Embracing the new rhythm

When news of the COVID-19 outbreak hit, I was a non-believer. I went straight to that place of “this won’t happen to me, it’s not really that big a deal”. Then when my daughter’s school advised all students to stay at home I thought, “holy shit – this could actually be a thing, but you know what? I’m sure they’re just being over-protective”.  Then when travel restrictions hit I went: “Damn! My revenue streams are in trouble and I’m mighty pissed off!”

All the feels.

All the emotions.

Running a business where a big line of revenue depends on live events and retreats meant that the social distancing and travel bans hit hard.  I admit, I freaked out for a good few days.  I dreamt about losing our house and me having to go find a job (*gasp!*) .  I woke up in the wee hours in panic, wondering what I was going to do that day to make it better.  I second-guessed myself. I thought my knowledge wasn’t enough, I didn’t have enough of the right tools/experience/money to do the next step I seriously considered just not saying anything and hoping it would all go away.

Classic signs of grief.

Then it struck me. Like a blunt object to the head actually…that I had everything I needed and that I had been working towards this day for many decades.

I knew way back in my mid-20s that I wanted to be able to be location-independent for my work. But I also felt I had to ‘earn’ that somehow.  Remember, this is pre-social media days and pre ‘I’m an influencer and can travel the world and someone will pay me to look pretty and show off their sunglasses and lipgloss’ era. So I did my time in corporate, earned my stripes around the water cooler and in the boardroom and at ALL THE MEETINGS….and I knew for sure after 15 years of that that I wanted to run my own show, from anywhere. Which I finally did when laid off during my second round of maternity leave. But it’s also why I got into digital marketing originally – because I knew “internet thing had legs”! I knew that this technology would allow for connectivity and communication in a way previously never seen. So I set about learning that so I could then harness it to satisfy my own desire to work from a beach or cafe or mountain top.

So, after my initial freak out, I got busy. Yes I had to cancel my Bali retreat which sucked, and yes I had to cancel the venues for my upcoming workshops which meant loss of deposits etc, but quickly I realised I could take those teaching experiences online without too much change to the program or efficacy of the learning experience. And so I did.

And they worked out just great. In fact I ran a number of workshops in those first few months of lockdown, largely to keep myself and my clients busy and engaged and away from the fridge, the couch or the panic button!

I also ran online writing challenges, and co-facilitated programs for far-flung organisations, and even ran an ‘online retreat’ of sorts. Was it the same as usual? No. But then I’ve never much been interested in doing the ‘same as usual’ for too long anyway.

So the opportunity to do things differently, to embrace my new rhythm due to lockdowns was not really at a large cost to me, and in fact just highlighted what I’d been doing in small pieces all along – working with people and businesses all around the world online to help them with their content, their writing, their messaging and marketing. It was an unexpected bright spot in an otherwise miserable point in time. A true validation of why I do what I do and that the choices I made, without a great deal of info or insight (just a gut feel and longing) were great choices for me.

Do I wish that ALL of my work is online and that I never get to be in a room or in a resort on retreat with real live humans again? Hells no! I LOVE real human interaction and hugs and moments that only occur when you sit next to somebody. But I am grateful to have the option to still continue the work I do best, to embrace thew new rhythm in a purely online environment, when and if the world goes mad again.

Peace and quiet to write: when was the last time you had that for your business?

It doesn’t take much to distract me these days.  *ping*…another message on WhatsApp. *bleep* another request from a child on messenger. *ding ding* another notification on one of my bazillion Viber groups.

The world we live in is uber connected and increasingly noisy and demanding of our attention. Whether it’s your phone, your iPad, your laptop, your watch, your wallet, there’s almost always something pinging away pulling your attention from whatever it is you’re trying to do. My world has become SO much noisier since the pandemic forced us all online for everything, and even more so since I moved to Manila.

On the one hand there is so much inefficiency and old fashioned administration here. Paperwork in triplicate signed by 75 people for the simplest things, long lines and manual processes for the smallest of tasks, and receipts a foot long for everything.  Everyone gets a job which means it could take 3 people to help you purchase a bottle of water: one to zap the barcode on the bottle, one to bag the bottle and attach the receipt, and one to check the receipt.  But on the other hand, you can order and pay for a customised cake via a bakery 10 kilometres away and have it arrive on the back of a motorbike with a bunch of flowers from a florist 5 km away, all via one app, in a matter of hours.  EVERYTHING is done via Viber or WhatsApp. Shopping, school parent groups, medical appointments, social catchups, embassy groups, emergency alerts, driver comms, the list goes on.  And the Filipinos are one of the biggest TikTokking nations in the world and are obsessed with photographing and IGing everything. This country operates entirely on the phone and wifi network. Noone, not even the very poor, is without a phone. In fact I’ve witnessed first hand some communities where food is almost a luxury, and yet there is always a mobile that is connected. Continue reading

The benefits of book clubs

Love them or loathe them, book clubs have taken off in the last decade at a rate not seen since Jane Austen was a gal. Why? Despite their traditionally highbrow and/or daggy reputation, there are many, many wonderful benefits of book club that are gaining widespread acknowledgement. Also, with the world in a mess, it’s no wonder people are looking to some escapism in the form of a book!

10 benefits of book club include:

1. Provides Alternate Perspectives

Unless you’re all related (even then families can have vastly different points of view on the same topic!), your book club members will likely come from different backgrounds, cultures and education. This means they’ll bring different perspectives to the book discussion. These perspectives can help you learn new things and offer alternate angles to a discussion point that you may never have considered!

The flipside is that differing perspectives can lead to disagreements and even arguments. There’s nothing like two readers going to town over a book to get everyone in the room uncomfortable!  This is why it’s super important to always be kind and considerate of each other in book club. Continue reading

Client feedback rewards

Awww. I so appreciate positive feedback!
I don’t crave it (like I perhaps once did as a child!) but as a coach, where your results can sometimes feel a little intangible, it’s so fabulous to get direct feedback that you’ve hit the mark and made a tangible, positive impact.  In fact, client feedback is necessary. It’s really the only measure for a coach. It helps you improve, learn and respond accordingly. It helps you know what’s working and what’s not – for you and your client. If I’m honest though, I don’t solicit feedback nearly as much as I ought to anymore. I will do a formal feedback session if I’m running a specific training event or a retreat, but I kind of forget to ask my regular coaching or copywriting/editing clients what they thought of the job I did!
So it’s a bonus when the feedback comes unsolicited and unprompted.

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Don’t let ‘safety’ inhibit you: do something that makes you come alive

Sometimes old clients reach out to me because they feel like they want – or need – a change of business direction. It’s common, especially after a good few years in business working alone, to feel the call for change. It’s even more common after something crazy happens in your world to divert your attention or make you look inward. Ahem, global pandemic and lockdown anyone??
The change may not always require a completely new product or service offering however. It may be a collaboration or partnership of some sort. It may require an expansion of the team. It may be you need a new location or surrounds to operate from. But other times, it’s a deep desire to do something new.

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Merry Christmas From Manila

It’s been way too long between messages from me… I’ve missed you, despite a huge desire to share all the weird and wacky things that have happened this year.
Life, hey? It gets in the way of the best intentions.
I’m not interested in bemoaning 2021 and wishing it was over, like so many of the emails I’ve received this week from coaches and other biz owners. Instead I’d love to celebrate the crazy year that was and encourage youto find a ‘moment of glory’ that you can raise a glass to this holiday season.  There is always something to celebrate, always something you did better than last year, always some growth amongst the messy.

For me?

Moving countries mid-pandemic was pretty epic! And whilst I wouldn’t put it on your bucket-list, I don’t regret it one bit.  I’ve learnt heaps and grown significantly as a woman, a wife, a parent and a daughter as a result.  It’s been tough for sure – I’ve experienced adrenal meltdown and mayhem – and directed some pretty ‘fresh’ words at those I love most in pure frustration.  But I’m feeling super alive and more well than I’ve ever been now, and 5 months has flown by with a whole swag of cool new experiences under my belt.

As for The Content Coach biz?

I’ve happily been serving clients from my new office here in Manila without skipping a beat.  A long time ago I vowed I’d do anything to remove the boardroom from my life and find a way to work from anywhere on my own terms. Serving people from around the world via technology has been a part of my career for over 20 years now. So whilst the pandemic changed my in-person events and retreats it didn’t change the fundamentals of what I do – helping people write and tell better stories about their business.

The second half of 2022 will be filled with events – I’m positive about that! Stay tuned for more news about the Ultimate Girls Week Away Business Edition in Vietnam (*eek* – like the FB page and/or send me an email to find out more come Jan 1st), plus a host of other fun things I’m rolling out, including my online course The Humble Brag (learning to write more effectively about yourself – reply to this email if you want to jump on the waitlist). Meanwhile, I’m still helping people write their first book to raise their profile, plus doing copywriting/editing/blogging. Lots of entrepreneurs have pivoted businesses and profiles this year so need a hand changing marketing collateral – let me know if I can help you .

That’s it from me in 2021. I’m taking a shorter than usual break as we’re only on ‘winter holidays’ here (still 30 degrees on average!) so I’ll be ready to roll early Jan. Enjoy the festivities that Christmas and the new year ushers in. Gather with loved ones where you can, listen and share stories and fill your head with inspiration.

30 reasons to fire – or not hire – a client

Does the idea of working with a particular person keep you awake at night, tossing and turning as you sweat it out, hating on yourself for ever letting them into your world but unsure about what to do about it? You know you can help them but every interaction is killing your soul.

Well, it’s time to put your own needs first and say enough is enough: “I don’t love working with this client so I won’t do it anymore!”

Here’s the news flash – it’s YOUR business and you deserve to only work with people who serve you as much as you serve them. And guess what? When you release them out into the world to find another solution, you’ll actually be doing them a favour too – they’ll find someone more suited to their needs/personality/temperament/demands!

It’s a natural normal inclination at the start of your business journey to want to work with anyone who is keen to work with you…  because money is money right? And a client is a client, right? WRONG! I used to tell this story a lot to my coaching clients, particularly those who were new in business… Continue reading

My husband left me

…6weeks ago to live in the Philippines, and it’s taken this long to write about it.

In fact, it’s been a long time since I wrote at all! Yes, I’ve been crazy busy with all the things that happen and need to be done before and after your partner relocates overseas (and leaves you behind with two kids, 6 animals and a big ole property to sort out!), but in truth I’ve also just been resisting it.

And I’m only just beginning to understand why.

I checked out a few months back…drastically reduced my social media interaction, stopped marketing myself, stopped networking, stopped creating, and just did the small jobs for existing clients that trickled in. Then it dawned on me that I was ‘taking a break from my business’. January is always an intentional break, but this year, the break simply continued… almost without noticing it. You’d have thought that after last year I’d be chomping at the bit to get back in a room with people and talk shop and create and do, but in fact, my reaction was just the opposite. It wasn’t until recently when I started getting concerned messages as to my whereabouts online did it dawn on me that people come to rely on you to show up in a certain way and to be a certain presence in their life. I don’t say this to big note myself, or suggest that people ‘need’ me in their life, but it’s curious how many gorgeous souls checked in on me to see if I was alive!

As a fiercely independent gal, who likes to rely on noone, it really made me sit up and think: “why on earth are people worried?”  And yet, as someone who teaches everyday storytelling and online presence it should have been bloody obvious! I help people build and lead communities through the power of words, and insist that they then have a duty to do the right thing by those communities to maintain trust, add value and strengthen relationships, BUT I didn’t do that for my own. I let my own community down. I just disappeared. Said nothing. Added nothing. Continue reading

New normal, new language

This has been a bugger of a year for obvious reasons but it’s also been a year of expanding our vocab – which a word nerd like me fully encourages and embraces!

In a matter of weeks, coronavirus fundamentally changed our way of living and working. It closed businesses, transformed working patterns, shifted our human interaction. As a result, new vocabulary appeared as a shorthand way to discuss the impact, articulate worries and poke fun at the craziness of the situation. Linguistic creativity is alive and well! (and is not uncommon in times of social crisis!) Collective cultural reference points work as a kind of uniting factor in times of trouble, and in the absence of regular social contact, shared talk is an important part of helping people feel connected.

So as we came to grips with the ‘new normal’ we figured out how to talk about the virus. And an explosion of new words and phrases entered our dialogue to help us make sense of the changes we experienced.

Covid-inspired words

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