The reality of a sustainable, heart-centered business, stripped of the marketing copy.

Marina Darlow and Shanna Mann discuss steps and systems to take your business     

from viability to sustainability and beyond!

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Ep 23: Have you tried making things MORE challenging?

00:00 Why the counter-intuitive way of making things harder (or more challenging) makes things more satisfying

02:30 Using exercise examples– how problem-solving during climbing engages Marina so much that she doesn’t notice how hard she’s working.

06:00 Shanna uses progress as a way to avoid boredom. Talks about rucking as a way of intensely engaging in walking or hiking.

09:00 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow — why making your work more challenging gets you into flow

11:30 This is somewhat like play, but you’re also raising the stakes

14:00 Use it as a “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” — Even in the challenging straits of business

17:00 Shanna’s current challenge: Pulling out all my system-based knowledge out of her brain to share with a VA.

Episode 22: Why Manage Business Finances SEPARATELY



Show Notes:

  • 1:31  Why you should keep your personal and business finances separate

  • 6:14  Ideal separation of accounts vs. real life models

  • 13:38  Crash course in Accounting 101 by Shanna

  • 21:58  The daunting part – the setup. With examples!


Accounting tools we mention:






Episode 21: The Bus Problem

The Bus Problem


00:30 What is the bus problem and why it’s important to solve

03:00 Are you more likely to get hit by a bus or win the lottery? And which is more likely to ruin your life?

05:30 Shanna gives examples of how “the bus problem” has bit her, and how she was inspired to do better.

8:30 What happens when YOU are hit by the bus

10:00 How preparing for the bus problem differs from just stepping aside and hiring help a la Tim Ferriss

12:30 Solving the Bus problem when you’re a one-person show

13:45 The difference between ‘defensive strategies’ and ‘exit strategies’

17:30 Identifying mission critical tasks that need to be handled and plan ahead to solve them

20:00 Marina considers the difficulty of outsourcing her personality

23:30 Shanna shares how she delegates to VAs in such a way that the bus is less affecting

27:30 Dealing with control freak tendencies in order to be able to solve the bus problem

32:00 Do you think about your own bus problems? Please share in the comments!

Why One System to Rule Them All is a BAD IDEA


Show Notes for episode 20, where we talk about using various productivity apps for specific and different purposes, for letting go of teh idea of “one big system to do everything”, and disagree about using Asana and Trello.

  • 1:36 Why using a dashboard to do EVERYTHING is a bad idea? Beyond the fact that they don’t exist

  • 5:49 What to do *in practice* instead of a catch-all system juggernaut?

  • 8:22 Functional differences between Trello, Asana, and Slack – which app works best for specific purposes

  • 13:18 Shanna and Marina disagree – should you use BOTH Asana and Trello?

  • 17:01 What does it mean “system like water” and why it’s important

  • 22:05 Most common mistakes when mixing up everything in one place (Asana mismanagement, anyone?)

  • 23:34 Why people don’t bother with a to-do list and how to prevent it

  • 28:58 What to expect when trying a new system, no matter what tools you choose


Episode 19: Dashboards and Project Planning – Tools for Solopreneurs


1:00 How we use (and don’t use) paper planners

3:00 Drawbacks of a pure analog system

5:00 When daily planning becomes project planning and the necessary tools required

9:00 Marina breaks down when Gantt charts are the most suitable tool

10:30 Shanna discusses why the ability to hide the things you can’t work on yet in Workflowy

12:00 Different apps for different types of work

13:00 Why a perfect “business dashboard” doesn’t exist

15:00 Dashboard workarounds

20:15 How dashboard touchstones help you maintain routines and rituals even when things are in a shambles.

23:00 A long digression about Bullet Journals and the various ways they can be utilized.

27:00 How to avoid spending too much time working on working rather than working.


Bullet Journals







Episode 18: Fundamentals of Product-Market Fit



Show notes:

  • 01:30  Where to begin?! Figuring out product or service to market fit

  • 05:30  When do you decide you have a business rather than having an idea? When people PAY you money. This is the first test to your product-market fit

  • 8:30 Apprenticing – work for a business in your field before inventing a business for yourself

  • 10:16 A shining example of “desperate buyers” – people who have a problem, willing to pay for a solution, but there’s none currently on the market

  • 14:12 Sexy business vs. unsexy business – how does that play into the struggle of product-market fit?

  • 16:16 Barriers to entry – another piece of the product-market fit puzzle

  • 21:02 Good and Bad examples of product-market fit

Episode 17: Standing Down From Crisis Mode

Episode 17: Standing Down From Crisis Mode and Getting Back to “Normal Productivity.”

1:20 Switching from a ‘wartime footing’ to a ‘peacetime footing’ (and Marina has the best real life example of this)

4:30 Why it’s not about ‘flipping a switch’ to go back to the way things were.

7:30 Chilling with your autonomic nervous system!

10:30 Dealing with the guilt of doing nothing

14:30 Ramping back up – tips and tricks

25:00 What IS your normal, anyway?




In this episode we’re talking about our (very different!) perspectives on dealing with crisis, whether external or self-imposed.

Show notes:

  • 1:37  Why is “War Footing” so seductive, to the point of being addictive?

  • 4:34  External crisis vs. internal crisis – the difference in coping strategies,  availability of support, and the  legitimacy of asking for help

  • 9:47 Shanna’s tactic to make the plan to “just tumble out of you”

  • 11:17 Internal crisis: what’s the biggest source of stress for service-based businesses?

  • Blog series of “Your survived the Big Crunch, now what?”

  • Gretchen Rubin’s “the Four Tendencies”

  • 14:33  Internal Crisis requires mindset work – Marina shares what it means

  • 20:40  When possible, outsource because constantly doing things you hate degrades your overall productivity

  • 24:13 Key strategies to COPE with internal crisis


Episode 15: Getting Back to Normal After “Crunch Time”



How to get back to normal after a “crunch time”


  • 1:00 How Shanna handles the post-crunch collapse
  • 3:00 Marina talks about her own “crunchiest crunch time collapse”
  • 5:00 How to return to normal “RPMs”
  • 8:00 Shanna and Marina discuss “small task”-type productivity as a method of easing back into work.
  • 11:00 Low-productivity and the guilt that comes with it.
  • 13:30 How to approach normal from a metrics-based or flow-based perspective.
  • 17:00 Productivity when burnout is a constant (or chronic illness)
  • 19:00 To spreadsheet or not to spreadsheet? 
  • 27:00 The “container” approach to productivity when you’re exhausted.

Episode 14: Choosing YOUR Coach: What to AVOID



In this episode we talk about our coaching experience: warning signs, finding the right match, and hilarious experiences in-between

Show notes:

  • 00:45 How Shanna chooses her coaching clients
  • 3:11 Stages of Business: Baby, Emerging, Established: the difference in confidence levels, navigation, and challenges. (There’s a wealth of detailed examples in the following minutes)
  • 12:45 What a coach SHOULDN’T be or “this is how you know your coach is BAD for you” (hint: eagerness to help is not enough)
  • 14:10 How Marina’s former coach manage to project an complete absence of hope? (Failure! Failure, failure, failure, failure… Failure! Could you please say “failure” a few more times?
  • 17:05 You know what? We all fall into the trap of “trigger” words. Shanna shares her own (hilariously disastrous) pep talk.
  • 18:57 Want to hear Shanna laugh for 15 seconds straight over a shining example of a bad fit? (I can explain!) In other words: there might be a difference between how we want to help and how we’re perceived in our help, and as coaches we should take it to heart.
  • 21:17 How to figure out one of the most important aspects of a coach-client fit: do you share a world view?
  • 23:49 So – what should you look for in a coach? – Conclusions 
  • 25:04 Warning signs – when to avoid that coach at all costs

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