About Jeff Hellenbrand

Jeff Hellenbrand is obsessed with helping wedding entrepreneurs love their business and their life. If you don't have the business you want, it's because you aren't having enough fun. Learn how in the free teleclass.

Pug Road Trip: San Francisco and Harris Beach State Park

Courtesy of emilypearl on Instagram

We didn’t want to leave Lake Tahoe. But San Francisco was calling our names and I had never been. Driving up and down the hilly, winding streets, the buildings looked like some weird mashup of architecture I’ve seen in the Southwest and Mexico and someplace else I’ve never imagined. For the most part, our city visit was pretty tame, with the exception of a couple of guys standing around in assless chaps (there happened to be a fetish convention in town that weekend) and the sea lions. Nobody told me about the noisy creatures on Pier 39, a major tourist destination.

If you haven’t been, imagine fifty or so sea lions beached on a half dozen floating piers. Continue reading

Pug Road Trip: The Open Road

Roscoe is our security guard at Pawnee Lake near Lincoln, NE.

We’re on the road! Our trip has been full of surprises: some pleasant, some pretty unsettling. We’ve had plenty of time for bonding, sing-alongs and car games. And we haven’t tried to kill each other yet.

Gorgeous sunset view from our campsite on Pawnee Lake.

I was totally unprepared for tent-camping in below-freezing overnight temperatures (a big change from daytime temps near 90 degrees). Even with the air mattress, wife and two pugs (the perfect foot-warmers), it was pretty chilly. And I learned humility when I heard the rustlings of what we later decided was a mountain lion near the tent and I (being alone with four nervous dogs) jumped frantically into the car to avoid dying. I think I scared it off by slamming the car door. Continue reading

You Didn’t Come with a Manual – So Write One

A couple of years ago, I realized that I had a lot in common with my pet hamster (after reading a book called “Caring for Your Hamster”). Besides back hair, we both had needs that had to be met – for survival and to enjoy life to the fullest. Except the hamster came with a manual. As humans, we tend to take care of our own basic needs well enough. I mean, we feed ourselves and get at least some sleep. But we could be doing a whole lot better when it comes to self-care. And when wedding entrepreneurs don’t take good care of themselves, their business suffers. Because they aren’t at their best, they don’t get as many clients as they might want and they end up feeling even more stressed out.

So many of us think we just need more self-discipline.

Good news! You don’t.

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Solotasking: A Simple, Pen-and-Paper Technique to End Procrastination

StackTaskMulti-tasking is a myth. It sounds like a great idea, but it doesn’t work. Single tasking (or “solotasking”) is the “it” kid right now for good reason: your productivity explodes when you narrow your focus to one thing at a time. And while you may not realize it, chances are good that your to-do list is secretly eating away at your sanity.

Every time you take a look at that list, your mind starts working on every item simultaneously. So while you’re hard at work trying to focus on the first item, your brain is processing, “wow, how am I going to do X, Y & Z all by five today?”

The following is a simple, pen-and-paper solution for actually getting important work done now. I call it StackTask:

Step One: Make some cards
You can use anything you can write on, but I recommend using something substantial like 3×5 cards (cut into smaller pieces). I happen to have a ton of leftover cardstock I’m re-purposing and it works perfectly. I cut the sheets into 1″ x 2″ cards.

 

Step Two: Write each of your top-priority tasks on one card
Try to keep the total between five and ten. If you blow through all of these tasks early, just start this process again with the next tasks. Make sure the tasks are specific, measurable and short enough Continue reading

Why I’m Moving to Vancouver (temporarily)

aerial photo of vancouver, city, ocean, mountains

Photo Credit: http://www.idmaa.org/

In a matter of weeks, my wife, Emily, and I will be hitting the open road with Roscoe and Relvis (the pugs) to make our way to Canada. It’s a big change from Chicago. When we tell people where we’re moving, they tell us how amazing Vancouver is. In fact, we haven’t heard one bad thing about the place. Still, most people don’t just up and leave, especially when everything is going well. So to help you understand the decision (and to encourage you to make your own big decision) here are some of the reasons I’m moving to Vancouver:

 

It’s pretty. We’re going to be living in a little cabin on the ocean at the foot of the mountains. To me, that is heaven. I wanted to live by the ocean and the mountains and I didn’t want to have to pick one. Beauty is important and I want to be surrounded by it.

It’s scary. The idea of both of us quitting our day jobs to move to another country so that I can focus on my business (my dream job) is frightening. It’s also exciting. It would be scarier to deny what we now know is the right thing to do just because it feels “safe.”
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Three Bad Tips to Get More Done in Less Time

Cute, wrinkly puppy

It’s August. Where has your Summer gone? In the thick of wedding season (wedding hell, for some of us), I thought it was high time to make a list of some really terrible ideas for saving time. Time management is overrated, in my opinion, so today I’m bringing the snark. Are you guilty of any of these? Here are three quick (joking) tips to get more done in less time:

1. Eat lunch standing over the garbage can. No dishes! No napkins! No wasted time sitting down and then getting back up again. Want to shave off a few more seconds? Eat only foods that require absolutely no prep time, like pre-cooked breakfast sausages (so you don’t have to heat them up). If it doesn’t taste good, you won’t waste time savoring it!
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Top Five Web Apps for Busy Entrepreneurs

I’m a bit of a nut for web apps. I spend my free time scouring the internet for cool new apps. My clients love this, because they’d rather kiss a jellyfish than spend one second of their limited time searching for great apps that will make them more efficient, more productive and just plain happier. I’d like to share my current top five favorites, if you’ll indulge me.
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Four Reasons You’re Getting Bad Yelp Reviews

Photo Credit: socialsonar.com

Yelp is amazing for business. We’re good people, we do good work. Brides see a bunch of five-star reviews and they hire us on the spot. And then one day, you see it. A bad review. Your heart sinks. You wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” Suddenly you’re getting phone calls asking about the bad review. And instead of talking about what makes your service incredible, you’re trying to defend yourself.

This sucks.

 

Here are four reasons you’re getting bad Yelp reviews:

1. You did not communicate expectations. We are people pleasers and we do everything we can to make people happy. But sometimes, this leads us to not be really clear with brides about what we can and can’t do. Next time, make sure your clients know exactly what to expect (and what not to) before it’s too late.

2. You sold a bride you shouldn’t have. Who doesn’t like getting hired? People who get hired by the wrong bride and wind up with a nasty review, that’s who. Stop trying to book every bride who walks in the door. Be yourself and let the bad ones walk away. See Three Things You’re Doing To Get Bad Brides.
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Three Things You’re Doing To Get Bad Brides

Every wedding entrepreneur wants tons of great clients. But most of us have had a couple of rotten ones, too. If you’ve ever gotten one lousy review on Yelp, worked with a really needy bride or had somebody inexplicably demand a refund, you know what I mean. And you also know how much it sucks.

As a coach, I help point out things that wedding business owners don’t realize they’re doing. Things that are attracting exactly the wrong types of clients. Here are three things you’re doing to get bad brides:

You don’t set boundaries.
This shows up in a lot of different ways. Often, it’s making one-too-many revisions for a needy client or dropping your price way more than you should.

You break your own rules.
It’s not good enough just to have rules (rules like “no checking email after 7pm”). You actually have to stick to them (at least the good ones). When you break your own rules, you open the door to let clients walk all over you, too.
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Be Strong. Be Yourself.

A lot of wedding entrepreneurs take on clients against their better judgment. They think, “maybe this will turn out to be a good client,” or simply “I can’t afford to turn down business.” There’s a myth lingering from the old-school way of business that says “all business is good business.” Which is nice. It’s just wrong.

I’d like to show you why you can’t afford to be anything but yourself. Here’s why you should be strong and be yourself:

1. Being fake isn’t effective.
So many people “turn on the nice” when a bride walks in the door. It doesn’t work. I mean, it beats just being a total jackass. But brides smell fake a mile away. So if you’re having a horrible day, find a polite way to mention they caught you on an off day. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you open up and Continue reading