• Sticky beak: Infusionsoft offices in Phoenix, Arizona

    Last week, I trekked over to Arizona in the US for a conference for about 3000 small business owners, boldly coined #ICON14. Run by US-based software company Infusionsoft, the company invited the Aussie contingent to tour its offices in Phoenix. So I thought I’d give you a sneak peek as well.

    Infusionsoft is a classic startup success story. It was founded in 2001 by Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask and now has over 500 employees in a Google-type building. While there are no slippery slides or sleep pods, there are lots of brights colours, quirky touches and countless proclamations like “We help small businesses succeed” plastered all over the walls.

    I first explored Infusionsoft back in 2008 and decided it definitely wasn’t for me. But it appears that a lot has changed in six years. I decided to give it another go earlier this year and have been happy with the results so far. So it was great to be able to go behind the scenes to check it out. So here is my visit in pictures …


    Placed prominently in the entrance of the building is a large sculpture of an animal balloon.… Read more ...

  • My life in a minute: My number 1 podcast! Clever kitty Rex; and my new fave gadget

    It’s been a whirlwind over here with lots of planning, travelling, systemising and recruiting for new team members at the Australian Writers’ Centre. So here is my life in a minute!

    Grateful for: The wonderful support from listeners of my podcast “So you want to be a writer” which I co-host with the wonderfully talented Allison Tait. I’m absolutely loving producing this podcast with Allison. I’m so grateful for all the positive feedback. You’ve helped us get to #1 in the Literature category. And we’ve reached #50 out of ALL podcasts in Australia so far!

    Thrilled to: Host our recent meetup in Sydney with the wonderfully talented Tristan Bancks. Tristan shared his wisdom about writing to our community. I’m still in a bit of shock that he can write 2000 words just using his thumbs on his iPhone while walking on the beach in the morning! Tristan’s latest books are Two Wolves and My Life and Other Stuff That Went Wrong.

    Speaking at: Business Blueprint conference at Australian Technology Park, organised by the talented Dale Beaumont and his team.Read more ...

  • It’s true. I yell at my friends.

    I have a tendency to yell at my friends. I know this is not ideal. But, I confess, it’s true. Typically, this happens when I can see how amazing and talented they are – but they won’t believe me. Worse, they simply don’t believe in themselves, in their own capacity to kick their own goals or follow their dreams. It drives me totally bonkers.

    I end up yelling: “But can’t you see how amazing you are?” “Can’t you understand that people will definitely buy from you/hire you/download your app? You just need to get out there and tell people you exist!”

    I know that I shouldn’t yell at them. But after months – sometimes even years – of gentle encouragement, they still can’t see how talented they are, or how truly viable their business really is.

    This is what I hear:
    “I feel like a fraud.”
    “I don’t think I’m good enough.”
    “Why would anyone hire me? I don’t have the credentials.”

    The reality is that they DO have the credentials, skills and talents to achieve their goals. And the only person they need to convince … is themselves.… Read more ...

Behind the scenes at Zappos

Zappos Feature

Ever since I read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (CEO of online store Zappos) in one sitting, I’ve wanted to visit their offices in Las Vegas. So on my recent trip, I did just that. Here’s a quick tour.

Apparently, it’s a tie-free zone at Zappos. Anyone who wears a tie has it promptly cut off and this practice is proudly displayed at the front desk.

Tours of Zappos are free. Just book in – they even send a shuttle bus to pick you up from you hotel and can also drive you to the airport.

They’re really big on creating T-shirts to celebrate milestones.

In fact, slightly obsessed with T-shirts for any reason.

There are kitchenettes everywhere featuring snacks, coffee and fruit.

And if you want to have a nap, this is what they did to an unused internal walkway. Zappos is housed in the former city council building. They didn’t know what to do with this dead space so they held a competition among staff and the best idea was implemented.

It’s not exactly Vogue Living decor. But each team is encouraged to decorate their own area.… Read more ...

Do you want to grow your business and raise your profile?

KPI_Brand_Accelerator_Poster Feature

If you want to grow your business and become a leader in your industry, then it goes without saying that you need to raise your profile. I’m passionate about helping people do just that. There’s nothing I love more than seeing a business owner thrive because they are being recognised as leaders in their fields.

The reality is that you’re probably already an expert in what you do. You just need to ensure that people – specifically your potential customers – know about it so that you become their number one choice when they finally decide to buy.

That doesn’t happen from taking out billboards or bursting onto the entrepreneurial scene screaming “Look at moi! Look at moi!” (Well, not if you want to do it with your dignity intact anyway).

If you want to raise your profile, you need a strategy that will build your credibility and showcase your expertise directly to your target market. And that’s what I mentor people on in the Key Person of Influence program.

If you haven’t heard of Key Person of Influence (KPI), you can find out more here.… Read more ...

Now tell me what you REALLY want.

What you really want Feature

I have a tendency to make people cry. I don’t set out to do it – and it’s not because I’m being mean to people. The tears are unusually ones of relief – and, sometimes, a little bit of joy.

For reasons I can’t explain, when I talk to people – even total strangers – I have a way of getting to the truth. It’s never from asking private questions. I just seem to have a way of asking the right questions; the ones that make people really think about what they want out of their life. I don’t set out to do it; it’s just second nature to me.

I’ll admit that I don’t have a particular strategy or methodology when it comes to helping people figure out their true desires (and most of the time, they’ve already figured it out, they just haven’t articulated it to anyone, even themselves). I can only guess that I make people feel comfortable or confident enough to express these thoughts for the first time. Or I can see when they are lying to themselves – and I call them out on it.… Read more ...

The tables are turned: What happens when a former Olympian interviews me

Toby Jenkins

As a journalist, I’m always the ones asking the questions. So it’s quite a change when the tables are turned. Recently, Toby Jenkins from Bluewire Media interviewed me for the podcast he co-hosts with Adam Franklin, “Web Marketing That Works”.

Toby competed in water polo in the 2004 Olympics. While he used to dominate in the pool (that’s him in the picture at the Olympics against Spain), he is now (along with Adam) rocking the world of business with Bluewire Media.

You can find the Bluewire Media podcast here:
http://www.bluewiremedia.com.au/blog/2014/06/wmtw-26-valerie-khoo
Adam and Toby are also former students of the Australian Writers’ Centre. I’ve been thrilled to watch them co-write and release their awesome book “Web Marketing That Works” (published through Wiley).

This book is packed with practical advice. As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of using the web to connect with my community. If you’re interested in the world of web marketing for your business, this is a wonderful guide on what you need to know.

It’s an honest account of what it takes to succeed in web marketing.… Read more ...

Animal Matters: An executive red carpet business event with a serious message

REX

Many of you know that I have a number of pets. Five to be exact. And judging by the number of pet photos that I feature on this blog, it’s easy to assume that I’ve been an animal lover from way back.

To tell you the truth, that’s not the case. When I was younger, I never had a remote affinity with animals or pets. I was never that enamoured with visiting people if they had a dog. Wasn’t fond of cats. Just not into it.

Then Rex came into my life.

Not only did I fall in love, I suddenly developed a love for animals that simply didn’t exist before. Not just a love, but a deep appreciation for the role their have in our lives and the joy their can bring to people in so many ways.

Yep, my life changed. Having said that, I’m not the sort of person who is going to sit around a moon-lit circle and sing “Kum-Ba-Yah”, waxing lyrical about the presence of animals in our lives.

So I was thrilled to hear about “Animal Matters: An executive red carpet business event with a serious message”.… Read more ...

Join me for a Tweetchat: Thursday 29 May 12 noon

WriteYourOwnBook-FB-400x400

I love Twitter. So when Suzi Dafnis from the wonderful Australian Businesswomen’s Network asked me if I wanted to be involved in a Tweetchat, of course I said yes!

This is a chance for anyone to ask me questions in real time (via Twitter) about writing your own book. You’ll have to be succinct – because your question will need to fit in 140 characters.

If you’re interested in participating:

Date: 29 May 2014
Time: 12.00pm – 12.30pm
Price: Free
The details
If you’ve always wanted to write your own book and haven’t known where to begin, join us on 29 May at 12.00pm LIVE on Twitter at @suzidafnis and get your questions answered in real-time from author and founder of the Australian Writers’ Centre, Valerie Khoo.

How to take part:
Tune in to @suzidafnis at 12.00pm on 29 May. Valerie will be our guest on a 30-minute live chat facilitated by the Australian Businesswomen’s Network’s Suzi Dafnis. Valerie will answer your questions live.

Ask Your Questions:
You can either email your questions ahead of time, here.… Read more ...

Honoured to be featured in Foundr magazine

VK Feature
I was recently interviewed by Nathan Chan from Foundr magazine. As someone who is usually asking the questions (I’m constantly interviewing people in my role as a journalist), it’s different being on the other side of the fence. Being interviewed but someone who has truly thought through their questions – as Nathan did – and who isn’t afraid to dig deeper, is refreshing. The process makes you think and helps crystallise your stance on various issues.
If you’re interested, you can get the magazine on your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch/ Android Device using the following links: www.foundrmag.com/itunes or www.foundrmag.com/androidRead more ...

Sticky beak: Infusionsoft offices in Phoenix, Arizona

INFS Cereal Bar

Last week, I trekked over to Arizona in the US for a conference for about 3000 small business owners, boldly coined #ICON14. Run by US-based software company Infusionsoft, the company invited the Aussie contingent to tour its offices in Phoenix. So I thought I’d give you a sneak peek as well.

Infusionsoft is a classic startup success story. It was founded in 2001 by Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask and now has over 500 employees in a Google-type building. While there are no slippery slides or sleep pods, there are lots of brights colours, quirky touches and countless proclamations like “We help small businesses succeed” plastered all over the walls.

I first explored Infusionsoft back in 2008 and decided it definitely wasn’t for me. But it appears that a lot has changed in six years. I decided to give it another go earlier this year and have been happy with the results so far. So it was great to be able to go behind the scenes to check it out. So here is my visit in pictures …


Placed prominently in the entrance of the building is a large sculpture of an animal balloon.… Read more ...

My life in a minute: My number 1 podcast! Clever kitty Rex; and my new fave gadget

Rocky

It’s been a whirlwind over here with lots of planning, travelling, systemising and recruiting for new team members at the Australian Writers’ Centre. So here is my life in a minute!

Grateful for: The wonderful support from listeners of my podcast “So you want to be a writer” which I co-host with the wonderfully talented Allison Tait. I’m absolutely loving producing this podcast with Allison. I’m so grateful for all the positive feedback. You’ve helped us get to #1 in the Literature category. And we’ve reached #50 out of ALL podcasts in Australia so far!

Thrilled to: Host our recent meetup in Sydney with the wonderfully talented Tristan Bancks. Tristan shared his wisdom about writing to our community. I’m still in a bit of shock that he can write 2000 words just using his thumbs on his iPhone while walking on the beach in the morning! Tristan’s latest books are Two Wolves and My Life and Other Stuff That Went Wrong.

Speaking at: Business Blueprint conference at Australian Technology Park, organised by the talented Dale Beaumont and his team.Read more ...

I’m looking for two fantastic people to join my team

Careers featured image

My business is expanding and evolving constantly. I have big plans for the Australian Writers’ Centre. We’re growing, increasing our reach and helping more students across the country – and around the world. Every single day, we receive emails from happy graduates who have changed careers, been promoted or scored book deals as a result of our courses. It’s busy!

There is nothing I love more than watching students bloom and reach their potential. And I want us to be able to help even more people achieve their writing goals. So I’m looking for two fantastic people to join our growing team.

1. An Amazing Operations Manager
You’ll manage the day to day running of the Centre. You’ll work with a team of 40 amazing world-class presenters and core group of five staff. You’re a stickler for professionalism and systems – and you’re happy to represent me when I’m not around. You’ll find details on that role here.

2. A Brilliant Content Manager/Subeditor
We produce a lot of content. In fact, we’ve been named by Expermedia as one of the “best content marketers in Australia”.… Read more ...

It’s true. I yell at my friends.

It's true. I yell at my friends.

I have a tendency to yell at my friends. I know this is not ideal. But, I confess, it’s true. Typically, this happens when I can see how amazing and talented they are – but they won’t believe me. Worse, they simply don’t believe in themselves, in their own capacity to kick their own goals or follow their dreams. It drives me totally bonkers.

I end up yelling: “But can’t you see how amazing you are?” “Can’t you understand that people will definitely buy from you/hire you/download your app? You just need to get out there and tell people you exist!”

I know that I shouldn’t yell at them. But after months – sometimes even years – of gentle encouragement, they still can’t see how talented they are, or how truly viable their business really is.

This is what I hear:
“I feel like a fraud.”
“I don’t think I’m good enough.”
“Why would anyone hire me? I don’t have the credentials.”

The reality is that they DO have the credentials, skills and talents to achieve their goals. And the only person they need to convince … is themselves.… Read more ...

My new podcast is “New & Notable” on iTunes!

NewandNoteworthy

This week I was thrilled to discover that my new podcast “So you want to be a writer” is featured in the “New & Notable” section on iTunes. I co-host this podcast with fellow journalist and author Allison Tait – and we’re having a ball!

Allison and I first met when we were desk buddies back when we worked together at CLEO magazine. Those were the days when we interviewed everyone from Australia’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors, celebrities, supermodels and everyone in between. Part of the job was to go to industry functions, film screenings, fashion shoots and the like.

However, you can only sustain that kind of lifestyle for so long. Yes, it gets boring. And, these days, we’re more excited about staying at home than we are about going out. Well, I am anyway! One thing we both love is to talk about the world of writing, blogging and publishing. And that’s what our podcast is about.

So if you’re interested in an inside look at how to become a writer – with news and a bit of gossip thrown in – including our regular “Writer in Residence” interview with an author or industry insider, I hope you’ll tune in!… Read more ...

What I’ve learnt from San Diego

USS Midway

I’m currently in San Diego at Social Media Marketing World and have been able to sample this lovely city for the past few days. Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

1. San Diego is Man Diego
Apparently, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the ratio of men to women is very healthy in San Diego. I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back up this claim but that’s what my friend from LA tells me. A cursory look around the bars and restaurants in the evenings prove her correct

2. Uber.com works much better in San Diego that it does in Sydney
In the past 36 hours I’ve used Uber.com (the hire car app) more frequently that I’ve had hot dinners. The app works like a charm, a driver magically appears in front of me within minutes of booking and takes me to my destination at a very reasonable cost. Unfortunately, I’m unable to say the same thing about Uber in Sydney because it is a far more frustrating experience. If the Uber service in Sydney ever comes close to the quality in San Diego, I will be hooked.… Read more ...

Honoured to be named as one of “Australia’s 20 Best Business Blogs” by SmartCompany

blog button

 

This week, I was honoured and humbled to be included in SmartCompany’s annual list of Australia’s 20 Best Business Blogs. This is along with heavyweights like Digital Pulse from pwc, Deloitte Digital’s blog, and Salesforce’s blog.

And also insightful bloggers like Tristan White’s excellent blog on Culture, Suzi Dafnis’s wonderful blog for the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, Darren Rowse’s pioneering Problogger, and Paul Wallbank’s tech blog Decoding the New Economy.

Check out the full list yourself here.Read more ...

Are you measuring value the right way?

rambo

When it comes to putting a value on products, services – or even pets – are you measuring this the wrong way? Traditional methods of measuring value often do not take into account important factors that can have a huge impact on the utility and worth of a transaction, experience or product. Read my post on Money Circle here.… Read more ...

What’s wrong with down-playing your success?

Tall poppy

Yesterday, I was sitting at Sydney Airport, about to catch a plane to Brisbane. A well dressed man and woman sat down opposite me. Dressed in business attire, they looked like colleagues. It was 6pm, at the tail end of the day.

The woman said: “Well it’s been a successful few days Harry.”
The man replied: “Thank you for your involvement. I appreciate it.”
The woman (brushing aside his comment) said: “Oh I felt like a dead weight most of the time.”

I heard this and thought: “WTF?”

Admittedly, I have no idea about the back story on this. I don’t know how much the woman contributed to the “successful few days”. But I did know that the man thanked her for her involvement. And rather than say “You’re welcome” or take it as a compliment, she downplayed her contribution.

I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her.

But it’s a reaction that I see among many people …

“Oh what a delicious cake.”
“Oh no, it’s way too dry.”

“That blog post you published last week was great.”
“Really?… Read more ...

Do you want to be a Key Person of Influence?

Key Person of Influence

When I was young, I use to go into the local bank and I’d notice that some of the tellers would decorate their work spaces with funny cartoons. Invariably, they were tongue-in-cheek jibes about the nature of work. The characters in the cartoons would complain about their bosses, the hours, and the mere fact that they had to be there.

Even as a child, I was puzzled as to why people would stay in a job where they found more to complain about than to enjoy. I assumed, that these cartoons were a reflection of what these bank tellers thought about their work.

Then, when I entered the workforce for myself, I worked with people who would say things like: “I hope your day is well despite the fact that it’s a Monday” or “It’s Wednesday! More than half the week is gone. Hooray!”

These same people always left work 15 minutes early, never went the extra mile and always gave the impression that they found work to be a chore.

I guess I’m really lucky because I love what I do but I found it confounding that people would stay in a job that they don’t enjoy.… Read more ...

Don’t you deserve everyday luxury?

post-everyday luxury Rex on chair

My friend Luisa believes in “everyday luxury” – and it makes a lot of sense. Why stash the items that you love the most into the back of the cupboard? Why save the “good stuff” only for special occasions? Instead, treat yourself to these things every day. Why? Because you’re sending a message to yourself about what you’re worth. My post about this is on Money Circle here.Read more ...

As an entrepreneur, how much should you reveal on your blog?

post fingers on laptop

I’m fascinated by the world of blogging. Whether you blog about parenting, life, toy trains or business, the blogosphere is a wonderful way to connect with people in your community and beyond.

Many entrepreneurial bloggers use it as a marketing tool – a way to connect with customers through smart and helpful content marketing. Their posts position them as experts in their field; their articles become must-read content. As a result, they gain a loyal following.

But how much is too much?
Some other entrepreneurs use their blog more as a way to track their entrepreneurial journey. They chronicle the highs, lows and lessons along the way. But how much is too much?

The world of blogging is all about authenticity. And some business bloggers are comfortable about talking about their failures. There is nothing wrong with this at all. However, I have been following a particular founder’s blog for the past year. And, I have to admit, it’s compelling reading. But for all the wrong reasons.

She is always tired, always stressed and rarely writes about any good news in her business.… Read more ...

The one where I emerge from a bubble – and writer’s block

Celebrating the end of writer's block on the back deck.

Celebrating the end of writer’s block on the back deck.

For the last month, I’ve been in a (self-imposed) bubble. No, I didn’t decide to do a digital detox. I didn’t go to New Jersey to marry Jon Bon Jovi. And no one bought my business for a billion dollars so that I could laze on a beach in Bali, sipping cocktails for the rest of my life.

The bubble has been the result of the fact that I’m been immersed in two major projects which have consumed my life. Hence, the infrequent blog posts, the paltry number of Tweets, the intermittent appearances on Facebook and – shame of all shames – the failure to experience Christmas properly (and all the things that go with it – like writing Christmas cards, putting thought into gifts, and so on).

Forgive me, I was on another planet.

While I wish I could have been Superwoman – able to combine overseeing these projects with everything else in life in a single bound – this was simply not going to happen.

And I’m ok with that.… Read more ...