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Articles filed in: Worldview

The Idea Manifesto

You will often hear it said that creating a manifesto is a great way to spread an idea. A few months ago I wrote this post about ideas and realised that what we really needed was a manifesto, to illustrate the messy truths and blurred edges of ideas themselves.

One of my wonderful clients, graphic designer Grace Oris took on the challenge of designing
THE IDEA MANIFESTO. So here it is, a gift to you and your ideas.
It’s FREE TO DOWNLOAD AND SHARE WITH ATTRIBUTION (links at the bottom of this post) in either Story of Telling Palette or Black and White.

Go forth and download, be inspired and let your ideas fly!


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Design by Grace Oris.

Why You Should Never Work For Coffee

If you’re a knowledgeable, skilled and gifted freelancer, solopreneur, designer, consultant, coach or someone with something valuable to share, I guarantee that you will get asked this question.
“Can I buy you a cup of coffee, then we can, [insert information seeker’s agenda here]?”
Don’t get me wrong there is some value in getting this kind of offer. In fact if it weren’t for numerous offers of cups of coffee in the early days, I might never have fully appreciated how valuable my skills were, and that’s my point. Your knowledge and gifts are significant too. You should never value them at $4.

If you start out by accepting work and trading your time, (or seeking validation of your ideas) for coffee, then the coffee buyer (and you) will never see what you do as being beyond coffee worthy. This is not a try before they buy situation. This is a dictating the terms of the offer, and gauging an understanding of what you think you’re worth exercise. Believe me, if they’ve paid you in macchiato once, they won’t ever be paying you in dollars, cents, pounds, shillings and pence.

Working for coffee not only devalues you in the eyes of others,
it kills part of your creative genius.

Am I saying that you should never work for free? Not at all! Sometimes working for free is a great strategy. Work for free because you’d like to include something in your portfolio, or because it will be great experience. Work for free because you’d like a testimonial and agree that in advance. Work for free if it’s going to raise your profile and make you visible to new markets. Work for free because you care, which it turns out is actually not working for free at all, but working for love.

Work for free because you choose to. Do it on your terms and never on a coffee buyers, because the first cup of coffee can only lead to one thing… a second cup.

I’d love to hear more about your experience on this topic in the comments.
What do you do in these situations?
What have you learned that might help others in a similar position?

Image by Ian McKenzie.

The Truth About You

Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothing.
Labels are not for people.
~ Martina Navratilova

If there’s one question you can guarantee to be asked within the first five minutes of meeting someone it’s, “so… what do you do?” We all know it’s coming so why are we so ill prepared for it?

During the years I chose to be a stay at home Mum I loathed this question. There was no way that one sentence could define everything it meant to be a mother. Announcing that you are a writer, business coach, graphic designer or CEO doesn’t cut it either.

You are way more compelling than your job description.

The reason you choose a particular role says nothing about what you uniquely bring to the world. So my question is, why are you hiding the best of you?

You and I both know that the official line can’t hold a candle to the unspoken reality, and I promise you, if you tell the real story your results will be different too. What’s keeping you grounded in the generic and stopping you sharing more of the truth?

Work on peeling away some of those generalisations, kiss goodbye to your generic bio and shine a light on what you really do and why you do it.

Over to you and your bios in the comments.

Image by Sheeshoo.

The Secret To Creating Ideas That Matter

Ability, knowledge, education, money, self belief and connections, all fall away in the face of the one thing that really makes ideas infectious. The success of ideas and dreams of leaders and heroes the world over, from Richard Branson, to Steve Jobs, Scott Harrision to Jacqueline Novogratz is passion. Passion is the most compelling and irresistible emotion there is.

Passion is at the heart of every idea that matters

If you want to experience passion selling an idea in action, take a look at how Charles Hazlewood talks about the Para Orchestra. Charles is founding the world’s first ever world class disabled orchestra. It will be a platform for impossible genius, that will change our perspectives about disability and transform perceptions about what is, and what could be. If you have, and can communicate your ideas with this kind of passion then they will fly.

You can’t learn to be passionate, but you can learn how to communicate your passion. How could you start communicating your ideas with more passion?

Image by Emmie Green.

Not Every Heroine Gets To Choose Her Story

Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world. Only a handful get to choose their own story. This year 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 will become mothers, not by choice, or by design, but because poverty and lack of education makes it their destiny.

Imagine having little or no control over how the rest of your life, and the lives of your children will be lived. Imagine having no choice but to live the story that has already been written for you.

The Girl Effect is helping girls in developing countries to rewrite their stories, so that different stories can be written by future generations of families in the developing world.

This post is part of the 2011 Girl Effect Blogging Campaign.

Image by Harini Calamur.

Uncertainty Book, Interview With Jonathan Fields

Fear of failure is not something that’s imagined, it’s real. In many ways it’s what drives us and ultimately prevents us from doing our best work.

Uncertainty is a signpost that what you’re doing matters. ~ Jonathan Fields

Jonathan Fields is on a mission to empower us to embrace fear and turn it into the fuel for our brilliance. In his new book Uncertainty (released this week), he explores how successful people overcome their fear of locking down the future and lean into fear, in order to achieve great things. I was delighted to speak to Jonathan recently about the ideas in the book. Enjoy the interview!

You can’t achieve anything great in the world by waiting for perfect. ~ Jonathan Fields

Image by Chaval Brasil.

Don’t Follow The Money, Follow Your Heart

I know how to guarantee a spike in ‘traffic’ to my blog. All I have to do is write a post about how to build a six figure online business, or how to drive traffic to your blog! Of course you know this already, you see from your website analytics which posts are magnetic. The money and the promise usually get us in the end.

Last Thursday, a week ago today, I read a question my friend Mat Fitzgerald posted in a forum. He simply asked, “What do you want?”

That same day, I’d been told that what we thought was a lymph node in my 16 year old son’s neck, was actually a tumour. So the answer to the question was very simple. All I wanted was for that lump to go away and never come back. On Monday we got the best news, it turns out it’s not a tumour after all and we can breathe again.

So here’s the thing, if I’d been asked the same question the day before, my answer would have been very different. It might have included a professional or travel goal. It turns out that what matters one day, might seem insignificant the next. Perspective is everything and we allow it to be buried in our quest to do the ‘big things’.

Most of us are lucky enough to have what we really, truly want already.

Care about the choices you’ll have, not the money you’ll make. Care about your impact as much as your bottom line. Then care more about your legacy, than all of this put together.

Image by Miss Oppenheimer.

Working On Forever

Do you remember Fran who booked regular sessions and always opened your newsletter updates? Or Jean who stopped by on her way to work every day for a skinny latte? How about Jo who religiously shared your blog posts and Mark who sent design clients your way? Have you seen or heard much from them lately?

They were probably the kind of customers, followers and evangelists who didn’t spend a fortune or sign up to your top level coaching program. But they and others like them became your bread and butter over time. Maybe you took them for granted when they were there, but you miss them now they’re gone.

While you are busy building your business it’s easy to forget that no customer is forever. And yet forever is what you should be working on.

Forever takes patience, insight and leaving your ego at the door. Forever is being human, walking in your client’s shoes and understanding what they want before they know it themselves. Forever means failing, apologising and getting it right next time. Forever comes from creating connection and moments of joy in every interaction. Sometimes forever means treating different customers differently.

Forever is remembering that there are five other cafes in the same street and 34 million search results for ‘life coach’ in Google. Forever means working out what you could be doing better.

How are you working on forever?

Image by Jade Nazareth.

Remember Why You Started

Jessica couldn’t believe it had been only three years since she opened the doors to the tiny clothing boutique she’d dreamed of owning one day. She remembered the excitement of finding the shabby little two roomed workshop, choosing colours for the walls and installing makeshift shelving and clothing racks where she could display all her original pieces. She wanted to make clothes that were one offs, the sorts of clothes she would be proud to own, that had a story, things that people would covet and adore.

One by one people found her. They loved the designs only Jess was making and then told their friends. The local newspaper came, did an interview and took photographs and before Jess knew it the Lady Mayor of the town was ordering a whole custom wardrobe. It was too good an opportunity to pass up even if she felt a little uncomfortable about compromising on some of the styles she was required to design. The exposure was incredible! Well healed women came from miles around looking for new wardrobes. They loved the idea of being able to have a big say in the design process and Jessica was so helpful.

Now though Jess was so busy creating stuff that other people wanted her to create she had no time to experiment with her own designs. She didn’t have time for sketching wacky ideas. She no longer had space to dream up designs for beautiful original accessories. She had email enquiries to field and phone calls to return.

On a rare Sunday stroll by the river with a friend Jess realised that she wasn’t looking forward to opening her newly extended shop on Monday. She was dreading having to sit down and work to finish the designs that Allison Joyce the local councillor had commissioned. Somehow she felt that in trying to build a successful business she’d lost a sense of her original purpose and a bit of her soul along the way. She got little joy from the ooohs and aaahs of customers wearing garments she didn’t care she had designed. The money was great but the work was soul destroying. Jess was now left feeling like she’d sold out, she’d traded her passion and her art for a traditional measure of success and that made her uncomfortable. Mostly she was angry at herself for allowing her ego to get in the way of doing what she really loved, what she’d set out to do and be. She realised that what made her a success in the first place was doing what mattered to her.

So on Monday Jess didn’t open the shop. She stopped answering the phone, went for walks and thought long and hard about what it was that made her want to do this job in the first place. Jess took time out to go to the art gallery, the local market and the design museum. It was a tough time and she knew that some people might judge her harshly for making changes. Jess also knew though that change had to happen, that the first step to helping dreams come true was putting a stake in the ground for her own dreams.

So that’s what she did. It meant not just tweaking the model she now had only to be back where she started again in few weeks time. No, Jess made a radical shift and a decision never to take on a custom design again. It just felt like the right thing to do. She had to stop being a shadow of the designer she could be by being the designer she wanted to be.

I’m sure Jess made the right decision. If you get no joy from what you do it begins to show. You can tweak the compromise a little here and there but sometimes what is required is insight and extreme bravery.

Remember why you started not just what you started.

*This is a re-post from some of my earlier work, it’s important and I wanted to share it here with you.*

Image by Steve Rhodes.

The Cycle Of Striving

Are you stuck in a cycle of striving? Busy brainstorming, creating, iterating, going for it, launching, succeeding and then doing the rinse and repeat routine.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our projects and wanting to make everything work, that we forget to stop for breath, or come up for air. We adopt two postures. One is waiting for the starters gun and the other is striving. Going for it for all we’re worth towards the finish line. And what happens when you get there, when you finally achieve your audacious goal, have the ‘big win’? You probably just turn right around and start again, without even looking up.

When you get stuck in the cycle of striving and don’t give yourself permission to celebrate you eventually burn out and lose longer term momentum. I know I’ve lived it and I’ve seen it happen to countless other ‘driven’ people. I also know that you’re driven, that’s why I’m putting this out there.

When you do great work it needs to be acknowledged and celebrated by you, not just the rest of the world. It’s okay to stop, drape the flag around your shoulders and stand smiling on the podium.

Image by Matt Hinsta.