How Erin helps entrepreneurs find their zone of genius.

The Zone of Genius: Thriving in Simplicity

Erin Urban has a fantastic story of going from corporate leadership to going off on her own and then pivoting to help entrepreneurs focus on their Zone of Genius.

And then, Erin is also an expert in a lot of the depth mindset work that I really love talking about. So, we’re going to dive into her own personal journey along those lines, and share some tips and advice.

I’m going to let Erin introduce herself a bit more thoroughly, and then ask her a million questions. And Erin, with that, I’ll let you tell us who you are, where we can find you, and then we’ll go from there.

Follow us on…

I love a million questions. Bring it.

So, yes, my name’s Erin Urban. You can find out more about me at coacheurban.com.

I help driven, high achieving leaders and teams elevate their impact and influence without sacrificing wellbeing.

Getting Started

So, you started in the corporate world. I kind of did too, but you were doing change management. Where did you start in your career, and why did you go off on your own full time?

Looking back, it’s like, “Wow, well, you’ve changed careers a lot.” And I did. I changed careers around about five times.

People ask, “Can I change my career?” Yes, that would be your answer. Of course you can. “And can I thrive as an entrepreneur?” Yes, of course you can.

I came from a very enriching background in architectural design, both exterior and interior design, put over 875 homes on the ground. From there, with my bridge project management experience, I decided to take that on and really go with the facilities interiors. I got bored, just was tired of it. It got to the point where I think I know everything I need to know about project management, thank you very much.

I really like making things better.

So I decided to become a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt; that has nothing to do with karate or anything like that, but really has more to do with continuous improvement, basically making what you do better. Improving processes, communication morale, that kind of thing.

One day, I woke up and said, “Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if this was more effective. Leaders keep changing their mind, those silly leaders, if they would just embody the change, it would all be perfect.”

So I became leadership development certified – then learned that the leaders we really want to change aren’t seeking change.

Regardless, what I love to do out of all the coaching and consulting that I’ve done over the years is really help people thrive. It’s interesting, as you evolve in your career and your life journey, I find you become more and more towards your center, that niche we love to talk about. It comes easier over time. And I think part of it is because we really get very comfortable with knowing what we don’t like.

I think a lot of people relate to that: they find what their joy is and what their superpower is. And it may not always necessarily be appreciated by the people who really need it.

Over time in your career, as you became increasingly more skilled and realized what people needed, you found yourself in a space where you knew you could have massive impact, but it wasn’t appreciated. I’m guessing, from what I recall, I was a pretty big motivator for you kind of being like, “Yeah, I think I’m ready to just help people who want to be helped now.”

Right, yeah, absolutely. What’s interesting too is all how we brand our messaging. Really when you look at it, if you go out there and say, “Oh, let me help you be a better leader.” Well, good luck. That probably won’t work. However, if you come off like my tagline: more income, more impact, more influence. They’re like, “Oh yeah, I want that.”

Well, of course you want that. How you get there, however, is becoming a better version of yourself, whether it be a leader, an entrepreneur, et cetera. So we don’t have to tell them how we make the cheese, it’s just, the cheese is tasty and you want more cheese, right?

Yeah. Who doesn’t love cheese?

When you go off on your own, there’s so many different ways you can market yourself on the internet. The reason why there’s so many gurus is because there’s a lot of different things that work.

How things shifted

You kind of had a slow but steady buildup in your income and then had a really great couple of years. So what are you doing now? What are the main ways you’re marketing yourself? How has that changed in the last two years, since the beginning of 2020 to now early in 2022. And we’ll start with that and go from there.

Yeah. That’s a great question too. Obviously, it has shifted.

In 2020, we all had to pause whether we liked it or not. And now, we’re seeing the great reset, or the great resignation if you’re in corporate.

Well, for a lot of us, we’re finding more clarity, really identifying: what is my “zone of genius?” I use zone of genius because that’s a lot of my coaching – helping people find their zone of genius.

  • Where do I thrive the most?
  • What really drives me?
  • What are my strengths, gifts and talents and how can I leverage that to fuel a career? Whether that’s as an entrepreneur or in corporate, something I truly thrive in for a long term.

Until the pandemic, we’ve been so busy, we haven’t even had time to settle long enough to even have these contemplations.

And even if we did have kind of an idea, “Yeah, I really like to do this,” we’d just get so distracted. It’s like there are these things coming at us.

So how I’ve evolved is truly finding my zone of genius, to be honest. Before the pandemic, I would have to say I was more of a holistic coach, which could do everything from finding your clarity, to making transitions, to helping you through out all these things. And yes, I could still do that. But out of all of that, what truly sparks joy?

That was finding the zone of helping people find their zone of genius.

I love that. And your shift has been so beautiful to watch.

Getting Clients

How has the way that you’ve gotten clients changed?

You’ve got a powerful presence on the internet, but in person, you’re just absolute fire. Your presence and speaking is definitely one of your many strong suits. How has the way that you actually get clients changed from then to now?

Right. So obviously, 2020, guess what, we’re going virtual. In fact, I was one of the first speakers that helped a lot of professional organizations shift and make that transition.

I immediately saw that need and dove in, terrified, scared, reluctant, whatever. It didn’t matter. I knew I needed to do it. So I dove in, both feet. And in 2020, gosh, I’m not even sure how many virtual presentations and conferences I did. Let’s just say it was a lot. I had weeks that I would do three to four – and I don’t recommend that, FYI.

So that was really the big shift. And, as you know, while you do get engagement for virtual conferences, it was a little bit slower.

When I truly landed on what I truly want to do versus doing all the things, the Jack of all trades a little bit, that’s when things really started taking off. Then, even the virtual programs became much more productive and lucrative as far as generating more leads.

The Zone of Genius

So how did you realize what you really wanted to do?

A lot of people have a hard time with this. You had a decent niche. It wasn’t like you were too broad, but you were still broad enough to where you felt spread thin. How did you finally decide, “Okay, this is what I’m actually going to focus on, what I really want to do.” How did you discover that finally?

It was first, becoming aware that I needed to find my “zone of genius.” I know I keep coming back to that, but it really is very poignant.

So there was the awareness, and then two, there was the acute aha moment: that you cannot do everything.

What was that moment?

Well, it was 2021, because not only did I bite off a lot personally, and somewhat professionally, because I launched my best selling book, January, 2021. And then the world blew up for me personally. It was just everything. I recognized that in order to survive, I had to simplify.

And it’s very interesting, because right now we’re going through such a tremendous compounding change cycle socioeconomically.

That’s what I’m coaching and advising people to really focus on: simplifying. Complexity is inaccessible, because our cups are already full. Simplicity is necessary for survival.

So with all that being said, I also needed to put energy back in to me and to my core being and truly align with that which brings me joy. That which lights my spark, connects with my inner brilliance.

It was really out of necessity.

It was like you got to the point where you’re like, “I literally cannot.”

There’s some people who are like, “Oh, I might choose this, or I might choose this.” But you were like, “I am literally going to die unless I choose one thing.”

Because you made the decision to narrow down proactively when you realized the walls were closing in, I think you avoided burnout. 

That’s right. I could see it coming. I’ve burned out two or three times. One time, very hard. Twice, I call soft burnout.

I came close in 2021. I knew I was reaching the end of my candle, if you will. That candle was burning, it was burning hard, and I was reaching the end of it. It was right before Christmas, right after Thanksgiving.

I did some presentations, I did some workshops, wrapped up the year and I took off after, I think it was the ninth or 10th of December – I was done. Because I knew. And for the rest of that year, the only thing I had on my plate was to create my 2022 business plan.

Even the contemplating, doing anything that had to do with work gave me extreme anxiety. So I knew that I came close, even though I think I did a masterful job of managing everything on my plate.

Just to give you a scope: best selling book in January, move mom, right before that actually. So over Christmas in 2020 moved mom, three days, packed her up, moved her across the country. That took another trip back, and I sold her 80 acre farm from over 2000 miles away with a poor realtor (let’s not go there). Started a new build on the house I moved her into, which was another property that we had purchased, project managed that, we’re just finally wrapping that up now.

I also signed up for and completed one of the top premier coaching certifications in the country with CoachRICE through Rice University.

Then, because we didn’t have enough to do, we decided to put our town home on the market, which meant a massive effort in prep and to get that sold and then moved all of our stuff.

That’s a lot of things in one year.

And so business was just the absolute minimum, and you got close to burnout. But because you’d been burned out before, you knew what that felt like.

What advice do you have for people who are feeling that pre-burnout feeling? How can you put the brakes on without reducing your income or momentum, if that’s possible?

Absolutely. So one, just to help some people recognize what pre-burnout might look like.

Let’s just consider something you enjoy doing. If that doesn’t bring you a spark of happiness, chances are you are already on the edge.

Thinking about work or the source of your stress, the source of the burnout, do you experience anxiety? Chances are that could be happening. If you catch yourself feeling like, “Gosh, I really hate doing this or I really don’t want to do this.” Yeah, also a problem.

So how to avoid that?

One: simplify.

Complexity just doesn’t work.

Our cup is full right now, at this moment, we have disaster fatigue, we have a lot going on.

So it’s important to acknowledge that, first of all. Then, as an entrepreneur, understand that’s a massive responsibility.

So what can you simplify?

What extraneous things that are not serving you can you let go of? And also, what can you do to bring wellness and wellbeing into your life immediately?

For me, because I was juggling so much, my brain was in high beta. High beta is a very agitated brain wave state, where it’s difficult to think, difficult to focus. It feels like the bees are bouncing around inside of your head. Your thoughts are just all over the place. And at the end of the day, you don’t feel productive and you’re frustrated and it’s just stress, the cortisol level is very high.

So in order to get out of that, I stumbled upon a technique called mindlessness. And what that does is it lowers your thinking levels from high beta to more alpha state, which is calm, clear, confident, steady, you learn better, you make better decisions, you’re more engaged, you’re more present.

That saved my life. Literally saved my life last year, is the only way I can get through everything, manage everything. So did that answer your question?

Mindset Matters

Yes. 100%. Yeah. And I love talking about mindset stuff, because we have a such a different way of looking at things and also we’re interested in the exact same things. I think the last conversation we had, we were even getting into quantum physics. Starting with kind of a personal standpoint, how has mindset and your own personal mindset transformation played a role in the growth of your business?

It is critical.

I cannot emphasize enough the absolute importance of your mental state, your mindset, that mental tone. I just can’t emphasize it enough. It’s absolutely essential.

I’ll give you an example. I’ve been doing a lot of deep work for many years, and I took a pretty significant step forward through that break. Being very intentional about setting my income goals, not being attached to the how, yet taking the actions necessary and holding the right emotional resonance towards those goals, that’s key.

If you feel anxious, when you set that goal, guess what? You might get the goal and you’re going to be anxious. I’ve done that, I know, I’ve been there. I made my goal and I was like, “Oh my God, I’m going to pull my hair out.

Before you even finish, that’s such a huge problem for people, you attract what you focus on and the way that you feel when you’re setting goals or the way that you feel when you’re marketing really matters.

It matters. Usually I’ve had these experiences though where my biggest struggle is probably anxiety; just panicky.

I’ve got all these tools and like you said earlier, I wish there was just a process that just worked every time. Step one, step two, step three, step four. It’s always different, because we’re always healing and building resilience.

Working with Emotions

Do you have any advice for when people are stuck in emotion that’s not serving them, and it’s messing up their money and their manifestation. Do you have any advice on how do you get out of that emotion into a new emotion?

Yes, absolutely.

I wish I could say that my advice is easy. So in order to thrive as a human being, the very first step is positive self regard. It all starts there.

Because if you do not have that fertile soil in your mind garden, if you will, nothing grows.

It is inauthentic to think that you can be grateful and produce these happy emotions for someone that you don’t regard in a positive light. So that’s step number one; it sounds easy. It took me 30-some years to get there. It’s a whole thing right there, that’s an entire mindset workshop, positive self regard, just that. But that’s step number one.

And then from there, once you arrive at that understanding of what positive self regard is, it’s not just physical. It’s not just taking long walks in the park.

Positive self regard is truly loving yourself for who you are, mind, body, spirit, soul, emotion, all the stupid things you’ve done.

Now, that’s something I’ve been working on lately. I realized that I had positive self regard for all these other bits, except for the dumb crap I’ve done and the mistakes and the failures and the shame, right?

That’s where things get sticky. But, once you start understanding the path and start accepting yourself, that’s when you can lean on love.

I know it sounds weird, but it’s important.

So if you’re thinking, “Okay, I have all this negative stuff coming up, and these doubts and fears.” Step number one is absolutely letting it all go, reducing my thinking levels, coming to what I call a zero state. And then the only emotion I focus on is just love, just love.

I can create from that standpoint, but until I get to the zero state, put myself into love emotion, I can’t create productively. And it sounds kind of woo, but it does have neuroscience. There’s actually scientific research that backs all this up.

There sure is. Law of attraction sounds like the most woo woo thing in the world, but every single thing in law of attraction can be tied to science and psychology.

And I think I love what you just said. I feel like I had a conversation with someone recently where there’s kind of similar advice, and I really related to it. You find anchors, over time, when you work through these processes, which are very messy and emotional. And, sometimes you get it right away and sometimes you’re stuck in the muck for a while.

Gratitude

So, we almost lost one of our cats recently.

It was kind of a traumatic story where he’d gotten outside, and he’s an inside only cat. We didn’t realize he was still outside.

We came home and something had happened. He had gotten attacked by something and was in bad shape. He wouldn’t let us come near. So, when he survived that experience and came to the other side, I feel this whole new level of gratitude and affection for him. He’s always wanted to be on me all the time. 

But before, I would get so annoyed about it. Now that I have this renewed sense of gratitude for him, when he wants to sit in my lap, literally every single morning during my mindset routine. And I just feel that gratitude and affection for him.

I feel that the love from him, the love from any animal, just feels like an anchor, like a warm, fuzzy anchor, and I can tie into that feeling.

When you’re struggling with a negative emotion, the first step is, can I find a resource? I’m getting a certification dealing with helping people more through a trauma informed approach. And the word that they use is resource – you’re resourcing.

I love that one of the first steps for you is love. And then, creating from there. It could be any positive emotion that is a resource you can always feel in your body.

Right. Maybe it’s a gratitude practice. Gratitude practice is amazingly healthy.

In order for me to transition out of gut wrenching anxiety every single morning with my brain kicked on, I managed to program my mind to start automatically going into a gratitude practice before I even come conscious.

That was transformational.

I didn’t know what else to do. I was at my wits end.

Finding that anchor point is important, and pets are wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t have any, because I’m allergic, but I do get adopted by my neighbor’s pets. They can feel that love, and they’re just beautiful channels of love and support. So yeah, that’s another great anchor to find.

And from there, create the state that you want to either manifest from, or create your marketing or your intentions from. That’s so incredibly important.

And I think a lot of folks get it right. Like Dr. Joe Dispenza, in his book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. He gets a lot of it right. But some a little too complex. And I like to simplify things: what’s the essence here? What are we really trying to get at?

Getting Clients

Mindset played a huge role in your growth. I want to roll back to this. So you were doing live events, and you brought a lot of your live events into the online space. Do you get most of your clients from LinkedIn?

It’s mostly through referrals and LinkedIn and online, virtual events presentations. So it’s a combination.

What I like to do is not put all my eggs in one basket. Right? That’s very, very important.

I also don’t try to do all the things; I don’t try to become a LinkedIn guru, or try to do every speaking event and two, four or five speaking events a week like I did in 2020.

It’s good to get diverse warm leads from different areas. I’ve been working on LinkedIn for many, many years. LinkedIn takes some time, to build momentum and build steam. Once you do have the momentum, it’s very helpful, but it does take some time to do. So that’s one area.

Of course, the presentations are another area. And then referrals is a third area. I’m also exploring another area using LinkedIn navigator. We’re just trying to have fun with it. That’s the important thing for me, particularly if you’re thinking about, “Ooh, am I toying with burnout?” What can you have fun with in your business?

Having Fun: Mindset and Marketing

Yeah. Oh, and that’s perfect. That was my next question. Mindset and marketing are so much more related than people realize, the way that you present yourself and find clients or sell courses.

Erin and I both happen to be coaches, but it doesn’t matter if you’re a coach or if you’re selling a $7 printable. The way that you show up to sell your stuff is impacted by your mindset. And I think what you said is key: does this feel fun for me?

I was running Facebook ads for so many years, because I was doing it in my corporate career. And so as soon as I had my own business, I was running Facebook ads all the time, for this or that. Not even looking at the ROI.

It was a way for me to release the how, and I kind of burned out last year and then took a break from selling for a couple months, came back into it, started trying to run ads to a webinar again. And my body was like, “No.”

After I’d had that break, I had this clarity and I was learning to tune into my body to help.

We think that our brain and our mindset just in your head, when really it’s your whole body. So, if you could use your whole body to start tuning into what is aligned, you have all this other subconscious information that you can’t consciously process. It was just such an interesting experience to be learning about a more somatic approach, like incorporating more of your body into your mindset, and then to have this very physical reaction to the Facebook ads, like, “Nope, my nervous system very clearly was freaking out too much.”

As entrepreneurs, it’s important to get uncomfortable, but there’s discomfort in which you constantly want to be stretching. And then there’s the “I feel like I’m going to die,” which is what you don’t want to push into.

How do you find that your mindset has impacted the way that you’ve marketed yourself over the years? Because you’ve marketed in lots of different ways.

Mindset plays a role in multiple different aspects of marketing the business.

As entrepreneurs, we see it all the time, the million programs out there. All the things. You don’t have to do all the things – you don’t. You need to know where your ideal client shows up and show up there.

And when you show up there, show up in the space of gratitude and have it be fun for you. If it’s not fun for you, then maybe investigate what’s going on.

I do my own social media. One, because I have a fairly niche audience. I don’t need to be on 14 different platforms, and it’s really not necessary for me to have a marketing person do that for me. And I kind of like creating my own social posts.

So I do it myself, because I want it to be my message to attract my ideal client.

Now that’s not everybody’s game. Right?

And it’s not necessary for sure, but that’s just how I show up. Because I’m doing it, that means I have to have the right mindset when I’m creating that long form post, for example, because if I don’t have the right mindset, chances are, I won’t choose the right words.

From a neuroscience standpoint, when you talk about mindset and your perspective, what it does is create mental programs that drive micro-actions, that then encourage you to deliver the results that you’re focused on. And it’s those micro-actions that count and add up.

So when it comes to marketing, that’s certainly a lot of micro-actions, they’re adding up towards the results that you are focused on. If you’re focused on the ones you don’t want, guess what? You get what you’re focused on, whether it’s what you want or don’t want.

So there are days where I don’t post, because I can’t get myself in the right mindset. It’s a waste of time.

Posting with desperate, anxious energy is not a great way to work, unless you want desperate, anxious clients.

The Book Launch

You had a very successful book launch.

You can talk about your book a little bit if you want to, Elevate Your Career. How did you plan for that launch? Writing a book is a long process. A lot of authors think about the book and not about the launch, and you did both successfully. Any advice for getting through the writing process and planning for a bestselling launch?

One of the things that made me take a little while to decide on the title was I knew that whatever content I put out there was a major part of my brand.

It did take me a while to figure out what I wanted to write. The writing process for me, though, because I love to write, was actually quite quick. The publishing process took a while, as it should with you finding the right publisher.

And the launch process was a lot faster than I expected to be. It was an extremely intense process. Now here’s the thing:

Bestsellers aren’t bestsellers because we’re inherently awesome people.

I would love that to be the case, but that’s not necessarily the case.

You’re a bestseller because you have people that believe in you. They believe in you and believe in your message.

On launch day, it was 6:30pm and I was so tired, I couldn’t even speak. I hadn’t looked at any of my numbers, because I’ve done a book launch party, I’ve done all the things, right?

And it was so much over that entire month. I was just done with all of that. And I was just sitting in my chair like, “Ugh.”

My mother called and asked, “How’s the book doing?” I was like, “Oh yeah. I don’t know, I didn’t even looked at it.” I checked – and it was a bestseller.

And what came to me immediately was just immense feeling of gratitude.

For all the people who believed in me. That’s what really struck home. Just all those people who believed in me. And yeah, it was a click of a button. Yet, still, it was such a big deal and I had such gratitude for that.

You planned really well for the launch. You knew when the book was coming out, roughly, because you don’t know the exact date. Right? Or do you?

Oh, yeah. I didn’t submit my book to a million publishers for them to turn their nose up at me, I did a hybrid publishing model. Honestly, now, if for any reason you’re thinking about making money off a book, you make just as much, pretty much, publishing it yourself.

I did a hybrid model, in the most effective and straightforward, efficient manner humanly possible, which at that time was through Kindle, KDP Publishing.

I hired someone to do the behind the scenes process, because I’m not a KDP expert, nor do I want to learn how to be an expert.

So we set the date, and then I just set the marketing wheels in motion and just cranked out the emails and the social posts. Basically you’ll feel like you’re barraging people. Yes, you’re barraging people. Barrage them, it’s okay.

What Erin’s Doing Now

Tell us where we can find you, and what are you focused on now?

You can find me at coacheurban.com. And of course I have a bunch of great resources available, also have a YouTube channel, etc.

And what I’m doing next, I’m really focusing on the zone of genius. That helps people understand what their ideal path is, that aligns with their core drivers, their priorities, their values, their strengths, their gifts, and their talents, so they can thrive in this very challenging time and create a fulfilling professional life.

Are you still doing your podcast?

Absolutely. Yes. I have a podcast as well. I’m live on LinkedIn, on YouTube and Facebook every Tuesday, 11:00 AM central standard time.

And of course a podcast is available in all the channels, including a few that I’ve never heard of.

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