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

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 ...

How to be productive

Productive

I’m on a bit of the productivity roll at the moment. Admittedly, I’m always looking for ways to streamline my workflow  and become more efficient in the way work.

So I really resonated with this productivity chart from Funders and Founders.

You can print out a bigger version here.

It features the 80/20 Rule, of which I’m a big fan. The other strategies I’m particularly fond of include:

* No meetings unless they are decisive
There is nothing more frustrating than talking for hours without achieving a definite outcome. To avoid suffering from “death by meeting”, start each meeting by determining how long it’s going to take and what decisions you want to make by the end of it.

* Start an “Idea Dump” book for genius ideas you can’t work on right now
I love this – and it’s a must. I used to write down all of my ideas, but they were never collated in one spot. So I would have ideas on post-it notes, notebooks, Evernote, on the notes function in my phone – all over the place!… Read more ...

Want to run the world? Here’s how

Run the world

I’m excited to be one of 10 female entrepreneurs speaking at the Run The World Conference in Melbourne on Saturday 19 October, run by The League of Extraordinary Women. If you’re going to be there, make sure you come say HI!

Here are some details from the organisers:
10 inspirational female entrepreneurs. One extraordinary day. Join the movement.
In partnership with RMIT University, the League of Extraordinary Women will be hosting the first ever female entrepreneurs’ one-day conference in Australia.

There will be 10 outstanding female entrepreneurs and academics who will be taking the stage throughout the day to share their remarkable stories and advice with an audience of over 350 people.

For more information please visit:
http://www.leagueofextraordinarywomen.com.au/melbourne/run-the-world-female-entrepreneur-rmit-x-league-conference-2013-melbourne-event

Read more ...

Why you should start every week like this

20-percent

You want to be productive. You want to get more done. But you seem to be falling into a never-ending spiral of tasks, emails, projects and so on. You don’t feel like you’re ever going to get on top of everything you need to do. Obviously, this causes stress. And one of the main drivers of stress is the feeling of overwhelm, that you’re drowning in a sea of tasks that never seem to stop flowing.

So you work like crazy but feel like a hamster running on a treadmill that just seems to get faster and faster. And your only option is to keep going because, if you take a break, you’re only going to have an even longer “to do” list when you get back.

I get it. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re never going to get on top of things.

You end up compromising. After all, you’ve actually been told NOT to strive for perfection, otherwise you’ll never complete any tasks. You’ve learnt that you just need to get your projects to “good enough” because that’s better than not getting them done it all.… Read more ...