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Opinion

She let go – a lesson to welcome in 2017

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I’m not a mad fan of poems BUT this one landed on my Facebook feed a few days ago, and I thought it was perfect for welcoming a new year. Whether you’re a she or a he, it’s all about dumping all the baggage and nonsense that holds us back from our grand plans!
 
She Let Go
 
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments. 
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back. 
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. 
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. 
She didn’t journal about it. 
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. 
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. 
She just let go.
 
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go. 
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. 
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. 
She didn’t call the prayer line. 
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
 
No one was around when it happened. 
There was no applause or congratulations. 
No one thanked her or praised her. 
No one noticed a thing. 
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
 
There was no effort. There was no struggle. 
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. 
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. 
 
A small smile came over her face. 
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

 

Written by Rev. Safire Rose.

How can we remind ourselves success is in the journey?

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When I worked for national newspapers, I used to go out and about up and down the UK, interviewing all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds.

Over the years, I’ve sat and I’ve listened to people from the most diverse of backgrounds, who live both the most chaotic and privileged of lives, and who normally have the strongest of opinions and the most polarising of views and attitudes (and you know what, I’ve liked most of them).

I have been to some of the most beautiful houses and I’ve seen the bleakest of living conditions where all those things you see on the news about people with no food or heating, and no joy or purpose, are actually playing out in reality.

There were moments that were so surreal – such as when two Weimaraners sat on either side of me, literally pressed up against me, their heads level as with mine and kept turning their heads sideways to gage my reaction with every revelation the interviewee made – that I still chuckle about them now.

But there’s one particular person I’m remembering right now, who taught me a valuable lesson about success, what it is and how it’s experienced. And this memory came back to me this week.

Let me explain why

In this particular interview, I went to meet a woman who was the same age as me then, but the complete opposite to me.

There she was with a life that was a chaotic, imperfect, comprised a small, messy but happy council flat, a blended family, and a front door on which neighbours and family seemed to constantly knock, checking in and popping in.

I have never done any interview before in which SO many people dropped in to see how things were going.

We started out with just her and I, by the end, there were probably 14 people in the room: cousins, aunties, neighbours, sibings and various ex’s.

And they were ALL chiming in with their own version of events.

It was the sort of situation I never would have considered – not at first glance at least – enviable. But I sat in that living room and thought ‘This person has got so much right.’

Not much money but actual happiness and simple, achievable goals that are relished and celebrated by a huge cheery group when achieved.

This week I saw this brilliant post on Facebook, and it reminded me of this woman again.

A thought for those of you who are struggling to be successful. Success is not a point you can ever reach. For when we reach our goals and targets, we experience momentary pleasure and then the joy disappears. Success therefore is found in the journey.

Only when we enjoy the journey can we truly say that we are successful. So enjoy today and doing what you love. Do not think you are not successful yet. If you are enjoying what you are doing today, you already are successful!!

You see, the other side of being that interviewee, or living according the above quote, is to spend your life doing what I do to myself  (and maybe you do too!). In which goal posts constantly get moved forward, standards get higher, ambitions grow and grow, and you wonder what will ever be enough!

And that can be – at times – kind of torturous!

Well, don’t worry, I’m not about to change personality, or pledge to be more realistic or more moderate. We are who we are.

But when I read that quote on Facebook, I remembered that interviewee and I wanted to give myself a slap for never pausing to enjoy or celebrate the victories and successes that I’ve had.

You know, when my book came out, my partner said to me ‘We must go and celebrate’ and I thought ‘Why?’

The book was out! That part was done. I’d already yanked that goal post right out of the ground and replanted it 100 meters ahead. And it had only taken me about 5 minutes to start treating a published book as though it was yesterdays news! 

So, in homage to that interviewee I’ll never forget, and the person who posted that quote on Facebook, today, I’m asking you to just stop for one moment, remember a recent success.

And you know what, enjoy it!

To all those lovely people who feel like running before they’re walking

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When it comes to online success or online visibility for a personal brand or business, most people understand what the big picture looks like. They look at what their competitors, or those they admire the most and want what they’ve got.

Those building personal brands say things to me like:

‘I want webinars, and online courses, I want brand deals and live events,  I want tens of thousands of visitors to my website each month, and I want a huge audience.’

And those building businesses say:

‘I want million pound revenues, and an ecommerce store and to sell out to a huge conglomerate so I never have to work again.’

All of the above is of course totally doable. But I’ve been having this conversation with quite a few people this week (and I am pretty certain they recognise themselves!).

I’ve found myself saying to them ‘Don’t try and run before you can walk.’

You see, I could upsell nearly everyone I work with to higher functionality websites, and more complicated offers and services. That would make me more money for sure.

But I don’t, because I know they won’t succeed – not yet at least. And I also know they will become overwhelmed by the amount of things, content, tech skills, thought, planning required to make that advanced set up work, earn back its cost and start making money.

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week trying to rein people in! To present them with a solution that will bring benefits whilst remaining manageable for them.

I feel really passionately about this issue because in the past, I’ve pushed myself too far too soon, running Facebook ads for instance with no clear offer, or the wrong type of offer for Facebook at least.

I’ve thought I had arrived because I had a single opt in, without realising that this was just my first step into list building and I’d go through many more opt ins and still do now.

I’ve tried to do things just because I want to, and because that’s what those I admire do, but have tried before I’ve developed a clear personal brand, or got the expert and credibility indicators that I have now.

And you know what, it just doesn’t quite work. 

Before you can run, you have to get the groundwork laid. For online business and digital visibility, this is such things as knowing what is it you want to offer, getting your website up and running, having social channels live, having clear reasons as to why others should work with you.

It’s also creating a few new habits in yourself, such as writing blog posts and social media posts, telling people in the real world what it is you do.

AND, in the case of many, it’s also about upping your tech skills so that you can update your website, create social graphics, use social media, resizing images. As this is the minimum you’re going to need to be able to do to get to your big picture.

And of course it can be outsourced but this will turn into a considerable investment, because it will need to be done and maintained regularly, for the long long term.

The main things that ensures to success are time, patience, persistency, consistency and upskilling.

Everything you want takes time. 

So to all those lovely people who are trying to run before you can walk.

Take a deep breath. As I say to my kids

‘Calm yourself!’

Roll things back. Start with the basics.

Commit to the first level of tech skills and the early habits you’re going to need to make long term habits.

Start simple and manageable for you (whatever that looks like) and be prepared to build out from there.

Remember when you look at those who are where you want to be, they are not on day one of their own adventure.

You’ll get where you want to go, but not this week, not overnight, not tomorrow and probably not next month.

Understand you’re on a journey. This is a process, not a package you can be gifted overnight.

Go step by step, and don’t try and run before you can even walk.

How to create topical content

By | Opinion, Personal branding | No Comments

Creating topical content for your website and social media feeds is really important, because it helps you position yourself as being on the ball and on top of what is going on, and also, because it helps you attract journalists who are always looking for experts to comment on topical matters.

PLUS, if you want to get publicity by writing for online publications, or even printed outlets, then it’s much easier to get editors to agree to take a piece that is topical.

So, here are 5 steps to creating topical content.

1. Use the news cycle of your industry, and turn it on its head

Whatever industry you are in, there is always industry news; so keep on top of all your industry publications and what they are talking about as there will always be hidden opportunities to find an original, personal angle that stands out.

One of my clients, a fashion consultant, for example wants to be a fresh voice in a luxury fashion industry that is currently full of doom and gloom. The news is all about how it’s over for luxury fashion, with several high profile fashion label closures. Now, if my client joins the fray talking about how it’s all belt-tightening from here for luxury fashion, her voice will get lost in the noise. So instead, she can turn the story on its head with ideas such as ‘Why there has never been a better time than 2016 to launch a luxury fashion line’ (and obviously backing this up with a load of credible and relevant reasons). After all, the closure of one or two large labels isn’t going to stop hundreds of people opening new labels –  so why not try to be a positive and uplifting voice amongst the negativity?

2. Move an industry story on to its next chapter

A different way of launching on the back of what’s hot and current in your news sector is to develop the story further rather than challenging it. Stories don’t really end – every story is linear and there is always something else that can happen next. In the case of the closure of high profile fashion brands, I’m no fashion expert but I doubt it marks the end of the entire industry – nor the story! Opinion blog posts could take up the next chapter in a number of ways: new up and coming labels have more space to come to market; fashion industry reaction; what’s next for the designer? etc.

3. Offer an analysis of a topical situation

Another story in the fashion industry seemingly all the time are the fortunes of M&S. Whether you’re a fashion blogstar or a fashion consultant blogging to raise your profile with the brands who might hire you, you will have lots of say on this topic from what M&S do right, what they do wrong, what you would advise them to do. And your thoughts and views on a topical situation demonstrate that you are a leader in this field.

4. Offer a solution to an industry problem

Part of being a thought leader is to be the person who always seems to have the answer to a problem. You’ll see this all the time in the national papers. But do these commentators who are called on to proffer solutions to problems really know best? Probably not. They just have the nerve to act like they do and can talk about it in an interesting and engaging way, promoting further discussion.

So what problems are there in your industry and what solutions can you offer? It doesn’t have to be the best solution in the world, just something that provides food for thought and is well argued. Solutions are often subjective and there might be hundreds of different solutions to any given problem. No-one is going to hold a gun to your head if your hypothetical solution isn’t right! Probably no-one will act on it at all, but the net result is that simply offering up a solution helps to position you as an industry leader.

5. Consistency

If only thought-leadership were as simple as publishing a single killer blog post and suddenly becoming ‘industry famous’ with a load of opportunities falling at your feet. Well, it’s not! Building personal brands takes time and so you have to keep creating content and publishing it over and over again. And the four ideas above all require one quality if you’re to use them effectively – consistency.

If you consistently offer sane, sensible, grounded commentary, you’ll get known for it. The key is consistency – and it will raise your profile and strengthen your personal brand.

Even better, your consistency will resonate both within your niche and beyond. So while you’ll gain authority and respect as a leader, you’ll also be sought out by the media as a commentator. Journalists are always looking for well-regarded people with opinions who can give arguments and counter arguments and who can move existing stories on. By creating content along the lines of the above, you are stamping out and establishing your personal brand piece by piece and proving you’re able to do what journalists need you to do.

 

Who needs a crinkly-kneed croaker to discover them?

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I loved a recent article by the Daily Mail’s columnist Jan Moir about the X factor.

She essentially wrote how it’s cliched, tired and has had it’s day.

BUT there was one line that really jumped out to me, and that was

‘Especially when smart kids today don’t actually need a creaky-kneed croaker to discover them anyway. Developments in technology mean that they can get noticed in a million ways that weren’t available when X Factor launched in 2004.’

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will know this is something that I feel every more strongly with every passing day.

I’m never going to say coverage in major media outlets and on tv isn’t important, and that it isn’t important to be taken under the wing of someone like Simon Cowell and propelled to stardom. You know what, in my teens and 20s, I’d have died with delight if someone like Simon Cowell had ever ‘chosen me.’ (not that I could sing but that’s a different matter!)

Publicity and getting people on TV, and in the media, is what I do, it brings huge credibility and it can transform the fortunes of businesses and profiles of individuals.

It always makes me think of the national lottery advert

You remember that big finger that goes over the heads of people, sitting there really like ducks, powerless apart from to chance that it might be them who gets chosen.

It’s not like that anymore. We are not powerless.

If you want to be a pop star, Simon Cowell or any other record executive is not the only way.

Nobody in today’s world, with a laptop and an internet connection, is powerless unless a a big wig saying ‘yes’ and choosing them. Noone has to wait and wait and wait for lady luck to make it their turn to go into a magazine or on radio.

Everyone can type, write, create, publish and start building their own audience.

In my new upcoming book (ahem, yes I am talking about it A LOT at the moment), I talk about how the first step on a journey is making a choice, the choice to become a highly-regarded, well-known influencer in your chosen topic or field.

However, the vital part is to make this choice for yourself. The American entrepreneur, author and podcaster James Altchuer talks about this in his wonderful book ‘Choose Yourself’. He describes how the world has changed, and ‘no longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.’

It might be blogging, it might be another field. For my clients, it might be to become the best private health care clinic, the most popular brand of luxury cashmere…..

But once you’ve made this choice, you just use all the wonders of modern technology and communication that is now available to all of us to make your dream a reality.

Now, maybe you think this sounds a little farfetched.

Well, believe me it’s not – and it’s all thanks to the way the internet has changed and is democratising the world. Now anyone can 3 things: a laptop, electricity and their fingers, to slowly but surely, drip by drip, tell and show and prove and demonstrate to the world they are an expert, authority, talent or personality. So, in the past we were programmed to wait for opportunity or recognition to be granted to us, now we can choose to make this happen.

So just as Jan Moir says, yes, some might believe it’s a dream come true to win the X factor, but why put your destiny in the hands of a crinkly kneed croaker. Others just get on and make it happen for themselves.

 

Has anyone told Mr Roberts that unused potential has an uncanny ability of making itself known?

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Oh, how I do feel a twinge of envy for the ‘happy’ women currently enjoying their ‘happy’ lives at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.

How lovely it must be to be motivated not by ‘vertical ambition’ but an intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy, in which one no doubt walks in circles chanting ‘Am I happy. Yes I’m happy’ before taking a little skip down to the coffee machine…..

Today, Kevin Roberts, an executive chairman at Saatchi’s has been suspended for making unfortunate comments surrounding the issue of female ambition.

As has been widely reported, he has said that he did not spend ‘any time‘ on the issue and the debate was ‘all over’. And when comparing the attitude of both sexes, he added ‘So we are trying to impose our antiquated s*** on them, and they are going: ‘Actually guys, you’re missing the point, you don’t understand: I’m way happier than you.’

‘Their ambition is not a vertical ambition, it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy.’

He’s since been placed on leave, and the Publicis group has been forced to send out a letter to all staff re-affirming their policy on gender inclusion.

It speaks volumes that Roberts can look across his staff and see them as happy little girls choosing to waltz along in the sunshine, rather than understand the very real issues that might lie behind any lack of ambition that he sees.

Of course, when it comes to ambition, everyone is different. But it’s my fear that some of those women who tell Roberts they’re happy rather than ambitious might have just reached their own substraphere, where, anymore….anything else…….and well, they explode.

For so many, as never ending incoming demands and responsibilities mount, it often a safer, more sensible and pragmatic route to accept the status quo, put ambition on the backburner and not upset the very wobbly applecart.

Which is fine – for a while at least.

The issue is, what happens when the pressures ease again, and these women look across at the men who once were their contemporaries now riding high, whilst safe in the knowledge that their own ambitions (which after all they were encouraged to have growing up) were never properly realised, and they never did the things or had the opportunities they would like to have had?

Unused potential within us seems to have an uncanny way to make itself known, like a pressure cooker with its lid just about to pop off.

I see this in the village I grew up in, where there are plenty of 50 and 60 something women who actually were once part of talented teams at all sorts of exciting businesses, but eventually reached a point where they could no longer dare to aim any higher because the combination of children, career and commute was killing them, and eventually something had to give (and obviously, it can’t be the children).

They have told me themselves that they now feel they never did or achieved as much as they could.

The result of this realisation swings between regret, melancholy and depression, to giving untold energies to local projects such as the restoration of local museums, sitting on village committees, running art galleries and organising village fetes.

Of course there are some bonuses to this. For a start, this means there are plenty of local projects getting talent they could never afford.

But on a personal level, what does one do when left with a gaping void that needs to be plugged, and an only partly reassuring inner voice that tells them they did the right thing for the kids (who now disappear from home without a backward glance).

What is needed is not an acceptance of, or aim for, female ‘happiness’ and a pat on the head for the good good girls at big companies who get ‘just far enough’, but an understanding that many women are just as ambitious for men.

Indeed, we are bought up to aim high, to compete – and you only need to look at children playing to see there seems to be natural desire to ‘win’ and be declared the winner or the best.

So Mr Roberts, instead of basking in the apparent happiness of your female employees, you should be asking yourself, how can your company create an environment in which women can realise their ambitions (if that is what they want to do), at the same time as having a family?

I do believe things are improving in this regard, and both sexes now have more ability to work flexible hours, to set up our own companies, to make changes to our lives.

But yet again it comes back to the same old stuff about why all the admin/childcare/responsibility/looking after aging parents, falls first on women.

Even the most ‘modern’ and involved man really has little idea about the intricacies of most of the things he takes for granted around his life – that his children are at a school and seem to be wearing clothes.

Most women arrive at their desks having already done what to some would constitute a days work in terms of running their children, their house and looking after elderly relatives.

I would like to see Kevin Roberts try his hand at doing his job alongside all the many tasks that the women in his firm take on every day as a matter of course.

Saatchi’s, themselves being behind the promotion. messaging and positioning of so many global brands, could be leading the charge and change in this arena.

Roberts women are not judging themselves ‘by those standards that you idiotic dinosaur like men judge yourself by.’

No. Many women have to have a different barometer in place – one of being able to cope, doing the best for those they are responsible for and not giving oneself a heart attack.

But perhaps they would at least like the chance to experience the opportunity that the self-satisfied Mr Roberts takes for granted.

Even ‘household names’ have to maintain their profiles

By | Opinion, Personal branding | 2 Comments

When you’re raising your profile or using the internet to build your business online and give you increased flexibility in your life, it’s only natural to want quick results. And as humans, I think we have a natural tendency to want immediate results!! And so if you write a blog post or get a piece of publicity and your phone isn’t immediately ringing off the hook with orders, you begin to wonder if your efforts are paying off.  Read More

Can you turn your passion into pounds?

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Join me to hear about turning your passions into pounds

I’d love to invite you to join me, PR expert Jessica Huie MBE and prolific mummy blogger Vicki Psarias, one of the UK’s most successful bloggers, on Friday 18th of April at the British Library for a talk on how to turn your passion into pounds, leverage the digital space for business success, create a flexible work life over which you have control and even look to building a business out of the things you love doing.

You can book tickets here: Turn passion to pounds 

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Has the internet made the world smaller, or bigger?

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I’m getting quite into these philosophical posts, even though I’ve never really ‘got’ philosophy and some philosophical questions just end up with my brain disappearing down some sort of strange rabbit hole where I realise there is no answer which then totally does my head in even further.

But this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this week as I’ve begun interviewing incredible bloggers from around the world for my upcoming book The Million Dollar Blog.

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Talking female entrepreneurs for European Commission’s ‘Start Up Europe 2016’

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A quick screenshot from last night, when I was invited to sit on a panel talking about female entrepreneurship for European Commission Startup Europe Week 2016.

One of the great messages came from my fellow panelist Yasmina Siadatan, who won the Apprentice but also happens to be (randomly) one of my brother’s friends sisters! She talked about women and aspiration and how men have up in the sky thinking whereas women tend to think small.

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Can anyone explain why Facebook paid £4700 in tax and I just paid £23k?

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I always like to imagine what exactly the HMRC online bank account looks like at this time of the year as self-employed people across the country finally cough up what we owe. Is someone sitting there hitting refresh watching the numbers get higher and higher and nearly fainting with delight, or do they have a big digital thermometer like they do on Children In Need which finally pings when everyone has paid up?

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In 2016, technology might changing how we communicate, but the PR industry is more relevant than ever before

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There are many industries that have faced dramatic digital disruption and yet still, the changes they are enduring remain only in their infancy.

While we are all, for instance, stunned at the growth of Uber and the disruption to the black cab and minicab industry, with driverless cars on the horizon, the disruption has not stopped yet.

The media, both in terms of the press and its accompanying publicity/communications industry, has also experienced well-documented change, and while newspaper publishers may be keeping their fingers crossed that a good website will solve their problems, it’s unlikely the change has matured to completion.

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Come and see me at the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs

By | Opinion, startup business | No Comments

Get yourself to Bristol for 1.45pm on October 22nd, as I’ll be discussing Turning a Blog into a Business at the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs. I’m one of four lovely ladies with knowledge (and an opinion!) on this topic sitting on the panel on the Keynote Stage at 1.45. Amongst other things we will be discussing how to keep content fresh and creative, ALL the different ways of monetising a blog (and there are at least six different ways that I want to mention!) and how to commercialise a blog without losing trust and traffic.

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We can all learn from Natalie Massenet’s personal values

By | Opinion, startup business | No Comments

I love it when a hugely successful and inspirational female entrepreneur offers a glimpse into her mindset, and Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter.com has done exactly that today.

Stepping down from the company she founded 15 years ago, she has talked about her desire to start a new chapter in her life and also laid bare her own personal values, which you can see if full below. Within these, there has to be a takeaway thought for everyone.

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