06 May 2016

What Word taught me today

I thought today would be death by marked-up document... until it dawned on me.

Life is so much easier when you right click on the mark-up and accept change.

Profound, no?

05 February 2014

Keep calm! 2014 will be awesome

Saw this on Pinterest from Mandy Hale at The Single Woman and can't describe how awesome it is!

For me, 2013 was an incredible year -- lots learnt, friends made, bills paid and all right with the world. In 2014, I hope it continues for all of us, which is why the above pic spoke to me in so many ways. I've been terribly neglectful of my blog -- yes, caught the busy disease even though I cautioned you all about it (tsk, tsk!) and just haven't checked in for a while. The whole point of this blog was to add value and if I can't commit to doing posts that do just that, then posting becomes pointless.

I now realise we're knee-deep in February and I'm still adjusting to being back at work and that festive holiday is a thing of memory and fable... already.

A very wise friend and colleague wasn't too enamoured by the pic above. Her words: "Ah, so you mean all the easy stuff...", which I didn't take too kindly to because I feel that keeping all those qualities intact and functioning in this world on a daily basis, for me, is a big ask. Sure, I want to lose weight (who doesn't), I want to work on my spirituality and I'm also determined to add a whackload of new skills to my life (from scuba diving and motorcycle-riding, to Spanish and crochet. Believe it!), but I know they won't happen unless the above are in kilter.

So, I hope you are all safe, happy and productive. And I urge you to keep an eye on my blog for more on the new client engagement programme I'm launching on Valentine's Day (14 February). Now, if I can just get the website up and running, we'd literally be "In Business".

08 November 2012

The Busy Disease

Credit: Pinmarket

I've been incredibly bad in keeping this blog going in the last month or so -- I blame being blissfully busy.

When I left my job in June, it wasn't exactly planned and the months that followed were very much a case of taking a leap of faith and finding my wings on the way down. The good news is, I found the wings in plenty of time so as not to splatter saucily on life's pavement. 

I've been unbelievably lucky in the consulting and freelance work I've picked up for my company, Amanda Killick Media Management -- my latest project threatens to challenge my abilities like never before and consume my life until just before Christmas -- and I'm loving being my own boss

There are good days; there are bad days. I'm just very grateful that I have days and can use them to build my business. But, as the pic above cautions, it's vital to maintain a balance. And I'm working on that too. 

Will post again as soon as I can and, in the meantime, thanks for your ongoing support!

05 October 2012

Infographic: Success is like breathing

Eric Thomas

I've just recently discovered the brilliance if Eric Thomas -- his life story is inspiring, moving and the stuff you build a solid future of success with. Check out his home page or follow him on Twitter: @EricThomasbtc.

I hope that this weekend leaves you chilled to perfection, and to the awesome @DunnMorr, happy birthday!

03 October 2012

Ann Druce: Is your communications strategy clear & relevant?

Ann Druce, Octarine Communications
Ann Druce started KZN-based Octarine Communincations in April 2001 after the mid-size advertising agency where she was working underwent restructuring. She seized the opportunity to go on her own, and set up a home office with friends’ castoff furniture, a computer and a phone.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I started out in corporate marketing but, happily, working in organisations that encouraged entrepreneurial thinking. 

What were you doing before starting your business?
I had begun the process of cutting the apron-strings by moving from corporate to a mid-sized advertising agency. Then when things were tough and the agency restructured, it provided the impetus I needed to go on my own.

What kind of planning went into starting the venture?
I don’t think an elaborate document is essential, but a plan certainly is. However, before I’d even started thinking about writing a business strategy, my start-up plan was instigated by a client when I mentioned I might start an ad agency.  He committed to giving me his business if I started on my own, giving me the freedom to make the decision based on what I wanted to do, rather than a fear that it might be a while before I established a client base.

What was your big dream for this venture?
The good old-fashioned ideal of being a true business partner to my clients – learning their business and making a real strategic contribution: translating their marketing strategy into clear, relevant messages that reach their target markets.

How does a new entrepreneur find business leads and profit from them?
Not every entrepreneur is a born salesman. But we have to use what we have at our disposal – from working our existing networks and developing new ones, to the dreaded cold-calling. I recommend that new entrepreneurs join business groups, scan the employment section in the Sunday papers and see when new decision makers are being appointed, and call them up. And that they ask clients for referrals after every single sale, be it a product or a service.

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what makes them unique and leverage that difference?
Sometimes what makes you unique isn’t unique at all. All margarine is cholesterol-free, but Flora made this their point of difference, while others were talking about taste. So decide what your niche is and make your unique claim. Evaluating your target market and what they might need is a good place to start. What are their key stressors? Can you address that? What are the frustrations that people think they have to live with? Can you change that? Is it your hours of service? Is it a standard call-out fee? Is it a guarantee that is credible?

How does a new entrepreneur figure out what to charge for their service/product?
Pricing should reflect your value. Don’t assume that being the cheapest will get you more business – you might just look suspiciously cheap. Establish what your costs are and evaluate your competitors’ pricing, and take a view on what your market can stand. Then decide where you want to position your offering relative to these factors. You may want to be viewed as a luxury item, or you may want to be seen as accessible to all. You may need volumes for production economies of scale or you may prefer to limit volumes and earn a greater profit per item.

What was your most epic fail in the early days?
I was away and relied on a colleague to proofread an ad before it went to print. There was a typo in the headline. Bad enough for any client, but particularly so when the client is a university and it looks like they can’t spell! I discovered it too late to stop it going to print and there was nothing I could do. I phoned the client and told them before they found out elsewhere. Abject apologies and loads of humble-pie – and a relationship of trust and respect – got me past this.

What are the two biggest/most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make?
Spending money they don’t yet have and focusing on an image of success instead of the work they produce.

How do you keep yourself motivated?
Get dressed and go to work. If you aren’t busy producing work for paying clients, you should be developing your marketing.

Do you have a mentor?
I never really had a mentor, but the single best piece of advice I was given was: When you don’t know where to start, just start. It’s funny how that questions that you need to ask and the research you need do become evident as you begin to structure your project.

How long does it take for a venture to get off the ground, in your experience?
I’m sure this varies by environment. In an area like advertising and graphic design, you are asking a client to trust you with his company image and reputation as well as his money, so it can take a lot longer to build a business than if you are selling low-price, low risk products, where if your product doesn’t live up to expectations they simply don’t have to re-order. You need to build a suitable time-frame into your plan.

What’s your life motto?
Life is too short to do a job you don’t love. 

If you could give yourself any advice back then, what are your top 5 wisdoms?
* Apologise when you mess up. And you will! Don’t make excuses.
* Don’t work with clients you don’t respect.
* Don’t work with clients who don’t respect you.
* Know where the money is.
* Don’t be embarrassed to chase clients who owe you money – they’re the ones who should be embarrassed.

Get in touch with Ann Druce from Octarine Communications via: www.octarine.co.za, on LinkedIn and on Twitter: @AnnDruce

28 September 2012

Infographic: Estée Lauder on hard work

Estée Lauder
Cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder was not only sussed about business, she was also a woman who was years ahead of her time -- a real visionary who we can learn a lot from. Check out her story here and happy weekend!

27 September 2012

Robin Sharma: 21 tips to become the most productive person you know

Robin Sharma
I'm a Robin Sharma junkie, having worked with him for a few issues during my time at a South African men's magazine. So anything he has to say, he has a rapt audience in me -- Robin tends to give very practical advice that anyone can implement in their lives. This morning's Robin Sharma newsletter was particularly amazing, so I've reproduced it here: it's too good not to share with everyone!

Here are Robin Sharma's 21 tips to get you to your best productivity:

1. Check email in the afternoon so you protect the peak energy hours of your mornings for your best work.

2. Stop waiting for perfect conditions to launch a great project. Immediate action fuels a positive feedback loop that drives even more action.

3. Remember that big, brave goals release energy. So set them clearly and then revisit them every morning for 5 minutes.

4. Mess creates stress (I learned this from tennis icon Andre Agassi who said he wouldn't let anyone touch his tennis bag because if it got disorganized, he'd get distracted). So clean out the clutter in your office to get more done.

5. Sell your TV. You're just watching other people get successful versus doing the things that will get you to your dreams.

6. Say goodbye to the energy vampires in your life (the negative souls who steal your enthusiasm). 

7. Run routines. When I studied the creative lives of massively productive people like Stephen King, John Grisham and Thomas Edison, I discovered they follow strict daily routines. (i.e., when they would get up, when they would start work, when they would exercise and when they would relax). Peak productivity's not about luck. It's about devotion.

8. Get up at 5 am. Win the battle of the bed. Put mind over mattress. This habit alone will strengthen your willpower so it serves you more dutifully in the key areas of your life.

9. Don't do so many meetings. (I've trained the employees of our FORTUNE 500 clients on exactly how to do this - including having the few meetings they now do standing up - and it's created breakthrough results for them).

10. Don't say yes to every request. Most of us have a deep need to be liked. That translates into us saying yes to everything - which is the end of your elite productivity.

11. Outsource everything you can't be BIW (Best in the World) at. Focus only on activities within what I call "Your Picasso Zone".

12. Stop multi-tasking. New research confirms that all the distractions invading our lives are rewiring the way our brains work (and drop our IQ by 5 points!). Be one of the rare-air few who develops the mental and physical discipline to have a mono-maniacal focus on one thing for many hours. (It's all about practice).

13. Get fit like Madonna. Getting to your absolute best physical condition will create explosive energy, renew your focus and multiply your creativity.

14. Workout 2x a day. Exercise is one of the greatest productivity tools in the world. So do 20 minutes first thing in the morning and then another workout around 6 or 7pm to set you up for wow in the evening.

15. Drink more water. When you're dehydrated, you'll have far less energy. And get less done. 

16. Work in 90 minute blocks with 10 minute intervals to recover and refuel (another game-changing move I personally use to do my best work).

17. Write a Stop Doing List. Every productive person obsessively sets To Do Lists. But those who play at world-class also record what they commit to stop doing. Steve Jobs said that what made Apple Apple was not so much what they chose to build but all the projects they chose to ignore.

18. Use your commute time. If you're commuting 30 minutes each way every day -- get this: at the end of a year, you've spent 6 weeks of 8 hour days in your car. I encourage you to use that time to listen to fantastic books on audio + excellent podcasts and valuable learning programs. Remember, the fastest way to double your income is to triple your rate of learning.

19. Be a contrarian. Why buy your groceries at the time the store is busiest? Why go to movies on the most popular nights? Why hit the gym when the gym's completely full? Do things at off-peak hours and you'll save so many of them.

20. Get things right the first time. Most people are wildly distracted these days. And so they make mistakes. To unleash your productivity, become one of the special performers who have the mindset of doing what it takes to get it flawless first. This saves you days of having to fix problems.

21. Get lost. Don't be so available to everyone. I often spend hours at a time in the cafeteria of a university close to our headquarters. I turn off my devices and think, create, plan and write. Zero interruptions. Pure focus. Massive results.

For more awesome Robin Sharma wisdom, visit: www.robinsharma.com