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Entrepreneurial FOMO: how to deal

Entrepreneurial Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). All those selfies got you down? Here’s how entrepreneurs can cope

Open any social media app and you’re likely to find beautiful images of people living their perfect lives. While many discussions of social media talk about the effect on individuals, entrepreneurs can be just as vulnerable to the effects of social media. Here at Consultant Journal, many of the people who request our tips on building expert status say they feel overwhelmed and need direction.

Fear of missing out – often hashtagged as #FOMO – means “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”, according to the Oxford Dictionary.

“FOMO has grown as the presence of social media has developed due to the increased access to people’s everyday lives,” says Lindsay Cooke, LMHC. “

Fear of missing out – the FOMO origin story

First mentioned by Dan Herman in an article on branding tools for The Journal of Brand Management in 2000, FOMO has since made its way into discussions of everything from vacation envy to restaurant meals and from business school parties to awards. In fact, Harvard Business School student Patrick Mcginnis wrote about it in 2004 for The Harbus, detailing how it affected his social life during his time in biz school — Joseph Reagle provides in-depth notes about the etymology, if you’re interested.

Managing FOMO

For entrepreneurs, confronting FOMO can mean hard work. As you interact on social media, you may find yourself surrounded by images, clips and news of people speaking, presenting, attending conferences, working in prestigious locations, receiving certifications, and getting testimonials. Those posting may seem to have perfect hair, stylish clothes, fancy cars, amazing vacations, and a constant stream of business deals.

As with all marketing, entrepreneurs choose their messages carefully. What you see may even have been constructed by a marketing agency, photographed professionally, touched up, staged on a green screen and heavily edited. Entrepreneurs often blur the lines between personal and professional content.

Even experts on media literacy can fall prey to FOMO. “ I am like the doctor who suffers from what he treats,” muses Jim Wasserman, author of a three-book series on media literacy and behavioral economics (aff). After moving from the US to Spain, Wasserman relied on social media to promote his books. “”I was constantly checking and seeing how I could be on social media and interact. The fear of missing an opportunity to promote my books, do a podcast, write an article, or in any way interact became pretty bad. I could almost FEEL my positioning of my books losing ground and slipping spaces.” He notes the process was driving him to burnout and leaving him feeling like he was working harder in retirement than as an employee.

Tips for managing entrepreneurial FOMO

“ Usually when someone is experiencing FOMO it is similar to treating an anxiety issue,” says Cooke, an LMHC counsellor. She says she supports clients by helping them identify options, reflect on their decisions, explore the truth of their thoughts, and distract themselves. “Often times, utilizing these strategies can decease or even eliminate social media FOMO,” notes Cooke.

Distract yourself

“Engage in another activity at home that is distracting,” suggests Cooke. She recommends clients try movies, books, cooking, staying off social media or planning something fun for yourself. And “Give yourself a break for staying in.  

Fact check your FOMO

Sure, your friend, colleague or competitor may look like they’re up to amazing things, but is that the whole story? Entrepreneurs can make themselves look good, regardless of their qualifications, experience or outcomes.

Moreover, with such heavily curated and managed content, you’re only seeing part of the story. Someone may be posting pictures of their latest business deal, but they may not show up 2 months later to say they got stiffed or that they had a falling out.

You may also notice peers and competitors posting a stream of awards. An entire industry supports carefully worded applications, with some awards even representing a business revenue scheme for the awards organization. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s paid.

Embrace your feelings

Recognize your feelings, says Whitney Hawkins LMHC, a psychotherapist In Miami. “Recognize that you are feeling that way for a reason. Don’t push it away or punish yourself.” But examine whether there’s evidence that your thoughts are true.

Tune into your goals

Revisit your personal plan and see if you’re making steps toward your own goals. “”Focus on gratitude. Did anything else positive happen today? Is there anything that helped you with this situation?” suggests Hawkins “You can even be grateful you’re having this problem in the first place, like if you have the privilege of having a business in the first place.” Once you’ve invested time in the problem, move on, she adds.


And create connections. Wasserman turned to family. Visiting his wife’s family in Asia, where family is first, helped him reconnect face-to-face. “ would go many days without  the ability to check social media, or even the news, and found not much changed, except that I had dricher living and less worry about ‘What will happen?’

Walk away

Upon returning to Spain, Wasserman and his wife hiked El Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route. “We are  not religious, but walking that route, disconnected from news of the world, social media, and really anything but living in the now and having to look people in the face when communicating brought it home for me; when you are stressed about how hitting yourself with a hammer hurts, don’t redesign the hammer or change the frequency of swinging…just put it down.”

Move on

Go back to your own business plan and goals.. Hawkins, a business owner and a psychotherapist, says, “I make a plan for the future and continue to work on the reason I am comparing myself to others online.


Struggling with FOMO? Join us for free tips on transforming your expert status. Click here.

Related to FOMO


Label makers for business

I use a lot of nifty gadgets in my business and it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about them in ages. Well, I was just on Amazon to check on my print books, when I ran across this label maker.

Now, I’m an Amazon affiliate. I’ll be clear about that up front. But I use a label maker in my own business and it occurred to me that maybe other people could do the same. I got the idea to use a label maker from my client, who has franchised her business internationally. She’s always hip to new ideas. I bought my label maker about four years ago.

How do I use my label maker? Well, I put labels on my devices. In fact, I put my cell # and tell people to text me, along with my email. I figure people are more likely to text you than call you. I put labels on my storage boxes. I label things I take along to meetings. I put labels in books I loan out. I put them on water bottles I use at meetings. I put them on anything I cart along with me. I put them on anything I think I might lose or misplace.

I wouldn’t say labels have changed my life. I still label a ton of things with Sharpie markers:

But they’ve been a help. And maybe they’ll help you. I have a Brother label maker (in pastel pink!) that I picked up at Staples, but I noticed the above label maker on sale and thought maybe someone else out there would want to discover the magic of label makers.

Related – Office gadgets I can’t live without

7 terrible secrets revealed by your email address (and how to fix them)

When it comes to your personal and business brand, your professional email address may be undoing all your hard work. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of email addresses – and I’ve had a chance to make observations through the eyes of hiring manager, consultant, client, volunteer and colleague.

Your email address brands you, even when you’re not working

If you want to be professional, you have to think about how your email address represents you. Even if you’re merely using your email address for personal reasons, it’s likely that many members of your business network see your personal address. That’s because everyone you contact becomes a member of your network:
  • Store owner who runs the mailing list for specials
  • Yoga instructor who sends you a mailer on upcoming classes
  • Meetup group you joined and never managed to attend
  • Parent class rep at your kids’ school – and  everyone on the shared contact sheet
  • Dating site people you saw once
  • Parent you met at the park and decided to join for coffee, since you both work in the same industry
  • Friend you met at fitness class, who knows about how to set up that thing on the computer
  • Guy you met at the charity event, who mentioned he could send you a discount code for an event at the art gallery
Most of those people may not profile as “business” or “professional” contacts, per se, but they’re part of your network and thus your professional life. In fact, even if you’re on mat leave, still in college, backpacking, vacationing, parenting, socializing or otherwise wearing your “non-career” hat, the contact you make may influence your future career and business. It’s all marketing and networking.

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7 terrible secrets revealed by common email address mistakes

These common email address mistakes can mar your reputation:
  1. Too flirty. You’ve got some flirty, cutesy or otherwise goofy email address, leftover from college, your Internet dating days or a drunken moment at Gmail – and
  2. Shared with your life partner, meaning you have no separate identity, control issues, a domineering partner, computer skills too weak to manage your own account or some other “issue” people dream up –
  3. Too generic. You put a date in your address to set you apart –
  4. Make you look less than brilliant. Unless you’re flickr, a modified spelling looks like you either created your address in desperation or that you can’t spell – or
  5. Nonsensical. or
  6. Unbranded. If you have a business or a professional career, it’s a mistake to use a generic email account, such as Hotmail or Yahoo – or
  7. Spam filter nightmare. Many email filters are set up to look for numbers, underscores, and superlative adjectives. Even if you can handle the branding issues, your email may end up in the junk mail bin –  

5 remedies for common email address mistakes

Relax – there are several solutions for typical email address mistakes:

  1. Get your own email account, if you’re sharing one. Your ISP and gmail offer a variety of options. Click here for my preferred provider – I’m an affiliate
  2. Change the name of your existing email account. Your ISP may help you. Or you can easily set up a new Gmail account.
  3. Set up additional profiles if you use Microsoft Outlook.
  4. Forward all your email to the account you check most, if you don’t know how to set up more than one profile on Outlook or your smartphone.
  5. Purchase a domain name and set up an email address to match. You can do this even if you do not run your own business. Consider or, for example. Click here for my preferred provider – I’m an affiliate.

It gets even worse

I wrote this article on common email address mistakes because of a random discovery on LinkedIn. For years, I’ve recoiled in mock horror upon seeing women sharing their husband’s email addresses. But then I saw something that shocked me even more. For whatever reason, it seemed even worse than the usual email address mistakes. I saw a husband and wife sharing a single LinkedIn account. It made no sense to me. Why would you share a career profile on a virtual resume site? It boggles my mind. But more on LinkedIn (and Twitter) later.
What deadly email address mistakes have you spotted? What tips do you have?
 Note: all email address given are fictitious and were generated for the purposes of this article. No connection to a real living or dead person or existing or closed business is made or implied. Any connection is purely coincidental.

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Update: This poll is temporarily closed so that we can ask you for feedback on the teleseminar time slots. Please vote!

If you have ideas for future polls, just let us know.

Vacationing as a consultant

It’s May. I hit the beach this weekend and it was packed! It was hard to find a place to sit. The warm sand – a rarity in Vancouver at this time of year – felt really good. And it got me thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place, with beaches minutes from my home.

My career has taken me on many trips. Over the years, I’ve travelled to many countries, states and provinces. Increasingly, I look for ways to combine business with pleasure. I choose business events and meetings in places I already want to visit, so that I can satisfy my tourism bug at the same time.

Of course, being self employed, I often take work with me when I go on vacation. A good Wifi connection is paramount. But accessories, such as a laptop and smart phone help too. I like to check that Wifi and a good desk are included in the room.

No matter whether it’s for business or pleasure, I bring along a stack of business cards. I’ve made some great connections on trips over the years and I think that, anytime you make real connections with people, there’s a great opportunity to keep in touch.

Oh, and be sure to set up a roaming package for your phone. That little business trip to San Jose in February cost me about $160 in phone call fees. Ouch. I’ll be smarter next time.

What are your consulting vacation trip tips? (Try saying that fast!)

Readers – your feedback wanted!

[]I’m thinking of updating the ads you see over here to the right. You know, the ones for Consulting Fees, Discover Your Inner Consultant, and Become a Consultant. Now, traditionally, I’d just go ahead and put up new ads. But 50,000 people visited this site last month and I’d honestly like to know what you think. You’re the ones who look at this site and what you think matters to me.

So, as a sneak preview, here are the ads.

Consulting Fees Guide ad


Discover Your Inner Consultant


Become a Consultant Course

Do they speak to you? Do you prefer what I have now?


A few of you commented, emailed or DMd on Twitter to tell me you like the first two, but not the last. How does this one work for you?



Print, PDF and email this blog

I’m happy to say that you can now print, PDF or email blog posts from Consultant Journal. You’ll see the print & PDF widget at the bottom of posts. It also allows you to email yourself a copy of any post.

By the way, have you tried "Share This"? That’s the widget just below "Print Friendly". You can share any blog post with friends and social media contacts using Facebook, email, Twitter – you name it.

See below! Enjoy!

Help Consultant Journal provide better content in 2011

Every year at this time, I review my business plans for the coming year. When I started Consultant Journal, it was just a personal blog – a way to describe my life as a consultant and perhaps help other people out. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of helping other people start and run consulting businesses and I’ve also connected with many wonderful people who’ve helped me.

Consultant Journal is important to me and it’s important that I help meet your needs as readers and community members. With that in mind, I’m embarking on my first survey.

You can find the Consultant Journal survey at

The point of the survey is to help me deliver the content and materials that best fit with the needs of readers. If you have any suggestions now or at any time, I welcome your feedback.

Best wishes for a happy, prosperous 2011.


Desk jobs and joint aches, pains and health

If you work at your desk all day, you may not always sit in the best position. And that can leave your joints feeling sore. I recently wrote about joint health for BC Living Magazine and thought I’d share the article: Boning up on joint health.

Over the years, I’ve had problems with joint pains and joint health. I was in a car accident that gave me whiplash and thus knee pain, back pain, hip pain, nech pain, arm pain — you name it! Because I’m unable to take ibuprofen and I found myself pregnant or nursing during much of that time, I had to turn to natural treatments and natural joint pain solutions. For me, hot baths, physiotherapy, ice and heat, exercise, muscle training, Tylenol, mindfulness and other natural approaches were really my only options. I also chose a more ergonomic chair and made sure that I held my neck and body in good positions.

Do you have joint pain?

60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace on coaches and mentors

Mike Wallace has been co-editor of 60 Minutes since 1968. Early on in his career, Mike was coached and mentored by Harvard graduate, Arthur Goldsmith.

Mike was working on commercials, but his dream was to work in news. Arthur saw Mike’s potential and encouraged Mike to make the leap toward news.

"Arthur kept on me, and I paid attention," said Mike (expired link). "He told me that I wasn’t realizing enough of myself. And finally there came a time in my life when I said, ‘Arthur’s right. He’s right!’ So I gave up everything and it worked out."

Mike’s story illustrates one of the five reasons why professionals need mentors: an outside point of view.

When you’re working hard in a career you don’t love, it can be a juggling act to find time to think about the big picture. But a mentor’s role is to help you recognize your strengths and to help you consider your career as a whole.

Sometimes it takes the encouragement and insight of a mentor to propel you closer to your dream.

Mike Wallace recognized the power of mentorship. Mike’s mentor led him to a successful career in news broadcasting, which, for Mike, was the realization of a dream.

Where could a mentor take you?

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