Tiger money. Umm, what?

You have three people in your brain.

The first is a crocodile. It doesn’t have a name, because it is a crocodile. It gets involved whenever food, safety, sex and air supply are in focus. The rest of the time it just lays there, completely uninterested. Because it is a crocodile.

The second is a dog named Sparky. She recognises her name when it is said. She cares about the pack, about knowing her place in it. She cares about every member of the pack, and will fight to protect them. She gets involved when relationships are in focus.

The third is a robot butler that sounds like Jarvis, Iron Man’s AI. Jarvis knows practically everything, and makes the plans, the predictions, and the analysis. Jarvis is involved when learning something new, when engaging with art, when predicting, when deep in spiritual experiences.

When we lived on the savannah, this system rocked.

Each part of our brain played to its strengths. Jarvis would plan the hunt based on his understanding of the prey’s patterns, Sparky would work in silent co-ordination with the other hunters, and the crocodile would kill the shit out of the prey so it could eat.

But we don’t live on the savannah now.

We live in condos.

We get food from supermarkets, not strategic bludgeoning.

But… the crocodile is still the crocodile.

Whenever food, sex or oxygen are in discussion, the crocodile will be interested.

And when food, sex, or oxygen are threatened, the crocodile will be doing its damndest to run the show.

When dealing with savannah threats, this makes perfect sense. RARGH SMASH RUN KILL is a perfect response to a tiger.

But when dealing with an overdue electricity bill? The crocodile senses a security threat (DARKNESS! COLD!) and demands to be involved. But the crocodile only has seven words in its vocabulary, all of them verbs. What you need is Jarvis, who can balance a budget. And maybe Sparky, who can make friends with the collections guy.

The crocodile is of practically no use in most of our current survival threats, but as soon as it senses a threat it will be contributing. A lot.

Which is why money isn’t just money.

As a shared hallucination, all money looks the same: bits of paper and plastic and shiny coiny things.

But the things the money represents are very, very, very different.

Jarvis thinks of money in abstract terms; in fact, he’s the only one capable of it. Jarvis is the rational actor that economists blither about, able to think of returns on investment, of opportunity costs, of investments.

But Jarvis, physiologically, is the furthest away from the action. Closest is the crocodile.

It understands money the same way it understands tigers.

Tiger money is the money of survival.

It’s the money that buys food, water, shelter, protection from the elements. Possibly medications, electricity, and a few other things that represent security.

When that money is present, the crocodile is calm. As soon as next week’s rent is at risk, the crocodile is going to be very, very active.

Terrible Problem #1: The crocodile will take all focus and energy away from Jarvis, who is the one most likely to be able to figure out how to get more money before the rent is due.

Terrible Problem #2: The crocodile will never understand sentences like, “We need to follow up on that unpaid invoice, and this would be easier if you would shut the fuck up, crocodile.”

Terrible Problem #3: The crocodile will also not understand concepts like ethics, legalities, or brand consistency. The crocodile will just jump on anything that looks food-like and try to eat it. It’s Jarvis and Sparky who’ll have the indigestion later.

When tiger money is at risk, the crocodile WILL get involved.

And it will make things worse. Guaranteed.

You can manage this, with mindfulness and preparation and friends who will stop you from doing anything too stupid.

But it’s infinitely easier if the tiger money is never at risk. Keep that fucker sleeping.

We’ll talk about how to do that next time.

For now, does this make sense? Any realisations? Come tell me in the comments.

On instructive failures, and choosing the burden carrier.

FAIL stamp
Thanks to Hans for the nifty photo. I maybe want this stamp.

You may have noticed – although you are extremely busy and I’m not going to assume anything – that I experimented recently with changing my prices to Australian dollars.

I had lots of sensible-shoe reasons for wanting this to work – it’s cheaper for you, it’s less paperwork and tax headaches for me, and it improves the accuracy in my cash flow projections.

Full of optimism and Improvement Cheer, I changed everything over.

And then sales dropped.


So I asked the lovely Rise and Shine peeps whether the Australian dollar thing was or could be an issue that would prevent them from buying. And I got plenty of thoughtful, intelligent responses that said, “Yes. Possibly.”

Queue lots of fiddly button-pressing. I’m back in US dollars.

Because my comfort is quite simply not as important as yours, when it comes to sales.

I mean, I’d like this to be easy for both of us. I would.

And often that’s possible. Mostly, even.

But there are some situations where someone is gonna have to endure something. It might be a fiddly data-gathering task, or finding the right time for a non-calendar meeting, or travelling across town for a delivery… any of those situations where one of you is going to have to cope with extra work or discomfort to make this come together.

And every time, you have to choose: will I do it, or will they?

I’ve seen plenty of business owners who seem to default to, “Screw ’em. They want it, they can come and get it.” And they tend to provide terrible experiences.

But I’ve also seen some who are absolutely goddamn determined to take every single single particle of work onto themselves, and get butthurt and spaniel-eyed if you so much as carry your own parcel. And that bugs the ever-living shit out of me. (Do you not trust me to assemble my own Lego warrior? Be damned to you!)

You can have some decent defaults, but you don’t want to be an extremist. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them. At Cash and Joy, I find that it’s mostly me, but I don’t know if that’s a universal constant or my own preferences. (Your thoughts are appreciated in the comments.)

So I guess what I’m saying is this: every time there is some extra work or discomfort to be resolved, you have to decide:

Am I going to deal with this, or will they?

I have managed the minor discomfort of the okay-but-how-much-is-this-in-the-money-I-pay-for-dishwashing-liquid mental math for years now. I experimented with giving it to you, and you really didn’t want it. So now I have it back.

And that’s fine.

It’s certainly better than having an easier-for-me system and less sales.

Love and haddock,

P.S. Speaking of failures, due to Life I didn’t manage to promote the I Love Sales Pages Bribery Competition! So you now have one extra week to win the totes wicked useful prize. Please do come add your experiences, dearest.

Revisiting the Cave. Again.


“Who is your daddy and what does he do?”
Kindergarten Cop

I’ve been going through the Quicksand – always my absolute least favourite part of the spiral – and I think I’m finally, finally out the other side and into the Cave again.

In other words, I’ve gone through the “Argh, business is hard, why bother at all, really” stage and back into “What the hell is this business, at its core” stage yet once more.

So now I have to deal with one unique problem that comes from revisiting (or in this case, re-re-re-revisiting) the Cave, and the problem is this:

It is super-duper goddamn easy to take your previously good enough answers and smoosh them into the new spaces, no matter whether or not they actually fucking fit you now your business (and you) have grown and changed and all that.

Previously, I have been guilty of some pretty thoughtless copy/paste when revisiting the Cave. Oh, my people are my people, you know, exactly like Who they were before, and my Why certainly hasn’t shifted, and What I offer is pretty much the same, and How I offer it, why that’s only moved millimetres!

And this is a terrible bad no-good thing to do. Attempting to sprint through the Cave stage is the number one most likely culprit for making sure you end up in the Quicksand again much faster than you’d like. ‘Cos you haven’t made any real changes, the business still has all the same problems and limitations, and they still lead to the exact same place, i.e. Suckville.

Pouting, spit bubbles optional.

This time around, having launched Mediocre Be Damned as a side hustle/creative project is helping a LOT.

When planning and creating Mediocre Be Damned, I had to answer, “What’s the difference between these two websites? What belongs there and doesn’t belong here, and vice versa? Where are the borders?”

Revisiting the Cave always involves shifting your borders. Sometimes you’re making them broader, striking out into new and unfamiliar territory, enveloping new populations. Planting your flag on the moon.

And sometimes you’re making your borders smaller. Resisting the urge toward empire, and deciding to downgrade to bigger fish in a smaller pond.

This time I’m doing a bit of both. For example…

Wherein I decide to stop the sprawl

I have a tendency to wander. This tendency is BLINDINGLY FUCKING OBVIOUS if you go through the archives from the beginning. Cash and Joy started with a simple focus: a relaxed and cheerful approach to marketing, told largely through fables and fairy tales.

And then more business strategy started to sneak in – the line between marketing strategy and business strategy is damn thin at times. And then creative strategy snuck in, ’cos it’s best buds with the others.

And from then on, it’s been kinda sorta open season on topics. Anything that has felt relevant to… doing business… has been up for grabs.

And ironically, that’s made it harder to write. Having borders so damn broad makes it hard to say definitively, “This. This fits.” The more I gave myself permission to talk about, the less I felt I had to say.

Stupid rackin’ frackin’ Quicksand, I tell ya.

So now I’m pulling back my outposts, recalling the legions, and downsizing the empire.

From now on, Mediocre Be Damned is the new base for articles, resources and offerings about creative structure and creative strategy, about the making of marvellousness. (If you liked my previous articles on the topic, you should sign up for its newsletter.)

Cash and Joy is about marketing and business strategy: how to reconcile it with your ethics, how to love it, how to rock at it, how to keep it interesting.

I will decide in coming weeks whether that means I’ll do a content division, or leave the blessèd mess of my archives as is. But hot damn, does this make my writing decisions easier!

(As evidenced by this, a new article. Gasp! Shock! And there are plenty more to come.)

Stay tuned: I’ll talk more in coming articles about the creative changes I’m sinewing my way through in regards to Who, How, What and Why.

‘Cos I can write more again now I’m clearer on those things! WHO KNEW.

Wait, I did. That’s why I talk about this stuff so much.

Smart Catherine. Have a biscuit.

Love and giraffes,

Side hustles are the BOMB DIGGIDY.

Hello, wonderfabulous!

It’s been less than a week, and I’m already SO VERY GLAD I started Mediocre Be Damned. It’s been worth the investment of time and hair-pulling and lost revenue for one reason alone:

I got to build from a clean slate. I threw out almost all of my assumptions and denied my historical choices thrice and built something from the choices that seemed best to me at the time. And oh lordy, the ways in which that differed from how I’ve been doing things at Cash and Joy was goddamn frickin’ instructive.

So plenty of the changes have mated and wandered over to Cash and Joy. I’ll be cluing you in on all the changes over time, but I wanna use one example right now.

Adieu, Delogjamification. Hello, Quick Unstick!

One of the things that made the new website take so long (but also one of the things that made it so instructive to me) was this: I brought over some of the Cash and Joy services to the slightly different approach and audience. But I wrote the sales pages from scratch.

And the sales pages I wrote were way better than the previous ones. This is fuck-all surprise to me, ‘cos the services I wrote new sales pages for were:

  • a service I’ve been doing for three years, without revising the sales page
  • a service I threw out there one day just to see if it stuck, with a minimal sales page
  • ooh, actually two of those

Delogjamification was one of those hey-let’s-see-if-this-works offerings I created in a morning. I tried it, it rocked, so I kept it around. But I didn’t go back and write a better sales page for it, so thusly I didn’t really promote it (‘cos the sales page wasn’t very good), so it became a quiet success, instead of the giant firework of awesomeness it could be.

(Also, no-one could pronounce the name. Because it was a joke name I came up with and went, “Hell, why not?”)

So here I was, with a bleh sales page for Delogjamification, and a gorram delightful one (with GIFs!) for the Quick Unstick.

Copy/paste/make a few tweaks…

Tah-dah! The Quick Unstick (get unstuck in 30 minutes, or your money back) is live on Cash and Joy. And it is sooooo much better than I could have created if I’d stayed in my little Cash And Joy box.


In related news…

I went to bed last night super sad because I had just found out that Tim Minchin (!!!) was playing Herod (!!!!!) in my favourite musical, Jesus Christ Superstar (!!!!!!!) and tickets were still on sale for the Brisbane show (!!!!!!!!!) but I don’t have enough pocket money to afford them before they likely get sold out. (*mega pout goes here*)

But then I woke up and thought, “Wait. I have my own business. If I don’t have enough money then I can just MAKE SOME MORE MONEY.”

*choir of angels*
*who are singing Damned For All Time*
*I know that’s ironic, but the song is stuck in my head*
*the angels are now wailing on guitars*
*and wailing, “Tim Minchiiiiiiiiiin…”*

So how about this, my darling dear? If you buy anything in the next 24 hours, I’ll add a free Quick Unstick to your order. (Let’s say if you buy before the end of the 5th of June, whenever that happens to be for you.)

Keep it up your sleeve for a rainy day!
Use it to get your best friend unstuck so she can shut up, already!
Gloat over it! Gloat!

That could mean two Quick Unsticks for the price of one, of course, oh vey such a deal – no really, that’s ridiculously good. Or the Kickass Naming you’ve been meaning to get for ages, but with an extra bonus!

And of course, it could also mean that I GET TO SEE TIM MINCHIN AS HEROD. Yesssssssss.

Rock it out with your fine self, duckling. You can get whatever you need to untwisted.

Love and frankfurts,

P.S. This is a copy of the email that was sent to Rise and Shine. But I didn’t want you to miss out if you aren’t subscribed. If you’d like to get more goodness like this, look at that nice box just under here!