Blue51 Show and Tell- share your expertise through gorgeous content

gorgeous content

It’s no secret that I love content marketing. The interplay between message and expertise and experience, when wielded with thoughtfulness, strategy and care, is a powerful connector.  The goal with any content strategy is to deliver messages that an audience, specifically a potential client, will resonate with and relate to as well as entertain, inform and educate. Throw in the means to tell a story, and I’m one happy Word Nerd. 

Today’s Blue51 Show and Tell is an overview of working with a business who needed to take control over their content to share strategically and effectively. Enter my Content Blast! 

The project:

A Content Blast with Alana Bennett, Human Experience Fanatic and Coach at Connected Experience. 

The client:

Connected Experience is a consultancy that works with organisations to provide their people with a workplace that brings out their best. Connected Experience’s mission is to truly connect humans to organisations so both employees and organisations thrive.

The client’s target audience:

Connected Experience works primarily with leaders in small businesses and start ups. Specifically, they work with businesses that are truly committed to the experience agenda and “want” to do things differently. 

The approach: 

Alana from Connected Experience is a beautiful writer and loves the process and act of writing. Prior to launching Connected Experience, Alana wrote a piece on LinkedIn that had a phenomenal response.  She’s highly aware of the power of story to connect, and was keen to make use of her wonderful writing skills and impart her skills, experience and expertise through content. However, whilst she had ideas upon ideas, she felt quite overwhelmed with the opportunities they presented, and wanted some support to create a structure that was meaningful and aligned to her broader goals. Hello, Content Blast! 

Over three hours, Alana and I chatted, laughed, cried (good tears!) as we explored all the different facets of human experience. The three hour conversation translated into a 14 page Content Plan, with enough content ideas (structured into pillars, my favourite) to keep her blogging for the next two or three years. Best of all? Each and every content idea, which could be either a long form blog or video or short form captions, are completely aligned to her business goals, message, values and branding. 

The results:

Alana and her team now have a content plan that’s strategic, helpful and will be fun to roll out. They have a clear understanding and a structure to follow which provides the what, how, when and why for sharing their insights.

Tell me, is creating your content, or even the ideas for your content, a source of constant blah?

Want a guiding hand and some fresh, practical ideas for your content? Yes, yes and hell yes? Please get in touch– I’d love to help out.

This is a post in my Blue51 Show and Tell blog series. Each month, I share some of the projects I’m working on for my fabulous clients. I love sharing both the work we’re producing, as well as the amazing results they’re achieving in their businesses. 

There’s more unabashed bragging on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help.

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Tell your story- Julie from Space & Time Professional Organising

Story Space and Time

My goodness, I love sharing my clients’ stories via The Proust Questionnaire! Today we have gorgeous Julie from Space and Time. Space and Time Professional Organising shares practical tools to get organised at home for professional, working Mums to replace stress, guilt and exhaustion.

The Proust Questionnaire by Julie Cliff, Space and Time Professional Organising

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Doing what you choose to do

What is your greatest extravagance?

Dinner out with the family

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Fabulous!

Return things to their permanent home 😉

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Starting my own business

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t care much for stuff. I see too much of it everyday. Can I say my family, closely followed by Melbourne Storm

What is your most marked characteristic?

The ability to make things simple

Who is your hero of fiction?

Captain Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek)

Who are your heroes in real life?

Anyone willing to chase their dreams

What is your story?

I love to share the practical tools to help you feel calmer, happier and less stressed at home. Create a welcoming, clutter-free space, develop an effective, calm flow to your days, navigate your work and your family life as seamlessly as possible and make life simpler and more fun. (nice hey… someone cool wrote it for me). 

What is your motto?

Make life as simple as possible

Find out more about Julie and Space and Time Professional Organising here.

This is a post in my Tell Your Story blog series. I love shining the spotlight on some of my clients and colleagues. If you’d like to know more about my work, or would like the full 35 questions from the Questionnaire, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll respond in a jiffy. 

The ultimate gift to myself- my morning routine

Morning routine

Hello, I’m Holly and I’m a productivity busy-body. I like to know the ins and outs of every little hack to squeeze the absolute best out of every situation. I collect productivity hints and tips like stamps. When I hear someone decree a certain something as the key to their success, their happiness or their productivity, I take note. Literally, in a notebook for that very purpose. I love peeks into how people move through their lives. This isn’t new- my favourite magazine feature when I graduated from Dolly to Cleo (oh, such a sophisticated teenager I was) was a ‘what’s in her handbag’ feature, which is ironic, given I didn’t even have a handbag til my early twenties. I suppose, when I cut to the core, I’m nothing but a voyeur and a sticky beak…

Many of the hacks sit untested in my ‘try this’ notebook, but I’m a proud member of one of the strategies that research time and time again relate to success: a considered morning routine. 

I call mine Holly-Hour and in a perfect world* it starts every day at 5.45am.

I haven’t always been a morning person, particularly with the sleep issues I’ve battled for almost thirty years. Being a Registered Nurse in my late teens and twenties meant I had to put on my game face at 6.45am regardless of how little I’d slept, and I basically transitioned to becoming an annoying and chirpy early bird AND a night owl. These days, I’m useless at nights.

My Holly-Hour was born from necessity. You see, I’m a much nicer personal all-round when I’ve started the day with an hour to myself. I hate feeling rushed and scattered. It makes me feel skittish, chaotic and overwhelmed, turns me into a screaming banshee, setting the tone for the rest of my day. I see it as very much putting on my own oxygen mask and as a way to (relatively easily) prioritise my own wellbeing. When I attend to myself first thing in the morning (apologies for the double entendre but actually not sorry) it stops (or delays!) the derailment of my day. Holly-hour stops me from feeling like I’m lurching through the days, weeks, months to feeling like I’m controlling and navigating, living my life by design rather than circumstance. That’s the ideal, anyway. 

Speaking of ‘ideal’, here’s the general gist of it from my 5.45am wake up time:

  • Drink like a camel- water, usually. I’ve had bouts of hot water with lemon but I’m too afraid of what that does to the enamel on my teeth and I’m too unco to use a straw and bypass my teeth
  • Free association scribble/journal 
  • Move- either group training or a walk with Buddy my Aussie Shepherd
  • Breakfast
  • Shower
  • Get cherubs to school
  • Daily Pow-Wow with a coffee

*This is what happens in my perfect world of no pandemic and a great uninterrupted night’s sleep ie never. I’m a shocking sleeper from way back, so while my wake time never changes, the ticks I move through on my Holly-Hour checklist vary. And yes, I do have a checklist, and it’s laminated. #wildchild I’m not one who wings much of anything.

I completely get that a structured, regimented morning routine like this could seem oppressive and suffocating. Me? Even though I consider myself a creative, I love routine and rituals. They suit my control freak type A personality and my need to tick a box and give myself a gold star. As a new mother, I embraced quite strict routines for my cherubs, they ate, played and slept to the clock which suited me beautifully. If the babies thrive under a routine, why wouldn’t the mama? And so, I created a considered, tick-able morning routine that forces me to be more thoughtful about how I approach my time, particularly when balancing the competing priorities of motherhood and business life. 

Tell me, are you a sucker for a productivity hack?

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures as well as my life in general. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Blue51 Show and Tell: you don’t know what you don’t know

communications from scratch

What happens when you launch a new business, providing a specialist service that nobody’s ever heard of?  You have the double-barrelled hurdle of raising awareness not just of your business and services, but of the benefit you bring. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 

Today’s Blue51 Show and Tell shares the process by which an incredible woman with a much needed service told her story to grow her business with beautiful communications.

The project:

A Communications Kickstart to detail the key strategies to enable and compel ideal clients to connect with a message to build an ongoing relationship and develop and maintain brand recognition, and most importantly, increase sales enquiries to grow the business. 

The client:

AJ Stafford Property Services is a property business like no other. Launched by Real Estate Agent, Vendors Advocate and Property Stylist Lisa Stafford, the business provides a seamless, one-stop process for people selling property from the decision to list through to settlement and beyond. 

Selling a property is stressful at the best of times. At the worst of times (separation and divorce, death of a loved one) the stress can feel overwhelming. Lisa created her unique sale management system to support and guide a client throughout the entire real estate process; planning, preparation and presentation of properties and well as agency selection. By removing the need to work with real estate agents, AJ Property Services makes a frequently fraught and distressing process much more positive and minimises the stress associated with selling a property. 

The client’s target audience:

Lisa’s audience focus is actually quite broad but falls into two categories:

Vendors:

  • Downsizers and retirees
  • Upsizers
  • People going through a divorce or separation
  • People with Enduring Power of Attorney needing to sell loved ones’ properties.

More specifically, the vendor target audience is someone who:

  • Finds (or expects to find) dealing with real estate agents stressful and unsatisfactory.
  • Someone who, whilst at a potentially distressing and overwhelming transition point in their lives, needs a supportive, knowledgeable and kind property specialist in their corner who is committed to getting them the best possible result for their circumstances.

Aligned businesses/professions:

  • Real estate agents (to a lesser degree)
  • Family law professionals
  • Probity law professionals
  • Aged care providers
  • Mediation professionals
  • Practicality service providers- storage businesses, professional organisers and declutterers, painters, cleaning agencies, painters, rubbish removalists.

The approach: 

At the core, AJ Stafford Property Services provides a better experience to people selling their home.  Lisa is often witness to the profound effect, negative or positive, that the sales experience has on people, and her business is built around providing a better way. 

The communications approach focused on the messages and tactics that would illuminate that better way. Lisa and I developed a multifaceted communications plan that aligned key messages to business gaols and her audience. We focused on a social proof strategy (critically important with both an audience potentially in distress) and in an industry with a history of mistrust. We wanted clear, consistent and beautiful brand identity including messaging. Content marketing became the central pillar of the communications, with a video strategy across platforms, blogging, a social media strategy and email campaigns. Lisa also utilised alliances, collaborations and joint ventures (including guest blogging and events) as a means for sharing her incredible work with the world. 

The results:

AJ Stafford has a robust, coherent and cohesive communications plan to tell her story and grow her business with beautiful communications. I love watching her share her expertise across my social media feeds and I love the incredible feedback she’s receiving from people for both her services, but her ridiculously helpful, kind, and considerate content. 

Tell me, do you tell the story of your business services, the value you offer, the benefits you provide effectively?

Communicating your services beautifully is one of the writing for business concepts I cover with my work with clients. I’d love to work with you on your business writing projects, please get in touch.

This is a post in my Blue51 Show and Tell blog series. Each month, I share some of the projects I’m working on for my fabulous clients. I can’t wait to show you both the work we’re producing, as well as the amazing results they’re achieving in their businesses. 

There’s more unabashed bragging on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help.

Nothing nice to say? The balancing act of vulnerability and venting

vulnerability venting

Oh Brenè… I love your work, I really do, but in content marketing across this wide brown land (and further afar, no doubt), people seem to be misrepresenting your message of bravery and authenticity. They’re skipping over the detail, instead seeing it as a licence to leak emotional waste in the name of vulnerability.

I’ve been thinking a lot of late about the concepts of emotional waste. I have been working with some incredible clients who are specialists in organisational culture to clarify their messages and create content that’s aligned to their broader values, business goals and vision- namely creating workplaces that enable people to be their best selves. They tell me that one of the common themes of poor culture is emotional waste, either from leadership, like in this almost unfathomable example, or from the team, or a mixture of both. In the current pandemic climate, the emotional waste that is leaking from individuals and businesses online is amplified- so much so that as someone with a naturally (annoying) largely sunny disposition I had to take myself off Instagram for a few days so as not to absorb it. 

There’s a few definitions floating around about emotional waste, which I’ll leave for the performance psychologists, but basically, there’s a fair bit of energy expenditure that accompanies emotions. There’s two emotional reactions to a stressor- positive or negative- and both can be appropriate for the situation. You’ve heard that expression, it takes only 47 muscles to smile but 422 to frown? Not physiologically accurate, but you get my point. Well, it’s the same concept. When the emotions are negative, such as fear, anger, defensiveness, shame, and guilt, energy expenditure is high. Cortisol levels sky rocket. A problem arises when the processing of the emotion, particularly if it’s negative, isn’t done internally but rather manifests as venting, bitching, moaning, complaining and passive-aggression. This is emotional leaking and prolonged negativity can not only make us unwell, but if your colleagues and your audience are exposed to your leakage than you’re contributing to other people’s stress too.

So what does any of this have to do with communications and word sorcery?

Simply this: if the stories you are putting out through your communications are laced with emotional waste- again, fear, scarcity, misplaced anger, frustration, defensiveness, judgement- your ‘raw vulnerability’ could be very much a turn off. It robs people of a compelling reason to work with you, let alone engage with your content.

I’m not saying that everything in your content strategy must be rosy and perky and giggly. What I’m saying is there’s a fine line between authenticity and leaking emotional waste that damages your brand. We often can’t control what stressors are placed upon us, but we can control our reactions, and we can certainly control what we post online. Emotions are essential to our survival as a species, no doubt about it. Negative emotions in particular, anger and fear, are very real protective mechanisms. But is Instagram the right place to process your emotions?

Without proper processes to manage the shitty emotions that situations inevitably throw at us, they become toxic to us. When we vent, bitch and moan, ie leak emotional waste, they become toxic to those around us. When we leak via content marketing- boom! The effect is amplified. 

Calmly and objectively processing a situation that’s raised negative emotions isn’t always easy, particularly if it goes against a long established pattern of behaviour. I remember a greeting card from the 90s that said Nothing nice to say? Come sit by me. I had a chat to my clients/mates who work in this field about this and how they support organisations to help their people leaking emotional waste. Basically, it comes down to strong self-awareness and self-reflection practices such as journalling, meditation, deep breathing or professional help such as therapy. You’re solely responsible for your reactions and actions. Be aware of your triggers, and press pause before you hit publish.

Tell me, do you think there’s a fine line between vulnerability and leaking emotional waste?

If you feel as though your messages are more reactive and less strategic, please reach out. I’d love to help you share your story authentically, but cleanly. 

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This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Tell your story- Lisa from AJ Stafford

tell your story holly cardamone

My goodness, I love sharing my clients’ stories via The Proust Questionnaire! Today we have gorgeous Lisa from AJ Stafford. AJ Stafford Property Services provides a seamless, one-stop process for people selling property from the decision to list through to settlement and beyond. 

The Proust Questionnaire by Lisa Stafford, AJ Stafford Property Services

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sitting on the beach watching the sunset

What is your greatest extravagance?

Floating in a tropical pool with a cocktail

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

What?

Really?

Oh my God!

Oh yeah

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being a mum

What is your most treasured possession?

My engagement and wedding ring for what they stand for and their sentimental value

What is your most marked characteristic?

Curiosity

Who is your hero of fiction?

Wonder Woman

Who are your heroes in real life?

Naomi Findlay

Steve Irwin 

Susan Alberti

Donna Hay

What is your story?

I’m an ex-real estate agent turned sellers advocate, and I bring passion and commitment to the service I provide that helps create success. With a combined 25 years in real estate and the building industry, I decided to harness my natural flair for design and I completed my studies in Home Styling.  It was this progression that inspired me to develop my own business to help my clients with the whole real estate process.

What is your motto?

Tomorrow is a new day

Find out more about Lisa and AJ Stafford Property Services here. 

This is a post in my Tell Your Story blog series. I love shining the spotlight on some of my clients and colleagues. If you’d like to know more about my work, or would like the full 35 questions from the Questionnaire, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll respond in a jiffy. 

My Top 10 Reads of 2019

Whoop, there it is! Another wonderful year of reading captured in a top 10 post that actually shares 16 reads that have rocked my world. Confession time: this year my reading count is down by a minimum of 10 books on previous years due to more than a few binge sessions of some incredible Netflix series and movies. My book count as of today, 19 December 2019 is 56 with another six books sitting on my bedside table and a long, long reading list to take into the next decade.

Before we jump in, here’s my 2016, 2017 and 2018 best reads lists. I haven’t counted, but let’s assume there’s at least 10 on each list (and there is!), then including this post, you have 40 books to consume. Enjoy, my pretties, I know I have!

Here we go, in no particular order because ranking them would do my head in, as it’s hard enough nominating a top 10, and with Booktopia links with no affiliation (because, eww) but for simplicity of obtaining:

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinham

I’ve been reading Gloria Steinham since my early teens, and certainly long before I understood the concepts of her books. Her writing is sublime and this was such a beautiful memoir of an incredible icon. 

Educated by Tara Westover

I read this in two days, forgoing sleep and maybe a touch of hygiene in the process. I love love LOVED this memoir and it has stayed with me long since finishing the last page. My older daughter read it too and we’ve had some wonderful discussions about the power of education and the conflict within families. 

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

I read a profile piece on the author of this novel which made me initially pick it up. Once I turned the first page I was completely and utterly besotted with the characters and the narrative. Again, the characters stayed with me beyond the book and it was so beautifully, perfectly written. Pure joy of language. Bliss!

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

Finally, a business book, I hear you cry! This is a massive mofo of a book and would be a suitable weapon of choice during a home invasion (suitable for both invading and protecting). I’m a sucker for a sneaky peek into other people’s routines and lifestyles. There are elements that are … well… batshit crazy- psychedelics, I’m looking at you- but some really great strategies, tips, tricks and actions to implement in one’s quest for a productive, fulfiling life. 

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Well, duh, of course this is in my top 10. If you haven’t read it, why TF not? My mum has, my daughter has, everyone I know has. It’s incredible. 

Help Me: how self-help has not changed by life by Marianne Power

I shared my love of this book on Instagram and almost lost my poo when the author responded! This was such a good read; funny, sad, evocative and had that rare quality of inspiring snort laughs alongside a ton of self-reflection. 

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson

I’m not sure why it took me so long to read this book because I’ve been a huge fan of Sarah’s writing way back to her Sunday Life column days. This book is incredible, harrowing, uplifting, life changing. Read it. 

The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady

An incredible YA novel that was creepy as hell, beautifully constructed and language that was perfection. 

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

Tim Winton is my ultimate, the best writer in the whole wide world and he could write a shopping list and it will be in my top 10. That’s it. 

Footsteps- The New York Times Anthology of Literary Pilgrimages Around the World

If you were under any illusion that I’m a cocaine-guzzling, nightclub hopping cool kid, this anthology of fellow word nerds taking trips around the world to see where their favourite authors did their grocery shopping will demonstrate that I am, in fact, not a cool kid. Not in the slightest. This made my top 10 because each piece was incredibly well written (New York Times writers, am I right?) and because I’d happily geek out at each and every destination. 

So that’s my top 10 and because I can’t resist, here’s some more reads that could have made it in, but for the hair on my chinny, chin chin:

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Fake by Stephanie Wood

Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Dr Libby Weaver

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

488 Rules for Life by Kitty Flanagan 

And one more, just because I love the author more than life:

Change by Stealth by Melitta Hardenberg

Tell me, what’s been your favourite read(s) this year?

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Banishing wardrobe angst with Nicole Vine Personal Styling

Banishing wardrobe angst with Nicole Vine Personal Styling

I read once in Vanity Fair that as President (and probably prior and post) Barack Obama only had two types of suits in his wardrobe in a bid to reduce the amount of decisions he made each day. This makes complete and utter sense to me, but I also find incredibly boring and limiting! That said, I’m no fashionista, and I never really have been one to use style to express myself creatively. Stylish and put-together certainly doesn’t come easily to this mum/writer who spends most days in Lululemon so whenever I have a face to face meeting the decision fatigue is beyond frustrating. Until recently, I’d find myself standing in my wardrobe completely uninspired, and felt  like everything I owned was drab, boring and uninspiring. 

I’m all for outsourcing one’s weaknesses. Enter the pure brilliance of my beautiful friend Nicole Vine.

I met Nicole this year- she’s a Thriving Woman, just like me- but I’d been stalking her Instagram for quite some time. Nicole is a lawyer, personal stylist, mum to three and a slave to a cheeky cocker spaniel. Speaking of thriving, she has a thriving styling consultancy and her personal branding expertise is extensive. Nicole is known as the thinking woman’s stylist (I’m a looker AND a thinker, you see) and her focus is on helping women experience effortless stylish dressing for their days, allowing them to stand out for all the right reasons. She’s vibrant, vivacious, caring, clever, and funny AF. Put simply; I love her guts so she was the only option for when it came to getting some professional support in bringing me out of my style rut. I also knew she’d make the entire experience wonderful. That’s putting it mildly! 

Nicole doesn’t know this, but my styling session with her wasn’t my first. I had my first personal styling session when I was 17 years old in year 11, when a group of my friends, using varying levels of tact, suggested I pair my Levi 501s with something other than a band tshirt, and especially not my favourite Sex Pistols top.

Nicole’s process was a little more indulgent, empathetic and professional.

First, I completed and extensive online brief before Nicole came to my home and assessed my wardrobe; assessed, not judged, I must add. We explored my needs, my wants and my preferences, then a week later, as directed by Nicole, I drove my car to the valet parking desk at Chadstone, then stood outside Tiffany and Co until a blonde goddess come to life glided towards me, enveloped me in a giant hug, then took me to a private dressing room to get my gear off. 

I had a wonderful time- Nicole had plotted out a course around Chadstone that took care of everything I needed. We were greeted by racks upon racks of clothes she’d preselected, all completely personalised and tailored to me, my style (or desired style) and my lifestyle. It wasn’t just trying on clothes- there was a massive educational component as well. She was respectful yet gently insistent in supporting me as I leapt out of my comfort zone, and she had just the right amount of grunt to help me dislocate my shoulder to extricate me out of a jumpsuit that really could have done with an extra button. She pressed her phone, and a valet attendant whisked away our shopping bags so we didn’t have to schlep them around the centre. Once everything on Nicole’s list was ticked, she gave me another hug, then sent me off for a coffee to finish off my day.

That was all incredible- no doubt about it, but the hits kept on coming.

Nic came back to my house, complete with her own giant green screen to create my lookbook. The lookbook is the pièce de résistance of Nicole’s signature service. This is where the magic happens- she’s basically created me a lookbook-cookbook of the different combinations of outfits now in my wardrobe, organised by categories. I’m not exaggerating to say there are more than 150 individual outfits from head to toe. I never have to wonder what to wear again- I just pick a photo and off I go!

Personal style is so much more than what we wear, so, so much more. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about how we see ourselves, how we want others to perceive us. Yes, after working with Nicole I now have a different outfit for every day of the week for a year, so my decision fatigue in this regard is gone. Beyond this? I have confidence, clarity and more than a little swagger! 

I couldn’t be more grateful and I highly recommend Nicole’s styling to anyone wanting to elevate their style and invest in themselves. Investing in Nicole’s services was hands down one of the best investments I’ve ever made both professionally and personally. Find out more about Nicole here, and go for it! Just remember to wear good knickers. 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

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From surviving to thriving: adventures with a business coach

From surviving to thriving: my adventures with a business coach…

You’ve heard of the relationship 7 year itch? It’s a psychological concept of feeling restless and bored after a period of time in a relationship. A slump, if you will. Whilst my marriage is stronger than ever, possibly a little too much so, according to the faux gagging* sounds by my cherubs at any and every PDA between my husband and myself, I’ve felt that discontent and dissatisfaction professionally. 

There are always peaks and troughs, slumps and highlights in life, and business is no exception.

However, a rut is not a fun place to be in. At the five year mark of working exclusively in my business I was feeling flat and stale. Don’t get me wrong; I loved the work I was doing and the clients I was working with, but I felt a distinct lack of spark. I knew I needed a little somethin’ somethin’ to bring back that lovin’ feeling, but what? More importantly, who?

Disclaimer time- I’ve had a fairly decent sized scepticism about business coaches for a long, long time.

Whilst I’d never be so rude to as openly eye-roll someone at a networking event, I believed (and still believe, whilst we’re being completely honest) that the real deal are few and far between. I know from my own experiences of having my IP ripped off by self-proclaimed content experts that there are a lot of crooks and wannabes out there. 

At this same time, I was moving in similar circles, online and in real life to a business coach (perish the thought), Emma McQueen. Emma and I happened to meet up for a coffee and hello- real deal! She joyfully and proudly detailed her qualifications, accreditations and endorsements with no hard sell or expectation of working together and I think we were both pretty happy to have a no BS woman in each others’ corner.

A couple of months passed by, and Emma engaged me for a Tell my Story Content Blast session. She brought along her trusty side-kick, Jess Randall, and for three hours I dug deep into the Emma story in the context of her content. As I was listening to these two powerhouse women bounce their thoughts off each other I was struck by not only how clever and insightful they were, but how they were just genuine good people. That afternoon, I booked a Clarity to Chaos session with Emma to give my business an injection of clarity and a basic slap across the chops. The session? Transformative. The sense of lightness and relief that came with clarity was almost tangible, and completely reinvigorated and refreshed my business, and by default, my broader life. 

That was just one coaching session. A month later, I signed up for Emma’s year long Thriving Women program and hand on heart? It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business and for my life in general. 

Imagine this:

  • A group of like minded women from a mix of sectors, backgrounds and industries, self-employed in businesses of 1 or from massive organisations, all with each others’ best interests at heart. 
  • Personal and professional development on crack.
  • Support, reciprocity and topics of conversation that alternate between life changing and so fucking funny there’s snort-laughs aplenty. 
  • Knowing that with these formidable women behind you there’s absolutely nothing, nothing, you can’t achieve in this one precious life.

Now, Emma doesn’t know I’m writing this. In fact, she’s overseas at the moment and has been expressly forbidden to check in, so this is completely unendorsed, unsponsored and unsolicited. I’m just sharing my experience for no other reason than to share. I get asked all the time about my experience working with a business coach- often by people who’ve been shafted by those dodgy AF ones- and honestly? If my business was down to it’s last gasp I’d invest whatever I had left on coaching with Emma. 

Tell me, have you experienced the real deal?

* I assume they’re faux gagging?

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.

Why Blue51? The story behind my business name

It’s interesting- at least once a month I’m asked about the story behind my business name, Blue51 Communications. I’m a sucker for a good brand story myself- or any story, really- hence my business tagline- tell your story.

Before we can deep dive into the why, let’s do a quick skate over the what.

 

Blue51 Communications is a sweet ‘lil boutique communications consultancy with one core focus- the power of story. I wholeheartedly, emphatically believe that words are at the heart of good communications. The whole crux of my business, inclusive of all of my services (communications advising, strategy and writing for business) is helping my clients communicate better with their audience. Bottom line: I help people in business say something (ie their story) and have that message heard by their intended recipient. 

I’ve been working as a communications specialist and a professional writer for over 25 years now (sheesh!). In fact, my business, Blue51 Communications, started life as Holly Cardamone Communications and Freelance Writing.  In this capacity, I wrote freelance pieces for magazines, journals and newspapers whilst balancing contract and project roles with large organisations, mostly government agencies. Before that, and in between launching as Blue51 Communications, I worked as communications manager and as director for a number of different organisations. I also brought a couple of cherubs into the world as well (no mean feat).

It’s those two said cherubs that largely influenced my why and my brand story.

 

Here’s the thing- the working mama juggle ain’t always a big bucket of champagne. Work/life balance makes an appearance on a lot of company profiles- I should know, I write them 😜- but in reality, I know that it can be an illusion. I’m not suggesting that there’s no such workplace as one that has true flexibility, I’m sure there are plenty, but I also know from my experience and that of my working mama friends, that they are a rare and much coveted breed. If my cherub is up for a student of the week award and I want to go witness that moment of seeing her eyes light up, then damn it, I’m not running that by anyone.

When I rebranded Blue51 Communications, a huge part of my why was walking the tightrope between my work and my family commitments, however, it’s not the main why, the why why, if you will. 

I wasn’t particularly familiar with the world of small business (other than other freelancers such as graphic designers and web developers) until my last in-house communications role. I managed communications for a not-for-profit membership organisation, where a lot of that client base were people with small businesses. When word got out that I was leaving, a number of members contacted me for outsourced communications and writing support for their own small businesses. These were people who had seen how I had turned around that organisation’s communications and wanted to see what magic I could work on their business. I caught a glimpse of a need requiring fulfilment. 

When I looked around to see what communications services were around to help people like this, I was really quite shocked to discover a big, fat gaping hole in the market. Well, honestly, it was a mix of shock and delight- I’d uncovered a fabulous opportunity for my work life. It really struck me that there was a need for no BS communications and writing services that cut to the core of what a business needs, and excluded all the crap that they didn’t (highway overpass advertising, I’m looking at you). Businesses need to tell their story in a way that connects to their audience. I love little else other than telling a story. Add growing a business with beautiful communications and I’m one happy Word Nerd. 

But who to offer my skills and expertise to? The diversity of a client mix appealed to me greatly opposed to the relative static environment of in-house communications. People who were approaching me had fantastic business offerings, but lacked effective messaging to get their ideal client to take notice of them and see their value. There’s a lot of people who lack the skillset in communications to showcase their business effectively, but rather than work with just anyone, I wanted to be considerate and deliberate about who I worked with. A couple of key clients cemented this- I only wanted (and still am committed to this) to work with people who are doing good stuff out in the world in their special zone of bliss. It’s very Jerry McGuire-esque, but more than anything, I wanted to be inspired in my work life.  Ooh, do I spy a who? Why yes, indeed!

Boom- my why and my who and my what clarified! Now, what to call this mofo and close off this brand story?

 

I wanted some distance between myself and my business (work/life balance, y’all). I bid farewell to Holly Cardamone Communications and got out a big sheet of blank paper and some coloured textas, which is where all the good stuff happens. 

I was on holiday on a beautiful tropical South Pacific island, reflective and serene, when the word ‘blue’ kept rising to the forefront. Blue water, blue skies, blue cocktails. Blue is calming and ordered yet makes an indisputable impact. Think of a splash of blue against a white backdrop, or the slash of a white cloud on a blue sky. Packs a punch, yes?

Without getting too esoteric or woo-woo (soooo not me!), blue is the colour of water, the sea and the sky with all the associated symbolic references of calm, peace, stability, security and loyalty. It’s associated with depth and stability, symbolising trust, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth and integrity. Whilst in my communications I make sure cliches are avoided like the plague (get it, get it, see what I did there?), they often have a basis in an elemental truth. Blue skies are emblematic of optimism, creativity and opportunity and are full of positive meaning in almost every culture- after all, we live on the blue planet. It was decided- the word blue had to be front and centre of my refreshed business name.

As for the meaning of 51, I wish I could give you a symbolic reference to the deeper intention of numerology, but alas. They’re a pair of numbers that were the respective favourites of two Blue51 cherubs I know.

So Blue51 Communications is my business name; my tagline is ‘tell your story’. Why? Because nothing connects like a good story, and as a Word Nerd, story is at the heart of all my communications. 

Tell me, does your business have a compelling brand story? If you’d like help telling yours, please contact me. It’s my second favourite thing to do. 

Holly Cardamone bio

This is a post in my Holly’s Story blog category. Each month, I share some insights, thoughts and behind the scenes shenanigans from my communications and writing for business adventures. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a buzz, and I’ll do my best to help, or address it in an upcoming blog post or on my social media platforms.