The opposite of selling is sharing

I have people ask me for marketing advice from time to time.  While it’s true that I have both a minor in marketing and an interest in how companies use various tactics to make us think we need what they are selling-my beliefs about “what sells” is very different from most.  It’s really the opposite of selling that motivates me to do what I do.

The opposite of selling is sharing.  

I’m motivated in the reality that life is short, both good and bad, and being lead by faith is what determines success.

Sharing Our Stories
There is no doubt that my courage to share our story-as it unfolded-with those who live close to home is the reason why Nathan and I were able to slowly move into making our full income from our daily work on the farm.  My story telling has never been a tool to sell and that is why it is all over the place including food, birth, community, equality, marriage. A mixture of photos on instragram, thoughts posted on Facebook and pouring out my soul here on the blog.  It’s who I am-and what I’m thinking and going through-in real time without any filters (outside of the Instagram filters, of course).

What my story telling does-I believe-is connect my life, opinions, and experiences to others who can somehow relate.  In return, those people may simply read and nod, send me a message, thank me in person for wearing my heart on my sleeve, or they may feel lead to get to know Nathan and I better-and eventually purchase the food we grow.

Sharing Our Work
Where my story telling ends is where Nathan’s hard physical work begins.  He is a doer.  He is motivated by the reality of global warming and a global food system that may leave the next generation with little to eat.  But rather than talking about it-he does.  He grew up on a farm and learned that doing means having.  For years his work was to directly benefit the dreams of others who wanted to stay on their family farms.  Today, his work is to create opportunity for our family to eat, a smaller handful of others to follow their dream to full time farming, and to provide good food for a handful of people who after connecting to our family choose to share their financial resources with us-by buying our food.

When my creative work meets the needs of our farm, but I still have more left to give-I pour that out into helping others-those who are willing to trust me to do so, of course.  My personal experiences lead me to care about birth, breastfeeding, food access & policy, and opportunity for all.  Sometimes that lines up with the values of others and other times it doesn’t.

Sharing Our Resources
Our business model-if you could call it that-is to look at how much money we need to live a modest, but quality lifetyle-and that’s how much farm work we take on to pay ourselves.  This allows us to take other resources into consideration-rather than just monetary.  Our time, energy, spiritual resources as they relate to raising our children, engaging our community, serving others must all be taken into consideration as we determine what to invest in our future.

When we take only what is ours then we leave plenty for everyone else and that allows us to rest and breathe a bit easier at night.  The marketing world tells us to take as much as we can, but when we begin to share our stories and work with one another we are able to recognize once we have enough.

Sharing Our Success
Success is this funny thing.  It doesn’t happen over night and all the dots that must be connected before it is achieved are easily forgotten.  It’s easy for the person who is successful to decide that they need more and leap into the next big thing that might bring another brief moment of satisfaction.  It’s also easy for those who benefit from our success to distrust the method of hope and courage that has been invested and want us to trade it in for methods that seem more safe.  To take the moderate level of success that was built on relationships and apply rules, control, and so much structure that in then end-only those on top survive.  My goal is to see success as it truly is-and to keep my focus on my core values rather than what is deemed successful by others.

In order to be inclusive in our success we must always consider how our work might become isolating, self serving, or an abuse of power.  For when that happens we become driven by fear rather than hope.  Taking time to share our success allows us to experience joy in life and appreciate what we’ve been given.  Sharing success helps it grow in ourselves and others.   I share my successes because they come with a good dose of reality in the hard work (from many people) that was involved in getting there and the truth that my success means that there is only more hard work to come.

Sharing Our Failures
Nathan and I experienced so many false starts and stops before making the full commitment to farming full time.  I share those experiences because I’m realistic that if you are out there considering making big risks-you will experience hard things too.  The failures add up quickly, but with each one I learn just what I need to know for what’s to come.

If you haven’t made the leap yet-you are still probably struggling with failures and hard things in your everyday life-you’ve just become comfortable with them.  Does that resonate?  

Sharing Our Value
Let me be honest-I want to be valued.  I want people to see my heart and desires as a good thing while treating me with respect and dignity.  My heart is heavy with the reality that I have been silenced-and many others have as well.  Women, families, farmers, low income households…just to name a few.  I truly believe that all of us-me, you, them-have value.  That’s my “marketing secret”.  I believe in myself and I believe in you.  I believe in those who everyone else has given up on.   I believe in their real, raw, authentic stores-the stories that once shared-will help them rise up and do that very thing that is pulling on their heart.  I want to see those who are living in their success and also those who are living in sorrow.  I want to listen to those who are for the first time settling into a healthy life and those who feel like they are barely getting by.

It’s so easy to retreat into a world of our own making.  To surround ourselves with what is comfortable, easy, self-serving and forget about the rest.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life and acquiring more, but it’s when we use those things to set us apart or above others that we do our own part in creating groups of people who are marginalized and abandoned.  That’s when our sharing becomes selling.

Very simply we are a group of real people with very basic human needs-and we have the ability to meet those needs for one another when we are willing to live authentically.  The way that our ancestors lived life and did business was simple.  They worked hard, met their own needs, and took what was left over to share with one another.  Sharing meant survival for everyone.