How To Make Your Story Sell: Another Demonstration…

I still remember being at an old friends’ place and we were talking about the TV sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother‘. While discussing the characters, my friend mentioned that Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) thought Johnny Lawrence was the real hero of the original ‘Karate Kid’ movie. I cracked up at this: of COURSE Barney would think the bully in that movie was actually the good guy. You can check the clip out for yourself:

Skip forward a few years and I discover there’s a new series coming out on YouTube Red, ‘Cobra Kai‘- and it’s a follow on from the original ‘Karate Kid’ trilogy. As a Goju-Kai student myself (and someone who enjoyed the original trilogy) I was curious to check it out. Would they do the movies justice, or would they (like other franchises) tarnish the canon with poor casting, cringe-worthy characters or shoehorned moral lecturing to reflect Current Year sensibilities? So with a little trepidation, I signed up for the free trial of YouTube Red, sat back and played Season 1, episode 1 of ‘Cobra Kai‘…

What can I say? I loved it. They did the original movies perfect justice, and every featured character from the original movie/s were played by the same actors. And (instead of inserting sugary platitudes to reflect todays’ uptight sensitivities) in many cases they directly laugh at our contemporary moral puritanism.

Sure, there were a couple of character tie-ins that felt a little too convenient to the storyline, and some of the fight scenes are hard to believe- but aside from that, ‘Cobra Kai‘ was (is) a fantastic story that does perfect justice to the original franchise. And here was the other thing:

I no longer saw Johnny Lawrence as the bad guy. In fact, I might go so far as to say I was rooting for him and there was one notable reason for this change: For the first time, we got to discover Johnny’s story, find out more about his life not just back in the ‘Karate Kid‘ universe circa 1984, but also in the present day. All these gaps we’d given little previous thought to existing were filled in, and rather than presenting the picture of a spoiled rich kid using his physical (and social) prowess to bully poor Daniel Larusso, instead we saw a story that felt all too real. It was the story of a young boy with a sour, verbally-abusive step-father who bullied him and provided nothing Johnny needed apart from money. Here was the story of a young man who instead found that father-figure in the form of the talented, disciplined (but deeply flawed) Sensei John Kreese. Yet he would also let Johnny down, evidently leading to the downward spiral of Johnny’s life had taken in the years since:

From laughing about Barney Stinson thinking Johnny was the hero, to wanting to see Johnny succeed and identifying with him on some level- how did this happen? It happened because for the first time, as an audience we discovered Johnny’s story. He was no longer just that cocky blond teenager we wanted to see crane-kicked into defeat. He became somebody very real to us, somebody we cared about. We had Johnny’s story shared with us little by little over each episode and (to date) 3 seasons, and that resonated with us.

All it could take for some people to go from scoffing at you to becoming your biggest fan, is just sharing your story with them.

Just last week I spent nearly an hour on the phone chatting with a colleague of mine, she’s bubbly and energetic and has several business ideas on the go as I’m writing this. As we spoke, she told me about all of the different experiences she’s had and the things she’s put her hand to and I said “You need to start a blog or write a book!” I know that doing so will make people- even those who know her to some degree already- gain a new level of appreciation for her: what she’s really about, her story, her passion- and in turn it will draw them closer to her.

By sharing her story with new leads or colleagues she’s known for some time, she strengthens the connection they already have, which (in turn) makes it more likely that those people are going to mention her or recommend her to others. It won’t merely be that she has the personality, but she also has a story to share, and that is what’s going to make the difference between being a face in the crowd and THAT face in the crowd.

You might be involved in business networking online or offline, and there’s people you’ve come to know for some time in a professional sense. You know each others’ names, know what they do, the name of their company and maybe if you meet somebody new you can connect with them, reach out and arrange the meeting. But they still only know you at a middle distance. Safe. Neutral. They don’t know your story. In this day and age, people love to hear stories-

You go back through my articles over the months and years up until now and I’d like to think through that time I’ve shared my story. This is how you develop a real connection with people and get them to care about your goals, get them to remember you.

So ask yourself: What stories could you start sharing with your audience that would turn them from mildly interested to invested in you and what you have to say?

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Survey: What People Are Saying 2021 Has In Store For Us…

How often this year have you heard people refer to “these uncertain times” we’re living in? I’m not that old, but I’ve already lived through 9/11, the War On Terror, the GFC and the unexpected shifts in the western political landscape of 2016. All these moments in history were referred to in the same terms. The reality is, we’re always living in uncertain times. It’s only the daily, routine of our immediate world and the one presented to us by the news networks giving us the illusion of certainty, that “business as usual” will keep on keeping on, that life is comfortably predictable. We begin to think that the existing status quo will always run government, our local area will always be a slice of heaven untouched by greedy developers and the Melbourne Storm will always get away with playing grubby football. But it takes just one changing of the guard, just one clandestine handshake deal in an underground car park or just one star player/ coach/ referee calling time that causes the music to change. And then people get kind of worried, because they don’t know what song is playing and they don’t like not knowing what it is straight away. They’d rather hear Barry Manilow again for the 1,000th time than hear Billie Eilish for the first time.

But I digress…

Last week I posted the following question in several business groups I’m an active member of:

Your 3 biggest business predictions for 2021 are?

And then I waited to see what people would say. Here’s just a selection of what people responded with:

Increase in vegan products. Push for local manufacturing. Crypto boom.

ASIC turn back on the insolvency tap and the house of cards tumbles. Out of the ashes of bankruptcies will be innovation.

  1. Cashless systems
  2. Gaming industry dominance
  3. Working from home
  1. Change in spending habits and bigger divide between people being more conservative buyers and crazy impulse buyers (Especially in the online space)
  2. Big Tech getting in to Education business…Apple and Amazon go towards health. Google will go more towards education. Facebook will have more data breaches.
  3. The Invention Company will come up with a viable alternative to big-tech with end to end encryption, absolutely no data collection, with a subscription model for all tech needs. Starting with is for phones with internal basic internal communication apps and no ads!
  1. Global economic crash
  2. Spectacular real estate crash
  3. New financial order
  1. Same
  2. As
  3. Usual

Thinking back just 12 months ago, what ideas did you have in regards to how 2020 was going to turn out? Looking at them now with hindsight (which is 2020 Vision, no pun intended) how close (or far-off) were you?

Today I’m giving my 2 cents AND inviting you to share your own bold predictions about what 2021 holds in store, from a business perspective. I’m opening it up to you regardless of your industry because I’m genuinely interested to see how different our forecasts are!

So as I take a moment to think about what the new year might hold in store for us, here are 3 things I’m predicting, and as you’ll see, each one is connected to the other. I’m calling it ‘The Chain Reaction Of 2021’:

#1: The Commercial Real Estate Market Will Overflow

In his bestseller ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad‘ Robert Kiyosaki claims that the end of the Industrial Age and the beginning of the Information Age coincided with the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In that single year, 10 former Communist countries opened up to the west, bringing about the fall of the Iron Curtain. This also coincided with the dawn of the internet age and then there came the dot-com boom 10 years later, meaning that (with one or two exceptions) the entire world was now connected like never before in our history.

Similarly, I’m convinced that one carry-over from the Industrial Age, 30 years on, has drawn to an end with the COVID pandemic and the new restrictions it introduced to how businesses oprated-

See, one thing various lockdown measures made people realise in 2020 was just how much work they could achieve at home or in a designated office space besides their traditional work station. For some years leading up to now, the idea of people commuting more than an hour each way 5 days a week to go and work in a communal office space seemed archaic to me. Like having to wear a tie at work, it’s a leftover from the 20th century business model and (for various reasons) has carried on up until now.

But as our cities become more crowded, so it forces real estate and rental prices upwards- especially in our larger urban centres. Unfortunately it’s now too often the case that people can’t afford to live in the same city they work in, leading to traffic-jammed highways, packed commuter buses and trains, plus hundreds of hours wasted each year just travelling TO or FROM work.

It had to change sooner or later. The upside to the COVID lockdown and upheaval of standard work practises is that it forced many people to stay at home instead of going to the office- and as a result, businesses are going to look at the figures and realise that their employees still managed to get the work done- but remotely. Just because you can’t see your staff doesn’t mean they’re not doing the work, and this is something many bosses have struggled to adapt to!

But conversely, if your team can work just fine remotely, why bother paying rentals for office space? Allowing people the freedom to work remotely and (maybe) catch up once a week for meetings in a communal work space equals great savings on rent, but also on the time spent commuting, better wellbeing, less stress and a more productive team.

I forecast many businesses seeing the future and changing their work model, leading to a flood of office spaces for lease in the commercial sector for traditionally white-collar jobs. This is going to be an uncomfortable adjustment for people in commercial real-estate, but (to paraphrase a former PM) perhaps it was the adjustment we had to have?

#2: There Will Be A Surge In Demand For Business Hubs

Not everybody who stops going to the office every day will necessarily work from home, however. Especially those who are the one working member of their family and might want some peace and quiet to work away from the yapping neighbours’ dogs or the screaming kids!

I expect there to be a surge in demand for business hubs, where people can find a desk/ office, work in their own hours, enjoy direct access to 1st class facilities and do what needs to be done with human interaction from other professionals or work staff always close by. I know of one such hub not too far from me, and I can vouch first-hand for the facilities they offer: https://www.nexushub.com.au

The interesting thing about this scenario coming true is how it would impact the dynamic of the traditional office space…

#3: An Increase In Cross-Business Collaboration

Think of it this way: Instead of the traditional office space, where you might have different departments all working for the same company, in a work-hub you have people working for all different companies in direct contact with each other: They might be friends outside of work, maybe they chat in the dining area or play friendly games of table tennis or strike up the traditional “water cooler” conversation standing around the microwave.

Yet instead of talking inwardly, about their own company, they’re talking outwardly- about each others’ companies and about the companies of other people in the work space.

What this leads to is more opportunities for a diverse range of businesses to communicate with each other not just at a senior level, but at a staff level as well. There are more open channels (and more channels) for new concepts, strategies and ideas for partnerships to be traded where traditionally it came down to random discussions on public transport during the commute, or in the pub for the after-work drinks.

On top of this, internet access means that these ideas can be exchanged with decision makers in the company in near real-time. A simple email or video call to discuss a possible new concept or partnership is much easier. The end result of this is more widespread collaboration between businesses and greater room for innovation as the ideas marketplace opens up.

With the opportunity comes new risks, however: businesses are more likely to have good team members “head-hunted” and company confidentiality is easier to compromise either accidentally or on-purpose. How exactly businesses counter these risks remains to be seen, however the bigger picture holds far more advantages for companies looking to modernise their working environment than it does threats.

Wrapping Up:

So as you can see, my top 3 business predictions heading into 2021 are all connected. If #1 happens, then #3 is the logical conclusion. But over to you- do you think I’m onto something with these or is there an important detail that I’ve missed completely?

Either way, tell me what you reckon and remember to share your predictions for the coming 12 months!

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How Are You Staying Business Fit?

Normally, I train at the gym 4 times a week with the dedication like it was a paying job. But last week was a little different…

Last week I only managed 3 sessions. So what happened? Well, on Saturday it was the birthday gathering of an old friend and for the days’ activities we’d booked in to go kart racing…

Now if you know me, you know that racing karts is something I love, and have done ever since the first time I drove as a 9 year old. So on Saturday, relying on a combined 25 years’ experience, I was soon in the lead. Setting fastest laps, pushing it to the limit and doing so without spinning out, crashing or running off onto the boggy grass sections even once.

Strangely, it began to feel less like we were puttering around in hire karts and more like an actual motor race…

Maybe it was the purpose-built, open-air track that allowed us to reach higher speeds? It could’ve been seeing a mate spin out on the main straight, tyres smoking like you’d see at an actual racing event. Or maybe it was the pure physicality of it all? At the end of the days’ racing, chatting with one of the guys he commented how “coming here and driving is like putting in a session at the gym”.

I realised he was right. I’d never given much thought to the physical side of it until recently. Overall, I’d done a total of 56 laps of the 800-metre circuit over the space of 90 minutes, with virtually every lap done at qualifying pace (i.e where you’re pushing the kart to the limits’ of its’ capabilities).

It also got me thinking- if I didn’t have the weekly fitness regime I normally do, could I have managed to complete all 4 sessions driving lap after lap at 10/10ths- or would I have fallen victim to the physical fatigue? One person (not naming names) had such a toll taken on them that they were physically sick in the middle of the second session. An old friend of mine (who also regularly trains and can lift heavier than me) ended up sitting out the third session because “he felt a bit how you going”.

So I began to wonder: if being in good physical state made a difference here, what difference does it make in the daily running of our business? Am I claiming I’ve found “the secret” here?

No, there’s always more work that can be done, and obviously diet matters as well. But what I want to do here is give an insight into a typical weeks’ fitness regime for me and the side-effects I’ve noticed over time:

#1: Gym

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Like I said, I train at a local gym 4 times a week. It’s a 1st class facility and has accommodated several NRL teams in the time I’ve been there. To give you some perspective, I am 6″1 and weigh between 81-83kgs on average. I don’t generally do leg exercises (and I’ll get to that soon enough) but on alternate days I either do floor related exercises or lifting/ squats. On the days where I’m on the floor and use the weight machines, I focus on my chest, back and bicep muscles. I aim to ad as much weight as I can manage and do two sets with 8 reps each. I use equipment like the dumbbells, chest press machines, the vertical lift machine and the seated row. On alternate days I do 3 sets of 8 reps squatting, using the bar and then I do 2 sets of 8 reps as I lift then do vertical dips- as many as I can manage until it feels like my shoulders are going to give out! I finish every session with 10 minutes abdominal exercises, ensuring that I get the full upper-body workout. In addition I drink a protein supplement when I get home.

Benefits:

Besides (obviously) gaining muscle mass and strength, my day always has a “complete” feel to it after I finish a session at the gym. Call it the endorphins or whatever you want, but even if I’ve had a workday that didn’t go completely to my satisfaction, there’s that sense of “at least I had a good workout”. Added to that is just the subtle confidence you get. Taking photos from when you start training and then (over the months/ years) taking new photos of yourself for comparison is great motivation. It’s a physical representation of how much we’re able to transform ourselves, and a reminder that the body is just one area. If we adopt the same attitude to our business, to our thinking- we can similarly go beyond what we expect. To see a photo of me where I don’t recognise myself- in a good way- is an awesome feeling!

#2: Martial Arts Training

I also train goju-kai (literally “hard soft”) karate. This form of karate utilises both open and closed hand techniques and I’ve been training on and off for the last 6 years. When I still lived in Brisbane I was part of a great dojo over at Camp Hill and I trained there 2 nights a week. More recently here on the coast, I could only manage to go along to one of the two weekly training sessions, but it’s just been announced that another night has been added, so watch this space. Besides (obviously) practising punches, blocks and kicks, we also do a lot of work on stances and breathing exercises.

Benefits:

Besides the obvious benefit of learning self-defence, martial arts training is also great for improving your reflexes. To co-ordinate a set pattern of techniques (known as a kata) you need to master not just your stances and your positioning, but also your timing. Combined, all of this serves as a further boost to your inner confidence. Then of course there’s the people you meet along the way!

#3: Walking

I know a lot of people like to go for a walk of, say, 30 minutes or so and with this in mind I might as well preface this: I like long walks. I’m talking walks of two hours or more. Looking at my phone’s health app, that usually means anything between 20-30,000 steps in an afternoon. You don’t need to go for crazy long walks like that (and even if you wanted to, I get that you might not have the time) but if you are able to manage it? I can’t recommend it highly enough from both a physical and mental perspective. Like putting in a solid session at the gym, the feeling when you get back through the door after an afternoon’s hike is both weary and satisfying. When deciding on a walk, I like to find a route that takes me past attractive scenery and (if I can manage) puts me amongst people for at least part of the journey. When you’re in the work scenario that I am, you can spend your day solo, typing out articles like this one with little personal interaction whatsoever. So on my walk I like to get amongst it at some point or another, wherever I might be. If you live near a beach or a major river, there’s a great destination for you. Likewise, if you live within reasonable walking distance or your city or town centre, you can get amongst it here, or even find a great park nearby for a stroll. I don’t go for one of these long walks every week, but it’s something I do at least once a month.

Benefits:

First of all is the strength in your legs and thighs that you build up. Especially so if the route you walk incorporates some uphill sections along the way. Added to this is the physical stamina you develop- you’re able to walk a steadier pace for longer and this develops your endurance. I remember once I ventured off the usual track and I chose to explore a steep grass hill before me. I’d already been walking for an hour, so making it up this grass hill was a slow, steady affair. But then when I reached the top I found myself on a road along a ridge and looking out was the most wonderful view across the ocean.

It occurred to me: if you want to enjoy the view, you’ve got to make the climb first.

And this is the other thing these long walks do: it’s a great workout mentally. Because as you’re walking along, you find yourself thinking of different things- it could be a present problem or a potential scenario that may come to pass. Yet as you toy with it in your mind while getting physical exercise, your mind goes to work, exploring ideas you might not have previously considered. If you love brainstorming new ideas or have problems that you haven’t been able to find a solution for until now, take a hike. And of course, if you’re more of a cyclist, this works just as well- plus you can cover more distance. I know it myself from all the times over the years I’ve taken my mountain bike out for hours and come back weary, but happy- and brimming with revelations previously untouched.

Conclusion:

Here I’ve shared what works for me. But maybe for you, it’s something else- maybe you enjoy kayaking, horse riding, jogging or spending hours out in the surf? Of course, if you have a dog (especially one of the bigger breeds) then they need regular walking too. You find that this doesn’t just have a positive impact on your fitness, but in other areas too- like your ability to come up with new ideas and to think positively.

Walking away from the go-kart track on Saturday afternoon, my arms were heavy, my legs were taut and there were red marks on my knees where they’d banged against the steering wheel. There was a well-earned beer or two somewhere with my name on it. Yet it occurred to me that (without even realising) I’d been regularly training to do what I’d just done: drive at 10/10ths consistently for a total of 56 laps in less than two hours, without losing speed due to fatigue or making myself physically ill. In the same way many of the (seemingly) irrelevant exercises I did while boxing training were preparing us to step in the ring and fight to the end, my usual exercise routine had unwittingly prepared me to drive fast- and do it consistently:

Regular weight training had developed the strength in my arms and shoulders required to control the steering wheel and physically guide a speeding, jolting kart over the bumps and through the corners of the 800 metre circuit, lap after lap…

Karate training had sharpened my reflexes so I could make short, sharp adjustments to correct a slide that would otherwise scrub off speed, or pounce on a gap where I could sneak past another driver without costing me seconds of my lap time…

And those long walks had developed the muscles in my legs and physical stamina, which (ultimately) gave me the ability to drive fast and do it consistently with minimal fatigue, which would not just have a negative impact physically, but also on my ability to focus and make split-second judgements.

To neglect our physical health is to take great risks with our mental well-being and (therefore) our ability to make good decisions that directly impact our business. Like I said, you don’t have to follow what I do to a tee, but I strongly advise you get your own regular fitness routine in place- and start enjoying the benefits- even in those unexpected places!

Remember: quality of health = quality of life AND quality of business.

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If At First You Don’t Succeed (the art of the do-over)-

As much as we’d like it to be the case, it doesn’t always turn out how we want the first time, does it. But realising this is a universal fact of life means it’s not our failure that counts- it’s what we do afterwards. Like that time, in a past life, where I answered a job posting for a recruitment firm in the city-

The first time I went in, I met with a woman who (if I recall correctly) was part of their HR team. I don’t remember her name, but let’s call her Gemma. She asked me about my employment history and what had inspired me to enquire for this job, before explaining what the listed role would involve. I got the strong impression she didn’t think I was suited for the position and that I really didn’t understand what the job actually entailed. I wondered if I’d read the job description correctly?

Still, Gemma mentioned that there was a group interview the following week and if I was still interested, I could put my name down to attend. I went home and considered whether or not I should bother? Maybe I’d be wasting my time and I’d just look like an idiot in front of everybody else there? Yet I decided it was better to go down in a blaze of glory than die wondering (as I expanded on here) so I found myself opting in and marking myself down to attend…

That following week, suited up and shoes shined, I returned to the company offices for the group interview. Conducting the interview was the company’s hiring department, and looking around the room the other applicants were of a similar age to myself, some with previous recruitment experience and then others who (like me) hadn’t worked in this kind of role before…

Throughout the interview we had to do exercises like conduct a pretend phone call with a disgruntled client and get them back onside, or pick from a number of statements and choose which one to argue the case for. I lucked out here because they’d included that Einstein quote about imagination being more important than knowledge. So during my turn to argue this cause I encouraged everybody in the room to look out of the plate glass window, at an elaborately designed building across the river. I then pointed out that this structures’ entire existence had its’ origins in someone’s imagination.

By the end of that group interview, I felt more than qualified. It would seem my confidence was justified when (a few days later) I received a call from a member of their hiring department to say how impressed they’d been with my interview and could I come back in for a 1 on 1 interview?

I showed up a little early, and while in the downstairs foyer I happened to notice Gemma. When she saw me her demeanour couldn’t have been more different to our last meeting. Her face lit up as she congratulated me, because she’d heard great things from the team about how I’d aced the group interview. What a change! And to think I would’ve missed out if I hadn’t taken another crack at it…

For stories like that one, there’s been times where the draft I’ve sent a client didn’t match their vision of what I was going to do for them. It doesn’t matter how clear your communication is, this is bound to happen sooner or later. As long as human relationships exist on the personal or professional level, there is also going to be misunderstanding along the way. I’ll admit there have been times where I’ve taken clients on with one understanding of what they needed- and then been left perplexed by what followed-

Clients have dropped off the face of the earth and not returned my calls when I was halfway through putting together their first draft they’d paid up for. Clients have begged me to help them get better interactions and engagement from their copy and then didn’t want to budge when I suggested any changes that would’ve helped them get the results they wanted. Clients have complained when I did exactly the job they asked me to do in the first place-

But if at first you don’t succeed, give it another shot. Accept that (even if you don’t get what you expected the first time) people generally are able to adapt and still want to help.

This is why, from the date that first draft gets sent to a client, I give them a month of unlimited edits to the document/s at no extra cost. It’s rare that a project needs more than two rounds of editing before the client is happy with what they see and (in my professional opinion) it’s copy that’ll get the results they seek.

But Ben“, you might be asking “giving your clients a month of unlimited edits is short-changing yourself, surely? What about the ones who waste your time or can’t make up their mind and want to chop and change every 5 seconds?”

Glad you asked-

This 5th and final one of Scribe’s Big 5 Guarantees is how I find the type of clients I love working with versus those who would be a better fit elsewhere.

I love clients who are ready to take action, clients who are great communicators, clients who are clear on what they want even if they don’t know exactly how to achieve it (and that’s often why they’re talking to me in the first place!) Those clients are why I’m happy to provide this guarantee, because those are the kind of people worth making that extra effort for.

Such clients, to me, are priceless.

So if you need copy and that sounds like you- or you know of somebody who needs copy and that sounds like them, then Contact Me!

The Power Of Prolific Business Connections: Why Every Single Contact Counts…

It is a well-known fact that a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery. It is also a well-known fact that an individual battery will provide energy in proportion to the number and capacity of the cells it contains. The brain functions in a similar fashion. This accounts for the fact that some brains are more efficient than others, and leads to this significant statement- a group of brains coordinated (or connected) in a spirit of harmony, will provide more thought-energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.”

Think & Grow Rich’, Napoleon Hill

Did you ever see that movie ‘Sliding Doors’? The basic premise interested me- the notion that one simple scenario like just missing a subway train home could trigger a massive alternate reality where everything from your hairstyle to your relationship status to your career differed. I didn’t actually watch the movie until just a year or so ago- and (while I don’t want to reveal spoilers) I found it interesting that what appeared to be the ‘better’ reality for the main characters didn’t necessarily turn out to be so. But I digress-

Because here’s my own story about how a single coffee meeting in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs back in 2013 was to notably change the course of my business- and my life- for the next few years at least:

See, John and I met at a business networking event, and we arranged to catch up for a coffee later on at a cafe in Norman Park. During that conversation, John mentioned a business consultant he knew, named Anthea, who was running an upcoming workshop on time management called ‘Stop The Clock‘. Getting better results for my time was something I was quite interested in, so I found out more details and then (on the day) I went along to this workshop over in Newstead…

Despite it being a single days’ workshop (and a free one at that) I was immediately impressed with the amount of preparation Anthea put into the workshops’ organisation, and how professionally laid-out the materials were. While I was already familiar with many of the areas covered, there were other concepts where I had something of a lightbulb moment. I left the workshop with new ideas and a folder under my arm full of valuable course material…

Not long afterwards, I was at another event where attendees dropped their business cards into a metal bucket and then (at the end of the event) cards were randomly picked out for prizes. As it happened, my card was drawn second- and the prize was a years’ membership in these monthly educational events Anthea held, aimed at business owners just like myself.

Going to these events is how I got to meet Julie. Julie had actually been there the night my card was drawn and we’d spoken briefly, but I realised the scope of Julie’s expertise when she did a presentation on getting the most out of LinkedIn. She was holding a 2-day workshop and I was definitely interested in brushing up on my LinkedIn knowledge (knowing it’d translate not just for my profile, but in regards to what I could do for my clients). So I put my name down and off I went…

The workshop was both informative and entertaining- and that’s a testament not just to what Julie knows about LinkedIn, but how she teaches it. If I had to sum it up in two words? Infectious Enthusiasm. But it didn’t end there-

See, Julie went on to provide me with two things I hadn’t expected:

a) A carton full of marketing and copywriting related newsletters, DVD’s and other educational material she thought would be right up my alley, probably worth 4 figures in total when bought- and mine to keep

b) An introduction to Rose

Rose was the director of a business networking organisation with groups in my area, and while they had all sorts of business owners and specialists in these groups, they didn’t have anybody who specialised in copywriting- yet.

So I began attending a group in the CBD that met every Thursday afternoon, and I was soon doing presentations on copywriting before the group. I also met other business owners in the process and some of them I’m still connected with to this day. But it didn’t end there…

See, at this point in my life I was at something of a crossroads. I’d been in Brisbane for nearly 5 years and in that time I’d started Scribe, made new friends, seen some old ones move on and (to say the least) I’d changed as well. My life and my whole outlook was largely different from the one I’d arrived with. I’d begun wondering if staying here was meant to be, or if I should make a fresh start somewhere else. Because if I had the freedom to be anywhere, was this really the best option?

Then in February 2015 I was with Rose and a colleague named Stuart who did videography, at a 3 day marketing seminar at the Grand Chancellor on the Gold Coast. The whole time during the seminar we were brainstorming ideas, jotting them down and passing notes back and forth between the three of us. Then on the second day, Rose told me that she’d decided to open a new group here on the Coast, and she wanted me to come on board as assistant to the group ambassador.

I was already doing my MBA part-time down on the Gold Coast, so coupled with this new role? It now made perfect sense for this to be my next move...

So in a single weekend I got the answer I’d been looking for, and without any prompting it’d come about because I knew Rose>

Who’d been introduced to me by Julie>

Who I’d met (indirectly) through Anthea>

Who I’d been recommended to by John.

So, if it wasn’t for that coffee meeting with John back in 2013 in Norman Park, would I have found myself relocating down to the sunny Gold Coast in March of 2015, right when I’d been looking to start afresh? Who knows…

On another note, I would later sign up to do a 10 week course with Anthea when I realised I could do with a bit of mentoring as I shifted all my focus to Scribe. There’s a story that outlines how all that came to be, here. Again, if I didn’t already know Anthea, hadn’t seen the quality of content she put out and her ability to teach business owners, would I have ever got on board? Possibly not. It’s all in the power of connections.

No doubt you’ve got plenty of your own stories- maybe you landed a great new job because of somebody you chatted to at the races or in a corporate box at the game or even at your favourite bar on a Friday evening. Or maybe you met your spouse/ significant other because of your friend or your sibling or somebody they knew? That’s before even talking about the people you meet through business networking…

If you stop and think about it for a moment, how many circumstances and relationships do you enjoy in this present day all because of that one person you met?

Just this weekend gone, I went to birthday drinks for an old friend I’ve known 15 years. I met him through another friend, who I’ve known 16 years- and we met out the front of North Sydney station because he wanted to know which bus took us to the footy? Through him I have another mutual friend who lives a couple of suburbs away, and we’re throwing a surprise party for him this weekend (don’t mention the surprise party. I did once- but I think I got away with it). We’re all going kart racing a couple of weeks from now- and the catalyst was one random encounter on a winters’ afternoon back in 2004…

A single connection can have a huge trajectory on your business success, a single meeting can inspire a transformation you didn’t expect to see in the entirety of your life.

My current role as Group Leader for bX Gosford is no different. I went to a day seminar event hosted by bX Director Matt Alderton back in August 2018 in Sydney’s west and (afterwards) we were all in the downstairs bar of the venue when Matt mentioned his interest in opening a group up on the Central Coast. Fast forward a year later and Jason (a colleague and previous client of mine) called up to tell me bX was starting a group in Gosford, and would I be interested in coming on board as the Group Leader? I didn’t need to say I’d think about it!

It should be clear by now that I’m big on connections, and through our fortnightly Gosford events (or our weekly online meetings) I’m always looking out for who I can connect people with. Who is (maybe) just one introduction away from achieving that big outcome they’re looking for? Who might be one connection short of seeing real transformation, and could I make it happen for them?

Yet, I also realise that despite my knowledge and ability when it comes to turning out copy for clients, I’m not always that person who can help a lead in getting the results they’re after. But- if I’m not that person- I have no problem admitting it to them! Because instead, I just refer them onto somebody else who I know is a better fit-

This means that just by talking to me, people are putting themselves in a win-win situation. Because if I can’t help you to achieve your desired business outcomes, I’ll connect you with somebody who can. So (obviously) I’m happy to include that as another one of my Big 5 Guarantees.

So, if you’re looking for assistance or advice and you want a guaranteed win-win, then contact me.

And of course a big shout-out to everybody I mentioned in this article- even if your actions seemed small, they’ve all played their part in a bigger picture.

The Birthday Party That Fell Flat: Why Efficiency Matters…

Let me take you back to the occasion of my mothers’ 40th birthday party

Now obviously, your 40th birthday is a big occasion and (while I haven’t experienced it yet) it’s considered a milestone like any year where you turn another decade older. So for Mum’s 40th she’d organised a medieval themed birthday party, complete with a spit-roast in the backyard, horseback rides and (best of all): a jumping castle

It was that last one I looked forward to the most. Having a fairground attraction in your own backyard for a day seems like the most awesome thing ever when you’re 9 years old, the only thing better would be discovering they were taking apart The Demon from Wonderland and coming to set it up at your place (but then again maybe not, as I was scared of rollercoasters as a kid and I regret the rides I missed out on, but that’s another story)…

So the weeks counted down and then at last, here it was: the day of Mum’s 40th birthday party…

The caterers arrived and set up the spit roast, the horse float showed up and a white horse clopped through our side gate and into the backyard, family and friends came around to our place dressed like the cast from a Robin Hood movie- while I eagerly waited for the jumping castle, which would arrive at any moment, surely…

I waited…

And waited…

The afternoon drew on and still no sign of any jumping castle. By this stage even my parents were getting impatient, calling the hire company up for a please explain? According to the hire company, their guy was on the road and meant to be turning up with the jumping castle soon.

Half an hour ticked by. Then another half hour. The birthday cake was brought out, Mum blew out the candles and speeches were made. Yet still no sign of the jumping castle. Eventually Mum called the company back and passed on a message, simply saying “Boy very upset”

As I heard her say this I cringed at her exaggerating for dramatic effect. I wasn’t balling my eyes out. I wasn’t sitting in a corner and sulking. There was cake to eat, a horse to ride, cousins and the family friends’ kids to take for hot laps around the backyard in my old red Little Tykes wagon. But sure- I was as disappointed as any 9 year old kid would be when they get promised a jumping castle and then it never shows up…

To their credit, the hire company did the reasonable thing and (once it was clear today there’d be no bouncing) let us have the jumping castle for another day and refunded us. I could live with that.

So the alternate date was arranged, I invited my friends over and then come that day when I would- we all would- all get to jump around at last?

No sign of it. A call to the company again led to them calling the home of this guy who was meant to be delivering it. His wife apparently said he was at footy training and then meant to be dropping the jumping castle off. I don’t know what happened after footy training, but that jumping castle never showed up. Strike 2…

After this point, the company boss spoke to Mum on the phone and said they’d now give us the jumping castle for an entire week. It would be delivered by somebody else, as they sacked the bloke who’d let us down twice now.

Looking back now, it almost feels like the premise for a depressing Simpsons episode: bloke still manages to fail at a job that allows him to be somewhat loose with punctuality= gets the sack. I wonder what the rest of that guys’ backstory was? I probably wasn’t the only person he’d let down because in my experience, if somebody is letting you down on small things then they’re probably letting other people down on much bigger things as well…

But in the end, the jumping castle arrived- a giant inflatable giraffe, head popping up behind the roof of our house and wobbling around all week, visible from the end of our street. My friends, cousins and the neighbourhood kids all came around and yeah, it was cool being able to come home, go out to the backyard, turn the generator on and bounce around until you were exhausted!

Whether it’s waiting for a jumping castle to show up at your house, a flight to leave or a team member to submit their contribution for an important group assignment, being kept waiting is massively frustrating, isn’t it? Because somebody else’s incompetence or lack of care means you end up paying for it, whether you miss out on the fun, miss out on an important connection or miss an opportunity to achieve greatness.

And nobody wants to miss out like that, do they?

It’s for this reason that here at Scribe Copywriting, we’re committed to efficiency. So much so that it’s one of our 5 Guarantees to every project we take on. I’ve edited brochure content, written client emails and turned them over in the space of 24 hours to help clients meet important deadlines. There’s an added cost involved with tight deadlines like those, of course- but it pays to be punctual.

So whether you’re in party hire, property development or providing an outstanding service people pay you top dollar for- you’re assured that the copy you need is in your hands when you need it-

If punctuality is your prime objective, then contact us.

Story time: Communication problems and what it REALLY costs you…

It’s amazing to think just how popular ‘Fawlty Towers’ remains, considering they made just 13 episodes. Yet it was the characters and some of the lines that became part of comedy folklore:

“Dont mention the war- I did once, but I think I got away with it!”

“What are you looking at? Get on with your meals!”

“About your Waldorf salad- well I’m sorry but it appears that we’re all out of waldorfs.”

My favourite line was in one particular episode where Basil (on the verge of losing it) punches his open hand and says “Right- I think I’ll go and hit some guests!” For me it was the visual of Basil storming into the dining room then indiscriminately punching hotel patrons as they sat and ate that cracked me up.

Yet certain episodes were equally frustrating as they were funny, with one prime example being an episode titled ‘Communication Problems‘. In it, one of the hotel guests is a deaf woman named Miss Richards, and what made her so annoying wasn’t just that she kept forgetting to turn her hearing aid on. It was her manner as well- overly demanding, uptight, loud monotone voice, the stick up her arse type. You know the sort…

Poor communicators are so frustrating because they don’t just make life more difficult for themselves. Everybody they come into contact with risks having their time, energy and yes- money- wasted as result. Looking back, I can think of a few examples of this from my own life:

Story #1: The Bi-Polar Property Managers

It was my 1st year studying in Brisbane and I lived in a student accomodation place where (at the end of the university year) I’d cleared out my stuff and stored it in the flat, because I was moving down the hallway to the bigger (and now vacant) room when I came back for the new semester. Now as you know, part of moving out of your rental dwelling is that you’re expected to clean it before you vacate- which I did. I vacuumed the carpet, dusted and wiped down the windowsills and desktops, cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom and gave the mirrors a polish as well. With that out of the way, I vacated the flat, went home for the summer holidays and (the following February) I returned, moving into my new room. But in my 2nd year there, I noticed something…

Because while the complex I lived in had been designed as student flats (and titled as such), I began noticing that amongst the fellow residents I saw daily there were fewer students in their late teens or twenties and more people who’d be classed as mature age students- mature aged students with kids- if they were studying at all. Now while I can’t prove anything, I’ve got a suspicion that body corporate wanted to push the uni students out and turn it into a residence aimed at low-income families, figuring they’d be less trouble for the same rent…

If this is what they were doing, I’d have no problem with it. Just be up-front about it, and at least you’d know where you stood. But here’s what happened-

To keep it as short and sweet as I possibly can, let me break it down for you:

a) It came to the end of the year and one of the property managers (we’ll call her Nadine) told me that while I was gone over the summer, the flats may be rented out to other tenants and so there was no guarantee I’d be in the same flat when I returned.

b) I asked where I could store my possessions for the time being, and Nadine said to leave them in the storage space under the flat, accessible through a lockable side-door next to the carport. So away I went, hauling my gear out of my room, downstairs and into this storage space.

c) I was about half way through when Nadine saw me and said I couldn’t leave my stuff there. I tried pointing out this was what she’d told me to do just the day before, but now apparently that wasn’t ok for reasons I’ve forgotten since. Point was, she now said I’d need to move my gear up into the so-called conference room of the complex office building. I say so-called because they never held conferences in there and it didn’t look likely any time soon. It was essentially a vacant room, housing old furniture ready for the dump.

d) So I moved my belongings a second time, from the storage space up to the conference room. But finally, my room was empty- which I proceeded to clean top to bottom just as I’d always done when vacating. I packed the stuff I was taking home into my large grey suitcase, dropped my keys into the slot of the mailbox outside the front office and headed into town, ready to catch the train home early the following morning. At last, my holidays had started and I could relax. Or so I thought…

e) The following afternoon I was sitting back in my comfy seat on the passenger express when my phone buzzed. It was Nadine on the other end and she was irate about the fact my personal belongings now sat there in the conference room. I said that was where she’d told me to put them (sound familiar?) but now *apparently* this had never been discussed. On top of that? She also complained about the state I’d left my room in, claiming it was “unacceptable”. I pointed out that I’d cleaned my room just the same as I’d done the previous year before vacating and nobody had said a thing about it, to which Nadine claimed that hadn’t been left in an acceptable condition either (I have a theory about how this shake-down works but that’s for another time). She said I wouldn’t be allowed back to live there in the new year and, realising it was pointless trying to reason with an unreasonable person, I hung up.

Now, maybe she was right? Maybe I hadn’t left my room in a state deemed to be acceptable from a tenant? But even if that was the case, they had an entire year to say something about it, to say “Look, the condition you left your room in when you vacated wasn’t acceptable and you’ll need to do a better job next time if you want to continue living here”. I would’ve asked for clarification, got a checklist from them and ensured their expectations were met. But they never said a word. Being a lowly STUDENT, I suspect my name had already been marked down, long before that December evening when I vacated the premises…

So the following February (having found a new place just down the street in the interim) I returned to the old premises and began moving my stuff out of the conference room. One of the caretakers (we’ll call her Rosie) saw me as I worked away and said “Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused?” Arguing with a complete idiot is a waste of time, so I brushed her off, saying “I didn’t mean to cause trouble for anybody” and continued my relocation…

If just reading all that frustrated you, then imagine how it was for me! So much trouble, and it all could’ve been avoided with some simple, clear communication on the other sides’ behalf.

As I’m sure you’re well aware, customers aren’t exempt from the curse of bad communication, either.

Story #2: The Client Who Needed To Consult A Dictionary

Years ago I was writing website copy for a client, on behalf of a mutual contact. There was a section they wanted written that was (essentially) a straightforward FAQ section, nothing fancy. I asked the client directly what they were looking for (as you do). They sent me an email with a link to the FAQ section of a company website from the same industry, and he told me to “take this and replicate it”

Replicate: To make an exact copy of, or reproduce.

Check out the definition for yourself. So I replicated the FAQ’s from this other company website, pasted it into a new document for my clients’ web-page and then edited it (where I saw fit) to make it as straightforward and simple to understand as possible. Then I sent it off to the client…

A day or so later, I got an email from the contact who’d introduced me to this client. The client had emailed him, ranting and raving about how what I’d done was “plagiarism” and that my contact should demand a refund on his behalf, etc etc. I told my contact I’d be happy to chat with this guy on the phone and straighten things out, but that request was never followed up.

As far as I’m concerned, in business and in relationships, poor communicators are welcome to go elsewhere. I only have a finite amount of time and energy and I intend to invest both where it’s actually worth the trade-off.

I’m sure you’ve got your own horror stories about people who drove you up the wall and wasted your time/ energy/ money (or even the trifecta) through their poor communication skills- whether a colleague or a client, boss or body corporate. I get it-

That’s why here at Scribe, one of the 5 Guarantees we offer you is clear communication. This means nothing is left to guesswork. When we write a brand new piece of copy or edit existing content, we explain the thinking behind what we do- and ensure that before we start, we’re as clear as possible on what the client’s vision is, what they expect.

From start to finish, we keep you posted every step of the way regarding the progress of your project. Because good communication costs nothing.

So if you want effective copywriting that pulls in new leads, gets clicks, gets new customers AND comes with clear communication? Then contact us today!

In a single afternoon, how I defined success changed forever…

As a member of the bX business network, I have access to countless webinars spanning several years, featuring experts from a variety of backgrounds and industries who share their particular secrets to success.

I’m a “whatever it takes” kind of guy, so I’ve got into the habit of putting an hour aside each weekday to go back through the catalogue of past webinars, watch one, take notes/ screenshots and compile it into an easy-reference Word Document. I did this with the fantastic 10-Part Tony Robbins series Time Of Your Life that (in itself) was a big catalyst in Scribe becoming more than just a business concept- but that’s a story for another time…

So I was watching a webinar by bX Director Matt Alderton, titled ‘Preparing For Your Best Year Ever’- and he spends 45 minutes or so breaking down the art of goal-setting. I listened, took notes (and screenshots) and put it into my Word document- but in doing so, it reminded me of a day a few years back where I changed how I defined success. Here’s how it came about…

See, I’d recently celebrated a birthday, and as is customary, I’d taken a day out to go and brainstorm my goals for the next 12 months. While Matt recommends doing this at the end of the year, I prefer to do it when my birthday comes around. As people get older they begin to dread every looming birthday more. But as I see it, why dread the inevitable when you could celebrate another year of opportunity in front of you? So I make it a time for appreciating the last 12 months’ worth of milestones and to devise a plan of action for the next 12 months.

This means I unplug from social media, get outdoors, reflect- and strategise. I always get pumped for the year ahead, full of anticipation for the new outcomes I’d listed and committed myself to achieving.

But this time around?

I was thinking of the sacrifices I’d made. The time spent working solo, pressuring myself to do stuff barely noticed by the outside world. The amount of things left solely up to me to organise and put into place every day. Sure, it was all done with a clear destination in mind. Yet…

I was putting a line through these outcomes but feeling no particular sense of pride. No rush as I achieved another ‘Mission Accomplished’. As a result, I’d begun to wonder:

Is the juice worth the squeeze?

So here I was this particular Monday morning, having freshly clicked over another year, aboard a city-bound train, mountain bike swaying gently at my side, iPad and helmet stuffed into my Kathmandu backpack. After arriving in the city, I spent hours riding through the parks and beachside suburbs on a clear and sunny day, as all along I pondered:

What exactly do I want to achieve over the next 12 months?

Then it dawned on me:

I was unsatisfied because I’d come to define success by what I did, rather than who I became.

I’d become too engrossed in a legalistic, paint-by-numbers, cross-it-out view of achievement. It’s all well and good to look at your list of action items and see that you did a, b and c. But, more than anything-

I needed to pay closer attention to my attitude.

After all, attitude is the fuel that powers achievement.

The problem is that we’ve been encouraged to judge success simply by surface layer metrics, with no regard for the underlying story:

How many followers have we attracted?

How many subscribers do we have?

How many people have watched our videos or heard of us?

How much did we bank last financial year?

Where do we live?

What car/s do we drive?

Who do we know on a first-name basis?

What events have we attended and who else was there?

Where do we get to go on holiday?

These can all be indicators of some forms of success, sure- but they don’t mean that you are a success. Imagine you had all of these great things disappear overnight- what would you be left with, then?

Because if we can’t truthfully say the following:

  1. We enjoy our work and the difficult, frustrating parts are worth it
  2. Our attitude brings us fulfilment
  3. We’re confident we’ll reflect on the person we are now (one day) and be proud of us, even if we didn’t always make the right decision

Then success is being done wrong.

See, it’s one thing to do what needs to be done and simply to go through the motions-

But becoming that individual who does more than tick a box, who takes pride in what they do and who they become in the process? That’s next level stuff. It’s the kind of quality people can’t help but sit up and take notice of.

Succeeding is an event. But being a success is a state of mind.

Succeeding is temporary. But being a success is permanent.

Succeeding shows you stretch the limits. But success shows you persisted.

Succeeding gives you the chance to learn. But success continues learning.

I’m not sharing this to stand on some platform and boast of “enlightenment”. I share simply because I remember when I defined success the wrong way- a way that doesn’t necessarily equal fulfilment and won’t save you from a sense of imposter syndrome or victories that feel hollow.

So I defined success wrong, and I’d begun feeling burnt out. Remembering what it felt to be truly inspired was like the memory of a romance full of passion that’d since grown cool and practical. I wondered if the juice was really worth the squeeze and if it wasn’t, then what was the point?

But this particular afternoon- revelation came:

Because a change in attitude would lead to me accomplishing things beyond a mere list. So instead of defining the coming 12 months by a list of accomplishments, I had to scale it down to just a few, intangible things. In the end, I was left with just these 3 questions:

  1. What do I enjoy doing?
  2. What attitude do I want to embody?
  3. Who would I be proud of, as a person?

From there, it was actually fairly easy to plot out the next 12 months, based around just those 3 questions.

Attitude is the fuel that powers achievement.

So I rode out the rest of the afternoon, grabbed a late lunch and then boarded the evening train home, weary but content- and with clarity about my future.

So I encourage you to ask yourself these three questions for yourself. Get clear on them. Make your answer the foundation of your goals and your vision. Then go forward.

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Storytime: Was I Born To Do It?

Back in 2002, British R&B singer Craig David released a studio album titled ‘Born To Do It’. I wasn’t a Craig David fan (his music seemed more aimed at a female audience, who swooned over his butter smooth tones), although I’ve got to admit the song ‘7 Days’ was definitely catchy- and the video clip is surprisingly funny. This is a guy who walked into a London Burger King and announced everybody’s order was on him, so I guess he’s alright.

But what I found ambiguous was the title of his album: Born To Do It.

Do what?

Do it with girls?

beavisbutthead2

“Beavis- he was like- born to score! Heh heh heh.”

Or did he mean born to do it- like- born to be a recording artist? In which case, to say you were “born to do something” is a sign that you’re fairly confident in your ability and the path you’ve chosen, isn’t it?

This notion that we were “born to do” something- it can be a tricky one if you enjoy a number of things, and have a talent for several of them. Because which direction do you choose?

When I was younger, I felt like I had a number of options, and the older I grew the more I realised that in order to become exceptional at one thing, means you sacrifice your ability at other things. After all, Michael Jordan is remembered as a basketball star- not a baseball one…

Despite a number of options and interests, it’s Scribe that has become a living, breathing entity today. I’ve spoken previously about some key decisions I made that lead to this happening (The Night It All Lit Up To me)

I’ve also shared how my boyhood career dreams differ from where I now stand, and why I don’t feel regret over the path I chose (Discovering Your Purpose- The 5 Questions Every Young Entrepreneur Must Ask Themselves)

dr-seuss_you-have-brains

But then I realised, looking back, I actually had several early glimpses of my future, which is now my present. I can still recall three particular occasions this happened. Yet in each case, I never had a moment where I thought “Maybe I should go down this road a bit more?” Unlike Ace Of Base, I didn’t see the sign- not yet, anyway:

Act 1: Carrots, Commercials & Class Kudos

It was the 90’s, and if you’re above a certain age you might recall the TV series ‘Money‘ that was on Channel 9. I didn’t watch it, but my parents had both the books from this series and I went through a period where I would leaf through them. Sure there was a lot of stuff that didn’t interest me (like talk about superannuation or interest rates) but then there was the stuff that did take my interest- like the chapter on the value of classic cars and the explanation as to why the current basketball card craze (which I touched on here) was a false economy. There was also a section on ways to save money at the supermarket…

It explained why the most commonly purchased items are always at the back of the store in separate isles, why the best value deals are not necessarily at eye-level and how come all the magazines are located at the checkout…

Now this might all seem straight-forward to you- but as a kid, it felt like a lightbulb moment. Like a code I had cracked.

I also remember a TV ad for Wonka Nerds that depicted a kid ingesting the flavour-packed candies and then playing games at Timezone and coming first on ‘Daytona 500’. Even at that impressionable age, I laughed at the suggestion that eating Nerds could increase your ability on a video game. So when a neighbour of mine (a few years younger, to be fair) made the comment one day that eating Nerds made you win ‘Daytona 500’ I tried not to laugh and I set him straight.

Advertising, eh?

Then at school, my Year 6 teacher announced we were going to be studying advertising this term. With a fresh appreciation for the how’s and why’s of the subject, my ears pricked up. I don’t recall how interesting my classmates found this module, but it remains a fond memory from my last year of Primary school.

However, the best part was the assignment:

We had to create a TV advertisement for carrots, using the principles of advertising we’d learned thus far, and a select few concepts would be turned into actual video adverts. And as it turned out, my ad idea was shortlisted by our teacher. Maybe it’s because she recognised my inherent brilliance, or maybe she simply realised my advert would be easy to produce? Either way, next thing our class had been split up into groups and we were each lent camcorders to go and film our ads. So here’s what we did with mine:

First, we created a makeshift stage (from memory I think we just used a desk with another desk sitting sideways upon it for the backdrop, a piece of cardboard stuck to it saying ‘Vegetable Of The Year’.

Secondly, we got a piece of broccoli, a potato, a piece of cauliflower and a carrot. We took plastic eyes normally used for stuffed animals and stuck them into the vegetables, and used modified skewers for arms and legs.

IMG_6230

We enjoyed an overwhelming turnout for the audition…

The premise was that the other three vegetables each took the stage and did a crap job of selling themselves (the broccoli began snoozing halfway through it’s opening line, the spud stuttered all over the place) and would get dragged off (via one of those ratchets you got from the Easter Show). Then the carrot comes on and absolutely nails it- explains the health benefits of eating carrots, straight to the point- and wins the contest.

So as you can see, it was a simple advertisement with no CGI, no wild horses galloping along isolated beaches with crashing waves, no celebrity endorsements. It was literally a carrot with eyes stuck in it, a mouth carved out of it and wooden skewers for arms and legs, selling itself on stage- and that was a wrap.

As it turned out our group (having implemented my idea and brought it to life) were then judged to have produced the best advert by my teacher and that was one of two assignments I aced in Year 6. The other was this project on bridges in which I built a suspension bridge out of balsa wood and matchsticks, and went on to be one of only two assignments in our grade (along with an old friend) that achieved top marks, but that’s another story altogether…

Act 2: The Computer Program For All Eternity

I was now in Year 9 and our religious studies teacher set our class an assignment that involved marketing of some sort. While the details of the guidelines are a bit hazy 20 years on, an old mate and I paired up and I suggested this idea of making it like a computer program. So we produced a mock-up computer program titled ‘Eternity 2000‘ (clearly a send-up of Windows 2000). We even had the program box with our logos on it, a whole bunch of installation discs painted different colours and a user manual printed out to go in the box with the discs.

Windows 2000

We thought we’d come up with a winner of an idea, and it seemed our teacher did as well!

He liked it so much he had us come up on stage during school assembly and interviewed us about our project as we sat there like absolute kings. We weren’t up there in front of the whole school because we’d won Triple J Unearthed or been signed by an NRL club, but the free publicity still felt cool- and again, it all started with an idea I’d spitballed…

Act 3: Helping The Campus Stay Clean & Tidy

Then in my first year out of school I was at TAFE for a year, working up my credit points to go on to uni for my degree. Our campus held a competition to design a campaign encouraging people on campus to bin their rubbish. I created a really simple logo of a standard stick figure putting their rubbish in the bin, with the slogan “When You Bin, The Environment Wins”- and despite being judged against campaigns put together by fellow arts or design students, mine was picked as the winner.

That was a nice surprise.

But still, on I went to uni for the next 4 years, getting through my degree and enjoying some classes more than others (do a semester of Reading The Visual and you’ll understand why artists give such wanky-sounding explanations for the minimalist crap they display in exhibits). Yet it hadn’t occurred to me that I might have a future in the art of writing words, stories or concepts that sell. Instead I worked away, got my Bachelor of Animation degree, wore the gown and the cap, spent a few years working retail, moved interstate twice and kept the dream alive of going into Film & TV and creating my own series…

Yet (as we now see), life had other plans. And here I am writing these words, looking back and now realising that (all things considered) maybe this is where I was meant to be all along?

So be excellent to one another, navigate your future with an open hand- and eat your veggies!

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Your Journey vs Your Goal (Or, a word of warning for the ambitious):

“Money doesn’t change you- it just highlights who you already were”…

Let’s go back- many years ago now, in fact…

We’re going back to when I was in preschool- that far. But I remember it still: the wooden pirate ship where my friend and I hid every day when the teachers called us in for nap time- thinking today would be different and they’d miss us. Nap time itself- lying there in the cot, bored out of my brain while they played new-agey music in the hope it would lull us to sleep (and I imagine the teachers looked forward to coffee, gossip and a brief respite from dealing with a classroom of unruly 4 and 5 year olds!). I remember being in the playground one day, the smell of damp autumn leaves covering the ground, blue gym mats laid out, kids playing in a stainless steel sandbox, thinking about how my cousins were coming over to our house tomorrow and looking forward to that…

From my recollections, it was the first time I’d ever thought about something in the future- and that memory itself is now almost 30 years in the past.

But I also remember one of the albums Mum played in the car around that time. And from that album, this famous track was my favourite:

I loved the fast tempo, the aggressive electric guitar riff that underpins the whole song, and the guitar solo at the end that breaks away and fades out with the track. The whole song, to my 4 year old self, just felt badass.

What’s interesting though is when you read the lyrics- because while the song is about chasing a dream, in the timeline of the song we never actually reach that dream. It is, in fact, a “moment in time”, of pursuing that dream, on a journey from a to b.

Then there was the major assignment I had for Year 7 English- we’d read ‘Boy’ and ‘Going Solo’ by Roald Dahl, both autobiographies covering his childhood and then his adult life as well. Our assignment was to write our own autobiographies- tell the story of our lives in the 12 or 13 years of their entirety…

But what I fondly remember most to this day wasn’t handing the assignment in.

It wasn’t getting 50/50 for my efforts either (can you blame me for bragging about this one?)

No, what I remember fondly is getting to take a day off school to write the thing. Mum and Dad were at work, my sister was at preschool- so I had the house to myself. I spent the day channelling memories and the stories of my life, writing them down, then taking a break to go watch TV for a bit or make lunch- before going back to my craft. It was a great day where I wrote something start to finish, and had a lot of fun doing so.

Reading some of my recollections out to the class, everybody laughing at my stories, the top marks I got- those were just the cherry on top!

Just recently, I was at a business get together where a colleague of mine took us all through goal-setting, step by step. We each had to write down a goal, and then take it to pieces to itemise the finer details of achieving that goal- how we were going to do it, what we needed to obtain, how we imagined feeling once we achieved that goal. Upon completion, attendees reported feeling a sense of new-found clarity about achieving their goals, and my colleague really showed his worth in taking us through this exercise.

Yet here’s the important thing to remember about the goals we set-

We can become so fixated on our goals that we ignore arguably the best part of going for said goals: it’s not the achievement itself where you feel the most contentment. It’s the journey itself!

Stop for a second and cast your mind back to something you set out to do, a goal you envisaged. Got it? Now ask yourself this, and be honest: was the point when you achieved your goal at last the most memorable, or was it everything you did up until that point instead?

Time after time- it’s not about the goal, but about the memories we create, the people we meet and the person we become on the way to reaching that goal. This has been the premise of countless best-selling movies and novels, and with good reason.

You see, in my earlier days of business, I made the mistake of imagining a future point in time where I’d have a certain professional profile, drive a certain car, have made a certain amount of money and live in a particular house- and how good it would feel to know I’d “made it”. Understandable sure, because I was just starting out and of course you think about how you want your business venture to end. But then one day, I did something a little out of the ordinary: I sat back and visualised living in that house I wanted to end up in. I imagined having reached those other goals, achieved them, and sitting in the spacious living room looking out over the balcony of my place, every little detail clear…

Then after about 5 minutes, I thought “Ok- now what?”

In just 5 minutes, I’d discovered something about our big, audacious goals: they are not the be-all and end-all. No doubt you’ve had other goals you set yourself throughout your life, then reached them- and guess what? You didn’t suddenly start feeling happy did you? You didn’t suddenly think “Now I can just cut right back and do nothing for the rest of my time here because I achieved X” did you?

I think back to my Fight Like A Pro experience

Sure, Fight Night itself was memorable…but after that one night, it was over. No more training, no more preparation for that big night- it was over, done. I passed (as best you can ‘pass’). But after about a week, I understood why so many guys went back and trained at the gym after their initial Fight Night had been and gone, why more than a few fighters on the card were guys who’d done this several times before as well. Because even now, I fondly remember that 10 week experience- getting fitter, getting better at fighting and learning about myself- the whole journey all the way up to Fight Night. 1 night vs 10 weeks- which do you think contains more fond memories?

We can look at other people in our field or even just in business generally who we think “have it made”, and be tempted to imagine how much better we’d feel overall if we were ever in their position. But here’s what so many people don’t realise before it’s too late-

You’d get there- achieve that big audacious goal- and realise that wasn’t “it”- and be left feeling the same way you did achieving all those other goals you’ve achieved in life:

Is this it?

I wrote more about enjoying the journey, here: This Is What Gratitude Really Gives You

But today I wanted to encourage you to re-think how you regard those goals you have, whether it be on a professional or personal level. Not that you shouldn’t aim for them (as long as your heart is in them, of course) but to appreciate the journey itself- the simple “doing” part of whatever it is you do-

Because one day, it’ll be what you remember fondly- so enjoy it while it lasts!

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