About Valerie Khoo

Valerie Khoo is founder and national director of the Australian Writers' Centre, the country's leading centre for writing courses. She is a journalist, blogger and author. Her latest book is "Power Stories: The 8 stories you MUST tell to build an epic business" (Wiley). Valerie is a keynote speaker, small business commentator, and investor and mentor to startups and businesses in Australia.

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Here are my most recent posts

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 ...

My new fave tool: Penzu.com

Penzu

Many readers will already know that I’m in love with Evernote. It’s a tool that I use every single to day to take notes, write articles and store information that I need to keep for future reference. However, I now have another love: Penzu.com

It’s ok. I’m not cheating on Evernote. They both now have a firm place in my heart.

Evernote helps me collate and create.
Penzu helps me think and process.

If you’re not familiar with Penzu, it’s an online journal. Its website describes it thus: “Penzu is an online diary and personal journal that is focused on privacy. With a unique and compelling user experience, it makes writing online as easy and intuitive as writing on a pad of paper.”

For fellow Latin geeks, it’s derived from “pensare” which means to ponder, examine or be full of thought.

When do I use Penzu?
You know those days when you have so many things to do, or so many ideas to pursue, that you just don’t know where to start. It’s when you feel so overwhelmed that you just don’t know what to do next.… Read more ...

Would you spend $12,000 on a handbag?

Would you spend $12,000 on a handbag?

I used to work in a major publishing house where some of my colleagues thought it was perfectly normal to own a $12,000 handbag.

Now, $12,000 is nothing to sneeze at. But you’re obviously not just buying a throwaway item. Some would argue that you’re actually buying a piece of art. And I don’t doubt that the bag has probably been extremely well made, lovingly hand-stitched and is priced to include the very expensive celebrity who was paid to endorse it.

Read the rest of the post over on Money Circle here.… Read more ...

Why (some) smart and ambitious people will fail

Smart fail

Smart people know that they are smart. They know that they did better (academically) than most of their peers at school. They know they grasp concepts much quicker than others, simply because they’ve been in countless group situations where they “get it” while there are other blank faces in the room. And they know they are more well read than the Average Joe.

Chances are that they cruised through school without having to study their guts out. And they end up wowing their bosses early in their careers because they seem to be able to pick up (often digital) tools far quicker than their older colleagues.

Then they hit their late 20s. And that’s where the crisis of confidence hits.

I’m seeing this more and more in the world of work. Some people call it a quarter-life crisis. But it’s not an affliction experienced by everyone. It only impacts smart people.

Specifically, smart people who don’t recognise their limitations.

Just go with me here. You have to understand that I’m the biggest champion of believing that anything is possible. And I encourage people all the time to bust their self-limiting beliefs.… Read more ...

3 podcasts I’m loving right now

3 podcasts 1

 

I love podcasts. And as I often commute from the Yarra Valley into Melbourne, I love the time I have in the car where I can listen to inspiring business owners or experts talk about what they’re passionate about. It’s dedicated “me time” and I almost always learn something useful that I can apply to my business or life.

When I discover a new podcast, I typically go back and listen to a selection of previous episodes to see if they appeal to me. If they do, I will listen to most of the “back catalog”. And chances are that I’ll subscribe and become a dedicated fan.

Then there are other podcasts that I’ll dip into and “cherry pick” certain episodes based on their description.

So here are the podcasts I’m loving right now:

1. Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast
Amy packs her podcasts with information, regardless of whether she is interviewing a guest or simply riffing on her own.

I have to admit, I had previously subscribed to Amy’s blog/newsletter and found that her messages did not resonate with me through these channels.… Read more ...

Forget about Prince Charming – and buy your own home

Why you should forget about Prince Charming

 

Some years ago, I had to make a huge decision that changed my life. I ended up ditching a relationship and discovered that I was capable of a lot more than I realised. I tell the tale of why I forgot about Prince Charming and bought my own home in my post on Money Circle.… Read more ...

Why your role model might not be right for you

Role Model

When it comes to choosing the right role model, I see too many people choosing … the wrong one. It’s a trend that’s been exacerbated by the online world.

That’s because if someone is smart about building an online profile, they get exposure and visibility. However, it’s so important not to confuse “profile” with “success”.

Here’s an example. I was talking to my friend, Alice (not her real name). She talked about how inspired she was about the journey of a famous blogger/startup entrepreneur who has managed to carve out an enviable lifestyle travelling the world and running his business from his laptop. We’ll call him John.

As a result, Alice modelled her blog and her business on John’s. She wrote headlines, just like John’s. She talked about creating products, just like John’s. And I began to notice certain graphics and phrases creep into her blog that looked eerily like those I’d seen on John’s blog.

Alice aspires to have a healthy income well in excess of six figures. (You know, closer to seven figures.) She wants to make enough money to invest in long-term assets, and she has plans to create a mini-empire.… Read more ...

One of the smartest (and dumbest) laws in Australia

Smartest

The one thing that government should change about superannuation.

I’m generally a calm person. But if there is one thing that gets me fired up, it’s insane tax laws and dumb regulations.

One of the dumbest relates to the way we have to treat our superannuation. Don’t get me wrong. I think the concept of super is awesome. But the regulations on how we can invest these funds border on moronic. Superannuation laws are among the smartest and dumbest in Australia…Read more ...

The weekend ritual that will change your life

Weekend Ritual

We all have our rituals. Some people swear by yoga. Others can’t get through the day without meditation. Yet others consult the tarot while sacrificing a chicken under a full moon before they make any major decisions. I, too, have a ritual that I swear by. And I do it (almost) every weekend.

My ritual does not involve any chickens or full moons. But I know that if I don’t do it, I’ll have hell to pay. It keeps me sane.

If you feel overwhelmed, like there’s just too much “stuff” in your life – and your brain – then I highly recommend it. So what is it?

It’s simple. It’s all about “Returning to Zen”. I’ll be honest here: I don’t always achieve Zen-like Nirvana. But I don’t beat myself up about it if that’s the case. Remember, near enough is better than not at all!

“Returning to Zen” is all about purging. That is, getting rid of physical, digital and mental clutter so that you can make space in your life to be productive, give yourself room to be creative – and the headspace to make the best decisions.… Read more ...

You can be an artist or a writer AND make money

Creative

I know I bang on about this a lot but that’s because I’m so passionate about it. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that you have to suffer for your art and live a frugal life. Creativity and wealth are NOT mutually exclusive. But you do have to take responsibility for your finances; don’t put your head in the sand.

I guess the people at Money Circle heard me because they asked me to write about the topic. You can view that story “You don’t have to starve to be an artist” here.

 … Read more ...