It’s perfectly OK to disengage from the web sometimes

29 July

This Friday, I’m swapping thinking and analysing for physical exertion in some German hills! I’ve enjoyed telling my friends (and more significantly, myself) just how much I need space to tune out and unplug. So, this is a vacation notice with a difference; I want to share some ideas on how to slow down and disengage. Not just for two weeks, but with regular intention. This is a positive post about being mindful and strategic about how we spend our time online.

It is perfectly OK to disengage from the web sometimes

Sometimes we need a break from catchy headlines and quote-covered photos. I say this as a creator of both! I’m realising how essential it is to find ways to hit the pause button. I’m going to share some of the movements and thought leaders that have grabbed my attention lately.

I wish I could remember where I heard this quote; ‘With the internet, we now have the ability to outsource our internal ramblings’. This is such a mind-boggling and funny thought – as if we don’t have enough chatter going on inside our heads! Every day, I discover radically amazing ideas and people online but I need to find ways to filter through the constant distraction.

Here are three concepts that are aligning with my new ways of thinking; minimalism, physical movement and slowing down.

Minimalism

I came across The Minimalists at a time when I was seeking to simplify my life in general. As with all new life habits, they have a way of trickling into every area of life. I found that the minimalist mindset helped me re-structure my way of working too. Minimalism leads to clarity. Best of all, it cuts through the noise and clutter and helps us make better decisions.

Thought provokers –

  • I wrote a post on how minimalism can help you simplify your life and your business.
  • The No Sidebar website – A collection of articles on minimalism, productivity and simple living.

    Exercise and movement

    My work involves a mix of training and writing and I have become hyper conscious of my static, seated position. My body is yelling at me to move and I’m listening now! I regularly do Yoga and hill walking and set alarms for movement and stretch breaks. Physical movement throughout the day allows your ideas to peculate too.

    Thought provokers –

  • Alastair Humphreys is an outdoor adventurer and thrill seeker! I am fairly obsessed by his concept of MicroAdventures
  • Marcus John Henry Brown takes clients on creative walks so that they can come up with better ideas.
  • You might also choose to move and work from a new pop-up office occasionally.

    Slowing down

    I think it’s the nature of streaming online content that can makes us feel overwhelmed. ‘Fear of missing out’ syndrome is real but manageable! Becoming more mindful of how we consume and post content takes practice. Here are some thought-provoking articles on slowing down;

  • A Ted talk by Carl Honoré: In praise of slowness
  • Paulina Lenoir created a pair of excessively long shoes that force wearers to reconsider their daily routes and pace!

    Sometimes our best ideas come from the spaces in between focussed activity, when we pause for a moment. I want to assure you that effective social media marketing is not about spending every waking minute scrolling and typing. With some effort and planning, you can market your business mindfully. I’m always up for a chat if you need help with that.


    In the meantime, the business will be closed until Monday 17th August. I’m hoping for limited WiFi access as I trek near the Black Forest mountains!

    Image credit:
    Free stock image by Lianne Trevarthen via Magdeleine.co

  • What do adult colouring books and blogging training share in common?

    20 July

    There is a message surfing around the internet which is hard to miss – “Done is better than perfect”. (Mostly imagined) fears rattle around in our heads and hold us back from starting things. But today when I read an article about adult colouring books, it reminded me of something clients often say to me – “I’m not creative”. I’ve discovered that most of us need help in realising that we are creative. If we don’t believe this, it’s hard to put hand to keyboard and start publishing content.

    Creativity takes many forms and the visual form is the one that mostly springs to mind. But how about the art of words; people who can skilfully juxtapose words to inspire new meaning? A sharp wordsmith is a valuable asset to any business.

    First of all, what is an adult colouring book? It’s probably not what you think (and I dread the sea of spam comments that this title is going to attract!). Adult colouring books are designed to allow adults to be playful, just like kids. Colouring allows the brain to relax while still being creatively engaged. The key attraction seems to be that the user is not faced with a blank page. Someone provides you with an outline, which means that you don’t have to make that first mark on a glaring white page!

    Secret Garden

    “Many people fear the idea of filling a blank page, and this comes from the often misheld belief that they aren’t creative. By acting as an entry point into creative activity, adult colouring can help people to tackle this fear. Michael Bierut, my fellow partner at Pentagram, was recently discussing Johanna and her work on his podcast, Observatory, and he said “there is something great about giving people a way in with creativity, even if it has multiple training wheels on it,” and I agree. The great result of adult colouring is not the act itself, it’s the subsequent acts of creativity it inspires. It’s a gateway drug, if you like.”

    Quote from an ‘It’s Nice That’ article by Angus Hyland

    Starting to blog can feel like staring at a blank white page… it can feel incredibly scary at first. My job is in helping my clients in two ways;

  • To give you the confidence that you are indeed creative and have something valuable to say
  • To help you find your voice and give you the techniques and strategy to help you make it happen.

    Most of my posts are about getting you to think differently about marketing what you do. As Seth Godin recently said, no-one suffers from ‘talking block’. As a business owner, you are the best person to tell your story. Perhaps you need the equivalent of a colouring book outline to get you started?! Give me a call if you’d like to chat about some training.

    Here are some other posts I’ve written to inspire new business bloggers:

  • How to set sane, humane reasonable goals
  • Invest in Mattering
  • Let’s make friends with the idea of business blogging first!

    Image credit
    The illustration above is taken from ‘Secret Garden‘ by Johanna Basford.

  • Head Space #2 – how to set ‘sane, humane and reasonable goals’!

    9 July

    Headspace is a new series on the blog. I’m going to share thought-triggering ideas with you. Do with them what you will! Comment, share or start a new movement. People tell me that I’m a great curator of content but that’s a (fabulous but) fancy word for being curious! I like to bounce ideas around and start interesting conversations. I’m inviting you to pause and hold a single idea in your head for a while… and share what comes up.

    Alexandra Franzen planted a wonderful suggestion in my head. It rolls to the surface whenever I need to be kinder to myself.

    Head Space - ideas to challenge the way you look at the world!

    So why is this idea so powerful? As business owners (and regular humans), we often set ourselves ridiculous targets. We scribble lengthy ‘to do’ lists, knowing that we won’t have the time to accomplish them. Alex wants to help us break this loop – She suggests that we can be kinder to ourselves, by setting manageable goals.

    Let’s look at the example of writing a business blog. When I train owners how to write a blog, there is usually some concern around how much time it will take. It’s a totally valid question. Here’s how I tackle this issue with my clients:

    I ask; What is a sane, humane and reasonable goal for you? Could you commit to writing one or two posts a month? What might that involve? Maybe your goal is to practice writing for 15 minutes every day or for an hour on Sundays. Whatever you choose, start with small realistic goals. Being kind to yourself always pays off! You’ll be more productive and much calmer”.

    As a trainer, I start by getting you excited about sharing your ideas on the web. Then I help you to to create systems and strategies that work for you. It’s amazing what you can achieve if you set yourself sane, humane, reasonable goals!

    If you’re thinking about writing a blog or would like some help simplifying what you do – give me a call on 087 635 5655. I’d love to hear from you!

    More inspiration for you:
    This post is part of a series called Head Space.
    Simplify your life – How minimalism can help you simplify your life and business.
    Learn a new habit in 30 days –Your 30 day challenge to start your blog.

    Collaboration, collectives and coffee dates

    25 May

    In the last eighteen months, I’ve had one-to-one coffee dates with 33 people. (I surprised myself with that quick tally!) Here’s what I’ve learned –

    When you’re in business, it matters who you surround yourself with. You get to choose your dream board of directors! These people can exist in the ‘real’ world or on the web. As with our personal life, we need to choose who we spend our time with wisely.

    As an entrepreneur, I sometimes need to get outside of my own head. That’s why I actively seek out interesting people to talk to. I come away with new ideas and ways of thinking every time. I hope it works both ways. Lately I’ve been asked to join a couple of small ‘Mastermind’ groups. The purpose of these confidential networks is to support each member as we dream and do bigger things! This post is about the serendipitous magic of collaboration and how we can seek it out.

    I choose to spend hours listening to business audio pod-casts. I like taking a break from reading so I can treat my ears! Today I’m sharing a 12 minute podcast with Tod Henry from the Accidental Creative. In it, he talks about how innovation is about “groups of people stumbling into the unknown together” and how “We need other people in our lives if we want to do our best work”.

    Listen to Tod’s podcast: Your Collective over on The Accidental Creative website.

    The Accidental Creative podcast

    Would you like to have your own audio adventures? Here are some of my favourite business podcasts. I change them up all the time and some presenters now feel like old friends! I pop on my headphones anywhere and everywhere…

    • The secret psychology of persuasion by web psychologist Natalie Nahai. “Nathalie helps businesses psychologically optimise their online engagement, by applying scientific rigour to their design process. In “The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty”, she will be sharing strategies and tools that you can use to enhance your online presence.”
    • The unmistakeable Creative with Srinivas Rao – “interviews with creative entrepreneurs, artists, explorers and insanely interesting people.”
    • On Being with Krista Tippett – “On Being takes up the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers — some you know and others you’ll love to meet.”
    • London Real with Brian Rose – “London Real is the video talk show that introduces you to the most fascinating people on the planet.”
    • Ted Radio hour – “A journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create. Based on riveting TEDTalks from the world’s most remarkable minds.”
    • Louder than words with John Bonini – “Louder Than Words delivers the creative inspiration you need to be a more successful entrepreneur, writer, designer, or creator in general.”

    Three Thought Bubbles favourite business podcasts

    The idea behind this post is simple; I want to you to imagine your dream board of directors. Who will stretch you – who will support you – who will help you to be part of something bigger than yourself? The flip-side of this idea is that you get to help other people to achieve even greater things too.

    I’d love you to share your favourite podcasts in a comment or over on Twitter – you’ll find me @3thoughtbbls
     

    Invest in mattering…

    25 March

    Invest in mattering

    I’m a curator of ideas and I love sharing them with others. A single thought can brighten your day or set you on a new track. It can convince you that there are more viewpoints than you thought possible. Here’s one that has been lodged in my brain for weeks – Invest in Mattering.

    Seth Godin threw this idea out into the world and I caught it! I’ve since shared it with as many people as I can. Here’s his idea. The old style of marketing was about shouting – interrupting people and telling them about your great products. Things are different now though. Social media is about building relationships and trust – so the shouty stuff makes us cross. We want to discover things ourselves and ask for help if we need it. There’s a sense of adventure in discovering things online. We like to follow a serendipitous trail of links to find our pot of gold!

    Invest in Mattering. Decide to matter in what you make and to matter in the way that you talk about it.

    Seth Godin

    Yesterday I gave a talk for to the Start Network on how to humanise your business on the web. I spoke about the two things I believe strongly:

    Businesses need to have clarity on what they do and who they help. And they need to find meaningful ways to communicate their message with their niche customers. By definition, that means repelling certain people.

    Here’s the result – You have greater confidence because you can articulate your offerings clearly and your customers have greater confidence in you because they know that what you’re offering is exactly what they need.

    Austin Kleon wrote a great post on what he calls the ‘So what’ test. He talks about how we have a natural inclination to share things and be generous. However, we should always stop and ask ourselves this question first; Is it useful or interesting?

    So what test

    Yesterday I asked the audience at my talk to consider what they wanted to be known for. I think it’s a question worth considering carefully. Once you know what it is, you can start building on this reputation. You can post with real intention so you that you have a memorable and consistent online story.

    What do you want to be the go-to person for? You get to choose!

    Further reading
    Austin Kleon’s post on The So What? test
    The Start Network Facebook page

    Listen and learn – #Cong14 podcasts about social media + business

    11 March

    How about treating your ears to a new learning experience? Today, I’m inviting you to listen and learn – to literally hear ideas in a new way. I’m sharing an audio library filled with thought-swirling ideas on how social media and business connect. Last year I attended a social media ‘un-conference’in Cong, (review in a previous post). In order to ‘earn’ a ticket, attendees submitted a short article on a social topic that interested them. In this post I share some audio versions of these posts read by their authors.

    To set the scene, here is Gianni Catalfamo who travelled from Italy to ‘huddle‘ with social geeks in the remote village of Cong. Rather than reading an article, Giovanni talks about what he calls the ‘experience’ of Cong. I love his quote – “I found myself entangled in lots of interesting discussions…listening for me and engaging in conversations was much more rewarding than delivering a speech.” This quote sums up what Cong was all about; meeting interesting people in person and having spontaneous two-way conversations.

    There are 26 audio posts currently in the Soundcloud collection – and 62 written posts available in the CongRegation eBook.


    Here are a few that struck a chord with me –

    Joy RedmondIf Content is King then Research is Emperor
    Synopsis: Quality research will always have a seat at the table. Here are 5 good reasons to put primary research on your agenda: 1) Developing relevant, accurate marketing 2) Establishing credibility 3) Feeding product development 4) Gaining Media Exposure 5) Making a contribution.

    Alastair Mc Dermott
    What hope for us, the anti-social?
    Synopsis: Social media is not for everyone. Make a conscious decision on whether it’s for you.

    Alan TyrrellConnected To Discontentment Through The Connectivity Paradox
    Synopsis: In our hyperconnected world, are we multi-tasking or multi-failing?

    Roseanne Smith
    What’s in my handbag: My Favourite WordPress Plugins.
    Synopsis: A roundup of my current favourite WordPress plugins including tips on how I choose from the multitude of plugins available in the WordPress Directory..

    My own post is called ‘Is there a human in there?’
    Synopsis: I am continually intrigued by how businesses present themselves on the web. I believe that brands must become more human online if they want to connect with potential customers.

    I highly recommend that you come along to CongRegation later this year – the #cong15 date has been set for November 28th 2015. Eoin Kennedy is collecting your ‘expressions of interest’!

    Are you up for it?

    How minimalism can help you simplify your life and your business

    3 March

    A concept that has been on my radar for years has suddenly taken centre stage.

    M i n i m a l i s m

    I know that simplifying my life makes me happier. And it makes me more productive. What started as a personal way of living is now a guide to how I work and train other business owners. Having business clarity gives you huge focus. This helps customers understand how you can help them. And it helps you relax and remember why you started this business!.

    Business clarity
    You’re probably wondering how a minimalist technique can help you and your business?

    It’s a sweet and simple answer! You get to focus on doing less (only the things you enjoy doing and do well and have the biggest impact) and you have more time to do them effectively (time management gets much easier).

    Here’s what I hear when I train clients – you are sometimes deafened by the noise! There is a sea of content on the web to explore + you’re wired (and very good at) seeking answers. You’re being promised the ‘Top 5 tips’ to every business problem out there. But how do you sift through all those shiny objects and find what really matters to you and your business? I have discovered that we need to stop and focus on our direction first. What do you want from your life and business today?

    This post is the first in a series about how to simplify how you ‘do’ business. I’ll also be exploring the areas of

    Life purpose
    Ongoing learning
    Goal setting and achieving
    Self confidence – it’s central to all of this and may deserve a complete series to itself!

    Have a listen to this short clip with Leo Babauta from Zen Habits
    . In it, he describes how minimalism has been a tool that has helped him learn how he works, how his mind works and how change works.



    Here is one minimalist idea that is influencing me right now

    I use a time management app called Toggl which helps me to plan and review how I spend my time. At first, it felt awkward (and annoying!) but the results are amazing. I can clearly see how I am spending my time. Did I really spend that much time on Twitter? And how much time did I spend seeking work? These are questions we must ask ourselves. It’s all about becoming more aware about how we work – what’s working and what needs to change?

    As business owners, we have so much to learn from each other. I want this series to be a place to share and inspire each other. All comments are welcomed below. Would you like some professional, structured help reviewing your business? I have a new training class called Subtract which focuses on doing less but doing it better. I’d love to help you!

    Reference links:
    Leo Babauta from Zen Habits
    The Minimalists website

    Stop, think, post – how to do social media with intention

    5 February

    Firstly, I want you to STOP and think about how using social media makes you feel. As a user, are you drowning in a sea of interesting but instantly forgettable finds? As a poster, are you struggling to create ‘stuff’ to share? Now, I want to plant a seed in your head! Is there any intention behind what you are doing? Is what you are saying, posting or sharing adding real value to other people? Or are you contributing to the sea of forgettable finds?

    The internet is bubbling with content + our working day has become filled with distraction. I think we can all relate to that, myself included! Today, I want you to think about what you push out into the world.

    What is your intention? Who are you helping? Will this be of use to anyone? Who will care? And the biggest one of all ‘Am I just seeking validation?’

    Stop, think, post – how to do social media with intention


    If we stopped seeking validation and started doing great things that helped other people, I believe that the internet and the 3D world would be a better place!

    I’m encouraging you to post less frequently and share quality content – Content that adds true value to whoever your audience is. Slowing your posting pace will make you feel more relaxed (bonus!) and will strengthen and simplify your brand message.

    I also believe in 30-day-challenges – maybe my previous post will inspire you to spend a month focussing on your social media intentions?! I help people to de-clutter their business model and simplify their message so others can understand it. Learning to share content with intention is at the heart of everything I teach.

    My training comes in different shapes and sizes. Give me a call if you’d like to chat about posting with intention!.

     
    Photo credit: John Goodridge
     

    How do we judge our own business ideas?

    28 January

    You are often the worst judge of your own ideas

    I read an article that begged to be dissected in my head and then shared with others! Tod Henry’s post is called “You are the worst judge of your own ideas”. So severe but perhaps so true! He describes the life story of a great idea from simple hunch to successful conclusion. He says that we need other people to help us interpret and ‘try out’ our business ideas. They are the ones who can give us the feedback on what is worth pursuing.

    …The ideas that find their way into the conversations and processes of others are often the very ones that have been selected by the group to be adoptable and practical. Thus, the creator is often the worst judge of the value of their own creation.

    This is why it’s so important to have sounding boards, circles, and groups of peers who can offer feedback on your work. Something that is obvious to you may not be obvious to others, while something that you think is profound might be opaque or impractical. Who tells you the truth?

    Tod Henry

    On Friday I’m giving a workshop on Storytelling for business and I’m excited about the discussions we’re going to have. As business owners, we spend so much time inside our own heads! We all need time to think about what we do in a playful way – to listen to other people’s suggestions – to throw ideas ideas out and see what comes back! Then we can put our ideas back in neater boxes and create strategies…

    Try this out – talk to as many people as you can. Share your ideas and be a sounding board for others too. Let me know if you need help with that!

    Credit:
    Read Ted’s original post on his website TodHenry.com

    Let’s make friends with the idea of business blogging first! Simplifying your decision to blog into 5 simple steps.

    5 January

    Blogging is great for business but taking the first leap can feel scary – I totally understand that! I train business owners how to confidently tell their story on the web. Today, I’m simplifying your decision to blog into 5 simple steps. Let’s make friends with the idea first and demystify what’s involved!

    tips-to-help-you-launch-your-business-blog-1

    I know you’re scared! Listen to your fears.

    Give them a name. Write them down. (See if you can laugh at them – optional). What other things have you mastered recently that stretched you? Give yourself credit for these things! Now, what is your real fear here?

    Inspiring post: This post covers the concerns of one of my past clients “5 fears about blogging and how to tackle them”.

    Result: Blogging will help you to overcome your fears of ‘putting yourself out there’.

     5 Tips to help you launch your business blog

    Who’s telling your business story? It’s time to own your online identity!

    Is the outside-in view of your business the same as the inside out? Can you improve how your brand is experienced on the web? Google your business name and see what results come up. Now it’s time for you to create the content that you want people to discover about you.

    Inspiring post: Irish butchers are blogging brilliantly

    Result: You get to influence your ‘up to date’ online reputation.

    5 tips to help you launch your business blog.

    “I’m going to do this” – commit to writing a business blog!

    Well done – what’s next? Observe what you like and dislike on the web. What brands do you feel a connection with? What makes you click away? Start collecting these examples to inspire you. Pick a name for your blog. Get advice on choosing a blogging platform such as Blogger or WordPress. Decide whether you will host your blog yourself. Keep asking for help!

    Inspiring post; Your 30 day challenge to start your blog.

    Result: You value your own opinions, beliefs and skills and are confident to share them.

    5 tips to help you launch your business blog.

    Create a plan – Who are you writing this blog for and what do they need help with?

    A blog is like a living business plan – it literally highlights what you do best. But first you have to spend time coming up with a flexible plan and strategy. This guide will make it easy to create content that your customers want to read.

    Result: Your blogging plan makes your blog effective but it also makes it easier and more fun for you to write! Tomas

    5 tips to help you launch your business blog

    Treat yourself – place value on learning this new skill.

    As a blogger, you will need patience as well as a willingness to learn from your mistakes. That sentence is worth re-reading!

    There is so much help and support out there. Treat yourself to books, take on and offline training courses, get to know other bloggers. The brilliant thing about blogging is that you can learn at your pace and in bite-sized modules.

    Inspiring post: How do you feel about learning a new skill?

    Result: You are upskilling and adding value to your skill-set.

    I train business owners how to write an authentic blog. I believe that we all need to become more human on the web. And we need to own our online brand – that means hosting our content rather than relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter that might disappear tomorrow!

    Here are some posts from the Three Thought Bubbles blog to inspire you:

  • “5 fears about business blogging and how to tackle them”
  • How to find time to blog
  • Surviving the competition – clue; it’s not all about you!
  • Your 30 day challenge to start your blog
  • Feeling like a child in a sweet shop with Heston Blumenthal
  • 5 reasons why a business blog is better than a Facebook page
  • Recommended reading Blogging for creatives by Robin Houghton

    I can help you do this – I give workshops and one to one training on how to write a business blog. I will be your supportive coach and accountability buddy.

    I understand that you may need some reassurance before making your decision – now is a great time to start that conversation with me. Let’s chat about the best training style for you. Read about Three Thought Bubbles training options on the blog – all one to one sessions are customised to suit your needs.