My Life in a Minute: Chris Ducker, Seth Godin – and we turn 9!

Kate Hennessy, yours truly, Sue White, Rah Gardiner

It’s been a while since I’ve shared “My Life in a Minute’ so here is the latest on what’s been happening in my world.

Thoroughly enjoyed: A recent mastermind session with entrepreneur, podcaster and author of “Virtual Freedom” Chris Ducker, which he held at the Australian Writers’s Centre’s training rooms in Sydney. There’s nothing like a power day sharing ideas with fellow business owners. I highly recommend it.

With entrepreneur, podcaster and author of “Virtual Freedom” Chris Ducker in Sydney

Thrilled to meet: Seth Godin at a wonderful Business Chicks lunch. I hosted a table of some awesome peeps as we absorbed Seth’s inimitable style in Melbourne.

Marketing guru Seth Godin and fabulous friends

Loved presenting to: A wonderfully engaged group of PwC partners at the PwC Partners Summit at the Gold Coast. It was all about “Storytelling in Business”.

At the PwC Partners’ Summit

Awesome hanging out with: A group of brilliant graduates of the Australian Writers’ Centre in Melbourne who have gone on to create successful careers as writers. We filmed a series of videos which are now being edited.… Read more ...

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Fear

I have a confession to make. For the past couple of years, I’ve been cruising. I’ve been so far into my comfort zone it’s been like living life in a down and feather doona with a bowl of M&Ms in easy reach. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been working hard. It just means that I’ve been working hard only on projects and activities that I’ve been confident in achieving.

As a result of working hard, my career has progressed and my business has grown. While that’s great, it’s also part of the reason I’ve been content to roll around in my comfort zone – because there has been no imperative to get out of it. If life is generally moving in the right direction, it’s easy to be complacent.

However, I knew there was something inherently dissatisfying about what I was doing. I wasn’t stretching myself. And that meant I was limiting my opportunities for personal growth.

Your comfort zone is a great place to be. But it should be considered a place to drop into from time to time, not a default state of existence.… Read more ...

How to find a consultant who will help transform your business

vk feature

You’ve been there. Your business is growing and you just can’t do everything. It’s time to call in the experts – consultants who can help take you to the next stage of your business.

This is be hard for control freaks. But if you want your business to grow it’s important to accept that there are only 24 hours in a day and you can’t actually be an expert in SEO, sales, operations, admin, customer service, accounting, strategy and human resources. Well, you can try – but you’ll go crazy!

Handing over the reins to consultants can be both liberating and filled with danger. Some consultants can truly transform your business. Yet some consultants can charge you a tonne of money but you end up with little to show for it.

So how do you determine of a consultant is right for you?

Well, if I had a magic formula that could give us all the answer for this, I would already be retired and sipping pina coladas on a tropical island.

Nevertheless, over the years, I’ve learnt a few things – often, the hard way.… 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...