Rejection Without Shame

Rejection comes in a litany of flavors:

“We don’t have any conflicts here.”

“We deal with conflicts really well here.”

“We don’t really need your services right now, but if we do, we’ll give you a call.”

“[silence]. Who are you again?”

“How do you say your name?”

“I don’t understand how anybody can make money from doing what you do.”

“How do you monetize that?”

“Yeah, your rates are too high.”

“Yeah, your rates are too low.”

“I don’t understand what you are selling.”

“Why can’t you help me NOW?”

“Where did you get your degree again?”

“How do you make it here in this town?”

“Where are you from again?”

“Hmmmm. Ok. That sounds kind of interesting.” [Then wander off to get bread at the networking event ‘nosh’ table.]

“Have you tried working for a human resource company?”

“Have you tried working with [insert name of big company here]?”

“I don’t understand what you just said that you do.”

“There aren’t any people around here doing that are there?”

“Could you not charge me as much?”

“We’re strapped for cash right now and not really focused on retaining outside help right now.”

“Your rates are too high; you’ll never make a profit around here.”

“We are a family company. There aren’t any conflicts among family.”

“I handle conflict really well; I don’t see how I would use your services.”

“Have you tried working with lawyers around here?”

“We can’t pay you.”

“We’ll get back to you.”

“We can’t pay you.”

“Can you do this for free for us?”

“We can’t pay you.”

“Send us your information and we’ll look at it.” >click<

“I just don’t have time to talk to you, call back next week.” [Call back again next week]

“I just don’t have time to talk to you, call back next week.” >click<

“That sounds interesting, but I don’t want you to drive all the way to [name location 25 miles in any direction from locally] to meet me. It would just be a waste of your time.”

“You’ll never make a living doing that. You should get a ‘real’ job.”

“You went to college for CONFLICT!?”

“Why don’t you just volunteer?”

Very rarely have we ever heard “No,” “No thank you,” or “No this isn’t for us.”

Although ultimately, the fact is that all the forms of rejection really come down to such a consideration. All the forms of rejection can be given without personally attacking, trolling, tearing down individuals’ talent, and questioning people’s motives. But when rejection crosses the line from “No this isn’t for us” to “You don’t deserve to have a voice,” or “You need to be denied the ability to speak because I disagree with you,” then we’ve crossed over the line into another area.

And we must be careful with what lines we cross because sometimes, there is no going back.

[Opinion] Marketing for the Peace Builder IV

There are three questions that the savvy peace builder should focus on when developing a marketing plan:

Whom do we serve?

This question can be answered with surveys and other formal and informal means. The question is not focused on the peace builder’s skill sets and where they’re comfortable. Instead the question focuses on the target audience for products, services, processes and philosophies. The question seems simple, but when the answer in the peace builder’s mind comes back as “everybody” there needs to be a deeper, more disciplined dive into the question from the target’s perspective.

Why do we serve them?

This question focuses on the four areas that many peace builders (and many entrepreneurs, business owners, and other self-starters) forget, because it is a question that delves into the culture of the marketing, the branding and the project that a peace builder wants to develop. The four areas are mission, vision, and goals. The mission describes what you want the project to accomplish, vision describes where you want the project to wind up, and goals describe the ways you will get there. The last area is the trickiest, because values—if only written down and not lived—can act as a boundary or act as rocket fuel. Either way, if they aren’t articulated, the peace builder may forget them and grab at whatever revenue generating idea comes along, in effect diluting their brand promise, distracting themselves, and ultimately going out of business.

How do we delight them?

This question really is the one that focuses on the savvy peace builder as a person who can delight, rather than as a widget (or a cog) in an industrialized, productized process. This is the question where the peace builder’s strengths, interests and passions can freely reign, to create a product, process, service or philosophy that the target market wants and that they can deliver successfully and generate revenues at the same time. Asking this question (and answering it well) can make all the difference between a peace builder who “burns out” after sustained people work, and the peace builder who stays engaged with learning and developing year-on-year.

Developing a marketing plan can seem like a waste of time, but answering these three questions places the core of the plan under the peace builder’s control and make the development process smoother. In addition, commitment, consistency and persistence become reinforced through an engaging plan for marketing peaceful solutions to conflicts.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Opinion] Marketing for the Peace Builder III

There are three ways to connect with clients, customers, fans and audiences.

And in the world of digital communication, there is one basic principle that underlies all of these connections that the peacebuilder must keep in mind.

Original content creation starts with the blogging, but then moves to image creation (uploads to Slideshare), video (both live streaming and staged), audio (podcasts), webinars and more. Original content creation requires consistency, sweat equity and massive amounts of focus to get right.

Content curation starts with looking at what the Web already has as content out there, being produced by others, and then distributing that content to others in your network. Content curation requires and understanding of deep linking, mobile phone use, SEO rankings, keywords (yes, they still matter) and SEM (that’s Search Engine Management). Content curation requires an intuitive and analytic driven understanding of which platforms are just bullhorns, and which ones are targets for getting your audience’s attention, trust, and giving them value.

Content distribution starts at the intersection of content curation and content creation and requires understanding how those two intersect—and how they bisect. The fact of the matter is that many content creators are really good at distribution vial one platform (email, social, TV, direct mail, etc.) and really mediocre at many others. This is due to the fact that each distribution channel has its own rules, quirks and dramas that affect how an audience gets engaged and why, how long that audience stays engaged, and why that audience leaves.

The one basic principle the peacebuilder must keep in mind, is that creation, curation and distribution are the only ways that scale occurs in the digital realm. And when the persistent thought in a peacebuilder’s mind is “Is this doing any good?” the persistent answer, after developing in all three areas with strengths in creation, is…


-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Opinion] Marketing for the Peace Builder II

Peacebuilders spend a lot of time in the non-digital world, at the conflict resolution table, making connections, reframing ideas, challenging the status quo and creating the space for resolution between parties in conflict.

There are tools out there right now, blogging, podcasting, video creation, content curation tools, and many more that make it easy for the peacebuilder to do all of these things in public, in real time, creating change right now.

The issue is not the tools, or even serving the clients through using the tools.

The issue is shifting the field based mindset, philosophy and thought processes around personal/brand self-promotion, client self-determination, putting an idea “out there” and standing up for it.

Even if the client, the audience, or the peers disagree.

The issue is fear.

The issue is courage.

The issue is in the self, rather than in the tools.

Digital = fearless.

Who’s ready to be fearless today?

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Opinion] Build Your Own House

When living in a house that someone else has built, there is always a sense of something that could be better, roiling around underneath the veneer of “being comfortable.”

Walking around in that house, the renter (or person paying the mortgage) always notices nails sticking out, annoying rough edges and corners of door jambs and knobs, cabinets that are the wrong height and colors of the walls that are “off.”

But, most people put up with those irritations in a house, because…well…it takes a lot of technical—and emotional—knowledge, to design your own house, to your own specifications, that’s comfortable for you.

It’s the same thing with the houses that we have built on top of the virtually property space of the web: social media platforms, apps, websites and many, many other items.

Too many clever people in the web space complain too much and too loudly, about the houses they are paying rent to live in. And as clever as they are, they are not picking up a pen, a ruler and sitting at a slanted desk, to design and build something of their own.

In order to develop the web past where it is now, we need more clever people building houses, versus renting houses.

And the amount of real estate is always expanding…

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Strategy] Active Listening as Post Modern Art

Paintings, music, stories, and speeches used to be considered artistic pursuits; but, in a world consumed with art as entertainment and media, listening carefully becomes an artistic effort on its own.

In a networking situation, the artistic dance to truly beginning to connect with another person, involves actively listening.

Words are like brushes and the canvas is the networking event. But the person at the event is the artist.

And in a world of shortened attention spans, artistic practice has to filter into everybody’s life, not just the vaunted few who have a TED Talk, or make a movie, or cut a “hit” record, or paint an image in a museum.

Our advice to you: Listen carefully.

[Advice] Networking, Word-Of-Mouth and Marketing You Can Afford

For the consultant the three most valuable forms of marketing are as follows:

  • Networking
  • Word-of-Mouth
  • and Referral.


Let’s break those three down from the most valuable form of marketing to the least valuable, because we approach them a little differently than many other consultants operating in this same space, no matter what the field.

Everything is networking, from the sales funnel conversations to any random email, we approach every opportunity to connect with somebody—client, customer, fan or follower—as a potential networking opportunity.

Does this mean that every contact will give us cash in exchange for services?

Absolutely not.

As a matter of fact, 95% of all of our networking never ends in a sale.

Disheartening? Maybe. But it’s our most valuable form of marketing, because the more people we get in front of the better the exposure we have and the stronger our story becomes.

Then there’s number two:

Word of mouth is possibly the least sexy way to make a sale.

After all, no film or television show ever popularizes the interaction where a person states that, “Oh yeah, Susan is a great person. You should work with her.”

But, word-of-mouth comes about because of a job well done, a client well satisfied, a blog post well written, a networking conversation well handled or an “I don’t know” honestly said.

You know. The really unsexy stuff that happens in between the cracks of the business.

Finally, referrals are great, but here at HSCT we don’t chase them as a primary marketing driver.

They are very hard to get and are based on trust, time and relationship.

They don’t come because of a blithe turn of phrase or a perspective well stated.

Referrals as a marketing tool are the furthest down the funnel, because they are the most expensive to buy and are the least easy to afford.

Networking is the most valuable form of marketing that a consultant has when building a business. Word of mouth can only come after networking and thus becomes the second most valuable form of marketing. Finally, referral is the least valuable form of marketing, not because it can’t be mastered, but because it tends to be promoted as the easiest one, and is really the one based on years and years of the other two.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] The Realities of Bootstrapping

Here’s what the eponymous “they” don’t tell the massive, faceless “you” about bootstrapping a project.

Jesan Job Hunting

The most stressful part of bootstrapping is that the creditors call all the time:

  • They call about the mortgage payment that’s late.
  • They call about the credit card bill you haven’t paid yet.
  • They call about the 10,000 other little bills that pile up in a life because you “needed” that thing, that one time.

Or your kids did.

Or your neighbor needed to see that you had it.

One of the most telling examples from a film that parallels a bootstrappers’ existence, was from The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck (yeah…we know) and a few other actors.

Ben plays a guy who got laid off from a nice cushy, corporate job, and won’t take a step down in lifestyle, so he keeps driving the luxury vehicle, even as his much clearer wife sells everything around him to make the mortgage payment.

And then, they sell the house and wind up sleeping in his parent’s basement.

That’s the reality of bootstrapping. Except with a lot more “I-Told-You-So’s” from your relatives in who’s basement you may be eating ramen.

There is a growing amount of attention being paid to entrepreneurs who commit suicide. Or die early. Or get divorced. Or have substance abuse problems.

Bootstrapping means that you get the creditor phone calls, but you also get:

  • The looks from your wife as you try to explain that spending money on this piece of equipment was worth missing a meal
  • The experience of deciding that your kids need to eat this month, and so liability insurance can wait another month—hopefully no one sues you and takes the house
  • The moment when you’re at a networking event and you’re eyeing the salad bar closer than you’re eyeing the potential client in front of you because you haven’t eaten today—and might not eat tomorrow.

And no one cares. Not your creditors. Not the bank. Not your kids. Not your parents. And we won’t even get into your own grinding self-doubt about your own level of responsibility for all of this.

This isn’t the stuff that makes it into the business books.

This is the face of bootstrapping.

And after you’ve started down the road to building a project, your pride, ego and a stubborn, bull headed belief in your project is the only thing that allows you to ignore the ringing phone, put the ear buds back in, and go back to grinding out another product

  • Or sales call
  • Or mini-project
  • Or marketing strategy

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:
HSCT’s website: