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September 11, 2017 - No Comments!

Five podcasts to boost your creative career

I bet you’ve been in one of these situations recently. Stuck on a terrible commute with only a crumpled Metro newspaper for distraction. Facing (and dreading) a morning of household chores. Or maybe you’re working on a project that doesn’t require 100% creative brain power and is a little...snore.

It’s times like these a great podcast can be your saviour. I know I’m a little late to the wonders of the audio world but wow, what an amazing and entertaining (free!) resource. But, podcasts can offer more than simple boredom relief. There’s a wealth of valuable insight, advice and inspiration at your fingertips. As a career coach, I know how important it is for clients to have a motivated, engaged and curious mind set for achieving career goals and creative success.

So, in no particular order I wanted to share with you five podcasts that I think are great for those working in the creative world!

1. Vulnerability as a Creative with Brené Brown

Brené Brown is a highly regarded research professor specialising in vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She's also just great to listen to - upbeat and full of great ideas. in this podcast she talks about how creatives experience vulnerability, rejection, perfectionism, and discomfort, and offers insight into how to only listen to the opinions of those who matter. She also shares some great tools for staying resilient when your  work doesn’t quite get the desired attention or reaction.

(56 mins)

  1. Seth Godin on Creativity, Writer’s Block, and What It Sounds Like When You Change Your Mind

Seth Godin is an author and entrepreneur who is genuinely excited about marketing, respect and the way ideas spread. Here he talks to Brian Koppelman about the concept of “certainty”, whether writer’s block really exists and why Seth used to ask the question “How many gas stations are there in the United States?” when interviewing potential employees. The two also reflect on different artists, how they approach their work and why fear is a usually a good indication that you're doing something right.

(58 mins)

  1. How To Grow Your Business & Find Time For The Creative Work, Too

In this dinky podcast Marie Forleo addresses how as a creative, you have to market and grow your business. But how do you do that and still have enough time to create? Here’s your answer!

(9 mins)

  1. Noah Kagan: Stop Fighting What You Are Good At

Noah Kagan was sacked from Facebook. He was their 30th employee. “I think they made the right decision to fire me, “ he said. “One of the big realisations I’ve had in the past years is that people need to stop fighting their natural skill. My sweet spot is getting things going. That was the lesson learned. What I was strong at was not what Facebook needed anymore.” In this podcast James Altucher (he's also had an extremely interesting career, having run several companies, lost everything and gained it back) talks to Noah about finding work that uses your natural strengths - something I believe is the key to real success!

(120 mins)

  1. TED Radio Hour

Don’t have the time to watch all those TEDx talks your friends keep sending you? Listen to them instead with the Ted Radio Hour. There were too many to select just one so have a look around for topics that float your boat. Recent episodes include exploring how Big Data will reshape the world and why we lie. Awesome.


June 7, 2017 - No Comments!

Have a tough decision to make? Here's how to make it wisely...

When we have to make a big decision it can quickly become painful and all consuming. I’m not talking about choosing curtains or deciding which Pret sandwich to have for lunch, I mean the real humdingers. Like whether to leave a job that tops up your bank account each month but destroys your soul. Or ending a relationship with someone you really like but know isn’t for you long term.

What we truly want and what is best for us can be hard to make sense of, so here’s a thought recipe to help you understand your feelings and find the best way forward.

  1. Write down the tough decision and the possible choices you’ve identified so far.
  2. Think about each choice in turn paying attention to how you feel about it in three different places - your head, your heart and your gut.
  3. Write down all your thoughts and feelings for each.

Here’s a little more information about what head, heart and guts are to help you:

Your head is your conscious reasoning - the sensible voice that approaches any dilemma rationally and logically. It’s a good one to listen to when you’ve had an especially shit day and are considering running away to join the circus.

Your gut instinct is the mysterious yet compelling feeling we have about something but don’t know why. It’s automatic and guided by our unconscious mind. Our brain processes the situation so quickly we can’t explain what we feel. It’s your gut instinct talking when we take an instant dislike to someone.

Your heart considers values, joy, pleasure and love when making decisions.

If you’re able to reflect honestly on all three parts you’ll start to get clarity and also challenge any unhelpful thoughts or feelings. `But, you can’t rely on any one in isolation to make the best decision.

Be wary of your brain. How many of us have taken a promotion because the money’s great, it’s a logical next career move but our hearts just aren’t in it. In fact, the idea of doing this kind of role in 10 years time leaves an awful sinking feeling (me!).

But following your heart can sometimes result in chasing an implausible dream. I love eating chocolate ice cream but realistically don’t think I can make money from that (or can I? No, no I can’t).

You’ll have met people who say they trust their gut instinct above all when making big life decisions. Our gut instinct has evolved over our entire lifetime to make lightning speed judgments based on patterns from our past. Sounds smart huh? But these unconscious processes aren’t always working in our best interest. They can result in decisions based on bias, prejudice and flaws.  A good example of this is fear – feeling fear could actually be an unconscious hangover from a past experience that’s similar but not the same to the current one. Examine the evidence for this feeling before writing something off based on fear alone.

Are things getting clearer yet? Have more choices appeared?

Okay, so it’s not a simple process but reflecting on what your combined head heart and guts tell you might help narrow down and understand your true feelings. This new awareness should then enable you to take an informed step forward confidently.

So, what would you really like to do? If you’d like to do some quality thinking together about your situation feel free to get in touch ☺

May 4, 2017 - No Comments!

Working with Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like a big old fake at work? That you don’t deserve success and could be exposed as not having a clue what you’re doing? If so, you’ve probably been experiencing a psychological phenomenon called ‘Imposter Syndrome’.  It’s an awful mix of fear, underconfidence and self doubt that’s surprisingly experienced by lots of people. It’s believed that 70% of us suffer from imposter syndrome during their working life – and it’s doing no of us any favours, especially professionally.

With imposter syndrome, no one is immune. It’s not just those new to a role or at the start of their career that it strikes. People who are really thriving at work and considered successful are equally susceptible, in fact, the better you are doing the more opportunity imposter syndrome has to rear its ugly head and smack you in the face.

I read Maya Angelou, a successful novelist saying; “I have written 11 books but each time I think 'Uh-oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody and they're going to find me out’”.

Ok, some context. Angelou is at the top of her field and is publically recognised as hugely successful. She’s been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, won five Grammys and is an acclaimed author - yet imposter syndrome has still wiggled it's way it. If you’re a sufferer, be comforted that imposter syndrome rarely reflects reality – it’s an emotional hotpot of all the irrational beliefs and fears we have about ourselves.

It was the 1970’s when psychologists first identified imposter syndrome, but it’s still around today, perhaps thanks to our economically unstable, highly competitive labour market. As a career coach I’ve had numerous clients bring their imposter into the coaching room.

I’ve coached a marketing CEO who told me she once left midway through a meeting to read a copy of “Marketing for Dummies” she keeps in her car. A management consultant who believed at any moment a colleague could suddenly say, “What the hell are you doing here? You can’t do this job, let someone who knows what they’re doing take over” before escorting her from the building.

This particular ‘being exposed’ scenario is a common one for those with imposter syndrome fear and play out mentally. Artist and musician Amanda Palmer described a similar fear of having someone knock at her door and finding her out - "I call these fictional people the ‘Fraud Police’ and they're just going to tell you: 'We figured it out, and we're taking it all away.'"

These are quite shocking examples but I’ve also seen imposter syndrome manifest more subtly, in ways that might also be holding you back from achieving career happiness.

I meet experienced professionals totally tongue tied when asked to identify skills and strengths they use every day successfully at work. Or when they are able to identify them, very quickly attribute them to external forces. I’ve seen CVs brimming with evidence of ability and accomplishment but described as being down to luck, or timing, the input of others or result of good blagging. This mind set won’t help us perform well at interviews or in networking situations, when succinctly and confidently being able to tell someone what we have to offer can open doors to new opportunity.

The bad news is, if you’re a sufferer it’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of imposter syndrome. But the good news - there are ways to beat it!

Tina Fey shared her approach to tackling imposter syndrome saying; “you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” Here are my thoughts on how to banish the imposter and embrace your worth.

  1. Acknowledge it – being able to recognise what it is when it arises is half the battle. Read up and then talk to others when you feel its grip. Seeing the response from others about your fears or hearing their own can be all you need to squash your imposter.
  2. Challenge it – record evidence of your successes and achievements to refer to. This could be a simple list on your phone to read through or a symbol of your achievements such as an award or certificate. Presenting yourself with some kind of hard evidence should help to dissipate the feeling.
  3. Embrace it – If you sufferer you’re likely to be successful at work and humble to boot. Take comfort that it’s very unlikely you’re a narcissist or psychopath if you have imposter syndrome 😉
  4. Shift it – is there a particular event that triggers your imposter? Can you acquire more skill or knowledge to help combat it? Turn your fear into curiosity and use it to grow and learn.

Perfectionism is imposter syndrome's perfect partner, accept that sometimes good enough is, well, good enough. Being kinder and more accepting of ourselves could be the first step needed to banish imposter syndrome and allow us to really flourish professionally.

March 30, 2017 - No Comments!

Feeling stressed? Five things you can do right now that will help.

Some pressure at work can be motivating, but there are times when we can feel too stressed for too long. A bad day, a difficult conversation or a project that’s going south can soon trigger waves of anxiety and stress that just won’t go away. Doing nothing and not taking control of the situation will only make the problem worse. We know we need to eat healthily, take holidays, sleep well and exercise to achieve long term Zen, but that’s not much use at the times when you feel like your head is about to explode! Here are five stress busting ideas to try in the moment.

Sharing what’s stressing you out can be an emotional release and help bring you back to neutral. Get it out of your head and off your chest. But being too vocal about everything that’s going badly for you can also be disruptive and annoying for the rest of your team. Emailing some thoughts to yourself rather than blabbing them all over the office will engage your body physically and mentally and allow your brain to slow down. And it makes for a friendlier office. In the long term, try and create a strong support network outside of work; a friend you trust, a family member or seek professional support that will allow you to vent without risk to your work reputation.

If a creative block or tricky problem is stressing you out, leave your desk and go for a walk. The fluid nature of walking encourages the mind to flow freely and feel at ease with new ideas. Research suggests that ‘creative output’ can increase by 60% after a short walk. Countless generations of poets, writers, philosophers and artists have known this, and often walked for inspiration. Walking also encourages clarity of mind and purpose, which is why Steve Jobs hiked in the hills above San Francisco with his designers and board members before making important decisions. And he wasn’t alone – Aristotle, Einstein and President Obama all walked to clarify their ideas.
Say no
Another email hits your inbox asking you to quickly just amend a file. Having the confidence to say ‘no’ can be a total game changer in these frequently stressful work situations. When you’re sure it’s the right decision, take control and be clear with others why right now, it has to be ‘no’. In the long run, your ability to say ‘no’ will be one of your most valuable attributes. Understanding when to put the brakes on at work can benefit not just your well being and quality of work but your wider teams.
It might seem simple but when was the last time you actually stopped and took a big deep conscious breath? Sometimes that’s all it takes to reduce stress and instantly feel better. Mindfulness is a really popular tool for combating stress. Adding just one short mindfulness exercise into your daily routine can help reduce your stress levels in the long term. And as they are breath or body focused, you can do them at your desk or on the bus to work and no one will even notice. Here are some nice, simple ones.


A good giggle has fantastic short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally; it actually induces physical changes in your body. You take in more oxygen-rich air and this stimulates your organs and releases those fabulous endorphins. Laughing kicks off and then cools down your stress response and also gets your heart racing. The result? A good, relaxed feeling that soothes tension ahhhh. Find something online that never fails to crack you up and keep it close. BBC News supplied a beauty last week that also might help put your own level of work stress in perspective.

Have a stress free week 🙂

February 20, 2017 - No Comments!

Is being liked at work vital for career success?

A year or so ago, I remember having coffee with a friend who was unhappy at work. She was clashing horns with a tough client and wanted more support from her team. She described meetings when she felt her team just didn’t have her back.

I asked about how her team got on in general, beyond the actual work. Does she know much about them? Who they are, what they like to do at the weekends? She said looked a little confused and said “No, not really.”

When I asked her why, her response was this: “I was told years ago not to be too friendly with people at the office. It’s not professional, I just want to get my head down and work.”

This came up again more recently with Jess* a coaching client. She came to me for help coming to terms with a recent redundancy. Jess felt angry and confused about losing her job and believed she had performed well in her role. She couldn’t understand why she hadn’t been valued more by her boss.

We dug deeper.

I asked how positive her work relationships were. And it started to make sense to Jess. She discovered that at work she came across as closed, disinterested in her colleagues as people and didn’t really interact. This lack of connection seemed to link directly to her co-workers not understanding her; how well she did her job, who she was. And even when they did understand - it was all one sided, she wasn’t well liked by her colleagues so…no one fought to save her. Ouch.

Invest in your likeability

In both instances, Jess and my friend shared a belief that may have been their undoing. They believed that making a conscious effort to raise their likeability at work would lower their perceived competency and professionalism.
But hang on, study after study proves that we’d rather work with someone nice and slightly incompetent, versus someone we don’t really know/like who is very good at their job.
Ideally, you already have that magical combination of being incredibly well liked and brilliant at your job! But if there’s room for improvement, here are a couple of interesting articles that suggest likeability should become part of your career success strategy.

Research findings - Key to good team work - be nice!

Google spent years researching hundreds of their teams to identify and understand what it takes to create a successful, happy and productive workforce. The conclusion… being nice.
But what is it that makes us like someone at work?

Article - How people judge you

Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist says trust and respect are key. People see these in two ways, through your warmth and competence. In her research she also found most people, especially at work, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, it proves that they are talented and skilled enough to do the work. But in fact, warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate your likeability and value as a colleague.

Cosmopolitan - Work friends could be key to career success

Some great reasons here why we are happier and do better work when we have some work pals.
So ask yourself, are you likeable? Are you friendly? Are you making an effort to get to know people?

Most important: Do you think people understand what you do and why it’s important to your company?

If not, maybe its time to make a brew for your team and have a good ‘ol chin wag.

*not her real name.