How To Succeed In Business Without Really Crying...

Nine months ago I set up my company in the UK, those nine months have meant this blog has been shamefully neglected again. Energies that go into writing have been channelled into presentation documents and my other business blog. Just the thought of having no creative outlet makes me icky and sad. I take a sense of pride that last year, that I decided to say goodbye to the advertising agency I was working at and go out on my own with a new business concept during our country's biggest recession. Everyone tells you it's tough starting your own business but I couldn't have had more things stacked up against me if I tried. You nod your head in empathy and prepare as much as you can for the following months that lie ahead, but until you lodge your business name, open up a business bank account and go through the first few months of looking for work, nothing really prepares you for the reality of starting up on your own. It's tough. I suddenly empathise with new mothers when they talk about being overwhelmed, never having enough time, the feeling of total isolation and exhaustion, and having a non-existent social life. I suppose I should be grateful my genitals aren't involved in the process too.

Motivation is just as hard to drum up as new business. You say goodbye to a regular bank balance and say hello to self-doubt and random sleeping patterns. It's a challenging time that as a businessman you can't admit reduces you to tears on occasion as that would be weak and unprofessional. Despite all of this, it has also been one of the most incredibly liberating and satisfying periods of my life and I couldn't imagine it any other way. I've had some incredibly generous and kind support and wise advice since December by some wonderful individuals and cannot express how thankful I am and how important it has been to have those people and friends and family who have been very patient and believed in me. I hope I can do it justice and get through the rest of the year and succeed and grow.

I want to renew this blog and give a new purpose and start being creative by choosing moments of my life to talk about and perhaps topical subjects that are going on in the world so we can all try to learn something from a small sense of retrospective analysis by yours truly. As wanky as that sounds and however this develops, it will be darn sight better than consistently apologising for not writing in a blog every five months. I'm working on some ideas so watch this space.

Notes from Nora

Nora Ephron died this week. She was a journalist, writer and director of many of my favourite movies such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and Julie & Julia. She used words with incredible wit and heart like no other screenwriter and will be sorely missed. ListsofNote.com featured a post about two lists she created about what she would and wouldn't miss in life. You can read her lists here or check them out at the end of her book "I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections". Anyway, it got me wondering what my list would be. Here are my thoughts:

What I Won't Miss Doubt Queues The fact food that tastes good is bad for you Bank Statements Excel Arrogant, ignorance, intolerance Hayfever Text Messages Spiders Worrying about my appearance Bagpipes The smell of asphalt or cigarettes Bad customer service Not being able to find clothes that fit me Organised religion Leggings on women

What I WillMiss Making someone laugh Performing Old MGM movies Reading in bed Writing Chocolate Butter Visiting New York City My sisters The Theatre The diversity of friends Hugs Sleeping in Cooking for people Wandering around Sunday Roast The smell of books More laughing

My Life Lessons to Live By...

New Year has been rife with new life agendas, which are great, but can also be a flapping, restless albatross around your neck. Bad habits are usually to blame for not seeing most of them through. You get older, you get wiser and you start thinking, "God, I wish I thought like this 10 years ago." Best thing you can do I find is not punish yourself too much. It's never worth it and it starts an endless cycle of negativity which you never get out of. My friend Christian Taylor posted a link to Marc and Angel Hack Life on Facebook at Christmas featuring numerous inspiring posts to lead a better life, all of which boil down to a few simple action points I try to remember each day. My 'unofficial' god-daughter was one years-old this week, so I thought I should write these life lessons out for her and anyone else interested in how I approach life:

'LIVE' each day:

L for LOVE.

Be open to it and never be afraid to love back. Of course it can rock your world and break your heart and soul, but as my friend Julia said "That's when you know you're alive". Never assume it will be the same experience either, so being afraid to take a risk because you were hurt before is rather pointless and prevents you from finding something true and real. Optimism is really important to keep with you when a relationship ends, and friends and family are usually there to remind you of that - so listen to them.

I for INTERESTING

Be fascinating. Be unpredictable. Everyday. Go out of your comfort zone and there will never be a dull moment. Fear is just the result of something you've not experienced yet and I really don't care what anyone thinks most of the time (apart from the odd wobbly moment I usually regret). People are worried and embarrassed for themselves rather than for you - despite their apparent concern. No one ever becomes stronger or more popular by being generic and afraid of failure. Take risks. Sing loudly in supermarkets, go skydiving, ask that person out for a drink, and burn those bridges (which is the most overrated life precaution I've ever had doled out to me. Period.)

 

 

V for VALUE

Find purpose in your work and believe in your principles and you will find the meaning and respect most people struggle to find in life. I wish I discovered this earlier and been more confident with my ideas and beliefs, and not listened to all the objections I encountered when I was younger. I do believe you have to shape these through experience first before you can live by them, so be open to every idea and opinion and try to not let peer pressure and arrogance sway you. Also, be the best friend you can be: the rewards for loyalty are truly amazing and worth more than any financial gain or material items you could ever gain, people will be drawn to you and offer their friendship and loyalty back as a result. Remember most of all, if the right thing to do in life was the easiest thing to do, we'd all be wearing halos.

E for ENTERTAINING.

I try to find the fun in everything I do - in work and play. Life is a one-off show, so I go through life with an imaginary camera on me (much like Miranda). This encourages me to be continuously entertaining and remind myself not to be insufferably dull and depressing. Laughter is never to be underrated in any situation and doesn't make you less sincere, it just makes the harder moments in life easier to digest. Finding things to stimulate you, whether it be: hobbies, coffee, drugs, sex, or a game of Twister, is the fuel you need to travel down life's road. Again, people are drawn to those who know how to enjoy themselves and not content to suffer with their lot in life. So dazzle, laugh and sparkle at every opportunity.

So now it's your turn, what life lessons you try to live by? Go on, I'm sure you have some.

Did I Really Say I'd Do That?...

It's that time of year where everyone feels compelled to make resolutions, a fresh set of 12 months lie ahead and we all want to do better. I tend to revolt against this, mostly out of principle as I really don't believe people actually keep their new found resolutions when they have the fallback excuse of "Well, it was just for New Year wasn't it? I can drink/smoke/eat carbs now - it's March!" I find resolutions made over a rather disappointing date in July or getting cramp after running for a bus in August a lot more effective and usually last longer than four weeks too. This January though, I actually have a few habits to break in order to get myself into gear. I need to get business for my new consultancy. I need to get fit. I need to be less lazy. It all sounds a bit unoriginal but a sense of purpose and enthusiasm is what's keeping me from going bust or insane this year. Since acquiring the Australian work ethic and having reacted against the relentless and pessimistic attitude to work in the UK, I've lost a vital sense of direction over the last year. Starting my own company has been one of the more positive decisions I've made since leaving Sydney and I don't want to lose momentum now, so may have to instill a few practical if not simple changes to my life to keep this going.

A NEW DAILY ROUTINE

The perils of working for yourself means you naturally want to rebel against 9-5 hours, which basically translates into "I'm going to sleep in and work late, go for long lunches and have my signing lessons during the day". Idyllic yes? Well, no. All these wonderful things actually become distractions - the biggest enemy of productivity as my freelance friends will agree. I'm so grateful to have my cousin on board as my business mentor and I'm determined not to give him too many reasons to kick me up the backside, so getting a routine is more important than ever and will have to forgo the weekday nail bar and spa treatments. Seriously, what I mean by this is really to be more efficient with my time, set deadlines for myself, my work and for things I want to make time for, rather than sit dither about like an 80 year old on a fast-moving escalator.

GET PHYSICAL

I am seriously lethargic. Obviously exercising is the healthy thing to do, I give myself a pitiful round of applause for acknowledging this. It's more the sheer daily exhaustion and failing to wake up with any sense of energy which concerns me more. Ever since the 'broken limbs' incident, which was my excuse not to join the hamster treadmill and Nazi recruitment camps affectionately call a gym, I've not done any regular exercise that consists of breaking out in a sweat. I do walk a huge amount but apart from this, I'm simply lazy. I loathe running, I have fantastical visions in my head of doing ballet but the reality of the situation may not be the same, so it's either dance classes or some other form of sporting prowess. I really have to decide what I should do, as all exercise seems as appealing as Gregg's pasty rubbed up against a door mat at the moment.

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

It's my only creative outlet beyond singing and the fact I have only been able to write three posts on this blog during 2011, tells you how much my life has failed on this front. I did at least three posts a month a few years ago and I think I owe it to myself having a blog since 2006 to keep this going and to find the fun in updating it regularly. I love it so much, but it requires discipline and I've been reading a lot of books like Stephen King's On Writing and other guides on the subject, to remind myself I don't have to be so precious about it and can make the time if I really want to do it. Enthusiasm comes from creativity and I have as much enthusiasm as a flatulent cat with asthma at the moment, so it's more important than just blog posts and empty pages of half-finished novel to me.

SAY LESS, DO MORE

I know this post totally contradicts what I'm going to say next, but I really have to talk less about what I intend to do and actually follow through with my claims. We all do it, though I seem to do it all the time. Some of my friends may think I'm being a little harsh on myself, though I've noticed far too many intentions went astray last year, so the ratio could be strongly improved.  I've read if you want to set yourself goals, don't tell everyone you're going to do them, as the more people you tell, the more you convince your mind you are fulfilling them and therefore lose the element of responsibility in seeing the task through.  There are ways and means of going about it and issuing a press release amongst friends is not the way to go about it. It just makes you feel like a buffoon six months later when they ask you how's it going.

ACKNOWLEDGE "JIMINY CRICKET"

Finding out what gets you up in the morning, so you can march through life with a shiny baton of truth and purpose is bloody hard. You can read as many self-help books as you like, but until you simply listen to that annoying voice inside your head which has more sense than you do, you will never be truly happy. It's really clichéd and annoyingly simple and yet we spend hours, weeks, years and even lifetimes ignoring it and gravitating towards doing what we think others expect from us. The baton clumsily slips out of hands, usually during these vital moments when we have to make an important decision over the soulless but highly paid job offer, or the relationship with fit but inappropriate guy, or deciding to spend time with the selfish friend who no longer listens to you. Jiminy is there though. He told me I didn't need to work for anyone else anymore and now I have my own company, he also told me I didn't need a relationship to make me fulfilled and happy, so I can resist the "Singledom" paranoia when it rears its ugly head (you know, when you swear online dating is a waste of time or when yet another friend announces their engagement through Facebook). Listening to myself has gone a long way to making me a happier and more calmer person recently, so it's more a case of continuing to do this resolution.

I'm going to grab 2012 by the back the head like a cheap whore in a motel room and try and not let time take over these intentions. Perhaps the points will inspire you to do the same, I think changing your approach to life are much more realistic goals to aspire to strangely than stubbing out a cigarette or signing up to Weight Watchers:

  1. Organise my time.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Be creative.
  4. Follow things through.
  5. Listen to myself.

If you see me not doing any of these over the coming months, please do walk up to me and slap me hard with flat side of your smart phone. Here's to not cringing at this when I read it again in 2013 and realise I'm still doing some of these.

This Year I....

became an Unofficial Godfather ... took Benjamin to tea at the Savoy ... moved to Battersea and witnessed a riot ... sat next to my very first Phantom ... made a Royal Wedding (and first ever) Pie ... launched my first West End musical in 8 years ... saw the kids of William McKinley High School sing live in the O2 ... saw 'Harry Potter' dance on the Broadway stage ... cooked pasta on top of a Tuscan hill ... was traumatised by a French Chateau of waxworks ... had someone turn my world upside ... invented "Gleeves" ... brought back the Buddha to the UK ... met my first friend off Twitter ... went to my first Osteopath ... opened up my first business bank account ... made my first French Macaroons ... went into business with my cousin ... celebrated Meximas ... failed to update my blog!

F**k it's August already...

My creativity bottomed to absolute zero. Quite frustrating and I also seemed to have inherited a distinct feeling of apathy usually reserved for a Liberal Democrat voter. My British counterparts encourage it, along with cynicism, general moaning and prime time TV cop dramas. It's been almost a year since I returned to the UK and I've done no writing whatsoever apart from my New Year summary. Nadda. Not one ounce. Zip. It's disgraceful, I know. This blog has probably filed a missing persons report on me. Despite my apathy, I have been craving to be creative but not found the inspiration to sit myself down in front of the many 'Steve Jobs designed' items and just 'write'. So this is me starting again. It might as well be the beginning as I think my previous blog entries were getting on the little self reflective side, so much so, the writers of 'Dawson's Creek' were probably chasing commission on them.

Watch this space.

This Year I...

watched two teenagers simulate sex by my feet ... worked for Cate Blanchett ... organised my first and last hen's do ... had a famous hobbit kick a bottle of my urine ... saw my sister so happy she cried ... gained a new brother ... got a third world disease ... said goodbye to Justin/said hello to Justin ... saw JFK's house and golf course ... cycled on the wrong side of the road ... finally saw Kristin Chenoweth and Angela Lansbury sing ... made some fab new New York friends ... trod the boards of a Broadway theatre ... went to the Tonys ... met Mr Schuster ... cried at a puppet horse ... flew with Jack Bauer ... revisited old friends ... took a 36 hour flight ... left Australia and returned home ... became a lady of leisure ... welcomed my singing teacher to London ... had the best year ever!