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Archive for the 'Creativity' Category

My New Year Solutions – some notes

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

 

 

As the new year kicks off  it’s a good time to take stock of the memories deeply engrained within my heart and memory. It’s so affirming to look back over the last 12 months and take an inventory of all the things that happened – the good and the not-good – and reflect on successes and lessons learned.

Last year the new year (2016) passed in a dizzy drunken blur of bad music and false friends. This year I was with my lover (and best friend) sober in Fiji. It was magic.  Dinner barefoot on a sandy beach beneath a kaleidoscope of fireworks. 2017 is my year of living magically – and beautifully. (which is also why I’ve named the next self-empowerment book, Your Beautiful Mind. ..more on that later.)

Albert Einstein once said, “‘If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.’  I took his advice to heart last year – big time! Mostly I set aside more time to do what I loved.

I fell back in love with fiction. After spending much of  my adult life in business roles and writing about careers—how to survive them, change them and thrive in them—I’ve become a ravenous reader of all things escapism. I love immersing myself in new worlds…especially if there is an element of history and the books are art-related in some way, like one of the books I read in 2016 – Jessie Burton’s, The Muse.

Inspired by my love of escapism I wrote two art-related romance novels under my pen name Mollie Mathews (www.molliemathews.com) and indie published them under one of my new business lines, Blue Orchid Publishing. It has been heartening to receive wonderful feedback from readers, like one Amazon reviewer who posted a five-star review and said, “Beautiful. Resonated in my soul, gives me hope that I will meet my Prince one day and he will love me for who I am.”  The two books I wrote are:
The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride and The Italian Billionaire’s Scandalous Marriage.

The awesome feedback I’ve received is particularly encouraging as, like many successful authors, I had to ensure rejection – and worse the silent treatment from a New York agent who asked me to send her my books and then never got back to me. On the upside this experience lead me to create a new business and new brand – something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I read a book about New Zealand romance writers over ten years ago, The Passionate Pen.

Last year I truly was prolific—both in non-fiction and fiction which many of you who have followed me and purchased my books will know. I wrote and published:

Two in the Art of Success Series (The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life:

Book One: Leonardo da Vinci (getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess)

Book Two: Coco Chanel (getBook.at/CocoChanel)

I also wrote the published the following books:

Career Rescue: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life (getBook.at/CareerRescue)

Find Your Passion and Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want And Live the Life You Love  (getBook.at/Passion)

Boost Your Self-Esteem and Confidence: Six Easy Steps to Increase Self-Confidence, Self-esteem, Self-Value and Love Yourself More (getBook.at/BoostYourSelfEsteemAndConfidence)

And a third book in the Mind-Life Career Rescue series,  Employ Yourself (getBook.at/EmployYourself)

It’s been my absolute joy to have heard from so many people who told me that thanks to my books they have confidently left jobs they hated, and started living a life they loved—before it’s too late. Bravo to those of you who have had the courage to make a change for the better in 2016. And kudos to those of you who are planning your great escape. Small steps can lead to big successes over time.

I was touched to receive the following email recently which affirmed how lucky I am to work with both passion and purpose —I’ve devoted much of my life helping others to achieve the same:

“I discovered author Cassandra Gaisford when I first read her book, Mid-Life Career Rescue: How to Confidently Leave a Job You Hate and Start Living a Life You Love, Before It’s Too Late. She writes inspiring non-fiction about how to live a creative life, pursue your passion, and make meaningful change in your life. A number one bestselling Amazon author, she also writes romance and historical fiction and is a coach and speaker.Cassandra is inspiring to me because she leads by example—she follows her passion for writing and art, and she helps others find their creativity through her entrepreneurial writing business which includes coaching and speaking.”

In 2016 I invested a significant amount of time and money in developing my new career direction, including signing up for courses and attending conferences to learn from experts in their field. A real highlight was meeting Michael Hauge, a top Hollywood story expert, author and lecturer who consults with writers, filmmakers, marketers, attorneys and public speakers throughout the world.

Another highlight was receiving a phone call from Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. He was recognised as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. Neil has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives. Neil is so swamped with requests he doesn’t make individual consultations anymore – but he rang little ‘ol me – for free! When I asked ‘why’ he said, because I sounded nice and he thought it would be fun!

Neil’s pro tips to me included: “Having regular blog content is so crucial to building your business and driving traffic to your site.” It’s a great reminder offering free advise and inspiration does help.

In my coaching practice its been so heartening to pass on my skills and knowledge and to train so many wonderful people to become Certified Life and Career Coaches. Here’s just a few of the amazing people and their businesses they have started with a true passion to help others live and work with passion, joy, happiness and fulfilment:

www.boxofchocolates.co.nz

www.significantlives.com

https://empoweredeverafter.com/

www.resfreshyrlife.co.nz

As Clive (from Significant Lives) wrote to me, “A big draw card was the individualised approach – which just one week into training has already proved its worth! I simply wouldn’t be making the same progress if I was say, hooking into a weekly webinar with a dozen or more others and one trainer.” I love working closely with people to help them achieve their dreams.

Last year, as a result of my books going out into the world, I was contacted by many people in American, Europe, Australia and Asia and asked to share my experiences on podcasts, and in their books, including  (appropriately) Write Your Book at Fifty by Jeanette Martin. Yesterday I received an email with another request to share my story in a new book which will be released later this year, called Thrive: Finding Space to Live a Creative Life. As the author, says, “It’s about connecting with your creativity (or a neglected passion), creating the time/space/lifestyle to pursue your creativity, and building habits to live a more creative life. I wrote it because for so long, I was stuck on the hamster wheel of being a workaholic and completely ignoring my creative side. I hope to help others who may also be unhappy, ” the author wrote to me.

Amazingly the theme of this book sums up last year (and my intention for those that follow) perfectly. To live and work with passion, creativity and joy you need to make space.

 

The not so good things that happened included:

Falling out with a couple he had thought were very dear friends.  it seemed jealousy got the better of them,  despite best efforts to heal the rift they moved away. Happily we have wonderful new friends in our life.

Numerous technology and computer meltdowns including my website (www.worklifesolutions.co.nz) being hacked six times. In the end I had to have it rebuilt and create a new domain. I lost content, time and money.

But other than these and a few personal challenges life (which I’ll share in my book, ‘Your Beautiful Mind” life has been pretty good. I think it helps that I’ve invested so much of my life in the personal development space—and that I meditate. And following my passion has been good for me.

So anyhow’s onto my new year’s solutions:

  • I will focus and eliminate all distractions when I write. And I mean ALL – in 30 minute cycles, using timers to keep me honest. Right now my fav tool is focusatwill.com. The developers says this will work magic because it’s “Scientifically optimized music to help you focus.”I’m a big fan of this tool …I love the music and loving what it’s doing for my productivity. It is absolutely incredible how much you can achieve in 30 minute bursts when you are focused.
  • I will simply and declutter my life – this includes my work area and desk and laptop (eliminating the unnecessary) – this will help me better achieve the above. This is going to be tough as I tend to be a ‘collector’ but I’m going to try.
  • I will experiment with my commitment to be alcohol-free for the WHOLE year. And I mean the whole year. And I will share what I learned and what really works, in my new book, “Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.” Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear. There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, am I drinking too much? Don’t let this be you. Take the ready to quit quiz https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5K8KSN7
  • I will engage in three passion projects for the year – writing wise. As above for non-fiction and two art-related fiction books. One of these is particularly significant as it is the book I never thought I could write. More about this in later newsletters! To achieve this I am committing to being more ‘anti-social.’ Not drinking will help this along as the majority of times I socialised last year involved alcohol.
    Related to this I’m rethinking my relationship to social media. I truly am cutting back here, including taking the app off my Iphone so i don’t do quick check ins. Being away on holiday  off the grid was a great digital detox one I am to keep in check.
  • Health is a priority. I’m 52…half way to my next life—I want to make sure I arrive in good shape. Alcohol is gone, coffee too, sugar – on the way out. In is green and clean and raw. Let’s see how I go. Meditation needs to be more regular for sure. I’ve been a meditator for over 20 years but sometimes I forget to prioritise it.
  • Financial independence. I’ve been slack. After forging a very independent and successful career as a life coach and corporate trainer when I met my lover I allowed myself to get comfortable as I forged a new career direction. 2017 is the year I will leverage off all that I have learned and achieved and watch my prosperity soar. 2017 is the year for creative living beyond fear and big magic—financially, and spiritually.
  • I will trust and listen to my higher self more—especially in matters related to writing and running my business.
  • I will love numbers more. Last year and in the six or so months before I’ve switched off from all things numerical – accounting and finance wise. It’s true, out of sight, really does mean out of mind. Not good escapism at all! This year I’m dedicated to earning more and spending less, and that means ensuring that every dollar I spend is an investment in fast-tracking my financial success as I continue to reinvent my career as a creative woman.
  • Learn from the experts. This year I’m defragging from email overload and tapping into experts only. One of the few things I’m doing is taking a fiction writing class with James Patterson. Exciting!! As of January 2016, James has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children’s, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children’s bestsellers lists. He’s a pro for sure! I’ve learned so much already. I’m also going to consult screenwriting guru Micheal Hague again—especially for my big (secret) project which has already been suggested by a top literary agent could become a movie! I know paying for these services will fast-track my success and feed my goal to be the best writer I can. I consulted with him when writing one of my romance novels (The Italian Billionaire’s Christmas Bride) and the feedback was invaluable. Plus I’ve signed up for a class with my guru Tim Ferris, How Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Master Productivity.
  • I’m going to be incredible efficient with my time—minimising distractions and doing less to achieve more. A big change will be outlining before writing and using story-telling techniques when writing future blogs and newsletters to enhance my craft.
  • I’m going to be driven by passion and ensure I keep my passion alive—focusing and eliminating distractions and maintaining balance will be key. Passion will carry me through the tough times and affirm me during the good times. I know, I know—I’m the passion queen. But even the most passionate people can get distracted and burn out.
  • I’m going to get up earlier at 5am and ‘just do it!” This is going to be challenging, but I’m determined to make this a joyful ritual. My writing rituals will include five 9 hour days per week dedicated to fiction, one to non-fiction and marketing/business activities. Day seven will be a passion day – whatever I decide that will be. I love everything I do – so that will be easy. Included in this is Balance – relationship, health and spiritually wise. Meditation, romance, chilling will all factor in—including a reward trip to Japan with my lover in September to defrag and retop up our inspiration well.
  • I’m going to paint or draw when I feel my spirits lagging or I need a boost
  • I’m to take a year out from complaining! Gosh, if you commit to this, and log your progress you’ll be super aware how much we complain about things that really don’t matter – like the wind, or the rain, or the fact my cooked spinach is cold. Instead this is my year if gratitude for the blessed life I am fortunate to lead.

 

A few quotes that are inspiring me this year:

Do NOT sit there like ‘Oh I don’t feel like it today. I don’t feel like it tomorrow’. Feel like it! Do it! Force yourself. —James Patterson

“Know what you want and try to go beyond your own explanations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.” ~ Paulo Coehlo, in his book “The Spy.”

“Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.”

There—I’ve declared my intent for this year. Writing it down and sharing it with you makes it feel more concrete and me more accountable. It remains to be seen whether I achieve any of these, but I’m going to give them my best shot. Meanwhile  I wish you a very Happy New Year. May it be beautiful, prosperous, interesting, productive and joyful

#manifest your goals
Passion Journal 2016
Journal your way to prosperity – A sneak peek into how I manifested my 2016 goals
https://youtu.be/YfioJTi0pLw

 

p.s.

If you GENUINELY like my books then it would be a HUGE help if you left a rating & review. It might seem insignificant, but it helps more than you might think…especially for independent authors like me. The quickest way is to go to my author page on Amazon and select the books you’ve read. Thank you! amazon.com/author/cassandragaisford

How to dream big and make it happen today

Monday, December 5th, 2016

images-2“I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like,” ~ Coco Chanel, businesswoman

In the movie, ‘The Pursuit Of Happiness,’ Will Smith, who plays the role of a homeless man, says to his son, “You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can’t do it. You want something? Go get it. Period.”

As a child Coco dreamed big. The flames of her desires were in part fueled by reading romance novels full of dashing heroes and heroines living absurdly, audaciously opulent and liberated lives. 

I’m sure plenty of people tried to sabotage Coco’s dreams of success—but she dreamed big dreams anyway. She once said that she would pretend she didn’t hear people who criticized her, and could not see people with whom she disagreed. Her boundless imagination, strength of purpose and courageous spirit are an inspiration to young and old.

People, impatient to see the realization of your dreams may say, “Show me the money” or “You’ve left it too late,” or some other downer message. 

Ignore them.

“It’s already been done,” people said to Tim Ferris when he first mentioned his idea of starting a podcast. Instead of letting others talk him out of starting his show he did it anyway. His podcast is now ranked #1 business podcast on all of iTunes, and it’s been ranked #1 (of all podcasts) on many occasions. It is the first business/interview podcast to pass 100,000,000 downloads. It was also selected as iTunes’ “Best of 2014” and “Best of 2015.” He’s been called the Oprah of radio.

Your Challenge

Dream big. Everything starts as someone’s daydream

Fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles

Become audaciously obsessed

Dream big but plan small. Baby steps will lead to bigger success

Anchor your dreams within your heart and feel as though they are already achieved

Create a soundtrack to feed your dreams. I still love Miley Cyrus’s The Climb, particularly the encouraging lyrics to persist and persevere, “Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side—It’s the climb.”

“Remember, you go where your vision is. Think Big, feel big, and know in your heart that you are one with God, and you will project a radiance, a glow, a confidence, a joy, and a healing vibration which bless all who come within your orbit now and forevermore”

~ Joseph Murphy, PhD, author and New Thought minister

 

WANT  MORE HELP TO MANIFEST YOUR DREAMS?

This has been an excerpt from The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book Two: Coco Chanel).  You can learn more from Coco, find your point of brilliance and read motivational musings from really big dreamers like Tim Ferris, Leonardo da Vinci, Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, Igor Stravinsky and other inspirational stories of success.  Available in print and eBook on Amazon. Navigate to here: getBook.at/CocoChanel

 

How to become the hero of your own life story

Monday, September 12th, 2016

img_6740I feel honoured to be interviewing MICHAEL HAUGE on the Cassandra Gaisford show tomorrow. Michael is a top Hollywood story expert, author and lecturer who consults with writers, filmmakers, marketers, attorneys and public speakers throughout the world. He is the best-selling author of Writing Screenplays That Sell and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read.

Michael lives in Los Angeles with his wife and has worked in the film and television industries for more than 35 years. He loves movies! And he loves figuring out what makes them work. And he loves helping people tell their best stories too – people like actors Will Smith and Morgan Freeman, or Devon Franklin, Vice President of Production, Columbia Pictures (to name-drop just a few)

We’ve become great friends after I purchased Michael’s books and had the great fortune to attend his seminars when he was in Auckland recently speaking at The Romance Writers of New Zealand conference in August.

 

cassandragaisfo (4)

You can learn more about Michael here: www.StoryMastery.com

If you visit his site you’ll find lots of information on story, plus information on his one-on-one coaching session. I’ve had a session with him and got so much value! And if you sign up for his newsletter, you’ll get a list of key story questions for whichever discipline interests you.

I’ll share the link to the interview when it goes live. In the meantime you can learn more about many of the critical skills you need to master to become the hero of your own story in many of my books—below are just a few which will help.

Boost Your Self-Esteem and Confidence: Six Easy Steps to Increase Self-Confidence, Self-esteem, Self-Value and Love Yourself More getBook.at/BoostYourSelfEsteemAndConfidence
The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book One: Leonardo da Vinci) getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

 

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The Art of Success Gave My Mind Wings!
#storymastery #findyouressence #passion #lovestory

5 ways to be super inspired in your everyday life

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Yes, I’m about to engage in shameless name-dropping, but hey…I’m so excited about the passionate people who banded together last weekend  to inspire, support, encourage and cheerlead people’s quest  for success.

Last weekend’s I had the huge joy of attending the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Aptly named, “All You Need is Love”, the conference’s theme captured the key messages contained in my newest #1 best-seller, The Art of Success. It’s a book dedicated to love.

Here’s 5 of the many things I learned from attending the conference that may ignite the seeds of your own inspiration and fuel your success.

1. Surround Yourself with Positive People.  It’s incredibly inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by people who are either pursuing, or have achieved the things, you also aspire to. I loved hearing how successful some of my fellow writing friends have become since I last saw them. Especially my tribe from my former home city, Wellington.

Leanne Morgan, for example, writing as Leanna Morgan, currently also working as the head librarian at New Zealand’s Kapiti Library, has forged an incredible career writing romantic fiction and publishing these herself. Her income has flourished so much so that she’s resigned from her librarian role to concentrate on writing full time. Her story is a fabulous reminder to us all that your day job can feed your dream career and, if and when the time is right, allow you to transition safely to the next chapter in your life.

The same can be said for former Wellingtonian and now USA Today Bestselling Author, Bronwen Evans. Bronwen’s first manuscript, INVITATION TO RUIN, was completed late 2009, and was sold to Kensington Publishing early 2010, in a two book deal. Her debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, received a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews and was nominated in the RT Reviewer’s Choice Awards – Best First Historical. Invitation to Ruin was also won the RomCon Readers Crown Best Historical 2012.She’s since gone on to win the RomCon Readers Crown three times. Her first book in her Disgraced Lords series hit the USA Today bestsellers list and she has hit it several times since. Her success is even more inspiring because she also worked in a ‘conventional career, ‘ while writing, but because she is also dyslexic.

2. Connect with the pro’s. One of many international experts who spoke at the conference was Hollywood-based story consultant, author and lecturer Michael Hague. His passion for storytelling and love of films was super inspiring—reawakening my own slumbering passions and instilling in me an even greater commitment to mastering the art of great story telling. One of the things I manifested prior to going to the conference was having Michael sign one of his books that I had purchased, “Writing Screenplays That Sell.” So I was elated when he suggested this pose for this piccie, and invited me to join him and another successful Kiwi romance writer, Tessa Radley, to see the Auckland sights. Michael has worked with some  of  the most successful people in Hollywood, including actor and producer Will Smith, and after hearing him speak and reading his book, I can  appreciate why.

3. Visualise and Affirm For Success.  Mindset is  everything.  Before going to the conference I visualised successfully pitching several of my works of fiction to literary agents and editors. Then when the  time came for my appointment I felt so nervous I almost didn’t turn up. But I put on my big girl pants (or rather my favourite dress), reminded myself that these powerful and influential people weren’t defined by their job title, but were also just normal people like me, affirmed my belief in my stories, practiced my pitch, visualised success and showed up—reminding  myself to also have fun. The result? I walked away with all two international editors from big publishing houses, and one New York based literary agent, interested in acquiring my work.

4.  Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway.  Following on from the example I gave above, it’s important to discuss the fact that people always think that I’m a naturally confident person. The truth is I feel fear just like you do. I tremble at the thought of meeting new people, and quake at the idea of self-promotion. But I’ve learned that to achieve success I must control my fears, believe in my dreams and take action on my goals.

Currently the NY-based literary agent has three partial manuscripts of mine and is assessing my self-empowerment books, including offering to help me negotiate a recent request I’ve received from a Vietnamese publisher for the translation rights for my  Mid-Life Career Rescue series, and The Art of Success.

As they wrote  to me, “In Vietnam, more the 40% percent student choose the wrong career after graduation. So we think that your books are very useful for young people in Vietnam. It’s would be great if we could have your titles in our books line.” I’m thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to help more people make life-affirming choices.

If fear or low self-esteem is something you struggle with, make this your no.1 self-development focus. I have a new book coming out this month which I know will help. More about that in my next newsletter. If career dissatisfaction is  weighing you down you may like to  check out my other  books already available on Amazon. Simply navigate to my author page here >> Author.to/CassandraGaisford.

5. Invest in Your Dreams. Going to the conference wasn’t super expensive, but it did cost money. Hotels, conference fees, air travel, and  attendance at Michael Hague’s one day, ‘Story Mastery’ workshop. But I treat such expenses less as a cost but more as an investment. One I intend to maximise. So when Michael said he’d love to work with me on developing my story Mona Lisa’s Secret I didn’t hesitate to pay for a coaching session. Afterall, as a coach myself I know  the value of working with a pro, and paying the best, to  fast track success.

So yes, I did some name-less name dropping but I hope you’ll appreciate the theme. To be inspired you need to surround yourself with inspiring people and invest in your own success. You may not be able to get to a conference but that needn’t stop you. There’s plenty of online forum’s and virtual workshops you can attend. Michael Hague, for example has video copies of his international workshops which you can purchase and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Other experts will too.

I’ve also written about and sharing inspirational stories of success in my series Mid-life Career Rescue. Like Annie Featherston’s metamorphic rise from disillusioned teacher to award-winning romance writer in Mid-Life Career Rescue What Makes You Happy.

Many of the above tips and more easy to implement strategies can be found in my latest #1 Amazon bestseller The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life, available now in print and eBook from Amazon here getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess

I hope you’re feeling inspired after reading this post. I’d love to know what resonated with you.

Love and best wishes

Cassandra

P.S. If you’ve read my books and enjoyed them – have you left a review on Amazon? Reviews are gold to authors like me and help readers find our books. Please consider leaving your feedback on Amazon on Goodreads. Thank you!

I need your help…

Friday, July 8th, 2016

It has been a marathon of learning and a sprint to the finish, but I’m almost ready to launch, my next non-fiction book, The Art of Success. But I need your help.

I’ve been writing for the majority of my career, I’ve been on television, interviewed on the radio, and spoken at overseas conferences. But this isn’t what I’m most proud of.

What I am most proud of is helping other people succeed. From helping people leave toxic jobs, and stand up to tyrannical bosses, to helping people accomplish their dreams and even showing a single mum (as I once was)  how she can make money working from home and support her family—helping others is my greatest accomplishment.

Now I’d love your help. It would be great to get a fresh perspective before I finish my latest book.

Would you enjoy being an advance reader for The Art of Success? You don’t need to worry about any of the small detail. I’m only looking for your “big picture” responses to the book itself, as they are what will help me edit effectively. I’m looking for a few early readers to complete by July 20 so I can get some feedback and also some reviews in advance of the launch.

If you’re keen, please email me direct: cassandra@cassandragaisford.com with whether you want Kindle or ePub—or word.

Thanks 🙂

Cassandra

How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life

Business ideas for how to start a business

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Leigh Johnson

Creating a business and making decisions that are in line with your core beliefs and values is more likely to be a lasting and positive choice.

It allows you to be who you really are, and do what you really need, in order to achieve what you want. And it will draw like-minded and loyal clients to you.

Benefits of your values-driven business

Creating a values-driven business:

  • Allows you to be yourself
  • Differentiates you from others
  • Plays a key part in creating a professional brand
  • Guides your decisions and interactions with others
  • Communicates with, and attracts, loyal customers
  • Fast-tracks meaningful relationships
  • Can inspire loyalty beyond reason.

So where then to begin? Inside out. First determine your own personal values and build your business or self-employment opportunity from this core.

This is the approach Leigh Johnson, then aged 46, took when she established her recruitment business.

Following her childhood dream

Having my own business was a childhood aspiration. I love being my own boss – the freedom, flexibility, taking responsibility, and creating something of value that helps others. Deciding what to do was easy. I was working as a recruitment consultant for a large international firm and found recruitment suited my skills and talents.

I decided to go out on my own, and was able to turn that into a successful business and get others to share my goals and values. I was up and running with very little start-up capital, just some cash from my own resources.

Creating her niche

I established the company values and defined the behaviours that went with those values from the outset. Finding the right market and level of service centred on:

  • Providing a professional and personal service
  • Employing the right people
  • Doing business with the right clients
  • Innovating to meet their needs.

I developed a brand strategy, created a simple business plan, leased premises and a CRM system, and bought 2nd hand furniture! I hired my first employee, kept focused on our specialisation, then got out there and told people about it.

It’s important for me to be trying new things. I was driven to be successful and this, along with continually learning and sharing, kept my energy levels high. Doing the ‘same old’ and/or repetitive work de-energises me. Going into business or being self-employed creates a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills and also learn about yourself.

Taking a leap of faith

I knew my enterprise could be successful. Initially I worked 60 hours per week. I used specialists for advice and outsourced the things I wasn’t good at. Spending time doing the stuff that creates revenue, and starting to build systems from day one helped maximise the likelihood of success.

The advice I would give to someone who has never started a business is to surround yourself with people who have done it before, or are self-employed. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Get a mentor or coach!

Millions of people around the world create small enterprises so that they can feed their families. Start small, part-time and try out some of your ideas.

Finding customers

Business development (face-to-face meetings), networking, marketing and building brand awareness helped me grow my client base. Being socially responsible and creating our Skilled Migrant Programme, in partnership with Victoria University and the Rotary Club of Wellington, has also given the brand a very positive image.

Getting professional advice, (business advisor), using specialists (i.e. finance) focusing on business development and building market awareness have been the secret to success, managing cash flow, and generating regular income.

Best and worst moves

Hiring migrants who brought great skills, excellent motivation and surprised me with their ability to keep growing has been one of the best moves I’ve made.

Knowing what I now know, I would always ensure I hired the best people. They don’t have to be the highest paid.

Worst move? Taking too much responsibility on myself when things weren’t going well which led to burnout.

Maintaining Balance

While I had a lot of technical skills, I’ve had to learn to let go, and trust others. Mistakes happen and we learn from them together.

To maintain balance and find time for my family I avoid being a perfectionist. I look for the 80/20. Sometimes good enough is just fine. And done is better than perfect.

To succeed in business you must be prepared to take responsibility and make decisions, some of which won’t be right but that’s okay. Just keep making them. I also take time out every quarter. You must trust your people and disconnect so that they can make decisions while you are away.

Action and Innovation

Lately, I’ve been using the word ‘enterprise’ instead of business or self-employment. Personally it has connotations involving action and innovation. Also it can be about being socially responsible while being economically sustainable.

Establishing her company values and ensuring her behaviours reflected those values from the outset helped Leigh create a strong brand—one she is proud of.

Her deep belief in equality and being socially responsible, and her passion for helping others is also reflected in her successful Skilled Migrant Programme, giving her brand a very positive image.

It was an inspired move. My own experience working as a recruitment consultant confirmed that many employers discriminate against people from other cultures. I was once moved so much by their plight I wrote a magazine article entitled, What Colour Are Your Skills, to focus attention on the fact that it is what people can do, not their place of origin that defines a person’s ability to do a job well.

Leigh now works less in the business and more on the business to maintain better balance. She is passionate about helping women who suffer as she has, from depression and anxiety, and shares her story of recovery on her personal blog: www.leighjohnsonnz.com/blogging.

At the time of writing, Leigh has also made a decision to retrain as a Well-being and Transition Coach, and I am honoured to have been her business coach and mentor through this journey. She’s also excited about a new online project that is in the planning phase.

I’m calling it: ‘Fabulous at 50—The Professional Woman’s Guide to Being Anxiety Free.’ This web-based programme will provide tools to help women avoid the negative experiences of burnout and anxiety, that can get in the way of enjoying what should be an exciting time of life.

Find out more about Leigh Johnson, and the wonderful work she does here: www.leighjohnsonnz.com and on her blog.

Action Task! Start Smart

Identify and record any lessons you can learn from Leigh’s experience that you could apply to starting, or redefining, your own business. Summarise some possible action steps.

Book_transparentbg copyBe inspired by other entrepreneurs, and gain practical strategies to help you plan your beautiful business, purchase your copy of  Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself  TODAY!

Mid-life Career Rescue: Employ Yourself is available in paper back and e-Book version from Amazon.

Employ yourself feedback at 2.33.02 pm

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

shoot for the stars by Kimberly Gordon ReelandWhilst it’s commonly stated that we should do what comes naturally, this may not be the best advice!

To fulfil your potential you have to step out of the comfort zone of doing what you do well and embrace the uncertain world of trying something new.

In doing this you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing whether you swim on a new current of fulfilment and success – something others refer to as ‘flow”.

Just as Jilly did, the wonderful lady in her 70’s who has become a photographer, and whose story I shared in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy).

Listening to Jilly’s stories of reinvention, it’s clear to me that variety, learning and new challenges are some of her most important values. “‘I’ve always followed my dream – I wasn’t a mid-lifer who found what I wanted to do. I always took chances and jumped in with both feet!” She said. 

Read her inspiring story in Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy), or check out her website – her work is really, really special. Her natural affinity for dogs, and the skills she’s developed with the camera, creates something truly magical. She has now had several exhibitions with two more coming up next year. Also she has been invited to join Getty Images.

 

 

But what if you  don’t swim? What if you sink? At least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you tried, and the great fortune of implementing your lessons learned in your next attempt!

Refresh Your Life With Change

Sticking with what you do well can be the worst thing to do if you want to live a meaningful life. To develop new skills, new ways of being to become someone other than who you believe yourself to be takes a willingness to change.

As astrologer Sarah Varcas shares, “It takes courage and fortitude, a willingness to be a new-born again, discovering life from scratch, adopting a new perspective and fresh guidelines. Of course we can take our strengths and abilities with us on the journey. They’ll come in more than handy! But to see them as the be-all and end-all, the extent of our ‘tool kit’, is to live a half-baked life in the shadow of who we could actually be if we allowed ourselves to grow.”

Here’s a few questions to ponder, the answers may prove liberating:

  • What would you be willing to try if you were 10 times bolder?
  • What wouyld you try if you knew success was guaranteed?
  • How could trying out new ways of being or working enrich your life?

Finding My Passion and Purpose

I put into motion my own advice late last year and published my first two books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series on Amazon. What fun! I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner.

Since embarking on change I’ve published a book a month and recently penned my third book: How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love, is more of guide, than a book – a nice short, easy to implement tool kit to help you live and work with passion and purpose.

The Amazon details and link are here: http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

A new thing I did for the first time was creating my own cover – using my own art work too. The feedback I’ve received about both the book and the cover has enriched my life in ways I couldn’t have perceived. I gain from the satisfaction and fulfilment of being fully autonomous in all aspects of publishing and gaining from the immediacy and intimacy of the feedback from readers.

“Simply delightful, witty quick read, packed with excellent information. I’m actually believing now, I could change my career after 18 years!” Wrote one Amazon reviewer.

“I feel I want to read this book now! The red energy swirl suggests an invitation to enter a journey of discovering ones passion,” shared another person when she first saw the cover.

Of course, sometimes when you try new things, even successful new things you can attract criticism. I did when I wrote my second book. A reviewer said,  “I loved the inspiration, content, and message. There book rambles a lot though.”

Ok, I thought. I won’t ramble in my next book – I’ll be more concise!

How To Find Your Passion And Purpose: Four Easy Steps to Discover A Job You Want and Live The Life You Love is available through Amazon at the special introductory price of $.99 for a limited time. http://amzn.to/1W0IreR

How to create a new life – harness the power of one and achieve your goals

Friday, January 1st, 2016

one thought,
one feeling,
one intention,
one desire,
one challenge

A very warm greeting to you on this most auspicious day  the first day of the first month – the beginning of a wonderful new year.

One has become my favourite number. I love its simplicity. In an era where overwhelm threatens the peace and equilibrium of so many, ‘one’ makes things easy.

My one goal last year was to overcome my own self-doubt and follow my passion for writing. I love writing. It’s what I was born to do. If I don’t have a pen in my hand, a notebook at the ready, I feel lost, anxious, irritable, Writing soothes my soul. Writing allows me to connect with others and to express the things I care deeply about.

And so with this in mind, I made one promise to myself in 2015 – to publish one book. And then another in my Mid-Life Career Rescue series. Books which would share my own mid-life journey to career nirvana, and the journey of other seekers too.

And in turn, my hope was that sharing these stories would inspire you.

So it’s been exciting to read the reviews and hear from people who have read my first books in the Mid-Life Career Rescue series. People like Hillary who said, “This is the perfect gentle nudge needed to move me forward and make those scary life changes.

I was scared last year too. I wondered how my books would be received. I wondered if anyone would like them. I feared public rejection, bad reviews, losing the time and money I had invested – all those things. But my desire was stronger. I didn’t want to wonder, ‘what if.” What if I had taken a risk and published my book. I took the risk, and it’s been worth it. I chose to change my focus  – to create in my minds eye everything I that dreamed of and saw in my mind’s eye, that I wanted to become ‘true.’

Going to bed last night on New Year’s Eve after celebrating the last day of 2015, to find Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Make You Happy) twas #1 on the best-seller list on Amazon was amazing. And waking up today on the first day of 2016 and finding it was still #1 was fun!

So if there’s one thing I would encourage you to do this year it would be this – feel the fear and follow your passion anyway. Be curious, be playful, be adventurous and see where these feelings take you.

If you know anyone who needs a gentle nudge this year to make a change for the better the link is here http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

What’s one intention you could make this year that, when followed through, would make a tremendous difference to your life? Please let me know on in the comments section of this blog

In the meantime I leave with you with this inspirational sculpture created by renown New Zealand Sculptor Chris Booth. My partner commissioned it for my 50th birthday last year. Together the three of us named it Viewfinder, which I love given my passion for photography. Of course, a viewfinder is the tool that enables you to find your point of focus. The viewfinder is the single most important user interface on any camera. And your viewfinder – your point of focus, the thing that captures your interest, your attention, your passion, is the most important tool in creating your best life in 2016. Set your focus, capture your desires and allow them to motivate and guide you throughout the hours, weeks, and months which follow.

Viewfinder Chris Booth web

I wish you a very happy new year. May 2016 bring you continued happiness and joy.

How to change careers – follow your passion not your pension

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

20120416-Chiens Diaporama  (1 of 1)-26

It’s my great privilege to share a sneak peek at Jilly Bennett’s incredible story of reinvention and her amazing photography.

I first met Jilly in 2014 when I was chasing my many passions in Italy. We both signed up to follow another passionate woman, photographer Carla Couslon, with whom we travelled around Puglia learning more about photography and a life worth living. Carla’s books Italian Joy and Chasing A Dream spoke to us all, luring us to distant shores.

I adore Jilly’s zest for life and the way she so poignantly shatters mistaken beliefs about ageing. As you’ll see and read for yourself in my latest book, ‘Mid-Life Career Rescue: (What Makes You Happy) How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you  love, before it’s too late’. Available in paperback and ebook from the following Amazon link http://amzn.to/1JmGq5C

I loved including Jilly’s story, especially when I read reviews like those below:

If, like me, you’re sick of reading/hearing ‘find your passion’ and you’ve no idea what to do – this book has it covered! I liked that the author explains how to actually go about finding your ‘passion’ or ‘purpose’. And she included the ‘reality testing’ step as well. I’m at a mid-life career crisis point – a very useful read!” ~ Amazon Review

“This book asks you all the basic questions and provides direction to . It provides numerous examples of success based on passion for the cynics amongst us. And you can do all this in the safety of the work life you dislike. Now it is your turn to find out how the book ends.” ~ Simon Weiner

20151123-DSCF8093

Follow this blog link to view Jilly’s photos and be inspired by her story:

http://www.worklifesolutions.co.nz/how-to-be-happy-with-yourself-prioritising-whats-important/

Three days to train a horse. Three days to change a habit.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IMG_2846Golden Dream, one of the pregnant mares we’ve been babysitting, started eating the fences while we were away for three days. My partner said, ‘Something has got to change, either the horses changed their behaviour or they have to go.’

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with writing or any act of creativity? I didn’t want the horses to go, just like I don’t want to give up my dream of being published in fiction.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of talk that it takes 21 days to change a habit, but where’s the evidence? Why 21 days? What if the truth was it only takes three days to change a habit? That would be cool.  Three days is manageable, easier to chew and simpler digest. Then add three more days, and three more, until voilà you have achieved seven sets of three and a new habit is ingrained. Of course it can’t stop there. A new habit has to continue to be effective.

I proved my horse theory of behavioural change today. Day three and the horses are retrained, I’m still working on training myself to change unhelpful behaviours, including procrastination, but here’s a few things I’ve learned recently from other pro’s:

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task

Don’t be discouraged by the size of the task. Robert McKee, story guru to the stars, including Peter Jackson and many other high achieving creatives, says it takes 10 years before you can master the craft of writing. Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist and author of one of the top 10 blogs for self-publishers, wrote recently of author Blake Crouch’s 10 year journey through different forms of publishing – his Wayward Pines series is now a TV show. 10 seems to be a magic number, just like 3.

 

Think like a pro and be prepared to learn

Think and act and feel like a pro. No one achieves pro status without some sort of apprenticeship. Like any apprentice you have tasks to learn from other experts on the journey to craft mastery.  Joanna Penn, for example attends workshops and learns from other successful people in her field. Other pro’s do the same.

“Excellence of any kind is based upon knowledge,” says Robert McKee. “You have to do research, you have to know what it is you are trying to do. The more you understand what you are trying to do the better you will be at it. The notion you can rely in instinct is foolishness.”

 

Do the work

“Show up, show up and soon the muse shows up too”, says author Isabel Allende. Show up, put your bum on the seat, and put your pen in hand and do the work.  “You can’t actually make a living from writing if you’re not actually writing, ” says Joanna Penn – very wisely! Some authors suggest writing at a set time every day, others advocate for a more flexible approach. Know what works for you and stick to it. Determine the goals you want to achieve. Whether it’s a quota, a set amount of time to write, or a defined task to conquer, determine what you are going to do and stay at work until your done.

 

Write faster

Prolific Amazon best-selling author Steve Windsor, warns against over thinking. Write faster, he says. This is a great way to minimise the internal critic and the perfectionist. They can come out to play later, the main thing is to get down the bones, at least then you’ll have something to work with. If you have no words you have nothing to go back and edit later. Steve Windsor speaks from experience – with nine books out in eight months he knows how to be a writing machine.

 

Practice habit creep

Changing human behaviour is often considered to be one of the hardest things to do in business and in life, writes James Clear.  James studies successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do.

What if,  he asks in a recent newsletter, we trusted that becoming more successful  came as a natural side effect of improving our normal routines? It makes absolute sense that as our normal habits improve so will our successes – whether this is because our daily word count goes up, or we churn out more books over a year, or what ever else we want to achieve.

James Clear has coined the phrase ‘habit creep’  to describe the idea of ‘slightly adjusting your habits until behaviours and results that were once out of reach become your new normal‘.

He advocates two primary ways to change long-term behaviours and improve performance for good:

  1. Increase your performance by a little bit each day. Most people take this to the extreme, he’s says.
  2. Change your environment to remove small distractions and barriers. Most people never think about this.

 

I’ve been implementing many of these strategies to increasing success. I’m breaking the task of finishing a book of fiction into manageable tasks. I’m practising habit creep and writing fast by working in 40 minute intervals of timed writing bursts, followed by 10 minutes of cardio!It’s so important as a writer not to be sedentary.

I’ve also changing location, moving out of the house and into the garden to minimise the distraction created by unlimited WIFI and interruptions at home. Look, even Golden Dream is cheer-leading me on as I write!

Watching podcasts by writing professionals, and joining writing forums and communities of writers with similar aspirations has been fabulous too, tuning up my mindset and providing me with ‘my tribe’ and a sense of belonging.

It’s day one of making these changes in my writing life, but having trained the horses to stop eating the fence in three days by making slow, incremental adjustments to their routine, I’m optimistic that I can create new habits that lasts a lifetime too.

 

Everyone gets obsessed with achieving their very best day—pulling the best score on their test, running their fastest race ever, making the most sales in the department. I say forget that stuff. Just improve your normal day and the results will take care of themselves. We naturally make long-term changes in our lives by slowly and slightly adjusting our normal everyday habits and behaviours.” ~ James Clear

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