Defend or dive deeper

Defend or dive deeper

Defend or dive deeper

When you identify something about yourself that’s different, something that tempts you to feel is “not as” (not as good , not the same as others), what do you do with that?

Do you…

…dive deeper?

For the past year or so we’ve been talking within the PF team about the concept of defensiveness. It flows out of our desire to serve our clients in the best possible way, and “not being defensive” is something that’s really important to us at PF. That when we are faced with something that doesn’t work, or we didn’t do so well, or that went wrong – we don’t respond with defensiveness but are grateful and thankful and willing to change.

As we’ve explored it, the conversation has begun to change about what is good defensiveness, and what’s not so good.

Being defensive about something you did wrong, or something that’s confusing, is not a good thing. You need to be humble and willing to accept change.

But being defensive about your qualities, your characteristics, who you are as a person and why…that’s different.

Last week I listened to a podcast by Brian Fanzo – his “FomoFanz” podcast is one of the single best ones I’ve listened to because every episode makes me think differently. Makes me see differently.

And this particular one I listened to last week spoke directly to this concept of defensiveness. He tells the story of his unique qualities (some of which he was bullied for or told to stop when young, like talking fast or stuttering when excited or being overly social) and how he’s using those to dive deeper and to ask “how do these things make me stand out? How can I use these as a superpower?”

When you dive deeper, you’re not being defensive (in a bad way) because you are still responding with humility. You’re saying, okay, I see what you’re saying – and instead of avoiding it or walking away or accepting it without question, I’m going to dive deep. I’m going to ask IF this thing is true about me, and if so, WHY it’s true and WHAT that means about me and how I can help the world.

When it comes to marketing, this is critical, because the only way to truly stand out is to be different….and yet we are so tempted to defend, to hide, to fit in with everyone else.

So I’m mulling this over for myself personally, and I encourage you to do the same for your own unique qualities. This podcast started me thinking about the things that make me different, and which I’m tempted to fear about. I’m tempted to think they mean i don’t fit in and therefore people are going to think this or think that or it will have this impact on my business.

Whereas the truth is, these things are what make me myself. What help me stand out. What set me apart from every other creative person or marketer or those who serve accountants or business owner or woman or whatever.

Some of these are…

  • Rest. It’s one of the PF pillars because I value quiet and space and encourage it and use it personally and in the business. The temptation is to see this as a negative – I’m not hustling, I’m not wearing myself out, I’m not destroying my health like others. The truth is it helps me to be my most creative, and to encourage other people (my clients, my team, accountants, friends) to do what will enable them to be the most creative.
  • Energy & health issues. I got diagnosed with M.E. (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome) over 15 years ago, and I deal with energy and immune system issues more so than most people. The temptation is to think this prevents me from being the best business owner i could be, or be like others, or be able to power through if I get sick like others due. The truth is this has been used in my life to help me be more understanding, more sympathetic, and more patient with people who have health struggles or life struggles of any kind.
  • Remote company. PF is entirely virtual in that we don’t have physical offices – I work from a home office in Scotland, and the team works all over the globe from their homes or coffee shops or co-working spaces or whatever they want. The temptation is to feel we’re missing out on opportunities available to in-person businesses and creative agencies. The truth is this helps us to be the most efficient, the most focused, the most profitable for ourselves and our clients.
  • Casual clothing. I hate suits, and dressing up, and high heels. I’m not even the biggest fan of makeup. And PF has become a company that wears PF branded tshirts and jeans, and comfy shoes, and branded hoodies. I’ll wear a dress now and then for a speaking engagement. The temptation is to think this reduces the impact we can have, or the level of firms we can work with. The truth is, this becomes a qualifier to identify what potential clients are using as their basis to make a decision about working with us. Are they looking for an agency that has fancy swish offices with lots of glass, and the owner wearing a suit and high heels? Or are they looking for an agency that is comfortable in its own skin and encourages them to do the same?
  • Relationships over sales. I default to relationship – even at the cost of a sale. I would rather hold onto relationship with someone, and see them go elsewhere (or come back to us at a later date) than push them to a decision in order to increase sales. The temptation is to think this prevents me and my company from selling as much, being as profitable, growing as fast. The truth is, it gives us the best results in the long term – because we’re not looking for sales in the short run. We’re building relationships and partnerships with our clients to last for years, and to get them the absolute best results which will last for years.

There are more, but that’s my start. What are yours? What is it about you that you’re tempted to feel are shortcomings or failings or hold you back….but actually are strengths and your superpowers?

“Remarkable work is usually accomplished by people who have non typical priorities.” Seth Godin


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Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon
Oh hey, it’s me. 

And a new updated KLR brand and website! 

For the past six months or so, while I was finishing my book content and the final edits from my side, we have also been working on an updated KLR brand and website, to distinguish from the PF brand and site. 

It’s a tough job, when you’re the business owner and have been for ten years. And the book you’ve written is for the kind of clients your business serves, so it feels like a PF project.

But I’ve also been working for years to figure out (and help others see) that PF is far more than me. I’m the owner and MD, and I’m involved in sales and speaking and writing, and yet our clients primarily work with the team. There are 18 beautiful humans delivering great creative work every day from PF (soon to be 19!) and as I always say to potential clients, you definitely want all of them working on your creative projects. They’re structured and organised and talented - 19x more talented than just me. 

I’ve still got my own skills. And my own identity. It took us weeks to dig into how we represent “Karen L Reyburn” as a personal brand, with an audience of clients and friends and accountants and non-accountants and witches and wizards and family members and creative humans. 

We settled on “Leader, writer, creative, coach”, because those are the areas I love the most and want to lean into more as PF grows. And as I write more books and keep being my own self. 

If you’d like to be on the list to get “Karen’s notes” by email every Saturday, or to be on the waiting list for the book (coming May 2023), the link is in my bio. 

And I’d love for you to head over to my new site ( and let me know what you love or anything you notice and wonder about! 

Stay strong, stay creative, and keep going. 

#karensnotes #staycreative #justkeepgoing