Speed dating, Love Knots and “Go-giving” favours

favours 2

It was a friend’s luggage label that did it.

She provoked me to think again about my business message and my marketing.  Her buff, pointed business card was unique, possibly homemade. (The stationary equivalent of “vintage shabby chic”).  It restored my faith in the medium of the business card as a unique, warm and friendly exchange rather than a fervent and desperate investment.

I thought of the parable of the sower, that this seed was individually planted and watered rather than it being merely scattered carelessly within the vicinity. But then she is a Marketing expert!

There is, for me a sadly over-blown promise of card exchange at business speed dating events. I don’t attend them anymore.  Instead, a quaint gesture I learned from a very successful businessman restored some value to this tradition. This was the respectful Chinese etiquette in receipt of an offered card.  Both hands simultaneously receive the offered corners, with the slightest bow of the head in gratitude and appreciation.

In the four years since I started the adventure of business building, opinion seems to have shifted regarding the value of having and using a business card. My first exposure to a globally successful business network left me incredulous and nervous at the prescribed rules, behaviours and expectations upon its members. Other events though informal were still a strain for me and I eventually retreated to work hard on my brand.

Meanwhile, my overly optimistically ordered box of business cards has rarely seen the light of day.

Yet there is something missing in my reliance these days upon social media and URL links. I searched to think of another offering that intends to rouse a warm and fuzzy feeling. What else perfectly times and links symbolic representation with a valuable meeting?

……..It would be the wedding favour.

The tradition of giving wedding guests favours came to the UK in the sixteenth century.  Then, we exchanged love knots made of ribbons and lace.  Often, at a wedding, around fifty percent of the guests are unknown to each other.  Yet there is a very obvious common interest and a genuine curiosity about each other’s relationship and connection. It is a time of celebration, the making of memorable promises and the witnessing of a life event to savour and recollect.

Five sugar almonds

I want the impact of my business card to be the difference between the serviette that I use and discard straight after the wedding breakfast and the favour that I will keep and reflect upon.  For at least a few weeks afterward; maybe much longer.

One of my mentors has always been clear about the trend of e-business book writing and the catchphrase that writing a book is like having a “glorified business card”.  So what is so special about a glorified disposable?

Nothing especially permanent.

We have got it the wrong way around.

I want my business card to be a “book in miniature”. It’s a distillation of promise and expectation, a token of thanks for sharing the ceremony of meeting. It’s my little favour bag of five sugar almonds to say “I value you. Thank you for the attention you gave me today, let me give you some back”.

A business card is not “Do me a favour and look me up sometime”.  No one goes back to the hotel to comb through the trash for a used serviette. Neither should we expect anyone to revisit a conversation that was one sided and self-serving.

I suppose I’m challenging you and me to be prepared to carry and communicate a clear cause rather than a vested interest.

I’m going back to revisit my proposition and package some of THAT sense of occasion along with four years’ worth of product and service refinements.

Eventually even favours are eaten or go stale. Let’s keep our business value and marketing genuinely fresh!

I would be fascinated to know  if you are using business cards or a variation on that theme, have dispensed with them or recently decided to re-design them. I’ll be testing some designs in the next few weeks. Do add your thoughts to the conversation!

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Now we are One! Reflections on my first year as an author

 

 

 

binding

First of all, thanks to an amazing new friend @thoughtsofjane and her sparky blog https://hellocreativecrowd.wordpress.com/ for her invitation to guest blog and share this with my tribe too….

How did the concept for Disentangling Genius come about?

I knew I had a powerful story about recognising and overcoming frustration.  It had been such a blight upon my life and all my conscientious efforts.  I remembered a vivid recurring childhood nightmare about a scribbly line that would rear up and terrifyingly blacken my whole vision, retracting and disappearing and re-scribbling itself furiously.

What inspired the name of the book?

I took this recollection and the metaphor of a similarly tangled ball of wool.

At first “DG” was a book I intended to appeal to frustrated creatives. Then I realised that creativity is far more than traditionally artistic flair. It is that inner uniquely (and I believe God-given) created gifting that only YOU are the best at. I decided to call this quality Genius. Not that we are necessarily geniuses but we all do possess genius.  Many of us struggle to believe that; to honour and value the quest for its refinement and its liberation.

As a writer, what did you feel was the first step you needed to take in order to make the concept of your book become alive and physical?

I had to spend a good deal of thought and self-searching upon who I am and what I am here for.  I specifically started to schedule time into my calendar to write, simply for the joy of writing. This self interrogation was a process I followed with a coaching mentor, Kary Oberbrunner of The Deeper Path. For the first time I really sought to become a writer.

In fact I simply decided “I am an author”.  Who else was going to  designate me?

How do you think the book can help Creatives?

This book surprised me in its ease of creation and the life it seemed to have of its own. I played with poetic prose, visual word formatting and font variation and a totally self-directed style. I wrote as if I were the only audience, being truly vulnerable about who I am and what I think and feel.  This honesty is the most authentic and compelling thing I have to export.

If creatives can catch that spirit and dare to be true to their own unique inspiration then no one else can argue with that.

I have learned to engage with and enjoy the process and not be too attached to the outcome. I had previously failed to complete other books because I was too set on an image of the completed work. Creating is a conversation with the created and this dialogue must be honoured.

What do you think is the most common knot of frustration within Creatives?

Creatives are naturally comfortable with a degree of what I call the Knot of Confusion (or chaos). 

They understand completely how they need to practice and seek demonstration; to overcome difficult tasks and promote skill (The Knots of Helplessness and Unskilfulness).  Some may feel shy of success and prominence, never realising that obscurity is actually a self-induced reality (The Knots of Displacement and Stuntedness).

However I think that the Knot of Independence is one frustration that snarls many Creatives.  We seek to protect our individual style and stamp upon the world but in doing so we lose the potential that only comes exponentially through community and interdependence. I believe it is a myth that artists need to be insular and self-sufficient.  This is a stereotype that does not serve them or their target audience.

Maybe the Knot of “Madness” is another stereotype of the creative bent.  However I’ll leave that to the reader to decide! Don’t we all need a little maddening repetition to get our frustrated creativity flowing?

What have you found to be the most challenging part of launching your book?

This is certainly the inevitable daily discipline required by the originator of any product or service to enable their creation to “catch on”. That is, steady marketing.

Someone once said that it only took twenty years to become an overnight success and I certainly know what they meant!

It is fun supplying the social media feed with news, images, thoughts and links. It is a creative challenge in itself to keep that fresh and yet, in many ways I long to be drafting my next book.  However the future is in the hands of those I add value to, the tribe that “get” me. Inevitably the fact that I may not resonate with people means my thoughts will fall on some deaf ears.

Building a platform or a tribe takes time and is a character and leadership test far more than an exercise in self-promotion. Some people do not understand this or mistake passion for egocentricity.  

I just have to let imagined misconceptions go.

What advice would you give to someone looking at taking their writing to the next level?

Two things; do it daily and invest in mentorship and accountability whether it be through a peer learning community or a paid programme of development.  Or both as I have done with a programme called Author Academy Elite.

What do you do in your spare time?

I continue to write a journal. I love thoughtful films and psychological thrillers and occasionally dabble in interior décor.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I have transitioned to my dream job.  I am writing and sketching and facilitating workshops in a spacious studio with vibrant paintings. 

I have published a few more books and am known for my quality of transformational coaching and experiential retreats that offer the overlooked, disappointed, frustrated, oppressed and sabotaged a place of disentanglement and re-alignment with their core genius.

I have a growing tribe of interdependent and exponentially thriving “Disentangled”. Please join us this second year!