Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

How I Mis-Marketed My Energy Class

Sunday, July 30th, 2017

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My hypothetical friend Rob wants personal growth and counseling skills, so he signs up for a class. One of exercises involves visualizing energy in his body, shifting it from an agitated red to a calm green, and noticing his body becoming calm. When talking with another person, he visualizes that energy floating to them, and they become more calm too.

He doesn’t ever wonder whether the visualizations work by self-suggestion, adjusting his limbic system, posture, and tone, or whether they operate by some real energy that exists outside his mind. He doesn’t have any interest in testing or refining these energy techniques, because it doesn’t matter to him how they work, and they’re not central enough to his life to devote significant time to improving the results. He wanted an easy-to-learn tool to help calm him and his clients, and he got it.

I’m thinking about why people explore energy, so I can improve Energy Geek, both the content and the marketing. I’m seeing two main motivators: Results and curiosity. Rob is motivated by results.

I’m motivated by curiosity. When I was 11, a friend who loved fantasy novels talked about feeling energy from trees. I tried, and I felt a warm tingling. Was that energy or imagination? I have no idea. But I started exploring, stumbled onto a handful of real results, and have been driven to understand energy ever since. I care about results, but I specifically want to understand this thing I’ve been experiencing, what it is and how it works, and I trust that will lead to something useful. Often, when I get a successful result, my main excitement is knowing that I’m on the right track in understanding energy — the specific result is secondary.

Rob wants effective tools for calming himself and his clients. If you have a non-energy-related technique that works better or is easier to learn, awesome, he’ll take it.

I want to understand energy, which hopefully leads to something useful. If you have a non-energy-related technique, I don’t really care, because it doesn’t help me understand energy.

I’ve been viewing my unique quality as a focus on results. After all, concrete, measurable results show me I’m on the right track in understanding energy, so I care a great deal about getting concrete, measurable results. And Rob? He’s totally uninterested in seeing what his energy visualizations actually do. Does he even care about his results?

But I’m realizing: Rob cares about results as much or more than I do. Just different results. And, when every class offers “better results” (from something), that becomes a generic platitude rather than a real differentiator.

Curiosity is the real reason I explore energy. It’s the reason to test specific techniques, to separate out what’s energy and what’s imagination. I need to start from curiosity, and let results be the guidepost, not the destination.

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Designing an Event for Science-Loving Energy Workers

Monday, April 24th, 2017

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“Ever learned an energy technique and wondered if the results were just in your head? I sure have. That’s why Energy Geeks do exercises with placebo controls, so we can get real-world feedback and improve our skills.”

That’s my new pitch for the Energy Geek Meetup. I made it after asking for feedback from attendees, and learning people are more interested in learning energy techniques than in proving to themselves that energy is real. This all has me thinking about what the Energy Geek Meetup is, what we do there, and why we do it, which is what I’m writing about today.

(This will be a meandering post about learning energy and the business side of Healing Lab. If you came for technical guides to energy and magick, maybe skip this one. Also, I’m not an expert at marketing, so much of this will probably be pretty basic.)

Let’s start with the business side. The Energy Geek Meetup is part of my marketing funnel. (That’s a series of steps where people try free and low-cost offerings, come to know and trust your work, and then purchase more expensive products. An article for energy healers recommended 4 stages: Free or $1, then $10-20, then $50-300, then $500+, which is the thing that pays the bills. No idea if this is optimal, but it seems like a reasonable starting point.)

But it’s not enough just to say that it’s part of my funnel — I’ll have at least 3 funnels, for different types of customers:

  • Online practitioner: Blog posts and free energy geek pamphlet, then an e-book, 1-day webinar, multi-month webinar.
  • Client (someone who wants healing sessions): Website (need publications and more testimonials), $10-20 energy assessment / consultation, one session, package of sessions. For in-person, there might be a talk as the first or second step.
  • In-person practitioner: Blog posts, e-book and meetup, 1-day class, multi-month class. (Same content as online — I’ll build them at the same time.)

(Much of this falls in the “coming next year” category. Also, today I’m putting on my marketing / business hat, but most days I wear a “get my ideas out there” hat, and even if you never do a webinar and only read my blog, I’m still excited to be connecting with you.)

Back to the marketing: The Energy Geek Meetup is the 2nd step for practitioners in the bay area, who might someday take a multi-month class to learn to use my techniques in their healing practice.

(Wow. Being new to marketing, I haven’t done a lot to define who my customers are, and I hadn’t intended to explore that in this post. But what I just wrote feels fairly good and precise. And making that unexpected progress has me feeling excited about marketing.)

What about people just starting out with energy? Are they my target customer? They aren’t practitioners yet, but someday might be. I think yes, that’s part of my market, but not the focus. I’d been planning to include a 10-15 minute intro at each meetup for people new to energy, along with a special beginner exercise. (That way beginners have something to do, they can learn together and join the community, but experienced folks don’t get stuck doing beginner exercises.)

I’ve also been thinking about the exercises. Do I want to have each event be a one-off, with a totally different exercise each time? That sounds… Like a lot of work, not that fulfilling, actually. I could never do anything besides beginner stuff, because I wouldn’t know that anyone knew the previous material.

Maybe a series of exercises, like I would have in an energy fundamentals class, that people can work through at their own pace. That way, everyone could find the right spot for themselves, and an experienced practitioner might run through the first few exercises quickly before finding something they can learn. And I could re-use that series of exercises in a class or webinar.

What would those exercises look like? I’ve discussed some before, and I’ll probably add exercises to feel the different energy signatures of different parts of the body (different tissues, organs, etc), and maybe more as we go.

This introduces a new problem: If different people are doing different exercises, how do I communicate the exercises? I don’t want to demo all 5-10 exercises every time, that would take a lot of time and be boring for regular attendees. What about a handout, like a little pamphlet? One exercise per page, essentially what’s already in my blog posts, plus a space to record results. Then I demo one exercise per meetup, rotate through them, and point everyone to the handouts. (Then I work with newcomers a bit.) And I can also use the pamphlet for my classes, and as something people can download from Healing Lab (with the option to sign up for a mailing list).

So this is really becoming a facilitated practice space, where attendees get to pick their exercises. Which feels like what this should be — a practice space, rather than a class.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I think about marketing and events. Feedback (especially from experienced marketers) is welcome. And we’ll be back to “how to do energy” posts next week.

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Help Me Name My System of Healing

Monday, December 19th, 2016

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I’m trying to name my system of energy healing. Could you help me?

You read my blog. You know I’m about placebo-controlled testing, understanding why energy and healing and everything else operate the way they do, and using those insights to engineer new techniques. I’m looking for a name that aligns with all that.

Let’s talk about market research. There seem to be 3 ways of naming systems of healing:

  • Generic-ish names: Healing touch, therapeutic touch, energetic restructuring, energy modulation.
  • Founder-focused: Eden Energy, by Barbara Eden.
  • Branded: Reiki, Quantum Touch, Vortex Energy, Polarity Therapy

(This is also related to medical intuitive services, but those seem to be fairly generic names, or just “Joe Smith, Medical Intuitive.”)

I’ve been using a generic-ish name for a while, “Direct Biofield Healing.” But it’s a mouthful, and I’ve learned that energy healing researchers try to keep the term “biofield healing” reserved for scientific papers, not used in any one brand. I want to ally with those researchers, so I want to pick a name that won’t annoy them.

Another option is Sententia Energetics. I don’t love it, but it’s not a bad backup. But if you particularly like Sententia Energetics, please let me know.

My company is Healing Lab, so I was using “Healing Lab Method” for a while. But again, it’s a mouthful, and I want Healing Lab to be able to research any system of healing, not just mine. I’d like my system to be its own thing, separate from Healing Lab.

A few more names I thought of:

  • Aura Engineering (I kind of like this one)
  • Data-Driven Healing (probably too generic)
  • Insight Energetics (too corporate)
  • Energy Geek Healing (another good one)

A friend suggested using Latin. For example, “light movement” becomes “lumen momen” or “lumomen.”

More on what I’m about: I seek to understand everything, particularly things that are currently ineffable. That leads me to the scientific exploration of the biofield. I just happen to make healing techniques.

I think I’m looking for something branded, a metaphor rather than a description. Like how Amazon has nothing to do with the rainforest, but it does contain a huge diversity of things. Or Apple has nothing to do with fruit, but has the connection to knowledge and insight.

So please help me brainstorm. Concrete nouns that relate metaphorically to science, insight, and discovery, words that could be put in front of “energy” or “healing.”

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How Money Improves Art

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

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If you speak at an event, should you expect to be paid? To at least have free admission? Taylor Ellwood started a good discussion, and others have interesting additions.

For me, this is part of a bigger discussion about money and art. Here’s where I stand:

Do what’s best for your art.

Usually, money improves your art. (Why? Keep reading.)

It’s scary. Do it anyway.

Your Art

Art isn’t just painting and writing. Art is whatever creative work you do: Energy healing, ritual, teaching, event promotion, engineering, computer programming. Whatever you bring to the world, that’s your art.

Do what’s best for bringing that art into the world.


Money refines artistic vision.

Yes, really. Free speakers can be mediocre. But if you expect someone to pay, you need to be compelling.

So decide to be paid. Then do the work to get there: Read and take classes on speaking. Practice, at free venues and toastmasters and wherever you can. (“I’ll speak at your event for free, but I need a recording of my talk so I can review it and improve.”) Write, to learn to explain your ideas and to build your resume.

Those are all hard and scary. Deciding to make money forces you to face them. That’s the point.

These days, my art is Healing Lab. I want to be paid to develop new healing techniques. And getting serious about money has been excellent:

Before I was serious about money, I thought about doing healing sessions some friends, getting some referrals, building up a small practice. Unremarkable.

Then I embraced my goal: To develop high-price healing techniques for people with serious conditions. And realizing that, the path changed. I’m focused on publishing double-blind studies to demonstrate my techniques. I’m focused on refining healing techniques through case studies, so I feel confident publishing and selling them. And I’m practicing explaining my system of healing, in writing, and among friends, and among strangers at toastmasters and other venues. All of that is hard and scary. But all of it is necessary.

It’s Scary. Do It Anyway

Whatever your art, getting good is scary.

At a minimum, it requires honestly assessing where you are right now. Every time I’ve done that, I’ve been less good than I thought I was. And I’ve repeated a mantra:

I’d rather become good tomorrow, than believe I’m good today. Recognizing a weakness doesn’t make it any worse. I’ve gotten this far with those weaknesses, so fixing them will take me even farther.

(Money forces an honest assessment of how good you are. That’s the point.)

Getting good also forces you to face your limits. Can you become so good at public speaking that people will pay for it? (Answer: Yes, but it’ll take 10,000 hours of focused work.)

Can I develop healing techniques so obvious and reliable, I can demonstrate it to university researchers, doctors, and investors? I don’t know. But I’m committed to doing it anyway.

(Why don’t I say “I’m going to try?” Because my goal isn’t to have tried. My goal is to succeed. Good post on LessWrong.)

Getting good is scary. Do it anyway.

Artistic Vision

What about visionary art? Doesn’t money poison that?

I’m not qualified to say. But I want to share two images. Before Picasso did this:


He did this:


The first step is getting good. The visionary art comes after.

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Building a Company: The Dreamer’s We

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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Asch_experimentIn 1951, Solomon Asch did a now-famous study on conformity. Eight people were asked, “Tell me which of the lines, A B or C, is the same length as the reference line.” Except 7 of those 8 people were part of the experiment. They confidently lied, saying the answer was B. And 36% of subjects went along, agreeing with the crowd instead of their own vision.

In advocating for magick and biofield healing, we are all part of an Asch conformity experiment.

But there’s a second result, less-known but just as powerful: If a single other person disagreed with the mob, subjects trusted their vision and spoke their truth. Humans don’t need to be a majority, we just can’t be alone.

As I start Healing Lab, I find myself saying, “We’re developing new healing techniques. We’re preparing for double-blind studies.” But who is this we? Right now, Healing Lab is just me.

It isn’t the royal we, where a king sweeps his subjects into his pronoun. I don’t have subjects. And if Healing Lab were five people, saying “we” would be correct.

(It also isn’t the manager’s we, which means you, as in, “We need to update the spreadsheet.”)

I’m calling this the “dreamer’s we.” Speaking for the organization I’ll build one day, rather than the organization I have now. Like having that ally in Asch’s conformity experiment, this “we” makes it easier to trust my vision and speak my truth.

What would you do with the support of a team? How much of that can you do today?

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Good Wrong Answers

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

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Worthwhile work is rarely about being right.

Being right implies there’s one answer. That happens in school, where your job is to find the teacher’s answer. But it rarely happens in life.

A good answer? Happens all the time.

I’m starting Healing Lab, and as I consider business models, legal protections, and whether to focus on selling healing sessions or publishing research, I keep reminding myself: There is no right answer. There are many good answers. And often, the space between best and second-best is minuscule.

Avoid wrong answers. Avoid over-optimized answers that succeed brilliantly if you’re lucky and fail if you’re not (and try to find gratitude for lawyers who point out those failures). Avoid catastrophe. And then get moving.

Decision paralysis is an answer too. Rarely a good one.

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What it Takes to Bring Energy Healing to Everyone

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

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A friend wants to make energy healing available for everyone, not just the well-to-do. That’s a great goal, and I’m totally on board. But what would that take?

Some numbers: Let’s say one energy healer can see 6 people a day, 7 days a week. That’s ambitious but not crazy, which will be a theme for this post. That’s 42 people a week, or about 2,000 people per year, one session per person.

There are 7 billion people alive right now. 7,000,000,000 / 2,000 = 3,500,000, or 3.5 million healers.

The US has 300 million people. 300,000,000 / 2,000 = 150,000 healers in the US.

Those numbers are intimidating. They certainly were for my friend. Years ago, when I first started thinking about building energy healing into a science, those numbers intimidated me too. But having those numbers lets you plan, it makes the difference between a daydream and a goal.

A few takeaways:

  • That’s much larger than a single company. If we want energy healing to be available to everyone, we need an entire industry, including trade schools. Currently, our competition isn’t the other companies or healing systems, our competition is market penetration (fewer than 1% of Americans use biofield healing).
  • Energy healing either needs to be easy to learn (think Reiki), or a high-skill, highly-paid profession (like doctors and nurses.) I want to build the second, which means published studies to build credibility and connect energy healing with medicine.
  • Helping the currently-existing healers offer lower-cost sessions won’t help. That might let them help different people, but it wouldn’t let you help more people. We simply don’t have enough healers right now.
  • How do we get more healers? Create jobs. Currently, if you want to offer healing sessions, you also have to market yourself and network for clients. If healers could instead join a company, be assigned healing cases, and have a marketing team to bring in clients, healing would be a safer, easier career to succeed in, which means more healers.
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Refocusing My Healing Business

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

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When I started offering healing sessions last year, I did what everyone else does, and offered generic healing sessions for whatever ails you. But I’m realizing that’s not the right approach for me, and that I should offer specific healing techniques for particular problems.

This grew from a couple of experiences over Thanksgiving.

First was a friend with a chest cold. On Tuesday, she said she’d probably be home sick and avoiding people all week. I worked with her Wednesday morning, and she felt much better by lunchtime. Thursday evening, I email her a “happy thanksgiving,” and she writes back that she’s feeling even better, that her day was great, and that she’s still socializing. In short, a nice, successful healing session.

I felt comfortable offering the healing sessions because I’ve had success with colds before. I even sent her those case studies, and felt all professional and sophisticated. I wasn’t 100% sure it would work, not even 90%, but I thought it would probably work the first time, and if not, that I’d probably be able to debug it quickly.

The second experience was a call from a very nice man asking me to work with something I’ve never encountered before. I didn’t even know how to approach it, and I didn’t know how to respond. And I realized: I don’t want to debug healing techniques on strangers.

If you’re new here, a bit of background: Most energy healers work by channeling energy. They use roughly the same procedure (or a short menu of procedures) for all clients, regardless of the problem. They channel, the energy does its thing, badda bing badda boom, they collect their $60.

I can do that, but I don’t want to. For the kinds of results that make me happy — the kinds of results I feel good offering — you need to get deeper than the energy layer, and you need to develop a technique specialized to that particular problem. Which brings us back to debugging.

When I try to work with a new problem, it rarely works the first time. There are just too many options to get them all right the first try. So, I debug, try again, debug some more, and after a few days or weeks or months, I get it working.

(The second time I encounter that problem, the same technique usually works right away. So it’s not just a matter of trying things until the person coincidentally gets better. It really is a matter of developing an effective technique.)

But that first attempt needs to be with a good friend. Someone who believes in me enough to keep showing up for more debugging, even though the last three times only produced temporary results. Someone who will encourage me as I struggle and hit dead ends. Someone who will keep track of their condition and give me good, detailed feedback, so I can figure out what works, attempt after attempt.

I can’t count on a stranger to do all that. And even if I could, what do you charge for that?

So, this is my new approach to offering healing services:

First, I develop the technique on a close friend, for free. They help me debug it, and I feel good about helping a friend.

Second, I work with acquaintances to get experience with the technique, work out the kinks, and so on. For less common conditions, I might offer the healing technique to customers, with the explanation that it’s in development, and is priced accordingly.

Then, once it’s working for a bunch friends, I’ll offer that particular healing technique to anyone who calls. This lets me practice adjusting a healing technique to a bunch of different people, without forcing me to develop a technique from scratch for strangers.

Another bonus: This lets me have case studies for that particular condition, and generally feel much more professional about my offerings.

I’m still not sure how much time I’ll spend on my healing business. But now, I think I’ll feel good about it when I do.

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In the Future, Everything Will Be a Coffee Shop

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

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A few months ago, I read this great article by Stephen Gordon about how all businesses will become coffee shops in the future. The idea is that, with all the core functions of a business going online now — university classes and most retail, for example — the only real function of most businesses will be for meetings, which can happen more cheaply and deliciously at a coffee shop.

I was brought back to Gordon’s article after visiting the occult store in Melbourne this week. The striking thing about this shop is, it truly wants to be a bookstore. The books themselves are wrapped in plastic, so you can’t thumb through them — Amazon gives you more of a preview than you get here. I don’t think there were any chairs, let along a place to sit and chat over coffee. In fact, between the books on every wall and the jewelry cases in the middle, there would barely be space for two people to pass each other. The goal seems to be to stock as many books as possible, and get customers in and out as quickly as possible, with a minimum of interaction.

And I can’t imagine it’s going very well. Amazon will always have a bigger selection, plus reviews and better prices. Blogs like this one make much of the content free, and most online content is fresher and more cutting edge than print books, anyway. When I told him I’m a blogger and asked about local events, he was outright hostile, saying that everyone is just talking online and not meeting, and that the community is falling apart because of … (wait for it) … blogs.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about coffee shops. Some place with meetups, classes, and books to read while you’re there. Roughly 90% of coffee shops succeed* because it’s a relatively high-markup product, and it’s a lot less overhead than a restaurant. Basically, you let Amazon have the product sales, and you focus on the community. The Occult Bookstore in Chicago is pretty close: They have an event most evenings, and a truly lovely community there, but I don’t think they actually sell coffee. You pay $10 for the event, and bring the coffee from next door, which seems like a huge missed opportunity.

*That 90% statistic was from some article comparing coffee shops to restaurants. It’s probably as well-researched as most things on the internet.

Right now, this is just an idea bouncing around my head. I doubt I’ll do anything with it. But I am curious: Does anyone live in an area with an occult coffee shop, or an occult bookstore that primarily lives on events and coffee sales? I’d love a link to the place.


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Seriously, Don’t Lie to Students

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

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In response to yesterday’s post on how we trick novices into thinking they’re feeling energy, Kol points out that many teachers use a rigged demonstration to overcome students’ lack of confidence:

This is something done by many disciplines; using some ‘trick’ to demonstrate the ‘power’ of their art. Martial Arts demonstrations are as much about it as those doing ‘basic energy sensing’.

And, sometimes it is those same ‘tricks’ which break the typical skepticism / resistance toward an idea or concept and ‘allows’ the person to open to the larger possibilities.

I get why you’d do that. It’s so hard to demo real magick with novices — I know, I’m working to do it. I get how tempting it is. Plus, you know the stuff you’re teaching is really good, and you know they’ll eventually be able to convince themselves for real. It’s not lying, not really…

But if one of the most basic claims of an art is false, it discredits the entire art. This is one of the reasons most scientifically-minded people scoff at magick: We (mages) make easily testable claims that are simply untrue.

For example: I received that almost-touch-your-palm exercise from a certified Therapeutic Touch instructor. She’s a registered nurse, doing energy healing professionally in the hospital, so she knows what good research looks like. And she knows how hard it is to be taken seriously by doctors, and desperately wants her healing art to advance into a science. In other words, she should be the most honest and credible teacher around.

Well, she gave us that demo, had us try it, and said that now we had all felt our energy body and knew it was real. A few minutes later, we had another exercise, and I had a friend help me re-run that test with my eyes closed. It took 30 seconds, and falsified the very first thing she taught us. So, either she had never tested it herself, or she knew it was false and said it anyway. Either way, not great for her credibility.

Starting with a lie that’s easy to disprove is a recipe for continuing to be marginalized.

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