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 ...

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 ...

My life in a minute: Our magazine launch, our 8th birthday – and bloggers everywhere

Hanging out at The Boathouse at Balmoral Beach.

It’s been a while since the last recap. So this is more like “the last two months in a minute”!


Lunch with Candace Bushnell

It was great to see so many familiar faces at the Business Chicks lunch featuring S#x and the City author Candace Bushnell. I had the opportunity to interview Candace earlier this year and I loved how down to earth she is. We compared notes about living between a house in the country and an apartment in the city (although I’m sure her New York pad is probably more than a bit fancier than my apartment in Sydney!)

I hosted a table at the Melbourne lunch with Candace. Pictured here with Australian Writers’ Centre presenter Karen Andrews, and marketing manager Leona D’vaz.

There were plenty of Margaritas and Cosmopolitans. Naturally.

Then I did the whole thing again with an awesome groups of women in Sydney. Pictured here with author, blogger and TV panellist Kerri Sackville.


Awesome group of students

I loved teaching the Australian Writers’ Centre weekend Melbourne course in Magazine and Newspaper Writing. It’s inspiring being with so many enthusiastic students and watching their talent unfold over the weekend as they learn how to put their new skills into practice.… Read more ...

Waking up next to a cow: a tale of two cities

Meet my neighbour. He has insomnia.

Meet my neighbour. He has insomnia.

Earlier this week, I was awoken at about 2am by an almighty noise. It was definitely from an animal … or monster … and it emanated from somewhere near the bedroom window. It sounded like Satan trying to escape from hell. And he decided that our side fence was the right place to make his entry into the world.

Turns out that it wasn’t Satan. It was the cow from next door.

Yes, even as I type that, I find myself wondering: “How did I end up sleeping barely metres away from … a cow?”

This is particularly perplexing as I’m quite a fan of the Sparkling Concrete Jungle, otherwise known as the city of Sydney. But here on the outskirts of Melbourne, there isn’t too much concrete. Instead, there are a lot of undulating grassy pastures, a phenomenally bad internet connection and … yes … cows.

If you wander across the road there are even little lambs. And horses.

Ok so I didn’t write about these in my post. But check out the crazy arsed chicken eggs you get out here!

Read more ...

How to connect with your heroes

Connect with your hero

So you’ve been inspired by someone you admire. Maybe you want to achieve what they’ve done in their life or business. Perhaps you simply think they’re awesome.

You would love to connect with them. You dream of them endorsing your book, blog or business. Or you would give your right arm for the opportunity to pick their brains for 15 minutes. But you have no idea how to make this happen.

Linda Coles is the author of Start With Hello. She says her book reveals how you can master the skills of talking to strangers. I don’t mean about chatting to the cute guy on the bus in the hope you exchange phone numbers. Linda means engaging with strangers to turn them into valuable professional clients or contacts.

I specifically wanted to get Linda’s advice on how to approach your heroes. Maybe you’ve always want to reach out to Seth Godin, Sheryl Sandberg, or Richard Branson. How do you make this happen? Here’s Linda’s advice.


Hello. You are my hero, let’s connect!
Have you ever thought about reaching out to someone who is high profile but have never taken it any further because you don’t know the best way to approach them?Read more ...

See you at the Problogger Training Event 13-14 September

Problogger

Next week, I’ll be soaking up some Gold Coast sunshine as I’m speaking at the Problogger Training Event. I’m really looking forward to this, not just because it means I can break out my summer wardrobe after living in leggings and woollens thanks to months of chilly Victorian weather.

I’m also excited to meet the other speakers include Facebook expert Amy Porterfield, marketing expert Ed Dale and photographer Trey Ratcliff.

If you’re attending the Problogger Training Event, make sure we connect!

I’ll be speaking at the following sessions:

Launch Your Freelance Writing Career – Friday 13 September, 9.45-1.40am
This is an informal Q & A session focusing on using a blog to launch your freelance writing career. I’ll be sharing the stage – or the sofa – with the lovely and talented Kelly Exeter. Bring along your questions and get ready to learn from the experts as well as attendees.

I started freelancing 14 years ago and it’s the best move I ever made in terms of my writing career. And I’m passionate about helping others take their first step into this world because it’s so incredibly rewarding.… Read more ...

Why you need strategy – not motivation

Motivation

My friend David insisted that I read Playboy. Apparently, it has good articles. Specifically, he was referring to the recent Playboy interview with Tony Robbins. It’s definitely worth a read so if you have a chance, head on over to the site and check it out. Just be prepared for a few pictures of pneumatic blondes to flank the text.

One thing Tony mentions struck a chord with me. Tony is often pegged as a motivational speaker, but in the interview he says: “I’m a strategist, not a motivator. I’m obsessed with finding strategies that create real results in the shortest period of time.”

That’s something we all need to remember.

It lies at the heart of why we don’t take action.

You might have a great idea for a business. You talk to your mates about it over Friday night drinks. They love it too. But one year later you’re still talking about it. You haven’t taken any action.

Or perhaps you know you need to go to the next level in your business. But it’s such an overwhelming concept that you just don’t know where to start.… Read more ...

Take a risk – ask for the impossible. Here’s someone who did.

Billy Joel

I love this video of a university student Michael Pollack having the guts to ask Billy Joel if he could accompany the legendary singer on the piano. Joel was speaking at Vanderbilt University when Pollack used the Q&A session to ask what many would never dare.

It takes chutzpah and confidence to do this. But it achieved a great result. Not only did Pollack get to accompany his idol, he did it brilliantly. And the Youtube video has been viewed over 2.5 million times so far (the incident occurred in March 2013).

However, I also think it’s important to have a good balance of boldness backed up with the goods. Imagine if Pollack asked the big question, got on stage and did a terrible job. It would have been humiliating.

Sure, someone people might argue that the act of asking is kudos enough. But any idiot can put their hand up for a job.

If you’re going to do that, make sure you can deliver.

I know this seems to fly in the face of many articles and comments about the fact that men often ask even when they don’t necessarily have the goods to deliver.… Read more ...

So I couldn’t get to sleep …

Ideas

 

Earlier this week, I couldn’t get to sleep. At all.

I had a productive day in the office brainstorming a tonne of ideas and, by the time I left, we had bedded down some pretty exciting plans, timelines and new projects.

That night, as I lay in bed, even more ideas swirled around my brain. It was as if someone has turned on an idea hose and I had no idea how to turn it off.

On one hand, I was so excited by this that I just wanted the calendar to fast forward so I could work on them all! On the other, I was annoyed they didn’t wait till a more reasonable hour to invade my mind.

Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep. This is an anathema to me because I’m the sort of person who can usually go to sleep the minute my head hits the pillow. I can sleep on planes, trains, automobiles, even at the opera while the soprano is hitting a high C. I am what you would call a Very Good Sleeper.

So being unable to doze off is a very frustrating experience.… Read more ...