EP 176: Shaping Your Message While Sharing It With The World With Scholar Shape Founder Margy Thomas

The Nitty Gritty

  • Margy Thomas, Ph.D. and founder of ScholarShape, supports academics and researchers in telling their stories through what she calls the Story-Argument concept. This tool or strategy, applied to her clients’ work, turns their text into “both a functional machine and a pleasing work of art.”
  • Why Margy’s so passionate about academic writing, plus the reason Margy works with clients across different specialties instead of niching down
  • How Margy turned the “magic” of the way she works into a repeatable process — and how that changed the way she works with her 1:1 clients
  • Why she uses tarot cards to better understand what she already knows and look at things with a new perspective

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It’s tempting to think that to do your best work, you have to hunker down in your creative cave, scratch out your brilliant thoughts by the fire, and only emerge once you’ve had your eureka moment.

In fact, I know plenty of thinkers and entrepreneurs who have tried to do exactly that. 

Sometimes it’s a fear of criticism. Other times, it’s a fear of someone stealing the work when it’s not yet complete. 

Often it’s a reaction to the Impostor Complex… feeling like your work isn’t enough—and might never be.

Regardless of the reason why, retreating to the creative cave has killed at least as many good ideas as it has birthed. Today, we’re going to examine a different way of getting to your eureka moment and developing your body of work.

Margy Thomas is the founder of ScholarShape and has worked with hundreds of scholars around the world in their journey of telling their stories as a developmental editor and writing consultant.

Recently, Margy has been working to systematize her coaching and create a framework she can share with more academics crafting books and papers.

I wanted to have Margy on the show to share what she calls the co-construction of knowledge and meaning. Margy has been sharing the bones of her coaching framework—the Story-Argument Model—with her audience little by little as she develops it.

Together with her audience, she’s defining the work and improving on it.

Instead of waiting for her eureka moment, she’s utilizing her creative process in dialogue with the people who need her work most.

Margy and I chat about the personal growth process that comes along with sharing your work publicly, how her work is evolving because of the way people interact with it, and the way she came to terms with the idea of an MVP—or minimum viable product.

And if you’re interested in the Story-Argument strategy and how you might be able to apply that to your writing, be sure to check out Margy’s free 7-day writing course for knowledge builders.

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From magic to process

“When I’m working with scholars one-on-one, I’m not giving them information or ideas or advice. I’m holding space for them to help them to develop their ideas and their thoughts. I’m providing scaffolding and structure to that process.” — Margy Thomas

Margy’s clients often told her that she was magic. After hearing this over and over again from her clients, Margy decided to deep dive into what this meant. She looked both at her innate personality traits and how those showed up in her work. In addition to that, she also looked at the actual process.

What she found? Not magic, but instead a repeatable pattern that wove within every client project Margy worked on. In her research, she found the Story-Argument model, which is exactly what it sounds like: it helps her clients tell a story while also advancing their argument. “I’m not making the story argument model,” she says. “I’m synthesizing it based on this conversation that a lot of people are involved in.”

The benefits of this strategy are that she’s able to use this to improve her clients’ writing process while ensuring compelling communication around their research. “It transformed my one-on-one work with my clients,” she adds, “because now I’m always thinking about how this relates to the big picture and larger model. They inform each other: the emerging model informs my work with clients and the one on one work informs the emerging model.”

Growing yourself to grow your business

“When you have to think on your feet, absorb feedback in real time, and make lots of decisions in public, you can’t necessarily make every decision on your own time. You have to trust yourself in a certain way.”  — Margy Thomas

To grow our businesses, sometimes we need to challenge and develop ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Part of the quest to becoming a leader within our own lives is connecting with our values, our mission, and intuition.

More recently, Margy learned about tarot as a tool for growing personally and professionally. “I realized that people used tarot to look at situations with a new perspective,” she says, “and figuring out what you already know about a question that you already have.” In the episode, Margy details where she worked with a tarot spread to tease out a solution to a specific writing challenge.

Listen to this episode to hear more from Margy Thomas on how she weaves the Story-Argument model into her process, why she’s so passionate about academic writing, and more on how she works on herself personally to advance professionally.

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support