What Is Conscious Business?

“What Is Conscious Business?”

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to attend Bill Baren’s Conscious Business Playground event.
Before this event, I had been feeling like I was standing alone in a river, the currents made up of what other people in my industry were doing. Sometimes, I felt tempted to let the current carry me away, but I had to remind myself to stand strong for what was in alignment for me.
WARNING: Rant Ahead (proceed at your own risk).
For example, many of my close friends and colleagues have a lot of success with launches. Just the idea of living in “launch mode” completely exhausts me.
Many of my close friends and colleagues have a lot of success with offering free strategy sessions or consultations, in which they offer packages of one-on-one coaching. I have zero interest in doing this. I have always felt called to work with thousands of people from all over the world, like I’m doing now, which I feel is making a bigger impact than working with just a handful of one-on-one clients.
I don’t know about you, but I got into business for myself to create MORE freedom, not less. I’m interested in building a legacy and a community… not in building my own prison, where I feel shackled to my business by “golden handcuffs.”
And while we’re talking about this, I’m sick and tired of hearing people talk about “charging what you’re worth” as an excuse to gouge people and send them spiraling into debt. Yeah, I said it…
I’m all for building a business that supports you financially and allows you to live a fabulous lifestyle that’s in alignment with your values.
But what is with all the hype and pressure around making 7 figures? Is it really about creating massive value and supporting yourself financially, or is it mostly about ego? I’ve seen too many of my colleagues focus on the money and let the client experience and results fall by the wayside.
I’m over it.
I’d rather work at frickin’ Starbucks than build a business that isn’t in alignment with my truth and my passion.
At Bill’s event last weekend, I discovered that I’m not alone in feeling this way. And it was a huge relief.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… simply leave a comment on this blog post.


  1. Dan Fowler says:

    The money conversation seems to be everyone’s DEFAULT. And I am tired of it too. Conscious Business is not about how awesome we can be to generate MORE money… that’s ridiculous and 100% ego driven. I love the ego, but as with all components, it has its place and time to be utilized. Thanks for broaching this topic.

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks for sharing, Dan! :D

      I have no problem with people wanting to make 6 or 7 (or 8 or 9 or whatever) figures, if that’s in alignment for them… what annoys me is people telling me that there’s something wrong with me if I don’t want that, too.

      I get irritated with marketing messages that are intended to leave people feeling broken. I remember seeing a big time internet marketer guy on stage telling people flat out “if you don’t do this program, you’re a loser.” Not cool, man. Not cool.

      • Maia Alpern says:

        “I get irritated with marketing messages that are intended to leave people feeling broken.”
        You said that like you were readyng my mind, PJ. I am in business to help people heal and feel great about themselves and their lives – not to make them feel bad. So if I can support you and your community let me know.

        Maia Alpern
        The Gluten-free Fairy Godmother

  2. PJ – I’m so glad to hear you say this. I have unsubscribed from the folks that tout 7 figure businesses. From my perspective, it does feel ego driven and they’re dealers in false hope. Only a small number of their clients have accomplished that same level of success. Of course they offer valuable and helpful information. But, it has never added up to me – charge what you’re worth so you can jack up your rates, make yourself exclusive, and limit how many people you can reach. I’m all about knowing one’s value and being clear about charging what is commensurate in the market for that service.

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      I really appreciate you sharing your perspective, Lynn! :)

      It seems like many coaches jack up their rates then tell their clients to do the same.

      After this, I’m feeling inspired to write a series of articles on pricing. How do you know if you’re overcharging? How do you know if you’re undercharging?

  3. Mary Muse says:

    YES! I was discussing this with a friend just a few weeks ago. I’d rather charge reasonable rates, help many people, and have them be happy to spread the word for me for more reasonable offerings. I’ve also decided I’m slowing down next year. No more event a month sort of things! Love your thoughts!

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Awesome, Mary!

      I’ve done monthly events and find it WAY too stressful! So I support your decision to slow down. :)

      I think as long as you can charge enough to meet you own financial needs and goals and still make your services affordable for people, that is a beautiful place to be.

  4. Thanks so much for going public with your good thoughts. The industry is rife with greed and frankly, incompetent posers. There, I said it. The angry guy from the Playground who needed the groups love. Or, the love guy from the Playground who gave the group (and Bill) some tough love. You decide.

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      I agree, Steve. I’ve noticed this in particular lately with more and more social media “experts” cropping up.

  5. Alex Iglecia says:

    Completely agree. Charging what you’re worth and 7-figure pressure are ego tricks that create anxiety, not aligned decisions that gift our genius in a healthy way. After Bill’s event, I too am letting go of some of the more subtle expectations I’ve created based on being in the industry, and choosing to be even more aligned with my heart, vision, and calling.

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks for sharing, Alex! :)

      I realized a while ago that one of the reasons I wanted to hit 7 figures was so that I could “fit in” with the cool kids. It’s just another kind of peer pressure. I felt judged for making “only” 6 figures.

      Actually, I still feel judged. But I’m not willing to sacrifice my health and relationships to create someone else’s vision of success.

  6. Amy Cheryl says:

    Speak your truth sista! That is what why we have our voice.

    I have a plaque in my living room that says, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world; Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does. -Margaret Mead

    Hmmm, can we say the Civil Rights Movement ( go see “The Butler” ;) and CBP! ;)

    And remember, if it exists on this planet, there is medicine here for us. Perhaps the medicine here of how things have spiraled into a sort of crazy is to have us look deeper inside ourselves of what is truly congruent for each and every one of us.

    Yeps! Feels good to express! muah! xo

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks, Amy! You rock! :D

      I did see “The Butler.” Great movie!

      I see more and more Facebook posts and e-mails going out from Conscious Business Playground participants, related to some of the themes that we discussed at the event.

      I see this paving the way to some radical and wonderful changes in the industry.

  7. Steven says:

    PJ – first of all I LOVED spending time with you at CBP. I felt such a great connection with you. So thank you for being so open, warm and wonderful.

    Next – LOVED your rant!

    I SOOOO agree with what you wrote! I especially adore that you kicked the ass of the “charge what you’re worth” stuff.

    And just for grins… here’s another good one: If someone’s NOT willing to go into debt, stress their whole family and make a nightmare out of their life etc… their “commitment to success” is called into question. Sheesh!

    Success does not have to be achieved at breakneck speed with frenzied energy. It can be built with steadiness of purpose and clear vision.

    Anyway thank for sharing this. And hope to see you soon. You ROCK!

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks, Steve! I had a great time connecting with you, too. :D

      And yes, I think there’s a lot to be said for steady, incremental growth. I can see the value in stretching yourself to a new level of what’s possible. And honestly, if I hadn’t taken leaps of faith and signed up for programs, not knowing where the money was coming from, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

      But I have a higher risk tolerance than some people. And personal growth is one of my highest values… so I do tend to stretch myself. But I don’t think that that’s right for everyone, and it’s unethical to shame a potential client into taking on a ton of debt by questioning their “commitment to success” as you said, when it’s not in alignment for them.

      I’ve heard some gurus say that if you’re not constantly terrified, exhilarated, and stretching yourself beyond what you thought was possible, you’re not playing a big enough game.

      I disagree.

      While I welcome occasional periods of intense growth, I think that it’s important to rest, integrate, implement, and simply enjoy life, too.

  8. thanks for the rant!!

    Love this….”I’m all for building a business that supports you financially and allows you to live a fabulous lifestyle that’s in alignment with your values” – the big thing for me is that it’s in alignment with my values!

    I’m also sick and tired of hearing people talk about “charging what you’re worth” ….


    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks, Trudy! :)

      I feel like the “charge what you’re worth” conversation started from a good place… a desire to help people stop undervaluing themselves and charging so little that they weren’t able to make ends meet or where putting themselves on the road to burn out.

      But it doesn’t actually make sense to charge what you’re worth.

      First of all, in my opinion, you are infinitely valuable as a human being so how do you attach a monetary value to that?

      Secondly, if an employee makes $200,000 per year for a company, the company can’t afford to pay that person $200,000 per year and stay in business. Likewise, if a coach is responsible for helping a client increase their revenue by $200,000 per year, the client wouldn’t pay the coach $200,000 per year.

      I think what we’re going for here is to find a pricing structure that is in alignment for both you and the client. You feel good about what you’re getting paid for what you are providing. The client feels good about what they’re getting for the investment that they’ve made.

  9. I’m so over any of the business coaches, etc who are promoting themselves as having 6/7 figure incomes… I just unfollowed a bunch of those types on Twitter, there’s more to business than that! Thanks for this article (and the rant!).

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thanks, Tracy! :)

      If you’ve hit 6 or 7 figures, I think it’s fine to share that since it IS a credibility indicator, especially for people who want to create similar results.

      What bothers me is a lack of acknowledgment that not everyone is going for that… and even worse, making people WRONG if they don’t want to go for 6 or 7 figures.

  10. WOW, I read your article and most of the responses as well and there is a LOT to say! FIRST I want to say that I might borrow your disclaimer at the beginning of your article as I tend to rant from time to time ;)

    Second, I feel shackled to my computer already and my shackles are nowhere NEAR gold! haha. Sometimes I honestly would rather go clean the toilets. Ok, maybe not.

    Anyway, thanks for making me ask myself what it IS that I truly want: I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives, I want to work 3 hours 5 days a week (I’m done with being a lunatic- been there/done that- now I need to sleep and breathe), and I want to make enough money to pay my bills and live comfortably (basically travel, have a nice home that I can keep up with, pay for fun things for myself and my family, get a new car, and not worry about blowing out my savings). Whatever that takes is what I want to make.

    I follow you because I think you are a genius with the way you lay everything out from your launches and sales pages to the actual programs (2 so far). I don’t follow other people because the “make 7 figures like me” doesn’t come across authentically to me.

    Thanks for posting this! I haven’t heard anyone say this before, and I’m glad you did!!!

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thank you for sharing, Miranda! :D

      YES! Feel free to borrow the disclaimer. I have to admit, I felt a little nervous making this rant public because there is still a part of me that wants to please and doesn’t want to offend anyone.

      So I’m relieved and happy that it resonated with you!

  11. Rose says:

    What an amazing conversation that is happening on this page!

    I too am tired of the overhype, the talk about how “easy” it can be, “this one day will change your whole life”, I can get you to the 7 figure goals”…

    The fact is that all I want to do is get my message out to the world, while making enough to support my family and our love for travel and learning, and taking care of myself in the process. I don’t aspire to have a ton of employees or have other people coach for me. I want to coach my clients! I want to give them great value for their money and only work with and take money from people I can truly help.

    I am all about the balance :) Let’s do some chaos taming starting right here.

    PJ, Thank you!

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Yes, Rose! I like the “taming the chaos” concept. :D

      Right now, I’m figuring out how to field all the request to speak that I’m getting. I love speaking and want to say YES to everything!

      And there’s so much going on that I’m having a hard time keeping it all straight (as you have first person experience of in communicating with me about your event!)

      I’m curious to know your thoughts on this since it relates to your message.

      • Rose says:

        Oh, the joy of social media. I just saw that you responded to my comments.

        I think that balancing all the opportunities is one of the main systems that each entrepreneur needs to figure out for themselves. Otherwise the things that you want to do and want to do well might slip through the cracks or not be allocated the right amount of your time and energy.

        A good first step is calendaring out tasks that will not be done this week due to lack of time into other weeks so that they don’t clutter your TTD list (Things to Do List) and to redo your to do list each evening while you clean off your desk.

        Looking forward to chat with you one of these days.

  12. PJ- I hear you. I think that I have unconsciously have felt this way many years ago. I know that when I had my biggest month a little bit over two years ago that would put me on the road to multi-six figures, I felt exhausted afterwards and didn’t feel in alignment with the Self-Care Queen brand. For me, I have to always be in integrity in every way. I think that I unconsciously had to recreate how I could make an income to support my lifestyle that didn’t exhaust me. For me it is a transformation and has to organically grow…I’m not about forcing things to happen. It’s funny when I was launching my last tele-class series, I was telling my business coach at the time, that I wanted to just take some time out for some Self-Care and she told me that I had no time for that. I didn’t like it at all. So today, as I prepare for my next launch, I feel so much more at ease, because I have a tangible launch schedule that I can work with and I also feel like I have truly found my niche. I don’t have to think up ways to make what I talk about for the layperson easier. So I believe that being a conscious business owner is not forcing things, but doing what is organically natural for you…plus comes from the heart. I am interested in reaching the masses and I know that it is coming because I keep seeing it in a vision. The online presence and business thing is something that I am still learning as I have built up a loyal clientele over the years. Standing in your value – there’s a fine line for that. You don’t have to be outrageous, but you can be reasonable. I see so many healers who don’t stand in their value…so it is a unworthiness piece for them. Really I am about clearing your stuff so that you can allow your light to shine. So I see a different piece.

    • PJ Van Hulle says:

      Thank you for sharing your insights, Tomasa! :)

      Congratulations on staying in integrity with your Self-Care brand. Self-care has definitely been a higher priority for me over the last couple of years.

      And I agree with you that a lot of healers don’t stand in their value.

  13. Mira Dessy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I needed to hear that I’m not the only one who is looking to build my business in a sustainable fashion without exhausting and depleting myself. I got into my business because I healed myself from a health crisis and I want to help and support others in doing the same. Putting myself back there by engaging in the go-for-it-at-all-costs mentality isn’t going to help me or the people I’m trying to reach.

    I appreciate your honesty and openness in addressing this.

  14. Linda Ursin says:

    As you’ve probably noticed already, you’re not alone in this. I’m also fed up with the cookie cutter approach everyone keeps on recommending. If we becomse so similar, people will get bored, and seek out those who aren’t

  15. Constance says:

    I’m going to add another issue to the rant – accountability. At one point, I was feeling desperate and if someone offered me hope, I whipped out my credit card when I really couldn’t afford to do so. Now, I ask the following question: “If people follow your program, do everything you suggest, what are the outcomes?” What I’ve had coaches tell me is that there are too many variables, it depends on the person, etc. Or the ones who I respect say, “I don’t know and I’ve been thinking about needing that information.” To date, I haven’t found anyone in this industry who has the data on the outcomes. Yet, as a researcher and an evaluator, I know it is possible to have that information. Not only does it increase credibility, it is a wonderful feedback mechanism for your business. It gives you lots of information about how to improve what you do.

    Another issue is “one size fits all.” In the industry, we’re taught to figure out our genius and what worked for us, package it and sell it in many ways as something that will work for everyone. Yet, just like clothes, one size fits all just doesn’t work. What that did for me for several years was leave me feeling like something was wrong with me. When I figured out that the “do it my way” wasn’t my way, then I found the freedom to begin to find what does work for me. This is another place that good evalution can help give the information needed to create products that do work and have the flexibility. I don’t think niche marketing is the answer to this, either. Even in the niche, there is variability that needs to be accounted for.

    And yes, I’ve basically dropped out of the industry because of the amount of greed and false hope I saw spread around like candy in front of kids.

    Thanks, PJ, for starting this conversation. Constance

  16. kris says:

    I am SO in agreement with all of the comments! When I was in my coaching training 15 years ago, my radar went up as soon as the conversation turned to money and what to charge for coaching. I felt pressured to charge LOTS of money and it did not feel right to me. I even got dropped by my then coach because he had a goal to make 6 figures, which he told me about, and he raised his prices beyond my budget. The pressure I have felt all these years has been a stumbling block for me and I was afraid to state my truth, for fear that it would be turned around on me that I had to overcome “my money issues.”
    Yeh to truth telling and Yeh to conscious, compassionate business! People, Planet, then Profits!!!


  17. Fern says:

    I am still in the infancy stage of building my business. I do not aspire (yet) to six figures. To be at six figures would mean massive changes in my life, or figuring out a way to teach others to do what I do. For now, I want a practice where I am reaching parents of teens and making a difference one family at a time (or a cozen at a time with group coaching programs). I do not need/desire a national presence, there are more than enough potential clients where I live.

    Realizing that there is so much I don’t know about building and marketing my business, I just invested in a group coaching program. I am hopeful that I will learn enough and be supported enough to thrive and have a positive impact.

    Yes, there are too many people out there telling us that we need to aspire to 6 or 7 figures. It’s just not true. I do not want an empire. I want a meaningful life.

  18. tara Butler says:

    PJ – I love that you stood in your truth. I’ve had arguments with my own coach about what I should do in my business and have found when I didn’t come from my authenticity and truth, my “launches” didn’t reap the benefit expected anyway. My whole question lately has been “when is enough, enough”. I notice colleagues stretching themselves thin, not meeting client expectations, and not being really truthful about client outcomes. It has been good learning for me about what I want to be and how I want to grow my business (not necessarily my numbers as much as that growth/learning/expansion is a value for me to keep enriching my own life and impact).
    By the way, I have a good friend who went through a course with you with Sharla Jacobs years ago. I was at her house and she was showing me her folder, and there was the list of people and there your name was on the roster. I said to her “PJ – she’s really taken off in her business and I follow her now”. It is funny how worlds collide. Erica Piorkowski if you remember her! Her green cleaning business is doing really well, too.
    Keep doing your great work. I’d love to talk with you sometime about collaborating on some level if you are interested.
    With appreciation,

  19. I love what you’ve said and I too feel
    The same way..

    I am just gaining my footing in the sea
    I want to offer my value but fer sure I don’t
    To be lost in chaos of what you’ve mentioned…
    Burning myself out freaks me out yet so easy to do when I don’t know what really works for me. I don’t have this down yet.
    But I want to.
    To fan flames of admiration
    from fans and grinding out in
    hopes that they will spend their
    money my way.
    Not the sound of a perfect day for me or style of life I want.
    Although I want to nourish and empower my fans and members and clients.
    I like the idea of having my system in place and being sure of it.
    Simple Abundant effortless enjoyable
    Not feel like I am running around trying to please scrounging to catch sum money

    Or here’s one, I have experienced as a client
    And would never want myself deceived to think this is helpful…
    acting like I know all the secrets
    That I would then keep others ignorant to stepping into their own empowerment unless they paid me oooodles (when they are coming to me because they are already lost and hurting)
    and then maybe I’ll let them know
    they may rise from their knees
    but still not to my level.

    Oooo there was a roaring rant in there!!!!
    Great therapy thoughts PJ.

    I’m listening,
    Thanks for your transparency! ☆★☆

  20. Anne Kenney says:

    PJ – great insights. We have to walk before we run. So, building up to 7-figures takes some adjusting, if that’s your intention. I think about what you’ve said in your seminar about doing lots of traveling for bigger events and, alleged, bigger paydays. But, if being on the road is out of alignment with your values, what’s going to win?

    I’ve set a 5-figure goal for Q4 of this year. It’s a bit of hell getting there. But, I keep telling myself, and anyone who asks, I’m experimenting, I’m making mistakes. Am I charging what I’m worth? I don’t know because I don’t have enough data, yet. I’m just seeing how I can help people and how many I can help.

  21. I love this conversation. Thank you PJ for putting it out there. I just posted a similar conversation in my FB Group about charging what your worth. Who came up with that? To me it’s just a marketing strategy and excuse to raise prices and call yourself a guru.

    It’s heartbreaking to see my peers broke and broken hearted because they received a false sense of hope going into a coaching program that promised them a 6 to 7 figure business. And, then crushes your ego making you believe that you did not work hard enough.

    I charge what my target can afford. And I am ok with that because I am committed to fix what the marketing and coaching industry has broken. My job is to help entrepreneurs pick up the pieces, keep them from giving up and get money in their pocket again.

  22. Sally Rubin says:

    Thank you for this dialogue, PJ. Creating value for people and building long-term relationships and community around their concerns is paramount in any entrepeneurial endeavor. Money is means for exchange, but it’s not the only reward.

  23. Mekhola says:

    PJ – thank you for this post. The discussion is so relevant to me now.

    Have been associated with an ashram for many years, where I did informal coaching and people would come through recommendations as they benefited from the guidance I extended.

    But while setting up my website recently for formal coaching, felt very pressurized by the astronomical rates I was supposed to set, and earnings I had to generate, to be a success.

    To me, success is an increase in comfort level of both coach and client, and apart from the money, I need to feel the deep satisfaction of having given genuine help and improved the life of another.

    Which is why my coaching page is incomplete until I get complete clarity on what I want to offer, though other stuff – articles on authentic spiritual truths etc are up.

    Mind Coach

  24. Robin Taney says:


    Your rant is a welcome change from the half dozen or so emails I get EVERYDAY promising a 6 or 7 figure income stream.

    As the owner of a PR business, I teach my clients that they have to Get R.E.A.L in order to get noticed by their ideal client. I create strategies that are realistic, engaging, authentic, and designed for long-lasting results. (in other words, they’re real).

    I feel like the marketers promising wealth have no clue what it means to be rich.

    Thanks again for the great post!


  25. Doreen Stein says:

    Congratulations in following your heart and your intuition.

    I will be 75 years old in February. I lost all of my retirement savings in the “Get rich in the Real Estate business”. I wanted to be well off to leave my children an inheritance, but instead, lost all I had saved and have some dependencies on my children. I am now cleaning houses for a living, but am finally doing my art work which is my love—very little income from it, but still hoping.

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