you’ve ever worked in retail, you may be nodding your head going oh yeah, I’ve hundreds of stories, people that wanted to bring merchandise back over the most frivolous of reasons like the more that we can not make it so scary and hairy and just sort of say the thing out loud, call the thing a thing and just say Is this the end of the world? Is that where are we going to suffer a nuclear meltdown because of somebody candle? No, no, we’re not. Part of this boils down to just good old fashioned, the customer is not always right. The customer is not God Almighty, you are not subservient to the customer or some kind of second class citizen. Know the customer is not always right. It’s also important to remember that a great cooperative, awesome sauce customer is worth their weight in gold. Whereas negative, problematic unfeasible, impossible to satisfy customers will suck the life out of you. They’ll suck the life out of you in a business capacity. But they can also as my friend Jane found out suck the life out of you period. So that all of a sudden you feel like you’re not as effective in your personal life anymore. Because you’re dwelling and ruminating on something terrible that happened something bad that a customer said or a negative review on Facebook. And it can be difficult at times to really divorce yourself from that and be able to unwind and relax with your family. I remember hearing the farmer Joel Salatin who runs polyface farm, say one time I prize my repeat awesome customers, I want to make sure that I maintain those relationships as well as I possibly can. But an unbelievable customer that just wants to gripe and nitpick and be a thorn in my side. I just let them go. I don’t try to please them. I don’t try to placate them. I don’t kiss their butt. I just show them the door and that’s that people can either roll with that or they can’t but I would much rather have customers that I love dealing with than to have a whole bunch of customers that just want to complain and nitpick all the time. I completely agree. That’s how I run my practice. And I think a lot of us for our own mental health and well being need to call the hurt a bit at times. Again, I want to caution you against just slamming the door shut and and being too willy nilly or too extremist, you want to be strategic about how you do this. But as as Joel has said, as my friend Jane has learned, those difficult customers can be such a pain in the neck. And if you can begin to pluck them out, call them from the herd, remove them from your practice, it really leads to a lot of long term happiness and a lot lower headaches. In some respects, I think the concept of Wu Wei can be helpful here, Wu Wei can be translated several different ways. One is inaction. And another is effortless action, which in some respects, especially to this kind of Western world, American mind seems like a contradiction in terms. Because so often we think about taking the bull by the horns, you we have this, this Western capitalist mentality of I’ve got to force it to happen, I’ve got to wake up in the morning, early, I got to get up at 4am and lift weights and to raw meat, get on my grind, I gotta, I gotta hustle. I got to buy into the to the hustle culture. And it’s like, okay, no. Sometimes in life, the smartest thing that you could do is walk away. In a business context. Wu Wei can help you calm down, slow down, take a deep breath. And look at this objectively. Do I need to respond to this angry customer? Right now? Does anything need to be set at all? I think you could use Wu Wei also for the Craig Ferguson technique that I’ve talked about before. Does this need to be said? Does this need to be said right now? Does this need to be said right now? by me, specifically? And if he can’t answer yes to all of those questions, then he shuts up. Sometimes that will keep you from smarting off to some body firing, shooting from the hip firing off without really thinking about it or getting yourself embroiled in it. He said, she said back and forth with somebody about well, how are you going to make this right? Because I didn’t like my candle. Who cares? Oh, it’d be great, I should put some echo on that. I wish I had more time to do some editing. And I would be I would really like juice it up. Who cares? cares, cares. Some people have also used the idea of Wu Wei as swimming downstream, or swimming along with the current letting the river help you in your journey, as opposed to trying to swim upstream or against the current you’re fighting, and you’re clenching your teeth, and it’s just so much effort. If you can harness the water’s power as your own and let it help to move you along. It makes for a much smoother workday and a much smoother store. Product selling service based business coaching practice, whatever it is that you’re doing, the more that you can be in that downstream, not efforting space, the smoother the flow goes. We also have to remember that we must make many different decisions every day. And it can be what kind of coffee will I have this morning? Or will I have coffee? Or will I have tea? What will I eat for breakfast this morning? What kind of toothpaste will I use? When will I do this? When will I do that? Do I want to wear black pants today? or brown pants? Do I want to wear my hair up or wear my hair down? Do I want to wear perfume today? Maybe I don’t we have so many little micro decisions that we have to make just upon waking up but by as the day goes on, our brain starts to become tired. That’s one reason from a health and wellness perspective, the more that we can set ourselves up for success in our eating habits and our exercise habits the better because the brain starts to get tired and we can get into that space of halt. hungry, angry, lonely tired. You may have heard the that anagram before in a therapeutic context. Don’t make decisions when you’re in a halt mode, hungry, angry, lonely or tired. And hangry too. I mean certainly that’s a thing. Think about a time when you’ve come home from work and you’re like all hangry and you’re like I just want pizza. I don’t want to cook I don’t want to eat anything healthy. I just want to order a greasy pizza and sit on the couch and watch Netflix like it can happen to us. No matter how well intentioned we may be. A few years ago Sarah Knight did a TED talk called the magic of not giving an F and she talks about a currency called f bucks. Now naturally I will drop a link to the TED Talk in the write up for this podcast episode. Again. I’m going to try to not have a slip up here and have the episode go explicit because I want as many people as possible to have access To this episode, I feel like it’s important. Sarah talks about this idea of F books and an F budget, you only have so many f bucks to spend over the course of a day. And it’s like this idea of the the paralysis of choice, as well as all the little micro decisions that we have to make. as the day goes on, we’re tired. You know, the brain wants to have an opportunity to relax a little bit, in the same way that we can overspend and get a huge credit card bill or put our checking account into an overdraft. We can overspend emotionally, as well, like my friend Jane and her situation of allowing a three star review on Facebook to ruin an entire weekend or allowing somebody sending an asinine email to ruin an entire week and really plague her thoughts. We can emotionally overspend on things that we really just shouldn’t even give an F book about. At the very beginning of the TED Talk, Sarah says, We’re living in a post tidying society, everyone including me has a story about decluttering their home, gathering all of their possessions into the middle of the floor, deciding what brings joy and then bidding farewell to a set of spatulas in pursuit of a calmer, happier life. But what if we could gather up all of the other stuff, tasks, events, obligations, relationships, and drop it at the curb without a single regret? And by doing so be free to focus our time, energy and money on the stuff that really makes us happy? And quote? What about that? I mean, who, to me if you don’t get juiced up and excited hearing something like that? What’s wrong with you? Like I even though I’ve watched the TED talk before just reading that paragraph to you I’m like he I get all giddy. I get a little tingle up my spine like yes, yes, yes, I’m in I’m interested. She has a technique that she calls the not sorry, method. And I will read to you from the TED Talk transcript. Now, it has two steps. Step one, decide what you don’t give an F about step two, don’t give an F about those things. Simple right, end quote. And the general idea here is that you don’t have to be rude, you don’t have to steamroll anybody or try to ruin someone’s life, you don’t have to be in a hole about it. You’re just prioritizing self care, and you’re not going to waste money out of your F budget, on things that are just not important to you, or that you don’t really need to go to or be part of, for me, having a successful business being out of survival mode, and away from the absolute nightmare. That was corporate America. For me. It’s been revealing in so many ways, both expected and unexpected. Now that I’m able to design my life and design my work, how I want it and in ways that are so much more compatible with how I naturally flow day in and day out. I mean, I look back on how I was working before and I think my God, it’s not a wonder that I was miserable. It’s not a wonder that I felt like Stranger in a Strange Land or a right foot inside of a left shoe. It just it never felt right and never felt whole. And I felt like I was always going from one toxic environment to another. I mean, it was just, I don’t I do not miss it at all. And part of that is because I’m able to set an F budget and make decisions around that. There’s no one punishing me for being an introvert. There’s no one looking at me as less than Well, it would really be great if you are more extroverted. I mean, it’s okay that you don’t want to go to Billy Bob’s barbecue and Sally Sue’s Pool Party on the weekends, but it would sure be nice if you did you know you we could really see more of a future more, some more, more so upward potential and mobility in your career here, Sara, if you would just go ahead and fake being an extrovert. It’s like, I just don’t have any apps for that. And I’m so glad that I don’t have to play pretend and try to twist myself into a pretzel to do it anymore. I’m going to read again from her TED Talk transcript. I’m telling you, if you respond in a timely fashion and say, No thanks. I can’t make it to that dinner party. You’ve done nothing wrong. You were honest. You were polite. And you don’t have to be sorry about it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can apply the not sorry method to anything tasks, events, obligations, even people. You start by making a list of everything that’s cluttering up your mental barn all The impositions on your time, energy and money, the F’s you’re being asked to give end quote, I love that she talks about it as impositions on your time. That to me is a really fabulous word to describe the situation because it is an imposition. If it has nothing to do with the actual work at hand, you’re just being told that you need to go to someone’s barbecue or Pool Party need to go to a networking breakfast, because your boss would really appreciate it. If your dad or the owners of the company would really look at you as management potential. If you did, it’s like, that’s an imposition on my time. I should not have to go have crepes at the I hop at 6:30am with a bunch of other salespeople to look good for someone else. That’s To me, that’s ridiculous. Like, it’s not just about having the F bucks. It’s also about the toxicity of managers in corporate America who think it’s appropriate to do that. One of the pleasant side effects of doing this, as Sarah talks about in this TED talk is that you’re freeing up your time, so that as you’re saying no to things that you don’t give an F about things that are an imposition on your time that you don’t want or need to attend. It clears up more space, for the things that you want to say yes to friends and family and things that are important to you. So that you’re not spending day in and day out on tasks or obligations that you feel disconnected from, there’s no there’s no connection, there’s no passion, there’s no Jawad Aviv and any of the things like you can get more and more out of that space, and begin to really embrace the things that you want to do in life. So to sum up this episode, if you haven’t watched the TED talk before, I would highly recommend that you check it out. If it feels uncomfortable to you, if you’re kind of squirming in your seat right now as you’re listening to this episode thinking, Oh, I just don’t know I’ve got all of these things that I quote, have to do. I’m not sure that I could set an F budget. What if people don’t like me anymore? What if my friends get mad that the fact that you’re pushing against the idea of even listening to the TED Talk tells me that you need to listen to it more than somebody that’s not pushing against the idea. But certainly for those of us that are more on the introvert side of the spectrum anyway, that feel aggravated and frustrated by these demands people put upon us to Oh, well, you really need to go to this event. You really need to get out and see and be seen. It is so comforting and validating to have somebody else say Guess what, it’s all right to not want to spend your F bucks on things that are completely meaningless to you. We hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you haven’t already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.