Honeyritual did well when we were able to let people try the product for themselves and make a retail purchasing decision in person! But we know that to reach more people in a scalable way, we need to be able to reach people effectively online as well. And what I have observed over the years is that people who are able to market a physical product well, tend to have built an online audience (and often times, the online audience comes first before the product.)
In addition, there seems to be an emergence of a “creator economy,” driven by people like David Perell. And in order to participate, one also has to do a better job cultivating audiences.
I already feel icky using the word “audience,” which brings me to my own inner trip-ups about being an "influencer" of any kind myself. But it’s somewhat hypocritical of me to feel that way, because I like a lot of people who are influential. Although it would be fairly obvious to point to certain negative emotions like jealousy of people who made it, fear of failure, etc., etc., I knew in my heart that there's another inner belief that's less obvious, that's keeping me from going further. And this subconscious programming seems to permeate not just this topic, but in other areas surrounding building a business.
But I knew someone who might be able to help me untangle and figure this out, without me having to explain all of my personal beliefs from scratch. It’s Youheum from Heal Your Living!
She is the only person I know (online) who has successfully integrated influencer marketing and Buddhist beliefs without excessive dilution of her values. And in many of her videos, she alluded to overcoming this fear of being perceived as narcissistic and being judged. I also relate to her “highly sensitive person” (HSP) perspective and all the trappings of perfectionism.
Also, I had developed honeyritual based on much of the same ethos and habits—she avoids caffeine and prefers vegan products. And loves tea! She literally has a video on this topic, and her audience is perfect for honeyritual.
I had known for a while that she offers coaching services, and I felt I finally had a good reason to reach out...
So here’s what I shared below in response to her onboarding questions. It’s long and rambling because I was still formulating my questions for her as I was typing them:
Which part of your life do you want to improve the most?
Career, Finances, Mindset
Do you identify with any of these traits?
HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), Anxious, Chronically Stressed, Perfectionistic, Easily Frustrated, Pessimistic, Low Self-esteem (I checked all of them!)
Do you have any background in emotional healing and spiritual awareness?
Have you tried any of these practices?
Meditation, Breathwork, Shadow Work
How did you discover the Heal Your Living channel? Has it helped you in your life?
I discovered your channel when you first started, because I watch a number of minimalism channels and your channel was highly recommended on YouTube. I found your content extremely healing, because it aligned with my buddhist beliefs and love of extreme minimalism. It makes it feel like it is possible to live a life of ethical principles while engaging with the world. I also really appreciate the extreme hard work that goes into producing your videos and building a community!
Share any details about your current life. Why do you want to heal your inner self?
Thank you for providing this platform to share. I recently started a business, selling caffeine-free, vegan tea based on traditional Asian ingredients, that comes with wellness rituals for self-reflection. As you can tell, it is completely inspired by your channel! :) However, one thing that I have trouble with is that entanglement that comes with mixing commerce and spiritual/ethical beliefs, accompanied by a baseline poverty mindset instead of an abundance mindset.
1) I feel that in order to help my business grow, I need to work harder in doing "influencer work" and establishing myself in that way, especially in today's world where a lot of marketing relies on social media. However, I find myself not being a social media-ready person and being withdrawn in that regard. I am very curious to learn how you were able to bring yourself forth in the way that you do. I feel you hinted in how in one of your videos, and would like to know what actions I can take to fully embrace myself in this arena. I am also at times self-critical and I think "can't quite" believe in my own abilities yet in entrepreneurship.
2) Secondly, I also feel very shy to engage in self/business promotional activities, and not knowing where that ethical line would be drawn. For example, I thought that I should be more active in your community but hesitated to do so, because my intention did not feel quite pure, since I will financially benefit if people buy my product. However, I do personally believe that people who love HYL will also find honeyritual beneficial and aligned with their physical and mental well-being needs. So I wanted a chance to directly engage with you to ask how to resolve this inner tension.
3) Overall, I would like some coaching on developing an abundance mindset. Lately I have also been quite affected by the world of crypto, in that feeling of a) super-FOMO (since I knew about bitcoin so many years ago...and did nothing) and now, b) engaging in some trading activities and feeling bad if I make money (always regretting not investing more) or if I lose money (which hasn't happened yet but I know will happen inevitably!) In terms of the buddhist eight worldly winds, I feel this is totally the trappings of gain/loss! From my understanding of buddhist teachings, all these worries are quite worldly and do not lead to cessation of suffering. So I wonder how to resolve the abundance mindset / buddhist understanding of materialistic desires and its trappings?
Thank you for your advice in these matters!
My previous personal background in case this is helpful to know: I am a healthcare marketer who worked as a neuroscientist for a number of years, and I quit because it wasn't fulfilling. So what I am doing now is already the "better" version and closer to what I want to do with my life. :) I wrote up some of my goals for this year here: https://christinchong.com/word
What do you hope to achieve from this coaching? What kind of changes do you want to see?
1) Clarity and confidence about how to grow and operate my business 2) Development of an authentic abundance mindset aligned with buddhist beliefs
What new skills and habits do you hope to acquire after this coaching? e.g. daily meditation
1) Fewer negative thoughts/anxieties about my abilities/business 2) Ability to connect with an audience with authenticity
In the days after I scheduled my meeting with her, I felt a bit of nerves. You know the saying “don’t meet your heroes?” I was afraid that I had put her on too much of a pedestal, and that she wasn’t how she presented herself to be online. Not that she won’t be how she is, but that these interactions would be rote, standardized. Would she even read what I wrote?
Well the good news is, my worries did not come true at all! She is as thoughtful if not more so than expected, and she gave some eye-opening insights for my online persona and real life path forward.
Here are some notes from my call with Youheum:
On being an "influencer"...
She helped me question some of my inner beliefs about “influencers.” We joked about how the Buddha was the OG influencer (I mean, he’s got 6-10% of the world following his teachings!) And I shared that as the treasurer for the Alliance for Bhikkhunis, I personally got to observe how Buddhist nuns who know how to use social media well and express their beliefs strongly tend to be able more “successful” in spreading the dharma and building monasteries to support more nuns. So there’s nothing inherently bad about wielding influence.
On fearing "success"...
So what’s the problem then? We dug a little deeper and she asked what my fear of success was. I shared a revelation I had with my cofounder the other day—that I get more afraid not when we fail, but when we succeed in our tasks! (I often call it, the “stress of success!”) I told my co-founder that it’s a fear of the “fall”—the more we succeed, the higher the expectations and the more there is to lose. But I realized that this is a learned behavior from observing my mom. (brief backstory: my family had money but then lost a lot of it due to circumstances, and my mom spends a lot of time lamenting what was loss and what could have been.) So for me, my biggest fear is my lack of trust in my own stewardship of success—what if I do succeed and THEN lose it? Also, what if I inadvertently cause harm to others with my power? It’s a fear of squandering an opportunity, or misusing it somehow. Or the sadness that comes with great financial loss (which seems worse than not having gained any in the first place.)
Then Youheum asked, what do you think is the worst thing that you can do if you were successful?
...and I drew a blank! I think I spent so long worrying about the possibility, that I never even thought about the probability of such a thing happening. We talked about how to change that mindset, that our work can be in service of others even if we do financially benefit. She also advised that I find more examples of successful business owners with admirable ethics. (since one of my other issues is the lack of role models—most people I admire are monastics who don’t own anything technically...we also talked about Thich Nhat Hanh and how he established organizations that help to grow his “brand” and support monastics that way.) I also shared that I am building the business not even because I am seeking traditional financial success, but just to be able to say that I can look after myself and others.
In fact, after kindly answering my millionth small business question, Greg Frontiero of Noowave Coffee linked me this tweet that says it all:
On HSPs and planning...
In addition, I shared that often times, I spent a lot of time making contingency plans for when things might go wrong rather than things going right—in our recent honeyritual maker’s market event, I had a dozen things we could do if nobody was interested in buying...and underplanned for what to do if we sell out or were super popular! (E.g. we were actually under-resourced for our point of sale because we didn’t anticipate non-stop customers!) So I felt like this was a classic example where I could have amplified our success even more if I had planned for it, instead of spending so much time constructing plan B through Zs.
Youheum related that this was a classic safety mechanism for HSPs, the overplanning for every contingency to protect oneself. She advised that I redirect that energy towards planning for the positive outcomes instead, and scenarios that make me feel expansive rather than contractive. She asked, what would be your plan for social media anyway? And I realized that I had spent so much time worrying about what it would mean, that I didn’t even plan the strategy. So she advised that I create a vision (board) with what I see myself doing in the next phase, and I’m excited to do that now.
Coincidentally my other favorite minimalist on the internet, Lefie, just posted a video on her version of a vision board based on index cards and a binder clip. Yes, the hipster PDA is making a comeback! I really like this approach (as opposed to a giant collage) and will use it in the next few weeks.
We then did a guided meditation where in brief, she asked me to imagine being nourished by a productive garden filled with vegetables and fruits of my imagination, and to feel that level of safety, that I will always be nourished.
That made me tear up! While I was able to relax a bit more into the meditation, There were these thoughts that arose:
- What about people who don’t have these opportunities? That seems incredibly unfair.
- Will I always be fed? Can that ever be guaranteed?
We talked about these trigger points and she advised that my success does not deprive others of theirs, to address the first point. I agreed, and told her that the second point comes from a brief period of time in my childhood where I really wasn’t sure where the next meal would be or how things would work out for my family. And although it made up a very small percentage of my life, it left a lasting impact. She advised that I do some journaling about childhood for next time to promote healing in this area, and will send me related resources. She also encouraged some “fear-setting” journaling as well. I told her that I used to do this, but it’s been a while! So resuming a regular journaling habit could be helpful too.
On non-attachment and abundance...
We also talked about the abundance mindset and how to also be non-attached, and she shared that she had to do that when her first video got a million views. It’s the art of not overly identifying with one’s work. It’s one of these thoughts I’ve been mulling about more..the Pali word tanha and “desire with attachment” vs chanda, which connotes “positive desire.” Aspiration without striving.
We ended with how she is able to create content without being attached to it, and how to deal with “haters.” She said that she used to fear being perceived as narcissistic herself, and did not like the trappings of social media. But now she likes to think of it as “raising the vibes,” and I really liked that framing.
Youheum pointed out at the end of the call that there is already abundance in my life—she said that often times people reach out when they are just thinking about freelancing or making content, yet I already have a product that people want and supportive co-founders and friends. So I can relish in the abundance that’s already available.
So all of above happened in an hour session! It was quite a lot to process (and I’m still doing so!) and immensely helpful.